ESM Moves From Freemium Tools to a Premium Partnership With HubSpot

ESM Inbound helps educational suppliers to market and sell their services to schools. As it developed as an agency, ESM started using inbound techniques to attract, retain and close leads. After achieving good results with the HubSpot freemium software, it doubled down on its commitment to inbound and signed up to the HubSpot Partner Program. Since then, ESM has increased its revenue by 3X, and today, 100% of its clients are on retainer.


Increase in revenue


Increase in leads


Of clients on retainer

ESM Inbound Team

About ESM Inbound

Founded by two former teachers, ESM Inbound provides inbound marketing, website development and advertising services to educational suppliers. As a HubSpot Partner, ESM helps their clients attract, convert and close more leads by leveraging content that teachers find genuinely useful.

The First Steps on the Road to Inbound

ESM was founded in January 2016 by John Kelleher and Lucy Seymour, two former teachers who wanted to help educational suppliers to get their products and services into more schools.

“When we started out, we really were just a social media scheduling business, but we soon discovered that there was a lot more to it than that. We needed to create blog posts to go with our social media posts, as well as content to nurture visitors through the funnel. We ended up organically developing our own version of the inbound methodology,” says John.

The agency began searching for free tools that would allow it to work more effectively, and Lucy was tasked with finding the right CRM.

“I researched Zoho and others, but the HubSpot CRM was the obvious choice. I just couldn't believe that there was something this good that was available for free.”

ESM discovered HubSpot’s other freemium software – Marketing Free and Sales Free – through the HubSpot blog and started using them for itself and for some of its clients, explains John.

“We were working with one company, whose team was sceptical about inbound. We wanted to show them its potential, so we used Marketing Free to start capturing leads from their website. Within hours they were generating leads and seeing results.

John and Lucy both agree that HubSpot’s free tools offered undeniable value for ESM, and after a few months, they were ready to graduate to HubSpot’s paid products.

“HubSpot got in touch and suggested we join the Partner Program,” says John. “It was a big decision for us as a startup company, so we did our research. It soon became clear the program was right for ESM because of how invested HubSpot is in the success of its partner agencies.”

ESM also considered the Marketo and Sharp Spring partner programs, but it kept coming back to HubSpot. According to Lucy:

“We liked the maturity of the program and the promise of ongoing support.”

"HubSpot offered us a pathway to success – they told us what stage we’d be at each month and, more importantly, how to get there."

Lucy Seymour


ESM Inbound

From Freemium to Premium

The agency became a HubSpot Partner in 2016 and immediately started using the growth stack – a combination of the Marketing, CRM and Sales software –.on its own website.

“Sales Pro has been a revelation for me,” says John. “After attending the HubSpot Agency Bootcamp, I’ve been using it to contact prospects and close deals.”

ESM also convinced most its existing clients to switch to the HubSpot Professional software.

“HubSpot Marketing, CRM and Sales work seamlessly together, so that was a big selling point, particularly for clients who had been struggling with disconnected solutions. We were able to offer them full-stack reporting and tie everything we do into ROI and revenue.”

For the clients who were using HubSpot Marketing Free, ESM was able to help them migrate CRMs. One customer, in particular, wanted to move on from Pipedrive.

“This was the perfect opportunity to us to combine their marketing with closed loop reporting. We set them up with a trial of the HubSpot Professional software, and they were very impressed. When the trial ended, they didn’t want to lose all the valuable information they had collected, and they signed up. They saw the value of the product really quickly.”

The agency often uses the HubSpot freemium software as a method of convincing prospects to trial its inbound services, says Lucy.

“It’s a great way to introduce a company to the methodology, and it builds faith in the HubSpot brand. When people see the results that they can get for free, they are more willing to pay to do more.”

"The HubSpot freemium tools are a gateway into inbound for our prospects."

John Kelleher


ESM Inbound

Achieving Results in a Niche Market

Since joining the Partner Program, ESM has increased lead by 5X and revenue by 3X.

“We’re generating 18 new inbound leads each month. That’s ideal for us. Our agency targets a very niche market, so we don’t need a lot of traffic to generate qualified leads that turn into customers,” explains John.

The agency has six clients on the HubSpot software, and it has reached Gold status within one year. It operates exclusively on a retainer contract basis, and it has boosted its revenue by 3X overall.

“It’s now a lot easier for us to get retainers. Our customers buy an annual contract with HubSpot, and our services are clearly linked to that. They are also impressed by the ongoing results that we get for them. For example, a typical company will come to us with a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of about 0.5% – we can increase it to more than 2% in three months.”

ESM Inbound currently has several prospects that are ready to close deals, and are working with their Channel Account Manager and Channel Consultant to plan for Platinum Status.

“We are committed to growing our business with HubSpot, and by this time next year, we want to have reached Platinum Tier Partner level. I would recommend the Partner Program to any other agency – the software is great but you also get support from people who genuinely care about your business.”

"Joining the HubSpot Partner Program was the best decision we have ever made."

- John Kelleher

Call Us

Questions? Call us.

We're here to help. Call us and speak with an Inbound Marketing Specialist who will answer any questions you might have.


Start your Free Trial

Start a free trial.

Give the HubSpot software a try by signing up for a 30-day free trial. You'll get a fully functional account. No credit card necessary.

Start a trial