January 09, 2023
Case Study

Marketing Relevance Case Studies: Right offer, right time, right person


Relevance. I am sure I don’t have to convince you that being relevant is vital for marketing success, but I probably also don’t have to convince you that it’s easier said than done. Marketers have often told us that relevancy is one of their most significant challenges to marketing effectiveness.

So to get your creative juices flowing, we bring you some specific examples with results in this article. Read on for examples from Nestlé, a fractional CFO company, and a marketing agency.

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

Marketing Relevance Case Studies: Right offer, right time, right person

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“We need to field the right offer at the right time for the right person,” Flint McGlaughlin taught in Sales Funnel Power: 3 steps to help you lay the foundation of your value proposition.

In this article, we bring you case studies to inspire your best thinking for getting these three elements right:

  • Right time – Learn how Nestlé used AI personalization to vary the content visitors would receive based on time of day, along with many other factors, to get more clicks
  • Right offer – See how a marketing agency changed what its short-form videos offer (compared to what it’s long-form videos offered) to grow YouTube subscribers
  • Right person – Read how a global provider of part-time CFOs tweaked its newly successful homepage headline to decrease the form conversion rate…but get more of their ideal prospect.

Quick Case Study #1: How Nestlé used AI for personalization to get 45% more clicks

El Major Nido is Nestlé’s online destination for the Hispanic community with the goal of building a community around food online. “The Hispanic community has a desire to stay connected with their culture while experiencing American culture through food. We created El Mejor Nido with an anchor in the consumer insights of food and culture and want to grow and evolve with our community through digital experiences,” said Margie Bravo, Multicultural Strategist, Nestlé.

Simple, findable recipes are the main drivers of traffic through the website, which currently has the second most traffic of any Nestlé site.

The team wanted to test recipe personalization on the site’s homepage and recipe detail page to see how big of an effect it would have on engagement.

Creative Sample #1: Curated and personalized recipe recommendations on product detail page of Nestlé’s food community website

Creative Sample #1: Curated and personalized recipe recommendations on product detail page of Nestlé’s food community website

For the control, every visitor saw the same four curated recipes. For the treatment, each visitor saw a different set of recipes based on factors unique to them, such as:

  • Content factors – difficulty level, food trends, inventory, price, ingredients, diet, prep and cook times, complementary meals
  • User factors – time of day, weather, location, device, first visit or recurring user, etc.

Different combinations of these different factors will yield different recipe recommendations on the homepage carousel and the carousel found under the recipe detail page.

Here’s an example scenario. Melissa and Taylor are coworkers and both looking at recipes in the office.

One way of “personalization” would be to personalize based on location – so if they are in the same location, they might both receive similar recommendations depending on how different the other factors are. For example, for Melissa who’s checking recipes right at the end of the workday, this might be easy recipes that are vegetarian with prep times less than 30 minutes. For Taylor who’s checking recipes earlier in the morning, this might be easy recipes, that are not vegetarian, but that serve four people.

Another factor was language. The personalization platform automatically redirected visitors to a page in their preferred language (Spanish or English) based on visitors’ browser language preference – 9,900 consumers had their language switched based on this preference.

The personalization is possible for anonymous visitors as well as returning visitors, even on the first visit. “There is an assumption that you have to know your user in order to personalize, but 90% of visitors to a website are first-time and anonymous. You still have to give them a personalized experience to keep them coming back and engaged,” said Diane Keng, CEO, Breinify (Nestlé’s AI-driven personalization platform).

The personalized treatment received 45% more clicks than the curated control.

“AI tools can have so many applications for your business, but for a marketer the most impactful is to help you enrich consumer data and understand your consumers better, to give them exactly what they are looking for,” Bravo said. “The most important things to remember when using technology is to remain consumer focused, to be data-driven and to work with partners that understand your business. You need to make the technology work for you and not the other way around.”

Quick Case #2: How marketing agency grew YouTube subscribers from 5,000 to 455,000 in 100 days

“With all the government scrutiny over TikTok right now, we recently launched a 100-day YouTube video campaign to repurpose TikTok videos as a back-up plan,” said Austin Armstong, CEO, Socialty Pro.

The team focused on only creating similar content to what was performing best for them on TikTok and posting those videos as YouTube Shorts. This strategy helped them rapidly grow their YouTube subscribers.

“YouTube Shorts are in a vertical video format similar to Instagram Reels or TikTok,” Armstrong said. “This success also came right after an announcement from YouTube at VidCon 2022 saying that people who view your YouTube Shorts will now be recommended to view your long-form content. Was this timing a coincidence that impacted the Socialty Pro YouTube Subscriber growth? All it took was one video to explode, and it seemed to unlock all of the similar videos on the channel.”

The team sought to reverse engineer why that video was so successful and use what they learned to inform their YouTube strategy.

From a title and topic perspective, the video was incredibly broad – “Top 5 Most Useful Websites.” It was designed to reach as many people as possible.

The team used a really polarizing opening hook in that video: “These websites feel illegal to know.” They then added a unique spin on a very popular style, using a conversation approach. In each video, one person is talking to another person, but it’s really just the same person.

Creative Sample #2: YouTube Shorts video that went viral for marketing agency

Creative Sample #2: YouTube Shorts video that went viral for marketing agency

The team took the following lessons from this video, and used these lessons to create more videos:

  • Instead of using SEO titles like it does with long-form content, their video titling strategy revolved around short and simple titles for these shorter videos. For example, “Top 3 website growth hacks” instead of “3 ways to get more website backlinks to increase domain authority.” The YouTube Shorts videos that did not work well were too specific.
  • Instead of posting videos that go deep on single topics, they focused on listicle-type videos using a list-based format. For example, “5 types” or “5 websites” were used in the front of the video titles. The YouTube Shorts that did not work well did not include lists.
  • Because watch time is everything on YouTube, the new videos focused on making every cut in the video fast paced, with no slow moment, to keep the viewer engaged in the content.
  • They focused on ‘edu-taining’ viewers versus posting boring ‘talking head’ videos. Overall, the team began doing comedic sketches where Armstrong talked to a differently dressed version of himself with corny reactions.
  • At the end of each video, there is also a single call to action, which included subscribing to the Socialty Pro YouTube Channel to find even more useful website tips.

