In 2019, the CBD market grew over 700% and it’s expected to grow to $23.7 billion through 2023. The legalization of cannabis and its increase in usage has spawned a number of businesses, including this company from LA, USA, which specializes in manufacturing of CBD extraction equipment.
The company ran into issues with their marketing efforts and reached out to Shortlist. Even though the company had an online presence, they didn’t manage to create an effective digital marketing strategy.
The main issue was that they had absolutely no marketing strategy in place. Both their website and social media profiles had potential, but as they didn’t market them well enough, neither managed to bring them as many customers as they had hoped.
Our team developed a strategy that consisted of five stages. It started with defining clear goals for the first 90 days, followed by tracking, website optimization, and content marketing. Finally, we focused on setting up a lead generation flow and conversion optimization.
The strategy proved to be very effective and helped the company increase its SEO health, improve website loading speeds, and greatly increase their website’s traffic. Let’s explore the details of this case study and see how Shortlist helped our client grow its SEO fivefold and their email subscribers threefold in just 8 months.
A company established in 2014 and located in Los Angeles, USA. They manufacture and sell CBD extraction equipment which extracts essential oils with ethanol and deliver an efficiency rate of over 98%.
The company produces a custom line of extraction equipment which can be used in different sized laboratories. In addition, they create machines that fit both small and big sized businesses.
The sales department played the main part in the sales process and the company greatly depended on it. This department’s task was to learn the customer’s needs so the company could offer the optimal solution for each business case.
The products sold by this company were highly customizable, and some of them had a modular structure. This made it possible to create a number of different combinations, all depending on the client’s needs.
These tailored solutions are a great choice for companies that plan to grow their business because they can be scaled easily without disrupting any operations.
Since the company was so dependent on the sales department, they needed to constantly have new leads that they could convert into customers and keep their production running.
A method for attracting leads used by the company in the past was to find them during offline conferences. This meant that without conferences, they weren’t able to find new leads and would have to work only with the contacts they collected in the past.
The problem with this strategy was that most of these contacts were unqualified, meaning that not all of them were ready to purchase a product right away. In addition, the company didn’t have a system in place to identify the people who are most likely to buy right away or very soon.
The company did have a website, but it mostly attracted visitors who knew the company already. The organic traffic was driven only by the branded keywords, aka the ones related to the company name and its products.
Some other issues in their marketing strategy included:
- Lack of content and links has made it very difficult for the website to rank for key terms.
- The website’s on-page SEO had a number of problems, which negatively impacted the traffic and click-through rates.
- A lack of email opt-in forms made it hard to generate potential leads.
Having a clear understanding of what made our client’s organic traffic and lead generation subpar, the Shortlist team was able to devise a five-stage strategy to help them resolve their marketing issues.
As a side note, Shortlist also acted like a part of their design and development team and completed a multitude of tasks, including:
- Maintaining the website on a regular basis
- Creating new pages
- Fixing bugs
- Designing collaterals for the conferences the client participated in
Below you can see the details of the strategy and its implementation.
Stage 1: Initial setup and project kickstart
Before diving into the actual tasks, we set some goals for the first 90 days:
- Define the different customer personal, customer journey stages, and develop a brand voice.
- Research the optimal keywords to target, those that were relatively easy to rank for and which provided business value as well.
- Turn our client into an authority figure and information hub by regularly publishing quality content that emphasizes all the tips of ethanol extraction.
- Increase the client’s brand authority by improving social media pages and increasing their following.
- Increase the client’s website ranking and keyword diversity through SEO and link building.
- Improve website design to increase conversions.
Stage 2: Tracking
This stage was all about determining the baseline and KPIs in order to have a benchmark and measure the progress effectively.
This included the following steps:
- Defining the main KPIs such as website traffic, SEO health, backlinks, booked demos, newsletter subscribers, and other key metrics
- Setting the base point for each of these metrics by analyzing the company website (76% SEO health, 12 booked demos per month, 5.8s page load speed, etc.)
- Setting the goals for all KPIs based on the client’s request (>90% SEO health, 20 booked demos per month, <2s page load speed, etc)
- Determining the right tools we would use for tracking the KPIs (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Hotjar, Linkio, etc.)
- Confirming all the steps with the client before moving forward
Stage 3: Website optimization and content marketing
The third stage could be roughly separated into three substages where we focused on website SEO fixes, content marketing, and building backlinks to the website.
1. Website SEO fixes
The client’s website had certain technical issues, so our design and development team stepped in to increase website performance.
There were some issues that could cause serious problems later on, so we prioritised them over the others:
- Internal site structure and internal linking
- Page load speed
- On-page SEO and page structure
- Alt tags for images
- Page metadata, etc,
2. Content marketing – publishing new articles to the blog
In this substage, we designed a blog and started publishing keyword-focused articles based on the keyword research we conducted in stage one. The website didn’t have a blog and there was only one page that contained all the press articles written about the company.
To increase organic traffic, we started adding one blog post a week with a focus on targeting specific keywords. In addition, we also put a lot of effort into promoting the articles and making sure that each of them ranked for its own target keyword.
