September 28, 2021
Case Study

How Marketers Overcame 3 of Today’s Top Marketing Challenges: Skeptical customers, not enough budget, and misunderstood customer expectations


When I was younger so much younger than today, I had the foolhardy notion that I could get rid of my problems.

Slay the dragon. Save the kingdom.

If you are an experienced marketer, you see where I’m going with this – marketing (and life) is not a game with a set number of levels you complete until you win. Those challenges, they just keep rolling in like the ocean waves.

So, to give you inspiration and ideas to keep hacking away at your challenges, in this article we bring you stories of your peers’ success. Read on for quick case studies from a software development company, auto tag company, and online retailer of electricity and natural gas.

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

How Marketers Overcame 3 of Today’s Top Marketing Challenges: Skeptical customers, not enough budget, and misunderstood customer expectations

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

If I laid out all the marketing challenges from hardest to easiest, I would say the most difficult challenges to overcome are those that are internal.

When we can all agree on the challenge, we can face it together. But getting everyone to agree…oy vey.

For example, in the below podcast excerpt I discuss the marketing challenge of dilution with Flint McGlaughlin, CEO, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute. Dilution occurs when everyone gets their ideas and offers and calls to action onto the landing page and you are left with watered-down marketing that confuses the customer.

To help you overcome your own marketing challenges, in this article we bring you three examples of teams united against an external enemy.

First, a software development company that makes social media, productivity and entertainment apps didn’t have a budget for paid acquisition yet still found a way to grow app revenue organically. Then, an auto tag company’s business owner overcome a gap in customer wisdom. And finally, an energy company that used transparency to overcome customers’ emotional obstacle.

Quick Case Study #1: Software development company’s visual and communication optimizations have kept the app revenue growing 8% to 10% for 12 months – despite not being able to spend a penny on acquisition

“In the app world, there is no shortage of moonshine articles offering silver-bullet solutions for rapid growth or stories of miraculous overnight successes thanks to a single, well-timed social media post,” said Tomas Kvasnovsky, Co-founder, App Toro.

He continued, “The truth is that a vast majority of apps do not get that lucky and are at the mercy of stores’ algorithms that often bury them deep in search results. Without considerable budgets to draw new users in from other channels, it takes months of painstaking work to get a search ranking that actually brings money.”

App Toro is a boutique software development company that designs, develops, and markets its own iOS mobile applications – everything from Babio (for parents of newborns) to Spam Call Blocker (for anyone not in the market for an extended car warranty).

The company was initially a university side-hustle, so the team never had budgets for paid acquisition. This challenge forced them to be very resourceful in persuading users that the company’s apps are worth the money.

Over the years they have built 13 apps and along the way discovered and developed a variety of features and optimizations that drove steady growth. For the past 12 months, the company has been enjoying eight percent to 10 percent organic revenue growth month-over-month without any spending on ads.

“The race to convince a user to choose your app among hundreds of others starts with the first contact in the search results,” Kvasnovsky said. Using standard A/B testing methods, the team has made the following discoveries.

On average, simpler and pictogram-like icons increased the conversion rate from search results to product pages by 3.25 percent.

Creative Sample #1: Lower-performing app icons

Creative Sample #1: Lower-performing app icons

Creative Sample #2: Higher-performing app icons

Creative Sample #2: Higher-performing app icons

Clarity trumps persuasion. On average, screenshots directly displaying the app’s features on the first screenshot visible on search results performed 5.5 percent better than those relying on the description of features.

Creative Sample #3: Lower-performing app screenshots

Creative Sample #3: Lower-performing app screenshots

Creative Sample #4: Higher-performing app screenshots

Creative Sample #4: Higher-performing app screenshots

The key takeaway is not just the headline. “When a user browses App Store, on the search results list, the store displays only the first three screenshots,” Kvasnovsky said. The decision whether one downloads the app is heavily influenced by this first impression of these three visuals, which is why clarity is so key.

