LiveTiles Case Study: The Year of Change
28th of Sep 2021
LiveTiles is a global force—an intranet and
digital workplace software company with
cloud-based digital solutions for commercial,
government and education markets.
Listing on the ASX in 2014, the SaaS brand now has a market cap of $145m, with substantial growth owed to both acquisitions and its strong global partnership with Microsoft.
When LiveTiles engaged Foresight as its global digital marketing consultancy in 2018, the core objective was to make paid media buying more efficient (we identified significant cost savings which we subsequently reinvested to see paid digital soar across the following years), and continuing to grow organic authority to exceed in-market competitors (we grew domain authority beyond competitors from a DA of 35 to over 50!).
But 2020 was the year that changed the world. And this required short and long term digital marketing strategy changes to align with LiveTiles’ continued global growth ambitions, while simultaneously navigating the malign influence of COVID-19 on the business community, and society at large.
A strategy to underpin global growth
Leveraging global personas for media targeting efficiency
As the company and product set evolved through LiveTiles’ acquisitions (including Wizdom, Hyperfish and more), the strategy shifted from a channel led, to an audience led approach. This began by leveraging the Techwise persona globally (typically covering professional titles including CIO, CTO and COO) created through Gartner’s enterprise persona segments. LiveTiles identified the Techwise persona as the most valuable immediately accessible within the LiveTiles competitive category.
The general advantage of using Gartner personas especially in an enterprise SaaS sales and marketing context, is that they are applicable across multiple regions. In comparison, Signal Milieu were personas created in Germany for BMW and used across the board where you have deep cultural ties to that audience segment (e.g. older and various influences on psychography) and so are more difficult to use within an international or multi-market context.
Given that in this case there were multiple markets for LiveTiles, the challenge was ensur- ing segmentation could be done across multiple geographies that had multiple professional, cultural and other influencers. This decision enabled the creation of more efficient media targeting given we could proxy a single source of truth for audience trends.
This was critical to support our ongoing proactive efforts to continue to increase media effi- ciency, while also supporting a budget decrease of 33% as the company looked to mitigate risk related to COVID.
A geographical approach to global domination
The strategic approach was to target lead and MQL (marketing qualified lead) acquisition in geographical markets with the most efficiency, and then upweight markets outside of APAC (North America or UK). The driving force for this decision was based on sales availability and resourcing in those respective locations.
The overall outcome of this approach? All digital leads that were acquired across FY21, 60.48% were APAC and the residual 39.52% were split between Americas and EMEA. This was a 60% increase in non-APAC lead volume from the previous year.
Each performance marketing initiative designed to support LiveTiles’ lead generation and brand growth were categorised under three key pillars: Paid Digital, SEO and Analytics.
Paid Media Channel Planning and Performance
Over the financial year, Foresight’s Paid Media team focussed on Google Search and reintroduced Microsoft Search to complement bottom of the funnel lead acquisition.
Beyond the broader strategic landscape and ESOV (Excess Share of Voice) forecast formulas for growth, paid media investment was continued, proving out spend efficiency in real-time to create a strong business case for future investment.
Digital performance media is responsible for over 40% of all leads from the LiveTiles website, making it a critical part of the digital marketing mix and to global sales teams for their pipeline.
Optimisation Journey Part 1
Campaign targeting tweaks
On a daily basis campaigns were optimised through Foresight’s best practice campaign optimisation process. With campaigns targeting multiple landing pages, we needed to ensure each page was set up for success from a quality score perspective. Campaigns targeting the right types of keywords were also critical—for instance, removing spend on keyword phrases like “how to log in to sharepoint” which are otherwise capable of spending (and wasting!) a lot of budget.
Optimisation Journey Part 2
Supporting product launches while adhering to media efficiency targets
For a key new product launch (Reach—an intranet/employee engagement platform built specifically for mobile and not reliant on Sharepoint or teams), the goal was to start with an MVP (minimum viable product) testing approach. We launched with a single landing page and some basic information about Reach supported by tightly targeted search campaigns on Google and Bing alongside complementary campaigns via LinkedIn with a “Request a Demo” campaign objective.
Within a month, we dropped LinkedIn as a channel to focus on more bottom of the funnel conversions in search—continuing to maintain media efficiency. The Foresight Paid Digital team introduced an ebook that spoke to hybrid working and remote working trends within dif- ferent industries—targeting the ebook landing page with keywords like “employee engage- ment” and “customer experience”.
Switching the landing page objectives from “Request a demo” to “Download an ebook” was a critical change because at this end of the funnel, prospects were already in the consideration phase so more information was an important step before they felt ready to convert. This change in call to action increased conversion rates from 0.55% to 4.07%.
From this shift in conversion rates, within 6 months, 45% of all LiveTiles digital leads were for the LiveTiles Reach product—far beyond the expectations of the LiveTiles team given this was such a new product in market.
