May 21, 2024
Case Study

Visual and Design Changes: Examples showing the evolution of marketing design choices


Stock photos. AI-generated images. Generic webpage templates.

These are all easy and inexpensive ways to handle the visuals and design for your brand. But effective visual strategy? I don’t know.

So to give you ideas for optimizing your brand’s use of imagery and layout, read on (and see the creative samples) to discover how an IV safety company used graphic images to convey the severity of medical issues, OT cybersecurity company used visual clusters to clarify product offerings, and comparison site tested various UI layouts and visual elements to enhance usability.

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

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Quick Case Study #1: How IV safety company changed from stock photo to real images that communicate its value proposition, moved conversations with prospective customers from a sales context to a clinical one

ivWatch claims to have ‘the world’s only solution to detect IV infiltrations and extravasations early.’

BEFORE: Traditional medical marketing

Medical marketing has traditionally been very conservative, and the team’s initial approach was no different. The company’s booth was designed with typical colors for healthcare marketing – blue and white – and stock-like photos of a variety of patient archetypes.

Creative Sample #1: IV safety company tradeshow booth (before)

Creative Sample #1: IV safety company tradeshow booth (before)

“We could see there was a great runway to lean into the most important thing about a healthcare brand, which is the human aspect, and not with static images without any real meaning,” said Erin Wendell, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, ivWatch.

Before being hired at ivWatch, Wendell had a 14-year tenure at Under Armour. She saw an opportunity to bring the kind of compelling storytelling that is de rigueur in the consumer world to the heavily regulated – and often very constrained – medical marketing space.

The change in messaging began with a shift in ivWatch’s market focus from the U.S. to Europe and the U.K. “In the U.S., we were making slower inroads than we should have been because of clinicians’ fear of admitting their hospital or unit even had a problem in this arena. In the U.K. and Europe, governmental entities and private hospitals alike are not afraid to admit that IV injuries are happening given that 50% of IVs fail, often through no clinician's fault,” notes Wendell.

To deepen the company’s customer focus in the new market, Wendell organized multiple 10-to-15-day European ‘roadshow tours’ in 2023, visiting eight countries and meeting with numerous potential customers and distributors a day, exhibiting at trade shows, participating in speaking engagements, and traveling daily to another city or country.

During one of these roadshows in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the team visited a children’s hospital where two passionate experts in IV safety were located.

During the visit, the team noticed that there were four nurses surrounding a single incubator. Says Wendell, “You honestly could not make out that the baby was even a baby because it was so young and so small. It took two of the nurses to keep the baby warm at all times while a third and fourth alternated attempts to insert an IV. They were sweating, contorting themselves into painful positions, and failing repeatedly. They were doing everything they could to get a lifesaving IV into this tiny baby. It was heartbreaking, and you could feel the struggle and the pain.”

With this experience fresh in their mind, the team set about revamping its marketing. The initially focused on the company’s trade show presence, since it exhibited at more than 15 trade shows in 2023 alone.

AFTER: Taking a cue from the art told to humanize IV injuries

“Our new marketing campaigns seek to move beyond the artifice of medical advertising and pay tribute to those who have suffered from severe IV extravasation injuries,” Wendell says.

Using graphic images of the kind of premature infants and their IV injuries they witnessed in Utrecht, the team created a gallery concept for the floor of the most influential show in their marketplace. Entitled ‘Pain Should Not Be Silenced,’ ivWatch mounted the equivalent of an art exhibition, showing the human realities and devastations of these injuries for the most vulnerable and voiceless of victims.

 “We realized the week of the show that the images might be disturbing enough in their graphic depiction of the heartbreaking truth of NICU IV injuries that we would be prohibited from exhibiting them as intended – out in the open in our booth,” Wendell says.

And sure enough, the team faced an outcry from the booth assembly crew, who objected to the images, and a tense flight from London to Portland, OR, during which they scrambled to create coverings for the photos as rumors were flying that the images might be censored or even removed. The team quickly fabricated ‘CENSORED’ graphics and brought them to the show so the exhibit could remain, even if organizers required it to be hidden from public view.

Creative Sample #2: IV safety company tradeshow booth (after)

Creative Sample #2: IV safety company tradeshow booth (after)

Editor’s Note: We did not include the original, uncensored booth imagery in this article due to the disturbing nature of injuries to premature infants. But if you would like to see them for yourself, you can click here to see the uncensored booth.

