June 20, 2022
Case Study

What Is Marketing Optimization: Examples of SEO, CRO, and website speed optimization


“We don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”

I always thought that was a great tagline from BASF. And it is a great explanation of the role of the marketing optimizer.

They are not the original doer of the thing. But they play a valuable role in helping do the thing better.

We dive into this topic and include specific examples with results to spark your next great idea.

Read on for examples from an insurance broker, global financial broker, and performance marketing agency.

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

What Is Marketing Optimization: Examples of SEO, CRO, and website speed optimization

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

On June 29th, MECLABS will host a live, interactive session focused on conversion rate optimization – Buyer Psychology: Learn the 4 best ways to increase the power of your value proposition.

MECLABS Institute (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) often teaches about conversion rate optimization (CRO) and landing page optimization (LPO).

But it got me thinking. When we talk about CRO and LPO, we casually throw around the term “optimization,” as if it is the only kind of optimization. But conversion optimization is only one type of marketing optimization. There are three main types… and practitioners of each type, also throw around the word “optimization” as if their type is the only kind of optimization).

To get all of us optimizers speaking to and recognizing each other, let’s take a deeper look at the definition of marketing optimization.

What is marketing optimization? At its core, marketing optimization is the practice of making your marketing as good as it can possibly be to achieve the best possible business results – getting to the point of maximum possible marketing effectiveness for your company. While there are many types of marketing optimization (anything that can be done can be improved), the three primary types of marketing optimization are optimizing the channel, optimizing the technology, and optimizing the customer response.

Conversion rate optimization

(also known as CRO, conversion optimization or landing page optimization) is the primary way to optimize the customer response. CRO is the practice of learning about your customers through A/B and multivariate testing to discover how to better serve them, and thus increasing the number of conversions (having the customer say “yes” to whatever you are asking them to do).

Search engine optimization

(also known as SEO, search optimization, and organic search optimization) is the most well-known way to optimize the channel. SEO is the practice of making improvements, so a company’s webpages are more likely to be discovered through search engines.

Website speed and performance optimization

(also known as site speed optimization, page speed optimization, or web performance) is the most common type of technology optimization. Website speed optimization is the practice of improving and often removing the code and elements on a webpage to quicken load time on all devices.

To help you become the Optimus Prime of marketing optimization, we bring you more than just definitions in this article. We bring you three specific marketing examples with results.

First up, an insurance broker that optimized site speed to grow conversions. Then, a global finance broker that used the SEO practice of link building to increase organic traffic. And finally, a marketing performance agency that used A/B testing to optimize the conversion rate on its own website.

Quick Case Study #1: Insurance broker grows conversion 2,767% by optimizing site speed

MEDPLI Insurance Services is an independent medical malpractice insurance brokerage. The team wanted to leverage its website to reach more people and gain more leads.

They started by implementing an SEO strategy that focused on targeting the right terms, then building out content that aligned with a website structure conducive for crawling. Copy for each product was optimized for SEO best practices.

Because medical malpractice insurance is state specific, a medical malpractice state buying guide was created for each state.

“The new content, site structure and keyword targeting helped with an increase in rankings, but the site was being held back by its WordPress theme, which was bloated with code and caused the site to score in the red on PageSpeed Insights,” said Marcie Lord, Digital Marketing Strategist & Founder, Digital Dynamo (MEDPLI’s digital marketing agency).

To fix this issue, the team installed a less code-heavy theme on the website. They also created new designs for the product pages and state guides that featured more calls to action and made it easier for users to submit lead forms.

After the site’s new theme and design were implemented, website metrics increased immediately. Website speed went from 7 on mobile/36 on desktop to 96 on mobile/99 on desktop (out of 100). Ranked keywords increased by 377% and continue to grow. Organic traffic increased by 1,714% and continues to grow. Conversions grew by 2,767% and continue to grow.

Creative Sample #1: Conversion data analytics, before and after homepage redesign

Creative Sample #1: Conversion data analytics, before and after homepage redesign

“I love the website experience users now get when they visit the website,” says Max Schloemann, CEO, MEDPLI Insurance Services. “The new website and success of our SEO campaign has resulted in a lot more leads, which has led to business growth. I’ve expanded my workforce and product offerings because of the improvements we implemented.”

“Wonders can be done for a website when you try to make it lean with code. Don't add code-heavy bells and whistles to the website if they aren't integral to the user experience. Do usability testing to see what IS integral to the user experience,” Lord advised.

Quick Case Study #2: Global finance broker increases organic web traffic 80% in seven months with link building

Enness Global brokers high-value international finance to high-net-worth individuals, business owners and companies. The global finance broker could see that visitors who came to the site via organic search had a higher buying intent and, hence, higher conversion rate.

However, efforts to increase organic web visits had faltered. This channel had not achieved its full potential and the company was not reaching people who were unfamiliar with the Enness brand.

Yet the website was well-designed for user-experience, showcasing the company’s wide range of financial services from mortgages to corporate finance to luxury asset finance. It had also been optimized for search and conversions.

