How We Grew One Client From Zero to $1Million In Just One Year
How do you grow a business that hasn't finished construction yet, into a one-million-dollar company in just a year?
That's precisely what one of our clients asked us to help them achieve. We'll walk you step-by-step through our exact process in this case study.
We'll show you the exact marketing playbook we used to tackle each challenge (there were many) and ultimately deliver on our client's goals.
Table of Contents
This comprehensive case study will show you how we skyrocketed a brand new business from zero to $1 million in only a year. By reading this case study, you'll learn:
How to establish goals
Why market research is absolutely essential
How to reverse engineer a marketing budget
How to build a simple high-level marketing plan
How to develop and execute a solid website strategy
The importance of search engine optimization (SEO)
About online citations
How to leverage your Google Business Profile
How to select and use social media
How to build a high-level media plan
How messaging and design influences success
How to put in place a tracking and analytics strategy
Before jumping into these strategy points, let's look at the challenge we faced.
The Challenge: Zero to $1 Million in a Year
The client was opening a new practice in an already saturated market with other, well-established businesses providing similar services.
They wanted to grow aggressively, take a brand new business with no revenue and no online presence, and grow it to a $1 million company in one year. Everything online had to be built entirely from scratch.
Needless to say, this was a daunting task.
So what did we do, and how did we do it?
We took a systematic approach to create a detailed strategy. These are our exact steps:
#1. Establish Goals
Every project has to have a plan. But, even before you put a plan in place, you have to establish goals.
Setting clear goals helps you better understand what you're trying to achieve and keeps provides focused. Goals can vary from business to business, so clearly understanding what this client wanted to achieve helped us prioritize the most critical action items to tackle first.
Some questions you can ask yourself when choosing your business goals could be:
What are some short-term goals that could help you crush some long-term goals?
Is there anything you need to accomplish this year?
What does success look like for your business?
Once we understood their goal, we were able to work backward to establish a realistic plan for the number of clients we needed to attract for their particular business. Once we had a clear goal, we were ready to take the next step.
#2. Market Research
Market research helps plan for potential challenges, reduces risk, and creates possibilities. It forms the foundation of a business strategy geared for future revenue. Our market research involved three main areas:
We researched industry averages for marketing and sales data, exploring similar industry players, media strategies, and buying patterns.
We came up with some interesting numbers related to cost per lead (CPL), customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer churn, and the average annual revenue expected from customers. This information would greatly influence our overall strategy.
How any marketing campaign performs depends on various environmental factors. Part of our market research strategy is a deep dive into current competitors, the impact of seasonality, demographic influence, and media costs.
Current Online Presence
Looking at the business's current online presence and a detailed analysis of strengths and deficiencies helps determine the steps to improve it. The client did not have a website or social media presence online. It allowed us to start on a blank slate but added the challenge of growing an online following from the ground up.
We believe in working smart, especially for our clients! Part of working smart is utilizing data to make decisions regarding marketing strategies.
Intuition and "gut feelings" have their place in starting a business. Still, we believe when it comes to your hard-earned money, data is crucial in making intelligent marketing investments.
It is essential to access data, but it's also critical to know how to interpret and understand it to make impactful data-driven decisions when it comes to budgeting.
Our team put together all the information we collected during the market research phase. We then reverse-engineered this data to create an appropriate marketing budget. The goal was to develop a realistic budget range based on data, not "gut feelings," to help ensure that we hit our targets.
#4. High-Level Marketing Plan
A targeted and concise marketing plan is a crucial part of every business. With a budget range in place, our next step was to start on a process we call Decision Journey Asset Mapping:
We used the consumer decision journey to map consumers' paths when making decisions. Then we compare that to the marketing assets the client has in place and/or needs to have to influence the purchase path in their favor.
We mapped out sales and marketing touchpoints and zoned in on the buyer's journey as they consider the product or service offering from the business.
Once we mapped the touchpoints out, we applied best practice strategies and tactics at every point. We specified the marketing assets required for each of them.
With the company goals defined, market research completed, an initial budget range outlined, and a marketing plan, we had the foundation of this new business! Now we're ready to tackle the website.
#5. Website Development
Developing a successful website is not as straightforward as it may sound. There is more to it than getting a logo and information about the business and its offering and presenting it online on a few well-designed pages.
Website development is a systematic process - we approach the process in seven key steps:
It's essential to define every service or product your business offers clearly. It makes planning the website so much easier when you can see everything you need to include.
We worked with key personnel to lay out every aspect of the client's service offering and business information, including their mission and vision statements.
Your target audience will determine your website's look, feel, and content. If you're offering products or services aimed at corporate companies, using flashy colors and slang might not make sense. Knowing your target market will help create an authoritative website that positions you as a market leader. It will give your brand credibility and higher topical search rankings.
