Commvault’s digital and branding mega makeover

The data protection and information management company’s CMO reveals what it took to turn the global brand around and drive engagement

Taking a company through a marketing transformation exercise, from digital through to data and rebranding, doesn’t happen overnight. But one company showing it can be done swiftly and successfully is data protection and information management company, Commvault.

In less than 12 months, the company has gone through a rapid makeover, resulting in significant shifts in engagement and customer acquisition. Commvault global CMO, Chris Powell, said the brand has undergone three major shifts since he started almost two years ago, when he was headhunted from his senior marketing position at SAP.

These were around building a digital marketing practice, smarter marketing intelligence and a major rebranding effort.

“From a marketing perspective, one of the things that attracted me to Commvault was it had a tremendous product and great successes in terms of customer satisfaction,” he told CMO. “The balance sheet was unbelievably strong with zero debt and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, the company had just built a corporate headquarters plus had extremely strong partnerships.

“But we had a go-to-market problem. We had some key responsibilities we needed to evolve the organisation around.”

Digital marketing and website engagement

According to Powell, Commvault’s digital properties and its website weren’t being used as demand generation tools and instead were used purely for information purposes.

“There were three challenges,” he explained. “Firstly, it didn’t look right – we had some visual challenges in terms of being appealing and reflecting a modern technology company. Secondly, it was hard to navigate and find what you were looking for. Thirdly, the content in general needed to be more compelling and engaging.”

Commvault has completely relaunched the site over the past year, a journey that began with designing a new look and visual identity that matched with the brand philosophy, then stretched to new information architecture and content.

“The results we’ve been able to see are really compelling,” Powell said. “In terms of the digital transformation, I tend to focus on the website but it also has a lot to do with content marketing and those aspects of getting our message out there.”

As a result of the website revamp, Powell said 60,000 sessions a month doubled to about 120,000.

“As we’ve evolved the site and tried to increase the traffic, we also saw a significant increase in the number of unique users,” he added. “Plus we saw an increase per quarter of 52 per cent of new users coming to the site. Every quarter we have had about 100,000 new visitors, so now we’re seeing that approach 150,000.”

But for Powell, engagement is more than just getting users to visit, it’s also about getting them to the right places.

“We’ve looked to drive an expansion of our story to be relevant to a broader audience,” he said. “We also wanted to build out appropriate content to help us with our search engine optimisation in order to bring people to the new Commvault story.

“That has a lot to do with modernising what Commvault stands for and means as a brand. We’ve had a proud history of being the best backup and recovery software provider in the market, but we wanted to ensure we’re maintaining that relevancy as folks are looking at movements like the cloud and mobility. We wanted to make that a big part of the website.”

Powell said Commvault found the significant increase in engagement levels occurred as a result of focusing on effective search engine optimisation, as opposed to a pay-per-click model.

“The average time a user stays on the website via organic search is about four times the amount they’ll come through pay per click or pay per advertising,” he claimed.

Data intelligence

When it came to leveraging smarter marketing intelligence, Powell said a big step was to bring in a group of five data scientists in 2015. Their role was to take the data, put together predictive models and analytics, and start to apply these to digital engagement and website activity.

“What we then found, in terms of the second big challenge for us, was that we had to begin to be smarter about understanding what was and wasn’t working,” Powell said. “A year ago, we only knew 2 per cent of the people coming to our site; now we know 85 per cent of the companies that come to the site. What that enables us to do, among other things, is determine how much revenue is being engaged through our digital channels.”

According to Powell, the average deal size of a company engaged with Commvault online is 20 per cent higher than one that is not. The average win rate is also 10 per cent higher.

“Our general premise was that we wanted to ensure we were driving a larger and larger amount of revenue through our website,” he said.

On top of this move, Powell said the vendor looked into using data as a strategic asset, but above that, how to actually activate the data.

“A lot of our customers are looking to revolutionise either their outcomes or their customer experience or their overall business outcomes. They’re looking for ways to activate their data in order to create those situations for them,” he said. “We looked at whether you are keeping your data in the most efficient way possible, whether you’re ensuring you don’t have added and exposed risk and are you sure you’re getting value out of it,” he said.

The rebranding journey

Branding was another area Commvault recognised needed an overhaul in order to solidify what the company stood for and what value it brought to its customers.

“The brand journey that we went on was first was coming up with what we wanted the brand platform to be, second, what our message was to the market, and the third, what was our visual identity,” Powell said.

Powell claimed a lot of companies see creating a brand platform as an academic exercise. For Commvault, it was about wanting to fulfil a brand promise to customers to be ‘simply confident’, and provide a solution that simplified a need they had in their business that was already relatively complex.

“We want them to believe we’re solid and we bring a dynamic solution to the business, and we want our customers to see us as innovative and sharper in our thinking,” he said. “Making all of that real was about finding out what story to tell in the right market across our portfolio, as well as coming up with a corporate pitch and a frame around that.”

Powell said his team then went into a complete rethink around how to visually bring that identity to life.

“Whether that is the photography we were using or some of the other aspects of the branded element or colour palette, we went through the exercise of trying to be unique in the market from a visual standpoint,” he said.

The Commvault logo ended up changing because it was more fitting in terms of where the marketing team wanted to take the company, Powell continued.

“When I started at Commvault everyone told me good luck, they’re never going to let you change the logo,” he recalled. “But I worked for a great CMO at SAP and a common thing he did in all creative discussions was asked that if you took your own logo off and put somebody else’s on, does it just mean the same thing?

“I went into the exercise thinking we want to modernise all elements around it and I can probably change some things, even though we’ll have our limitations.”

Powell said Commvault’s senior leadership was extremely open, accepting and interested in the marketing team implementing the proposed changes. He attributed this to marketing’s ability to put the proposal into a business context.

“They could see we were making these changes to support the business,” he explained. “We brought to them a story about how companies are perceived in our space. We really sold the whole thing through with regards to how the transformation will bring to life a stronger awareness and purchase consideration for our products. We showed them the competitive environment, what their messages were and where we felt there was space to be able to bring that forward.

“It probably took us about four months to build that overall story and gain approval.”

When it came to the big reveal, Powell said his team made the conscious decision to not go for a ‘big bang’ approach.

“If we wanted to flip a switch and then suddenly, everything was different, it would have taken us a couple of quarters more,” he said. “We lived with the fact that our corporate headquarters would have signage that would have the old brand for a little while, and that was OK –we would change this over time. We were also able to launch it more quickly because we didn’t have anyone looming over saying everything has to switch overnight.”

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