industry: Manufacturing
Use Case: B2B Demand Generation

Horizon Distributors Using Act-On to Attract and Capture 200% More New Leads

Manufacturing and distribution giant leverages Act-On’s powerful and easy-to-use platform to deliver personalized B2B demand generation campaigns that drive high engagement and prime leads for Sales

Company:
Customer:

Mary Martinez

Director of Marketing

Success By the Numbers

200
%

Increase in year-over-year leads since switching to Act-On from HubSpot

57
%

Engagement rates using behavioral and engagement segmentation to deliver relevant communications

Realized Business Value

  • Small marketing team is now able to more efficiently plan, develop, and deploy effective marketing campaigns
  • Tracking engagement insights and behavior to nurture and qualify hot leads for Sales 
  • Microsoft Dynamics integration provides seamless lead hand-off to Sales and helps personalize sales discussions

Pain Points

  • Small marketing team (of one!) tasked with up-leveling the company’s marketing strategy
  • Lacking smart and efficient ways to activate and optimize their content marketing strategy to generate leads and pass them to Sales
  • Unhappy with HubSpot’s “clunky” solution that didn’t easily integrate with their CRM (Microsoft Dynamics)
Horizon Distributors

Horizon Distributors is a wholesale distributor specializing in products and services related to landscape, irrigation, and outdoor living, as well as the equipment needed to tackle those projects. With over 60 years of experience in the landscape and irrigation industry, Horizon is dedicated to providing customers with the products they need and delivering excellent expertise and customer service along the way.

Features Leveraged

  • Website Prospector
  • Lead Scoring
  • Automated Programs
  • Advanced Social Media Module
  • Content Library
  • Landing Pages

Executive Summary

Horizon Distributors is a major force in the wholesale and direct-to-consumer landscape and irrigation industry. Led by their one-woman marketing team, they’ve been able to significantly improve their lead generation efforts by gating content using Act-On landing pages and forms. In addition, by integrating Act-On with their website, they’re able to track digital visitors to better understand their activity and behaviors. Armed with this information, Horizon is able to segment their marketing lists based on engagement to then create and deploy tailored automated programs with conditional logic and relevant content. As a result, they’re achieving email open rates of 57% and above-industry standard click-through rates of 4%. Further, since most of this work is automated through the Act-On platform, Horizon is able to achieve all of this with a lone dedicated marketing professional.

“When we saw Act-On’s ability to do so many things so easily, especially creating emails and landing pages, we were hooked. The other big selling point was the easy and effective Microsoft Dynamics integration, which HubSpot wasn’t able to do at all.”

Mary Martinez, Director of marketing

Challenge

Horizon Distributors is a wholesale manufacturer and distributor specializing in products and services related to landscape, irrigation, and outdoor living — as well as the equipment their customers need to tackle those projects. With 70 stores in 11 states, Horizon is proud of its mission “Big enough to be professional. Small enough to be personal.” Despite their size, Horizon’s marketing team is a one-woman show. Mary Martinez, the Director of Marketing at Horizon, has been with the company for more than 20 years and is responsible for all brand and product marketing. Horizon needed a way to automate and scale their marketing initiatives to help attract and capture more customers and grow the business.

Research and Discovery

Many of Horizon’s competitors rely on traditional marketing strategies. Horizon, however, recognized the need to adopt more sophisticated digital approaches to attract and capture qualified leads and then nurture those leads into sales opportunities — and ultimately, new business wins. 

So they began seeking a solution that was easy to use and could help their marketing team of one create and distribute numerous campaigns to their target audiences. Prior to implementing Act-On, Horizon was using HubSpot, which Mary described as “extremely clunky” and “archaic.” She found the platform so difficult to use that she was struggling to create and send basic one-off emails. This led her in search of alternatives that would help her easily deploy more sophisticated marketing initiatives. 

After looking into several other marketing automation platforms (including Marketo, which they deemed too expensive), they chose Act-On due to our ease of use, Microsoft Dynamics integration, exceptional customer support, and features and functionality that would enable them to uplevel their execution and engagement at scale.

Horizon was able to quickly get up to speed with Act-On and immediately found the interface and functionality easy and intuitive to learn and utilize. Within days, they were designing emails and segmenting customer lists thanks to our support team and the Act-On Knowledge Base. Said Mary, “Act-On’s support team is the best in the industry. They’re just so locked in. So, when we were ready to flip the switch, everything was built, optimized, on-brand, and ready to go.”

