Your potential customers are served a nearly limitless amount of information…every…single…day.
So how do you break through the noise?
In this article, we bring you specific examples to spark your next great attention-grabbing idea. Read on for examples from NHS, collegiate sports marketing, and an online provider of auto parts.
This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
“Until you win attention, nothing else you say matters,” Flint McGlaughlin taught in Headline Writing: 4 principles that could drive down your website bounce rate.
In that session, the CEO of MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa shows you how to win customers’ attention once they get to your website.
You need to win attention on your landing pages, and you also need to win attention out in the wilds of the marketplace to attract prospects to your website.
In this article, we’ll give you three ideas for how to do that. First up, a re-branding campaign for a large collegiate sports marketing company. Then, how an auto parts company used personalized recommendation emails. And finally, a hyper-specific pay-per-click (PPC) campaign for England’s National Health Service (NHS).
M&A – mergers and acquisitions – this is the stuff finance folks live for.
However, once the financial and business infrastructure has been taken care of, it’s up to us marketers to step up and help tell the story of the newly formed company. Here is a specific example to help you with your own M&A branding, rebranding, and debranding efforts.
Endeavor Group Holdings was formed by the merger of William Morris Agency (which had previously acquired IMG) and Endeavor Talent Agency. Learfield Communications was managed by Atairos Group.
There was many more mergers and acquisitions dating back to 1972, but then… skip ahead, skip ahead… Endeavor-owned IMG College merged with Learfield Communications to create a new organization with a long history – Learfield IMG College.
Jennifer Davis joined the company in March 2021 as the company’s first CMO in its 50 years. “I used my experience at companies like Amazon Web Services, Honeywell, Planar, and Intel to think about what was needed,” she said.
She spent time with stakeholders from across the organization, wrote an operational plan for the year, and solicited and received lots of feedback.
Part of that operating plan was a hard look at the brand. “Learfield IMG College was a living monument to a merger a few years previous. It was a mouthful, easily confused with an educational institution or myriad businesses still owned and operated by IMG,” Davis said.
The message the logo communicated was “we are a merger of Learfield and IMG’s college businesses.”
Creative Sample #1: Previous logo – Learfield IMG College
Research, reflection, and planning resulted in a rebrand of the company. The team simplified it to LEARFIELD and, through a collaborative, inclusive process, created a new logo and visual identity, which they rolled out in July 2021.
Throughout the rollout, the team stress-tested the approach. “I am a big believer in the pre-mortem, something I detail in my book, Well Made Decisions. In this process, you gather vital stakeholders before execution to brainstorm ways that results will not be achieved and deduce the reasons why. Once you ‘worst-case scenario’ the strategy, you can think to judge the risk of each and mitigate it. Often in these sessions, you find that a lack of internal alignment or communications might threaten results, which allows you to address that proactively before it causes damage to the campaign or the business. It is helpful to start campaigns and marketing initiatives with a list of documented assumptions and ‘triggers’ at which you will revisit the plans,” she said.
The team relied on an external agency and other recently conducted research for the brand redesign work. An internal and external joint creative ideation process resulted in hundreds of potential creative directions, and in the end, the new logo was designed in-house.
The new logo is intended to communicate “we are one company, earning the business of our partners day-in-and-day-out. Not just on game days but every day. We are the front door to college sports.”
David said the new logo was selected because it was bold, memorable, had movement/momentum, and was strong enough to use for endorsed logos of affiliate businesses (see Creative Sample #3 below). It was broad enough in scope to encompass other lines of business the company might start.
The icon in the logo features what the team calls an “active-L.” It is made of two stylized graphic elements: a number one and a college pennant. These are meant to speak to the responsibility the company has to put partners first and the space in which they play.
Creative Sample #2: New logo – LEARFIELD
The company also has affiliate entities embedded with universities and colleges all over the country. The team introduced a lock-up logo treatment that emphasized the school affiliation while also positioning LEARFIELD as the company with resources and expertise behind the local team.
The new logo was designed in a monochrome color scheme to take on different colorways as the company partnered with these schools.
Creative Sample #3: Use of new logo with a partner – the University of Alabama Crimson Tide Sports Marketing
In partnership with key vendors, the team rolled out a branded gear and apparel store, stationary, and began the work of rebadging buildings and offices across the country. They used internal and external creative for the related campaign to build the new corporate website, campaign graphics, content, and related media.
Internal strategies included a keynote at the annual company conference and a series of internal communications to equip everyone as a brand ambassador. To support those conversations, the team advertised in leading sports and business publications.
“The longest part was the process of renaming our LinkedIn page to the new brand, but with a lot of effort, we made that happen,” Davis said. “LinkedIn does not let you delete a company page if too many followers or employees are on that page. Because we had a previously abandoned ‘Learfield’ handle, we had to move people off that before we could change our main handle from ‘Learfield IMG College’ to ‘LEARFIELD.’”
The move required the close participation and support of the LinkedIn service teams and a lot of manual follow-up with former employees, freelance on-air broadcast staff, and others who claimed affiliation with old company pages.
The rebranding campaign became very closely tied to a rolling effort to educate the market. Davis realized that while the company had a lot of talented B2C (business-to-consumer) marketers (essentially delivering the company’s services), they did not focus on B2B (business-to-business) marketing to attract decision-makers. “Later last summer, we welcomed a new chief revenue officer, John Brody, whose experience in professional leagues and teams brought a new perspective and chances for collaboration,” Davis said.
In August, the team went directly from the rebrand to promoting the inaugural LEARFIELD Intercollegiate Fan report. “For that report, we had media outreach that resulted in coverage in Sports Business Journal, Sportico, and Forbes, to name a few,” Davis said.
