June 14, 2021
Case Study

Anti-Selfish Marketing Case Studies: 4 specific examples of focusing on what the customer gets


Sure…you need something from the customer.

Contact info…a click…a donation…a sale.

It’s all too easy to be selfish…to focus only on what your brand wants from the customer.

In this article we look at marketers taking the opposite approach.

Read on for examples of the San Francisco 49ers choice-based appreciation program, a recruiting firm’s data-rich content marketing, a nonprofit’s Facebook ad campaign that helped a targeted audience determine its cancer risk, and a social network’s A/B test winner that focused on what customers can get (instead of what the brand would like them to do).

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Anti-Selfish Marketing Case Studies: 4 specific examples of focusing on what the customer gets

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Quick Case Study #1: Social network generates 104% more leads with headline focused on what the customer gets

There are two ways to write a headline. You can focus on what you want customers to do. Or you can focus on what they can get.

MECLABS split tested email headlines and copy in an experiment with a social network for physicians (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa). The emails were aimed at companies that wanted to reach physicians.

Here is the copy for the emails that were tested (“X” stands in for the social network’s name):

Version A

Engage “X” for your physician social media strategy

Need to engage practicing physicians? Learn how to use “X” physician-only social media tools to conduct research and create product awareness.
Get started with a free 30-minute call.

Version B

“X” Gives You Immediate Access to Over 120,000 Doctors

“X” is the largest social network of verified US Physicians, representing 68 specialties. Physicians spend 35,000 hours per month on “X” discussing drugs, medical products and procedures…
See How “X” Works

Version B generated a 104% increase in conversion.

You can learn why Version B performed better, along with tips for improving your copy, in the MarketingExperiments video The Implied Value Proposition: Three ways to transform your sales copy (MarketingExperiments is the sister publication of MarketingSherpa).

Quick Case Study #2: Survey report nets 23,000 downloads from global niche IT recruiting firm’s website

Content may be free for customers to receive, it may be free to distribute if a company focuses on channels like social media and email…but truly high-quality content that provides real value to customers is certainly not free for a brand to produce. It requires an investment.

Frank Recruitment Group creates annual salary surveys. For the series of publications focused on the technology industry, the team surveys thousands of tech professionals and collates hundreds of thousands of data points.

Compiling the salary survey publications is a process that requires a huge investment in labor-hours, from the data validation team that scrutinizes the results to the designers who help create the publications.

And the investment pays off for the firm.

These guides are meant to be comprehensive resources that help its customers, but they’re also a cornerstone of the staffing and recruiting firm’s entire marketing strategy. The results influence the team’s content marketing, provide collateral for the social media team, and help generate earned media. For example, findings from the surveys are used on the company’s blog and have been cited in external publications as well.

They’re also a great conversation starter at events the team attends. Previously, it was a battle to make sure their booths were noticed in packed conference halls. Now people actively seek Frank Recruitment Group out to get the latest copy and speak to the team. More recently, the publications have been a driver to encourage attendance for virtual events.

Last year’s surveys were downloaded 23,000 times from the website and consultants shared them amongst their own contacts on 6,000 different occasions to start conversations.

This effort helped generate a 151% revenue increase over the last two years.

“Around 14% of the company’s deals are made directly as a result of our marketing, which is an incredible figure considering we have such a massive sales footprint,” said Kashif Naqshbandi, Chief Marketing Officer, Frank Recruitment Group. “We’ve created something that adds genuine value to our customers, and them using our marketing collateral as a day-to-day resource is huge for us as a business.”

“Look at ways you can provide your customers with something really useful through any marketing collateral you produce, and what you can get out of it beyond the initial impact. Don’t just produce things for the sake of it, there has to be both a short-term and long-term strategy behind what you’re doing, as well as a very clear benefit to your customer. We’ve produced these reports for several years now and we often have clients proactively getting in touch to ask when the next one is released, so we know that they rely on them. When people use and trust your marketing collateral to help guide them on a day-to-day basis, I think that’s as close to a priceless end result as you could ever wish for,” Naqshbandi said.

Quick Case Study #3: NFL’s San Francisco 49ers increase open rate of appreciation emails to 95% by letting customers decide what they want to receive

To help professional sports teams build strong relationships with fans and keep them coming back year after year, it’s common practice for teams to reward their most loyal supporters and season ticket holders with a gift at the end of the season. While traditionally gifts tend to be “one-size-fits-all” or a simple gift card, the San Francisco 49ers are now in their fifth season of sending an email with a link to a curated collection of gifts that fans can choose from.

