The status quo is tenacious.
Put simply, things do not want to change. Change only happens because people – marketers – make them happen.
Week after week we bring you marketing case studies to spark your own thinking. In today’s article, we place special emphasis on the impetus that drove the marketers to execute each campaign with examples from Parkinson’s Foundation, a Subaru dealership, and a voice-over marketplace.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
The first stage of a story is the Call to Adventure, according to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth story template.
Marketing campaigns have a Call to Adventure of sorts as well.
Sometimes it is a call as banal as a corporate change.
Or sometimes it’s a call that strikes deep into the fiber of our being. As Flint McGlaughlin said in The Hidden Opportunity Within the COVID-19 Crisis: Three ways to transform your work and your life, “Even COVID-19 has a silver lining. Deeply painful experiences can also be deeply transformational” (McGlaughin is CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS Institute, parent organization of MarketingSherpa).
Either way, understanding what drives campaigns (along with what happened in the campaigns) can help marketers be more attuned to changes in their own organizations that provide the opportunity to launch a new campaign or project.
In this article, we share the “why” behind three marketing decisions. First, an auto dealer that was spurred to action by an upcoming car model release. Then, the pandemic drives a nonprofit to harness social media to map the future of Parkinson’s. And finally, new brand guidelines lead to a site redesign.
I worked at a Winn-Dixie grocery store in high school. On a particularly slow night, a fellow cashier and I were trying to catch a fly. But it was just too quick for us.
Just then, an older (and much wiser) cashier came up to us and said, “Boys, you don’t hit where the fly is. You hit where the fly is going to be.” With that, he slammed down a rolled-up piece of paper and killed the fly.
Could the same approach work with SEO?
“This particular client wanted to build their standing as a brand authority. To do that, we needed to look at emerging trends in the Subaru brand’s GTM [go-to-market] strategy on new products,” said Elias Christeas, Marketing Manager, Honest SEO (SEO vendor for Quantrell Subaru).
By honing in on a forthcoming new product launch – for the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness – the team was able to build a page on the Quantrell Subaru website that was relevant to their market at just the right time.
The page has an FAQ section to provide user-friendly information to a reader. “Content needs to be original and worth people’s time to read. As session time increases, Google recognizes a page’s value related to a user’s search query. This leads to the page being more valuable and shown as one of the best results,” Christeas said.
Creative Sample #1: SEO page for upcoming car model on car dealer’s website
The team secured the top search result on Google for “Subaru Outback Wilderness release date.”
“Most people will tell you that SEO takes time. And while it’s true that your ranking and domain authority will increase over time (provided you have the right strategy in place), it’s also possible to see a meaningful boost in traffic and visibility in a much shorter time,” Christeas said.
“As of June 2021, we have increased 2,000 clicks per month since it [the landing page] was released in April. Using the ‘2022 Outback Wilderness Release Date’ as our primary keyword has allowed us to rank for other relevant keywords to the topic,” he said.
“This page has helped us create the buzz out to the public about a new model coming soon. We have had several inquiries about the vehicle and I believe part of that is due to how well the page performed,” said Diana Keating, Marketing Director, Quantrell Auto Group.
When the pandemic hit, the Parkinson’s Foundation was left wondering how they could continue to advance their critical PD Generation campaign, which offers genetic testing for the disease at no cost to participants. The data generated from these tests goes towards improving Parkinson’s disease care and research – making it one of the most important initiatives for the organization.
The nonprofit decided to tap into the power of social media to garner new participants.
“We conducted extensive audience research in advance of launching this campaign. This included, for example – looking at other category organizations’ ad creative on social media; monitoring discussion topics in private Facebook groups; and interviewing patients and their family members,” said Michelle Thai, Senior Account Director, Media Cause (the nonprofit’s marketing agency).
“This research enabled us to better understand what the Parkinson’s community cares about and what messages would resonate most with them. This, in turn, informed our creative copy for this paid social campaign. We were able to hone in on what ads were the top performers, which allowed us to continuously optimize our ads.”
Creative Sample #2: Facebook ad creative for Parkinson’s Foundation
“Another important aspect was keyword research – helping to better understand what patients were Googling, what were similar searches, and how many times these searches were conducted over various time periods,” said Cathy Whitlock, Associate VP of Online Communications, Parkinson’s Foundation.
“We also emphasized the ‘coolness’ of the program – the only program of its kind to offer participants a genetic test at no cost.”
Through the use of creative focused on a specific need coupled with well-defined audience targeting, the team recruited 1,300 participants – surpassing their goal of 500. The campaign was so successful the Parkinson’s Foundation had to suspend the campaign two weeks into the program.
For years, Voices had maintained a dark blue main navigation header along with a multi-layered footer that included links to key sections of the site as well as the required legal links, social media icons, and buttons to download its mobile apps.
When the voice-over marketplace updated its brand guidelines, the team realized they had to revisit the site’s header and footer. The new guidelines defined the brand’s tone of voice, imagery, typography, and even sonic branding elements. The refreshed document called for a lighter, fresher aesthetic, meaning the heavy, dark masthead felt out of place.
Creative Sample #3: Original header and main navigation on Voices
The site’s footer – the block of links at the bottom of every page of the website – also had to be changed to meet the new brand standards. While redesigning it to meet the new brand standards, the team also wanted to fix the footer’s accessibility issues – according to Google Search Console the links were too close together. This was an issue particularly on mobile browsers as the link proximity ignored the best practice to have touch targets at least 44px (pixels) apart.
Creative Sample #4: Original Voices footer
The redesign gave the team a chance to optimize header and footer conversion as well. “When you only have mere seconds to make a first impression, being clear about navigational options is critical to getting that next click for the visitor to go deeper into the site,” said Kelsey King, Public Relations Specialist, Voices.
The team at Voices identified the specific design elements that needed attention in order to ensure that the first impression was professional, clean, accessible, and on-brand:
Next, low fidelity (or lo-fi for short) mock-ups were created in Google Slides as a means of communicating what needed to be done and help the team agree on which links would be included in the main navigation and the footer navigation.
Creative Sample #5: Voices lo-fi header mock-up
Creative Sample #6: Voices lo-fi footer mock-up
Once the team agreed upon the concept, which links would be included, and which links would be eliminated, it was time to create full color mock-ups. They refer to these as mid-fi mock-ups.
At this point, there were very few adjustments, so they proceeded to the hi-fi designs and prepared for the hand-off from product design to the developer, who would ultimately be responsible for the implementation of the redesign.
Creative Sample #7: Voices homepage with new navigation
Creative Sample #8: Voices footer with new links
In the first six months of the year, traffic to the voice-actors directory increased by 83% year-over-year, which is meaningful as this is a high-intent area of the marketplace.
Mobile usability errors were all but eliminated as links in the footer were much more spaced out. What used to be an issue on hundreds of thousands of pages is now down to a trickle, with perhaps a dozen issues on low-traffic pages.
“Taking the time to redesign website navigation can increase traffic to high-intent areas of your website while simultaneously improving usability by eliminating accessibility errors. What might seem like small changes can have a big impact on visitors as they navigate through your website, making it more likely that they’ll have a positive user experience and return to, use, and/or share the website” King said.
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