The Life-Long Customer

Client-first Thinking Leads to Successful Empathetic Marketing with Dana von der Heide, Founder & Chief Commercial Officer, Parcel Perform

August 30, 2022 Season 1 Episode 136
The Life-Long Customer
Client-first Thinking Leads to Successful Empathetic Marketing with Dana von der Heide, Founder & Chief Commercial Officer, Parcel Perform
Show Notes Transcript

Initially, we didn't have so much of a concept out there. But I think what's shaping us for us, and what's working extremely well is the notion of campaigns. You'll find a topic that you want to establish for a certain amount of time. They can be short ones, one or two weeks, where you talk about specific topics. Or if we're launching a new product, you have longer campaigns with like all sorts of different content pillars, but also channels in a mix to make sure that you address your buyer personas extremely well.

I believe in empathetic marketing. You have to target your customer. Don't think for yourself, but think about what clients want to hear, how you can actually make them successful, and then create all the different content forms around that.


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Brad Hammond: 0:18
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Lifelong Customer Podcast. I'm your host Brad Hammond. Today, I have Dana from Parcel Perform. Dana, it's really nice to have you on.

Dana von der Heide: 0:27
Thank you very much for having me. Very excited to be here.

Brad Hammond: 0:31
I'm really excited. Maybe you could share with our audience just a bit about yourself and about Parcel Perform. 

Dana von der Heide: 0:37
Yeah, absolutely, I would love to. So my name is Dana. I'm the Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Parcel Perform. I'm German, you can probably hear by my accent. But Parcel Perform is a Singapore-headquartered company. We're a SaaS business. And by now, we really operate on a global basis. I think about 160 markets, we operate in 36 languages. And what we do is we discovered that there's a crucial part in the e-commerce journey that is fundamentally broken. And that's post purchase. We saw Amazon really fixing this for clients. They tell you where your parcel is. You know exactly when it will arrive. But all the other brands didn't manage to turn this last element of post purchase, actually into a loyalty driver for upselling for their business. And that's what we wanted to do.

So we took delivery data to be specific, parcel tracking data. As nerdy as it sounds, if you aggregate and standardize it, it can be an extremely powerful tool for marketers out there because this can send delivery notifications to customers in their own branding. They can link them back to their website to show them where all the parcels are and kind of ignite some upselling opportunities. But also for all the e-commerce merchants out there that are dealing with the complexities of supply chain, we give them internal tools to manage that as well.

 Brad Hammond: 1:56
That's awesome. One of the things that I immediately noticed and I'm actually on your LinkedIn right now, you have over 10,000 followers. And it's just overflowing with content. You guys really create all this awesome content in the space and your LinkedIn is really well put together. And I'd love to hear your perspective on what brand building and creating content and building up your LinkedIn, in this space has been like?

Dana von der Heide: 2:22
Well, we see a lot of people forgetting this, that the way you market your businesses, and we are definitely a B2B company, it's about the people's connection that you want to build, right? And there's so many tools out there to have a really broad scope marketing strategy, but I think one thing that really stood out for us, and we've been doing this now for seven years, is that LinkedIn is a extremely powerful tool. You have direct targeting of your main stakeholders. It's where people come where they connect. You know, in times of COVID, even more powerful because people couldn't meet at events. So they came to this like social platform to exchange, to connect. And it's a fantastic tool to create visibility.

 And so at Parcel Perform, we believe that every single employee is an ambassador for the brand. But we have to give them content to share. So we develop lots of different content forms, you know, from thought leadership to product marketing, but also employer branding. I mean, we are all hiring. And we put it on LinkedIn as one of our channels, one of many. But what we really want to make sure is also that our teams start using it. And as the founder of the company, you have to lead by example. And obviously, I'm also responsible for sales. So what has proven to be extremely helpful is to also create visibility for our brand via my personal profile. And that's why I love sharing our stuff. But I actually also share a lot of logistics insights, you know, the thought leadership content that shows the industry that you know what you're talking about, that it's not just a marketing message then. So yeah, LinkedIn has been a super helpful tool for us.

 Brad Hammond: 3:53
I love that. Correct me if I'm wrong, but just looking at your LinkedIn, it looks like you're posting most days, if not every single day. That's highly unusual, but I think highly effective thing to do. How did you come to that cadence of posting every day and just creating so much content and getting it out there?