We decided to create a minimalistic, sleek design that would appeal to this client's broad demographic and match the brand identity. Our focus was on navigation, mobile responsiveness, and lead generation.
Keyword research is the very foundation of your website's content. When used correctly, it helps customers find you online and help them locate the content they're searching for quickly. Keywords should match the brand's voice and what the business offers.
We worked with our client's team to analyze their service offering. Based on this information, we did detailed keyword research using some of the top keyword research tools in the industry.
Information architecture is a critical element of UX design. It organizes the information and gives the website and mobile apps structure, helping users navigate the site to quickly find and understand the information they need.
Additionally, information architecture helps maximize search engine optimization. Simplicity is critical, especially with a new website. Our sleek design created the perfect platform for the logical and intuitive structure of the website.
If you visit a business in person, you can see products in real life. You can touch the product, feel the texture and get an idea of how it will work in your life or space. If you are shopping for a service, you can talk to somebody about it and ask questions.
But, before they even get to the store, most consumers visit the business' website. Your website is where they get their very first impression of your business. High-quality photography will help to tell your brand's story, help potential customers connect with the product or service, and make your website look professional.
We worked alongside the client to determine how to use photography to present the brand and what they offer in the best possible way while matching the website's look and feel.
Creating high-quality content for a website is critical to SEO rankings and retaining visitors. It also plays a fundamental role in customer engagement. The overall design and photography will make a good first impression. Still, the content is what keeps your target audience engaged.
In this phase, we developed a content strategy based on keyword research, business goals, the target audience, competitor research, personal interviews, and content ideation brainstorming sessions with client stakeholders.
Depending on where your website visitors are in the decision journey, some visitors will take action the first time they visit your website. Others will come back a few times before making a decision. Many need a little nudge.
By capturing their information, you will have the opportunity to nurture them by providing valuable information, ultimately leading them to convert into paying customers.
We worked with the client to create a lead capture form in a strategic area on the website. It contains business-specific questions and questions about contact details.
#6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most people use search engines to find products or services. Therefore, you need to use search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure your website can be found on page one of Google.
There are different types of SEO strategies, and they're all important. For this client's website, we tackled four main SEO areas:
Suppose a business has a physical location or is geographically limited. In that case, it is essential to include local SEO in your strategy. Local SEO makes it possible for your business to be found in local search results.
We ensured that the website would contain localized content and local landing pages for target locations. Our local SEO efforts also covered adding local keywords, on-page location, keyword optimization, and listing the business on properties like Google Business Profile.
On-page SEO involves creating effective and informative content that potential customers and search engines look for. It has to answer questions while also making it easy for robots to understand the context and meaning of the content to improve rankings.
For example, suppose you sell ethically-sourced coffee. In that case, your keywords may include "responsibly sourced coffee" or "eco-friendly coffee." You could have blog topics like "How to Know if Coffee Farmers Get Fair Pay"? On-page SEO efforts also include optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, internal and external links, headers, etc.
Blogging is an invaluable SEO tool. Every article on your website should be created with SEO in mind and optimized accordingly. This means including pertinent keywords in the content, headings, meta titles, and meta descriptions. Blogs should also have internal links and visual elements like high-quality videos and photos.
Search engines note hyperlinks because it shows the engines what type of related content your website provides visitors. Hyperlinking keywords or relevant topics is a simple but excellent way to improve SEO.
High-quality backlinks to external websites from your website or vice versa can help your website rank higher. We introduced the client to this and included link building in the content plan.
#7. Online Citations
Online citations are online business directories. Citations typically feature the business's name, address, and phone number. It helps internet users find local businesses and influences local search engine rankings, particularly on Google Maps.
Citations are influential because they help build the credibility of your business and help potential customers find accurate information about your business.
#8. Google My Business
Google My Business gives you the ability to display your business on Google Maps and brings it up in local search results. It's a free and highly effective tool that only takes a few moments to set up.
You can display important information about your business, including opening and closing times, contact details, positive reviews, and links to your website and social media. However, it is also essential to maintain an active Google Business Profile to help with your search rankings and build and maintain your reputation and authority.
A Google Business Profile is invaluable in marketing a company with a local presence. We guided the client in setting up a Google My Business profile. We strategically maintained its activity and presence to stand out from the competition.
How to claim and verify
If your business is already listed on Google Maps, it's a straightforward process to claim it. Open Google Maps, search for your business, click "claim this business," and then "manage now.' Then select a verification option and follow the steps on the screen. After you've verified your business, you'll be able to update the business name and other information.