Gating Content to Spark the Customer Journey

To get the most out of their content strategy, Horizon sources and creates content that they gate using the Act-On landing page builder and web forms. Mary is especially enthusiastic about the pre-built landing page templates within Act-On. These templates can be easily customized to meet Horizon’s brand standards, messaging, and design. And by embedding Act-On forms on these pages, she’s able to gate compelling content and gather valuable lead information. 

Once a user submits a form, they are automatically placed into a 4-step nurture program segmented by the content they’ve consumed, their industry, and their region. This allows Horizon to continue nurturing these leads along a highly personalized and  engaging customer journey that readies them for Sales.

These personalized and targeted campaigns drive more engagement and result in higher purchasing rates and increased revenue. This campaign is achieving 35% open rates with 15% click-through rates. Overall, they’re experiencing exceptional engagement across the board on these segmented nurture programs, which is creating more opportunities for Sales and more closed business for the organization as a whole.

Making the Most of Every Lead

For Mary, the best part of the email nurture campaigns is that they include conditional logic that allows her to alter or augment the customer experience based on their engagement — or, in some cases, the lack thereof. For example, if a user clicks on a CTA to view an additional piece of content or product recommendation in a specific email, they are marked as highly engaged and sent to the sales team via Horizon’s integration between Act-On and Microsoft Dynamics. This provides the sales team with unique customer insights into their interests and behaviors, which leads to more productive conversations and a higher likelihood of closing more deals. In addition, the engaged lead is automatically transferred to Horizon’s general campaign that consists of a weekly email with product recommendations, offers, and promotions based on the lead’s industry and interests. 

Re-Engagement Spurs Renewed Interest and Uncovers Potential Issues

Mary has also created a segment to re-engage former customers. The key to success with this campaign is through Act-On’s Website Prospector. By placing a tracking beacon on high-value product pages on Horizon’s website, they are able to track visitors who have made a purchase within the last year but not within the last 60 days. These former customers are automatically placed in a unique segment and sent follow-up emails that include a warm greeting encouraging them to do more business with Horizon and offering them a discount on their next order. These emails also include a link to a brief survey to determine if they’re having any issues with Horizon’s offerings or customer service. The surveys are built with Act-On, and the information Mary gathers from them helps her escalate potential issues to Horizon’s support team or respond directly to help resolve the problem and restore the relationship.

Engagement Metrics Lead to Relevant Content Creation and Distribution

By reviewing engagement metrics for each individual campaign and specific user interactions, Horizon is able to pivot their content marketing strategy to deliver the most relevant messaging and assets through tailored campaigns. For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary has quickly delivered a great deal of information to new prospects and existing customers regarding the status of Horizon’s offerings and in-person locations. These communications have highlighted their commitment to safety while also helping explain what makes Horizon an essential business. 

This considerable spike in engagement has Mary and the rest of the Horizon team reconsidering their editorial calendar, email programs, and even their approach to messaging to deliver more value for their customers and drive more value for the business. Now, instead of adopting a singular focus on self-promotion and sales, Horizon is gradually shifting their messaging to place the customer at the center of the discussion and then help exceed their expectations based on their unique needs. And as prospects and customers continue to interact with this more personalized (and personal) content and messaging, Mary can easily pass these engagement insights to Sales for meaningful and relevant follow-up discussions.

New Approaches Lead to New Avenues for Success

Since adopting Act-On in 2017, Horizon has continued to uncover new and innovative ways to leverage the platform to drive business growth and deliver tangible value across the organization. For instance, within the first year of switching to Act-On, Horizon more than doubled its marketing qualified leads from the previous year with HubSpot. This was largely due to Act-On’s easy-to-update landing page templates, intuitive web forms, and subsequent lead nurturing. Additionally, Act-On’s integration with Microsoft Dynamics ensured that Horizon’s sales team had consistent, comprehensive insight into user behavior, interests, and purchase history.

According to Mary, though, the greatest asset in Act-On is the ability to easily segment her master list (consisting of thousands of active contacts) into more than 100 individual groupings. These lists are cultivated according to traditional attributes like industry, budget, and region. Better yet, they’re also being created based on more sophisticated segmentation approaches like purchase history, the likelihood of repeat purchases, and digital behaviors and interactions. Once Mary and the Horizon team create the criteria for these segments, the list building and grouping occurs automatically through the Act-On platform in conjunction with Microsoft Dynamics. This conserves significant time and resources while empowering them to deliver unique messaging to over 25,000 customers each month.

Said Mary of Act-On, “I just find Act-On very easy to use. And the fact that it connects with our CRM saves me so much time being able to automate manual processes. I don’t even have to touch it. I completely trust it to do what it’s supposed to do.”

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