The lemon tree story of DemandFarm's inbound marketing success

Are you into gardening?

You know it takes a lemon tree, three years to bear fruit.

Many mornings and weekends over many months, you nurture the soil and tend to the plant. For the many months of effort, you would at best see some green leaves and a slowly growing plant. Some days, you would feel like giving up, only to be nudged a bit by a friend. Then one day, the tree sprouts a lemon. And then another. And a few more. Soon, you are setting up plans to launch a lemonade brand.

This is the story of DemandFarm - a software that makes account planning easy.

DemandFarm : Software making account planning easy

Started in 2016, DemandFarm is a key account management software company, championing account planning and management.

The Challenge : Slowing outbound, no inbound and sustaining inbound

In the early years, Milind banked on relationships (personal contacts), referrals, and public relations, to drive growth. It helped get the first customers, but was stalling. Milind had a marketing team of two that worked on digital initiatives like blogging, Adwords, and social media. Digital had generated awareness but no inbound inquiries. Milind (plus another sales rep) was already feeling stretched to drive sales.

In the summer of 2016, Milind shared his challenges with a friend (an Inbound Mantra client). The friend broadly explained to him the concept of inbound marketing and suggested Inbound Mantra as an inbound marketing agency to engage with. Milind became interested. Milind was also running out of runway with the limited early-stage capital. He acted fast and identified the following challenges.

  • Predictable growth
  • Competency gap
  • Grow US market share
  • Lack of category (account management) awareness
  • Trustworthy partner

The Solution : Saas marketing partner and HubSpot (accessible growth platform)

Inbound Mantra had done credible work in saas growth marketing. Being a HubSpot Partner since 2014, Inbound Mantra had extensive experience in HubSpot Integrations too. Milind quickly engaged Inbound Mantra over building an in-house team. Resources were limited. So, Inbound Mantra put together a growth stack using free HubSpot products, a Wordpress website, and a solid inbound strategy.

DemandFarm started with the HubSpot Free Plan. This brought all the activities - online lead capture and sales CRM - onto a single platform. Next year, DemandFarm took a calculated step to do a limited upgrade to HubSpot marketing starter and sales pro. Because,

  • Contact tracking - Sales team needed more information on lead behavior.
  • Forms - Collected forms were causing lead leakage at times.
  • Improving closures - Sales pro helped improve lead to customer conversion, which was becoming a concern.
  • Analytics - Improve KPI tracking.
  • Integrations - HubSpot was integrated with Salesforce AppExchange using Zapier.

Heart of the solution - The philosophy of inbound (Grow Better)

Inbound Mantra began working with DemandFarm from May 2016. In the middle of 2017, the business hadn’t picked up yet. Inbound traffic and leads were only a trickle. DemandFarm had a cash-flow problem. It was a no-brainer to cut costs. DemandFarm and Inbound Mantra discussed and decided to “Grow Better.” The financial arrangement was restructured to make some time for the inbound marketing lemon tree to flourish. It paid off. By the middle of 2018, DemandFarm was generating predictable inbound leads and customers every month. DemandFarm wasn’t out of the woods yet, but lemons were sprouting.

The Result : 1000% ROI

Since the beginning, Inbound Mantra was clear that it had to deliver ROI for DemandFarm in terms of revenue. Over the last four years, Inbound Mantra has generated a 10X ROI i.e., a return on investment of 1000%. Here are the details.

The Success Funnel

Revenue, contacts and traffic have grown predictably.

Deal Revenue has grown consistently after a sluggish start.

deal revenue growth (2016 - 2020)

Contacts have grown at the rate of 100% every year.

contacts growing 100% from 2016

Overall Traffic has grown mostly because of organic traffic growth

website sessions growth (2017 - 2020)

The funnel yielded success because of,

  • ATTRACT - Strong focus on growing US organic traffic. It grew 100% y-o-y for the last 3 years.
  • CONVERT - Aggressive CRO to convert organic and direct traffic. Conversion rate improved from under 1% to over 3%.
  • CLOSE - Methodical sales follow ups using Sales Pro.

Growth Strategy

The complete Inbound playbook was implemented using a strong process based on Deming’s Cycle (PDCA) - Plan, Do, Check, Act. SEO and CRO did best in driving predictable revenue, compared to other initiatives.

ATTRACT

SEO - Top Focus

  • Idenitfied 25 top commercial keywords in account management.
  • Rank above 25 keywords in top 5 ranks on Google, with a focus on capturing featured snippets.
  • Pillar pages and regular blogs
commercial keyword ranking in Google top 3
featured snippet for keyword 'strategic account management'

Pillar pages and content clusters using blogs focused on commercial category keywords that answered all user questions were regularly published. This was scaffolded with Inbound Mantra's comprehensive 28 point checklist that covered fifteen on-page, five off-page, and eight technical SEO techniques.

Paid campaigns

These campaigns did not generate ROI.

  • Adwords - High CPC.
  • Social Media - Leads with poor buying intent.
Example of a LinkedIn sponsored content campaign

CONVERT

The focus:

  • Redesign of product pages to improve UX
  • Optimising high-traffic landing pages like DEMO page below
  • Converting forms into multi-step forms
  • HubSpot meetings tool
  • CRO analysis using heatmaps and google analytics
experimenting with different landing page designs and form formats

CLOSE

Nurturing Content

  • eBooks
  • Case Studies
  • Videos

DemandFarm did not hesitate to take risks with its content e.g. corporate humor around "account planning pains."

Example of an account planning comic
account planning comic strip
example - compendium of case studies

Automation

Workflows were built to automatically segment leads, lead score, and send periodic emails with nurturing content to move leads towards closure. Leads who showed buying behavior like revisiting the pricing page and features page, emails were triggered both to the lead and lead owner (sales rep). Automation also automatically updated custom fields that were earlier being updated manually.

Example : sales automatio workflow in HubSpot to update custom contact properties

The IMPACT : Predictable revenue growth

Milind says,

As an enterprise saas product company, inbound marketing was critical. Slowly and slowly we have grown. Last 3 years, we have grown 100% year on year. 100% of our SMB sales have been inbound only.
It is not a cliche if I say that Inbound Mantra is my marketing team.
HubSpot has been a backbone for our growth.

Inbound Mantra has had fun in doing this engagement. Here is Visakan (Associate) talking. He single-handedly ensured that DemandFarm continues to grow even in these challenging COVID-19 times.

Exciting News: Inbound Mantra was awarded the Q2 HubSpot Impact Award 2020 in the category - "Grow Better : Marketing" for this success story.

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