What Enness Global lacked was good quality links to its website.

So in mid-2021, the team embarked on a bespoke link-building campaign. Here are the three stages of the campaign.

Stage #1: Clean up poor-quality links

The team began the campaign by cleaning up a massive number of poor-quality links – more than three million – that had been placed on low-quality directory and personal finance sites by a previous SEO agency.

They approached the websites and simply asked for the links to be removed. Fortunately, most were happy to comply which meant the team didn’t have the uncertainty of disavowing the links. There was a near-immediate impact from the physical removal of those backlinks.

Stage #2: Capitalize on existing content

Enness already had an impressive catalogue of high-quality videos, case studies and blog content. Rather than reinvent the wheel, the team decided to repurpose the content to help gain new, high-quality backlinks.

Videos and webinars were transcribed into expert interview-style content, in-depth articles and user guides. Case studies and blog posts were re-written from a new angle to attract a wider audience.

“We had been producing videos regularly for more than five years as resources for existing and potential clients, so we already had a wealth of material in our video library. The suggestion to use this existing video content as audio-only content and transcribed text content meant we could quickly produce a significant amount of content in different formats from our library of almost 50 videos,” remarked Anete Merhele, Marketing Manager, Enness Global.

“There was no need to produce completely new content for the link-building campaign so there was no additional pressure on our resources, at a time when all of our people were busy with a rapidly growing company,” she said.

Stage #3: Build links (and keep building links)

SEO experts have long known that links to a website from other websites are a highly important factor in achieving good organic search listings, but it’s not just any link that will benefit a website.

 “Websites where links exist need to meet certain minimum industry-standard metrics and the links themselves need to have certain attributes if they are to contribute to improving organic search rankings. We use a rigorous process to monitor and review all of this data to ensure the links we build are high-quality, add SEO value and will also stand the test of time,” noted Michelle Symonds, Managing Director, Ditto Digital (Enness Global’s SEO consultancy).

“Although Google’s algorithm changes frequently and competition in an industry can change with time, the core foundation of high-quality links from within useful, evergreen content on reputable websites means the links continue to add value over time,” Symonds said.

Mutually beneficial collaborations with other websites enabled the placement of high-quality backlinks. These links began to increase organic traffic to the main services pages on EnnessGlobal.com. A process of constant refinement of the type of links being built has meant that multiple service pages have seen their individual rankings increase and, because these are discovered via more specific searches, the visitors have an even higher conversion rate.

During the seven-month period when organic visits increased by 80%, the number of goal conversions increased by 65%.

Creative Sample #2: Analytics for finance broker

Creative Sample #2: Analytics for finance broker

Researching potential linking sites, undertaking in-depth analysis of their metrics and building relationships with those websites is now an ongoing process, along with continually analyzing the backlink profile of EnnessGlobal.com to maintain the high quality of links gained to date.

For this bespoke link-building campaign, every detail of every backlink and organic search ranking is closely monitored and, where necessary, the process is refined and further improved, for example by altering the type of anchor text.

“SEO will never be a one-time process. but requires constant monitoring and ongoing improvements,” Symonds said.

Quick Case Study #3: How a performance marketing agency improved B2B conversions by 41% overnight with one small copy tweak

The goal of Single Grain’s website is to drive requests for a free marketing plan—a detailed proposal that shows prospects what it would look like to work with the agency.

To better understand how to attract more conversions for the marketing plan, the team conducted a website experiment – they A/B tested the copy of the website’s main call to action (CTA).

Originally, the website’s CTA button read “Free Marketing Plan.”

Creative Sample #3: Control CTA button copy on agency’s website (button is on the top right)

Creative Sample #3: Control CTA button copy on agency’s website (button is on the top right)

From prior A/B tests, they knew that adding words like “my” and “me” to button copy tended to increase conversions.

So they opted to test a slight tweak: “Get My Free Marketing Plan.”

Creative Sample #4: Treatment CTA button copy on agency’s website (button is on the top right)

Creative Sample #4: Treatment CTA button copy on agency’s website (button is on the top right)

“Using Google Optimize, Google’s own website experimentation tool, we displayed the ‘Free Marketing Plan’ version (our control) to 50% of our website visitors, while the other 50% of visitors saw the ‘Get My Free Marketing Plan’ version (our challenger),” said Zach Grove, Director of Marketing, Single Grain.

The treatment (challenger) increased the conversion rate from site visitor to form submission by 41%—with 95% statistical significance.

“CTA copy is one of the most overlooked levers you can pull when it comes to A/B testing,” Grove said. “Always be testing. We almost didn’t even launch this test, since the copy change was seemingly so minor. You can never be sure what hypotheses will win with your audience.”

Related Resources

Marketing Optimization: The 3 phases of evidence-based marketing

Marketing Optimization: You can’t find the true answer without the right question

The Long-Term-Growth Product Launch: Cuisinart has been selling the same food processor since the ‘70s (Podcast Episode #13)

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