Using Inbound to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Marketplace
PR and marketing expert Bob Dearsley established the ITPR Group in 1990, but after 20 years in the business, he realised that both his clients and their customers were changing. They were increasingly based online and growing weary of outbound methods such as cold calling, which were showing ever-declining results.
“From 2010 onwards, we had been drawn more into the inbound aspects of public relations. Sitting still and dying wasn’t an option; we needed to embrace digital technologies and futureproof the business,” recalls Bob. “I wanted to move the agency to become a digital marketing agency rather than a pure PR agency, so I set up The B2B Marketing Lab.”
Bob wanted to go all-in with the inbound marketing methodology and was using a collection of online tools, including dotmailer, Google Analytics and Hootsuite, to help him achieve his goals. The company had also tried to develop software that would allow it to both manage their clients’ websites and measure the effectiveness of their marketing activities. However, it soon discovered that it would need a more integrated and powerful solution if it was to achieve the kind of results it needed.
“I had been talking to Pardot, Eloqua and Marketo, but when a client introduced me to HubSpot, it was one of those ‘aha!’ moments. The HubSpot software was an all-in-one platform that already did everything that we were trying to do.”
After meeting with the HubSpot team, Bob was sure that the HubSpot Marketing Platform was the way forward, for both his company and its clients. He signed up the HubSpot Partner Program in April 2012, and since then, he says, he has become an evangelist for inbound. Bob has spoken at HubSpot events during panel discussions, whilst the organisation's Managing Director, Verity Dearsley, spoke at HubSpot’s 2016 partner day.
Creating Content That Works Harder
The B2B Marketing Lab, now known as Huble Digital, first used the HubSpot software to implement inbound marketing on its own website. It created new content, set it up on Landing Pages and added Calls-to-Action and Forms to drive user engagement. It also began using the Social Inbox to manage its LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and filled its Blog with useful content.
Within weeks, inbound leads started to flow in, and the company began to hone its own strategy to deal with them.
“We started out selling inbound to everyone because I knew they needed it. But we discovered that there has to be an appreciation that they need inbound. As we grew, we narrowed our focus to enterprise-level companies in the business-to-business arena, where we could really show off our skills.”
These large companies have a lot of existing expertise in-house; Huble Digital helps them turn it into engaging content – articles, ebooks, videos and blog posts. It also helps them visualise and execute strategic inbound campaigns. What is key, says Bob, is that Huble Digital can now prove ROI.
“Before partnering with HubSpot, we were only in the position to be able to tell them how many people were on their websites, but not much more than that. I was in search of the Holy Grail – a fully formed sales funnel, with conversion ratios at every level. I found that with the HubSpot software."
“Now I can sit with a client and say, ‘if we can generate a certain number of leads through your website, then this number of people are going to fill out a form’. We can show them the entire pathway from marketing qualified lead, to sales qualified lead, to opportunity and to sale, and analyse the percentages in-between”.
Racing Ahead to Real Results
Bob says that he set up the agency with the aim of working with clients on an ongoing basis. This is something that he is well on his way to achieving, with 92% of the agency’s customers now on retainer contracts. Its own website is a model for the efficacy of the inbound methodology, as it achieves 59% of its leads through its online activities. Two years ago, this figure stood at 25%.
In 2016, Huble Digital became a HubSpot Platinum Partner – the first agency in London to do so – and to date has over 50 HubSpot licenses on its books.
It has replicated the inbound success story with its own clients, who generally double their leads within a couple of months of adding Huble Digital’s services. Part of that success lies in the education they receive about the methodology, says Bob.
“I tell them that inbound allows people to be introduced to their product earlier in the sales cycle, something that builds trust and allows them to be seen as thought leaders. After that, the volume of inquiries will grow as you continue your inbound activities.”
"I would recommend that other agencies seriously think about the HubSpot Partner Program. Inbound marketing is the way forward for the industry.”