Moving to a persona-centric integrated marketing model, we’ve driven 67% more proposals – and a 157% increase in proposal value – to our clients in an extremely niche B2B space. Here’s how we did it.

"Our buyers don’t use the internet to look for our services."

When we first started working with a niche industry facility engineering firm in 2010, the sentiment above was a common belief among B2B companies.

Like many others at the time, our engineering friends believed that influential buyers in highly specialized industries simply didn’t use the internet to find service providers, much less consult online sources to inform their decision making process.

We’re proving that assumption to be false. Since our relationship began in 2011, our digital efforts have generated $23 million in proposal opportunities for our engineering client.

What’s more—we’ve seen impressive growth in both the number of proposals and the worth of proposals by moving from channel-centric strategies to persona-centric strategies, and integrated channel alignment in 2016.

Consider this: Between 2011 and 2015, we averaged driving $3.9 million in proposals per year. In the first three quarters of 2016, with a full-funnel integrated marketing strategy in place, we have already driven $3.6 million in proposals—putting us on pace to beat the previous years’ totals.

Here’s a look at the steps we’ve taken over the past seven years to build sustained YoY success for our niche engineering client.     

The Starting Point: Identifying & Owning a Unique Position in the Market

When we first started working with this client, the business had built a strong reputation within the industry over three decades, but an internal review revealed the need to create and implement a marketing strategy to foster future business growth and continued competitiveness.

With that in mind, our first target was the website. At the time, the site did not showcase the engineering firm's brand effectively or compellingly. We knew that marketing success would hinge on the website’s impact with prospective buyers.

Before changing a line of code or altering the design, we began by assessing the firm's online positioning and creating a differentiated content strategy. This involved:

  • An analysis of competitors' online positioning
  • Learning the industry through stakeholder interviews
  • Developing the value positioning for the market
  • Translating the findings into unique content on the site
  • Updating the UX and design of the website

The revamped website launched in 2011. Thru Oct 31 2016, the site has drawn approximately 157,625 unique sessions since its launch. 70,000 of those visitors have come from organic search.

Driving $19.5 Million in Leads with an Integrated PPC and SEO Strategy

Following the launch, we leveraged pay per click (PPC) advertising and organic SEO strategies and tactics to drive relevant traffic and leads to the site.

This is key: rather than focusing on volume of traffic or going for hundreds of leads, we focused our efforts on attracting quality leads to the business. This approach enabled us to set expectations that success would be 3-4 quality leads per month that the business felt had a high win potential. Closing just one of those leads would mean that the marketing paid for itself.

To accomplish this, we implemented a strategy that included:

  • Keyword Research to find opportunities
  • Paid Search Advertising to drive “ready-to-buy” traffic to the site
  • Site Content Optimization to improve ranking performance and site conversion
  • Blog Content to draw new relevant traffic to the site
  • Local SEO to target local queries and traffic

The strategy worked: In 2014 alone, $233,000 in proposals generated in the first two quarters resulted in $185,000 worth of new business. With a marketing spend of $50,000 at the time, that meant a 370% return on investment for our engineering client halfway into the year.

Not bad, but we saw that there was even greater opportunity ahead.

Moving to a Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy

Digital moves fast—and the only true constant is change.

With evolutions in search engine algorithms, the increasing complexity of the B2B buying journey, and the rapid adoption of technology (smart phones, social media, etc.) by B2B buyers, we saw the need to pivot our proven marketing strategy into a full-funnel customer-generation engine for the business.

Early in 2016, we worked with the client to implement a holistic lead generation and lead nurturing program that helped us maximize impact at every stage of their prospects’ buying journey.

 This approach included:

  • Developing Key Buyer Personas
  • Creating Persona-Based Content Strategies
  • Producing Gated Content Offers (White Papers, Templates, etc.)
  • Organic Search Optimization
  • Paid Search & Sponsored Content
  • Building Lead Nurturing Strategies
  • Implementing Marketing Automation

Rather than continuing with siloed marketing success, we built a full-funnel marketing strategy tailored to deliver relevant content to our key personas—enabling PPC, SEO, and content to work in tandem to drive improved results.

Full-Funnel Marketing Results in a 157% Increase in Proposal Value (YoY)

While we’re early in the process, we are already seeing impressive gains for our engineering client.

At the end of 2016 Q3, our full-funnel strategy has driven a 67% increase in the number of proposals sent to marketing-driven leads (compared to the Q1-Q3 2015).

Here’s the really good news: the value of those proposals is also higher.

In 2015, the average proposal value was $156,773 during Q1-Q3, with the total proposal value coming in at $1.4 million. In the first three quarters of 2016, the average proposal value is coming in at a $403,260. The total proposal value in 2016? $3.6 million.

The Results: $23 Million in Proposals from Marketing-Generated Leads (and Growing)

Over the course of seven years, our marketing has driven $23 million in proposals for this client.

By moving full-funnel, we’ve been able to increase both the number of proposals our clients are sending to marketing driven leads and the proposal value from those leads.

We’ve not only proven that digital marketing works for highly niche B2B companies, we’ve also proven that digital is a revenue-generating engine that more than pays for itself with the proper strategy and execution in place—especially in an era of complex, extended sales cycles.