April 07, 2022
Case Study

Seeing Through the Eyes of Your Customers: Case studies about marketing attribution, the content marketing funnel, and headline writing


It’s the hardest thing in marketing. And in life.

Seeing through the eyes of someone else.

If we could truly master this skill, could we avoid wars? Divorce? Many of our worst moments?

And better serve our customers – and our companies – with our marketing? To spark your best thinking, we bring you examples from ThirdLove, a marketing platform, and a manufacturer.

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

Seeing Through the Eyes of Your Customers: Case studies about marketing attribution, the content marketing funnel, and headline writing

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Three minutes into Headline Formulas: A step-by-step process for radically transforming your copywriting, Flint McGlaughlin asks a crucial question – “How can we learn to see our headlines through customer eyes?”

While the CEO of MECLABS and MarketingSherpa is talking specifically about headlines, you should ask that question about every marketing endeavor you engage in.

To help you take this customer-first approach, today we bring you three case studies.

First, direct-to-consumer brand ThirdLove tries to see the offline-to-online customer journey through its B2C customers’ eyes to improve its marketing attribution.

Then, a marketing platform views the content marketing journey through its B2B customer eyes’ and determines it needs to move earlier in the funnel.

And finally, we end where we began, as we learn about a manufacturer that make simple changes to improve a headline by seeing through the eyes of the customer.

Quick Case Study #1: ThirdLove discovers 20% of conversions it had attributed to search actually started with TV

ThirdLove, a direct-to-consumer underwear brand, wanted to diversify its customer acquisition strategy and build awareness by amplifying its message across television. To justify investment in the channel, the team needed to quantify TV’s incremental value on their business beyond the digital and social foundation they had already established. They also sought to understand which TV advertising options were most effective.

“There are now many advertising options spanning linear TV, connected TV (CTV), and ad-supported streaming services. Advertisers, such as ThirdLove, must be able to precisely monitor and quantify cross-screen campaigns to properly measure ad performance,” said Jay Prasad, Chief Strategy Officer, LiveRamp (ThirdLove’s analytics platform).

One of the more exciting learnings for the ThirdLove team was discovering the impact of their TV investment on website traffic, particularly over search and social channels. Over 20% of the conversions that were previously attributed only to search were actually a result of exposure to TV first.

The direct-to-consumer brand learned its target audience was over 40% more likely to visit its online store after viewing a TV ad.

The team discovered its TV ads led to a 60% incremental lift on search conversion behavior, 71.3% increase in site visit rates via search, and 44.2% increase in website visit rates.

“With this data, we were able to make the case for increased investment in TV in our 2020 media plans. We really started to understand the value of premium TV networks and placements because we saw them drive impact,” said Megan Seman, Senior Growth Marketing Manager, ThirdLove.

Quick Case Study #2: Marketing platform moves earlier in the funnel with its content marketing to create 133% more deals

Service Direct wanted to shift its content marketing from a bottom-of-funnel activity to a comprehensive top-of-funnel growth engine.

The team was struggling to grow additional pipeline through organic search. The previous focus was on dominating bottom-of-funnel keywords, but once achieved, they reached a saturation point where they couldn’t move the needle any further through those efforts.

The team needed to focus on prospects that weren’t necessarily ready to buy the product but were certainly trying to figure out ways to grow their business. “We needed to take our inbound marketing to the next level through true content marketing,” said Matt Buchanan, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, Service Direct.

“Oftentimes we were blogging simply because we were supposed to. It was about keywords and word counts and little else. But to take our marketing to the next level, we had to completely shift our mindset. We constantly asked ourselves ‘If I was a potential customer, would I truly appreciate and find value in this content?’” he said.

The team built out hub-and-spoke strategies for targeted industries.

Creative Sample #1: Hub-and-spoke content marketing approach for plumber marketing guide

Creative Sample #1: Hub-and-spoke content marketing approach for plumber marketing guide

Changing content approach to move earlier in the funnel

“There is only so much we could say about our core product. Eventually we recognized we had to provide value to people that weren’t necessarily looking for our core product but were certainly trying to research solutions to problems (namely: the need for new customers). We shifted our focus to this larger group of people, which meant we had to completely shift the nature of our content,” Buchanan said.

For example, a bottom-of-the-funnel page was designed to be seen by and convert plumbers specifically looking for customer leads, which is Service Direct’s product offering.

Creative Sample #2: Bottom-of-funnel content page

Creative Sample #2: Bottom-of-funnel content page

A new, top-of-the-funnel page was designed to be seen by and useful for plumbers in search of a plan for growing their business.

Creative Sample #3: Top-of-funnel content page

Creative Sample #3: Top-of-funnel content page

“You can’t ask them to marry you right out of the gate. This might seem obvious, but we had been focused on bottom-of-funnel conversions for so long, it wasn’t for us. Going up-funnel means meeting people where they are in their buying journey, and ultimately hoping you can have a chance to get to know them, and for them to get to know, and trust, you,” Buchanan said.

The team focused its efforts on writing compelling content in the hopes that potential customers would be willing to share some information about themselves to get useful information from Service Direct, instead of the previous call-to-action (CTA) which tried to get visitors to sign up to be a customer.

