I started my career as an advertising creative. And let’s face it, us creatives love creativity.
But results are what actually pay the bills. And when it comes to marketing results, it can often payoff for the brand to just be clear to the customer instead of trying to be clever.
To get your creative brain thinking about how you can produce clear marketing messages for your brand and clients, today we bring you the following five quick case studies.
Read on for examples from an insurance industry company, online bow tie store, software company, travel company, and educational and networking website for actuaries.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
A large Canadian organization that offers travel medical insurance engaged MECLABS Institute to help increase total conversions (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).
The original landing page took what one might call a “clever” approach. For example, the headline was “You can’t be too careful.”
Creative Sample #1: Original travel medical insurance landing page (anonymized)
The MECLABS team hypothesized that a clear approach would be more effective and created a treatment with the headline “Our Travel Medical Insurance has provided peace of mind for over 35 years.”
Creative Sample #2: Treatment travel medical insurance landing page (anonymized)
After testing the original (control) against the new landing page (treatment) in an A/B split test, the MECLABS team discovered that the clear approach generated 330% more conversions.
You can learn more about this experiment, and see other experiments with clear marketing messages, in Clarity Trumps Persuasion: 5 examples where clarity soundly beat out persuasion tactics from MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister publication).
Shane Dutka, CEO, ShaneDutka.com was an accountant by day who wanted to start an online business to break out of the 9-to-5 corporate monotony. He started The Bow Tie Guy because he thought bowties were a good niche with high profit margins.
“My inexperience is reflected in my fuzzy marketing,” Dutka said looking back. The website's tab title was simply “The Bow Tie Guy | Bow Tie Company and Community” and the first thing visitors read was “Let's Grow Your Collection Today.”
Creative Sample #3: Online bowtie store’s previous website
After the business was launched, Shane built a better customer understanding with A/B split testing, surveys, and heat maps.
“Heat maps, specifically Hotjar, helped us see which blog post titles, page elements and buttons site visitors were clicking and looking at most often. Where the A/B split test data was broad and big-picture, the heat maps were granular and highly precise,” Dutka said.
From the testing, surveys, and heatmaps, he learned that customers looked for a number of specific product features – they liked handmade bowties that kept their knots all day, and they also liked premium quality products.
So he changed the tab title and homepage’s main headline to “Handmade Bowties Designed to Keep a Full Knot All Day.”
Creative Sample #4: Online bowtie store’s new homepage
He also added sections on the page to emphasize the high quality of the bowties by explaining the bow tie’s silk weight, interlining, and adjuster systems.
Creative Sample #5: Online bowtie store homepage section explaining product’s high quality
“Clarifying my marketing message helped me go from taking losses to breaking even and then selling my website for a profit! I ended up selling it for $15,000,” Dutka said.
Now that he has more experience under his belt (and bow tie), Dutka understands the importance of a clear marketing message to the business plan. “Start planning your marketing message as early as possible; preferably before you start building your business,” he advises. “Find what people want to hear/see/feel first...then see how you can build a business/market your current business by addressing this desire with your marketing messages. If you can do this, your marketing will be ultra-clear and highly effective.”
Prior to COVID-19, it took PCS Advisers 121 outreaches from its call center to set an appointment. Its email marketing had a 28% open rate and a 4% response rate.
“Our results are uniquely high in our space and we have always attributed that to clear and specific messaging about what we can do for our prospects,” said Paul C. Seegert, Managing Partner, PCS Advisers.
Prior to marketing to a prospect, a data team researches the company's public 5500 filings for its health and welfare/retirement plans. The team spends 40 hours researching a campaign of 1,000 leads. Their job is to determine how the company’s spending in this area compares to both national averages and PCS Advisers’ client averages. Once they have this information, they then calculate how much the prospect can lower their employee benefits costs.
“This becomes the basis for the messaging [instead of] a more generalized and less believable message that is more common in our space. For example, most messaging will reference how new clients save 30% on average. Our research of prospects told us that they simply don't believe this kind of messaging,” Seegert said.
