Increasing your market share in the
digital age

With a successful proof of concept, Toyota Material Handling Europe rolled out the Inbound strategy in multiple markets. The result in the Netherlands: +200% online MQLs.

Toyota Material Handling Europe is determined to increase its market share by engaging potential and existing customers in the digital age. This case study shows a snapshot of Toyota Material Handling as of mid-2017, and how they successfully implemented the Inbound marketing strategy in the European organization.


Toyota Material Handling: from Japan to Europe

It was the year 1926 when Sakichi Toyoda founded the Toyoda Loom Works (now Toyota Industries Corporation) after successfully developing a weaving machine. Roughly three decades later, the first counterbalanced forklift was introduced by Toyota. Today, Toyota is the world's largest manufacturer of material handling equipment.

The European headquarters houses the R&D, Manufacturing, Corporate Functions and Sales and Marketing departments. Each market (each country) is run by a Managing Director and a Sales, Marketing, Rental & Used, Service & Logistics Solutions Director. They make independent decisions regarding local strategy. And they are good at it: Toyota Material Handling has a very strong position in the European market.

The challenge

Toyota Material Handling's focus was on increasing their market share in the digital age by engaging and retaining both potential and existing customers online. This included adapting to the changing ways customers orient and purchase, with a focus on providing high quality information and service online.

The solution

The development of a digital strategy aimed at improving online presence and strengthening customer relationships through digital channels. This strategy included the implementation of advanced digital marketing techniques and tools to improve interaction with both potential and existing customers and reach them more effectively.

Toyota Material Handling

Doing business with a generation that can no longer be sold to

The way customers orient and purchase today is changing. Toyota too realizes that potential buyers are increasingly researching products online. Each prospect goes through a unique buying process, shortlisting solutions and providers. This important eye-opener caused Toyota Material Handling's European headquarters to ask itself two key questions.

The first question was, "How can we continue to serve and engage the part of the market we already do business with - our customers?" And the second question was, "How can we reach the part of the market that we currently have no contact with?"

To maintain its position as a solution provider and European market leader, European headquarters decided to guide the organization into the "digital age. The goal: to bind and captivate both existing and potential customers - by offering them high quality information and service - thus creating a rock-solid brand online and offline.

This case study shows a snapshot of Toyota Material Handling from mid-2017, and how they successfully rolled out the Inbound strategy to the European organization.

"'Online' is becoming increasingly important. We wanted to make more impact with Marketing and realize more qualified leads through digital channels." - Marc Maureaux, Brand Manager of Toyota Material Handling Europe

Change management in an enterprise organization

The changing behavior of prospects forced Toyota to scrutinize its commercial approach. In addition, headquarters set itself the goal of providing the best possible support to the teams in the 23 markets (countries) in which Toyota Material Handling operates in terms of structure, tooling and making key decisions regarding the new commercial strategy.

Initially, Toyota Material Handling Europe decided to hire more people in the Sales team in order to drive new business development. However, they quickly realized that Marketing also had to play an important role in bringing in more qualified leads.

Marc Maureaux, Brand Manager of Toyota Material Handling Europe: "We want to engage both new and existing customers with stories that add value. This is why the Inbound (Marketing) strategy suits us very well. After all, this approach reasons from the outside in. Our goal is to be extremely relevant to our target audience at all times, and thus attract a group of people to us who would like to do business with us."

Marc is very aware of the scope of this project within an organization like Toyota Material Handling. Marc: "Unlike smaller organizations, when a decision is made, we cannot suddenly start doing things differently from tomorrow. We are a large organization and have to move within existing structures. It was therefore unrealistic to think that we could start making major changes Europe-wide. We decided to go for an approach that allowed us to realize a proof of concept from a pilot."

Finally, the organization's online presence was also a key focus. Marc: "'Online' is becoming increasingly important. We wanted to make more impact with Marketing and realize more qualified leads through digital channels. Therefore, the new online webshop and new website were an important starting point. From there we rolled out the Inbound strategy further."

Structuring people, processes and technology

The European headquarters was determined to slowly roll out the Inbound strategy to attract more prospects through online.

To achieve this, creating structure is crucial. Marc: "We are a decentralized organization. So we don't interfere too much with how each individual market operates. Still, it was very important to facilitate and support offices in all countries as much as possible in executing their plans. Only when you have solid process - we call it an 'Inbound Playbook' - can we enable each market to implement the Inbound strategy independently."

