Hy-Line Cruises Sells 17x More Offers with Inbound Marketing

Hy-Line had been burned by previous uneffective and unsupportive marketing partnerships. They needed the ability to not only generate leads, but to track those people in order to gain enough intelligence to nurture them effectively into paying customers.


increase in number of special offers sold


conversion rates in marketing automation campaigns

Hy-Line Cruises Team

About Hy-Line Cruises

Hy-Line Cruises is a family owned and operated ferry company with eight vessels for travel from Hyannis to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, deep-sea fishing trips and sightseeing cruises.


Hy-Line’s main marketing challenge was easily incorporating inbound marketing strategies into a predominantly outbound marketing plan in a smooth and organized fashion. Hy-Line already had a large amount of direct traffic coming to them from outbound marketing efforts and overall brand awareness, but they were having trouble generating organic web traffic. The inbound marketing goals they wanted to achieve didn’t involve just generating traffic, but capitalizing on a missed opportunity to convert that high volume of traffic into actual leads and customers through a positive, helpful, and personalized experience.

While they were happy with their social media reach, it was hard to track whether their social media efforts were actually working towards increasing engagement on their website and over email, ultimately leading to a sale.

Strategic Blogging as an SEO Booster

Hy-Line began blogging through the HubSpot Blogging tool, and used the built-in SEO tools to strategically map their content to what keywords and phrases their target audiences were searching for. That meant blogging not only about their actual ferry services, but about what to do once you’re on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. They made personal recommendations about where to eat, things to do, how to get around and events on the Cape and Islands. Because Analytics are baked into each tool across the entire HubSpot platform, Hy-Line was able to track the keywords they were ranking for through the Keywords SEO tool, the keywords their competitors were ranking for through the Competitors tool, and how they stacked up against each other.

How Landing Pages, Email and Marketing Automation Led to More Sales

Hy-Line's marketing team researched and developed content to share their insider information, fun facts and tips about what to do on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Hy-Line put this information together in an Insider’s Guides to each island. When site visitors entered their information on Hy-Line’s Insider’s Guide landing pages, they would get a free download of the interactive PDF guide. Because HubSpot Landing Pages are integrated with the Contacts Database and Email Marketing tools, a form submission on this page sends leads into a lead nurturing campaign.

Leads who downloaded the guide entered HubSpot’s Marketing Automation tool, Workflows, which would automatically send off a thank you email for downloading the offer. Later on, it would send leads a special offer on booking a ferry to the island that they expressed interest in.

Compared to the year before when they weren’t using any kind of lead nurturing to promote these offers, Hy-Line sold 17x more Fall Daytrip Specials to Martha’s Vineyard, and 5x more cruise offers to Nantucket, with a conversion rate on these Landing Pages of 42% and 34%, respectively. Not only have these offers helped to generate more sales, they’ve established enough interested parties that will allow Hy-Line to continue their relationships with the businesses they drive visitors to. Marketing Manager Betsy Rich says, “The businesses we worked with on each island are so incredibly happy with the results, that they want to partner with us again in the spring.” Hy-Line has never launched these campaigns in the spring due to a lack of interested leads. After their success in generating leads with HubSpot in 2012, they’re going to be able to launch co-marketing campaigns with these businesses in the spring of 2013.

Connecting the Dots Between Social Media and their Website

“We now have much better communication between our social media channels and our website since we started with HubSpot.”

Hy-Line had a social media presence, and was happy with the number of followers they had on Facebook and Twitter. However, they weren’t sure if this following actually meant anything. Were people clicking on their links? Were these sources generating any actual leads? Was it worth it to include social media as a part of their overall marketing strategy?

With HubSpot’s Social Media Publisher, Hy-Line was able to schedule out Facebook and Twitter posts in advance, which saved them time and ensured that each message would get out to their followers. Because the Social Media tools in HubSpot are integrated with the Blog, Landing Pages, and Analytics, Hy-Line was able to track not only mentions, re-tweets and follower growth, but the actual number of visits and conversions social media efforts were bringing to Hy-Line. When discussing the benefits of using HubSpot Analytics to track social media efforts, Betsy says “we were happy to see a .7% conversion rate (the highest of all sources) and know that it is worth the effort to focus on social media in our marketing plan.”

Support Hy-Line Needed, when they Needed it

When Hy-Line decided to sign up for HubSpot, they were a bit skeptical. Betsy says, “We had wounds from another marketing effort that had little to no support at all, and for us to invest in HubSpot, we had to be reassured that we were going to have the support we needed.” Not only has the support with HubSpot been exactly what Hy-Line needed, it’s turned out to be one of their favorite HubSpot features.

“The training sessions with Mel were worth their weight in gold.”

Hy-Line’s Marketing Consultant, Arlene O’Reilly says, “Technology is like shifting sands. It’s in a state of constant change. Today, anyone who is professional in marketing must stay on top of cutting edge methods and have a support team that drills down into specific areas of technology, like algorithms. This is where HubSpot has a proven value in working with a marketing team of any size.” In addition to ongoing support through their Account Manager and additional online training classes through HubSpot Academy, HubSpot offered Hy-Line all the tools and support they needed in the beginning to get on-boarded with the software, through one-on-one training with their Inbound Marketing Consultant, Melanie Faria. Betsy says, “The training sessions with Mel were worth their weight in gold. Not only were we trained on the tools, but she always offered additional advice on how to make something work better – to optimize our inbound marketing efforts (not necessarily within HubSpot). And when we started feeling a bit overwhelmed, she was a natural at positive reinforcement.

How HubSpot Acts as a Member of Hy-Line’s Marketing Team

Because of the integrated nature of HubSpot, when Hy-Line saw a drop in their traffic, they were able to compare it against their competitors through the Competitors tool, and noticed that although many sites were seeing drops in traffic, one competitor stayed ahead. Arlene says they were able to come to HubSpot and determine why these changes in overall traffic were occurring, and the team at HubSpot was able to inform them on how much Google changes their search ranking algorithms.

“HubSpot was right on target and kept up with us when we said we’re going into the high-season and our target audience changes.”

Because they are a lean marketing team at Hy-Line, they’re not constantly monitoring how Google is changing the way SEO works. Instead, HubSpot was able to, as Arlene says, “keep us ahead of the curve in understanding how not only Google, but all search engines change algorithms, and ultimately empowered us to navigate accordingly with web campaigns, blogging, and social media outreach.” This kind of support is exactly what Hy-Line was looking for in their marketing objectives. “After following HubSpot for three years, it was very rewarding to finally work with HubSpot on a client’s marketing team. They bring crucial value and support to any business who understands what is required in marketing and communications today.

Hy-Line’s business, like any other, has its own unique target audiences. Their audience changes, literally, with the seasons. The target audience in the off-season when ferries are not running as often is different than the target audience in their high-season during the summer when business is booming. Arlene says, “HubSpot was right on target and kept up with us when we said we’re going into the high-season and our target audience changes. It was obvious that [HubSpot] was more than just marketing software, they are professional marketers that keep their fingers on the pulse with in-depth technology. A perfect match for our needs.”

Why Should a Business Use HubSpot?

“3% of first time visitors to your site are ready to commit to purchase and 97% of first time visitors are simply doing research. If you can see the value of targeting these researchers and developing an online relationship based on the exchange of valuable information, trust and your online personality (which helps strengthen your brand), then you should seriously consider inbound marketing support via HubSpot. And I recommend doing it before your competition does.” - Betsy Rich, Marketing Manager 

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