Highlighting 5 HawkSEM clients who found success through major funding or an IPO

Here, you’ll find:

  • Lessons learned from clients who hit the big time
  • Methods these companies used to succeed
  • Various ways to define business “success”
  • How you can put their tactics into practice at your own brand

We love to see our clients go on to accomplish incredible things, from awards and media buzz to funding rounds, acquisitions, and IPOs. 

Of course, we don’t attribute all of these successes solely to our partnership (though hopefully, we’ve helped!). We wanted to know how these brands achieved greatness, so we dug deeper to find out the steps they took and what lessons we — and other businesses — can learn from them.  

Below, we’ve highlighted a few best practices that worked for these businesses so you can follow in their footsteps. 

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Zephyr prioritized growth and innovation without skimping on customer experience — and reaped the rewards as a result. (Image via Unsplash)

Always be iterating

Zephyr is an end-to-end test management company based in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Since 2007, they’ve made a name for themselves through providing agile testing software to thousands of enterprise teams in 100 countries around the globe. 

In 2016, Zephyr announced they had received $31 million in Series B funding. Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm Frontier Capital, which focuses exclusively on software and technology-enabled business services brands, invested the funding.

As a fast-growing product, Zephyr poised itself for this investment by gaining a reputation not just for appealing to a wide variety of industries, but for providing visibility and iterating quickly to meet customer needs. In October 2018, leading team software quality tool company SmartBear successfully acquired Zephyr.

We worked to help Zephyr get proper conversion tracking in place once our audit revealed that their tracking was off.

By improving their campaign structure, tightening their keywords for higher intent, and rolling out new ad copy that improved their quality score, the company was able to test innovative paid search campaigns melded with offline marketing assets for a tailored digital experience. 

Zephyr is a great example of a company that prioritized growth and innovation without skimping on customer experience. As a result, they reaped the rewards. 

Not to brag, but here’s what the Zephyr team said about our partnership: “Doubling our conversion rate was just a dream until you guys showed us the way.”

Don’t be afraid to be first

Back in 2007, the business of video for companies and brands was nowhere near where it is now. But that didn’t stop the brains behind Panopto from cornering the market on what’s been called “expert learning” videos. 

For nearly 10 years and with just $8 million in total investment, Panopto continued to build their brand up and amassed a roster of hundreds of enterprise and academic customers.

Then, in 2016, the company announced that they’d secured more than $42 million in minority-growth funding led by Sterling Partners. This funding has helped them grow while remaining steadfast in their field, even as more competitors crop up. 

Puget Sound Business Journal named Panopto one of Washington’s best workplaces in the fall of 2020. Thanks to their quick pivoting during the pandemic to provide virtual learning tools, their video management system is currently used in 22 of the top 25 universities worldwide. 

We helped Panopto ramp up their rate of acquired users per month while lowering the average user acquisition cost. We also revamped their remarketing efforts with custom designs and upgraded display assets.

This allowed them to run critical campaigns related to integrations they were compatible with. It also resulted in a boosted brand resonance in the digital marketplace that helped them win users over their competitors.

Another key advantage Panopto has over the competition? Those years of experience when they bet on themselves by doing what few others were

Try to remain agile

In 2017, monitoring software development company AppDynamics scrapped their previous plans to get an initial public offering (or IPO, making them a public company that could raise capital from public investors). Instead, they were acquired by networking hardware company Cisco for a cool $3.7 billion. 

AppDynamics’s software helps big-name companies like Expedia quickly catch any issues or bugs on their mobile apps or websites. This is a crucial need when a few bad reviews can hurt your bottom line. In early 2019, TechCrunch reported that the brand was continuing to thrive and expand. 

During our time together, we restructured a good number of AppDynamics’s key campaigns and helped manage bids that balanced their costs and growth. We also rolled out multiple rounds of keyword expansion and helped improve their quality scores and clickthrough rates (CTRs) through additional ad types.

When you look at AppDynamics, it just goes to show that remaining nimble, particularly in the tech field, can pay off in dividends — even if you have to quickly change course.

“Having such a large account gave me tunnel vision. Hawk’s expertise helped immensely. I couldn’t reach these goals without you.” – AppDynamics

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Thanks to impressive profits and demolishing growth goals, Datadog was confident that IPO was the way to go. (Image via Unsplash)

Keep the big picture in mind

Datadog is a cloud-based monitoring and analytics software-as-a-service (SaaS) company based in New York City. They help brands improve performance and user experience through leveraging data and other tools.

Just before Datadog IPOed in fall 2019, Cisco Systems offered them a $7 billion buyout. Instead of taking the cash, they decided to go public. Thanks to impressive profits and demolishing growth goals, they were confident that IPO was the way to go. 

Turns out, their gut instincts were right. Shortly after their opening, Datadog shares rose 39%. Not only that, but in September 2020, shares rose an impressive 22.3%, making them one of the year’s top tech stocks (no easy feat during a pandemic). Overall, the stock has gained 197% year-to-date, according to StockNews.

During our partnership, we helped Datadog create new landing page assets that greatly improved performance. We also set up proper conversion tracking while helping them scale their budget efficiently and effectively. We’re proud to say that we partnered with them during a stage of critical growth for their company.

It can be scary to walk away from a big-dollar buyout, but the team knew they had even greater goals they wanted to achieve.

Meet your target audience where they are

MileIQ began with a mission to be the most seamless and stress-free mileage logging mobile app. The Mobile Data Labs company automated the mile-logging process through special features like precise recording, one-swipe classifications for business or personal travel, and the ability to customize your log for more accurate deductions and reimbursements.

By putting a big focus on mobile and SEO, MileIQ put in the work that got them in front of their target audience. After multiple successful funding rounds, MileIQ’s parent company was acquired by Microsoft in 2015.

At the time of the acquisition, MileIQ had reportedly amassed more than 1 million clients and had been the top-grossing finance app in Apple’s App Store for 20 months. 

To beat out the competition, the minds behind MileIQ knew they needed to make the logging process as streamlined as possible, and to get maximum exposure to their target audience as well. 

The HawkSEM team worked with MileIQ to improve their organic footprint and site traffic. We focused on elements like Featured Snippets on the search engine results page (SERP) while optimizing their website and expanding MileIQ’s global reach to align with new national and international markets. 

Exposure begets exposure, and the snowball effect of MileIQ’s growing traffic led to their star continuing to rise.

The takeaway

We’re passionate about helping our clients take their digital marketing to the next level. Whether it’s refining a strategy, building a program from the ground up, or getting creative when it comes to targeting and ad platforms, our ultimate goal is to help clients grow and achieve greatness.

Want to know how we can help you do the same? Let’s chat. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

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