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How One Energy Company Increased Organic Traffic By 400 Percent

By Annie ZelmFeb 1, 2016


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Just how important is organic traffic? 

These days, it's the force responsible for driving as many as eight out of 10 visitors to your website. A study by Jupiter Research, a Forrester Research company, found 81 percent of website visitors arrived at their destination through a search engine. Paid search still has its place, but research shows searchers are more than eight times more likely to click on organic results compared to paid ones. 

Of course, the very definition of "organic" implies less intervention; you can't buy your way to the top of the first page of Google if you want to grow organic traffic. However, there are a number of ways to move things along more naturally.

One of the biggest boosters is blogging. As one company discovered, increasing blogging frequency, quality and distribution can have dramatic results: In this case, it quadrupled organic traffic! 

Here's a look at how it happened.

The Goals

Our client is a leading competitive energy supplier that has long maintained strong brand recognition. In fact, it services more than two-thirds of the Fortune 100. 

Yet it saw an opportunity to better educate current and potential customers in the commercial and industrial sector. The company wanted to increase engagement among this group and drive more organic traffic to the website by improving its existing blog.

The company had been posting three to four times per month since May 2011, but engagement was lagging; viewership had decreased by 19 percent, and unique visitors were down by 23 percent.

Content marketing statistics show companies that increase blogging from three to five times per month to six to eight times per month double the number of organic traffic they receive, so it was clear the company would need to blog more frequently to achieve its goals.

It also needed to improve distribution of its blog with a combination of social media and email newsletters.

The Challenges

One of its challenges in achieving these goals was creating content that was more customer-centric and tailored to meet the needs of various types of energy buyers. Energy buyers’ needs also vary by location, as regional factors such as weather impact energy prices.

The company needed to call attention to its wide array of energy management products and services to both current and potential buyers without focusing too heavily on promotion.

Another significant challenge was coordinating with the company's leadership team—which included business development managers from each of its five regions—to create compelling content in a timely manner.

This was made more difficult by the need to secure final approval of all content from the legal team, a concern for any large corporation. 

The Process

Kuno Creative first began working with the client in early 2014 for a marketing operations project. The inbound marketing and content relationship began in earnest in mid-2014. 

As the relationship grew, we identified the primary motivations, goals and concerns of each type of energy buyer and developed an editorial calendar with specific content tailored to their individual needs.

Beginning in May, we began ramping up blogging efforts, with the ultimate goal of doubling the company's content to eight posts per month.

In addition, it developed more targeted regional newsletters and segmented emails to improve open rates, while testing various webinar, survey and event announcements to improve customer email engagement.

Bringing Kuno in to assist with content production through a comprehensive buyer insights process, while relying on Kuno to manage, assist or train users on many of the HubSpot marketing operations, made the following results possible to achieve.

The Results

From a high level, the combination of email marketing, blogging and content allowed a new style of engagement for its commercial and industrial business customers. The company not only converted more than 2,097 individual business contacts on its content-centric properties, but also generated nearly as many new contacts (1,748) that were not in its database to begin with.

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In addition, more contacts are converting multiple times as time goes by, with 1,135 contacts having more than one unique form submission in the last year.

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From a tactical perspective, the company was posting eight to 10 times per month and saw a 419 percent increase in organic traffic. Using HubSpot RSS subscriptions, its blog picked up more than 300 subscribers in a single month, an 82 percent increase. Since then, the blog has moved to HubSpot and has grown to 688 subscribers, most of whom were generated organically.

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In addition to content, email engagement has significantly improved since moving to HubSpot:

  • Email deliverability increased by 3 percent
  • Open rates increased by 5 percent
  • Email unsubscribes decreased by 42 percent

The improved email engagement has increased customer feedback survey response, achieving the response-rate goal weeks before anticipated.

With the increased email engagement and content infrastructure, the company also moved beyond simple blog subscriptions to a more organized resource center. At the start of the blogging and content project, only two dozen of the companies our client served had representatives engaged with its content. As of July 2015, 3,385 business contacts at 305 companies have signed up to receive blog and content resource-related emails, a nearly 940 percent increase.

The company continues to build its customer engagement, loyalty and brand awareness in 2015, with goals that include:

  • Increasing its audience by 25 percent
  • Increasing blog subscribers by 75 percent
  • Improving email engagement metrics and increasing site traffic

As of November 2015, it was on pace to exceed those goals. Its content creation efforts and distribution strategy will be integral to its future success.

Tips to Boost Organic Traffic

Want to boost organic traffic to your own site? Here are a few quick tips from this client's success story:

  • Increase blog posting frequency. Aim to publish at least twice a week if possible for best results.
  • Focus on long-tail keywords relevant to your product or service. Think about what phrases potential customers would likely type into a search engine. Customers shopping for a better way to manage energy might search for "energy management solutions," for instance. 
  • Call in the experts. The blog includes insights from its own experts in energy purchasing trends, regional factors and industry verticals. If your experts don't have time to write their own posts, make it easy for them. Schedule a quick conversation to talk with them about what's happening in their area of expertise, write a post and give them plenty of time to review it. 
  • Educate your readers. The company hosts monthly energy outlook webinars that routinely attract hundreds of current and potential customers. The host always makes time for questions, which is a good indication of what customers care about most. Take the time to review the questions your customers are asking at webinars, trade shows, forums and customer support channels. Aim to answer those questions in upcoming blog posts.  
  • Stay relevant. The company watches regional and industry-specific news and looks for opportunities to join the conversation. When customers in the Northeast were buried under several feet of snow and concerned about being hit with higher energy costs, the company provided helpful information to reassure them. 
  • Don't forget distribution. As Buzzfeed's Jonathan Perleman has said, "Content is king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants." The company ramped up its distribution through social media channels including LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as using paid content promotion platforms such as Taboola

Growing organic traffic takes more time and effort than paying for search ads, but the payoff can be enormous, as our client discovered. Combine content marketing with other demand generation tactics, such as paid advertising, and you'll reap big benefits. 

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The Author

Annie Zelm

As the content manager, Annie manages a team of brand journalists and is the driving force behind the content strategy for companies in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology and professional services. Relying on interviewing skills she developed in her seven years as a journalist, she uncovers insights about what motivates buyers in these industries and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars.
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