Awards case study: How Stein IAS won ‘Martech agency of the year’
Stein IAS has long been a martech leader. The agency deployed its first inbound/nurture campaigns in 2007. Ever since, it has worked constantly to advance martech among its clients and in the industry. Stein IAS published one of the first comprehensive Marketing Automation Playbooks in 2012; launched the Digital Marketing Maturity Index in 2015; launched the Digital Marketing Transformation Framework and Post Modernizer martech planning tool in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Stein IAS has also launched multiple reports with B2B Marketing, notably ‘The Rise, Fall and Rise of Martech’ and ‘Martech Connection Meets Human Connection.’
And, Stein IAS has also seen greater and greater martech impact. This past year, though, the agency broke through to an altogether higher level of impact by achieving all-around higher-order customer experiences. These experiences involved bringing experience cohesion to vast digital ecosystems; bringing experience intelligence and dynamism to martech-powered campaigns; and bringing experience hyper-relevance to bear via genuine, real-time marketing approaches.
For clients from Covance and Duracell, to Elanco and Ingredion, to Trelleborg, the results have been extraordinary, with engagement rates 10X-plus greater than industry norms. And with back-end metrics on par. Even more than that, it points to the future not just of martech, but of marketing.
About the organisation
Stein IAS’ USP is stated quite simply on the agency’s website homepage: ‘Martech Meets Madmen.’ Stein IAS uses martech to connect brand to demand for market leaders and challengers. The agency’s vision is to fuse data, intelligence and disruptive technology with big, bold ideas and intelligent experiences – in ever more advanced ways – to drive brand progression and revenue growth.
Born in 1973 in England’s industrial North, Stein IAS has a clear purpose: to advance the theory and practice of B2B marketing to help make its clients the most important in their markets.
Stein IAS is led by CEO, Rob Morrice, chairman, Tom Stein, chief innovation officer (and acknowledged martech visionary), Marc Keating, president, client services, Craig Duxbury, chief operations officer, Sue Guerrero, and chief creative and values officer, Reuben Webb. The agency’s martech offering is further led by rising stars: interactions director, Lisa Arnold, creative experience director, Dan Collings, and creative technology director, Jordan Lane.
This is a tight knit team that works together seamlessly and virtually across geographies. The team functions as consistently well as it does by living and working according to Stein IAS’ core value: generosity of spirit.
Commercial context, challenges and objectives
The challenges of the past year are well chronicled: economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and Brexit; social justice; diversity and inclusion; the shift to all-digital marketing.
Stein IAS’ objectives through it all: to continue its commercial growth. But to also use this extraordinary period to add dimension to this growth by focusing on the development of its people; the nurturing of their physical and mental well-being; the further activation of DEI programmes by creating pipelines from under-represented communities to the agency.
In the agency’s own words: “We are a better agency for it by every measure, not least of which included landing our best year ever!”
Over the past five years, Stein IAS has grown consistently, generating £1.15MM in operating profit on average. In the ‘year of Covid’, the agency’s revenue has increased by 12.9% and its operating profit by 131.5% (£2.8MM in OP). Growth was driven by account wins and expansion, with a new business win rate of ~50%.
- Win: IHS Markit
- Win: Elanco (now Stein IAS’ biggest client by revenue)
- Win: Google Cloud (API BU)
- Win: Capita
- Win: Dechra
- Win: Federal Reserve System
- Win: Danfoss (experiential marketing)
- Win: Duracell (AOR for B2B account)
- Win/Expansion: Covance/Labcorp (expanded from Clinical Trials to Enterprise AOR)
- Win/Expansion: Ingredion (won Global AOR while retaining EMEA AOR).
Performance was also driven by Stein IAS’ preparedness to shift to work-from-home. Stein IAS’ ‘One Agency’ model already required it to ‘work from anywhere’, so systems and processes were in place to shift seamlessly to WFH. The agenct did so with speed, increasing efficiency while reducing travel and related costs.