This similar video content posting strategy worked. Socialty Pro’s top 10 videos are all listicles with useful websites. And the company posted one to two of these YouTube Shorts every day to ride the momentum.

The team started using the Community tab on their channel to immediately engage with new subscribers.

Creative Sample #3: Community posts on marketing agency’s YouTube channel

Creative Sample #3: Community posts on marketing agency’s YouTube channel

On the Community tab, the team used polls to ask its audience what types of long-form videos they'd like to see more. Based on this feedback, the team made more of what the audience wanted to see. For example, Armstrong’s summary video about reaching 100,000 subscribers in three days came from a poll. And the polls were used to gain feedback for both long- form and short-form videos.

Overall, this growth hacking process and very small tweaks led the team to get up to three million views per day as well as gaining about 50,000 subscribers per day.

The result was the Socialty Pro YouTube Channel grew from 5,000 to 455,000 Subscribers. This rapid subscriber growth did not happen overnight. In fact, it took three years to reach 5,000 subscribers, but then it only took three days for everything to surpass the 100,000-subscriber mark using this video marketing strategy.

Quick Case Study #3: How fractional CFO company got 33% more high-quality form completions from homepage headline and subheadline test

The CFO Centre is a global provider of part-time CFOs. The company’s homepage had the following headline:

Superstar CFOs Helping Ambitious Entrepreneurs Achieve Extraordinary Things (unique part-time model)

That headline was accompanied by these subheadlines:

Increase cash | Increase profit | Increase valuation | Scale faster
Affordable part-time model | No up-front recruitment fees | No tie-ins | World's #1 provider

Participating in the MECLABS SuperFunnel Research Cohort inspired a headline and subheadline test on The CFO Centre’s United Kingdom homepage (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa). Here is the new headline:

Break Through £2m Revenue with Powerful Reports and Expert Advice

And new sub headlines:

10,000+ entrepreneurs have built their businesses and the lives they want, with our part-time CFOs
Affordable part-time model | No up-front recruitment fees | No tie-ins | World's #1 provider | Established 2001

And this is how the copy looked on the page…

Creative Sample #4: Treatment headline and sub headline copy for global provider of part-time CFOs

Creative Sample #4: Treatment headline and sub headline copy for global provider of part-time CFOs

“The above was the highest impact statement that I could get through the business for the homepage (we’ll have more powerful headlines for specific services). It aims to predicate the subject and their gain in the first four words and quantify the track record,” said Kate Barlow, Head of Digital Group, The CFO Centre.

"In truth, there are many things the CFOs do – and often they deliver a full spectrum of services once we’re working with a client. We wanted to test a product-level VP (value proposition) with universal appeal. As we work through headlines on the site, I think we’ll begin to test headlines that reflect primary or process VP on the homepage but we wanted to make a start with this one," she said. "My aim is to demonstrate the power of the headline initially and then work on creating a stronger set of words once people see that there’s a huge opportunity for us to tap into. I believe that successful first steps and building my own credibility in terms of running effective tests will open the way to a more adventurous approach."

One driver for change to this headline/subheadline combo was to provide greater clarity to website visitors on whether or not they are the ideal prospect, explain what they will get (reports) and why that matters (to help them grow through their next revenue target). "We thought this headline would work better because it talks to the customer and their needs, rather than at the customer. It also feels less boastful than talking about 'superstar CFOs,' which, I’d say, falls into the realm of marketing hype!" Barlow said. The subheadline adds clarity about the service (fractional or part-time CFOs) and evidentials to support the assertion that the company is the world’s #1 provider.

During the first week, she used the number £1m and that increased completions of the form (“which is in completely the wrong place on the page!” Barlow said) by 250% and live chat interactions by 100%.

In week two, the team changed the number to £2m to fit more closely with their ideal prospects and the numbers decreased (but quality increased). Compared with the control week (the week preceding the first test), they are still seeing a 33% increase in form submissions and 9% increase in chats.

"The benefit to us as a business is that we’re getting more enquiries from our ideal prospects," Barlow said. "This test shows that we better serve the customer when we think deeply about what we’re offering and invest effort in distilling these thoughts into succinct messages. When we work hard to earn the right to gain our prospects’ attention and we can get them to engage deeper (Micro-Yes 1 and Micro-Yes 2), we achieve better results immediately. We’ll definitely be testing more headlines in future but we’ll also be redesigning our homepage to get our micro-yeses in sequence in the future."

But she also cautioned about the limitations of the results. “It's important to add that the numbers are tiny. They don’t come close to meeting a stochastic sample size because we don’t have tons of traffic to the site. However, I’ve now engaged a couple of other countries in the testing process,” she said.

“Alongside this, I’m working on the [MECLABS] SuperFunnel project and I’ll get this ready to launch when Flint [McGlaughlin] wants us to go live. It is incredibly inspiring and uplifting to see so many elements of marketing practice click into place through this process,” Barlow said.

Related Resources

Email Marketing: 3 award-winning lessons about relevance

Marketers Stand Together: 8 crucial conversion optimization lessons from MarketingExperiments videos

Timing and Email Marketing: Sunday generated 23% higher clickthrough than Tuesday in test

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