MCR Safety has over forty-five years of experience as a leader in the field of personal protective equipment (PPE). Their three focus areas are gloves, glasses, and garments. All of their products are of the highest quality and they have a huge variety of options to choose from. For someone looking for specialized, high quality products in these areas, they have many options and can answer any related question. Not only is the business highly specialized, but the team is also incredibly innovative and growth-driven. They are always staying ahead of the curve with new technologies and styles their customers want and they are the most driven group of individuals I have had the pleasure of working with yet. Best of all, they couple that with some classic values such as loyalty and personality like the town they are based in and the home of Elvis Presley's Graceland: Memphis, Tennessee. So there are a lot of things their team knows very well and they excel at. But when I started working with them, inbound marketing was not at the top of that list. All of these factors made them such a perfect fit for companies my team and I are able to help the most, which is why I was so grateful to be referred to them by another manufacturing client and excited to work with them to help them grow their business.
To get started, we of course kicked things off with some research.
But to give a little bit of relevant background before diving into the details of the research, I want to explain a key difference in two main types of buyers for manufacturers versus some other companies who do not have such a stark difference between two groups. Many of them are very reliant on distributors, who essentially act as extensions of their sales teams. As a result, it's very important to keep strong relationships with those distributors and also to keep their products front of mind with the sales reps. But if a manufacturer wants to grow faster, they will often sell direct as well, at least in limited quantities, before redirecting customers to the best distributor for them. It’s a win-win approach, as it makes is easier for the manufacturer to grow faster and also helps generate solid leads for the distributors. MCR Safety does this with what they call their Buy & Try site. It's an easy way for prospective clients who see MCR Safety at a trade show or find them online to purchase limited quantities of a product that interests them so they can test it out before committing to the purchase of more.
So we interviewed and surveyed a mix of what are referred to as their end-users and distributors before creating our handful of target personas. This is the first and most important step in any successful HubSpot set up and inbound campaign. We gathered valuable information about how and why different types of customers purchase MCR Safety’s products, as well as how those customers typically do research for something like the products MCR Safety provides, and the different personas' perspectives on various relevant issues in the industry. This was all great information to know before moving ahead with any content development.
You can read more about the persona research and development process I’ve developed over the years that was featured on HubSpot’s blog, here.
Online Reviews and Testimonials
In addition to persona research, my team and I also did a few other set up items before we started creating and publishing content. Given the company's strong reputation in their industry, I knew that was something we should definitely highlight online with reviews and high-quality video testimonials to help build trust and authority with new prospects faster and boost their rankings in search. We recorded some testimonials with real MCR Safety customers at the company’s headquarters in Collierville and also set up an automated online review service. This way, customers would be sent a postcard and text message following their Buy & Try purchase and would then be routed to either contact the company with their concerns or share their positive experience online. This service helped MCR Safety quickly increase their Google My Business average review score from 3.7 to 4.5 out of 5 stars and that score has continued to climb to nearly perfect. As HubSpot’s CEO, Brian Halligan, emphasized during his keynote at Inbound 2018, reviews and referrals from happy customers are key for long term inbound and company success, so the continuous increase in testimonial video views and online rankings are big wins.
A final simple but effective step we took before publishing content was to create a separate blog for end-users and distributors so we could keep communications targeted and relevant.
Our First Campaign
While setting specific goals for campaigns is critical to achieve success, I generally approach the first campaign as a baseline and then use those results to set more specific and targeted goals in following campaigns. But the HubSpot customer average conversion rates of two percent for visit-to-lead and six percent for lead-to-customer are good numbers to keep in mind and aim for in general. We were just going to be focusing on the visit-to-lead half of the equation since MCR Safety did not have a CRM chosen and integrated. Since all of their marketing efforts to attract and convert customers were done in more traditional and less trackable methods, the ability to even convert and track new leads directly on their site was a big step forward.
We decided to focus on end-users in the construction industry for our first campaign, which we were launching in April of 2017 and would run through July of the same year. Having a degree in Journalism and having run many online ads, I know the importance of staying attuned to current events and tailoring strategies to them to increase results. We focused on the construction industry, which was growing due to various influences, and incorporated other trending topics with momentum, such as #NationalSafetyMonth, to help our organic content reach an even more relevant audience base.