The team also ran advertisements aimed at brands that invest in sports marketing to raise the visibility of the value of the college sports fan. They were infographic in nature with a “did you know?” style messaging format.
Creative Sample #4: Ad with new branding
After the campaign launch, the team saw traffic to the website increase tenfold, and conversions increase more than 50 percent. They saw increased brand consistency in the market, including how the company was referenced in media mentions and how the employee base of more than 2,000 employees referred to the company, which has a lasting impact on the team’s brand-building activities.
CarParts.com is an online auto parts and accessories retailer with more than one million SKUs (stock keeping units). The ecommerce site’s goal is to help everyday drivers get back on the road by making it simple and convenient to shop for auto parts online. They’ve streamlined shopping experiences by making it easy for customers to find the best parts, at the lowest price, and have them shipped to their door.
The team had been sending batch-and-blast email campaigns but wanted to extend the seamless experience from the website to the email channel by personalizing products and content based on each user’s vehicle type along with historical and real-time site behaviors.
The team engaged in A/B and multivariate testing to ensure each user receives the most effective treatment. They automated testing and optimization of every component in their campaigns, including templates, subject lines, recommendations, and more. Here’s an example test.
The team measures engagement by increased click-through-rate (CTR) on email campaigns. Historically, they included generic offers in all emails that were chosen based on overall popularity.
Creative Sample #5: Control email (pre-personalization)
The team hypothesized that if they used a recommendation engine to create personalized offers from the site’s product catalog for all customers, they would be able to increase engagement. They ran an A/B test to measure the impact.
"Personalization to me is all about sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time. At CarParts.com, we view vehicles as an extension of the individual and align our marketing campaigns around that combination,” said Houman Akhavan, Chief Marketing Officer, CarParts.com.
Creative Sample #6: Top of treatment email template (real-time personalization)
Creative Sample #7: Middle of treatment email template (real-time personalization)
The personalized recommendation campaign generated a 400 percent CTR improvement when compared to the most popular overall (i.e., generic) recommendations. The team rolled this learning out across all their existing campaigns.
“We’ve seen that customers across the globe reward brands that individualize their experiences with increased engagement which ultimately leads to increased revenue and brand loyalty,” said Josh Francia, Chief Growth Officer, Blueshift (CarParts.com’s marketing platform).
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust runs large teaching hospitals in London offering learning opportunities to healthcare professionals from the United Kingdom (UK) as well as overseas. The institution is part of King’s Health Partners, an academic health science center.
The institution generates leads for its Visiting Professional Programmes (VPP) and promotes conferences and events.
The team at the NHS were relying solely on organic traffic to generate new leads for their medical training practices.
Due to the natural domain authority of the website, organic search ensured UK-based healthcare professionals were finding the website – however, the conversion rate for inquiries was at a low 0.21 percent.
Although relevant traffic was finding the site, it was hard to reach the desired international audiences and they were essentially missing out on huge portions of high-intent healthcare professionals searching for training opportunities from overseas.
The team knew that efforts to improve the conversion rate were an essential part of a campaign to improve performance in the UK, but there was huge potential in targeting different countries across Europe, The Middle East, and Africa.
They decided to combine PPC with CRO (conversion rate optimization) to boost the performance across all target countries. The goal was to ensure high levels of traffic found the website, whilst the post-click experience for target personas helped them find the information they were looking for with a simple process to submit an inquiry.
At the start of the campaign, the team used online databases to understand the demographics of potential audiences from overseas. Once target personas were identified, the campaign was built to ramp up visibility for a range of high intent searches in areas of India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar and more.
Using geotargeting campaigns set up for each region (Europe, The Middle East, and Africa) the team could run highly targeted ad copy highlighting the benefits of learning abroad. They then weighted budgets based on the highest-performing locations – for example, India, which provided the most sign-ups outside the UK.
“Geo-targeting was the key to all success on these campaigns,” said Matt Daley, CMO, Circulate (the NHS’ digital marketing agency). “If you understand your customer demographics, you can develop strategies to ring-fence customers in areas that are more likely to need your products or services.”
To ensure the ad copy was relevant to each location, the team made sure to include a mention of the location they were targeting. For example, “We Need Indian Clinicians” as well as a call to action “Apply For An NHS Education” to personalize the ads and help drive up CTR.
Creative Sample #7: Targeted PPC ad
The team also included sitelink extensions to the most popular areas—for example, “Anesthetics VPP” or “Psychology VPP.” This allowed the ads to take up more of the search results page and simplified the journey to the conversion goal.
The use of keyword insertion into some of the ad copy allowed the team to improve ad relevance and reach optimum quality scores, by ensuring ads were as close to the searches being made as possible.
To optimize the budget, the team weighted bids based on device type. They noticed that the landing page experience on mobile devices was poor and that most conversions were completed through desktop. So, they applied bid adjustments to bid more on traffic through desktop and less for mobile devices, so the ads showed to those most likely to convert.
Through consistent analysis of both demographics and location-based conversion data, campaigns were consistently fine-tuned to maximize inquiries. This hyper-targeted advertising approach, when combined with landing page adjustments, saw the overall inquiries rise by 256 percent.
“The VPP campaign targets doctors and health care professionals in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region who wish to learn from NHS workers through clinic attachments and observerships. The precise targeting in Middle Eastern countries led to a significant surge in our overall applications,” said Claire Jackson, Events Marketer, NHS.
Inbound Marketing: 15 tactics to help you earn attention organically
Attracting the Customer’s Attention: 3 quick B2C marketing case studies of a brand refresh, A/B tests for PPC landing pages, and an XR immersive experience
What do you lead with? (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #4) – from our previous podcast
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