If your business is not listed on Google Maps yet, you can add it with a few simple steps. Enter the address in Google Maps, right-click on your location and click "add your business ."Follow the steps on the screen to create your business profile.
Our client did not have any online presence, so we set up the business on Google Maps to drastically improve their SEO and lead generation.
How to optimize
There are a few ways to optimize this service to get the best out of it. As you set the profile up, select the most relevant category for your business. It should summarize your business most appropriately. You should:
Enter complete data
Pay attention to the accuracy of all the information
Include your researched keywords
Include high-quality photos
Once you've set up your profile, you can further optimize it with some Google My Business unique attributes.
Some of the new features are industry-specific. For example, healthcare businesses can specify whether they provide virtual consultations and provide customers with a direct scheduling method for this type of service. If your business is women-led or black-owned, you'll be able to highlight this on your profile.
The product catalog function makes it easy to provide information about products like pricing, descriptions, and photos. So if someone is searching for a product, they would be able to see your listings in your Google My Business profile.
For our client, our team performed in-depth keyword research to include in the profile, wrote a compelling business description, and completed all critical sections of the profile.
How to maintain and grow
It's easy to maintain information about products and services, including pricing, details, and updated photos, on Google My Business. It's also an excellent platform for customer engagement as the messaging system allows you to speak directly to customers.
Google My Business is one of the top consumer and business review platforms. You can take advantage of this by asking customers to give you reviews and responding to the input. Reviews will help shape your business' reputation online.
We set up an easy-to-use automation system to help our clients immediately send review requests to their customers as soon as they leave their location. Our system also helps clients respond to positive reviews, boosting SEO and their online reputation.
#9. Social Media
Social media platforms are not only a go-to when potential customers search for products and services. It's also the ideal place for businesses to engage with customers, build brand identity, and reach new audiences with engaging content. With social media, you can:
Learn more about the target audience and its needs
Expand your customer base
Work with influencers
Sell products or services
Run advertising campaigns
Learn to improve strategies based on analytics
Market research is also critical for selecting the right social media platforms to have an online presence. If your target customer base tends to be 45-years-old or older, Facebook may be the best platform for you. However, if your audience skews younger, Instagram or TikTok may be a better strategy.
It also depends on the type of business you have. If you're looking for more B2B connections, creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile may help you better connect with other companies.
Social media is an essential part of almost all businesses. To start making it work for you, take the time to create a social media plan that supports your specific business goals. For our client, we designed and optimized a business Facebook page. The client can keep their customers informed and respond to questions and requests.
#10. Media Planning
Media planning is structuring how, when, and where you will deliver branding or marketing and advertising messages to receive the maximum ROI. You could choose to use print or digital formats or a combination of both to get in front of key customers. It's all about getting your message in the right places in front of the right people! And there are a few ways to help you figure out which methods are best.
The decision journey is how customers make purchasing decisions. Having a deep knowledge of this helps form a solid foundation for your marketing plan. It allows businesses to focus marketing strategies on the most influential touchpoints and adapt strategy as the decision journey evolves.
To simplify this process, just think about how you would search for your service and/or product. Do you turn on the radio or drive around town looking at all the billboards when you need to find a local company?
Probably not; you would probably start with Google.
Media campaigns should overlap your service area and/or where your customers are coming from. Correctly mapping your media to your target geography will significantly reduce your media waste and improve your budget impact.
For example, I worked with one of my clients to map their customer files geographically. We identified that 80% of their sales came from a 20-mile radius through this process. However, they used media options that extended their message to over 2 hours away.
You might be thinking, the more, the merrier, right? However, in reality, what this means is that they were paying to reach an audience that would theoretically never become customers. This means that they were wasting all of those advertising dollars.
In this case study, our client was a local business that only provides in-person services. So when it comes to target geography, this was well-defined for our client.
Demographics include essential characteristics of potential customers such as age, income, occupation, interests, and family structure, just to name a few. Buyer demographics tell you what type of content and messaging will resonate the most with your target audience.
Several platforms can help you collect demographics on your target audiences, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These platforms provide audience segmentation tools breaking down demographics so businesses can accurately target potential customers.
Intent-based targeting is a powerful strategy that can improve your marketing efforts. This method targets potential customers based on their online behavior and who is most likely to make a purchase. This method requires a data source so you can identify prospects actively searching for your product or service.
Having the appropriate tools at our disposal, we could target potential customers who were searching for our client's services within a certain location.
A media vehicle is a platform used to deliver your message to your target audience. We focused on media vehicles like Facebook, Google Search, Google Display, and Yelp for this client.
#11. Creative Development
For your business to stand out, you have to create a unique digital experience for the user consisting of appropriate messaging and high-quality imagery.
