August 03, 2021
Case Study

Copywriting: Every word matters in these marketing case studies from AAA, a consultant, and a real estate company


Think about the most powerful moments in your life. You might have heard something like…

“I love you.” “It’s a girl.” Or simply “Yes.”

Mere words really.

But when those words communicate the right ideas, magic can happen.

And since marketing is just a reflection of life, the same is true for our campaigns. To help you communicate the right words to the right people in the right place, read on for examples from AI-powered content, a one-word change, and a localized landing page test.

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

Copywriting: Every word matters in these marketing case studies from AAA, a consultant, and a real estate company

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

The most powerful marketing technology wasn’t invented this year. Or last year. Or even last decade.

It was developed more than 5,000 years ago.

I’m referring to written language. Mere words.

When they are an accurate expression of a powerful value proposition, words are the most effective tool in your tech stack (learn more about this concept in Copywriting for Marketing Leaders: Why you should never delegate the marketing message and how to get it right).

In this article, we bring you three examples of the power of words – in descending order of complexity. First, how AAA tested content calls-to-action. Then, how a consulting company’s change of a single word drove impressive growth. And finally, how a real estate company improved conversion without changing any words – just their position on the landing page.

Quick Case Study #1: How AAA increased membership signups from content marketing 3X using AI

AAA Club Alliance was looking to amplify blog posts from its “The Extra Mile” content hub to attract more users, get them to spend more time onsite with the brand, and ultimately, grow its membership. The not-for-profit national member association used native advertising to drive visitors to its blog posts. The team tested nearly 4,000 permutations of these ads by analyzing various headlines, images, audience interests, and demographics. They adjusted the campaign in real-time to make sure the articles were reaching the transportation brand’s true target audience.

This campaign centered around 27 blog posts, a combination of evergreen content and timely solution-based travel information. The articles focused on a variety of topics, like:

  • How to detail your car at home
  • 6 minor repairs that can save you big bucks
  • 10 Most Scenic Roads to Drive in America
  • How to Maximize Your Home Appraisal Value
  • What Is The State of Flying During the Pandemic
  • APR vs Interest rates: do you know the difference?

AAA utilized an AI (artificial intelligence) platform to run 3,998 different ad variations across The Trade Desk, Yahoo and Taboola with each piece of content undergoing extensive analysis to identify a target audience that would be most likely to engage with the promoted blog posts. To find the most effective target audience, they analyzed each piece of content against a larger audience set:

  • Men and women living in Cincinnati (OH), Philadelphia (PA), Baltimore (MD), and Washington, D.C.
  • Ages 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64
  • Users on desktop and mobile devices (iOS and Android).
  • Interested in a variety of related topics including Personal Finance, Aging, Family and Parenting, Finance and Insurance Habits and Household and Life Stages

Using AI technology, the team determined the audiences most likely to engage with their blog:

  • Men living in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
  • Ages 25-34 and 55-64
  • Mobile users, using both iOS and Android
  • Self-identified a strong interest in Personal Finance, Finance & Insurance, Family and Relationships and Travel

The team engaged 106,688 people to garner 1,520 hours of active attention. The average engagement rate was 64.76% and the team was able to reduce cost-per-engagement by 70%.

But it wasn’t just the content promotion that helped drive this engagement. Since the primary goal was increasing brand affinity through increased time spent onsite, AAA AI-applied a “Related Stories” next action across each piece of content to keep people on the blog after they visited from the native advertising. After 15 seconds of engagement with each piece of content, the intelligent call-to-action triggered users to continue reading over a dozen related stories such as:

  • More guidance and tips to make the most of your hard-earned money
  • Activity ideas, life tips, money advice and more from AAA
  • What to do if you’re stuck inside
  • 8 things you should never use your credit card for

Creative Sample #1: AAA’s content with CTA

Creative Sample #1: AAA’s content with CTA

The five CTAs (calls to action) with the highest click-through rates were:

  • What to do if you’re stuck inside
  • Tax prep advice from the IRS
  • Home organization tips that will transform your space
  • 8 things you should never use your credit card for
  • How to detail your car at home

Creative Sample #2: Another example of AAA’s content with CTA

Creative Sample #2: Another example of AAA’s content with CTA

By gaining this deeper understanding of how the brand is resonating with consumers, AAA is also now able to focus on taking these key learnings and apply them to future content strategies for optimal engagement. “With this tech now embedded in our campaign, we can seamlessly drive users from one article to the next while identifying article trends, and audience insights,” said Scott Lugar, Chief Marketing Officer, AAA Club Alliance.

AAA drove a 20.96% next action clickthrough rate (22X increase) producing 139,000 incremental pageviews with an average session duration of 122.8 seconds (4X increase).

“Content marketing’s ROI challenge has been a key reason that most brands haven’t been able to scale up their content budgets. It’s easy to show clicks and impressions but the real question is what’s the business impact after someone has read the content and more importantly how to drive to that outcome,” said Peyman Nilforoush, CEO + Co-Founder, inPowered (AAA’s AI platform for content marketing).