In terms of content for the first campaign, we created blogs and an assortment of premium offers that all had to do with the topic cluster of construction safety and spoke to each stage in the buyer's journey. Then we set up workflows in the background to continue to nurture inbound leads as customers engaged with the content on the blog. We focused primarily on one pair of specific gloves that were a new release and a perfect fit for this type of buyer’s needs. We also incorporated some other related products in the blogs and downloads, as well as in monthly product marketing emails.
We sent this first campaign, which was essentially treated as a test run, to approximately 500 prospects from MCR Safety’s database. During its live run time from April through July of 2017, 29 brand-new, high-quality leads were created just from the downloads without any advertisements and without the blog even being visible on the rest of the website. The downloads were only promoted to new visitors with calls-to-actions on the blogs.
We also acquired a whopping 368 net new leads from the simple lead flow tool we added to the site. We ended up with over 150 Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), which we defined as having a HubSpot score of 10-30. These are leads that have taken enough actions with the website and content to show that they are more likely to be interested in purchasing at some point than people who have taken fewer or no actions. We also saw over a 49 percent increase in the instant blog subscriber list, about a quarter of which originally came to the site via Google search.
I was invited by the marketing director to present these results to the executive team at MCR Safety’s annual meeting in Memphis. They of course were gracious southern hosts and showed me all sorts of interesting things in their town, including the tallest freestanding elevator in America, at the top of which there are beautiful views of the Mississippi River and the city of Memphis, pictured below. This annual meeting is also where I met a member of the team with whom I would begin to work with closely: MCR Safety's Marketing Analyst, Anthony Webb. We would soon begin working together to amplify our efforts and drive even more success faster online.
We started with the next campaign which targeted manufacturing companies and featured a new hi-vis cut resistant glove that is specifically tailored to the industry. Our goals were 473 total net new leads from the website and at least 25 from the downloads, a 10 percent increase from the previous campaign’s results. We increased the visibility of the campaign with small but strategic tweaks and ended up generating 1,483 new contacts from the comprehensive website efforts and 34 new contacts from the downloads. While these were high-quality leads, we needed to be able to attract and convert more leads even faster if we wanted this program to be sustainable.
At the end of the year, after we wrapped up our second campaign targeting end-users at manufacturing companies, I recapped some big-picture recommendations for the MCR Safety team in regards to inbound marketing and their website, two of which included pillar pages and online ads, especially social media ads.
eCommerce Pillar Pages
Pillar pages are digital assets that optimize a company’s site for search and are a latest best practice in SEO. They focus on using topic clusters to not only create an array of relevant content about a topic, but help boost all of those pages by linking the relevant pages back to a main topic (pillar) page and vice versa. There are various types of pillar pages, the two main ones being content and resource pages. The two main key points of pillar pages are creating quality content about various topics relating to a main topic and then organizing the content in ways that boost a company’s rankings for that main term and its relevant subtopic terms.
HubSpot’s Content Management System (CMS) does not support ecommerce capabilities. Instead, what ecommerce companies typically do with HubSpot is integrate it with their online store or at least add a tracking code to the ecommerce CMS to be able to track those back page analytics in HubSpot, along with the blog and landing page statistics. With MCR Safety, we added the tracking code to their CMS, Sitecore, and then integrated only the featured product of each campaign for the workflow goal lists so that once someone purchased that product, they would no longer receive the related nurturing emails.
Anthony and the company’s Digital Solutions Architect and Sitecore expert, Bret Lipscomb, took the pillar page concept, which remains a very new concept, and made some innovative ecommerce specific pillar pages incredibly quickly. MCR Safety created a content pillar page that not only included links to relevant content such as blogs and downloads we created about the topic, but also included products from the Buy & Try site right on the page. They even created subcategory pages to drill down even deeper into relevant content and products within specific industries. This was amazing for SEO and from a user-experience perspective. Then, instead of linking the homepage to the blog or just a piece of the content, for example, we were able to highlight the campaign we were featuring and drive people directly to that pillar page to either shop or learn, depending on where they were in their buyer’s journey. This layout is beneficial from a user experience (UX) and SEO point of view, among others.
I think this is a great example of not just incorporating and leveraging innovative strategies right away to start seeing returns from them, but it is also a great example of teamwork from members with expertise in content, products, analytics, and their CMS, among other things.