Creative messaging is critical for effective brand positioning. Your business' message shapes the audience's perception of your products and services. A creative message strategy combines various elements to deliver your unique selling proposition (USP) in the right tone.
Pro-Tip: when writing your website copy, it's best to focus on the benefits of your product or service. Describe how your customer will benefit from using your service and how it will impact them instead of concentrating too narrowly on the service or product itself.
Graphic design is an integral part of developing a consistent brand identity no matter where you are online. It uses graphical images, photos, typography, and graphs to communicate your ideas, products, and services to the target audience. Everything from logos, product labels, email signatures, and social media profile pictures needs to have a consistent brand image.
We standardized the client's brand identity to present the business as uniform, consistent and professional. We helped design a brand new logo and selected the right font and colors that reflected a soft, warm, and welcoming presence.
#12. Tracking & Analytics
Tracking data and analyzing what it means gives business owners access to valuable information such as how the customers navigate the website, which pages they linger on, and where they bounce. It helps businesses identify poorly performing pages, lower bounce rates, and increase website conversion rates.
We use the latest tracking and analytics tools available to measure the impact of our efforts on our client's business. After tracking for a few months, we reviewed the following data to make necessary tweaks to the client's website to optimize it.
Call tracking will give your business exact performance data identifying which ad campaigns are driving phone calls and delivering the best ROI.
The call tracking we used indicated which campaigns were the most successful. The client could use this information to develop future campaigns with a higher success rate.
With Google Analytics, you have valuable data about your audience at your fingertips. It helps you determine where most of your traffic comes from and gives you all kinds of information about visitors to your site.
Google analytics tracks their age, interests, location, devices, etc. It also tracks how many visitors you have and how they navigate your site, and it keeps track of your marketing campaigns. Google Analytics played an integral role in keeping tabs on all of this valuable information over the year.
Digital Ads Tracking Links
A tracking link is a snippet of text at the end of a URL to help you track where traffic comes from. In digital marketing, it's one of the ways to pinpoint specific sources of traffic to your website. It enables you to track which digital ads are effective and which ones are not.
Again, the client was able to see what type of advertising worked so they could decide to repeat it or try a different approach.
Online Marketing Dashboard
An online marketing dashboard is an excellent way to keep track of metrics and data visualizations in one place. You can set it up to report on marketing campaigns and other activities such as email marketing and social media metrics.
We created an online marketing dashboard for our clients so they can access everything they need to tweak campaigns, web pages, and advertisements. It conveniently pulls all data points into one place, such as Google Analytics, Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, and so much more. Our client doesn't have to log into multiple profiles to access essential data.
There is so much excitement in getting your website and campaigns up and running that you may sigh relief once everything is finally launched! However, that's not where the work ends. In reality, launching your campaign is just the beginning!
As you've seen, analytics play an ongoing role in tweaking campaigns and web pages to improve sales. However, data is even more in-depth than the tracking and analytics we've already discussed.
It's necessary to analyze results and test parameters to measure the ROI of marketing efforts. A campaign report compiles the analytical data relevant to the effects of online campaigns or activities.
The goal is to accurately put the most pertinent data together to measure effectiveness vs. objectives in a standardized report. This helps the client reevaluate objectives and shift goals as the business evolves.
We continue to meet with our clients often to discuss campaign reporting, ROI, and future goals so we can continuously recalibrate marketing efforts.
Monitor & Optimization
Once you've standardized your campaign reporting, it should give you valuable data that will help you to optimize your marketing campaign, social media strategy, and your overall marketing efforts. Three key items that we continually monitor and recommend for any business include:
You should monitor every campaign to measure ROI and effectiveness. It will help you see where you should alter future campaigns for improved success.
Optimizing your website brings more traffic and helps convert visitors into customers. Using the analytics packages, we outlined earlier, you can perform attribution analysis on your website traffic to identify ways to enhance the user experience.
It's essential to keep an eye on all citations to ensure accurate information. It is the front line for everyone visiting your website and must be maintained.
Our team worked with the client to do all the groundwork required before we started developing the website and social media plan. Everything was in place to launch in the first quarter of the year. By Q2, we'd already exceeded projections by 6%. Within the goal period of one year, our client celebrated a $1.13 million turnover.
Technology shifts in leaps and bounds, and marketing strategies can transform overnight. Best practices for website development and Google search algorithms also change. The digital landscape is dynamic, and those navigating it have to have a process in place to keep up with changes.
With thorough planning, continuous monitoring, and optimization, a business's online presence can drastically increase profits. Working with a team of professionals with years of industry experience will help you launch your online presence the right way and optimize it for maximum returns.
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