Dana von der Heide: 4:13
Being in my generation helps. I'm a digital native. So this comes very easily to me, even without the marketing initiative behind it. I'm on LinkedIn every day. That's how I connect with people. It works super well for me as a network. I had to personally choose, you know, so you won't see me posting so much on Instagram and TikTok. I didn't even get there. But I chose LinkedIn as my channel. Highly effective also for the business since you’re a founder, you try to combine both. And it comes quite naturally. It all depends on having, like, good content to work with. So our marketing team does an incredible job of creating, like, different types of content out there so we can actually have something to share.

And maybe later we also talk about our Parcel Monitor community where we really didn't just want to produce SaaS business content that helps us to position our product, but we really wanted to give back to the industry to all the e-commerce and logistics professionals out there. So we have the second outlet, and I try to make sure to combine everything then on my personal LinkedIn as well. I run a podcast, so we try to stay on our toes and be as innovative as possible.

Brad Hammond: 5:20
I love that. And I think you mentioned something really important is that you focused on LinkedIn. You weren’t posting on Instagram and on Facebook. And I think so many people's initial thought is like, hey, I need to get content out there on every platform. But it sounds like you've really mastered LinkedIn and have focused on this. And then, hey, let me add a podcast to this, and kind of that approach.

Dana von der Heide: 5:44
Yeah. Again, I mean, as a business, we have like 50,000 followers all organically grown, with a 50% clickthrough rate. So it's just really working as a channel for us. Of course, you have to do everything else. But being good at one thing is probably a good start.

Brad Hammond: 6:00
Yeah, totally. Let's talk about strategy, what that's looked like. Tell me about the early days of posting. I imagine, you know, now you're getting all this traction, and you have all these people. But was it hard initially to post and maybe just get a little bit of engagement, but stay committed through that time? And what did that early strategy look like?

Dana von der Heide: 6:20
Initially, you need to start a brand, right? I mean, you have to get the word out there. You have to combine offline and online. So what we tried to do, and we still do it to link offline touchpoints with, for example, our LinkedIn content, but also our website. So I just got back from a conference today. And we did this especially often in the early days, you know. Wherever you go, if you look on my business card, you can actually see a QR code that links to my LinkedIn profile. Really trying to get as many content outlets out there.

Of course, over time, also our content changed a lot from a lot of brand building, educating the market on what we're doing to now a lot more product positioning. And then we started the secondary brand, Parcel Monitor, which was a lot more B2C and community-focused. So I think, really, early days for us was a lot of brand building, a lot of educating the market, and really bringing every possible touch point that you can have together to build content hubs. And when we started Parcel Perform, we also immediately had a blog. We always had the strategy of trying to get people to also come to our website to get more long-form content to have thought leadership there.

And then the same with events. They have also proven for us to be a super successful channel, not just for branding, but of course, also for lead generation. So we stay true to that mix and we just grow continuously. And there's a lot of learnings and you’ll never know who changes the next algorithm and whether you should post the link in a comment or directly in the article. We're still learning as well.

Brad Hammond: 7:52
Yeah, totally. I love that. What does the content creation process look like for you? You mentioned you have a team. You guys are kind of, I imagine, planning this content out ahead of time. Walk me through what that process looks like.

Dana von der Heide: 8:07
We learned over time that you have to have different forms of [inaudible] and I think like everyone out there does it right, you get top of the funnel content, thought leadership stuff that you want to position, but also very product marketing-focused content. And then for us, ultimately, also equally important content pillar is anything that we do around employer branding because we are growing as a business. We have almost 180 people now. We want to have a lot more employees. So you also need to be attractive as an employer. And also for that, for example, LinkedIn, and our blog is a good channel.

Initially, we didn't have so much of a concept out there. But I think what's shaping us, for us, and what's working extremely well is the notion of campaigns. You'll find a topic that you want to establish for a certain amount of time. They can be short ones, one or two weeks, where you talk about specific topics. Or if we're launching a new product, you have longer campaigns with, like, all sorts of different content pillars, but also channels in a mix to make sure that you address your buyer personas extremely well.

And I believe in this thing, like empathetic marketing, right? Like you have to target your customer. Don't think from yourself, but think about what clients want to hear, how you can actually make them successful, and then create all the different content forms around that. And, you know, if we enter a new market, and there needs to be longer-form content, a lot of success stories, whitepapers truly work very well, but also are a lot of work. So we're still doubling down on that part.

