We wanted to show what SMEs could achieve with digital. We decided to purchase an SME and build it into a successful enterprise with a digital strategy at the core.
Invest in a SME that had a foundation to build on, but had not yet embraced digital.
Invest in an industry that we had no experience in, ensuring that the results truly reflected digital's disruptive capabilities.
Demonstrate how a data-driven digital strategy provides a distinct competitive advantage.
Substantially increase market share, revenue and profitability with a digital strategy.
Use digital channels as the only paid source of lead generation, ensuring that the results are a true reflection of digital’s capabilities.
Continuously develop digital assets to increase brand value and conversion rates (both for the website and internal sales).
Build a digital business model that increases a business’s equity value.
Part 2 of 8
The business: Cleanawater
Cleanawater specialises in the design, manufacture, installation and service of commercial and industrial water treatment and recycling equipment.
Cleanawater in 57s
Cleanawater in 57s
Cleanawater targets any industry that uses a high volume of water.
Cleanawater offers an extensive range of water treatment and recycling products.
Cleanawater develops a range of 'off-the-shelf' and customised solutions for clients.
Part 3 of 8
Why did we choose Cleanawater?
It ticked all of the right boxes.
It was an established business
Cleanawater was an established business that had been in operation for 15 years.
It produced quality products
The business had an established history of developing award-winning water treatment products.
Its existing digital investment was small
The company was only making a small investment in digital, offering a baseline to test our digital strategy.
We had no experience in the industry
With no previous experience in the water treatment industry, we knew the journey would have a steep learning curve. We had to learn the industry and to gain the technical expertise to develop our products.
We started with a small base of working capital
With access to just over $200,000 in working capital we had to ensure that every part of the digital strategy was delivering ROI. Especially in a capital intensive business that needed a large investment in product R&D.
We needed national water authority approval
To reach our growth targets, we needed to gain water authority approval in each state. This process could take up to 18-24 months, including testing.
We needed new manufacturing and supply chain processes
The manufacturing process and supply chain had been geared for small orders. It needed to be overhauled if we wanted to remain competitive at larger sales volumes.
We needed to invest in research and development
The development of our product line was a priority. Improving existing products would solidify our competitive advantage, and new products would open up new market opportunities.
Part 4 of 8
The digital strategy
Here are just some of the digital programs we introduced during the five years.
Design and Development
Building a multi-faceted business asset
Our website was our core business asset. It generated new leads and converted them into customers. It introduced new products to existing customers. And it drove our brand identity and communicated our value proposition. The result was a stream of leads, converting into sales at higher and higher rates.
Our goals for the website:
Build the company value proposition – Increases conversion rates and transaction yields.
Optimise UX on all devices – Improves conversion rates and customer experience.
Boost speed and technical performance – Increases conversion rates.
Optimise for search engines – Increases inbound traffic volume.
Creating relevancy and building user engagement
Through regular content enhancements we generated greater returns from our website.
User experience (UX) improvements included:
The development of a 'Download Centre' for PDF technical documents, site plans and manuals.
The creation of pages and content targeted to specific industries, such as mining.
The creation of case studies and testimonials targeted to specific industries.
The development of a 'Resource Centre' – a company blog publishing news and industry insights.
Interesting Fact: 7% of all visitors have downloaded a PDF from the Downloads Centre.
Making digital assets work harder
Through data analysis we identified how our users were engaging with the site.
Then we used that knowledge to optimise our digital strategy and increase our return on investment.
Our primary optimisation objectives were:
Increasing on-page engagement levels.
Converting more visitors into leads.
Generating higher yields from each sale.
Building brand identity and perceived value
We didn’t want to compete on price, so we needed to be identified as a premium brand by customers.
Throughout the five years, we developed our library of brand identity assets, with a focus on brand recognition, consistency of message, and positioning.
Every interaction is an opportunity. We viewed every client interaction touch point – even email signatures and invoices – as an opportunity to reinforce our brand.
Paid search programs focussed on conversions
Test, test, test. And then test some more.
By analysing our campaign’s historical data and constantly refining every aspect of our campaigns, we generated significant lead volumes.
