Hippo CMMS grew customers by 1700% in the first half of 2018 from Organic Search. Inbound Mantra could not have been more excited to be a part of this journey. Here is their inbound marketing growth story. Hippo CMMS is a leading maintenance management software (cloud-based) that provides simple solutions for different aspects of maintenance management including but not limited to work order management, preventive maintenance, equipment management, CMMS Software and inventory management. Based in Canada, it is the simplicity and ease of use of the the Hippo CMMS’ software that has helped it acquire customers - big and small - throughout the world.
The CMMS Software market happens to be extremely competitive with enterprise size companies on one end like IBM, to fleet-footed well-funded startups pitching the latest in CMMS, on the other. To keep growing, Hippo CMMS had been practicing inbound marketing. But, growth was tepid. Hippo CMMS has also been a HubSpot power user since the last two years.In 2018, Hippo CMMS has a goal to double organic traffic and leads from its two main geographies - US and Canada. That was the goal with which Inbound Mantra came on board in January 2018.
Hippo CMMS faced the following challenges.
- Flat Organic Traffic - For 12 continuous months, organic traffic and leads from the key markets of US and Canada had remained flat. The possibility of breakout appeared to be marginal because SERP rankings were dominated by competition. The competition not only included CMMS softwares but also software comparison and listing websites, whose very business model was built around inbound lead generation.
- Reliance on Paid Leads - Hippo was relying on expensive PPC and lead generation campaigns on software listing websites to support growth. In 2017, paid sources accounted for 75% of the leads. Could you take a guess on the CPC bids for the keyword 'CMMS Software'? It is $32.53
There was one other challenge, a very unexpected one for a long standing HubSpot Partner like Inbound Mantra. The Hippo CMMS management had unhappy experiences with previous inbound agencies including a HubSpot Diamond inbound marketing agency. We faced this during the proposal phase, when projected organic traffic numbers and expected top 5 SERP rankings were met with the comment, 'We have heard that before'. We were already under pressure. In hindsight, it was a good thing.
Inbound Mantra was excited and nervous.The opportunity excited Inbound Mantra not just because we consider ourselves experts with SaaS companies (what’s modesty anyway) but also because it’s always been about the entire inbound marketing strategy rather than solely content or lead generation. There was also the added opportunity to impact Hippo's revenue thereby demonstrating ROI.
We started off with the brief - "Grow organic traffic and leads from US and Canada".
The initial research involved understanding Hippo’s business, market, competition, revenue model, buyer personas and the current state of inbound marketing. The research combined with the brief helped us formulate the inbound marketing strategy for Hippo.
The strategy was to follow the inbound marketing methodology and align it with Hippo's brief which led to prioritizing the "Attract" stage and creating a 12 month traffic and lead projection. Yes you heard that right - we projected the traffic and leads for every month. Within the "Attract" stage, Inbound Mantra adopted a high risk strategy focused on 12 Hero Keywords.
The strategy was executed as under:
- Generate Leads
- Nurture Leads
- Close Leads
This stage focused predominantly on SEO, as well as an increase in social media engagement.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- High Risk Keyword Strategy - After an initial analysis using Google Keyword Planner, HubSpot and understanding Hippo CMMS’s business, Inbound Mantra made a list of around 400 relevant keywords. Of the 400 keywords we chose 12 “Hero Keywords” that had a high search volume and high commercial intent in the United States and Canada. It was a high-risk high-reward approach. High-risk because the Top 5 SERP rankings were already dominated by long-standing competition. High-reward because, if we did manage to breach Top 5, Hippo would be placed to generate breakout traffic month over month predictably.
- On Page SEO – We decided to adapt a "one page, one hero keyword" strategy. This means we picked one webpage we wanted to rank for, for each of the 12 hero keywords and optimized them for content, meta description, interlinking and title.
- Off Page SEO - This entails backlinks, social distribution, guest postings and directory listings. Several marketing agencies prioritize quantity over quality when it comes to backlinks as was the case with Hippo's previous marketing agencies. Inbound Mantra's approach was to help Hippo CMMS receive backlinks from only highly relevant websites that would help them get meaningful traffic and leads. Additionally, we even purged over 200 "spam and irrelevant" links.
- Technical SEO – "2 seconds is the threshold for website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second", Maile Ohye, from Google. HubSpot COS websites at times tend to be tardy. Using GTM, google pagespeed insights tool, pingdom and GT Metrix page size and therefore loading speed was reduced by almost half for a majority of the pages. Further, the webpages were also optimized for mobile view. Know more about HubSpot COS Fast.
- Schema - Schema is already emerging as the next frontier for SEO. Structured data best practices were followed that resulted in representing content better on SERP (Ratings schema). This boosted CTR and consequently traffic. Attempts are currently underway to crack rich snippets.
Schema - Review Star rating
- Predictive SEO - I hope you are reading this exciting post. It was our internal predictive seo model that gave us the confidence to take on the high-risk 12 hero keyword approach. This predictive SEO model assigns the probability of ranking in the Top 5 for a particular keyword. Cool, right? It helped us prioritize our keyword optimisation effort. Keywords with high ranking probability were prioritized in the first months. Overall organic traffic was up 20% in the very first month.
- Organic - Hippo had previously scarcely used social media as one of it's tools to attract audiences. We picked the social media platforms most used by our target audience and created a distribution strategy for each platform that included posting content daily (articles, videos, infographics), reaching out to relevant groups, editing the company profile page, engaging internal and client team members. The objective was to increase social presence by regular social media updates. Our hero keyword strategy was also supported by social media posts that sought to promote the target website pages.