Brad Hammond: 9:33
I love that. Is there a certain different type of research that you do in order to be empathetic and really know what your customers are facing and maybe similar challenges and all that stuff?

Dana von der Heide: 9:43
There's a beauty to my role as Chief Commercial Officer, I don't just over[see] the marketing team, but also the sales team. And I think that's the true value of it. If you just do marketing in the back office without ever meeting the customers, you're probably not going to get it right. So we had a unique opportunity, basically combining also all the experiences that we had on the sales side, and, you know, there's a lot of super active exchange. And now that our teams have grown, you know, we talk with the regional sales leaders and our different three global areas in the US and Asia and Europe. Clients want to hear different stuff. They have different challenges. They, like, need different positionings. And we have to listen to that. 

But staying very closely connected to the sales leaders or the sales managers out there is super, super important for us to, of course, get it right. And like, spend the time to also review it, right? You cannot improve it until you measured it. So looking at your metrics, making sure you actually know whether you hit the ground running with it or not.

And the third element, I would say, is data. And so people are a little bit over generous storytelling, right? Like, oh, yeah, our product is great. Okay, but like, you've got to convince them. And we identified two sources of data for us. And one of them is quite unique to our business. We obviously track 100 million parcel updates every day. So across 850 carriers, we sit on a very unique data pool. So a lot of the storytelling we can do, a lot of the insights we can give to customers, we can draw from our daily business, from the data that we anyway see, we can aggregate it, cut it into different reports. So that makes our content a lot more insightful than, you know, just the general product placement out there. And that has really tremendously helped us in all the storytelling that we do. 

And the other aspect, of course, our community. So we are quite fortunate that we have so many subscribers, and there we get the direct feedback. And they log into the community and tell us what they actually want to hear via Parcel Monitor and we can take this learning thing as well.

Brad Hammond:  11:48
Let's talk about channels. So obviously, we've talked about LinkedIn. You mentioned that you have a podcast. How did you decide to start a podcast and go about all that? 

Dana von der Heide: 12:00
So I think it's again- you know, first of all, drawing from my own preferences, right? I mean, these are over where I spend time reading long articles. I travel so much, I'm always on the go. You need, like, an easily digestible format. It's the same reason why people now do really successful advertising on TikTok because it's got to be short. It's got to be quick, easy to consume. And I think podcasts do that for us also on the B2B marketing side. Most of my industry insights I get from listening to other podcasts. So it's just natural to also go there.

By the way, podcasts and webinars, they work extremely well for us, recorded webinars as well, because I'm a very visual person, and I think many others are too. So being able to see some of that stuff also on your screen, but consume it at the time that's convenient for you and easy to do, it has been super helpful. And you know, the Logistics Tribe is a podcast that I also do more on my personal site, it’s actually unrelated to Parcel Perform because I realized targeting your content, again to the audience here in Germany, a lot of e-commerce logistics professionals will only speak English because they are international talents. 

But if you look at German news and media, and you know, I'm part of the German Logistics Association as well, all that stuff is in German. So it was hard for the diverse crowd and talents out there to consume this. And that's why we put out the Logistics Tribe. And it's a podcast hosted by Germans. You will always hear our funny German accents, but it has English content to really make it accessible to everyone.

Brad Hammond:  13:37
I love that. What are things that you look at when you look at how the podcast is doing? Do you look at downloads? Or are you more valuing the relationships you're able to build with it? What are some of the metrics you look at around that?

Dana von der Heide: 13:59
The Logistics Tribe for me is a little bit more of a hobby. So it's not a metrics-based tool that we do for Parcel Perform. I think that we rather look at webinars and events and really analyze the kind of leads that we generate, how many signups we have, all the usual stuff. The podcast thing, we will really, obviously, look at the standard stuff, you know, [inaudible 0:13:53] or your Spotify trends, which markets are trending in. And then we sometimes, together with Boris, who was actually the mastermind behind this podcast that I do this together with and a few others, we were sometimes surprised. We trend in very unusual markets, but there wasn't any content around this. So it's a bit of a fun game and very enjoyable to improve.

Brad Hammond:  14:32
And I'm going to kind of ask a similar question related to LinkedIn. So we work with a lot of companies and manage their LinkedIn content and all this. And what trips up a lot of companies especially now that you’re end of quarter and all this is, how do likes and comments and engagement actually create impact on goals and drive revenue and all this stuff? And I think that is oftentimes a question that is asked. What is your view of that? How do you look at that in regards to everything you're doing? Or maybe you just have faith in saying, hey, we get a lot of engagement here. I know it's going to be a good thing. But I'd love to hear your perspective on that.

