What Can Marketing Campaign Failure Teach us About Websites?

The Client:

One-man shop providing M&A advisory and other consulting services to lower middle-market companies.

The Catalyst:

The client had recently closed a transaction and historically had always set aside a certain portion of his fees to market. He had tried a number of marketing strategies in the past, with varying degrees of success and looked to lever our expertise to develop a new strategy.

Considered Solutions:

  • Direct email marketing
  • Value Builder type lead capture program
  • Pay per click marketing to drive traffic to corporate web page
  • Landing page build out to address specific market segments

(spoiler alert – we did them all…)

First Attempt:

Initially we engaged in direct email marketing, developing prospect lists and writing email copy to reach out to middle-market business owners.  While open rates were strong, conversion rates were very low. We found that while we could drive inbound interest, many prospects simply were not ready to sell at the time of initial solicitation. This proved great for long term pipeline building but not as an effort to generate clients near term.

Digital Pivot:

Rather than cold soliciting prospects via email, we pivoted strategies. In conjunction with the Value Builder system, we launched a pay per click marketing campaign, buying traffic from both LinkedIn and Google. While we were able to drive traffic to the Value Builder system, drop off data suggests that most prospects do not want to share this much information, this early on in the process to fully use the system. It appeared that Value Builder was best used as a warm sales tool to add value, not to introduce the client to a complex M&A transaction. Again, we were able to generate inbound interest but less than desired conversions from the traffic sent to the site.

Digital Second Chance:

In an effort to simplify the approach and messaging, our team developed a landing page and curated ad campaigns in a very targeted application. Impressions and clicks produced above industry average results, but still conversion rates were low. Looking at the available data, it seemed that prospects would visit the landing page as required by the ads, but would quickly find the advisors corporate webpage which had much different messaging and was positioned in a different way.

Take away:

Many M&A firms look for a silver bullet when marketing and unfortunately there is not one.  However, this is one key element that influenced each strategy for this client and likely does the same for you – your firm’s website.  Working around the website with paid marketing, direct marketing and even landing pages is a means to an end.  Will it generate leads? Sure, but it will not be as effective as if the website is taken into consideration to create a more holistic marketing plan.

Inconsistent marketing looks bad…telling a prospect one thing only for them to try to validate while finding out something totally different kills opportunity.  Prior to making any investments in digital marketing it is paramount that your website be built to support your future marketing needs. Without doing that, there is a good money after bad element that can be hard to avoid.

We have decided to pause this client's marketing while we address the real challenge – differentiating his brand at the website level.  Using a new improved website with a more comprehensive call to action strategy that meets all industry best practices we will once again start marketing, expecting a greatly improved conversion rate.

In closing we want to stress a few key points:

  • Your website is one of the biggest influencers of lead conversion online – invest in this above/before all else
  • Working around the website with other strategies will cost more in the long run
  • M&A marketing is not a perfect science and you should be open to testing new strategies, learning from them and pivoting based on the data.

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