The key challenge in this was providing the right resources. Marc: "Yes, we are a large organization, but that does not directly mean that we have large teams per market. Efficiency is a key word for us. In addition, we wanted each market to be able to start creating their own insight into how successful they were in applying the Inbound strategy. Are we seeing an upward trend in website visitors and qualified leads emerging over time?"

In addition, Toyota Material Handling headquarters wanted digital touchpoints to be connected, the right audience to enjoy a personalized experience on digital channels, and prospects to receive support based on their unique preferences. Achieving this required a new set of tools for Marketing and Sales, where data about leads, prospects and customers comes together."

Rule of thumb when transforming the internal organization: start small! When you add value you create positive "word of mouth" and others want to become part of it.

Think big, start small

The team at Toyota Material Handling Europe decided to power its Inbound marketing strategy with HubSpot Marketing Automation software.

Some key milestones in executing plans:
  • Establish a steering committee that sets the main direction and structure, and acts as a facilitator in implementing Inbound and HubSpot in other European countries;

  • Introduce a procedure that facilitates the rollout of Inbound (an "Inbound Playbook") for all countries eager to launch their first Inbound campaigns;

  • Provide structure to how countries report and share results;

  • Set central KPIs and establish a KPI structure for Marketing;

  • Determine and equalize definitions of leads (what is a lead, a Marketing Qualified Lead, a Sales Qualified Lead?);

  • Establish Buyer Personas, to better understand the wants and needs of the potential customer;

  • Defining a lead scoring methodology;
Marc: "We start small. This is because we believe that when countries share even their very smallest successes with the rest of the organization, it will lead to positive word of mouth. Colleagues in other countries will recognize that other teams are taking a new approach that allows potential customers to receive more than product-only information. When you add real value, others want to become part of this."

Another important eye-opener for Toyota Material Handling was to enlist the help of a local Sales and Marketing expert. Marc: "To implement the Inbound strategy in a large organization like ours, HubSpot recommended that we talk to Webs: a Dutch party that helps B2B companies improve the commercial process online, and also a Diamond HubSpot partner. We immediately recognized that Webs takes a very hands-on, pragmatic approach. They prove that they really understand "Inbound" - seeing things from the customer's perspective. We could appreciate that right from day one.

Webs helped us with steering at the European level. Locally, they helped implement the Inbound strategy at our office in the Netherlands. Webs showed us how to do things, how the Inbound methodology can be applied in practice, and made everything fit our needs. They are not tooling, but company-driven! I feel I am in good hands with Webs - their team is constantly helping and supporting us in the background."

"We are very happy to have chosen Webs to accompany us in our 'Inbound journey'. In addition to steering at the European level, they help us implement things at the local level. We can count on a strong team providing us with support, so we are in good hands." -Marc Maureaux, Brand Manager of Toyota Material Handling Europe

A successful proof of concept

Toyota Material Handling is working hard to implement the new Inbound approach in the European organization. Important results so far are:
  • A successful proof of concept: HubSpot and Inbound Marketing are up and running in the Netherlands, France, Sweden and Finland;

  • Spain, Denmark and other markets are exploring whether to adopt Inbound Marketing and HubSpot as well;

  • Thanks to the Inbound Playbook, a good structure is now in place to measure quality leads and move them from Marketing to Sales;

  • Generating more traffic, more good leads and more concrete requests.

What are important challenges for the future?

The European headquarters is happy to see that more and more countries are successful in implementing the Inbound strategy: results in traffic, leads and concrete requests are promising so far. The next major challenge for the steering committee is to connect data points, and to master the art of Marketing Automation even better. Marc: "We are already able to automate activities based on behavior. We can now further focus on user experience and further applying a customer-first mindset in the organization.

We are currently working on a KPI structure to help the different markets report on the right metrics. Finally, we want to further increase efficiency in the collaboration between Marketing and Sales teams."

Marc: "Of course, our market (countries) each have their own unique characteristics and approach. We can learn a lot from each other. However, there is no single solution that is applicable to every market. Needless to say, we are really on a journey of discovery here. We have made some important steps that we are proud of - and there are also many improvements to be made. I am confident that we will succeed in increasing our market share in the digital age!"