Dana von der Heide: 15:11
Yeah, you know, it's interesting. If you really get stuck on this, then you go down a rabbit hole and you will have some interesting findings. So that’s obviously stuff that you post with people on them, have the highest engagement rates. If we post something with all of our employees and, you know, there's 180 of them. So obviously, they're going to share it a lot more. So what we do is we also differentiate a little bit. It's hard to measure, but we try between external and internal shares and engagements, because obviously, otherwise, you’re, like, screwing up your own reporting because your team got very excited about this, which we love, because they are again ambassadors, right? So it's just going to multiply on their profiles.

One hard KPI that I always look at is LinkedIn followers because that's, in the end, your target audience. And the more people that are exposed to the content, the more likely it hits also the right counterpart. But we don't get too stuck on looking whether one post had a lot more likes or not. I think you just got to have faith in the channel. And then the impact will kind of unfold itself over time.

Brad Hammond: 16:14
I think whenever I see someone that has 10,000-plus followers, I always wonder, did those people just organically follow you? Or was there an initial effort that had to be created to go out and follow people and kind of get a kick started and all that?

Dana von der Heide: 16:32
Rather funny, we weren't so kind of strategic about it in the beginning, you know. Everyone had a LinkedIn channel. So we were just trying to figure out what's the best mix for us. They're pretty much organic. I think there's a cool tool where if you have admin rights on LinkedIn, you can actually invite people. And I think you get like 100 or 200 credits a month. And then if people accept, you can invite more. I never know whether I hate it or I love it, because I get a lot of invitations to like random channels. So I'm not sure if that's like the biggest success driver.

But ultimately, again, it comes down to like the content that you provide, right? If you just talk about yourself, if there's no relevance for your counterparts, if no one is likely to share this stuff, then you're not going to grow organically. And for us, it has been a very interesting journey. And we can do quite a bit of testing, interestingly enough, because we have two LinkedIn accounts, right? We have one for Parcel Perform, which is our overall company and the software product. And then we have Parcel Monitor, our community, which is a lot more B2C-targeted. And there, we do a lot of reports. You know, like, there's no sales angle to it. There's no hiring approach. We just want to give insightful content to the members of our community, and many of them gather on LinkedIn as well.

And we see, of course, LinkedIn Live, super powerful. I love it. We have a great team at Parcel Monitor that drives this. And you gain quite a lot of attention. It's an easily reused format, so you can really kind of recycle, take parts out of it, use it for something else. So it's also really powerful. And I think there's many companies out there that haven't leveraged the full potential. And we're probably also only at the very beginning of it.

Brad Hammond: 18:12

I think you mentioned something interesting, where each page kind of has a different focus. Is the focus different between your personal LinkedIn account and the content there and the company? Or are those very similar? How do you differentiate there?

Dana von der Heide: 18:29
And it's a good question to ask a founder. Sometimes I don't know, me and the company become very much one thing, at least in my head and my heart. But yeah, of course, the content is a bit different, right? We do post very product marketing-related. I'm not going to reshare all of that on my personal account. I mean, if people are interested, I think if they follow me, they figured out that Parcel Perform is a big part of my life. And if they want to have more information there, then they would share [inaudible 0:18:37]. My personal account, but also, you know, it’s my personal account. It’s for the stuff that I really care about.

Diversity is a big aspect. I work in logistics, tech, two types of industries that are not super well known for having high diversity success rates. At Parcel Perform, we are 50% female. We have 15 different nationalities, speak so many different languages. So obviously, I am very passionate about that, you know. So my personal LinkedIn account, I see it as separate. I have more freedom to express whichever opinion I have. And that can also be a very personal one. Of course, on our company account, that's a bit of a different game. And that's managed by our marketing team, but they did a fantastic job.

Brad Hammond: 19:38
I'm really curious, does your marketing team also manage your personal page? Or do you manage all that content?

Dana von der Heide:  19:45
No. And I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I manage everything I do there. It's on my account, you know. I share the stuff that I find interesting. Again, I'm a heavy user in the first place. So I might as well share stuff. But it's, again, about being empathetic about authenticity. I think if anyone else would start sharing my stuff, those people that know me would quickly realize, then it becomes like not as relevant anymore. So I think we owe that to those people that follow us on whatever channel that we have, and that's our preference, to make sure that it's authentic and that the content actually comes from us.

