Case Study: Payroll Software Vendor
(601% ROI)


  • Organic traffic doubled
  • Tripled qualified lead generation
  • Generated a 601% marketing spend ROI

The Situation: Big Marketing Investment, Small Results

A marketing executive of a Southern California-based payroll-focused holding company was spending up to $10,000 a month for outside help with content writing and SEO for four companies whose marketing she oversaw. But it wasn’t working.

She was keenly focused on the role of digital marketing in establishing the company’s position as an industry thought leader and driving leads to each of the company’s distinct channels.

But the content marketing company she was using – a national brand that bills itself as being “all about” great content – kept creating content that demonstrated little understanding of the payroll business. It was so-called “top of the funnel” content – barely distinguishable from the acres of website content that could be found on any number of other thinly developed websites.

“Our business was complicated because of the multiple brands,” the executive said. “With that provider it was the luck of draw with whatever writer you had. I felt like we were losing things in the writing. It seemed like very inexperienced people doing the writing.”

Worse was content that flatly got the business wrong, with pieces that referred to income taxes for a channel that specialized in providing help with payroll taxes. There were a lot of corrections that had to be made, and a revolving door of writers that meant that none of them could develop the expertise needed to write authoritatively about payroll, let alone the company’s niche as an industry leader. There were no success stories, no accounts of problem solving and no content targeted to specific markets the companies served.

“There was no SEO optimization and no keyword research that we could see,” said the executive.

The company was making a big investment in outside marketing help, but the return just wasn’t there, she recalled. “I think maybe there was a lack of B2B focus … but also a lack of desire to really learn our business.”

A Different Approach Starts with Lots of Questions

After opening an email pitch from Innovaxis one afternoon, the marketing executive took the opportunity to share her frustration with Innovaxis President Sean Parnell. That led to a meeting in person, where Parnell spent hours asking questions and listening to her and her sales leaders describe the company’s history, differentiators and challenges. She made the switch.

“We were there for two days,” she said of that initial meeting back in 2016. The approach was “so different,” she said. “It was more like consulting. It was far more than just ‘here are four blogs a month and we’ll amplify them on social media.’ I was able to bounce ideas off of him. He had such a vast B2B client-side marketing background.”

Parnell helped the marketing executive to validate initiatives she wanted to undertake, providing key support within a company with a lot of competing agendas.

Over the next four years, the company partnered with Innovaxis for SEO-driven content marketing and thought leadership, outbound marketing campaigns and website development for all of the company’s channels, which included a payroll provider, a payroll tax specialist, a time and attendance software company and an ACH-processor.

“It became a real partnership … with Innovaxis. We were getting a boatload of leads, truly creating demand generation, and getting alignment with our sales leaders and our sales people because they could see we were delivering something of quality.” – Payroll Marketing Executive

It was a partnership that produced transformational results, including a brand story effort that refocused each channel’s messaging around the specific obstacles their prospects faced and the solutions that the company could provide. Website visits began to climb. The number of qualified leads was climbing right behind them.

“It became a real partnership,” the executive said. “We were getting a boatload of leads, truly creating demand generation, and getting alignment with our sales leaders and our sales people because they could see we were delivering something of quality.”

“It accelerated my ability to do all the things I wanted to do”

Marketing Success by Numbers

Website Traffic

Organic traffic doubled across channels:

  • ACH Processing: from 24% to 44%
  • Payroll Tax: from 23% to 49%
  • Time & Attendance: from 33% to 60%

Lead Generation

  • ACH Processing from 146 to 402 qualified leads per year
  • Payroll Tax from 254 to 755 qualified leads per year
  • Time and Attendance from 121 to 663 qualified leads per year


  • Generated an additional $6 million – $10.5 million in lifetime value across all business units (based on average client retention of 8 years)


  • The 4-year return on investment for marketing was a whopping 601% against all sales and served as an internal validation of the work of the marketing team as well

A Partnership that Accelerated Internal Sales & Marketing Efforts

“It accelerated my ability to do all the things I wanted to do,” said the marketing executive. “Those are incredible numbers that any CEO would want. We gained 55% year over year just in organic traffic and 5% in social media traffic. Those two traffic metrics are really important. It tells me that that the work we’re doing is working.”

Like any marketing success, it was a success built around multiple layers of effort and strategic processes. But she also credits the degree of “orchestration” and customization that partnership with Innovaxis brings. The executive says Innovaxis’ data-focused strategies and advice also helped her department navigate the internal marketing they had to do to bring along other stakeholders in the company. “It’s very rare – rare, rare, rare” to find that level of support in a third-party partner, she said.

The data and reporting Innovaxis provided gave her the ability to focus on bigger and more ambitious strategies. In the past, she said, “we would have to explain that marketing is demand generation. They see marketing as a cost center.” The results left no doubt however, as Innovaxis and the company’s marketing team built results and value that paid off.