Marketing

5 Steps to a Successful Digital Integration After a Business Acquisition

Avatar for Derek Cosgrove

Derek Cosgrove
Sr. Account Manager

Digitial integration for business acquistion
Digitial integration for business acquistion

Since March 2020, I’ve noticed a significant increase in SMB acquisitions, at least among my clients. Close to ten of my clients (local businesses or chains of local businesses) have been acquired or been involved in mergers within the last four years.

I’ve seen marketing programs demolished during acquisitions (leads dropping by 90%), and I’ve seen situations where marketing and the newly acquired company flourish! 

The marketing integration often seems to be an afterthought. This leads to major problems for the acquiring company usually in the result of drops in sales for the acquired business. And many of the problems that occur during a botched digital integration can’t be easily reversed without the right knowledge and plan.

With the right plan and foresight, combining digital resources can and should result in an increase in traffic, leads and sales.

Having gone through this process several times, I’ve learned what works and doesn’t in these situations.

In this article, I’ll summarize the pitfalls to avoid and the best practices to employ following an acquisition. These issues also apply to brand name changes.

Problems with poor digital integration

As you navigate the post-transaction landscape, you’ll find yourself juggling numerous considerations. It could be an acquisition aimed at expanding your market presence or adding a new product or service offering. Amid the hustle, you might not have realized the importance of organizing the “digital assets” and “marketing partners” that came bundled with the new acquisition. Or, having recognized the need to address these assets, you weren’t sure where to start. Just how valuable are these digital assets and partners, anyway?

When navigating unfamiliar waters, especially with so many questions and variables, it’s easy to make mistakes.

Here are the most common I’ve seen:

1. Discarding valuable brand awareness

Local or regional businesses (especially those worth acquiring) often have a valuable and well-recognized brand. They might even have raving fans. This brand awareness often results in a significant amount of website traffic and leads. If you change their brand too quickly or without a plan to retain the brand value, you could lose the value of this critical asset. Don’t underestimate the impact of the brand you’ve acquired.

2. Incorrectly merging websites

When a company is acquiring a business with a strong regional or local presence, the improper merging of the websites can lead to significant drops in traffic, leads, and sales. The most common issue we see is the acquiring company’s website lacking enough local content to maintain the Google rankings, traffic, and leads. This results in the new website losing out on rankings, traffic, and leads to smaller local players.

3. Not cleaning your digital footprint

Over the years, most successful businesses have established a robust digital footprint. They may have hundreds or thousands of digital mentions of their name, addresses, and phone numbers listed online. This can include brand mentions on directory websites, social media websites, local publications, blogs, charity websites, and so on. Without fixing this, you can leave customers confused. This can also have a significant negative impact on the SEO performance of the new brand in the local market.

4. Losing access, passwords, and assets

Without a plan and file to collect and store login credentials, and contact information for all of the websites, social accounts, and partner contracts, you could lose access to digital assets or overlook an invoice. A critical service getting turned off can have devastating impact and cost.

5. Duplicating assets/services

When you acquire a company, you may be able to reduce costs by consolidating vendors, subscriptions and other services. I’ve seen situations where a company is paying two service providers for the same service often for months or years without even knowing it.

Solutions for successful digital integration

When dealing with acquisitions or name changes in the context of local businesses acquired by national chains, it’s crucial to address the unique challenges that may arise. 

Here are a number of effective solutions to the common problems described above.

1. Preserving valuable brand awareness

When acquiring a local business with a well-recognized brand and loyal customers, it’s essential to avoid abrupt changes. Start by gradually transitioning the brand to maintain brand awareness. This may involve retaining key elements of the original brand such as logos, colours, and slogans for a period. Communicate these changes clearly to customers to ensure a smooth transition.  You can also leverage web page copy, ads, pop-ups and emails communicating the brand change. 

2. Properly merging websites

When merging websites, particularly when dealing with businesses that have a strong local online presence, a well-thought-out integration plan is crucial. Ensure that the integration is collectively managed seamlessly by the essential players and that all the valuable content, SEO efforts, and backlinks are retained. Properly redirect old website URLs to new ones (with relevant local content) to avoid a loss of traffic, leads, and sales. The most crucial step here is to take an inventory of local businesses website performance (which pages in GA4 drive the most traffic/leads) and ensure you have suitable localized pages to redirect these pages to.

3. Cleaning your digital footprint

Cleaning up the digital footprint is vital to prevent confusion among customers and search engines. Fully inventory and then update the name, address, and phone number (NAP) information consistently across all online platforms to reflect the new brand name. Verify and claim all relevant online business listings and directories. Services like Google My Business and listings management tools can help maintain accurate NAP information. Cleaning your digital footprint will require some manual work. There are software tools available to help, but most online mentions will require manual outreach to update.

4. Managing access and assets

To prevent loss of access, passwords, and assets, create a systematic approach to the management of all digital assets and login credentials. Maintain a centralized file or database containing all necessary information for websites, social accounts, and partner contracts. This ensures a smooth transition and avoids overlooking any essential elements. Regularly update and secure this information to safeguard your digital assets.

5. Avoiding duplicate assets/services

Preventing duplicate service payments involves conducting a comprehensive audit of the services currently in use. Identify redundant services and streamline them to optimize costs. Collaborate closely with the acquired business to assess their existing service contracts and identify any overlaps. This way, you can eliminate unnecessary expenses while maintaining service quality. You should meet with all current vendors to ensure you clearly understand what they are doing. 

By implementing these solutions, you can navigate the post-acquisition digital marketing landscape more effectively, whether you’re preserving the value of an acquired local brand or managing the integration of a new acquisition into your national chain. Successful execution of these strategies will help you minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth transition.

If you need help with digital integration, contact seoplus+.

Avatar for Derek Cosgrove

Derek Cosgrove

Derek has 10 years of digital marketing experience and is a Senior Account Manager at seoplus+. He specializes in helping local businesses and Shopify stores with their digital marketing.

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