Some strategies we applied during this stage of content marketing included:
- Working with a content writer to produce high-quality articles targeting the specific keywords
- Experimenting with different content styles and approaches to find out which of them resonated with the audience the most (interviews, expert roundups, ultimate guides, and educational articles)
3. Link building
Having published fresh content on the blog, we also started building quality backlinks to it.
The Shortlist team managed to acquire backlinks via:
- Creating a targeted list of relevant outlets on which to feature the client’s website.
- Writing guest articles which included backlinks to the website and featuring them on different websites.
- Testing out different white-hat link building techniques to see how effective each of they were.
Preliminary results after the first 90 days
After we had made some progress on the project, it was time to step aside and review the preliminary results. Here is what we found after the first 90 days of working with this client:
In addition, several important keywords improved their positions in Google SERPs.
For example, a published blog post ranked on the 1st page of Google SERP for an important business keyword with ~400 monthly queries.
Also, the client’s domain became stronger than some of its competitors, which indicated the potential to outrank them.
Stage 4: Setting up a lead generation flow
The website slowly started getting more traffic and capturing more leads. We prompted leads to sign up for the newsletter through the built-in forms and popup opt-ins that captured the website visitor’s emails.
Unfortunately, these leads weren’t adequate for the sales department, so we decided to introduce the qualification system that required getting more information from the website leads.
We updated all of the forms on the website to ensure that we were asking standard questions which would help qualify the leads later on without having any negative influence on the conversion rate. The purpose of the forms was to collect the basic lead information as well as additional information about their business along with some extra fields.
Here are the examples of the forms we created:
- Book a demo form – the main conversion page that generated most of the leads
- Newsletter popup form got the new subscribers to the Thank You page where new leads could fill in the details. The form also auto-filled the email entered on the previous step to provide better user experience.
All the data entered by the website visitors was synced with the Salesforce CRM.
After that, an automation in Salesforce was configured to analyze this data and sort leads in three different groups:
- General leads – eligible to receive the weekly newsletter only
- Marketing Qualified Leads – eligible for the weekly newsletter and some marketing emails
- Sales Qualified Leads – got assigned with a sales rep who contacted them and initiated a sale.
All these provided sales reps with better confidence in the pitch, since they could predict how likely each lead was to become a customer.
Stage 5: Conversion optimization
Once the new traffic machine consisted of content and SEO started showing results, the website started to get higher traffic. Soon enough, it became possible to run split tests and optimize the website’s conversion rate.
First, we analyzed how website visitors interacted with some specific pages of the website to find the hot-spots where the most conversions were happening. The data showed that a few website pages generated most of the leads:
- Book a Demo page (a form linked from the homepage)
- Contact us page
- Specific product pages (which also linked to the Book a Demo page)
Next, we proposed some design changes, got them approved by the client, and set up the tests which showed great results on each page mentioned above. We A/B tested different versions to see which option was getting higher conversions.
The tests showed that all these pages had an increase in the conversion rate, meaning that our client was starting to get more potential leads.
To be more precise, the combined effect of the higher conversion rate and increased traffic almost doubled the number of leads the client generated from the website, compared to the previous periods.
After 8 months of dedicated work, our client ran into tough times due to the COVID-19 closedown, just like many other businesses. They needed to cut their costs and find a way to move forward with their operations without the help of the Shortlist team.
However, we still managed to help them achieve some great results:
- The website’s SEO health increased from 76% to 94% (measured with SEMRush).
- The page-load time was reduced from an average of 6 seconds to under 2 seconds.
- The client’s website started ranking on page 1 for ~20 keywords which they had never ranked for before.
Here are some graphs that show the statistical improvement of the client’s articles over time:
- An example of a keyword with 500 monthly queries. The page ranking for this keyword was a blog post
- The website’s organic traffic increased by 428%. In July 2019 it stood at 1822 and by April 2020 it grew to 7816.
As you probably already know, SEO doesn’t provide results overnight. It takes a lot of hard work and effort, and we managed to optimize our client’s website in eight months.
As you could see, our five-stage plan worked out as well as we had hoped and if you take a look at this graph, you’ll see how the client’s stats improved after Shortlist released it. In addition, the figures improved once again after we ended our collaboration, which can be directly attributed to the long-term effects of SEO efforts.
- Organic traffic doubled.
- A recently published blog post managed to outperform the website’s homepage.
One of the blog posts written for a client ranked on the 1st page of Google SERP for the keyword with 48000 monthly queries
While this was undoubtedly the most successful article, many more managed to improve their performance as well. As we already said, the total organic traffic doubled, which is in and of itself a fantastic accomplishment.
Aftereffect 2: Always keep pushing
Despite the success the client achieved while working with Shortlist, the graph below shows a drop in clicks and impressions that happened after some time.
The reason for this noticeable drop was that the company blog which we created and filled with content broke due to the fact that they were no longer properly managing it. Very soon, it faded away and all the organic traffic it managed to generate while it was still active was also gone, and it was like all our SEO efforts were in vain.
The moral of the story is that if you want to be successful and stay on top of the game in pretty much any industry nowadays, especially the competitive ones like the CBD industry, you have to nurture and maintain the assets you have at your disposal. Otherwise, before too long, you’ll lose everything you worked hard to gain.
If you have similar problems to this company or you are struggling with your digital marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us. Shortlist will be happy to help you in your efforts to improve every aspect of your online presence.