Creative Sample #5: App Store search results

Creative Sample #5: App Store search results

If one decides to first check the app before directly installing from the search results list and taps to see the product page, only one and half screenshots are visible (see Creative Sample #6).

Creative Sample #6: App Store product page

Creative Sample #6: App Store product page

So, the first impression is a huge factor since the decision making is happening on an emotional level in seconds. That’s why the order of things displayed/explained on screenshots matters very much, as does the clarity of the descriptions.

Localization of the screenshots and product page increased the conversion rate in respective countries by three to seven percent compared to purely English versions.

Creative Sample #7: Localized app screenshots

Creative Sample #5: Localized app screenshots

Creative Sample #8: Localized app store product page

Creative Sample #6: Localized app store product page

After convincing the user to download the app, the team then needed to persuade the user to spend money in the app.

Sensitively worded and well-timed in-app messages or push notifications offering discounts have increased a conversion rate by five to 15 percent, depending on the app. On average, it took three months to identify the behavioral pattern and timeframes in which users make decisions or leave for each given app. However, a fine-tuned funnel proved to be the most effective conversion method.

Apps with pricing adjusted to the local purchasing power performed better in conversion rate, but total revenue remained similar to non-adjusted apps.

And checkout screens that offered higher prices and more significant price differences between various purchase options brought in an average of six percent more revenue despite a lower conversion rate, when compared to checkout screens with lower prices and a narrower price distribution.

Quick Case Study #2: Interviewing customers (and competitors) helps auto tag company grow sales 16%

“One marketing challenge we overcame was not knowing exactly what our customers wanted,” said Jake Smith, Owner and Managing Director, Absolute Reg. In the beginning, the team thought that offering a wide variety of products would be their key selling point, but research showed them this wouldn’t be the most effective strategy.

They learned that fast service and strong aftersales support were the two most important factors for the auto tag company’s target market. They made this discovery by talking directly to existing customers, asking customers what they felt was lacking in the company’s service. They also interviewed similar businesses to find out the most common frustrations their customers encounter.

Once the team learned what customers really wanted, they shifted marketing campaigns accordingly. They emphasized quick delivery times, a convenient ordering system, and comprehensive customer support.

These campaigns resulted in considerable ROIs (returns on investment) that averaged 200 percent. The customer base also grew considerably, leading to a 16 percent growth in sales over a one-year period.

Case Study #3: Utility reseller increases customer enrollment 50% by disclosing profit margins

“One of the most important things a marketer or entrepreneur can do when overcoming a marketing challenge is to understand the emotional obstacle your prospects are facing when making a buying decision,” said Paul Rhoads, Vice President,

A recent example of this comes from a marketing choice the team made at the beginning of 2020 – disclosing profit margins to prospects.

The company is an online retailer of electricity and natural gas, and the team found that many customers in this space were confused, frustrated, and tired of typical energy company practices. The team believed these negative emotions were directly tied to a lack of transparency provided by most companies in the market. So, the team decided to give customers transparency into the company’s margins and costs compared to competitors.

Creative Sample #9: Pricing explanation on utility reseller’s website

Creative Sample #7: Pricing explanation on utility reseller’s website

The transparent marketing approach helped the company acquire larger customers, some of which were the largest they have so far. They were also able to grow the number of new customer enrollments by over 50%.

“The goal of this campaign was to alleviate our prospects’ emotional concerns of mistrust, and the only way we knew how to do this was to give them the transparency they craved. We believe that customers make decisions emotionally and justify them with logic. When you can address the true emotional need of your target audience, you can help them discover why your product/service might meet their needs,” Rhoads said.

Related resources

Marketing Budget Chart: Is budget size the real challenge? Or is it how you allocate your budget?

From the Westin to the Waffle House: Overcoming the pervasive challenge of company logic

48 Resources to Help You Overcome Seven Marketing Challenges in the Era of Coronavirus (that aren’t necessarily new)

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