Inbound Success: How Superior Digital Marketing Led To A £200k Pipeline For A Local Fire & Security Company
by Jon Law, on March 31, 2018
Local SMEs in service industries are always seen as the Cinderellas of content marketing! But Lollipop's experience in the Fire & Security industry, combined with a client who matched their own passion and determination to give the best possible service, resulted in an overwhelming success story.
A security system is often a grudge buy made only to keep the insurance company happy. And buyers are usually motivated by price alone. The decision process can go on for months as they compare alternative suppliers.
The industry is split as follows: 4 well known, national brands take over half the available market, leaving a large number of smaller businesses and one man bands to fight over what is left. It's a tough place to be.
Lollipop have been achieving digital marketing success for the smaller businesses in the Fire & Security niche since 2010. It was one of the reasons that we were chosen to work with Blake Fire & Security Systems in our home town of Southend-on-Sea. They wanted us to apply all that experience and expertise to their business and get more customers from the wider areas of Essex and London.
The beginning of Blake Fire & Security Systems dates back to 1979 when Ian Blake started Blake Electrical as a sole trader. In 2001, the company was renamed Blake Contractors Limited to reflect the addition of the expanding Building division.
As well as working with domestic customers, a large part of their workload was for schools and local authorities. Fire protection was always offered by the Electrical department but the legislation changed, so Blake's Fire & Security Systems department was formed in 2002.
Blake's serve Essex and London from their HQ in Southend-on-Sea.
With the four major national players taking 54% of the Fire & Security market and as many as 365 security installers in the South East and another 309 in London, local competition was becoming stiffer than ever.
Most of their work was generated through word of mouth, repeat customers and the efforts of their charismatic MD, who was very active on the networking circuit. But this approach was becoming increasingly time consuming. With the internet so important in everyday life, Ian Blake knew something needed to change!
The lack of an effective online presence was a real problem. They desperately needed to clarify their message and get it in front of the right people.
The Original Website
Their online presence was poor. The company was difficult to find on Google Search and Maps - and there was no Social Media presence at all!
The original website was out of date and NOT mobile optimised. Furthermore, it failed to clearly define the two sides to the business - Contractors and Security. Generic website copy compounded the lack of clarity, resulting in a confusing experience for visitors... and search engines!
Was Blake's a building contractor or a Fire & Security installer? Was it a larger organisation or a one man band?
There was no indication that Blake's had a dedicated expert for each Fire and Security speciality from burglar alarms and CCTV, through automatic gates to fire alarms and more. This was a problem that was costing them work. Despite being delighted with the service Blake's provided, both existing and new clients gave work to other firms, simply because:
"we didn't realise you did that as well..."
In addition, the website was entirely focused on visitors that were ready to buy, there was nothing for people earlier in the Buyer's Journey. If you wanted information or answers to questions, your only option was to call or use the contact form.
This is not unusual in the UK Security industry. With websites firmly focused on site surveys, the marketing funnel is usually no more sophisticated than home page to service page with form!
In addition to the perplexing website, they had NO:
- Established brand identity
- Budget allocated for paid online promotion
- Lead capture, conversion path or nurturing
- Sales pipeline to track enquiries, leads and deals won
It's hardly a surprise that Blake's couldn’t credit the website with even a single enquiry!
We knew that there was lots of money being left on the table and a real chance for a proper Inbound Marketing strategy, complete with marketing automation, to make a difference.
No one else in the industry was doing it!
Ian Blake knew he needed expert help to get the results he wanted - a website that produced the leads and site survey enquiries that became closed business.
Working his way through a number of local web design agencies, Ian discovered Lollipop. Rather than just offering to do something digital market-y, we made a business case for HubSpot and Inbound as the way forward and the partnership was formed!
Eager to measure the ROI, HubSpot was the perfect solution because:
- The marketing platform provides us with the tools we need and straightforward analysis performance.
- The sales tools allows effortless communication once enquiries start coming in
- The CRM pulls the funnel together with a simple, visual display
In addition, HubSpot integrates seamlessly with other tools we introduced - Typeform, Databox and Drift.
There was a lot to do and we only had limited time to access the Management team. The schedule needed prioritisation:
- Brand Identity
- Two new websites - the Fire & Security site was to be built on HubSpot's COS, the Contractors on WordPress
- Local SEO, Google My Business/Maps
- Complete Inbound marketing funnels with email workflows for all six security specialities across the year
- Sales enablement and CRM training for Blake's staff
As with the vast majority of the Security Industry, the company had a decidedly old school approach to marketing and sales. Aside from the perplexing website and networking there wasn't any marketing... none at all.
