Case Study - comnico Inc.
The amazing story of how comnico met HubSpot and increased its revenue by 387%
This episode takes place four years ago. In 2013, comnico got in contact with HubSpot and learned of its concept of inbound marketing. This is a success story of how, in conjunction with HubSpot partner 24-7, they dramatically shifted their marketing strategy.
About the Client : comnico inc.
comnico is a social media marketing agency founded in Japan in 2008. It offers a one-stop suite of solutions for social media, from launching accounts for its client companies, crafting strategy, operating these accounts, and then analyzing performance. This startup currently has 30 full-time employees.
comnico was originally largely focused on outbound sales.That method would be unthinkable today. The company was stuck in an extremely unproductive, inefficient sales process. They would exhibit at major trade shows, then cold call people off the back of business cards they got, or try to pitch their services to major advertising agencies. Unfortunately, these negotiations resulted in very few inbound sales, and they had fewer than one account a month. Some of their sales personnel were even exhausted from trying, but failing, to achieve results.
“Just how can we efficiently gain new accounts without inviting criticism?”
In 2013, comnico learned about HubSpot and inbound marketing, and they fell in love. They immediately revamped their approach and decided to set out on a new journey of inbound marketing. They were failing to follow their own advice -- something which might be unimaginable for a company specializing in digital marketing. Nonetheless, they certainly accumulated a long list of achievements, and, turning them over, the height of their business prowess becomes clear. This great ability is one reason that cynical people have trouble seeing this company’s challenges.
comnico felt that this new trajectory should not be a “short trip.” They wanted to take a long and steady voyage to a better place in the future, steadily working their way there while employing new strategy and quantitatively assessing the results. Since employing HubSpot in 2013 and through to today, July 2017, comnico was worked with 24-7 to launch a range of inbound strategies.
Establishing personas and content maps
The process began by defining a new set of personas. Instead of just focusing on demographic data, they visualized a range of insights spanning from their own interests, positions in the company, mission, concerns, behavioral patterns, search keywords, contact media, and more. They also interviewed representatives from their actual customers and updated these ideas as needed.
They also followed the buyers’ journey espoused by HubSpot to design content maps. They learned that the approaches and information needed differed for each stage of the process.
When these personas engaged with comnico and communicated with them, what sort of information should comnico provide to allow for building a close relationship with the party? They thought long and hard about this and drafted their ideas. It was almost like carefully penning a love letter to a special crush.
Building a web site through COS and using owned media
Next, they focused on revamping comnico’s web site. Prior to employing HubSpot, comnico’s web site was built on WordPress and was simply a list of new press releases and staff blog updates. In 2013, they deployed HubSpot’s enterprise plan and website (COS) to revamp their web presence.
Following the content maps they had designed, they began building out some owned media. They broadcasted this owned media around a concept of “We Love Social,” providing content sought on a daily basis by the personas they had defined. They simultaneously launched the “at comnico” staff blog, which is a casual blog that goes into more depth about the day-to-day affairs at the office.
For their “We Love Social” owned media, they focus on a range of social media spanning from Facebook, to Twitter, to YouTube, to Line, releasing content that social media representatives at corporations seek. For example, they described brand-based engagement rankings on Facebook pages, optimal image sizes for posts, and need-to-know terminology. These articles were also utilized as part of comnico’s new personnel training program. This served to simultaneously train their team while continuously creating new article content.
Expanded premium content and lead acquisition
In addition to rolling out owned media, they created e-books featuring a variety of premium content. These e-books were provided free of charge as an offer on landing pages. The e-books featured lecture materials from paid seminars that they had not made public before, distilling the essence of content that was well-received by lecture attendees. They then continued building out these offers and landing pages.
These offers were tied to their We Love Social owned media articles, driving leads through CTA installed on each article page. These leads uncovered new latent customers that they had been unable to reach with cold calls alone. These users had clear issues in mind and it was clear that they had a high level of engagement, and they were positively disposed towards comnico’s services and information. The reason? They sought out comnico’s information of their own volition, dynamically engaging with the content. They were true inbound users.
Expanded premium content and lead acquisition
Next, comnico utilized the HubSpot CRM to define a series of lifecycle stages for these new leads, doing so based on the degree of contact the users made and the open rate on thank you e-mails, among other metrics. They also built out more lead data on each list for each MQL and SQL stage. Drawing on their past sales experience, they then built strategies to nurture customers and invite them to in-house seminars that had a high rate of closing.
At these seminars, they described past social media marketing success cases, usage tips, and ways of using products to make work more efficient. The seminars also acted as places for like-minded users with similar issues to share ideas with each other. By increasing opportunities for these users to engage with comnico, an agency providing solutions for participants, the company drove new sales negotiations.
Since 2014, comnico has been actively deploying this strategy, which remains in effect today. This was owed to the HubSpot suite of tools and the support offered by HubSpot partner 24-7. Above all, comnico’s management philosophy of offering “lovable marketing” succeeded in dramatically ramping up inbound marketing across the company.
Growing leads by 15 times over the last year
By rolling out owned media, comnico succeeded in increasing visits and dramatically upping the amount of contact vis-a-vis those visits. Over the last year, this new contact has translated to a 15-fold increase.
Since the latter half of 2014, new contacts gradually started building, and since 2016, increases in direct and organic contact have led to steady upward growth.
A 20-fold increase in new contacts over 3 years
Looking at trends in new contact on an annualized basis, over three years from 2014 to 2016, the amount increased about 20-fold (1,960%). The rate of conversion from visits to contact also grew from 4.0% to 12.6%.
The number of SQL (sales qualified leads) also increased vis-a-vis growth in new contacts. Compared to 2014, this is an approximately 15-fold increase, with comnico’s revenue growing considerably.
A 387% increase in revenue over 4 years
Since 2013, comnico has slowly but surely built out its inbound marketing strategy, and over four years, its company-wide revenues have grown markedly. Today, it has secured a position as a top player in the Japanese social media agency space. Since 2014, when it launched a full-scale strategy for inbound marketing, to the present, comnico has posted many successes, and is poised for continued growth.
In interviews with comnico representatives, we learned that deploying HubSpot has led to a more efficient lead time from initial sales pitch to closing. In the past, the time it took to close on a new lead was about three months. Now, that has been contracted by about 50% to close to 1.5 months.
This is owned not only to negotiations that fostered hot leads, but the effective use of HubSpot, which has enabled the creation of a standardized format for a range of activities, reducing wasted efforts within the company. HubSpot has also become a lingua franca among marketing and sales reps at the company, fostering smoother communication. In this way, comnico’s efforts in inbound marketing have also led to greater staff productivity and efficiency.
24-7 is acting as a partner supporting comnico’s growth not only in Japan, but the world at large, as it continues its long journey of growth.
A social media marketing agency in Japan
|Number of Employees||30 (as of July 30, 2017)|