December 08, 2021
Case Study

Conversion Rate Optimization Tools: Marketing case studies with brands that used 5 types of CRO tools


What is a conversion rate optimization tool?

Some people say it’s just A/B testing or the like.

I say there is a pretty broad definition since there is a pretty broad definition of conversion rate – improving performance. We explore the topic in our latest, case-study-filled article.

To help you bring a CRO mindset to your marketing technology, today we bring you examples from Ted’s Montana Grill, an ecommerce site, manufacturer, and podcast hosting platform.

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

Conversion Rate Optimization Tools: Marketing case studies with brands that used 5 types of CRO tools

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) tools can help you increase conversion just like laptop computers can help you write novels.

The tool can help you do the job, but how you use it makes all the difference.

To help set you up for conversion rate optimization success, you can watch Maximize Webpage Conversion: Four essential ways to prepare yourself.

And then take a look at these quick case studies as we explore how marketers and entrepreneurs used five types of CRO tools.

THE A/B TESTING TOOL – Quick Case Study #1: Podcast hosting platform increases conversion rate on pricing page 91% by A/B testing

First up, what most marketing professionals and entrepreneurs think of when they hear the words “conversion rate optimization tool” – an A/B testing tool.

“We felt that the conversion rate for our pricing page could be improved,” said Craig Hewitt, Founder & CEO, Castos.

The greatest improvement in the podcast hosting platform’s conversion rate came from optimizing its pricing page.

The team ran a test in its A/B testing tool.

The control (original):

  • Headline: “Castos Pricing Plans. Find the plan that’s right for you.”
  • Call-to-action buttons: Purple-colored background

The treatment (new) landing page:

  • Headline: “Flexible & Transparent Pricing. Plans for podcasters of every stage and size with the chance to let your creative side run wild.”
  • Call-to-action buttons: Larger, with a bright, red-colored background
  • Layout: Less cluttered with more white space

The treatment produced a 91% higher conversion rate.

Creative Sample #1: New pricing page for podcast hosting platform

Creative Sample #1: New pricing page for podcast hosting platform that was improved with conversion rate optimization tools

THE ANALYTICS TOOL – Quick Case Study #2: Printed circuit board manufacturer increases lead-gen survey conversion rate 17% by optimizing for device type

If you want to optimize your conversion rate, you need to know your original conversion rate and how the changes you make affect that conversion rate. Enter – the analytics tool. For the next case study, the marketer used both a stand-alone analytics tool as well as the analytics included in his marketing platform.

“I’m a regular follower of Flint from MECLABS. I've previously applied his advice on our marketing campaigns and seen positive results,” said Tony Vangelburg, CMO, Raypcb.

Vangelburg used Flint’s teachings on friction to optimize the conversion rate on a lead-gen survey the team uses to collect customer opinion and contact information at the same time.

The team noticed that 17% of total people were leaving the form after the third page and 26% of total people left after the fourth page. There were six pages total.

They adjusted the form to collect all the necessary information in only three pages for desktop users. This simple change helped to increase the conversion rate for desktop users by 14.27%.

On the mobile side, instead of having a long page to fill in information, they made each page small, which resulted in a survey that had four pages. They noticed that on mobile people do not like to scroll down to fill information. Visitors would rather have a small page with one or two visible fields. This change increased the conversation rate for mobile users.

In its paid advertising, the team targeted the survey based on users’ device type, which lead to an overall 17.26% increase in conversion.

THE EMAIL MARKETING SOFTWARE – Quick Case Study #3: Ecommerce site moves away from discounts, increases profit for an email send by $17,500

About a dozen years ago, I remember being on a call with an email company, and they were bragging about the new (and rudimentary) A/B testing capabilities in their platform.

But progress marches quickly in software, and now A/B testing is a popular feature in email marketing software. Plus, at this point email marketing software is one of the most universal tools in the marketer’s toolbox. So, this is a CRO tool worth mentioning. And here is a quick case study so you can see the tool in action.