To overcome that ROI challenge, in addition to testing CTAs to more content to get visitors to stay on the blog longer the team also tested CTAs for membership signup.

“We discovered that the call-to-action that helped us to not only increase brand affinity but also user engagement was: ‘Not a AAA member yet? Don’t miss exclusive benefits including roadside assistance & discounts.’ This insight has been even more valuable for our brand to learn given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and change in consumer trends; enabling us to leverage content to ultimately drive membership enrollments,” said Ben Young, Manager, Content & Publications, AAA Club Alliance.

“This strategy is something we’ve successfully carried with us into 2021 — we’ve actually been able to achieve nearly a 10% conversion rate of membership sign-ups from our ‘The Extra Mile’ content hub, 3X higher than any previous internal benchmarks, while also attracting a younger, more lucrative demographic than many of our other digital tactics,” he said.

Quick Case Study #2: Consultant increases sales 20% with one-word change

Part of Corner Marketing’s offering is working with its clients to help them manage their marketing agency partners. They measure performance and discover ways to lower costs and improve ROI. The small marketing consulting company used to call this service ‘Marketing Agency Oversight.’ Now they call it ‘Marketing Agency Management.’

Just by changing this one word in their campaigns and marketing collateral, the team saw a 30% increase in first-time inquires over a three-month period. After six months, sales had grown by almost 20%. Nothing about the offering changed.

When I asked why they thought this simple change had such a big impact, the team attributed it to the fact that the word oversight has another meaning that they overlooked when they first named this service. Oversight can also refer to ‘an unintentional failure to notice or do something.’ This negative connotation may have caused prospects to hesitate to engage.

Additionally, oversight implies supervision (as the team intended), but it doesn’t really have any implications about offering ideas for improvement and new strategies. ‘Management’ better encompasses the idea that the consultants are not only supervising, but also directing, deciding, strategizing, and ultimately controlling clients’ marketing agency partners. “Management is just a better word all around to describe the service we offer. This also led to more on-going consulting work and less one-time agency audits,” said Steve Kesselman, President, Corner Marketing.

This case study came in response to a query in which I said, “We are looking for marketing examples (with results) in which just changing a word or a few words created a different result – the power of effective copy!”

As a proof point for how easy it is to overlook the impact of small wording changes, Kesselman admitted to me, “Funnily and embarrassingly enough, I did not attribute our growth to this word change until I saw the query for this article and ran some reports surrounding the date of the change.”

Quick Case Study #3: Real estate company tests local landing page, reduces conversion rate 36% before discovering a 47% increase

Since Orchard services many different areas, the real estate company was not using localized content on its landing pages.

“For our Facebook ads, we had previously been directing all users to the same landing page,” said Graham Lesko, Manager, Growth Marketing, Orchard.

Creative Sample #3: Control landing page for real estate company

Creative Sample #3: Control landing page for real estate company

While the company saw solid performance with this tactic, the team hypothesized that making the landing page localized would lead to higher engagement and conversion. Their reasoning was that real estate is a local business and potential leads want to see market expertise.

For this test, they chose the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metro. They created a Dallas-specific page with a new local-focused header. They also added a local agent module and placed it high up on the page since they thought this would lead to more engagement. “To measure impact, we A/B tested this page against our control, splitting up Facebook traffic from the metro 50/50,” Lesko said.

Creative Sample #4: Dallas-Forth Worth landing page, Treatment #1 (with agent module at top)

Creative Sample #4: Dallas-Forth Worth landing page, Treatment #1 (with agent module at top)

The first variation of the DFW-specific page saw a 36% lower conversion rate (CVR) than the standard landing page.

“We still had confidence that a more local landing page could work,” Lesko said. So they moved the “How Orchard Works” section of the landing page to the top since this section highlights the company’s key value proposition and goes deeper into the process. “Our reasoning for moving this up higher is that our unique process helps us stand out amongst other brokerages, while our local expertise is more table stakes (i.e.: every brokerage has local agents),” he said.

Creative Sample #5: “How it works” section that was moved higher on landing page Treatment #2

Creative Sample #5: “How it works” section that was moved higher on landing page Treatment #2

The company saw a 108% higher CVR than the first variation of the DFW page by making this change and moving the local agent section lower.

Overall, the local page drove a 47% higher CVR than the control non-location-specific landing page.

“Our largest learning was that while local content is important in real estate marketing, it’s more impactful to lead with your brokerage's core value props first. As a real estate company, you’re competing with many local agents so it is important to differentiate yourself, then establish your expertise in the area second,” Lesko said.

Related Resources

Copywriting: 8 examples of successful marketing copy

Email Optimization: A single word change results in a 90% lift in sign-ups

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

Value Proposition Copywriting: 5 word pictures that got more people to buy

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