They can select what gift they want from more than 400 brands. Gifts can also include donations to various charities and non-profit organizations including support for the team’s off-the-field efforts, by donating to The 49ers Foundation.

“If you actually look at our redemption rates, for example, the season ticket holder gift that we did this year, we got a 95% open rate on our emails. I think if you talk to any team across any sport, they would tell you that anything over a 50% open rate is unbelievably fantastic,” states Dustin Albertson, Director of Membership Service & Suite Activation, San Francisco 49ers.

“The 49ers have increased gift redemption by 85%. By giving their fans a wide array of items to choose from, they offered them the gift of choice, which in turn made them more inclined to redeem their gift,” said Sara Rodell, Founder, Loop & Tie (the 49ers’ choice-based gifting platform).

As the football team utilized the new approach more and more, Albertson and the team found that it drove more value and engagement than their loyalty program did. Subsequently, the 49ers shut down their loyalty program in 2018 and have solely focused on the new approach to reinforce the value of season ticket membership. About 55% of gift recipients send thank you notes to the team.

“You’re never going to make 20,000 people happy,” Albertson says. “But what I can tell you is if you give people the opportunity to make their own conscious decisions, they’re going to leave much happier than if we push something on them.”

Quick Case Study #4: Non-profit organization generates 2,555 leads from a $6,500 ad spend by providing a tightly targeted diagnostic quiz

What one customer values can be very different from what interests another customer. One way to overcome this gap is by offering your customers options, like the 49ers did in the previous case study.

But when you are looking to build a net new audience, it is important to get your message in front of the right people, to find the people that will truly benefit from what you can provide them. Such is the case when it comes to diagnosing the risk of a less well-known form of cancer.

Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) had previously run ‘lead generation’ Facebook ads that were designed for Facebook’s web traffic objective, sending people to register for various events and downloadable assets on its website. The team was unable to directly track what leads were driven from these ads but received 1,150 leads in nine weeks as a culmination of all of their efforts, including email marketing.

In the month of April, the nonprofit organization ran a Facebook lead generation campaign leading up to Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, to grow their network of bladder cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, researchers and physicians, and the bladder cancer community in general.

“We earned 1,650 leads in just four weeks, using precise smart bid tactics and specific targeting parameters, making use of Facebook’s custom list targeting to harness BCAN’s current list as well as a lookalike audience of that current network, on top of using Facebook’s demographic parameters to target people who are considered ‘at risk’ for bladder cancer diagnosis, such as firefighters and Vietnam veterans,” said Anna Easterbrooks, Digital Marketing Manager, CURA Strategies (BCAN’s marketing agency).

The team made use of a “real” image – a doctor with an orange ribbon for Bladder Cancer Awareness month – as opposed to an illustration or a visual with words. The ad also gave people something that would help them – an interactive download quiz about bladder cancer risk. The headline was a direct call-to-action/question – “Free Bladder Cancer Quiz: Are You At Risk?”

Creative Sample #1: Facebook ad for nonprofit organization

Creative Sample #1: Facebook ad for nonprofit organization

After four weeks, the cost per acquisition (CPA) was $2.42 and the total budget of $4,000 had been spent. Based on its success, the client asked the team to continue the advertising campaign, extending the total budget to $7,500.

The ads are continuing to run until they reach the total budget spend; here are the results as of Friday, May 21:

  • Leads: 2,555
  • CPA (cost per acquisition): $2.55
  • Spend: $6,500

“As a non-profit organization, we have a dual mission: we want to help end bladder cancer while simultaneously raising funds so that we can offer free resources to more patients and those who love them,” said Mark Story, Director of Communications and Marketing, Bladder Cancer Awareness Network.

“This lead generation campaign was remarkably effective. First, it enabled my organization to receive new names and contact information of people interested in learning more about bladder cancer, and it also helped raise awareness of the disease by encouraging people [to] take a bladder cancer risk assessment quiz. I would recommend this approach to any non-profit organization with finite resources looking to raise awareness of a cause or a disease.”

Related Resources

The Implied Value Proposition: Three ways to transform your sales copy

Customer-First Marketing Chart: How to get customers to give your company a second chance

Customer-First Marketing: The customer is always right … but not always right for your company

Guided by Buyers: Four tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy

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