Optimisation Journey Part 3
Lockdown response consideration
During the first lockdown of 2020 across key parts of the world, companies were scrambling to find remote working apps. In this pivotal time, Foresight launched a Microsoft Teams campaign designed to showcase how LiveTiles could support elements of the Microsoft technology stack. This campaign delivered 20% of total leads within that time period with an enviably low cost per conversion (about a third of what we would normally see on other campaigns of this type).
We then targeted similar audiences on display campaigns to deliver a conversion rate of 0.90% (industry benchmarks for B2B display campaigns are 0.80%). This lowering of cost per leads over a period of 12 months enabled paid digital to ultimately drive 46% of overall lead volume attributed to the LiveTiles website.
Paid Digital Performance Outcomes
- Tripled closed-won sales revenue attributed to paid digital
- Single year Return on Adspend of 4.1x, 3 year LTV Return on Adspend of 12x!
- 20.7% increase in leads delivered with a 33% decrease in media budget!
Organic Channel Planning and Performance
Paid Digital is just one part of the marketing performance story. An omni-channel approach that also includes SEO focusing on organic sources of traffic is always necessary.
For the last year in particular, it needed to be one that took into consideration volatile audience shifts and evolutions. Especially as remote working became far more prevalent for employer brands out of necessity, and then continued to shift as employee expectations changed in the months that followed.
SEO Planning and Pivot
Organic search has continued to be a strong performance digital marketing channel for LiveTiles since the results of our earlier work that focused on domain authority increases through content-led link building. For example our Top AI Blockchain projects infographic and a subsequent infographic focussed on the benefits of 5G, both attracting close to 50 backlinks between then and contributing to a 21% increase on domain authority for LiveTiles.
But in the wake of COVID, our organic search team had to really understand how audiences had evolved (and were still evolving). This meant pivoting the strategy to meet how users search and how search behaviour had changed, taking advantage of the authority that had already been built to rank for new and emerging keyword phrases.
Our goal was to ensure the LiveTiles brand still created relevant content that was able to be found when people were searching—ensuring that all tools which LiveTiles is linked to such as Microsoft Teams, had relevant FAQs and an informative angle to share with website visitors.
Practical knowledge was key
We observed how certain keyword phrases were getting a big boost mid-pandemic. FAQs like “how to change your background on teams” or “how to create a webinar on teams”, as well as management and HR related queries such as “how to increase morale”. Helping people with the little technical things that would make their lives easier in a world so different to their status quo was not only deeply aligned to the LiveTiles brand, but also the perfect strategy to outrank the competition.
The Foresight SEO team noticed that, as usual, most searchers would click on the first piece of content they’d see in search results—and that these were often a featured snippet already secured by a competitive brand. We tailored and optimised a range of pre-existing LiveTiles content and packages to meet searcher needs and gain an edge on already established competitor positioning.
Blogs were also a key part of the implementation. The insight that drove our revised content plan for the blog was connected to our SEO team’s analysis of an increase in searches for phrases like “helping employees”, “remote employee tools” and “how to boost morale”. These content pieces were custom-designed to enhance top of the funnel discoverability where prospects were in the information gathering phase before they have a clear brand preference, while also complementing and supporting lower-funnel activity in paid search.
Examples in practice
Updating pre-existing content titles to ensure they are easily discoverable and contain core search phrases as well as ensuring LiveTiles content stood out in search results by ensuring unique and enticing meta descriptions and title tags were being used.
Creating a stronger internal linking ecosystem (above) to help guide customer journey onsite by providing links and relevant content blocks within user guides (right).
Long form content, answering sharp increases in broad employee experience related discovery keyword phases.
SEO Performance Outcomes
- 60% year on year increase in sessions
- 65% year on year increase in new users
- 40% year on year increase in keyword discoverability
- 92% year on year increase in organic asset downloads
Delivering global digital marketing performance visibility
To support all of this digital activity, it was time to upgrade the analytics approach to better reflect the growing needs and complexity of LiveTiles as an organisation.
When people think of marketing performance outcomes, reporting is always an important need, but not always prioritised because of the level of technical capability needed to deliver something that really works. The LiveTiles’ global marketing team understood how important contextualisation of digital marketing performance was. They reasoned—if we can’t see all data in one spot, and filter it in a way that makes sense to the business, how can we effectively compare it?
And ROI visibility was particularly important at a time when investments needed to be closely managed and growth targets were being connected to broader, future forecasts for ambitious market share capture.
The analytics tech stack used to deliver visualisations to the LiveTiles global marketing team via Foresight’s analytics team included Stitch as a data pipeline, Supermetrics for some ad platform connectors, BigQuery to cleanse and cross match data and Google Data Studio to visualise and filter results.