Creative Sample #6: Phone/voicemail script for insurance industry company
Hi_____________, This is Paul Seegert calling with ___________. We haven’t met. I’ve reviewed your 5500 and am calling to let you know that you can lower your non-cash compensation costs by more than ___________ this year. As soon as it makes sense for you, I would like to offer to jump on a web meeting so we can share some case studies and best practices with you where we have gotten these results for other companies your size - if you’re open to that. Are you available (date and time)?
Creative Sample #7: Email for insurance industry company – first in a series of eight
I just left you a voicemail after reviewing your 5500. By applying supply chain management to your non-cash compensation, it can be reduced by more than $X. I would like to share some case studies and best practices to show exactly how we can move these dollars from your SG&A to earnings. Are you available for 30 minutes in the next few weeks?
“Once COVID/sheltering hit, we saw all of our numbers go to zero. This was another opportunity to address what is going on directly (clarity). Prospects were thinking, ‘are you really trying to sell me something during COVID?’” Seegert said.
“For the telemarketing/voicemail we made a small adjustment – mentioning that we realize these are unusual times and that's the reason for our call,” Seegert said. The emails included Gartner data about the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.
Creative Sample #8: New phone/voicemail script for insurance industry company
Hi_____________, This is Paul Seegert calling with ___________. We haven’t met and I realize that these are very unusual times. In fact, that is the reason for my call. I’ve reviewed your 5500 and am calling to let you know that you can lower your non-cash compensation costs by more than ___________ this year. As soon as it makes sense for you, I would like to offer to jump on a web meeting so we can share some case studies and best practices with you where we have gotten these results for other companies your size - if you’re open to that. Are you available (date and time)?
Creative Sample #9: New email for insurance industry company – first in a series of eight
According to a recent survey by Gartner, 62% of CFOs are planning SG&A cuts due to the COVID-19 disruption. I just called after reviewing your 5500 to let you know that you can lower your non-cash compensation costs $X this year - and move those dollars from SG&A to earnings. I would like to share some case studies and best practices with you as soon as it makes sense. Are you available in the coming weeks for a brief web meeting?
“After making adjustments to both our phone and email messaging our results went to the best I have ever seen on the telemarketing side and back to respectable levels on the email campaign. We had to handle the current situation directly and clearly,” Seegert said.
The new telemarketing script was able to arrange one booked appointment for every 65 calls. And the new emails generated a 22% open rate and 2% response rate.
“Do your homework in advance so that your messaging can be relevant and specific to each prospect,” Seegert said. “When the target can tell that you are not hitting them with a mass marketing message they stop and pay attention. This literally can make all the difference.”
ProActuary is a networking and education website for actuaries. The email newsletter signup copy was the same generic copy you see on a lot of websites – “Join the ProActuary Newsletter.” It garnered a 3% conversion rate.
Creative Sample #10: Original email newsletter signup for actuary website
Realizing there was no process-level value proposition, the site’s founder changed the email signup form to highlight what people would get by subscribing to the newsletter. The headline read “Optimize Your Actuarial Potential” with a subhead that read “Network and learn more about Data Science, AI, InsurTech, Productivity, Communication and Business Psychology.”
Creative Sample #11: New email newsletter signup for actuarial website
The conversion rate is now 7% (although the site’s founder notes it is still quite volatile and there are probably other factors involved as well).
“It’s true what they say. Customers generally don’t really care about your business, your brand or what you do. Instead, they care about themselves and what you can do for them,” said Dr. Mark Farrell, Founder, ProActuary, and Senior Lecturer, Actuarial Science & Risk Management, Queen’s University Belfast.
Clarity doesn’t just come from the words we use in our marketing. Clarity can also be derived from the information we provide with our offers. For example, the team behind Ashore recently ran a test to determine what effect the presence of pricing has on conversion.
Creative Sample #12: Plans without pricing on software company website
Creative Sample #13: Plans with pricing on software company website
Including pricing increased the website’s conversion rate by 84% — from 2.33% to 4.30%.
“The results have proven that clear communication is not only desired, but contributes to higher conversion rates,” said Holly Winters, Account Executive, Ashore.
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