Honkarakenne Ltd is the pioneering log house supplier for the global market with 60 years of experience. Major part of the Honka log houses are sold to consumers. For a private consumer, a house is a huge investment decision. This means that the buyer's journey often takes 1.5 years or longer. For Honka, developing and successfully managing the marketing and sales funnel with the inbound methodology has been the key in achieving excellent sales results and creating the foundation to grow the business internationally.
Change from traditional to inbound marketing and sales
Honka's marketing and sales had been very traditional in the past, focusing on the strong product brand Honka. In 2014, the management took a brave decision to start modernising their marketing and sales approach. The first goal was to implement the inbound methodology in the home market of Finland. The second goal was to scale up the best practises globally in order to boost sales growth internationally. The results speak for themselve: e.g., the number of online generated leads in Finland grew by +305% and the number of web-influenced deals increased by 291% in only three years.
Adopting inbound marketing principles put the marketing budget upside down: print was replaced to large extent by digital. At the same time sales practices were upgraded – active lead generation and lead scoring resulted in better qualified leads which helped to shorten the long sales cycle of residential housing. The collaboration between marketing and sales improved substantially with the effect that Honka relied more and more on inbound marketing and sales.
Joonas Rantala, Honkarakenne head of marketing in Finland, summarises the changes and his key insights:
Differentiation throughout the buyer's journey
The potential log house buyer needs plenty of versatile content which guides him or her towards the buying decision throughout the journey: from inspirational ideas to detailed information about the building process and technology specification. For a house seller, the key challenge is to recognise and start dialogue with those buyers that have a clear intention to buy in the short term.
Understanding the customers better through Buyer Personas:
In order to get more leads of better quality, understanding the potential buyer personas and their needs is crucial. Honka started by identifying several key buyer personas and also aligned their product range to fit better to these segments. At the same time the company profiled itself clearly as the supplier of healthy, modern log homes, suitable in urban and sub-urban environments.
Relevant content throughout the Buyer Journey:
The next step was to build compelling web content to support each buyer persona and to build a lead-nurturing path. A growth driven design approach allowed to fine-tune the whole lead generation process, from creating awareness to warming up and delivering sales qualified leads for the sales process. For sales, the change was remarkable: they started to receive better-qualified leads which helped them to improve their deal closing rate substantially. The new way of selling for warm inbound leads was very different, compared to the selling of “leads” coming from the traditional outbound channels.
The key actions used for building a solid sales funnel were
- Defining buyer personas; understanding various needs
- Defining the buyer's journey
- Creating buyer-specific content and conversion points along the buyer's journey
- Improving the conversion rate by innovative tools and continuous activations
- Securing the quality of leads handed over to sales.
Change management plays a crucial role
In 2014, the majority of Honka’s marketing budget was spent on print advertising, banner advertising and direct mailing. At the same time, however, the foundation for inbound marketing was built. In 2015 and onwards, it was time for action and inbound took the main share of the marketing budget. This was a very courageous move from Honka's management: it was obvious that the adoption of inbound marketing practises and winning the large sales representative network to adopt new social selling practices would not be easy.
A key objective with inbound marketing and sales was to define the criteria for a Marketing and Sales Qualified Lead. The qualification ensures that the leads passed over to sales have already been in the consideration or decision stage. This had a dramatic improvement on the return on marketing. The cost per Marketing Qualified Lead has been reduced by 90%. Furthermore, the sales team is happy, getting now a constant feed of qualified leads. In the past, sales considered 90% of leads as poor in quality. In addition to this, Honkarakenne now captures buyers that previously did not consider Honka in the decision stage.
Customer interests and needs drive the marketing and sales process
The key insight was to start offering specific content for each buyer persona. The buyer's journey was mapped out and web content built for all stages of the buying process. HubSpot’s all-in-one functionality proved its worth, as all key lead generation, and warm up activities can be managed with one platform.
The key success factors are:
In Finland, a blog focusing on healthy living has been actively used to reach out new potential buyers wanting to improve their living and lifestyle. This together with very active Facebook postings has built reach and new traffic to the web pages. Significant improvement for the buying experience is to provide ideas and tools that help the buyers to define their dream house and define the budget.
The workflows with supporting downloadable content have been built for main segments. They have been constantly fine-tuned and new ones have been created. Today, there are more than 30 workflows that generate nearly 1000 leads per month – in the Finnish market only.
Excellent sales results via inbound
There is no doubt Honkarakenne has made the right decision in adopting inbound methodology: The number of online generated leads has grown +305% from 2014 vs. 2017. In addition, the quality of leads has remarkably improved. Consequently, the number of web-influenced deals have increased by 291%.
- Altogether 40% of Sales Qualified Leads are now generated by inbound
- In 2017 the monthly volume of Marketing Qualified Leads was 99% more than in 2014
- In 2014 only 3 % of sales was generated on the web when in 2017 the corresponding figure was 49%.
Honka has now a scalable sales and marketing process which they can use globally. This offers great opportunity when boosting sales in 20+ markets and languages together with HubSpot.