Impact on clients’ businesses
For Ingredion, Stein IAS has pioneered a multi-platform approach to unlocking the value of real-time data and customer experiences. Using its bespoke AI platform, Stein IAS is now mining data/insights on Ingredion’s market, customers and end consumers. These insights include customer sentiment, cultural trends, competitive SOV and trending content themes.
Intent data then identifies key accounts actively in market, which are targeted in real-time with relevant topic/theme driven messaging and dynamic creative utilising advanced adtech. Stein IAS’ own proprietary technology enables dynamic ad development and deployment, again in real-time.
The notion of the right message to right target at the right time has now been elevated to real-time. The results of this real-time hyper-relevance have been nothing short of phenomenal. Front end-metrics at 10X greater than industry norms. Quality of engagement and sales opportunities that is beyond promising. Stein IAS has been working to reach this point in time – the point of real-time impact.
Stein IAS’ content-led, martech-powered campaigns for Trelleborg’s SmartPort ‘smart products’ have delivered transformative results. To date, these campaigns have doubled Trelleborg’s website traffic and increased MQLs by 820%.
The agency’s SafeTug 360° video/VR experience in particular placed users on the bridge of docking ships. The campaign engaged +25% of its TAM, with virtually no paid media.
The work has won more than 30 major awards.
Digital CX at massive scale
With hundreds of products across more than 90 countries, Elanco is one of the world’s leading animal health companies. Elanco needed to unify digital experiences globally, particularly its web ecosystem. Websites looked and functioned differently, diluting both corporate and product brands. Development of new sites was expensive and inefficient. Digital content underperformed in conversions and search.
In response, Stein IAS developed a comprehensive content, design and development solution that is modular and inherently scalable, allowing for high-end web experiences everywhere Elanco does business.
Today, Elanco has a web framework to expand its share of voice across markets. Development savings are projected at £12.5 million per annum, with a 25% lift in inbound demand. Over the past six months alone, Elanco has generated £3.53M in fees for the agency, making it the largest single project in Stein IAS’ history.
Organisational culture and employee relations
Leading in martech requires investment in people. With a staff retention rate exceeding 90%, Stein IAS has always made this investment, never more so than this year.
- First agency to win a Princess Royal Training Award.
- Accredited Investor in People globally for enabling its people to advance professionally.
For the first time in years, Stein has also added a company value: learn for your life. It’s part of a year-long initiative to make ongoing learning the agency’s #1 priority.
Collaborative working, internally and externally
Stein IAS is value-driven, full stop. Generosity of spirt. Work smart. Learn for your life. Fun. The agency hires and behaves according to its values. It engages with clients according to its values. In fact, the first step Stein IAS takes with every new client is a values workshop through which it aligns its clients’ values with its own – the most necessary step to ensure a productive, collaborative, long-lasting relationship.
Industry or market engagement and/or leadership
Stein IAS’ industry engagement is always considerable; the past year saw this engagement reach an all-time high.
- Keynote presentations at B2B Marketing Ignite USA and London titled ‘In Search of the EQL’, a structured framework to drive higher quality, emotionally qualified leads via martech-powered campaigns.
- Publication of ‘From Martech Connection to Human Connection’, co-authored with Joel Harrison, editor-in-chief, B2B Marketing.
- Creation of the two-day B2B WorldFest in partnership with The Drum, including the panel, ‘Is the Martech Arms Race Over or Has It Only Just Begun?’, featuring Jon Miller of Demandbase and Scott Brinker of chiefmartec.com
- Chairman Tom Stein’s Blog Post Modern ‘Blog Post Covid’ CMO series, featuring Toni Clayton-Hine, CMO of EY; Linda Brunner, Global CX Lead for Siemens; Dave Silke, CMO of Mitel; and many other industry leaders.
Annie Garvey, director of marketing, Covance
“Stein IAS uncovered new insights and handled positioning, creative, content and campaign execution – while also advancing our martech capability and execution. There’s no other agency delivering to this standard across the whole marketing spectrum”