In the digital era, a compelling website is a powerful tool for businesses to establish their online footprint and engage with their target audience. This is particularly true for private equity firms and their portfolio companies, where a well-crafted website can elevate brand image, transact business and provide essential information about their offerings. This article will delve into the top 10 best practices in private equity portfolio company website design, gleaned from our review of more than 2000 private equity firms and their related portfolio company websites, and using real-world examples from MVP portfolio company redesigns.
- Purpose-Driven Design: Before embarking on the private equity portfolio company website design journey, it’s crucial to pinpoint the site’s purpose and set clear objectives. Whether the aim is to generate leads, conduct E-Commerce or E-Catalog operations, or provide thought leadership, these goals will steer the design and ensure every element on the website serves a purpose whether your portco is a B2B product or services company. For instance, the MVP TeamMate℠ website design-to-development process, as used in the redesign of NAMSA, a global medical device focused CRO, and Archimed, France portco, was constructed with a comprehensive six-step MVP TeamMate workflow approach, based on the waterfall method of software engineering, to articulate client objectives before design or development even begins.
- Design with the User in Mind: Prioritizing portfolio company website user experience is key. Consider the target audience, their needs, and browsing habits. An intuitive navigation structure, responsive design, and seamless user experience are all part of this. MVP’s website on behalf of Roadtrek, Cambridge, ON, a leading “Class B” Motorhome brand, and former portfolio company of the Erwin Hymer Group (Germany) and now Groupe Rapido (France), is an excellent example. The MVP TeamMate℠ process used in MVP’s Roadtrek redesign helped create a unique user experience (UX) design that included a 22-variable “Build Your Own” price and styling model configurator as well as “Find a Local Dealer” functionality, a US/Canadian currency converter, and roadside assistance resources.
- Brand Consistency: The website should echo the unique brand identity of the private equity portfolio company. Consistent branding elements like logo, color scheme, typography, and imagery should align with the company’s overall master and sub-brand strategy. In the case of MVP’s branding and website redesign on behalf of the JOBS Group, a former portfolio platform company of MVP client Keystone Capital (Chicago), and now a holding of Valcourt, their recent website exemplifies strong brand presence. The integrated master and sub-brand logos, color palette and typography reflect a master brand strategy, derived through the MVP BrandMate™ process, position each of the JOBS-affiliated AMST, April Building Services and JOBS Services companies as “A JOBS Company” sub-brand. The expertly MVP-designed individual sub-brand company logos are depicted through a combination of sky blue and black illustrated cityscape silhouettes.
- Engaging Videos, Photos and Icons: Private equity portfolio company videography and photography are instrumental in grabbing visitors’ attention and effectively conveying messages and should appeal to the viewer affectively and cognitively. High-quality video, photos and graphics that align with the company’s content should be incorporated in a logical and consistent manner. The new home-page video used on the NAMSA site is a perfect example of engaging healthcare-focused visuals that add credibility and emotional appeal. NAMSA has also been adept at employing this value-added feature as a visit to their Medtech Podcast and Video Series page, which features MVP-produced portfolio company video, will verify. High-impact websites should likewise be enhanced through distinctive and custom-designed iconography (not “off the shelf” stock) as a visit to the NAMSA home page will confirm, as it reflects eight MVP custom-designed healthcare research icons.
- Clear, Concise Messaging: The PE portfolio company’s website’s verbal as well as visual content should be clear, concise, and focused on delivering key messages. The copywriting/content for JOBS Group and Teksetra, the latter of which is a leading provider of “Single Source” IT solutions where MVP not only renamed and rebranded the company, but provided an integrated WordPress WooCommerce (E-Catalog) website, are both great examples of this best practice. Teksetra’s appeal to “get more done with end-to-end technology solutions” as well as other MVP BrandMate℠ inspired content, positions the company as a comprehensive business technology support, service, and hardware provider.
- Persuasive Call-to-Action (CTA): Strategically placed and visually appealing PE portfolio company CTAs can convert website visitors into leads or customers. The CTAs at many points within the Roadtrek website are a testament to this with sleekly designed and concise directions that keep people clicking. Examples of this principle are illustrated through such CTAs as Watch this Video, Learn More, View this Model, Find a Dealer and Get Started.
- High-Performance Websites: A slow-loading portfolio company website can deter visitors. Optimizing website performance by minimizing file sizes, leveraging caching techniques, and utilizing content delivery networks (CDNs) can enhance user experience. The ultra-fast loading website loading time, confirmed by Google’s Lighthouse app scores, and as evidenced by MVP’s heavy content but quick to load sites for NAMSA, Teksetra, and Roadtrek are indicative of high-performance websites utilizing this feature set. Note: when auditing a webpage, Lighthouse runs a barrage of tests against the page, and then generates a report on how well the page did. From here you can use the failing tests as indicators on what you can do to improve your website or application. To confirm how fast your website loads or contrast it to one of your competitors, click this link to Google PageSpeed Insights or this one to GTMetrix.
- SEO Best Practices: Fundamental SEO practices when applied to private equity portfolio companies can boost the website’s visibility in search engine rankings and increase organic traffic. The MVP websites for NAMSA, Roadtrek, and Teksetra were all SEO optimized prior to launch to increase their Google and Microsoft search engine popularity and stimulate customer/dealer interaction. Following a combination of pre- and post-launch MVP SEO, NAMSA jumped 60% in organic traffic, Roadtrek added an additional 40K+ users, and Teksetra decreased its bounce rate by 40%. Please visit the respective and linked MVP case histories or the MVP SearchMate℠ page to learn more.
- Analytics Integration: Integrating analytics tools like Google Analytics can provide private equity firms and their portfolio companies valuable insights into visitor behavior, user flow, conversion rates, and other key metrics is a must. Yet, the MVP website design and development team has found that many B2B products and service company clients neither request nor utilize this easy to facilitate add-on. Based on client cooperation, integration of Google Analytics and the insights we derived through application of our MVPSEO tool, our subsequent post-launch SEO engagement with single source IT technology provider Teksetra can accomplish. After a combination of pre- and post-launch Google Analytics integration and SEO optimization, MVP elevated Teksetra’s referral user traffic by a whopping 58.9% over its comparable year-over-year (YOY) period. This metric-based achievement was heavily influenced by application of the insights we gleaned by implementing Google Analytics and drawing appropriate user traffic pattern insights and conclusions.
- Regular Website Code and Content Updates and Maintenance: Ensuring that your private equity portfolio company website remains up to date post-launch is essential for its long-term success whether it is informational or transactional. The MVP TeamMate℠ process ensures that all portfolio company sites, like those of NAMSA, Roadtrek, JOBS Group, and Teksetra, are regularly kept in top operating condition with the latest WordPress core website updates. Moreover, all sites benefit from continuous content enrichment, often expressed in the form of blogs and news, that if done well, promote SEO search engine rankings and corresponding key word web traffic and site visits. Our advice, to paraphrase American short story author Grace Paley, is that when it comes to updating your website, “Part One is to ‘Have something to say. Part Two: Say it well’.”
In conclusion, an expertly designed PE portfolio company website is a valuable asset for private equity firms, enabling their holdings to effectively engage with their target audience and drive business growth. By adopting these top 10 website design and development best practices, private equity firms and their portfolio companies can build a strong online presence that aligns with their brand identity and fulfills their business and marketing objectives as they seek to increase EBITDA and/or prepare for exit.
For a complimentary private equity portfolio company website assessment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To help you get started, we also invite you to download the MVP Private Equity Firm Checklist by clicking here. It will help you prepare for either a private equity firm or PE portfolio company website redesign with practical tips and to-dos.