Used.ca is a classifieds directory with presence in Canada, the US and the United Kingdom.
It’s main objective when partnering with Metamend was to increase traffic to their web properties at the lowest cost possible.
In the period prior to acquisition, identifying risks to existing and future business performance is paramount. Without an analysis, it’s impossible to know which elements to manage first, or what areas might be impacted.
A pre-acquisition audit is designed to evaluate potential risk areas, providing companies with the information necessary to develop a management strategy. When performing analysis in the digital marketing space, a business’ digital strategy is measured via analytics to determine its risk scope, including:
- Areas at risk
- Areas impacted by risks
- Likelihood of the risk occurring
- Which risks can be reduced or eliminated
All of these elements and many more should be asked, analysed and reported on during a pre-acquisition audit.
The Specifics that Need to be Answered
Below is a list of 4 points that require a clear answer in order to properly evaluate the risk for the digital arm of a company prior to acquisition:
There are many pieces that can make up the overall traffic story of a website, each of which can be split into two different categories: Paid and Organic. Within each of these two categories comes many sources, and understanding them sources is imperative to mitigating potential loss.
For example, in cases where paid traffic sources are controlled by third parties, owners of those sources may be unwilling to continue their relationship with a recently acquired company as the previous setup was more to their benefit.
Organic search can be a little trickery and is discussed in more detail below
Branded vs. non-Branded Traffic
Branded traffic is traffic that is the right of the new owners. It can be identified and protected with a high level of success. To properly analyze risks, it’s important to understand the ratios between branded and non-branded traffic.
For example, let’s say that a company has just acquired the Nike website. 50% of their traffic comes from branded terms like ‘Nike’, ‘Nike shoes’, ‘Nike shirts’ and so on. The other 50% comes from non-branded terms like ‘running shoes’ and ‘jogging shorts’. While the branded traffic is practically guaranteed, the other 50% of can be lost. On the flip side if 95% of website traffic branded then the risk of losing traffic is much lower.
Trademark and Brand Protection
How protected is your branded traffic? There are steps that can be taken to evaluate how much control you have over your brand’s online presence including:
- Determining whether your property appears in the top 5 search results for a branded term
- Checking whether your brand’s trademark is protected on Google AdWords
- Checking whether you own domain mistypes to prevent branded traffic leaks (For example, Apple owns ‘aple.com’ as it’s a common mistype they can use to redirect users to their home site)
You own your website, the design and functionality behind it. But you don’t own the search engines or social media sites. Google, Facebook and other search engines and social sites are constantly changing their algorithms to update interfaces, combat spam and generally increase their own revenue.
When acquiring a site, you are also acquiring its past. Google is like a cold case detective and an algorithm update is like DNA. A poor back linking strategy deployed 10 years ago can be unearthed in an update, wiping your site from the search engines. While these issues can be fixed, it can take months to find them, and even longer to appear in search results again. (Not to mention the time, money and opportunities lost as you try to fix it.) Given this, it is important to run a complete back link report including as assessment of any other potential penalties that have yet to be applied.
Account Access and Ownership
Do you own your data? It’s common for many companies to setup their paid search or analytics under a third-party account. In the event providers are switcher, any information accumulated over the years will remain with the original party, meaning your company will lose access to valuable historical data.
"We contracted with Metamend to provide a risk analysis audit for an upcoming acquisition. Their insight, professionalism and recommendations were extremely valuable as we evaluated the company pre-acquisition and grew the company post close."
You have completed your due diligence and closed the deal. With your team in place and you’re ready to grow the marketing and sales. So, what can an outsourced digital agency do for you now?
Here are 3 main areas that an agency can provide value.
Support your existing team
Collaborative outsourcing provides an existing team great value. By utilizing an agency’s existing infrastructure, your team has access to the knowledgeable specialists and tools the moment they’re needed. Not only does this save your employees time, it also saves the costs associated with having to rapidly grow in-house.
In addition, working with an agency with a Google Primer Partner status gives your business access to features otherwise unavailable to an individual organization.
Be your entire team
Post-acquisitions can result in the loss of an existing marketing team, or highlight the need for a team that may not have been there in the first place.
If this is the case, an agency that offers a shared service infrastructure can provide solutions for social media, organic traffic, reputation management, and more. Inserting a team on demand through an agency will also reduce your liabilities on internal staff, allowing your company to grow at its own pace.
Build a new team
If your ultimate goal is to bring your digital marketing in-house, an agency can help guide you through the process of building the marketing infrastructure that’s right for your company. Having the expertise of an existing agency means access to knowledge about tools, training and what specialists are required – saving your organization time and money.
If the process takes longer than anticipated, an outsourced agency can continue to review and maintain current marketing strategies even as they work to build your own internal system. As an added bonus, once your team is up and running, you now have access to an agency who knows your market and can provide ongoing consultation and collaboration as needed.