“Marketing, Sales and Customer Success must work closely together to deliver on the goals. Every time I throw around a statement such as this one, I feel like the Paulo Coehlo of marketing. And yet. The bigger the organization, the more trouble with information flow, the more divided teams and the bigger the risk of working in silos. And – in the long run – the less effective marketing,” said Edyta Kowal, Brand Communication Director, Displate.

Here is an example of working “across the divide” by focusing on conversion rate optimization in email marketing.

The bulk of the ecommerce company’s email list is made up of customers who have bought its metal posters. Until recently, the team was sending hard sell mailings correlated with what they had planned in their promotional calendar. They decided to put this approach under close scrutiny, because it wasn’t working.

They needed to keep email subscribers around for longer, even if they didn’t want to buy another poster at the time. They assumed that those users are looking for inspiration rather than another discount. After all, customers can always look for a discount on the homepage.

Not only did the team make better use of marketing automation to better match the content to the users’ activity and needs (post purchase, welcome/onboardings stream, churn prevention, retention, VIP/high rollers, etc.), but they also focused on more engaging content that builds relationships and better matches the interests the ecommerce company’s products tap into.

They stopped sending around a simple “buy our product” message and switched to a CTA (call to action) of “explore the theme deeper” – to encourage customers see what the website or blog has to offer. “We've also added an exclusivity component to our communication – since you're our customer, you deserve more and, for instance, you'll be the first to know about Limited Editions or you'll be informed about new artists in our portfolio,” Kowal said.

This required cooperation of several teams: brand, retention, and copywriting.

In order not to base their actions on intuition, but rather on hard data, they did some experimentation. It was not long before they could see the results: they managed to significantly increase the number of sessions and the user-generated revenue.

Here are two example email experiments. For each experiment, the team created two groups – a test group (that received the email) and a smaller control group (that did not receive the email) – and measured purchases within three days of sending.

Creative Sample #2: Experiment email focused on direct discount

Creative Sample #2: Experiment email focused on direct discount

The Summer End sales email was sent to a test group of 281,200. It offered a 23% to 29% discount. The email had an open rate of 19.42% and purchases were made by 0.18% of the test group. Purchases were made by 0.14% of the control group of 8,700. This translated to a $4,000 lower profit versus the control group, due to the discount.

Creative Sample #3: Experiment email focused on limited edition product

Creative Sample #3: Experiment email focused on limited edition product

The Limited Edition email content was sent to a test group of 153,000 and did not offer a discount. The open rate was 28.96%. Purchases were made by 0.20% of the test group vs 0.08% in the control group of 4,700, thus translating to a profit of $17,500 more than the control group.

“And while we were on that, to eliminate the problem of dark mode on mail clients, we implemented the ‘dark mode first’ and ‘mobile first’ strategy for all our emails, making their content and graphics always visible,” Kowal said.

THE PAID ADVERTISING PLATFORM – Quick Case Study #4: Ecommerce site nets 3.79 ROAS by testing ads

While A/B testing tools and (to a lesser extent) analytics tools are made for conversion rate optimization, paid advertising platforms have a more general purpose – to make money from marketers.

Little joke there. Their purpose is also, of course, to drive traffic from their ad network to your website. Because they realize they will be able make more money from marketers (there it is) if the advertising is more successful, paid advertising platforms often offer some ability for conversion rate optimization built right into the platform.

Displate (from Quick Case Study #3) also engages in conversion rate optimization for its paid advertising.

“Most recent tests where we tested best-converting USPs (unique selling propositions) revealed that a message linking our product to modern technology resonates much better with our users than one highlighting its artistic values or even one in which we focus on mentioning all the big brands we work with, like Marvel or Star Wars. Who would have thought, right? A metal poster and technology. And yet!” Kowal said.

Here's an example. The visuals stayed the same, but the team tested several copy approaches within a single set of ads in an A/B/n test.

