Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Jan 14, 2016
Building a B2B Sales Leads Engine for a Manufacturing Company
How a fiberglass manufacturer used inbound marketing to drive B2B sales leads and increase revenue.
About Beetle Plastics
Beetle Plastics, founded in the 1950’s, designs and manufactures custom fiberglass pipe, large diameter fiberglass ductwork, fiberglass tanks, fiberglass vessels, other equipment and services relating to fiberglass products.
Beetle Plastics is a subsidiary of Midwest Towers, Inc., a world-class manufacturer of evaporative water cooling towers. Beetle Plastics operations include their headquarters and plant facilities in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and a nationwide network of sales and representative offices.
As a part of Midwest Towers they were content for many years supplying the components for cooling tower projects sold by the parent company. President Larry Brown knew they needed to branch out and find more direct customers for Beetle Plastics and when he read an article in Composites magazine about inbound marketing he was confident that he now had a method to help him do just that.
In early July 2012 Beetle signed up for HubSpot and hired Todd Hockenberry to guide their inbound marketing efforts. The initial goal was simple—works with Beetle professionals assisting them to translate their fiberglass expertise into web content that would attract high-quality prospects and help to convert them into happy customers.
Our plan was simple; we focused on three keys things:
- Optimize the website for long-tail keywords
- Create calls to action and landing pages for existing content to drive conversions
- Create new content targeting ideal prospects
During the first 30 days of the project, we developed keyword sets based on end products, vertical markets, and specific solutions. By using this format we were able to speak very directly to site visitors. Previously, Beetle Plastics, as well as all of their competitors were using high level, general keywords like:
The end result was that there was significant competition for these keywords as well as no differentiation in the searches. A search for 'fiberglass tanks' would yield results for small tank for animals all the way up to large industrial tanks. By narrowing the keyword focus we were sure that the quality and quantity of traffic would increase.
Our new keyword sets came out as:
Next, we took existing content bundled it up as valuable downloads and created calls to action, landing pages, and thank-you pages.
However, we were still facing two major obstacles with respect to quantifiable results. Number one, the site was generating a low level of visits, and number two; it was not producing any leads.
Potential leads were visiting the site but very few were converting. This was primarily due to a lack of conversion opportunities. For example, potential customers only were given the option to ‘contact us or ‘request a quote. Using existing content we created an engineering catalog targeting top-of-the-funnel visitors looking for information on using custom fiberglass as a building material.
Finally, we embarked on a multi-faceted, aggressive content creation campaign. The campaign was tailored to address the needs of a variety of vertical industries and a large line of custom solutions. We developed technical stories relating to chemicals and fiberglass resins. Most importantly we wanted to incorporate the benefits of Beetle’s end products and how fiberglass construction materials and custom products solve difficult industrial problems like chemical handling and storage harsh environments.
The intent was to position Beetle Plastics in the composites fabrication world as a thought leader and progressive thinking company. Content ranged from regular blog posts to case studies to whitepapers.
We established Social Media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ as well as YouTube. Our initial social media goals were modest and mainly revolved around publishing content, monitoring keywords and traffic among relevant companies, and starting to build a following around the content ideas we were publishing. Future efforts will focus on build communities of contractors and engineers that follow Beetle Plastics and collaborate with them to identify and solve fiberglass-related problems.
We established two email campaigns for Beetle Plastics, one to update all contacts monthly on new content published and other items of interest and another to automatically follow up on any prospect that converted on the site. Monthly emails go out to our contacts and highlight blog posts, new offers, upcoming events, and other items of interest. So far we have seen an increase in engagement using email. Open rates and subscribers continue to grow. Lead nurturing campaigns have augmented the direct sales team lead follow-up and have proven helpful in increasing engagement from leads by pointing them to the blog and other offers.
The sales team embraced the new ideas about inbound marketing and quickly became contributors to our content building and promoting efforts. By answering the questions the sales team was being asked most often we built credibility with them and gave them tools to use during their sales process. The sales team uses whitepapers and specific blog posts to show expertise as prospects ask them questions and they qualify in order to find the best solutions. Content focused on applications and customer problems compared to traditional sales/product/feature literature has helped the sales team close more sales.
Our goals for the marketing projects were to:
- Significantly increase traffic from the <10 visits per day starting point
- Drive leads from ideal target prospects
- Increase the credibility of Beetle Plastics and assist in driving leads through the buying process
- Contribute to a significant increase in sales
After almost one year the results are clear:
Credibility can be tough to measure but in August of 2012 Beetle Plastics landed a very large project from a South American firm and using HubSpot we were able to see how often the engineers and decision-makers from this company were using and interacting with the website. "Our salespeople closed the business but our website was certainly a huge help in building our case and enhancing our credibility with the customer and in winning the business," says Mr. Brown.
Beetle Plastics' use of inbound marketing is steadily expanding its reach into end-users of fiberglass products and more importantly engineering and design firms that design, specify, and oversee construction materials purchase and large construction projects. "We are opening doors for our engineers and team of experts that traditional sales approaches would not open. By focusing on builder's needs and the solutions they are looking for we are more often seen as the experts in our field and are being sought out as the expert. Our solution-based content is very attractive to our target engineer prospect and our website and the inbound marketing methodology give us the tools to be there when they are looking online" says Mr. Brown.
Was the investment worth it?
"We grew Beetle Plastics by over 20% since we started our inbound marketing project and we feel like we are just getting started" states Mr. Brown.
What’s next For Beetle Plastics?
Targeted content is the key and we will continue to monitor the target customers and answer the questions they are asking and provide expertise where it is needed. We will be developing sales tools including checklists, how-to’s, guides to, and other tool-based content that will be of interest to contractors and engineering companies – both of whom are the key persona targets for Beetle Plastics.
We will be focusing on particular niche markets and developing inbound plans to attract more visits and drive high-quality leads using expanded email campaigns, targeted market research, new site navigation, and building links and connections with influential people and organizations.
About Todd Hockenberry
Todd Hockenberry helps B2B companies increase revenue by developing and implementing integrated online inbound marketing strategies to increase lead generation and conversion to sales. Along with strategic relationship management, sales channel optimization, and target market analysis Todd and his team partners with small and medium-sized B2B and manufacturing companies to chart a path to significant growth.