Greetings from tropical Costa Rica! I feel honored to be able to share my story and hopefully inspire some of you fellow marketers out there with the impressive results that we've been able to produce in such a short amount of time. I hope that someone will find our story to be helpful.
An Internet-Based Travel Agency in Costa Rica
My Costa Rica is a tour operator based out of Costa Rica's capital city of San Jose. Our proximity to the international airport allows us to meet our clients upon arrival and welcome them upon entry to the country. We've been planning vacation packages to Costa Rica since 2004 and are very proud of the positive client testimonials we've received since we've been in operation. We pride ourselves on the personalized service we offer our clients and are there for them before, during and after their trip, and we strive to promote responsible and sustainable tourism to this beautiful country we call home. Together with our clients, we've managed to have a positive impact on the country, through charitable initiatives, such as the Pack for a Purpose program, through which our clients bring donations in their suitcases to support a local orphanage.
New to Online Marketing = Lots of Trial and Error
I first came to Costa Rica through a study abroad program back in 1999 and quickly fell in love with the country. I knew I wanted to live here and so I came back to teach English after finishing my studies. As the years passed, people began asking me about how to plan a trip down here and where to go, and thus the idea for My Costa Rica was born. Inspired by the interest of my friends and family, I went out and bought a book on how to build a website using Dreamweaver, registered the domain for our site, and began putting things together to promote our Costa Rica vacation packages. With no prior experience in online marketing, it took nearly a year for our business to get off the ground and get our first clients.
We've experienced steady upward growth since we began in 2004, despite recessions, changing Google algorithms, and countless other setbacks that have only served as learning lessons as to how to survive in a changing market. We are very grateful for the success that we've experienced, and despite the fact that we've grown, we are still a small team of nine.
Search Engine Optimization and Social Media
We originally relied solely on search engine optimization (SEO) to attract new business, and were doing quite well with our rankings until the new search algorithm came out in May of 2012. That change cut our traffic down to a third of what we once had, and forced us to look for other means of promoting our business online. Naturally, we turned towards PPC and social media.
We've had some success with both, but social media -- and especially Facebook -- has become an integral part of our marketing efforts.
We were starting to drive a lot of traffic to our site via social media, but we had no clue what to do with these visitors, how to get them to convert into leads, keep in touch with them through newsletters, or track the ROI of our time investment. The need for a complete marketing solution had become apparent, and that's how I found HubSpot.
Software that Revolutionized our Business
We had a bunch of problems that we needed to resolve, so I began the quest for a software solution that could help us. One of the problems I had was that I was spending all this money on PPC and adwords, but had no idea what my ROI on this investment was.
It was time consuming and expensive to build landing pages for each specific adwords campaign and update them. I've always found Google's Adwords and analytics programs complicated and difficult to decipher. Salesforce was great for our database, but I was having a hard time tying all this information together. We had no control of our lists or subscribers, we weren't sending out any newsletters, had no blogging strategy and really had no clue of how to try and recover from our lost rankings with the search engines. I had no idea that I would find one piece of software that could help me with all these issues: that the answer was HubSpot.
Moving in the Right Direction
I am nowhere near being an expert in the use of HubSpot, but we have made tremendous advancements in just five months of becoming a customer. And for the first time in a long time I feel like we have a clear direction of where we want to go and a strategy on how to get there.
The classes and support that we've received have been incredible, much more than I could have imagined or hoped for. There is so much data available to us that I never really had before, and now I can make much more informed decisions about my business and what I need to do.
We're blogging on a nearly daily basis and have been able to build up a large following to our blog. Because we use the HubSpot Keywords tool, we now have a purpose in mind when we blog, and are no longer "grasping in the dark" like we once were. We're able to select which keywords are the best terms for us to target, and we're making great progress.
We've created tons of custom landing pages with HubSpot and are really proud of the conversion rates we've been seeing with them. I don't need to bother my designer or webmaster anymore, since I can easily design effective landing pages on my own. HubSpot's suggestion to use a downloadable guide as a lead magnet has been revolutionary for us -- and the landing page that we put together for our first online guide is one of our highest converters. We drive traffic to landing pages where we use the guide as an incentive to get people to provide us with their contact information, we also have travel guide CTAs prominently placed throughout our site. People clearly feel better about giving us their contact information when they're being offered something useful and valuable in return.
So much more to do
We've started segmenting our lists based on specific interests and activities. We now ask people what type of vacation they are looking for and then can provide these people with tailored information that is interesting and relevant to them.
We can also tailor our emails and workflows to better connect with these potential customers. Through HubSpot's Social Media tool we've started building a presence on Twitter and even got our first customer through a conversation that began on Twitter.
This is only the beginning. We've only just begun to explore the potential of the software. We have a lot of work to do, but I know I'll have the support of HubSpot's professional team every step of the way and that the investment will be worth it.
I am very excited about how my business will grow in 2014 and I look forward to finally meeting you all personally at the next Inbound conference in Boston next year!