NOTE: This blog post has been updated to reflect new data. You can read the updated post here.
It's time pull back the curtains and share Rapidan Inbound's journey from a start-up inbound marketing company to an established business that gets over 3,000 website visits per month and just short of 50 leads per month. This case study is an example of why business owners should think of content marketing as a long-term strategy; while you will see results along the way, the real reward is the long-term marketing channel that content marketing creates. It's been a long road, but we now own a consistent source of leads to help our business grow for the long-term.
When I started my inbound marketing business in March 2012, I didn't have a website and I had one customer that helped cover my costs of doing business. I had a fairly decent LinkedIn network, but no other social media presence. I was in it for the long-term - while revenue generation was important, the real goal was to build a long-term, viable business.
I had two primary objectives for my first year of business:
- to become an expert in social media and inbound marketing
- to have my business serve as my best case study
Another part of my strategy was to focus on 2 industries in which I had deep industry knowledge: professional services and technology companies. Prior to starting Rapidan Inbound, I had a 25-year career as a management consultant and had a solid knowledge of how professional services firms worked. Spending most of my career in the Washington, DC area, many of my customers were technology companies and government contractors. As a new company, I felt my best chances to grow were by working in industries that I knew best.
Putting the strategy in motion
I decided to build my business around being a HubSpot certified partner. One of the reasons I did so were the tremendous educational opportunities that HubSpot offered. I quickly got all of the HubSpot certifications: inbound certification, HubSpot certification and the HubSpot partner certification. I built my website on the HubSpot platform and began my content marketing campaign.
Over the past 3 years, I've published one or two blog posts per week, week in and week out. I've had 11 posts published on Social Media Today, which helped me build domain authority for my website. I've also published over 25 eBooks and other lead generation offers. In the post below, I will share the results generated with my strategy.
I published my site in March, 2012 - with exactly zero visits. In July of 2015, I had 3,194 website visits, of which 2,350 were organic visits (visits resulting from search engine queries.) Here is a summary of average monthly visits for my first 3 years.
The primary method I used to build website traffic was blogging and promoting blogs and lead generation offers with social media. By creating relevant content about sales and marketing for my targeted niches, I created a reliable flow of quality website traffic. In any given month, approximately 75% of my website traffic is organic traffic (generated from search engine queries.)
Here's the complete picture of website traffic.
I used the classic inbound strategy to generate leads - publishing eBooks and checklists and putting them behind landing pages where potential buyers exchange contact information for the lead generation offer. In July 2015, I generated 48 new leads. More importantly, I had 3 consultations with companies in my target market who were in the process of hiring an inbound marketing consultant. These are 3 sales opportunities I never would have had without inbound marketing. Here is a graphical depiction of the process.
While many of my lead generation offers are about general sales and marketing tactics, I have created several lead generation offers specifically aimed at my target audiences: professional services firms, technology companies and government contractors. Here is my 3-year average monthly lead history.
Here is the complete picture.
SEO and Keywords
Rather than target short-tail keywords like inbound marketing and content marketing, I targeted long-tail keywords like inbound marketing for government contractors and professional services inbound marketing. I'm interested in attracting buyers from my targeted niches to my website, so I target industry-focused long-tail keywords.
Of the keywords I'm monitoring in HubSpot, I have 132 ranked in the top 3 and 246 in the top 10. Here are the overall results of our SEO strategy:
In the Washington, DC area where I'm located, government contractors are a key part of the economic infrastructure and an industry that I've targeted since day one. For the search term "inbound marketing for government contractors," we have the first four non-paid results.
Professional services firms are another key target market for Rapidan Inbound and one for which we've created quite a bit of content. "Professional services" is a more competitive search term than "government contractors," but we have the first non-paid result for the term, "Professional services inbound marketing."
Another key target market for us is insurance agencies. We have deep subject matter knowledge in the insurance agency industry and want to generate as many insurance agency leads as possible. We have the first two non-paid results for the term "inbound marketing for insurance agencies." The number one result is a targeted eBook we published for insurance agencies - this eBook has generated 37 insurance agency leads for us.
Over the past three years, the Rapidan Inbound team has learned a lot to help us generate results for our customers using HubSpot. For those of you who have recently implemented inbound marketing, I have three pieces of advice for you.
- Inbound marketing is a long-term business strategy. While you will get results in the short-term, the long-term payoff is there for those who consistently and persistently produce good content for your target markets. Social media and search engine advertising can accelerate results in the short-term, know that you're renting that audience. When you stop paying for it, it goes away. You own the audience that you create organically - it will produce results month over month as long as you keep producing good content.
- Concentrate on niches. The phrase "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" comes to mind. Find a niche or niches that you're really good in and pursue it like a bloodhound. This is particularly relevant for new businesses and businesses that are new to inbound marketing.
- Educate yourself or hire someone who knows what they're doing. Inbound marketing is a marketing process with many moving parts. And there are many people out there who claim to be experts. Your results will correspond directly with the skill in which inbound marketing tactics are applied.
If you'd like to learn how you can get results with your inbound marketing, please schedule a free consultation with us.