Potential customers judge your marketing and product offerings based on the limited information they have.
In other words, they have a perception gap. They don’t see your products for what they really are, they use a sliver of information to make a snap judgement.
Here’s where marketers come in. With deeper understanding of customers’ wants, needs, and motivations, we can feed the most effective sliver of information about the right offer to the customer.
In this article, we share examples of companies that were able to better understand customers to provide messages and offerings that resonated.
Read on for examples from a SaaS, a bags company, online motorcycle gear retailer, and pet protection network.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
A single-product company that sells high-quality, all-natural, powdered health drinks engaged MECLABS Institute to help better understand their potential customers and increase the conversion rate of prospects reaching the homepage.
The original homepage took a claims-driven approach – it provided several bold statements about what the product would do for a customer with no information about the product to help the customer understand why it would work for them. Here is a look at the upper left of the original homepage.
Creative Sample #1: Upper left of original homepage for health drink company
The MECLABS team created a version of the homepage that took a conclusion-driven approach – instead only trying to convince potential customers with only bold claims about the product, the homepage copy included information about the product to help customers understand why the product would help them.
Creative Sample #2: Upper left of treatment homepage for health drink company
The team tested this version as the treatment against the original homepage (the control) to help better understand what communication style customers would respond to.
The treatment generated a 34% increase in conversion rate.
This experiment highlights a classic disconnect between customers and marketers. If you work in a company or with a client, you have intimate knowledge of the product and believe in its effectiveness. You spend all day thinking about it. You personally know some of the people who designed it. Your paycheck depends on the success of the product.
A customer does not have this same understanding or belief in the product. They have a significant gap in their knowledge about your product. Bold claims alone are not enough to close that gap. They have to understand why the product will work and come to their own conclusions about the company’s ability to deliver on its promises.
You can learn more about this experiment in The Conversion Heuristic Analysis: Overcoming the prospect’s perception gap from MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister publication).
“I'm the CEO of Doubletake, a tennis and pickleball bag company, but I spent the majority of my career focused on messaging and research, consulting as a strategist for top brands for the last 10 plus years, and in-house prior to that. I'm almost embarrassed that I have this example to share, but I thankfully came to my senses!,” Shawna Gwin Krasts told me.
“It is interesting that crafting messaging/copy for products that aren't ‘your baby’ is so much easier – there is just more distance to see it for what it is. If this wasn't so near and dear to my heart, I would have caught it in a second.”
The team launched its homepage with only the headline “Sports Meets Style” over a photo of a bag. The headline was meant to differentiate the brand from competitors that were either only sporty or fashionable. Below the headline was a call-to-action (CTA) button with the word “shop.”
Creative Sample #3: Previous homepage copy for bag company
Internally it seemed obvious that the company sells tennis and pickleball bags since a bag was in the photo.
But they came to realize that it might not be as clear to website visitors. So the team added the subhead “Gorgeous Yet Functional Tennis and Pickleball Bags.” They also added the word “bags” to the CTA so it read “shop bags.”
Creative Sample #4: New homepage copy for bag company
These simple changes increased the website's conversion rate by 191%.
“It is so important for marketers to get out of their own heads,” Krasts said. “I suppose this is why I struggle with messaging so much for Doubletake. I am the target customer – I have the answers in my head and I suppose my natural curiosity isn't as strong. But clearly, I also have to remember that I've seen my homepage 10,000 more times than my customers, which means things that seem obvious to me, like the fact that Doubletake is a tennis brand not a reseller, might not be obvious.”
There are ways to better tap into what customers perceive as valuable built into certain marketing channels. Email marketing is a great example. Marketers can build off information they have on the customer to send more relevant emails with information and products the customer is more likely to value.
"Very early in my marketing career I was taught, 'You are not the target audience' and told to try to see things from my customer's perspective. Empathizing with customers is a good start towards seeing products from the customers' perspective, but marketers really need to focus on quantifiable actions that can help identify customers' needs. That means continuous testing across messaging, price points, packaging, and every other aspect of a product. This is where personalization can really shine. Every time a marketer personalizes a message, it brings them closer to their customer and closes that gap," said Gretchen Scheiman, VP of Marketing, Sailthru.
For example, 80% of the email messages RevZilla sent were generic. But the website sells motorcycle parts and gear to a wide range of riders, each with their own preference in brand and riding style. The online motorcycle gear retailer partnered with Sailthru to better connect with customer motivations. The team started by upgrading the welcome series for new customers by personalizing the email messages based on the customers’ purchases and preferences.
The company has tested and added many new triggers to the site, and now has 177 different automation journeys that include triggers for browse and cart abandonment as well as automations for different product preferences, riding styles and manufacturer preferences.
The conversion rate from personalized email is double what RevZilla was getting for generic batch-and-blast sends. Automated experiences now account for 40% of email revenue. Triggered revenue is up 22% year-over-year and site traffic from triggers has increased 128% year-over-year.
"Customizing the buyer journey isn't about one long flow, but about lots of little trigger points and tests along the way. For any marketer that is intimidated about getting started with personalization, it's important to realize that it's more like a lot of small building blocks that create a whole experience. We started with a custom welcome series using testing and built from there. We're still adding new tests and new trigger points, but it's with the same concept that we started with,” said Andrew Lim, Director of Retention Marketing, RevZilla.
Huan makes smart tags for pets to help owners find their pets if they go missing. Initially, the company focused on the technical features in its homepage copy. For example, the tags don’t emit harmful radiation, are water-resistant and have a replaceable one-year battery.
From customer feedback surveys, the team discovered that customers purchased the product because they were worried they wouldn’t be able to find their pet if the pet went missing. This discovery prompted the team to change its messaging.
The new messaging on the homepage read, “Keep your pet safe and prevent heartbreak. Huan Smart Tags help you find your missing pet automatically.”
Revenue increased 53% increase following the change in messaging. “We immediately saw an increase in engagement on our website, with a lower bounce rate, higher click-through rate and a higher conversion rate. There were also a few people who messaged us on social media saying how our new message resonated with them,” said Gilad Rom, Founder, Huan.
When Chanty launched, the marketing messages focused on pricing since the Saas company is 50% less expensive than the best-known competitor. However, when the team started talking to customers, they discovered most people had switched from the competitor for different reasons – ease of use, better functionalities in the free plan, better experience with the customer support team, and a better mobile app.
The team changed its marketing to focus around these product attributes and only listed pricing in the end as an additional benefit.
“It turned out that this was the way to go because we attracted people who wanted a better experience, rather than just customers who wanted to save money. After six months of implementing this new marketing and sales strategy, our sales grew by 18%,” said Jane Kovalkova, Chief Marketing Officer, Chanty.
The Prospect’s Perception Gap: How to bridge the dangerous gap between the results we want and the results we have
Customer-First Marketing: Understanding customer pain and responding with action
Marketing Research Chart: How customer understanding impacts satisfaction
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