At the end of the day, website visitors do not pay the bills. Those that solely view an ad don’t drive revenue but acquiring clients and customers does. Ensuring that you align the right marketing efforts to drive the firms’ goals will be the catalyst for growth and success. Digital marketing involves multiple facets that can add value to each and every firm. Taking the right steps will establish the foundation needed to promote the practice.
1. Identify the needs and areas of opportunity beyond financial statements.
Oftentimes, acquisition evaluators consider heavy marketing costs a detriment to financial success, however, if allocated to high-performance marketing segments, bottom line profits could be lost in the event of significant budget cuts. Prior to making budgetary decisions, allocate audit-resources to identify the true cause and effect relationship between marketing investments and bottom-line profits. This will allow insight to develop the best strategy rather than just reducing marketing investments to the bare minimum.
2. Ensure website health prior to allocating significant marketing spends toward target audiences.
If a website does not function as well as it should or provides’ a poor user experience, marketing dollars could go to waste as visitors abandon the site prematurely. First, consider if a relevant user will convert and how they will interact with the site to do so. Only after confidence in the ability to convert your target audience is established should significant marketing investments then be made with a website designer.
3. Pinpoint and allocate the necessary resources to manage omnichannel marketing strategies.
While internal marketing teams can provide adequate knowledge for the specific industry, managing omnichannel strategies could require external support to keep campaigns organized, seamless, and effective. Private Equity firms oftentimes partner with 3rd party agencies that offer top tier knowledge at scale. Partnering with a trusted agency can be beneficial in order to use them as an extension of the firm’s internal team – working closely to seem as in-house as possible. This can keep firms focused on the business itself while the advertisers do what they do best. Using the industries top performing ad-technologies managed by skilled strategists provides a weight off of the shoulders of the equity firm.
4. Determine your target audience, how they can be reached, and identify the appropriate marketing channels.
Google Ads and Social Ads are very different. Regardless of the core audience Google Ads is very reactive, while social media ads are extremely proactive. While both are critical for a digital scale, Google Ads react directly to a user’s search intent by showing an ad to audiences actively searching related content. Social and programmatic ads are more proactive and as such as are the digital equivalent of the cold opening. Is the person on the other end your customer? Absolutely (if targeted properly, of course). Are they expecting to see you? Potentially, not. Thus, how you go about reaching these core audiences can be vastly different and these platforms can be utilized to achieve different campaign objectives. Is your goal brand awareness, or converting visitors into customers? Wherever the viewer is in the sales funnel, the right strategy to engage with them will vary.
5. Understand your conversion window and make decisions based on your firm’s reality.
How long will it take a user to purchase a t-shirt? It could be as soon as the first visit. How long will it take to select a lawyer? Likely, a call and then a free consultation (or two). How long will it take to identify a college? Likely months. How long will it take to identify a new software for a Fortune 500 business to migrate its core IT infrastructure to? Potentially YEARS!
Understanding how conversion windows effect marketing measurements will allow digital advertisers to work in a more efficient manner. Are we suggesting that a Fortune 500 company wait years to measure campaign success? Of course not. Rather, shifting focus on the reasonable KPIs that are able to be measured accurately within a shorter window. Are we seeing a lift in contact forms and calls? Are we driving new visitors? Are past visitors returning? Are leads qualified? These are all performance-driven questions that provide insight into the current strategy and areas of opportunity for ways to optimize your conversion rate.
6. Build a foundation and then scale.
We could list out every service that could be beneficial in the short and long term, but that doesn’t mean it will all be successful instantly. Instead, it makes the most sense to start by building a foundation with core marketing elements, analyzing the performance, then planning and executing more strategies at scale based on how return-on-investment (ROI) grows. Everyone has to start somewhere – if that means beginning with the initial marketing basics, that’s okay!
7. Hire an agency.
Do you have enough resources to manage SEO, Paid Search, Social Advertising, and other channels? Perhaps you have someone internal with experience across all channels, but do they have the depth of knowledge necessary to execute at the highest level? Perhaps you have an expert developer, are they able to run targeted programmatic advertisements? Unless your employee is a unicorn, this challenge will forever make agencies (or the agency model) a valuable option. Strong agencies not only provide a depth of knowledge often impossible to build internally, but are also staffed with strategists, coordinators, and managers who are able to tie together technical silos and provide a cohesive marketing strategy. If you are not sure what is right for your website, contact us for a free digital strategy evaluation.
8. Understand the differences between brand awareness and direct response campaigns.
Ultimately, equity firms advertise to grow businesses at all points of the growth cycle and be in a position to be able to exit at a higher valuation than at the beginning of the acquisition. As mentioned before, different types of phases in the cycle require various approaches for peak performance. At the top of the funnel, brand awareness campaigns drive objectives like getting consumers more knowledgeable about who you are and what you do. Metrics such as impressions and clicks are useful to evaluate performance. Direct response campaigns are more ROI-centric and can drive objectives such as increasing email lists by compelling visitors to fill out contact forms and even as successful as converting visitors and even retaining previous customers. Wherever your objectives land, premier agencies with top-level analysts will be able to offer guidance and strategic implementation for the most effective campaigns – driving optimal performance and producing result-oriented growth.
How AVX Digital Can Help
AVX Digital is an award-winning agency that has helped personalize and optimize marketing strategies for a wide variety of industries. When working with Private Equity, we are able to advertise on behalf of portfolio companies, offer evaluation support for any ongoing advertising projects, and even execute our digital due diligence to identify opportunities within the industry, as well as those that are unique per equity portfolio. Digital due diligence ensures that firms can continue to focus on the business without sacrificing any marketing opportunities that could potentially be overlooked when evaluating investment opportunities. Contact AVX Digital today to discuss these opportunities for your firm and how we may assist you.