In addition, there was no dedicated sales team! Instead, the speciality managers (CCTV, Intruder Alarms, Fire Protection etc.) were responsible for undertaking the site surveys, where the selling was done. Quotes were followed-up but tracking of deals through the sales process was adhoc. We became concerned that opportunities were slipping through the net.
Although the stakeholders acknowledged that buying behaviour has changed, everything about Inbound was new. Marketing funnels, the Buyer's Journey and sales pipeline were new concepts! So baby steps and simplification were the order of the day!
Budget and Traffic
There was a small budget for paid traffic to get started. But from previous experience in the industry we knew that we could get the best quality traffic to the website by
- ranking the Google My Business entry in search, maps and on mobile
- ranking the service pages for organic local searches
- answering the questions the personas were asking on the pages and in blog posts
The first priority was education and research. We got busy with a series of workshops and individual interviews with the managers, experts in each Fire & Security speciality. We needed to know exactly who their most important buyers were, how Blake's solved their issues and what the Buyer's Journey looked like.
It was critical to get the management team onside and excited about the inbound effort moving forward without overwhelming them with new marketing and sales stuff. Initially, we focused on four things
- Brand identity
- The Buyer's Journey and Personas
- Local SEO and Google My Business
- Content - Offers and Blogging
Simultaneously, we began developing the content and the websites. The Blake Fire & Security website was built on HubSpot's COS platform, while a separate website for Blake Contractors was built on Wordpress. Independent websites and a clear delineation between the two very different service categories allowed us two autonomous Google My Business listings and a chance to make some early headway.
As an established family run business, the Blake's team had plenty to say. They loved the company and the fantastic work they did but had trouble expressing the essence of what made them great. We boiled this down to 3 things:
- One Stop Shop - Blake's have the expertise to take care of all a commercial customer's Fire and Security requirements in-house. In addition, their sister company, Blake Contractors, can deal with any building or electrical work saving the client any project management stress.
- Dedication to Accreditation - Blake's spend huge amounts of time and money ensuring their workforce is properly trained and accredited so all work is completed to British and European standards.
- Big enough to cope, small enough to care - as a family run business with the highest standards, Blake's have the capacity to do the work yet care enough to provide a personal touch that is often missing at larger national companies.
Buyer's Journey and Personas
The workshops and interviews allowed us to flesh out the Buyer's Journey and Personas. This process helped us to:
- Identify 3 key personas
- Plan a marketing funnel for each persona
Organic Traffic and Local SEO
As with any brand new website, organic traffic takes time to gain traction. Local SEO and Google My Business (GMB) on Maps was a chance for some quick online visibility. Besides, local work has always been important to Blake's and it doesn't hurt morale to out-perform the competition on Google!
We created GMB pages for both Blake's websites and began optimisation work as these were developed. In addition, we extended the Google Maps footprint to a third company that MD Ian Blake owns - Eastern Security Ltd. This allowed us to get high-visibility and dominate the SERPs quickly.
With a dedicated phone number for internet use, we were able to track calls from GMB as well as the website. They started receiving near me enquiries on mobile for both Blake companies and Eastern! This was not happening before... and it was one of the first improvements that they noticed.
Quality content was critical to success. We needed quality, buyer-oriented content to attract visitors, convert and nurture leads until ready to buy. With access to the managers limited, we developed a content schedule flexible enough to switch focus as required.
The first two funnels were ready to promote when the website went live around New Year 2017.
Ramping It Up
With so many funnels to build, content creation and promotion was the priority. In addition, we needed to regularly analyse and hone performance of the funnel assets, i.e. premium offers and website pages.
To manage this, the ramping up schedule across a quarter became:
- Month 1 - Content and promo for funnels
- Month 2 - Content and promo for funnels
- Month 3 - Analysis and honing the funnels
At the end of each Quarter we arranged a Progress Review meeting with all Blake's stakeholders at their HQ. This covered what was working well, what needed improving and what we planned to cover next. Also it allowed anyone the opportunity to raise any queries, issues or points that needed clarification. These meetings are critical to keep everyone on the same page and are in addition to weekly catch-up calls with the client.
The HubSpot platform has an excellent reporting facility but we wanted to combine data from several sources. We used Databox to build the dashboards we needed to analyse and guide performance improvements.
Reporting With Databox
Databox pulls in the key metrics from popular software and displays it all in a neat dashboard. This allowed us to track whatever we wanted in almost real time AND build simplified reporting for the client.
The client had access to the simple reports so they could be reassured that everything was heading in the right direction. In the quarterly reviews, we took the stakeholders through analysis in more detail.
