ShipServ and one of the most interesting B2B social media case studies

b2b social media case studies

With many companies now engaged in social media marketing strategies for nearly two years or more, success stories are starting to emerge, even in the difficult marketing world of industrial B2B.  I discovered a great success story to share with you through a masters thesis being developed by Haakon Jenson of Norway.

The case exemplifies an integrated approach to CRM, customer research, SEO, web design, content development, and social media marketing that I think you’ll enjoy!


ShipServ is a leading e-marketplace in the maritime industry providing a portfolio of software, services and hosted applications designed to enable efficient global shipping.   Their core product TradeNet, an e-commerce platform connecting industry buyers and suppliers. Currently ShipServ serves 150 shipping companies managing 5,000 ships and approximately 30,000 suppliers. In 2008 the company turned to the social web to help them through several marketing challenges:

  • Image of being an impersonal software company.
  • Limited marketing budget and employee resources
  • Increase awareness of using eCommerce as a shipping solution — a big change for traditional customers
  • Customer base not early technology adopters. A survey showed 65% regarded the social web as a “distracting waste of time”


  • Drive 50% more traffic to website in three months
  • Raise awareness of brand throughout global shipping industry
  • Attract new sales leads through relevant content
  • Change focus from “shouting” at customers to “listening, engaging and inspiring”


The company began with research to find out where customers were receiving their information, their participation in the social web, information needs and the current “state of the conversation” for the ShipServ brand. Key discoveries included that there were very few online communities for their industry and that the mention of their brand was rare. Despite the fact that their historical customer base largely did not use the social web, they saw an opportunity to seize the lead and become a thought leader in their marketplace.

ShipServ partnered with an outside marketing firm and their CRM vendor to create an integrated social media plan that focused on leading the creation of an online community, developing outstanding content and using social media channels to drive new sales leads through their website.


> Conducted research to determine customer information needs and keyword themes.

> Revamped website to be more customer and content driven — New design was more easy-going and personal. Developed custom landing pages for groups of keywords used to find the company and specific calls to action based on individual customer needs.

> Created a blog that frequently featured their customers. They also used the blog as a way to establish conversations in the industry.

> Established “scorecard” through their CRM system to track lead nurturing progress. All reactions and visitor behavior was examined for possible sales leads.

> Developed quarterly content plan based on themes established from research. Content was leveraged and re-purposed in various ways across all the social media sites.

> Promoted original content through variety of social media channels, which were used as “beacons” to drive traffic back to the main website. These channels included:blog, e-newsletter, Twitter, light-hearted videos, podcasts, Facebook and LinkedIn.

> A series of valuable white papers (like 10 Essentials of Online Marketing in the Shipping Industry) were created and promoted through the social channels, website and newsletter, resulting in 1,000 downloads in seven months.

> Established online industry community by creating a group on LinkedIn. The company introduced this forum to both shipping company suppliers and procurement professionals and had 863 members as of last week.  Content for the community was developed based on the initial research of user needs and included research, surveys, and of course content re-purposed from other sources.

> Search engine optimization campaign, including keyword content planning.



  • Website visitors increased by 59 %
  • Pageviews increased by 70 %
  • Average time on site increased by 25 %
  • Generated over 1,000 downloads of a white paper


  • 378 members in the ShipServ Maritime Network group on LinkedIn
  • 300 visitors to the blog
  • Over 600 views of the company videos
  • LinkedIn and Twitter have gone from zero to the top 20 traffic sources

Business statistics

  • Increased contact-to-lead (landing page contact) conversion by 150%
  • Increased lead-to-opportunity conversion by 50%
  • Decreased campaign management costs by 80%
  • Increased the number of sales-ready leads by 400%
  • Measurable increase in brand awareness

Break-even on the $30,000 social marketing media investment was achieved in three months. The company estimated the results they achieved would have cost $150,000 through traditional media.

What are your thoughts on ShipServ’s project?

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