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Case Study: How an Online Software Biz Doubled Its Sales Leads, Increased Site Traffic 75%

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Company: Makana Solutions
Contact: Arthur Gehring, Director of Marketing
Location: Lexington, Mass.
Industry: Software, B2B
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 20

Quick Read:

Makana Solutions offers on-demand software that helps companies design and communicate optimal incentive-compensation plans. Makana—"reward" in Hawaiian—aims to ease labor-intensive planning by pinpointing the relationship between individual performance and compensation. The software helps small companies (10-15 sales reps) determine the appropriate mix of incentive (commission) and ordinary compensation.

Makana needed an inexpensive way to reach those elusive small businesses. It hired an online "inbound marketing system" to help small businesses find Makana.

Some four months later, Makana says, its search engine marketing is far more effective, Web site traffic was up an impressive 75% in the first quarter of this year, and sales leads have doubled.


The Challenge:

Established in 2004, Makana immediately discovered that it could be very expensive to market to its core customer base: businesses worldwide with 10-15 sales representatives.

"Our audience of small businesses is really hard to reach," said Arthur Gehring, Makana's marketing manager. "Everyone knows which companies are in the Fortune 1000. Not everyone knows who the small companies are."

Makana used all sorts of methods to get potential customers to come to its Web site, including free Webinars and email blasts. But its efforts were expensive and somewhat random, and it wasn't relying on specialized search engine marketing.

The Campaign:

Late last year, Gehring recognized that to meet his aggressive Web traffic/lead goals, he needed outside help with search engine marketing. He investigated several options before hiring HubSpot.com.

HubSpot.com describes itself as an "inbound marketing system" because it measures how often sites are being found on social media searches and on Google, and it ranks the difficulty of a customer's site to be ranked high on a Google search for each keyword.

"Hubspot helped us find new, important keywords, made it easier to optimize for them and to track our success for those keywords," said Gehring. "Now we conduct far more effective search engine marketing." As a result, both the quality and quantity of Makana's leads have increased, he said.

Just as important to Gehring is HubSpot's other services, such as sales force integration and content management. It also offers helps maximize Web visibility for press releases and increase visibility on social networking sites.

"They have great webinars on what is the best way to participate in Facebook, for example, and that is included in your fee," said Gehring. "Before this (hiring HubSpot) we never used social networking in our marketing."

The Results:

Thanks to those efforts, "our marketing is five times to ten times more effective then before," said Gehring.

In the first three months Web site traffic has increased 75%, sales leads have doubled, and search traffic is up 30%, he said.

Moreover, Makana is on the first page of Google when searching for the following key industry terms: sales compensation plans, sales comp plan, and sample commission plan.

"All sorts of tiny companies are finding us. One of our latest clients is Saigon Postal Service in Vietnam—they are using our software to manage their compensation," Gehring said.

Lessons Learned:

  • Start with a clear destination. "Build a destination and have people come to you—that is a much more efficient way to market (your company)," advised Gehring. "You will learn a great deal about what your target market is looking for, and that in turn will impact your message."
  • Find a tool that makes you highly efficient. Gehring said his job is much easier since he found HubSpot. "I've been doing search engine marketing for a while and know there many that do pieces of what HubSpot does, but there are few companies that do everything HubSpot does. "

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