Creative Sample #4: Top-of-funnel call-to-action

Creative Sample #4: Top-of-funnel call-to-action

Improving content quality

In addition to moving earlier in the funnel, the team worked to improve the quality of the content it created by making the following changes:

  • Appealing meta tags – The team re-examined its meta tags through the lens of “If I saw this result in a search, would I be more inclined to click on it?” Previously it was a more methodical approach of getting in as many of the primary keywords as possible.
  • Brand-centric main image – Previously, they just had a content writer use Canva to create a main image. That resulted in poor-quality images that were inconsistent with the brand (fonts, colors, etc.). They recognized the importance of that first impression, and devoted resources to bring on an illustrator to help build stronger images that were brand-centric, informative, and professional.

Creative Sample #5: Previous blog post main image

Creative Sample #5: Previous blog post main image

Creative Sample #6: New blog post main image

Creative Sample #6: New blog post main image
  • Brand-centric body images – Previously, the team spent the majority of its time writing the content, then quickly grabbed a couple of accompanying images before publishing the post. Now, they spend as much (if not more) time focusing on the quality and effectiveness of the images. They try to make sure the images are both brand-consistent and quickly get across whatever point they are trying to make with the accompanying text (which folks might skim or skip).
  • CTAs – Previously the team was just focused on getting people to sign up for its products. It didn’t work. “No one finds a page about social media posts for pest control companies and then immediately signs up to get leads. We were asking them to marry us before dating,” Buchanan said. Now, they focus on providing CTAs that are more in-line with where the potential customer might be in their journey and build a relationship over time with more helpful content. The content has multiple CTAs, giving potential customers a chance to decide what is valuable to them at that moment.
  • Asked them to stick around – Previously they wrote content in a vacuum. A potential customer would arrive at the site, maybe read an article, then be done. Now, Service Direct gives them a chance to easily find other related material on the website that may be of interest to them.

The team established a process to consistently improve the potential customer’s journey:

  • Starts with a new set of eyes – Previously they looked at keywords and word count. Now, they focus on value. “If I were a (target audience), would I find this useful enough to want more?” drives all content creation.
  • Matching keyword research with business goals – The team identified four primary verticals they wanted to focus on to drive new customers, then researched what top-of-funnel prospects in those audiences cared about and wrote content around those topics.
  • Built brand-consistent image templates – They have a bank of templates for any image type, allowing them to cost-effectively create more powerful images.
  • Built automated content workflows designed to move prospects through the funnel – Previously, the only (non-signup) conversion they had on their site was subscribing to the newsletter. That meant recipients got a monthly email that didn’t provide much value nor focus on them. Now, when someone tells Service Direct a little about them, the team has a content series designed specifically for them.

Creative Sample #7: Service Direct’s plan to move prospective customers down the funnel

Creative Sample #7: Service Direct’s plan to move prospective customers down the funnel

The goal isn't to just give them content for the sake of content, but to serve them. If they engage with enough of the right content, they are handed off to Sales.

Expanded visibility and improved rankings on Google

“By focusing on casting a wider net with our content, we were able to greatly improve our site’s visibility on Google,” Buchanan said. The company began ranking for more keywords and ranking better for those keywords.

By writing better content and moving earlier in the funnel, the team was able to transform its inbound marketing results:

  • 53% increase in search visibility
  • 57% increase in top 3 organic search rankings
  • 58% increase in sessions (page views, clicks, downloads, etc.)
  • 19% improvement in bounce rate
  • 97% increase in new contacts created
  • 133% increase in deals created
  • 100% increase in deals won

Quick Case Study #3: Minor headline change increases engagement 31% for manufacturer

The team at Chinese manufacturer Lontto had a headline for a blog post that they felt was underperforming – “Why brick is used for construction needs?”

Creative Sample #8: Underperforming headline for manufacturer

Creative Sample #8: Underperforming headline for manufacturer

“The video you shared was very informative. Especially the three steps mentioned in the video about creating an effective headline. As mentioned in the video from MECLABS – FastClass session 11 – there's usually a very short time (less than 2 seconds) to capture the attention of a person. So, we tried to use verbs in the first four words of the headline. It helps to gain momentum from the users and drive them to action,” said Robin Bailey, Co-founder & CMO, Lontto.

Also in the headline, the team avoided words like “we,” “us,” and “our” and opted to go with “You.” And the new headline is a complete sentence.

Creative Sample #9: New headline for manufacturer that uses a verb and addresses the customer

Creative Sample #9: New headline for manufacturer that uses a verb and addresses the customer

After the change, the post saw a 31% increase in engagement – customers continued to scroll through the page. Also, the conversion rate on the CTA – filling the form on the right-hand side to send an inquiry – increased 14%.

The email the team sent with the original headline had an open rate of 15.24% and an email clickthrough rate of 3.65%. Six weeks later, the team sent a second email with the new headline. It had an open rate of 22.8% and the clickthrough rate increased to 7.2%.

Related Resources

The Marketer’s Blind Spot: 3 ways to overcome the marketer’s greatest obstacle to effective messaging

Four Simple Ways to Become a More Customer-Centric Marketer

Business Intelligence: If only more of our customers were like Larry David

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