[Case Study] Paid Inbound Campaign Generates a 283% Increase in Client Sales Appointments Year-on-Year

Written by Alex Embling

Jun 30 2016

inbound growth case example

This post is a Strategic Internet Consulting client case study detailing the methodology, process and technology implemented for one of our clients who has experienced rapid growth through Inbound marketing.

262 leads were generated via the HubSpot Ads Ad-On since the end of 2015  -  57.5% of which qualify as MQLs

Most of our clients have a requirement to generate leads, revenue, increase lead quality and prove ROI - which are all things that a well planned Inbound campaign can achieve.

About the Client

Azure Partners are UK management consultants who work alongside progressive companies from their earliest stages, through growth and maturity, to preparation for sale or flotation. For them, Inbound growth and improvement were required in two key areas - lead growth and quality sales meeting generation.

Specifically, Azure needed a B2B Inbound Marketing, Sales and Web Development agency to grow leads and secure an increased number of quality sales meetings. They chose Strategic to tackle that challenge in September 2015.

The Challenge

Not Enough Leads and a Lack of Quality Sales Meetings

When Azure began discussions with Strategic in September 2015, their prime business challenges were a need to boost lead volumes and secure an increased number of quality sales meetings.

Like most traditional B2B organisations, Azure’s marketing and sales tactics were traditional and declining in efficiency:

  • Key tactics (before the HubSpot campaign) were based around traditional email marketing to purchased lists, with telemarketing follow up – with declining effectiveness.
  • This traditional approach was having an impact on the quality of sales meetings being booked. Insight into the stage of the sales cycle that leads were at was also an increasing issue.
  • At the time of signing, Azure were also taking a traditional approach to content distribution; direct mailing marketing assets to prospects.

Azure Partner’s Inbound Growth Story

Strategic helped Azure develop their strategy and grow with Inbound across multiple areas:

Quality Lead Generation and Growth With HubSpot: 262 Leads Generated via the Ads Ad-On

Planning & Strategy

Before implementing an Inbound campaign, we undergo a detailed Inbound planning process to establish the parameters of the strategy. During this planning, we work to identify and understand which buyers our clients want more of, the challenges those buyers have, and then plan out the content and strategy required to resonate with them.

Promotion and Execution

To set the foundation of this campaign we implemented a basic Inbound strategy, supported by targeted paid promotion in the form of LinkedIn sponsored updates. To begin, we took Azure’s ‘hard-copy’ published content, and repurposed it to create a lead nurture content asset that resonated with Azure’s buyer persona challenges. 

For this campaign, the personas identified (and also targeted through LinkedIn) were CEOs/ Directors/ Board Members of organisations sized between 20-200 employees in South-East England. The prime persona challenge (which Azure’s services and Inbound campaign content are targeted to address) is a need to develop an Exit Strategy/ know how best to approach selling the business.

This is the point where Strategic introduced Azure to HubSpot; using the platform to manage campaign assets. Prior to the release of the HubSpot Paid Ads Add-On, sponsored updates were managed via LinkedIn. But once the HubSpot Paid Ads Add-on was released, sponsored activity was managed and targeted via HubSpot. 

Lead Growth Via HubSpot Paid Ads Add-On

With introduction of the HubSpot Ads Add-on we saw LinkedIn Ad CTR improve from 0.4% in Nov (pre-Ads Ad-On), to 0.5% from Dec - June (with the Ads Add-On), with one Ad variation experiencing a CTR of 0.7%.

Paid promotion helped to form the bulk of this first campaign’s quality lead growth. Targeted to Azure’s key buyer personas (above), initially we ran LinkedIn sponsored updates without HubSpot (from Sept-Dec 2015). But once the HubSpot Ads Add-On was introduced at the end of 2015, we saw impressive results:

  • With introduction of the HubSpot Ads Add-on we saw CTR improve from 0.4% in Nov, to 0.5% from Dec - June, with one Ad variation experiencing a CTR of 0.7%.
  • There was little sign of Ad fatigue across this campaign - an indicator of good targeting and messaging
  • 262 leads generated via the HubSpot Ads Ad-On since implementing at the end of 2015
  • 57.5% of the total leads generated (262) are quality MQLs

We could also implement very strong targeting within the Ads Add-On, including multiple exclusion parameters, to ensure the campaign was as accurate as possible.

[All stats as of June 2016]


The table below shows data from the campaign run in Nov 2015 - prior to implementing the HubSpot Ads Add-On:

linkedin sponsored ad campaign dashboard


This dashboard shows campaign performance from Dec 15 - June 16 - after implementing the HubSpot Ads Add-On:

Hubspot ads add on dashboard

This dashboard shows the audience targeting


hubspot ads add on persona dashboard

To take lead growth to the next step for Azure, we also initiated an early-stage Inbound sales process; encouraging Azure’s sales team to follow up on leads generated through LinkedIn, using the Inbound sales methodology.

Early Stage Sales Meeting Qualification

Since the HubSpot-managed campaign began, 344 contacts have been generated.

Generating an increased number of qualified sales meetings was another prime challenge for Azure.

But once a solid, HubSpot-managed Inbound strategy was in place, and Azure began to generate a good number of qualified leads, their quality contacts and sales opportunities grew:

  • Since the HubSpot-managed campaign began, 344 contacts have been generated.
  • To date, the client has seen a 283% increase in sales meetings from January - June 2016 (since using HubSpot) than in the corresponding half of 2015.

Use of HubSpot again proved a great help here, allowing simple contact management lead scoring and clear qualification assessment.

To date, the client has seen a 283% increase in sales meetings from January - June 2016 (since using HubSpot) than in the corresponding half of 2015.

Results & Key Takeaways

When it comes to business growth, the stats show that the campaign was a clear success. Over the past 8 months, since starting our ad campaigns we have seen:

  • Growth in contacts, with 344 generated to date
  • Growth in leads with 262 leads generated - 57.5% of which were quality MQLs
  • Growth in impressions, from 75, 046 (using non-HubSpot managed ads in Nov 2015, to 470,832 to date
  • 283% increase in sales meetings - 17 booked from January to June 2016, compared to 6 in the whole of the corresponding dates in 2015
  • An early adoption of an Inbound Sales process to make the most of the rise in sales meetings

Next Steps For Continued Client Growth

Of course growth doesn’t stop after one campaign. Next step growth will add more weight into growing conversions, by focussing more on solving buyer pain.

In the meantime, the content, Inbound infrastructure, leads and opportunities that have been created will continue to work for Azure, and will be built on as activity progresses.

Azure is a good example of a client with a longer sales cycle; meaning it may take up to three years for opportunities generated to close. For this reason it is not Strategic’s remit to immediately grow the business by creating customers. Azure recognise that in order to grow quality customers to appear, quality leads and opportunities must be generated and nurtured first!

B2B Marketing Zone