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04 - How to find new business from new channels

Are you looking for new channels to grow your business? But do you find it a constant challenge to maintain a steady flow of business coming in? 


You’re trying to grow your business and optimise revenues from different segments and markets; but right now you’re unclear where you should invest in order to build up a long pipeline of potential customers. And you’re confused when it comes to understanding what returns you’ll get from all of these different sales and marketing efforts.


In short, there’s a lack of clarity around controlling your customer acquisition process. You know you need to invest money and build a solid sales and marketing machine, but building something like this takes trial and error – which often means spending even more money.


If you’re in this exact situation, read on. This case study from Microsoft partner, Ultimo, will definitely prove interesting. 


It’s a story of a successful campaign that opened up an additional channel – which Ultimo can now use to generate leads in a controlled way. 


Ready to improve your own marketing? It all starts with increasing the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns; and creating information and offers that your audience values.


The Challenge

Ultimo is an asset management software company based in the Netherlands, with offices in Germany, Belgium, and the UK. Specializing in computerized maintenance management software, their core customers are asset intensive companies in manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare.


Two years ago, the company decided to migrate from on-premises servers and a private cloud to Microsoft Azure. This was no small task, involving the migration of over 2,200 existing customers, alongside additional new business. At the halfway stage of the customer migration, Ultimo began looking for new opportunities to expand its consumption of Microsoft Azure. The challenge was how to generate and convert more leads to their cloud business. 


“Microsoft Azure offers us scalability and a future-proof environment. For our customers, they gain all the advantages of the Azure cloud: continuous delivery, backup guarantees, security updates – and the latest version of software which is updated automatically.”


– Robert Pronk, Partner Marketing Manager, Ultimo


The Solution

Having developed a relationship with Microsoft over a period of one and a half years, Ultimo were nominated by their Microsoft Partner account team to join the Innovation Factory – a suite of marketing services aimed at supporting the SMB segment. Ultimo took the opportunity to embrace the offer and co-invest in a marketing campaign with Amsterdam-based agency, Make Marketing Magic (MMM).


Ultimo presents their offer as a solution to mid-sized businesses. However the definition of a small business for Microsoft could actually be medium business for Ultimo. The reason? Ultimo counts the number of users, and Microsoft counts the number of seats. This suggested that there was lots of potential for Ultimo to gain a wider audience in the SMB market. 


In order to be as targeted as possible, Ultimo decided to focus their campaign only on specific roles - which are maintenance and asset managers. 


It was the most logical market to start with, so in the conversations with MMM, Ultimo were able to clearly define the content, messaging, and target audience. A briefing document from MMM enabled Ultimo to drill-down to the key characteristics of their intended audience – down to specific job roles and geographic location.


With this information, MMM created the deliverables, including email drips, LinkedIn advertising, and a landing page. 


The big change from an Ultimo perspective was the use of more simplified language from MMM. As a tech-driven company, Ultimo previously tended to veer towards more complex and technical language. 


The campaign targeted small and medium manufacturing companies in the Netherlands, specifically maintenance managers, head of technical services, and plant managers. As Ultimo’s first campaign to come out of the Innovation Factory, they decided to double-down on specific roles and play to their industry niche.


Ultimo were also in a niche due to their ISV offering – Azure only. This meant they needed a firm decision on whether to use pre-defined Azure content from Microsoft or use their own material. In the end, they opted to use the latter to boost leads and traffic, which would in turn help to increase customer consumption of Microsoft Azure.


The main campaign goal was to funnel the leads to an Ultimo software demo and/or the download of their e-book, nurtured by email drips and advertising on LinkedIn. Content was co-created by Ultimo and MMM, and targeted towards the key audience. 


“MMM’s approach was an eye-opener – the way that they handled the advertising and the way they created impactful content with very limited knowledge, in a limited space of time was really impressive. Enterprise asset management is very niche, and complex to understand – but the quality of their output was very good.”


– Robert Pronk, Partner Marketing Manager, Ultimo


The Impact

The campaign yielded a total of 124 downloads of the e-book, soft leads, which Ultimo are currently following up. Alongside that, the landing page generated 16 demos, which from an Ultimo perspective represents an excellent return on investment. 


In addition, after impressive conversion rates on LinkedIn, the shift towards more simplified language encouraged Ultimo to reevaluate their messaging on other marketing offers too. Moreover, the campaign is now another channel in an omnichannel approach used by Ultimo. 


Its success means they have a powerful story to share with other Microsoft Partners. They also plan to roll it out in other countries and markets to help grow their business internationally.  And with that success in mind, what’s Ultimo’s advice to other Microsoft Partners considering getting involved with the Innovation Factory? 


  • Choose your niche if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one. If your campaign is too broad, it won’t land at the feet of the people you want to reach. This means choosing at a specific role, industry, or specific role AND specific industry. 
  • Co-create content – share your industry expertise with your marketing partner. Give them enough technical details and information about your current customers to enable them to craft powerful content. The messaging can likely be in much “simpler” language than you would expect. 
  • Template success – if the campaign’s a success, use it as a model for other markets and countries to drive new business and grow your cloud business. Treasure a working combination of “target audience” + “message” + “offer”.In the Ultimo campaign this was: 
    • Target audience: maintenance managers
    • Message: Do you struggle while creating your maintenance strategy?
    • Offer: convenient demo for maintenance managers that are looking for the best maintenance strategy