March 22, 2023
Case Study

Digital Marketing Strategies: Three companies that put humanity back into digital marketing


Technology is great at efficiency, isn’t it?

Only problem is, we’re selling to (messy, emotional, illogical, analog) humans. So they may not necessarily march neatly through an efficient funnel.

To help you bring humanity to all the fantastic tech used in your digital marketing – from ecommerce carts to social media platforms – in this article we bring case studies on how a personal training gym, storage tank ecommerce site, and charity for the blind and partially sighted used marketing strategies to humanize their digital marketing and increase their conversion rates.

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

Digital Marketing Strategies: Three companies that put humanity back into digital marketing

This article was distributed in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

A funny thing happened in building the MECLBAS SuperFunnel Cohort community. While the intention was to incorporate artificial intelligence into funnel building – and we are – some of the most helpful work has been about helping marketers humanize their digital marketing.

You can join us for a Wednesday LiveClass if you’d like ideas on humanizing your marketing – ChatGPT, CRO and AI: 40 Days to build a MECLABS SuperFunnel. And you can read today’s article to learn how other marketers have learned to humanize their marketing as well, by:

  • Inserting value into the funnel – Read how a personal training gym transitioned to from a direct sale to promoting a valuable piece of content, and the CPA decrease this change drove.
  • Taking some of the sale offline – Read how a storage tank e-commerce site changed the communication around freight shipping to bring in an extra $10,000 per month.
  • Ensuring there is congruence in the message – Read how a charity focused on people who have sight loss ensured its message was communicated in an accessible way.

Quick Case Study #1: Personal training gym changes ads from direct sale to helpful content, decreases CPA from £92.20 to £64.68 while growing email list

INTENT91 is a small group personal training gym based in Worthing, Brighton and soon Horsham, in the United Kingdom.

BEFORE – Direct sale

“We had always been fairly successful with Facebook Ads that had a strong call to action for our 28 Day Experience which costs £169, but in February 2023 we saw a rather big drop-off,” said Miles Branford, Marketing Manager, INTENT91.

The personal training gym’s cost per click (CPC), cost per lead (CPL), and cost per acquisition (CPA) all skyrocketed.

The team tested various different creatives, copy, and instant forms versus landing pages, but none of these changes improved results markedly. These ads, focused on a direct conversion, were averaging £92.20 per lead – they spent £1,014.25 on ads and only received 11 website leads. In this case, the CPL is the same as the CPA since this was a direct sale.

The gym isn’t the cheapest in the area, but the team felt they were the best personal training service around.

AFTER – New strategy with helpful content

“We changed our tactic with Facebook Ads,” Branford said. They concluded that they were losing out to competitors that could offer a lower price, so they tried generating leads via a lead magnet. The team developed a 7 Day Training Guide, a free download in exchange for an email address and phone number.


In total, the team spent £1,034.88 on the new ads and have generated 269 leads so far for a CPL of £3.85.

Now, many of these leads are still at the top of the funnel. The people are receiving daily emails but not acting. However, they have converted 16 leads into the gym’s 28 Day Experience for a CPA of £64.68.

The average member stays with the gym for seven months at an average yield of £256 – which means paying £64.68 per sale is worth it for the team.

Quick Case Study #2: Ecommerce site goes from $0 to $10,000 per month of large product sales by adding the human touch to the online order process

Tank Retailer sells a wide range of fuel storage tanks. One of the challenges the storage tank ecommerce site faced is figuring out how to effectively sell the larger steel fuel storage tanks that tend to have very high shipping costs due to their weight, which can be close to 1,000 pounds.

When a person ordered a single 500-pound skid tank, the freight cost would end up being equal to or sometimes greater than the cost of the tank. The team recognized the best way to address this issue is by having a conversation with customers before they learned about the freight cost.

This would allow the team to talk to the customer and find out whether they could propose a solution that would solve the issue of high freight costs before the customer left the online store and abandoned the purchase. For example, the team could offer a local pickup option that eliminated shipping costs altogether. Or allow the customer to use their own shipping company. Or suggest a customer increase the volume being purchased in order to realize economies of scale and reduce freight costs on a per-tank basis.