Creative Sample #4: Ad treatment with copy focused on technology

Creative Sample #4: Ad treatment with copy focused on technology

Creative Sample #5: Ad treatment with copy focused on artistic quality

Creative Sample #5: Ad treatment with copy focused on artistic quality

The technology approach (see Creative Sample #4) was the high-converting advertisement in the group with a 3.79 ROAS (return on ad spend). The copy focused on the artistic/visual appeal of the product was the lowest-converting ad with a 3.17 ROAS.

THE NON-CRO CRO TOOL – Quick Case Study #5: Ted’s Montana Grill’s review conversion optimization grows number of reviews by 22 percent

In my opinion, when considering conversion rate optimization, you can also look past the traditional CRO tool. Many, many marketing tools can be used for conversion rate optimization. After all, a conversion is simply an action you want someone to take. And optimizing the rate of actions are what many marketing tools are built to do. Here’s an example.

Ted’s Montana Grill sought to increase the number of customers who left reviews. For the Atlanta-based restaurant chain and classic American kitchen serving gourmet burgers, hand-cut steaks, and locally sourced produce, optimizing this online conversion rate would help strengthen its brand reputation.

“With 92% of consumers using online reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, our public online reputation score has never been more important to our future success,” said Paige Shearer, Marketing Manager, Ted’s Montana Grill.

To optimize this conversion rate, the team worked with a customer acquisition tool to find ways to efficiently track and respond to reviews of 41 Ted’s Montana Grill locations across 466 online listings and business pages.

Within the company, a total of 61 users — including four regional managers — are on the platform, tracking reviews across these restaurant locations and online pages. To keep the fingers of stakeholders and decision-makers on the pulse of the company’s reputation, 173 custom review and keyword alerts have been set up, delivering timely email and SMS (Short Message Service, aka text) notifications to the right people at the right time.

“The marketing team provides weekly reports showing each restaurant’s score for the week, period, quarter, and year to date,” Shearer said. “Each restaurant also receives all reviews via email so that they can identify areas of improvement from an operational perspective. We also summarize the company reviews on a weekly basis and share these with the leadership team.”

In addition to responding to reviews, the company has proactively encouraged customers to leave reviews using email, SMS, in-store kiosks, printed receipts, QR (quick response) codes, and online landing pages. The company has been able to grow its reviews by 22 percent in the last six months to 66,300 total reviews.

Creative Sample #6: Ted’s Montana Grill email with a conversion goal of getting a customer to leave a review

Creative Sample #6: Ted’s Montana Grill email with a conversion goal of getting a customer to leave a review

The majority of these reviews are positive – 69 percent are rated five stars and 15 percent are rated four stars.

The data from the reviews helps the corporate team zero in on locations that require attention and elevate their operations, ensuring the restaurant and hospitality company delivers for its customers.

The marketing team responds to all reviews, positive and negative. For any review under three stars, they request the guest’s contact information so they can personally recover them and invite them in for the experience that they deserve.

In the last six months, the percentage of locations that have at least a 70% review response rate has increased to 61%. Overall, the company has an 80 percent review response rate – out of 3,959 reviews across all Ted’s Montana Grill locations, 3,186 have been responded to by the team.

“We have set an online reputation score goal for all locations of 4.3 stars or higher,” Shearer says. This is one of the metrics locations need to receive a quarterly bonus. “We also use positive reviews that reinforce our company objectives to publicly recognize individual restaurants and team members.”

Featured Resources

Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages – This course is fully underwritten by MECLABS, with no monetary cost to participants

Conversion Rate Optimization: 4 quick CRO case studies to help you increase revenue, mobile conversion, and site searches

CRO Cheat Sheet: Customer thinking guide for conversion rate optimization

Conversion Rate Optimization: 4 quick CRO case studies about optimizing mobile landing pages, a blog, homepages, and a booking engine

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