Interesting Fact: Keyword breadth is a key to success. Over the five years we generated only 2.12 clicks per search term (67,151 website clicks generated from 31,696 different search terms).
We built long term SEO assets
Our SEO program was always based on building long term value. This involved creating relevant content assets, amplifying content through social media, developing a network of high quality business affiliations, and adhering to best-practice technical specifications.
Interesting Fact: Keyword breadth is a key to success. While we only averaged 2.38 clicks per unique keyword, this was spread across a 'long tail' of tens of thousands of keywords.
Building brand recognition
In terms of audience time and attention, the display network is much larger than search. In fact, 95% of time spent online is spent outside of search engines.
With display advertising campaigns, we targeted websites aligned with our industry and displayed ads on relevant topics.
Interesting Fact: Cost-per-lead was 14.87% lower for paid display when compared to paid search.
Re-connecting with our audience
We re-engaged users who had previously visited our site using display retargeting.
We used a combination of animated and static banners designs, and varied the message between company 'generic' to product-specific copy.
Interesting Fact: Our display retargeting campaign generated 1,090,389 impressions on 5,978 different websites.
Part 5 of 8
During a very busy five years – with many late nights, plenty of great memories and two factory moves – our achievements included:
Part 6 of 8
Large companies and governments source suppliers online
Our clients included:
Three federal departments
Over 30 local councils
Some of Australia's largest companies
Create a greater value proposition through design
Our average transaction yields increased by 293.3% over the journey. As our investment in our digital assets grew, so did our ability to compete on value over price.
Users love high quality information
7% of our visitors downloaded a PDF from our Downloads Centre.
Using quality content, we captured 'information gatherers' at the very top of the sales funnel, keeping them engaged by demonstrating our expertise.
Data provides a competitive advantage
Data supplied us with insights that gave as an advantage over our competitors.
Firstly, data allowed us to identify new market opportunities and maximise our exposure to them.
Secondly, it gave us the tools to reverse-engineer the 'roadmap' to our goals. We could analyse our revenue target and determine how many clicks we needed to achieve it – and everything else in-between.
With relevancy came conversions
Users are looking for information relevant to their needs. 15% of user conversion pathways included our industry specific pages.
With industry specific pages – such as mining – we were able to demonstrate both relevancy and authority in relation to a user's specific industry.
Part 7 of 8
After five years, the time was right to sell the business. In doing so, we would demonstrate our final objective: using digital to generate equity growth.
The Sale Process
Creating a data-driven blueprint
We set ourselves an ambitious 3-month sales timeline. But with a data-driven blueprint for future growth and the support of Lloyds Business Brokers, we were confident of a positive outcome.
A 10x Return on Investment
67 enquiries, 5 offers and 3 months later, the sale of Cleanawater concluded with a 10X return on our original investment.
Achieving similar results for Digital360 clients
With the case study behind us, we look forward to developing Digital360’s solutions and helping our clients to achieve their business goals.
Part 8 of 8
Cleanawater 2010 / 11 Financial Year
The story begins out in Blackburn, in a small 60m2 factory that we shared with a mechanic.
Purchased 50% of the business
New website designed and launched
Cleanawater 2011 / 12 Financial Year
With growth now over 398% it was time to move out on our own. The next location was a 250m2 factory in Thomastown.
Purchased the remaining 50% of the business
Moved to our second factory in Thomastown
Cleanawater 2012 / 13 Financial Year
Bigger customers brings bigger jobs and so it was time to move again, this time to a newly developed 1200m2 factory.
Growth has reached over 821%
We win our first 40ft containerised water recycling job
Digital360 launch May 2013
A great evening with 120 guests at a picturesque art gallery in the heart of South Melbourne. As part of the night we shared the top 10 most powerful digital insights from the Cleanawater case study.
Cleanawater 2013 / 14 Financial Year
With growth now over 1127% we were gaining industry recognition and winning work from new market sectors.
Water authority approval gained nation-wide
Our new website and branding is launched
Cleanawater 2014 / 15 Financial Year
With growth now over 1266% the case study was coming to a conclusion.
Exports generate over 8% of our revenue
New leads increase to over 30 per week
Cleanawater 2015 / 16 Financial Year
A 3 month sale process that involved 67 enquiries and 3 offers.