In order to improve customer relationships at the top of the funnel, Airstream wanted to rework their homepage and newsletter to better reflect the lifestyle nature of their brand. This meant improving lead generation by developing and focusing on lifestyle content.
Read how Airstream was able to energize conversion paths through promoting lifestyle and persona-driven content.
Luxury travel trailer and touring coach manufacturer Airstream is an iconic American brand and, thus, has a very broad consumer base, according to Steven Hileman, Consumer Experience Marketing Manager, Airstream.
“It has a very long tenure in the marketplace. People still associate it with old pre-war aerospace — with the iconic silver bullet design. Silver bullet is a connotation people often use. That said, the brand has evolved as we move into modern day, where vintage and authentic experiences are cool. It allows us to stay relevant,” he said.
The brand remains very authentic and connected to those roots, he added.
“We’re a small, low-volume niche of the RV industry but the oldest RV manufacturer still in operation today and one of the most recognized brands, obviously, in the marketplace,” he said.
“Part of the beautiful benefit of having an iconic brand is people,” Hileman said. “We’ve always had pretty healthy traffic on our website. While we’ve done better in recent years, we weren’t necessarily short of traffic.”
The challenge, though, came in the form of how to improve and not become complacent. Hileman and his team wanted to fully utilize the natural resources of the brand.
“How do we take all this organic traffic that we are getting [and] do a better job of converting that traffic into new contacts we can nurture — or sales leads for our dealer channel?” he asked.
“[This effort was] a combination of us realizing we had this good thing in the traffic we were getting and figuring out how to make that good thing a better thing,” Hileman said.
Beginning in the summer of 2016, Hileman and his team launched efforts to evolve both landing pages and the Airstream newsletter to get more consumers at the top of the funnel qualified.
“We were getting traffic. We were generating sales leads. It’s not like we weren’t generating them. But, we were definitely skipping an entire portion of the funnel and not doing as much near the top of the funnel as we could have,” he said.
Step #1. Root out areas that need updating
The team needed content that would appeal to people who were higher up in the funnel, Hileman said. They addressed this by developing gated, lifestyle-centered ebooks as well as revamping the Airstream newsletter to be a conduit for this content.
“We’ve had a newsletter for probably four years, but we realized that there needed to be some higher incentives inside of them,” he said.
As the team spent a year and half developing that deeper content, they also decided to review landing pages and begin A/B testing to see if they could better convert people.
“We looked at which ones had the higher traffic volumes … and we started just moving copy around, moving the form on the left side versus the right side, what happens if you have an image header versus text header,” he said.
Once the results of tests came in, the winning changes were implemented as best practices across the board. For example, in one test, they discovered that including a picture of the cover of the ebook resulted in much higher conversion rates than just a text-heavy page.
“[The change] makes sense. Most people like looking at images, but … we thought that images would distract from people actually filling out forms. It actually encouraged them because it gave them a better idea of what they were about to download,” he said.
However, in another test, he said they discovered that video headers on a landing page distracted people from converting and “actually had a pretty dramatic decrease in conversion rate.”
One revamped project was the “Build Your Own Touring Coach” tool. Hileman said that it wasn’t very popular early on, but they effectively made it popular.
A test run 5.6% CTR increase from the test on Airstream’s Touring Coach product page resulted in a 24,000% increase in traffic to Airstream’s “Build Your Own Touring Coach” tool.
The variation on that test added a prominent call-to-action to the page that took users to the “Build Your Own” tool. The control did not have a call-to-action, “meaning the only way users could navigate the tool was through the sub-navigation or on other pages throughout the site,” he said.
The test attempted to determine if:
The team also looked at brochure download conversion rates and decided to treat the brochure download CTA as an in-text page navigation link.
The winning variant transformed it into a button, and that change resulted in a 13% increased lead rate.
“Our brochure landing pages used to be pretty much our primary, only gated page, so any increase on that was substantial, because that’s where a large volume went,” Hileman said.
This change has not yet been implemented site-wide, he said, but will soon be in effect over 11 pages on all primary Airstream product pages.
Step #2. Create compelling content to fill gaps
When it came to creating content, the team had to audit what they already had, understand what needed to be modernized or reworked, and figure out what gaps needed to be covered with new content.
According to Hileman, new content they created included guides — such as “Road Trips Across the U.S.” and “Farms & Wineries” — as well as ebooks like “Why Airstream?”
The latter piece of content displays the craftsmanship and quality of Airstream, display standards and options for products.
The ebook strategy was about evolving content to be very targeted so that the team wasn’t promoting one generic piece of gated content for all customers. Instead, they wanted multiple pieces that would each appeal separately to a different persona.
“It was — let’s approach this from a road trips guide and a guide to farms and wineries, which appeals to our more premium luxury buyer — and then some product detail guides that appeal to that more technical utility buyer who really wants to know every last detail about the product,” Hileman said.
Step #3. Revamp newsletter to reflect content changes
Another part of this effort was to revamp the monthly Airstream newsletter so that it was in line with the newly developed content.
The newsletter used to be in a format that simply pushed repurposed blog posts. Now, there is a balance of content and product information, according to Hileman. There is also a shift in focus to lifestyle.
The newsletter had a simple email template with five buckets within it and ran five links to blog articles every month. The team decided to transition from five to eight slots for content, Hileman said.
“There are four spots in there that are sort of fixed recurring content pieces,” he said, describing a “Things We Love” category for the newsletter as well as slots for other recurring campaigns, including “Endless Caravan” — which tells the stories of customers using their Airstreams.
“Then, we fill in those other spaces with those sort of extra blog pieces that we were featuring before; it gave us just a much better venue and a more consistent venue to communicate on a monthly basis, sharing an update about Airstream and what’s top of mind for the company and for the brand,” he said.
The team also made it easier for customers to sign up for the newsletter, which used to be challenging, according to Hileman. Since the content was revamped and expanded, this led to signing up for the newsletter to be used as a call-to-action for a significantly expanded number of first-touch assets.
“The pop-up scroll box happens on most of our lifestyle upper-funnel pages, prompting people to become a contact for the newsletter,” he said.
“We had built a lot of value in the traffic and the content of our digital presence. I think, until this, we had underestimated the benefit of small, incremental revisions for the site, because those require investments,” Hileman said.
This proved to him and his team that “even small changes, when optimized correctly, and even when the conversion rate may only change a few percentage points over time — especially with good traffic — can increase your volume of contacts substantially.”
These initially small changes have added up to be “a bit of a windfall for us from a contact and contact nurture perspective because we’ve really been able to help fill the top of the funnel much more effectively than we ever have before.”
The results the Airstream team has seen from this effort are:
“We’ve got a lot in the works,” Hileman said, adding that on the heels of this success, the team is looking to implement more advanced techniques.
The team is expanding into more targeted content strategies and leveraging personas. From there, they are using those strategies to create a higher quality lead to pass along to the dealer channel.
“It’s a more holistic view of our digital presence and activity, but we’re at that point now where we’re really having to look at it from a big picture perspective and go back in and make small adjustments to improve the overall experience for consumers,” he said.
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