Goal-Focused Facebook Ads
But we didn’t stop there. Instead of relying just on leads from organic search, social media and their strong existing base of direct traffic, we launched MCR Safety’s first online advertisements, beginning with Facebook. We learned in the persona research that the majority of their end-user personas use Facebook fairly regularly and when researching various targeting criteria, we found a substantial number of relevant target audiences on there. It also offered the lowest cost per result compared to other online advertising platforms.
We created a few different types of campaigns to experiment with and to see how each would perform for MCR Safety’s various relevant goals. We used custom tracking pixels and HubSpot tracking urls when relevant to keep the ads focused and to be able to track the results as best as possible to reap the most value. While we saw strong results and engagement across the board, the pillar page blew the other ads out of the water in terms of cost per result right out of the gate.
The first pillar page we advertised drove customers to the construction resource page, which was the first one created in correlation with our inbound campaign that focused on end-users in the concrete industry and featured relevant content that was already created from the previous construction campaign. I created a tracking pixel to track visits to the pillar page from clicks on the Facebook ad, and the average cost per result was $.17.
Our next best performing ad in terms of cost per result was a simple product ad that described and showed the product, as well as mentioned an upcoming relevant trade show and their booth number. This was displayed to people who “liked” the page of the show, as well as other relevant audiences. That goal and tracking pixel was set to views of the product page.
Some other types of ads we tested included product ads with the goal of initiating checkout and lead ads that featured downloads and allowed people to fill out a form and download the resource without ever leaving Facebook. These ads also promoted posts of the blogs, which used HubSpot tracking urls and set the goal to link clicks. Overall, we have been able to garner nearly 15,000 results, over 1,000,000 impressions, reach nearly 500,000 people, and receive nearly 15,000 clicks with minimal ad spend. MCR Safety continues to shift resources to high-quality content for their website and targeted online advertisements, including top-notch product videos like this one, following my recommendation to incorporate more videography into their marketing mix. We recently advertised that video specifically on Facebook as their first video ad on the platform and paid an average of $.04 per 10-second video view, resulting in thousands of views of at least 10 seconds each from the target audience within just a few weeks.
Reviewing these results makes me think back to after the presentation in Collierville less than a year ago when the marketing director shared the company’s magazine budget with me and said he wanted to transition more of the budget to online where they believed they could receive better and more trackable results. I am filled with pride for them not only for putting their trust in me to help guide them through that process, but that the results have been even better than I would have expected, thanks to the creativity, hard work, and collaboration of their amazing team.
Overall Inbound Growth Successes
Not only have the ads performed incredibly well to boost reach faster, but the engagement and growth with the other inbound efforts has been positive as well. Over the past two years, the instant subscriber list for the end-user blog has added nearly 1,000 new subscribers from organic search alone, thousands of contacts have been nurtured with workflows, and the emails have an average open rate of 30 percent and an average click-through rate of over five percent across the board. To add some context, for the manufacturing industry, average open rates are 20.51 percent and click-through rates are around 2.18 percent.
Now that the company has chosen a customer relationship management (CRM) system and plans to integrate it with their inbound marketing efforts, the types of sales and marketing (smarketing) goals they will be able to set and closed loop reporting they will have to analyze on those deeper metrics, the more value they should see from their inbound efforts, allowing them to grow faster and better.
I started Digital Marketing Direction because I believed my background in content management and creation, knack for technology, and success with cutting edge online marketing tactics at previous employers would serve as assets to help businesses navigate the changing ecosystem and come out on top. I truly care about helping businesses grow, not just about employing tactics, which is what I think sets me apart from some of my competitors. It fills my heart to see a great company like MCR Safety evolve successfully and I am grateful to have been able to partner with them throughout the changes. I look forward to their continued success.
If you are at a specialized, innovative, and growth-driven company, especially in the manufacturing industry, and are looking for a partner to help you grow your business better with inbound strategies that work, I would love to chat. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 214-937-9521. I look forward to working with you and watching your business thrive!
Posted by Jackie Connors
Jackie Connors is the Founder & CEO of Digital Marketing Direction, a top tiered HubSpot Solutions Partner Agency based in Texas. She provides inbound training, consulting, and content marketing services to mid-market companies.