With a few dashboards built, we were able to easily track both marketing and sales metrics such as:
- Leads in the pipeline via HubSpot
- Deals won via HubSpot
- Social Media figures via Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter
- Number of published blog posts on the website via HubSpot
- Email open rate via HubSpot
- CTA click-through rate via HubSpot
- Landing Page conversion rate via HubSpot
Having all our critical metrics together in one place meant we were always ahead of the game. As soon as an anomaly or poor performance was revealed, we adjusted our work to suit before it had a negative impact.
A good example of this was identifying fluctuating email open and click rates in one of our lead nurturing email workflows. By changing the titles and rewriting the copy – we improved an already good email open rate from 46.15% to 67.35% and click rate from 3.85% to 10.2%!
Drift Website Chat
On another occasion we noticed low conversions on the service pages. After altering the CTAs, we decided to try chat. With buyer behaviour constantly evolving, a form is often too slow for the modern consumer researching before buying.
It’s not just that they want to do their own research, it’s about maintaining anonymity and not being sold to by a sales person before they have gathered all the information they need.
Drift and other Live Chat options offer a simple, low commitment opportunity to get in touch.
In terms of effort vs return, Drift chat had an unparalleled impact on Blake's first year with Lollipop and generated a whopping 40% of the total leads for the year!
This simple integration allowed website visitors who weren’t ready to buy:
- A way to speak to a member of the team on any website page
- The option to remain anonymous while finding out more information
- The chance to contact Blake’s outside of their working hours
As a result, the Blakes team were able to have friendly conversations that converted visitors into leads within the website chat box.
The icing on the cake was the easy integration with HubSpot that updated Contact Profiles based on the Drift chat. Although common in many sectors, website chat is not used much in the Fire & Security industry.
Continuous Improvement - Honing TOFU
Relying on blog content to draw traffic to the site meant a lot of blogging. It's always the case that certain blog posts shine more than others. We put a lot of effort into selecting keywords that gave us the best chance to rank well in Google and when one took off, we jumped on it.
An early TOFU or top of the funnel campaign promoted a Home Security checklist. HubSpot's reporting indicated that one blog post in particular - Do Burglars Come Back - was attracting plenty of traffic AND conversions.
We wanted to squeeze more from this top-performing blog post. So a series of experiments were designed to influence two things:
- Traffic - improve the copy to increase visibility in Google
- Conversions - test different CTAs and trial pop-ups with the Leadflow feature in HubSpot
- Traffic - 3x improvement across the year to about 1,500 views per quarter!
- Conversions - initial improvement attempts lowered the conversion rate from 8% to just over 5% BUT, with further tweaks, this rose to over 20%! That's a 2.5x improvement over the 4 quarters!
Increasing both the amount of traffic to the funnel AND the conversion rate is powerful!
Continuous Improvement - Sales Pipeline
Using a CRM was alien to the Blake's team, so we wanted to introduce it gradually, highlighting its veracity along the way. Baby steps were required to prevent overwhelm. A simple pipeline was set up for our point of contact, Kirsty. This clearly illustrated a problem.
Without a dedicated sales team to follow-up tenaciously, certain deals were getting stuck in the pipeline. See below
Deals were getting logjammed at the Quote Sent stage and the managers struggled to fit follow up calls into their already busy schedule. Thousands of pounds was being left in limbo.
Using the sales email templates feature, we created a series of follow-up emails for Kirsty to send out if there was no response after the quote had been sent. This eased the burden on the over-stretched managers while pushing deals along the pipeline.
Some deals, by nature had a much longer sales cycle than others. We introduced the Under Discussion stage as an interim before a decision was made. This allowed Kirsty to separate those who had been followed-up successfully from those still not contacted.
From Zero To Hero
From the website launch in New Year 2017 to the end of the year
Tracked Search Engine Rankings
Website pages ranking in the top 5 positions in Google for targeted Keywords rose from 29 to 113! An increase of 390%
Increased website traffic
Organic up 800%, Referrals up 500%. Direct up 97%.
Enquiries from new website
From 0 to 63 Sales Opportunities with a total pipeline value of £211,702
Looking ahead we intend to focus on three main things:
With organic traffic still critical to the Traffic strategy we will move to use a new tool in the HubSpot marketing platform. The strategy tool improves the site architecture ensuring Google can understand the content topics across the website better. The results will be even better visibility in Google and still more traffic to the website.
Converting traffic is paramount. Each Fire & Security speciality has a complete funnel now and these need promoting and honing over time. This will involve more blogging, social media and topic cluster work.
One of the managers was particularly keen to take advantage of the CRM and some of the sales tools to make his life easier. We upgraded his account to Sales Pro and created a stand alone pipeline for him which he is currently using.
Success here will be rolled out across the company.
Here's what a delighted Ian Blake had to say about Lollipop, HubSpot and Inbound Marketing:
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