BusinessBlocks is a business that loves small business. In fact, its mission is to empower Main Street to live the American Dream. Justin Kulla started the venture-backed online education company for one reason: to help small businesses that have never had any formal business training/education to succeed.
Justin grew up in a small business; his parents started one a month before he was born. He watched his parents experience both good and bad years with the business, and he became obsessed with figuring out how to make his parents’ life easier.
Fast forward to 2015, Justin and the BusinessBlocks team set off to assemble the world’s first online MBA designed specifically for small business.
The result: BusinessBlocks offers marketing and finance courses designed specifically to meet the needs of small business owners eager for practical knowledge they can apply immediately.
What was their challenge?
Once the business was launched, the team made a few attempts to advertise using paid media. Those attempts were unfortunately not successful. When they approached us we identified that there were two main challenges to overcome:
- Positioning and authority. Why would a small business owner trust that BusinessBlocks could help them grow their business, reach more customers and generate profit? Simply running a bottom of the funnel campaign, sending people to a landing page that invites them to sign up to a course (or even a free trial) wouldn’t do the trick. People’s time is a valuable commodity, especially for small business owners who find themselves having to wear a lot of different hats.
- Time to market. As is typical with most startups, we needed to generate immediate results. We couldn’t wait until we had full Inbound Marketing funnels in place.
Since we had to build authority and create a quick and impactful campaign, we decided to incorporate 3 marketing methods:
- Inbound Marketing using HubSpot in order to build authority
- Paid media campaigns to grow exposure and drive targeted buyer personas to the top of the funnel
- Partner webinars to generate quality leads at zero cost through the partners’ marketing efforts
Inbound Marketing using HubSpot
We needed to:
- Launch an effective Inbound Marketing campaign in a short time frame
- Create a swift and effective onboarding process
- Create a personalized buyer’s journey for relevant incoming leads including:
- Contextual blog content
- Gated content offers
- Call to actios aimed at driving traffic to designated landing pages and thank you pages
- Automate nurturing campaigns and progression emails aimed at pushing prospects down their own buyer’s journey
- Create numerous variations of landing pages to test and optimize different micro-segments
HubSpot was an obvious choice as it answers all of the above needs.
We used Google and Facebook as the main media channels to amplify the Inbound marketing services efforts. The idea was to not wait for the Inbound Marketing efforts to kick in organically. We targeted relevant keywords sending prospects to download content offers and participate in webinars. We also used Google and Facebook’s remarketing capabilities to progress top of the funnel leads down the funnel.
BusinessBlocks partnered with leading companies in the small business space to create high-value webinars for inexperienced entrepreneurs. The BusinessBlocks team created 60 minute webinars on topics ranging from funding and accounting to blogging and advertising. For example, they partnered with the online lending company, Kabbage, to teach small businesses about working capital loans. As a result, we had nearly 500 people register for the webinar. We also worked with top brands, including GoDaddy, NerdWallet, and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
We conducted an in-depth buyer persona research to truly understand BusinessBlocks’ ideal target customers. We looked into their goals and demographics and researched what challenges small business owners have. We then created a series of awareness stage offers which we promoted via social networks and paid search. Using workflows we worked on nurturing incoming leads, qualifying them and lastly turning them into customers.
We tested each stage of the funnel using different offers in order to find the ones that yield most conversions. The funnel we ended up with was constructed as such:
The amazing thing is that in just a few months we were executing campaigns that were more sophisticated than the most sophisticated I could have imagined just a few months earlier - Justin Kulla, CEO, BusinessBlocks
We identified that the main challenges BusinessBlocks prospects were facing were knowledge gaps as to how to manage their business and how to market it. We created the following gated content to help educate them and overcome their challenges:
- Partner webinars
- #iamMainStreet Marketing Playbook
Prospects were invited to download the playbook/ participate in webinars in exchange for their contact details. This initiated a relationship that helped us add value, build trust and push them down a personal buyer's journey.
We wanted to give prospects an idea of the content covered in the BusinessBlocks Mainstreet marketing course. Using an integration between Typeform (a web-based platform for creating surveys) and Hubspot, we created an assessment that was aimed at uncovering gaps in knowledge the course could help them with,
Each prospect who took the assessment received a sequence of triggered emais that compiled into a personal development plan. The plan provided prospects with content based on their individual knowledge gaps that surfaced in the assessment. We wanted to wet their tastebuds of the business knowledge they lacked and that the course could provide. Once we introduced the personalized marketing assessment (and plan), conversions skyrocketed.
Example of a personalized results page
This was done without a single line of code using only Hubspot's features.
The personal development plan was educational in nature and sent prospects to blog posts covering knowledge gaps uncovered in their marketing assessent. On those blog posts we invited the prospects to start a free trial. This was a huge success.
Business Impact within 6 Months
Contact list growth by 2,500%
Customer growth by 600%
BusinessBlocks was acquired by publicly traded company AmTrust
(NASDAQ: AFSI) (!!)
In the clients words...
Inbound Marketing is a marathon, however, if push comes to shove, it's possible to amplify inbound efforts using paid media. So long as proper research is conducted and there's an in-depth understanding of who you are targeting and their buyer's journey, it's possible to generate amazing results in a short time frame and even get acquired.
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