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Case Study: How 6 Years of Consistent Inbound Growth is a Great Fit for All Involved

4 mins read

See how inbound marketing grew monthly views by close-to 14,000%, helped our client expand into several new countries and helped increase turnover by 140%, with ecomm revenue going from €402k to €1.1m.

Tom Larkin shoes for crews (1:36)


“We liked the approach of Digital 22. With only a few clients at the time, we felt like we’d get a really good service.” And six years later, the inbound marketing campaigns we’ve delivered for Shoes For Crews Europe (SFCE) have resulted in a tripling of their ecommerce business and expansion into a number of different territories across Europe.

As a client, they’re a much-loved staple here at Digital 22, thanks to not just six years of consistent results and growth together, but also because they have an interesting product to produce content around and a challenge of trying to reach a diverse range of personas.

These different types of personas were one of the struggles that Shoes For Crews Europe had before engaging with Digital 22 and HubSpot.

A Wide Range of Products and a Wide Range of Personas to Target

As one of the leading producers of slip-resistant footwear in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR’s), Foodservice, Hospitality and Industrial sectors, SFCE has a wide product range - and need to reach a wide-ranging customer base as a result.

They produce slip-resistant footwear for everyone from part-time waiters and waitresses to professional maître d's, from bartenders to highly-professional head chefs and everyone in between. And that’s just the hospitality industry.

Further complicating things is the need to do this across all of Europe. This adds complexities in the marketing of messages across different languages and cultures.

A barman in a pub in Crewe, England, probably doesn’t share too many cultural reference points with a barman on the Côte d'Azur, or one in Berlin or Amsterdam.

But they do have some things in common. And finding these mutual pain points and challenges, making them part of a cohesive inbound strategy was what SFCE needed HubSpot and Digital 22 to help with.

Initially, our working relationship began in September 2012 with two years of SEO and PPC driven growth.

Initially, growth accelerated in the UK,and increased sales from these channels led to both sides wanting to expand our services in order to accelerate SFCE growth further. The team at SFCE had been implementing some content marketing, which still continues today, but wasn’t harnessing the full benefits of HubSpot and a specialist inbound agency.



Our Strategy

With SFCE based in Ireland, it made sense to expand our reach in the English speaking market, first of all. We began with a UK and Ireland blog in the English language and got to work targeting their biggest impact market: Food Service and Hospitality.

With a campaign every 90 days, a lot of inbound-water has passed under the bridge. One piece of content in particular, however, stands out as typifying how inbound marketing has helped boost SFCE presence and reach.




It’s actually used as a case study and reference point when onboarding new clients and employees here at Digital 22. The blog (which is also a download piece) is called 20 Common Waitress Interview Questions (and how to answer them).

Let’s break it down:

  • It’s super helpful. The blog caters for someone swotting up before a job interview.

  • It’s actionable. It doesn’t just give you the questions but the answers too.

  • It’s right at the start of the Buyer’s Journey. I mean, it’s targeting a reader which not only doesn’t realise they need slip-resistant footwear yet, but they haven’t even got the job they need them for. It’s a poster child for inbound in action.

  • It’s developed over time. Check the URL, this blog post started with seven questions but has seen success so been added to over time. It became 10 questions. Then 15. Now 20. It’s a case study in effective SEO maintenance.

And it’s bringing in some good numbers. It’s SFCE’s most viewed and most click-through’d blog by some distance. This blog post alone has brought in over 1,500 contacts into the SFCE database.





This is pretty typical of the approach we’ve taken to SFCE’s content, over the years. It’s textbook inbound marketing. Find out what your persona struggles with and help them accordingly.

If you ever needed a case study for the benefits of producing helpful, inbound content, Shoes For Crews Europe’s blog has gone from 296 monthly views in January 2016 to 41,049 monthly views in November 2018. That’s a not-too-shabby increase of 13,768%.




And these numbers have helped with more sales too.

At the start of our relationship in 2011, SFCE had annual revenue of €7.3m, this grew to €10.8m in 2014 and they’re closing 2018 on €17.5m. That means revenue for the business has grown 140% whilst working together, alongside the expansion into several new territories.

Most excitingly, ecommerce sales have grown within this. From €402k in 2011,to €631k in 2014 and we’ve just closed 2018 at €1.1m in ecommerce revenue. That’s growth of 174% in online sales whilst working together.




Accelerated Growth for Shoes For Crews Europe

For an agency to keep a client for over six years and counting must mean that we’ve been doing something right. And, if we may say so ourselves, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done whilst working with the team over at SFCE. And the growth continues apace.

Our retainer currently consists of three blogs per week and sales from organic traffic has grown 230 percent, in 2018 alone, whilst blog traffic has grown by 13,768%. I know we’ve mentioned that, but, come on.



We produce a download piece every 90 days, send multiple monthly emails alongside the SFCE in-house team’s eshots and post daily social messages. Speaking of which, revenue from social posts has grown from €18,730 in 2017 to €31,176 in 2018.

PPC has seen growth from €288,858 to €319,548 and SEO from €146,159 to €161,688, respectively, in 2018.




That one domestic, English-language inbound blog is now being translated into French, German and Dutch, and Shoes For Crews Europe now have five different websites, such has been their growth.

Over the past six years, SFCE as an overall business have doubled in size and plan to double again over the next half a decade. Tom Larkin, Marketing Controller, described our inbound marketing as “instrumental” to this growth.

The end result is ecommerce sales growing close on 200% and each of the company’s key markets have grown by a minimum of 100%. But there are intangible benefits too. As a standout, our proactive approach in pitching ideas and direction is what makes their lives easier. Also, our team is on hand to assist with HubSpot implementation and analysis.




Tom and Richella (Web & Ecomm Manager) let us know that, if it wasn’t for our inbound work, they wouldn’t have the time and resource to be able to hit their wider business goals.

For a sense of scale and a sign that the next phase of growth shows little sign of slipping*, we looked at how our inbound efforts have contributed to their most recent year of growth. At our recent yearly review meeting together, November saw us credited with influencing almost €800k worth of sales for 2018, up from €444k in 2017.




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