The 3 biggest problems facing businesses that sell expensive & complicated products or services...
Problem #1 - Lack of a predictable way to generate new business
This boutique home builder came to us mid-2015 with one main problem - they only had a handful of leads coming in each month.
Barely enough to sustain their business, let alone grow it.
They needed a way to generate a steady, predictable flow of leads to keep their business going.
They were sick of relying on "hope marketing" - referrals, word of mouth, and a trickle of website traffic to try and grow their business.
As we'll learn, they'd tried lots of different things already, and been frustrated by "one disappointment after another in the online lead generation industry".
Nothing had worked consistently to give their sales team good quality leads to follow up and close.
Problem #2 - Lack of differentiation from competitors
They were having trouble setting themselves apart from other home builders.
Without anything really showing they were different, they were often reduced to competing on price.
There was nothing to set them apart, no point of view or opinion, and even though they built beautiful homes, in many ways they were just another "me too" business.
They needed to find a way to stand out from competitors, show they were different, and stop being just another commodity competing merely on price.
Problem #3 - No process to educate and engage leads until they’re ready to buy
Someone making a $500,000+ purchase will almost never arrive on your website and submit an enquiry right away.
First they'll do some background research.
They'll see what you have to offer. They're not ready to talk to a salesperson, yet.
But most companies in this industry (this client included) only have a contact form or a "get a quote" as their main call to action.
Less than 3% of your market is in "buy" mode at any given time, so by only having a "talk to us" offer you're turning away the other 37% who are in "information gathering" or "problem aware" mode and just want to learn more about you.
Image: Only 3% of your potential audience is ready to buy, yet most marketing focuses there.
As a result, this boutique builder's sales team was wasting time following up bad leads.
The sales process was clunky. A lead would come in and a sales rep would send out the company brochure manually.
Then the lead would be left to figure things out for themselves, coming back to the sales rep with any questions they had.
Because of the long sales cycle in buying a home, it would often take 6-12 months for the person to be ready to make a decision.
During this time, many leads would go to a competitor who was educating people about their common questions and concerns, and forget all about the original builder.
The only contact the customer had from the home builder during this time were the infrequent check ins from the sales rep. The rep didn't have a lot of value to add other than saying "have you made a decision yet?".
The result of this problem was a low win-rate of deals with time wasted on manual work in following up.
This boutique home builder also struggled with:
- Flying blind with their marketing efforts - they simply didn't know what to spend time and money on because they had no way of knowing what was working and what wasn't. There was a lack of clarity around what was producing a return vs what was a waste of time and money.
- Trying to get their different sales and marketing systems (website, CRM, email tool, etc.) talking to each other - they were trying to manage 3+ complicated sales and marketing tools, all while running their core business and trying to deliver value to their customers at the same time.
- Lack of internal marketing resources and knowledge to know what to do, or to be able to implement a plan - as a relatively small business, this home builder didn't have a full marketing team needed to create and implement an overarching strategy.
A traditional family business, this home builder had experienced "one disappointment after another" when trusting service provides with their marketing, and were ready to try something new.
They approached our digital agency and asked for help.
Even though we mainly worked with B2B companies at the time, this builder identified that our inbound & content marketing system could work well for their business model because they were selling a high-end product with a long sales cycle.
We agreed to work with them and immediately got started implementing a new marketing strategy.
STEP #1 - Building the Platform
The first thing we did was set up HubSpot's all-in-one sales and marketing software for this boutique home builder. This would allow us to carry out the plan effectively, replace all the tools they were using unsuccessfully, and provide several other benefits including:
- A way to have all marketing activity in one place, including email marketing, lead gen landing pages, ads management, social media, reporting dashboards, a blogging platform, and more.
- A "single source of truth" when it came to tracking and reporting results. We could see the entire customer journey in one place, and could see exactly what campaigns were bringing in the best results.
- Marketing automation that would free up sales reps' time and nurture leads with effective "set and forget" content streams - delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time.
- "Closed loop" combined marketing and sales reporting so the company could see marketing activity along with sales activity in the one system.
We also worked closely with the home builder's team to understand their needs and challenges, and to train them in getting the most from their new all in one sales and marketing platform.
Requirements for this step: HubSpot Sales & Marketing Software
STEP #2 - Creating the strategy and getting to work
We created a plan for this boutique home building company that would use inbound and content marketing to achieve several goals:
- Increase organic search rankings by publishing content that answered their customers' biggest questions and attracted links from other websites.
- Set them apart from their competitors by positioning their brand in the market and establishing them as the "go to" expert in their industry.
- Provide their sales team with resources to share with prospects, giving them something to say other than "just checking in".
- Educate and engage leads about the company's process and excite them by regularly showing them completed projects.
These updates included a weekly blog article addressing a new topic each week. For example, we'd produce articles about the differences between the way this home builder approaches design and what separates them from other builders.
We'd create content about how much you should expect to pay for a custom designed home, and whether you could get finance on certain types of relocatable & manufactured homes.
We also surveyed customers about what their main questions and concerns were, then created content to address those objections and answer those questions.
