// ACTIVATOR CASE STUDY SERIES 001

Website Design and Marketing for a Startup Amongst Giants.

How do you take a company from inception to one of the fastest growing companies in an extremely crowded technical market?  

This is the story on how we made BOLD VAN the number one EDI VAN.

BOLD RESULTS

1

Search Rank Position

Tactical SEO services produce all targeted keywords on the first page of Google.

49.6

Activation Rate Increase

Custom comprehensive onboarding experiences deliver world class activation rates.

133

Revenue Growth Rate (QoQ)

Dominating digital marketing strategies to fuel the fastest growing EDI VAN provider.

The BOLD VAN Story

A Game Changer

“BOLD VAN is the first and only EDI value-added network (VAN) company to offer trader partner pricing with no limit on the amount of data being transferred. This industry-changing concept will save customers 40% to 80% each month.”

- Nasdaq

BOLD VAN came to us with a simple concept for a company.  With over 25 years in the EDI industry, they knew customers were ready for a new pricing structure not built on the antiquated kilo-character pricing model.

Moving companies to a pricing model based on trading partners rather than data could save customers 40-80% on their current bills.  In addition, the current EDI VAN market was built on the billing system of purchase orders and wire transfers. Sales cycles were slow, and no competitors offered an integrated billing solution where a company could get started with EDI from a simple credit card swipe.  

While the concept was simple, the execution to create a SaaS business in a crowded market was a feat most companies would not want to take. This was a true David vs. Goliath story.  Mark Marshall, BOLD VAN’s president asked us to create a company name.

Beginnings

“User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s still undervalued and under-invested in. If you don’t know user-centered design, study it. Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board.”

–Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter

Building The Business

Collaboration

To create the perfect brand and website a solid partnership was important to execute on shared value set. Together, Activator Studios and BOLD VAN collaborated in a myriad of workshops including brand identity, ideal user personas, customer journey, competitive analysis, and business strategy on breaking through the marketplace. 

The Brand

BRANDING

First impressions are crucial when working with SaaS companies.  BOLD VAN was offering a courageous take on the EDI VAN business model, and the design for all assets needed to reflect that courage.  Working with a startup allowed Activator Studios to create that identity through all assets, from the logo, to business cards, to whitepapers - BOLD VAN was designed to be an industry leader amongst a crowd of followers.

Deliverables Provided

Business Cards, Conference Booth, Branding, Letterhead, PowerPoint Template, Logo Design, Strategy

"Activator Studios became an integral part of our company from day one. They quickly and comprehensively grasped our product--and a challenging one: electronic data interchange--and helped galvanize our brand. Activator comes to the table with solutions that we know have been vetted and thought through by multiple team members. What we like most about having Activator as part of our team is that when we reach out, they are there. Every time."
Larry Marshall, Founder

Front End Website

While BOLD VAN’s initial page count was relatively low, the vision had been laid for a comprehensive website.  Building on the Wordpress CMS platform, Activator Studios’ created a custom responsive theme that allowed new content and pages to be integrated in with ease.  Utilizing frontend website development best practices, the design pooled modern aesthetics and a mobile first design with a traditional B2B design language -- all while staying backwards compatible with older browsers.  Custom secure payment checkout forms and pages were created to ensure that customers could sign-up with a credit card while keeping customer data secure with end to end encryption.  While BOLD VAN is incredibly proud of their website, Activator Studios enjoys bragging about the site’s results -- which include 3 website design awards including the prestigious IMA Website Excellence Award.

Deliverables Provided

Content Management System - WordPress, Backend Data Management, Content , Design, Photography

SaaS Model Process

SAAS

The EDI VAN market has typically lived in a sales cycle that ended in a manual purchase order (PO) being signed and sent to get services started.  With a bold new transparent pricing model, BOLD VAN and Activator Studios wanted to streamline the sales cycle and make it easier for customers to get onboarded.  Activator setup a custom secure payment checkout along with billing management to ensure customers could go from interested to customer with a simple credit card swipe.

Utilizing a popular SaaS pricing structure, BOLD VAN entices potential customers with a 3 month trial before automatically charging their customer’s credit card - giving BOLD VAN a quick foothold into becoming the fastest growing EDI VAN provider in the world.

Deliverables Provided

Pricing / Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Strategy, Subscriptions, recurring payments, invoicing management

Marketing

Marketing

How do you market a product from a start-up to compete effectively against offerings from giants like IBM and Oracle? Now that we had the system, site built business strategy and pricing completed it was time to market. We started off with Something AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn

A large portion of BOLD VAN’s rise to success has come from a strategic Google AdWords campaign heavily integrated with existing marketing and SEO campaigns.  As a Google Partner, Activator Studios leveraged their vast knowledge of PPC and remarketing advertising to be a consistent competitor in the EDI VAN marketplace.  Constant iteration, A/B testing, and an extra attentiveness to design detail on display ads and landing pages has paid off.  BOLD VAN has been at the top of page 1 for every EDI VAN search term for 2 years running.

Deliverables Provided

Marketing Plan Report, Presentations, Tri-Fold Brochures, Whitepaper, Media Placement, Infographic Gated Content, Marketing Dashboards, Lead Generation Campaigns

Video Animation

VIDEO Animation

While a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth a million people.  BOLD VAN had an uphill battle to fight amongst other colossal EDI VAN providers like IBM, so they knew that that brand awareness needed to be at the foremost of their launch campaign.  Activator Studios developed a script and storyboard that told BOLD VAN’s story and explained their competitive advantage in a compelling way.  Working with dedicated voice talent, and their in-house motion graphics team Activator produced a fun explainer video that helped launch BOLD VAN’s brand awareness to the forefront of their competitors from day one.