Marketing performance visualisations included:
- Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual data breakdowns
- Regional reports
- Multi-channel attribution
- MQL & SQL pipeline reporting
- Online to offline reporting
The technical solution
The Foresight Data Warehouse is based on a dbt framework consisting of data models, data transformations and data warehouse dimensional models we use for ingesting, combining and restructuring data from multiple source systems into a conformed, Kimball-style data warehouse.
The key design goals included:
- For Foresight Analytics’ team, to provide standards around how we model and transform various data sources
- To make it simpler to run data quality tests by defining these tests in advance
- To enable merging of customer, product, contact and other shared entity data with no single authoritative source
- To pre-create derived analytics measures for individual and combinations of sources
- To enable use of either Stitch and Supermetrics as the pipeline technology based on need
- To create a means of selecting sources or subject areas (“modules”) and have just those sources/modules loaded to speed up the creation of data visualisations for different internal stakeholder groups
- To enable loading and integration of custom (server log files) sources into the warehouse.
Privacy considerations and the impact on marketing data accuracy
As GDPR came into view, Foresight’s analytics team continued to work with LiveTiles to identify privacy risks. We then assessed the competitive landscape to understand how the industry is tackling user consent, and then conducted routine privacy audits, implemented form fields, tags and rule sets for data governance. Once that was complete, we recommended cookie management software and guided its implementation while working on developing ongoing processed to onboard new technologies in a privacy-conscious manner.
The last step was overhauling SQL logic in the data warehouse to mitigate data loss due to cookie blocking. Even so, the risk to understanding the complete end to end journey of users/ leads remained a challenge, so it was important to provide LiveTiles a dashboard page that fully visualised and broke down fully tracked and partially tracked user journeys so that LiveTiles executives knew what data they were basing their decisions on.
With great data comes great responsibility!
LiveTiles’ new data visualisation is just the beginning of a world domination story that is set to continue and we’re excited to see what happens next.
What’s next for LiveTiles
Excess Share of Voice principles to forecast market share capture
Having proven efficient media spend across multiple geographies while supporting sustainable growth in a time of change allowed us to migrate to phase 2 of the marketing roadmap: how do we scale across multiple channels in order to capture audiences beyond the Techwise persona in specific locations and capture as much share of the persona available, world- wide. This plan has now been crafted to support a three-year expansion and media investment strategy.
The Foresight ESOV Forecasting Approach
We shortlisted organisations within the category, sourcing data including market capitalisation, ARR (annual recurring revenue), YOY (year on year) customer account increase, sales and marketing % contribution of expenses and advertising expense contribution.
We mapped and sorted organisations based on the time taken for them to achieve $100m ARR.
Target ARR timeframe filtering
We identified organisations achieving $100m ARR in less than 10 years.
Budget allocations by ARR and timeframe
We analysed organisations achieving $100m ARR in less than 10 years, highlighting the percentage of year on year revenue increase and advertising budget as a percentage of revenue.
We identified the average percentage of budget required to achieve $100m ARR.
Apply ESOV formulas
We applied Binet and Field research methodology on increasing excess share of voice, forecasting ARR to a percentage of advertising investment broken down by channel.
3 year investment breakdown
We built out omni-channel percentages and allocated investments required over the following three years to achieve and exceed LiveTiles’ $100m ARR target.
It’s also important to highlight the balance in investment allocation planning between brand activation vs performance marketing. It’s not one or the other, it’s not binary, it’s complementary.
That’s why Foresight participated in a number of brand activities with LiveTiles which then supported performance media throughout the year. You can learn more about the LiveTiles Love Your Work Campaign which formed part of that brand activity here.
The ability to impact market share growth at this scale and level of global business doesn’t happen unless an agency partner has multiple touch points between its consulting team and the client across a variety of business units in multiple regions. The scope needs to be understood beyond the lens of the CMO. Multi-layered stakeholder management is crucial in this kind of setting.
If you’d like to learn more about the formulas we’ve created to help brands scale globally and grow market share sustainably, get in touch with our team today!
“Foresight Digital were my digital eyes and ears during my tenure at LiveTiles. For the price of two full timers we received 8 specialists who worked on our paid and SEO. From research to strategy, tactics to reporting, Michelle, Rahul and the team moved the needles continually. Communication was impeccable.
And they made us smarter: unlike other agencies I have dealt with—Foresight Digital took the time to educate us. Most importantly, they worked obsessively on our conversion points and CAC efficiency and really made it their business to understand our business and its unit economics.”
Foresight is a digital consultancy supporting established and emerging brands to grow, scale, demonstrate ROI and flourish sustainably. Foresight partners with high quality web development and UX specialist agencies as critical enablers.
Have a client who is planning a migration, needing growth, or struggling with a post migration traffic drop? Reach out for a chat any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
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