iContact Case Study:
Branding, Marketing  Communications, Investor Relations

 

Situation: In 2007, iContact, at the time known as Intellicontact, was an Email Marketing SaaS company with 27 employees, $2.7 million in sales and had 10,000 customers. It wanted to rapidly scale and compete directly with Constant Contact, the category leader, improve its interface and attract venture capital funding.

 

Objectives

 

  • Rebrand Intellicontact in order to position the firm as a leader in the email marketing SaaS space for small and mid-sized business.

  • Position the firm as a viable entity in the email marketing space to attract funding

  • Build awareness of the company in business publications beyond the tech/local media

 

Strategies

 

  • Rebrand Intellicontact as iContact – positioning it as a SaaS platform designed to help small and mid-sized business grow and marketing their businesses.

  • Position Co-Founders Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton as up-and-coming entrepreneurs and subject matter experts on emerging tech business.

  • Develop key relationships with VCs and analysts to position iContact for future investments/mergers/acquisition.

 

Tactics

 

In 2007, Intellicontact was rebranded as iContact, including a total revamp of the user interface, outreach to customers and redesign of all company marketing/customer-facing materials. Simultaneously, an internal communications program was developed to help employees embrace the cultural change.

 

Media and analyst relations was also increased significantly, with an emphasis on national technology and business press, in addition to local North Carolina press.

 

A Subject Matter Expert program was developed for the company’s co-founders to increase brand recognition.

 

In 2007, an Awards Program was instituted, with the goal of specifically winning key awards for bossiness and technology.

 

The Results

 

Major articles were secured in more than 300 business media outlets in a three-year timeframe, including The New York Times, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Success Magazine. Ryan Allis, CEO and Co-Founder appeared twice on CNBC’s the Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

 

In its first year of eligibility, iContact was recognized as an Inc. 500 honoree, and was #87 on the list. Aaron and Ryan Allis were named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurs of the Year for the Carolinas.

 

In 2007, $5.35 million in Series A funding was secured with Update Partners. In 2010 $40 million in Series B funding was secured with JMI Equity.  In February, 2012, iContact was acquired by Vocus, a SaaS Marketing service for $169 million. Company executives and investment partners credit the increased visibility of the firm through marketing communications as a major reason for the funding successes.

webs.com Case Study:
Marketing Communications

 

Situation: Webs.com, a nine-year old SaaS company that provided self-serve website development through online subscriptions, needed to position themselves for acquisition or merger over a 12-18 month timeframe. They also were considering changes to SaaS platform and an acquisition that would allow them to take advantage of the growing popularity of Facebook.

 

Objectives

 

  • Position Webs.com as a leader in the website creation space for small businesses

  • Raise Webs.com visibility in traditional and tech media to position them for acquisition

  • Build awareness of the company in the social media sector

 

Strategies

 

  • Develop a marketing communications program that position the company and its executives as subject matter experts in SaaS application development

  • Extend the Webs.com brand into social media applications and platforms

  • Unify Webs.com’s social media communications across key sites, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

  • Use industry “influencers” to amplify the Webs.com message

 

Tactics

 

  • A comprehensive marketing communications program was developed for Webs.com that included media placements, executive speeches, award recognition and social media communications development.

  • In February, 2011, Webs.com acquired Pagemodo, a Facebook Fan Page application, with a loyal following.  The acquisition was announced through traditional press release distribution as well as social media outlets and blogs.

  • Webs.com CEO Haroon Mokhtarzada was invited to speak at several conferences, including Hosting on in San Diego.

  • Industry analyst briefings were scheduled to position Webs.com as a leader in the SaaS space.

 

The Results

 

Webs.com was covered in both technology and business media, including TechCrunch, San Francisco Chronicle, Inc. and Entrepreneur.

 

Key influencers magnified the Webs.com message, with the acquisition of Pagemodo receiving more than 600 separate hits on Twitter and reaching more than 400,000 Twitter users. Key Facebook blogs (target audience) picked up the news and wrote reviews on the new Webs.com Family of products.

 

Webs.com was positioned as an industry leader and as a result was acquired by Vistaprint in December, 2011 for $117 million, almost one-year to the day of the start of the new marketing communications program.