Case Study - Rakus
Rakus Marketing ROI Double After Implementing Inbound Marketing
- 1. Challenge - The Marketing ROI Decreased as New Competitors Entered the Market
- 2. Strategy - Implementation of Inbound Marketing to Create Opportunities
- 3. Results - 10% Increase in New Customers Within 6 Months, and Inbound Marketing ROI 100% Higher Than Ads ROI
- 4. Explanation - Using the HubSpot Attribution Report Increased the Speed of the PDCA for Content Creation
The Marketing ROI Decreased as New Competitors Entered the Market
With the business philosophy of "strengthening small and medium-sized enterprise through IT technology", Rakus focuses on providing cloud services for enterprise and IT engineer outsourcing. The company's services streamline the day-to-day operations such as managing inquiries, calculating expenses, sending electronic business forms, etc. for over 40,000 domestic companies. One of the company’s main services is an email delivery system called HaiHai Mail. Rakus has been able to successfully introduce this solution to over 4,000 companies thanks to its pricing aiming at small and medium-sized companies, and its ease of use even for people unfamiliar with IT systems.
Email delivery service "HaiHai Mail" product page
The company invested a significant amount of money in product listing ads to attract prospects, but due to new players in the market, the advertising costs rose steeply. They racked their brains over the worsening ROI. Rakus Marketing Manager, Haruki Serizawa, recalls the situation as follows:
"To acquire new customers, we spent a large amount of money on promotion, such as product listing ads and SEO. The reason for that was because mail delivery system competition is fierce, even domestically, and all the main players were using product listing ads and implementing SEO strategy as most people use search engine to look for this kind of service. However, with time, the advertising unit cost increased steadily, and the cost per action (CPA) began to skyrocket. Even thought we were able to acquire prospects, it gradually worsened. As we couldn't rely on advertising anymore, we began to look for ways to improve the cost-effectiveness."
Implementation of Inbound Marketing to Create Opportunities
The company was looking for new marketing methods that weren't relying on advertising. Based on Rakus Representative Director suggestions, Takanori Nakamura, they decided to implement inbound marketing, which started to become a topic of interest in Japan at that time. This led to the introduction of the inbound marketing and sales software HubSpot in September 2013.
At the time of its implementation, all the person in charge, including Serizawa, were gathering information about inbound marketing by reading blog articles, books, participating in events, etc. However, although they accumulated information, Serizawa says that they didn't know how to proceed with this project as they didn't have a concrete image of inbound marketing. Therefore, they decided to get the support from 24-7 inc., a local HubSpot partner, 24-7 inc.
"While gathering information, we did feel that we wanted to receive support from companies who were doing inbound marketing. When I think about it now, without getting the correct understanding about the importance of inbound marketing or the inbound marketing ideology, I don't think that we would ever have used HubSpot. It is because we know about the inbound marketing, the idea, the background and the reasons that we understand why we need to create personas, and why they are so important for the content creation, to increase website traffic, generate leads and nurture them."
With the support of 24-7, we totally rethink our marketing strategy. After researching and analyzing our existing customers' attributes, it became clear that our company's products tend to often be adopted by marketing managers at small and medium-sized companies, in specific industries. Therefore, Serizawa decided to launch an owned media website, "Mail Marketing Lab", specialized in email marketing as a marketing strategy to attract prospects for their email delivery service HaiHai Mail.
Mail Marketing Lab, a website specialized in email marketing
When the website was launched, we published blog articles twice a week, such as how-to and tips on email marketing, and we released an eBook on the fundamentals of email marketing for readers who wanted to learn more about it. Moreover, we sent regular newsletters and held seminars for readers who had downloaded our eBook, to nurture and educate the prospects. In this way, the company raised prospects awareness using a method that didn't rely on advertising, and build a marketing process from the ground up until they became business opportunities.
10% Increase in New Customers Within 6 Months, and Inbound Marketing ROI 100% Higher Than Ads ROI
Within 6 months after implementing inbound marketing, the organic traffic increased by 5 times, and the new customers increased by 10%. The results were beyond our initial goals. In addition, the inbound marketing ROI was the double of the listing ads, which means that it contributed to solve the original problem we had with the ROI.
"Since we have starting the blog, business meetings with prospects have increased, and the numbers of customers acquired through inbound marketing have also climbed. Also, after meetings, the salespeople would send URL of blog articles related to the topic of the meeting to prospects, to help building trust. As a result, I believe this is related to the increase of the closing rates."
Furthermore, as a secondary effect, after adopting inbound marketing, Serizawa says they are often thanked by sales managers.
"Before implementing Inbound Marketing, when sales staff met with prospects, the majority of the questions they got were related to the system. After starting inbound marketing, the questions tend to be more related to consulting, and prospects often request a consultation. While previously we were only providing the system, customers faced with challenges would study our blog posts on their own, and after coming to trust us, opportunities for consultations increased."
Regarding their outlook, Serizawa says they would like to start an inside sales team, increase the conversion rate of prospects to business opportunities, and aim to further raise the number of orders. In addition, in the future, they would like to form a community for existing customers based on their owned media website, and focus on offering secondary services such as paid consulting, etc.
Using the HubSpot Attribution Report Increased the Speed of the PDCA for Content Creation
The secret to the company’s success with inbound marketing lies in its analysis and improvement of the content. They do not plan to leave the blog articles and eBook as they are, but will reference them when preparing the next content, making use of HubSpot’s attribution report and analyzing what kind of content serves prospects and work the best for customer acquisition.
"The analysis of the HubSpot attribution report has been very useful for creating and improving our content. We have been able to grasp what kind of content is contributing to lead generation. In particular, because the performance indicator used by our company’s marketing managers is measured by the number of prospects passed to the sales managers, it was very significant that we could not tell using Google Analytics which blog posts prompted the prospects referred to the sales managers. We feel that this is a very important function for our marketing."
In the management of an owned media website, we tend to be drawn to surface-level metrics such as page views (PV) and unique users (UU). However, it's essential to take one step further, going around the PDCA cycle, and using metrics closer to the business such as prospects and customer acquisition.