This is an update of a post that originally appeared on our blog in August 2015. We wanted to update you on the adjustments we made in our strategy and the results we've obtained in the last 8 months.
Our challenge has changed over the last twelve months. A year ago, we were focused on growth and little else. Today, we're focused on absorbing the growth we experienced over the past twelve months and scaling our business to absorb a second growth wave. Towards this end, we have made several adjustments to our strategy:
- We've entered into a partnership agreement with Triario S.A.S. of Medellín, Colombia to help us provide design, development and HubSpot marketing automation services to our customers. Triario is the first HubSpot partner in Medellín. Anybody who works with us knows what a great job Juanita Moreno and her team do and their excellent customer service attitude. They've been a tremendous help to us as we've taken on more business.
- Because we have been so busy with new customers, we've had to be much more efficient in our sales process. One of the primary things we've done is to use our marketing automation process to qualify leads. Where many businesses advocate asking for minimal information to access premium content (name and email address), we ask questions about your industry and your role in the company to better understand how we can provide you with relevant information and to focus our sales efforts on prospects who fit our ideal customer profile.
- As a second step towards qualifying leads, we've excluded email addresses like gmail.com, msn.com, etc. from our lead generation offers. Our sales cycles are generally long and require a level of financial commitment from our customers, so we now require a corporate email to access most of our offers. This initially led to a decline in our lead generation, but we're now back on track with a healthy flow of qualified leads.
- We've restructured our blog to a no-sidebar format with a lead generation form at the bottom of the post. The strategy behind this restructuring is to focus our audience's attention on the lead generation offer and not distract them with a sidebar with multiple offers and sections. None of this matters without blog content that educates and helps our audience solve for pain points.
- We've stopped marketing on Facebook. We really weren't getting any traction on Facebook and it's increasingly becoming a pay-to-play network. We have limited time and this was not producing results for us.
By continuing to publish weekly blog posts, we've hit another milestone with site traffic - we're now attracting over 4,000 unique visitors to our site.
The majority of our traffic comes from organic search terms. We are now getting in excess of 3,000 organic site visitors every month.
Despite the steps we've taken to qualify leads in our marketing automation process, we are producing between 40 and 60 leads per month. More importantly, we've generated 18 consultation requests in 2016, which are bottom-of-the-funnel leads that are ready to purchase. Of the 18 consultation requests, 10 were qualified in terms of Budget, Authority, Need and Timing (BANT.) We've closed 3 as new customers and are currently in discussions with 2 more.
All of our new business has come from inbound marketing. This is particularly important to us, because we are focused on delivering to customers now and really don't have time to do a lot of outbound marketing.
Lastly, we've become a Silver HubSpot Certified Partner and Gold is in our sites.
Original Post from August 3, 2015
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 inbound marketing 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. 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.