- Paid - These include sponsored content that was specifically catered according to an audience type based off of job title, industry and demographics. Our first step however was to gauge the performance of these campaigns via ROI. Through these findings we optimized the paid campaigns for offer type, channel as well as audience type. We also used excerpts from our buyer persona research to create the target audience for social media paid campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn.
This stage focused on maximizing the conversion rate using CRO tactics, website redesign as well as content.
- Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) - Through the course of time different conversion paths were subjected to trial and error to see what helps maximize the conversion rate. This includes analyzing different types of CTAs both placement and design wise, different types of forms and lead flows, redesigning landing pages, heatmap analysis to understand why users were staying and leaving. For example, one of our blogs saw submissions go up from 0 to 14 in a two week comparison period just by different CTA placement and design.
- Content - Content has always been a huge part of the inbound marketing strategy. Not only did new content like eBooks and blogs help with conversion rate optimization but so did existing content. We gave existing content a new spin to make it more relevant and digestible while also increasing its presence along conversion paths.
- Website Redesign and Development- Hippo’s top ten web pages and landing pages ( based on the pages ranking for the hero keywords as well as pages with most traffic ) were redesigned to improve the UI/UX , overall design as well as to increase the conversion paths.
[twenty20 img1="9063" img2="9065" direction="vertical" offset="0.5"]
Before and After redesigning the homepage
Analysing 'time to close' for existing customers, it was found that the buying cycle was 3 to 6 months. Basis this finding, following was undertaken to engage leads.
- Lead Nurturing Workflow - The workflow sent out several emails over a 10 week period providing the leads with relevant information in the form of articles, pricing calculator, guides and more.
- Monthly newsletters
- Top of the Funnel Content - Based off of research it was concluded that it was important to create awareness about Hippo's advantages and how CMMS software can help companies increase productivity and reduce costs. We therefore created an eBook titled, "911 emergency! Our maintenance department needs a CMMS Software", that ended up with a submission rate of 22.6%.
911 eBook Cover
We also managed to reactive some leads with the following email and retargeting campaigns.
- 911 eBook eMail Campaign - An experiment conducted by Inbound Mantra involved emailing contacts the 911 eBook on the gray mail list ended up with 13 more submissions (13 contacts that were marked gray due to lack of activity). Further on, we tried using a third party email sending software (other than HubSpot) to a bunch of our contacts and ended up getting 9 more submissions. Here are the numbers.
- Retargeting - Retargeting ad campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn directed towards custom 'website visitors' audience.
What good are the leads if they don't close into customers and revenues?To enable Hippo CMMS sales reps close leads better, it was important to reduce lead response time (using Round Robin Workflow) and also equip them with more information (using HubSpot Salesforce mapping) and intelligence (using Predictive Lead Scoring).
Reduce Lead Response Time
To allow for Hippo CMMS sales reps to most efficiently follow up with leads, Inbound Mantra recommended and executed the HubSpot “Round Robin workflow”. This was important since Hippo struggled with equal distribution of leads among sales reps leading to missed opportunities. Using Hubspot’s workflow tool, leads were easily assigned to different sales reps. The idea was to achieve the following:
- Quicker response time due to equal distribution of leads amongst sales reps.
- Prioritizing leads based off of source and geography
HubSpot Salesforce Mapping
The HubSpot Company Insights feature was valuable since it helped sales reps qualify leads better. But, sales reps were using only the salesforce interface for their lead interactions, which did not carry this information. There was one more issue. HubSpot company properties could not be mapped to leads objects in Salesforce. Inbound Mantra found a creative way to work around this constraint and provided a single screen view within Salesforce.
- Manual - Inbound Mantra created a lead scoring logic that assigns a score to leads on a scale of 100 based off of different factors such as the types of pages visited, forms filled, location, industry, job title and 15 other factors. A threshold score of 42 helped sales reps prioritize leads.
- Predictive Lead Scoring - We are super excited about this! To help Hippo’s sales rep narrow down their efforts towards users that show higher buying intent, we leveraged predictive lead scoring that tells the sales reps to either “Yes, call the lead” or “No, you’re wasting your time” within Salesforce. The predictive lead scoring has been synced to salesforce to allow for a lead’s score to be visible along with existing properties. The predictive lead scoring tool is currently showing an efficiency of 88% (variable) and is still in the works to help improve the efficiency further.
- Predictive vs Manual Lead Scoring
Sales reps view of Lead Scoring within Salesforce
Using the above strategy Inbound Mantra inched towards helping Hippo CMMS by achieving the monthly proposed goals of traffic, conversion rate and leads. While we've met and exceeded our traffic goals, when it comes to leads we've lagged behind in the last month, but hey, that's a part of the game, isn't it? It also keeps us humble.
- 1700% increase in Customers from Organic Search (Target Market - United States and Canada)
- 100% increase in Organic Traffic from US in 6 months.
- 7 of the 12 Hero Keywords now rank in the Top 5 for Google.com
Daniel Golub, General Manager, Hippo CMMS
"MS (Maintenance Software) company that applies the SaaS business model. In our increasing competitive space we need to keep the leads coming in and ensure cost per lead is manageable. Hippo CMMS has worked with 4 SEO consultants over the last 7 years. Inbound Mantra has been by far the best. Unlike other providers in the past who won’t commit to results or say you won’t see anything until 6 months, these guys have show great results in 3 months. They've also been instrumental in pushing out our lead scoring, updating our marketing automation, content creation and more. Basically, they are our in house marketing team and work so quickly that it is hard to keep up. They’re awesome."