At the same time we performed conversion rate optimisation on their website, testing different content offers in different places, and using HubSpot's "Smart CTAs" to show different offers to people from different sources (e.g. Google search vs social media) and at different stages in the buyer journey (e.g. new visitor vs subscriber).
Image: Our lead gen landing pages generate tens of thousands of leads and hundreds of customers with an average sale price of over $300K.
Requirements for this step: Content strategy roadmap; dynamic calls to action; lead generation landing pages; blog platform; conversion rate optimisation.
STEP #3 - Amplifying the content and driving results
We promoted the content we created for this boutique builder using paid and organic strategies, including:
- Paid search - Google ads to attract people actively searching for keywords around custom home building.
- Social media - regular posting to social media, as well as paid social to drive traffic to blog posts and content offer landing pages.
- SEO - building links to key pieces of content to boost domain authority and rank higher in search engines.
- Email marketing - As their email list grew, more and more people came back to the site from our regular email updates, creating a "snowball effect".
By amplifying the content in this way we ensured that as many people as possible saw the right content at the right time in their journey.
Image: Using this strategy combined with Google ads was very effective, resulting in $4.3M in projects from a $14K investment - more than a 300X return on ad spend.
Using ad targeting such as "Lookalike" audiences and retargeting previous website visitors, coupled with compelling and relevant content, we were able to get a low cost per lead from paid search and social.
At the time of writing this case study, this client is generating, on average, 59 leads per day through their website alone, mostly from organic search and social (i.e. free leads now that the system is built and optimised).
Requirements for this step: Google Ads strategy; Facebook page and ad account + strategy; SEO strategy for driving organic traffic; email marketing system + strategy.
STEP #4 - Making the most of the leads we generated
For the leads that we were now capturing, it was important not to leave them hanging indefinitely.
So we created a lead nurture email sequence that would take the business's best content and put it in front of people who had just signed up for information.
To do this we calculated the average time between someone going from a early stage lead to a sales qualified lead, and mapped out content across that time period.
If we published a great article 6 months ago, someone finding the site today might never see it. So we used email automation to get these key pieces of educational content in front of new subscribers at the right time.
The way we did this was to create a multi-email drip sequence, with each email around 3-6 days apart. This meant that for the first few months after signing up, contacts would get helpful articles educating them about the company's process, industry questions (e.g. finance, permits, land), and showing completed projects to inspire them.
Every few emails there would be a customer success story, and occasionally an invitation to visit a display home or take a virtual tour, but only after providing lots of helpful information first, and never with a "buy now" type offer that felt pushy or salesy.
Tip: For email and social media, a good ratio of providing value vs "selling" is around 4:1.
This automated email nurturing achieved three things:
- It educated contacts about the product so they could make an informed buying decision
- It achieved the 10+ "touches" required to build trust with a customer before they are ready to buy
- It brought contacts back to the website to read the content and engage with product pages once again
After the email drip sequence finished we still needed a way to keep engaging contacts for the 6+ months sales cycle on buying a home.
The way we did this was to send out an email every Saturday morning about that week's latest blog post.
This would bring literally thousands of email subscribers back to the website each week to read the latest article, a percentage of whom would go on to browse product pages on the site and move further along the buyer journey, including submitting project enquiries on the lead generation landing pages we created for this purpose.
Requirements for this step: Email copywriting; HubSpot's email broadcast & automation tools.
In the words of this home builder's Managing Director, "the results were amazing":
- Website traffic increased from 8,000 visits per month to more than 25,000 visits per month
- Email list growth of more than 1500 new contacts each month to more than 30K subscribers - many of whom go on to become sales leads
- Conversion rate on the website of visitors into leads increase by 273%, from less than 2% to almost 6%
- More efficient sales team who can now spend more time dealing with inbound leads who are ready to buy and less time "following up" with nothing to say
- An automated lead generation and marketing system that can be scaled up and down to suit the business capacity
All of these changes worked together to increase this home builder's annual revenue year on year.
They went from around $8M turnover in 2015 (the graph says $4.5M because we only started tracking in May), to $40M turnover in 2020.
This allowed them to supply hundreds of families with affordable, sustainable homes.
Most importantly, this growth allowed them to provide dozens of new jobs in their local community and contribute to worthwhile community causes, while growing their company into an industry powerhouse.
During this time we worked with this client as a strategic growth partner, as if (in the Managing Director's words) we "were part of their team". We were their only marketing provider and continue to work with them closely.
This home builder is now on track for their biggest year ever, with almost $12M pipeline revenue generated this month alone:
We help businesses that sell expensive products and services attract, convert, and close more customers using proven, tested sales & marketing strategies. We work with a small number of clients so that we can give each client the attention needed for results like these.
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SERVICES WE PROVIDE
We provide a range of inbound marketing services for mid-sized businesses, including:
- Marketing strategy, training, coaching & consulting
- Content marketing, including content strategy and copywriting for blog posts, emails, and landing pages
- Search engine optimisation
- Paid advertising on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn & Instagram
- HubSpot marketing & sales software set up and management
- Conversion rate optimisation
If you'd like help to get results like these, click on the button below to book in a strategy call with our team so we can help you create a plan of action for taking your business to its next stage of growth.