Jive Software is a tech company that provides enterprise level intranet software solutions for large and midmarket businesses. The Jive platform is extremely robust and ideal for global companies that want to connect and engage with employees in multiple offices around the world.
Jive is a unique company and a unique client because they are owned by a private equity firm. This means that they had previously existed as their own company but have since been purchased and are now being operated by Aurea Capital Partners. This process involves a great deal of upheaval – new people coming in and filling new roles within the company. Traditionally (and as was the case with Jive), much of the leadership team is replaced by partners from the private equity firm.
AdVenture Media Group was hired by the new guard of leaders to help bring the product back to market and very aggressively ramp up advertising efforts. The private equity leadership structure created many exciting opportunities as well as some challenges.
- The company was in flux after a private equity buyout
- Goals to scale were extremely aggressive
- Private equity structure made it hard to communicate with decision makers
- Increase advertising spend to $1,000,000 a month
- Increase volume of MQLs and SQLs which will lead to closed deals
- Create a “playbook” that could be used to implement our strategies for other companies within the Aurea portfolio
- Multipronged approach to hit lofty spend goals
- Maximize market coverage by leveraging Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, YouTube and LinkedIn Advertising
- Capture BOF customers through search
- Leverage LinkedIn insights data to build valuable audiences for remarketing
- Increase brand awareness with YouTube ads
The directive from the client was clear, hit the ground running and increase spend asap – so that’s exactly what we did. We launched new search campaigns with an expanded keyword list, created new LinkedIn ads and launched YouTube campaigns to increase brand awareness. The plan was to test to the edges of the search market with broad keywords and aggressive automated bidding while also trying to increase the size of the addressable market with targeted YouTube campaigns. These video ads would help to keep Jive at the top of potential customers’ minds and increase branded searches over time.
Unfortunately, the sales cycle for enterprise level intranet software can be as long as 6-12 months which made measuring success difficult at first. In order to stay aligned, we set up regular reporting and weekly phone calls with the two VPs of demand generation.
We were generating more leads and getting some good engagement on our videos but the decision makers at Aurea were not seeing the performance they were hoping for. There was a bit of a disconnect caused by the corporate structure which led to some bumps in the road.
We learned that long term branding strategies are not practical in the world of private equity. It is easier for a large private equity firm like Aurea to purchase another tech company than to spend time and money building a strong brand for the companies they already own.
After a shaky start, we knew that we had to make some adjustments to our strategy and get more realistic about our goals.
- Clearly define the size of the addressable market and set a realistic budget
- Better understand the sales funnel and focus on BOF audiences
- Improve quality of traffic to the website and generate more SQLs
- Immerse ourselves in the client’s business to better advise the client on realistic spend and return goals
- Integrate Salesforce account to get a better sense of lead quality and the sales process
- Leverage Google’s automated bidding strategies to generate higher quality traffic and maximize lead generation
- Focus spend on BOF search campaigns and pause the branding YouTube ads
Once we got aligned with the new leadership team and clearly defined our business goals, the relationship flourished. Instead of starting with a spend goal and trying to create demand to fit that model, we developed a deep understanding of the enterprise intranet market and Jive’s position within that market.
All clients want to hit the ground running and all account managers want to prove themselves and show value right away but that doesn’t always lead to the best results. The true value that an agency like ours can provide can only be fully realized after a complete immersion into the client’s business.
CRM INTEGRATION FOR BETTER CONVERSION DATA
From the onset of the relationship, one of the biggest hurdles we faced was getting the client’s Saleforce account integrated with our Google Ads account. Leveraging the data from the Salesforce account was going to be integral to the success of our campaigns so we rolled up our sleeves, worked with a team of developers and helped the client reconfigure their website, CRM and sales process.
Without Salesforce lead stage data, our search campaigns could only be optimized for lead quantity, not quality. Mapping conversion actions to MQL and SQL lead stages allowed us to optimize for higher quality leads that were more likely to turn into closed deals. Automated bidding is only as good as the data being fed into the algorithm and CRM lead stage data is invaluable when working with any lead generation client. More information on automated bidding can be found in my colleague’s informational blogpost, A Guide To Understanding Google’s Automated Bidding Strategies.
QUALITY VS QUANTITY
Once we integrated Salesforce and were feeding the Google AI machine with high quality conversion data, we started to see an increase in CPC and a decrease in overall leads. This may sound like a bad thing (it certainly did to the client) but our strategy was actually working very well. When we first took over the account the client was getting a fair amount of junk leads from unqualified users.
The increased CPC is indicative of the fact that we were entering higher quality auctions and paying for higher quality traffic. The plan was to increase conversion rate by maintaining a robust negative keyword list and targeting higher quality users. Although overall leads declined, the conversion rate from MQL to SQL quadrupled in the first few months. This huge increase far outweighed the increase in CPC and resulted in much better overall performance.
The increased conversion rate from MQL to SQL resulted in a 243% increase in SQLs and an 827% decrease in cost/SQL over a 6-month period. Once the account was really firing on all cylinders we were able to determine that the client’s initial goal of $1,000,000 in ad spend per month was not realistic and we’d be most efficient while spending around $100,000 per month.
CALLING THE RIGHT PLAY
I’ve mentioned some of the challenges associated with having a private equity owned client but there is one great opportunity that I have not yet mentioned – the opportunity for new business from other portfolio companies. The trials and tribulations that we experienced with the Jive account led to some great results but they also gave us a framework that could be implemented for other companies.
Taking the knowledge we learned from the early stages with the Jive account, we were able to create a playbook that could be used to onboard newly acquired Aurea portfolio companies. The playbook that we helped build won us more business from the private equity client. Part II of this series will detail our experience with our second Aurea Capital company – Infer.
- 4x increase in MQL to SQL conversion rate
- 243% increase in SQLs
- 827% decrease in cost/SQL
- One new opportunity with an Aurea portfolio company – Infer