Brad Hammond: 20:22
So let's talk about upcoming, in the future and all this. Obviously, there's a lot of changes - in the economy, in the world, all this. Is any of that influencing the way that you're looking at contents, or any of the community building or the stuff that we've talked about today? And if so, what is that then?

Dana von der Heide:  20:42
I know, very relevant question. And I think the interesting thing is, like, the world has already changed so much. It doesn't stop. And I think we also all have to accept it. Before COVID, events was a huge part of our marketing strategy. And then for like, 1.5 years, I was grounded. My team was grounded. So we had to be creative. That's why we did a lot more webinars. Now, I think the world is again shifting. And what we see, of course, due to our industry, we're lucky, right? E-commerce is still going to continue to be there, maybe growing a bit slower, but still a massive industry with a lot of potential for us to track all these parcels out there.

But people become a lot more conscious. They have to take harder decisions when it comes to buying processes. So I think the trends that we are seeing is that you have to do a lot more of value-based communication. Beauty of our product is that it's not just a nice-to-have, it's not just about sending marketing emails to customers on where their parcel is. They are highly effective, 80% opening rates. So it definitely works, and great for upselling. But I think we also want to show the internal stakeholders the power of our product. And for us, that means picking the right carrier, I think cost reduction for the carrier, but also massive cost reduction on the customer service side.

And I think, as a marketing team, we have to do a good job on bringing that value across. And I think people don't want to hear it from us. They want to hear from our clients. So customer success, case studies are like a big pillar that we're going to reemphasize on. And then of course, you know, even though we don't all get to see each other all the time, like trying to personalize it in the communication that we have, targeted to the ICPs, coming directly from the people that are buying our products, or from the people that are selling. So also making our teams visible is a huge part of that tool.

Brad Hammond: 22:28
So as we're wrapping up here, I have a question for you. And I think we were talking about this earlier. So for those listening, you have a background behind you with your logo and all this. And I commented and I'm like, hey, I really like this. This is a great idea. Tell me about that, how that came about. I think you said you might have seen some results for many of them too.

Dana von der Heide:  22:47
Yeah. This was actually one of the smartest things we've done at the beginning of COVID. I can be very transparent. Those that see me also see I'm a woman with rather kind of a lot of hair. And if we have all these green screens behind us, my head was always like half in some background, half visible or not. I also gave up on headphones for that reason. So that was the first thing that I was like, okay, this cannot continue like this if we are stuck at home, and no one knew how long it would last. But we knew it's going to last. I cannot deal with this.

And the second element is, you know, if you do webinars, I believe a few- we sell to enterprise companies, and you have to have a certain professionalism to list, and how your surroundings look like also has a big impact on how professional you come across. And if it's all half wobbly, or your bedroom, which is totally understandable. Behind me are washing machines. But no one can see this, right? And we now have these banners in all of our offices. So even if I'm traveling to our New York office, or if I'm in Singapore, people can't even really tell where I am. But it's all about consistency. It's about exposing your brand in the best possible way that you can. And this is really not very difficult to pull off. It's just a pull off banner. You can even transport it around. But it gives a very professional, hopefully, look and feel. So it's been working extremely well for us. I can recommend.

Brad Hammond: 24:11
I love it. That's awesome. Well, what advice do you have for others as we’re wrapping up here? 

Dana von der Heide: 24:16
I think, always stay on your toes. You know, like, we are new in this market. There's a lot of people that tell you oh, we always used to do this. This is a great channel, like you said, right? The world is changing. Our ICPs are changing. The way people consume new media is changing. We talk to e-commerce brands on the one hand, right? Facebook is super expensive. Instagram is really hard to market there. Now everyone is moving to TikTok. So think about B2B in the same way, right? Like whatever worked in times of COVID or even before that, it might not work anymore. So you've got to rethink your channels, the type of media that you put out there, and you’ve got to make sure that the content that you produce is very relevant.

And we personally believe in the power of data, not just in the product we provide but also in the insights that we provide. So I think everyone needs to find their own approach to this, but we got to keep on our toes and rethink every month, what we did this now and this work, so what can we do next? How can we improve this?

Brad Hammond: 25:15
I love it. Hey, thanks so much for joining the podcast. It’s been great to have you on.

Dana von der Heide: 25:20
Thank you very much for having me.