Sage Software revamps site, search strategy to drive leads

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Sage Software’s parent company, Sage Group, acquired Emdeon Practice Services in September 2006 to expand its offerings in the health care field. But while Emdeon’s offerings were top-notch, it wasn’t doing very much to reach out to new prospects. Its 50-page Web site was rudimentary at best, said Mary Owen, interactive marketing manager at Sage Software, which develops and sells accounting and business management software applications to small and midsize companies.

“The old site was one of those sites that you have because you are supposed to have one. It didn’t have a lot of purpose,” said Owen, who manages the company’s public and private Web sites, customer portals, search engine marketing, Webinars, and e-mail marketing.

Because of this, the site got poor placement in natural searches.

The company’s e-mail and paid search efforts were even more dismal. A monthly newsletter that featured one news story was sent out to about 300 prospects and customers. Meanwhile, there was no paid search strategy in place.

“We just weren’t doing much in terms of lead generation before the acquisition,” Owen said.

Hoping to expand its two-person marketing team without hiring additional people, Sage started working with Chicago-based marketing and analytics firm ClearGauge Inc. The first order of business was a complete site redesign to reflect the new Sage brand as well as expand beyond the 50 pages of content that lacked a call to action or searchability. The redesign took about nine months, Owen said.

“We needed to make the site search engine-friendly and make it easy to navigate, so customers and leads could find all the information they needed,” she said. Owen and ClearGauge increased the number of site pages from 50 to more than 200, rewriting all copy and creating a “path.”

“When people landed on a page on the old site, they didn’t get any direction,” Owen said.

They also shortened page descriptions since the old pages had such long page titles they weren’t showing up in their entirety in the search results, she said.

But the real difference is the way everything is tied together and integrated with specific lead-generation collateral.

Today, for example, if you click on the Products tab, you’ll find lots of product information—PDFs, pricing, support options, links to webinars. You’ll also see a clickable demo. Click on that and a special landing page comes up that includes an opt-in form so people can request more details. This page was optimized specifically for lead generation, Owen said.

“Before we made the Web site changes, we were getting thousands of hits from the demo, but there was very little conversion going on after that,” she said. “Once we added that call to action as well as the other Web site changes, our lead flow increased by 150%.”

Organic search is way up, too, since Owen’s strategy now includes specific keywords. Each site page is focused on a specific keyword, which is repeated throughout the copy. Whenever one of the site keywords is mentioned on a subsequent page, a link is also provided. Even press releases posted to the site are optimized with keywords and links, she said.

ClearGauge and Owen also set their sights on using the Web site to increase its opt-in e-mail list, but before they did anything, they overhauled the newsletter, which—in June 2007—was going out monthly to about 300 people. Owen added additional content to the newsletter, and placed signup forms on every page on the site such as the demo link and the general product request link. She also set up an e-mail newsletter archive on the site so people could see what they were signing up for. Today, the list has grown to 4,000 e-mail addresses.

“With all our work, leads are increasing in quality, which is the most important thing,” Owen said. “I can drive leads all day long, but if they aren’t the right kind of leads for our salespeople, it’s just a waste of time and money.”

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