BEFORE – No ‘contact us’ CTA to discuss shipping

The product page lacked a clear call-to-action message that encouraged customers to either call the store directly or contact the team by email.

Creative Sample #1: Fuel storage tank product page, before

Creative Sample #1: Fuel storage tank product page, before

AFTER – ‘Contact us’ CTA, and option to request a freight quote

The team tested a few different options and eventually made the following changes to the product page:

  • Created an inventory status box that explained current lead times, communicated local pickup options, and encouraged customers to call the store directly to get updated lead times and a freight quote.
  • Added a ‘request freight quote’ box – this allowed customers to contact the store directly by email to request a freight quote if they would rather use email instead of a direct phone call.

Creative Sample #2: Fuel storage product page, after

Creative Sample #2: Fuel storage product page, after

RESULTS – From $0 to $10,000 per month

Prior to these changes, the online store didn’t have any the large skid tank sales. The team hadn’t even received any calls or emails with questions about the large fuel tanks. They had a few customers that would reach checkout but would cancel the order after the team sent them a freight quote that was higher than they expected.

After the team made the changes, they started to receive four to five calls per day and one to two emails per day requesting a freight quote.

Getting a freight quote in advance required some extra manual work on the team’s part because they had to prepare freight quotes for orders that may or may not actually happen. “However, I was also able to develop a better rapport with customers on the phone and I was able to provide multiple options if the freight cost was higher than they expected,” said Lou Haverty, Owner, Tank Retailer. “The personal touch made a difference when navigating the challenge of high shipping costs.”

Sales for larger fuel tanks also started to increase. Out of 10 freight quotes, the team is currently closing two to three sales. This translates into an extra $10,000 to $12,000 of revenue per month.

Quick Case Study #3: Charity for the blind and partially sighted uses social media strategy to humanize disability in an accessible way, grows to 22,300 TikTok followers

Guide Dogs, a charity that exists to help people with sight loss live the life they choose, looked to increase social engagements and positive sentiment. The intended audience included both its traditional audience of supporters, volunteers, and general public, as well as a new younger audience on Instagram and TikTok.

The charity is committed to accessibility in all aspects of work and life. The organization’s content could communicate this with not only its content, but in the way it used social media to deliver that content. Motive Agency, alongside Guide Dogs digital marketing team, focused on ensuring accessibility in the vision-impaired user journey, including:

  • visual descriptions
  • links to accessible versions
  • in-platform features such as alt-text and text-to-speech

And, since Guide Dogs is an expert in sight loss, that was the focus for the topic of the content itself. Here are some examples.

Creative Sample #3: Tech hacks for people with eye conditions

Creative Sample #3: Tech hacks for people with eye conditions

Creative Sample #4: ‘How Does a Blind Person Cook,’ part of a YouTube series dedicated to living independently

Creative Sample #4: ‘How Does a Blind Person Cook,’ part of a YouTube series dedicated to living independently

By working with influencers like Faye Winter, vision-impaired influencers like Lucy Edwards and Emily Davison, and vision-impaired individuals, the team informed its vision-impaired audience in a way that’s social media native and engaging, searchable, and entertaining. And to ensure the content really did deliver on that promise, this work was informed through focus groups and internal experts.

With this strategy, the team has seen a 19% increase in Instagram followers, a 60% increase in YouTube followers, and a 30% increase in YouTube watch time.

In April 2021, the team launched TikTok, which now has 22,300 followers and engagement rates around 14%, outperforming established channels and cementing its critical role in reaching new audiences. Guide Dogs ‘16 puppies’ TikTok was watched 528,000 times.

“Social media is a unique space in that it touches upon almost all areas of business including brand marketing, digital PR, acquisition marketing, and is often the first port of call for supporters and service users. Evolving in this space is a non-negotiable and drives many of our key KPIs,” concluded Janine Duggan, Senior Digital Marketing and Planning Manager, Guide Dogs.

Related resources

3 case studies of marketers that made a positive change in customers’ lives (while getting results for their business)

People Buy From People: Five examples of how to bring the humanity back to marketing

Marketing 101: What is (particular about) digital marketing?

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