How Our 3-Person Marketing Team Grew Our Inbound Sales Pipeline From $0 to $18M in a Year

Rootstrap is a custom software development agency that designs software solutions for various companies and A-list celebrities. Because we are working in a very saturated market for client acquisition, it is important to have a strong strategy to ensure growth and gain more clients. However, once the pandemic hit, this completely altered the goals we had in mind for that year.

As Rootstrap entered the pandemic, dirty qualified pipeline was the highest priority. We had one simple mandate: Keep everyone employed. Our company wanted to ensure that the company could survive while ensuring that everyone else was getting their paychecks. If we didn’t reach our goals, the consequences would be colossal: large scale layoffs and irreparable damage to our corporate culture. This would backtrack Rootstrap’s growth and force everyone to repair the damages instead of focusing on advancement.

Up til that point, our company was outbound-focused with a feast-or-famine approach to revenue generation. But we couldn’t do that anymore and expect to survive. We needed a strong holistic marketing transformation to shift towards an inbound-driven pipeline. With a small marketing team of three employees, rigorous prioritization on three channels was essential: pay-per-click (PPC), search-engine optimization (SEO), and referral sites. As a result of the investment in these three channels, in the year of 2020, our inbound sales qualified pipeline went from $0 to $18 million — and not one person was laid off.

The 3 Channels We Used to Transform Our Sales Pipeline

  1. pay per click
  2. search engine optimization
  3. Referral sites

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1. Fix Our Pay-Per-Click Strategy

For the very short term, we planned an overhaul with our PPC strategy. Like many early-stage B2B-service companies, we had a historical client base of seed-stage startups (or the “motivated entrepreneur crowd,” as we like to call them). This target audience was reflected in our ad copy, eg “Got an idea?” or “Bring your vision to life.” The challenge with this audience? When crises hit, their funding dries up first. We needed to pivot and pivot fast. Our PPC strategy started to be driven by language targeting more well-capitalized firms — those companies who had the resources to survive a crisis. Consequently, our ad copy shifted to “reducing technology costs” and “achieving business outcomes and ROI.” This move ‘up-market’ sounds simple, yet it completely changed the dynamic of inbound inquiries. Although the volume decreased, the quality increased, and we were able to provide our sales team with good leads to pursue in a time of economic uncertainty.

2. Invest In SEO

Our medium-term goal was focusing on our SEO efforts. We did a technical overhaul of the site and built content from scratch. We had our own talent write blogs to help with our SEO efforts. Some topics we covered were: artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, Web3, and app development. In total, we wrote around 200 articles and as a result of focusing more on making our own content, our company’s social media presence has been more active.

Read More About Search Engine Optimization on Built In’s Expert Contributors NetworkHow AI SEO Tools Are Changing the Future of Search

3. Build Relationships on Referral Sites

For referral sites, testimonials and strategic sponsorships on key B2B reviews and ratings sites (G2, Capterra, GoodFirms, UpCity are just some examples) were critical to capturing pipeline from prospective buyers who were already ‘in-market’ for the types of technology services that we provide. If we were more stubborn, we might have tried to compete organically with these referral sites — however, this would’ve expended considerable resources and likely not yielded the same lift in pipeline. Leveraging good relationships with these platforms taught us an important lesson that we didn’t have to do all our own marketing, instead relying on the goodwill built up by partners with prospective clients.

Over the course of the past two years, we went from 76 employees in 2019 to over 290 employees today. Our inbound sales qualified pipeline grew from $0 to $18 million in 2020 to $37 million now. The marketing team expanded from just three employees to 11 employees and Rootstrap has officially launched 750 digital products. We have turned a corner in terms of growth trajectory, yet the same lessons still apply. When a crisis hits — like a pandemic, a supply shortage or even an economic downturn — focus is key to survival. When everyone else panics, that’s when businesses crumble — but if you, as a marketer, can focus on what really matters and what can drive results in the worst of times, you and the businesses you represent will not only survive, but thrive regardless of circumstance.

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