Case Study
Quick facts
Impraise (acquired by BetterUp)
Our Involvement:
Joliene van Grieken was the Marketing Director of Impraise

About Impraise

Impraise was founded in New York in 2014, as an HR feedback tool for employees at Y Combinator. As they continued to grow in the HR tech space, they extended their offering to performance management and personal development for which they raised a Series A in 2018.

In 2020, Impraise built a management tool to help managers during Covid, to get a better understanding of their team and support them in the right way. 

In 2021, Impraise was acquired by BetterUp, a global coaching platform valued at $4.6bn at the time. 

Goals and Context

When Joliene joined Impraise, they had just raised their Series A and were looking into scaling their revenue and marketing efforts. 

The biggest challenge for Impraise was growing competition from the US and the fact that they were trying to serve several different ICPs who pulled the product into directions. Finding the right ICPs, defining the right channels, and optimizing the funnel quickly became the main priorities for the marketing team. 

Joliene’s goals included scaling into the US market, optimizing their existing marketing funnel, and creating a brand that could compete with much more established competitors.

Key Initiatives

Redefining our ICP’s to create focus

One of the first projects Joliene focused on was looking at the inbound funnel and customer-base. Impraise had a combination of both enterprise and SME customers, which led to very different and, often opposing, product requests.

This was also reflected on the website at the time. They were trying to talk to everybody, which created convoluted messaging that attracted a lot of different users that were impossible to serve. This was reflected in the funnel metrics at the time, with inbound conversion from MQL to SQL barely above the upper single digits.

As a first step, we decided to do research around what different personas we are serving and what specific target audience we should focus on. We looked at 3 criteria:

  1. Size of the company
  2. NPS of current customers (how well are we solving their problem) 
  3. How easy it is to reach and convert this audience in a cost-effective way

While doing this research we found out that the biggest differentiator between the companies that used Impraise was the maturity of their organization and HR department (M1, M2, M3). This led us to identify 3 personas within our customer-base.

From the ICP research, it also became clear that we needed to focus on one of these personas in particular (busy betsy), as they were easier to find and generally very happy with our product proposition.

Based on our newly-defined ICP, we proceded to completely transform our website so that we could tell that “busy betsy narrative”. 

Funneling our website to focus on only busy betsy was key to driving our costs per lead down plus improving our other conversion metrics. By focusing all our marketing efforts we were able to cut our spend by ⅓ whilst more than tripling our MQL to SQL conversion rate.

SEO: the longtail game

The HR space is very crowded and there were many US competitors in the space with much bigger marketing budgets than Impraise, so we tried to focus our SEO efforts on longtail keywords, going after a higher volume of more niche keywords. 

After doing a keyword analysis we realized that most of the longtail keywords were focused on “how to’s”, for example, “how to set up a 1:1” or “how to encourage continuous feedback”. We decided to focus our SEO content on these types of search queries. 

This strategy proved very effective and Impraise was able to rank in the top 3 for relevant keywords around performance development:

As well as performance goals, which were even harder to rank for:

Within a year we increased our blog traffic from 70.000 visitors to 145.000 per month with 70% of all leads generated through this blog traffic.

Next to focusing on relevant keywords we also invested heavily in the mobile performance of our website. In 6 months we were able to improve our mobile Google rating from 27 to 84, which boosted SEO and helped increase our website conversions by over 50%.

Pivoting through PLG and a growth team

Like many SaaS companies in 2020, Impraise was hugely impacted by Covid. Our sales dropped substantially in the first 2 quarters of the year. Nobody was interested in buying performance software as they were just trying to help their employees get by and keep them motivated. This led us to rethink our product offering. 

First, we interviewed dozens of customers and HR managers on what types of tools they felt they were missing in their HR stack. The inability to check in with their team and the struggle to support their employees online/remotely came up in practically every conversation. 

With these insights, we decided to pivot and build a manager-focused tool called Teambase, designed to give managers real insights into their team and the right tools to act on those insights.

In order to validate and drive this new proposition successfully, we implemented a ‘growth circle’ - a team led by Marketing & Growth and consisting of a member from each department.

This team was our lean version of a classic growth team, dedicated to driving a product-led motion under our new proposition. The growth circle was responsible for the interviews that led to the decision to build Teambase and was instrumental in building, validating and launching the feature as well as running continuous experiments to improve customer activation. 

In the end ‘Teambase’ became a heavily differentiated feature and was one of the reasons that BetterUp acquired Impraise in 2021. 

Notable Results:

Impraise acquired by BetterUp
increase in MQL to SQL conversions
leads generated in one year
monthly visitors from organic search
increase in blog traffic in under a year
increase in b2b mobile conversions

Joliene built a great team that helped us drive growth across the entire funnel. She helped put Impraise on the map and her team's efforts were instrumental for the growth of the company.

Bas Kohnke
CEO of Impraise