I’m a fan of acquiring an existing business as it takes a lot of the risk out of your growth plan. One of our long standing clients recently acquired their local competitor and I wanted to outline the process we use to help clients decide what to do next. Here are seven tips to help you think about how to manage marketing your newly acquired business.
The challenge is now you have two brands! Should you merge the new brand into your current one? Or is it better to keep them both because they serve different audiences? This would mean running two brands and typically merging the back office functions. Start with an audit and then review the facts to make an informed decision on the go forward plan.
- Using the keyword planner in Adwords to research on what problems customers of each business are looking for you to solve. What is the relative search volume of each brand? Maybe one serves a different geography or segment and you will be able to see this from the keywords in Adwords/Google Search Console.
- Is the logo or brand dated? Sometimes it is easier to do a refresh of the brand you are acquiring vs a full merger or redo. Audit the website using our Google Lighthouse tool and then compare your site. Which website technically performs better? Which site has the better SEO? Which site has less pages to rework?
- Website Performance. Looking in Google Analytics how is the new brand/website performing. Conversion rates? Traffic? New users? Time on site? How does it perform on Mobile?
- Security. Using tools like Sucuri and Qualys SSL and ImmuniWeb take a look at the new site for Security issues. Trust is a major factor in branding and ranking in Google.
- Email List. How big is it? Is it double opt in? How fresh is it? What email tool do they use? What email fields/data points do they have? What is the open rate? How often did they send emails? Does it serve people outside the US? GDPR compliance?
- Social accounts. Audit what they have. Grab what they don’t. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, Medium, Pinterest, and Tik Tok are the base accounts you want to own. We usually grab the top 25-50 for each of our SEO clients.
- Reviews. Google My Business, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau and Manta. (TripAdvisor for hospitality/travel related business) How good are they? How many do they have? As a few hundred 4 star reviews is going to take time to rebuild.
That is a lot of data but it gives you a robust view of the new business. Now, using a spreadsheet do a comparison of your current brand to the acquired brand. Often clients are surprised to see the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. Next move slow. There is no rush, as the other business has been around for years if not decades. Just like you might live in a newly acquired house before you renovate. Do the same for your newly acquired business. Many of your initial assumptions may be wrong and it is cheaper to redo the website once. Then with your marketing team to develop a project plan (using a tool like Asana), either migrate the brand or refresh the items that might need attention to keep them both growing.