Deliverables Provided

Video Storyboard, Video Scripts, Animation via After Effects, Professional Voiceover, Video Encoding, Hosting and Promotion

A Website for BOLD VAN was Born...

Get Noticed

“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

- Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Proprietary Eponyms

A standard brand awareness campaign relying on advertising megaphone tactics only delivers half of the value needed to truly succeed in the EDI VAN marketplace.  Through a combination of press releases, placement ads, and segmented email campaigns BOLD VAN’s brand has become so well-known that it’s replaced the generic “EDI VAN” term.

Press Release

Press Release

BOLD VAN’s competition came from companies with stout reputations and household recognizable names.  EDI VAN’s are a mission critical aspect of many businesses, and BOLD VAN needed to convey that while their startup was a hot new take on an old industry, it had the experience and trustworthiness necessary to handle any implementations.  Activator Studios worked with BOLD VAN and some of their most trusted customers to create a press release that not only helped them gain credibility, but also get noticed amongst their stiff competition.  The press release was picked up by publications such as Nasdaq and Yahoo! Finance, and continues to be a smashing success while driving quality traffic to BOLD VAN’s website.

Deliverables Provided

Press Release Content Creation, Submission to ~500 sources, Graphic Design

Emails

Emails

With a small outbound lead generation team, BOLD VAN needed to get their message out in front of more prospects.  Activator Studios developed content and associated email designs that worked across all devices.  A broad reach email delivery schedule and associated drip campaign was developed to target potential customers from the bottom of the funnel all the way through to a successful customer onboarding experience.

Deliverables Provided

Drip campaigns, Email Campaigns, Newsletter Campaigns, All System Generated Emails

100% Conversion Focused

BOLD VAN’s goal has always been aggressive, to dominate and disrupt an industry headed by some of the largest technology corporations in the world.  Activator Studios believes in a highly targeted model of digital marketing, where conversions sit at the forefront of all decisions.  Activator setup multiple campaigns each targeted at a specific goal: drive brand awareness, engage through education, and sign-up.  Utilizing their *Active Insights Platform*,  Activator Studios relies on a scientific method of testing, measuring, and adjusting each campaign to ensure that campaigns are living up to their focused conversion goals.

“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.”
— James Cash Penney, founder, JC Penney

Constant Iteration

Heat Maps and User Journey Research

Weekly Status Meetings

BOLDVAN.com never sleeps and neither should your content and optimization. Everything needs to be iterated on. Activator Studios takes data from numerous sources and to ingest into the Active Insights Platform. This gives weekly insights that the competition will never have giving BOLD VAN that cutting edge.

Advertising and Remarketing

Advertising

A large portion of BOLD VAN’s rise to success has come from a strategic Google AdWords campaign heavily integrated with existing marketing and SEO campaigns.  As a Google Partner, Activator Studios leveraged their vast knowledge of PPC and remarketing advertising to be a consistent competitor in the EDI VAN marketplace.  Constant iteration, A/B testing, and an extra attentiveness to design detail on display ads and landing pages has paid off.  BOLD VAN has been at the top of page 1 for every EDI VAN search term for 2 years running.

Activator Studios is a Google Partner
Deliverables Provided

Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Google AdWords. Bing Ads, Campaign Management, Keyword Analysis, Ad Budgets, Remarketing, LinkedIn Content Advertising, Reporting and Analytics, Social Media Manager, HTML5 Ads, Landing Page Optimization

Blog Articles

Blog Articles

Getting a brand in front of prospective buyers in the EDI VAN space requires being at the forefront of any and all organic searches related to EDI.  Customers endure a potentially long sales cycle, so Activator Studios knew that articles need to be relatable to potential customers at all stages of the funnel.  BOLD VAN’s commitment to regular monthly blogging of at least 4 articles has shown repeated ROI with at least 50% of their conversion coming from blog articles.

Deliverables Provided

Content Writing, Copy Editing, Graphic Design, Publishing, Backlink Program, Promotion and Publishing.

Content Optimization

Content Optimization

Getting a brand in front of prospective buyers in the EDI VAN space requires being at the forefront of any and all organic searches related to EDI.  Customers endure a potentially long sales cycle, so Activator Studios knew that articles need to be relatable to potential customers at all stages of the funnel.  BOLD VAN’s commitment to regular monthly blogging of at least 4 articles has shown repeated ROI with at least 50% of their conversion coming from blog articles.

Deliverables Provided

Content Audit, Keyword Mapping, Content Expansion Planning, Content Optimization, Keyword Analysis, Competitive Landscape Audit and Monitoring, Strategy, User Journey Analysis via Heatmaps,

SEO Strategy

SEO Strategy

Google Search ranking competition is incredibly fierce in the EDI VAN world.  Activator Studios knew that would it require a herculean effort to rise to page 1 of the Google Search results amongst these search terms, as well as a robust ongoing strategy to ensure rankings stayed put.  Utilizing the *Active Insights Platform*, Activator Studios continually tweaks content, meta-descriptions, and internal linking to ensure the site content is SEO optimized.  On the production end, high quality blogs and press releases continue to drive organically produced backlinks, while also working with partners to ensure targeted guest content performs as it should.  BOLD VAN’s results are real, with 100% first page placement for all 10 of their top targeted keywords.

Deliverables Provided

On-Page SEO, SEO Dashboard, Keyword Research, Competitive Analysis, Link Building, Reporting/KPIs, Performance Optimization, Monitoring of Search Engine Rankings, Site Map Creation and Submission, Mobile Optimization