RESULTS: Move conversations with prospective customers from a sales context to a clinical one

The gallery was the talk of the show. Even though it has been half a year since the concept debuted, attendees are still contacting ivWatch to discuss the exhibition's impact. One fellow marketing executive wrote to Erin after the conference: ‘I can tell you that upon going to a few other booths shortly after, there was some jealousy around how much buzz you were generating.’

Gary Warren, ivWatch’s CEO, says, “It’s not about selling a product but more about creating a movement. It’s bold. Many practicing this art fear bold and prefer a safe approach and they get lost in the noise of fitting in.”

Booth attendance nearly doubled, and the change positively impacted lead generation. The topic of IV extravasations was historically ignored for the entirety of this annual industry event up until 2023. After the launch of this campaign, key opinion leaders and executives took center stage to discuss the clinical impacts of IV extravasations, and the legalities associated with failure to monitor IVs and future research in the space were discussed.

The traveling gallery concept continues to make waves and now 10 ivWatch distributors around the world have also embraced this storytelling campaign and are seeing similar impact in their markets with commentary at regional and national shows that range from ‘This is the most important product on the show floor’ to ‘Finally, you have been so busy, I have not been able to get to your stand at all’ and ‘What’s this all about, this is the busiest stand in the whole place?’

One of the benefits of this new approach is that it moves conversations with prospective customers from a sales context to a clinical one. “It’s actually allowed us to fast forward our sales conversations, which tend to be very lengthy given the nature of capital and consumable sales processes. Because we now start the conversations at a clinical level – by showing the actual pain and distress this issue causes the most vulnerable of patients – these conversations are now had with a sense of urgency on everyone’s part around solving this problem and helping to prevent the severity of these types of injuries,” notes Wendell.

What started as a test concept has quickly bridged from a physical experience to the digital realm. On LinkedIn, the company’s primary social platform, the team has seen an 18% increase in followers over the last year, an 8.4% engagement rate on its most successful content posted, 73% increase in impressions over the course of one year, and 65% more comments over the last year.

“Perhaps the greatest impact this concept had on our end customers is the opening up of conversations around what has historically been a taboo conversation to have within healthcare environments, which is the fact that infiltrations and extravasations occur far more frequently than clinicians and administrators want to admit,” says Wendell. “Almost every single follow-up conversation we’ve had has started with, ‘I’m so glad this is finally being discussed. We can’t afford to keep sweeping this problem under the rug.’”

Quick Case Study #2: How OT cybersecurity added clarity to product architecture, increased leads 400%

Radiflow is a cybersecurity company used at 8,000 sites globally. The company seeks to reach chief security officers looking for OT/ICS (operation technology/industrial control systems) security solutions.

BEFORE: Confusing product architecture

The company’s product architecture suffered from confusing, R&D-generated names like iSID, iSAP, iCEN, iSEG, or iSIM. These names had no clear meaning or segmentation. They offered no immediate value proposition to customers or purpose that could be understood without digging deep into the product specifications. This, combined with a cluttered website, made it difficult for visitors to understand Radiflow's offerings and take action.

“Although the cybersecurity market is very saturated and has lots of strong players, we saw great potential for Radiflow to thrive and rise above the noise,” says Sarit Lamerovich, CEO and Founder, SAGE Marketing (agency that served as Radiflow’s in-house marketing team).

Understanding products was confusing because customers didn't get what each product did for them.

AFTER: Straightforward product architecture

To improve the perception, the team created a clear product architecture and visual concept to group the products into meaningful clusters. This ‘SEE, KNOW, ACT, MONITOR’ framework utilizes circular visuals to explain the benefits of each cluster and their necessity in holistic OT management:

  • SEE: Gain visibility into your OT security landscape
  • KNOW: Identify threats and vulnerabilities in your network
  • ACT: Manage your risk with a unique framework

These clusters are all encompassed by a higher level – MONITOR. This continuous monitoring system alerts users to any suspicious activity.

Creative Sample #3: New product clusters

Creative Sample #3: New product clusters

By associating the original product names with these clear benefit-driven clusters, the team made them more understandable and relevant to customers.

Creative Sample #4: Visual explanation of the SEE product cluster

Creative Sample #4: Visual explanation of the SEE product cluster

RESULTS: Increase in leads

The new product architecture was part of an overall rebranding campaign that also included a new marketing automation setup with a more structured lead management protocol.

The overall campaign increased total leads by 400%. Additionally, there was a 2,588% increase in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and a 167% increase in Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). These efforts also resulted in a 172% growth in business opportunities.

“The holistic approach and comprehensive activities contributed to our growth and brand credibility and increased our sales pipeline”, said Ilan Barda, CEO, Radiflow.

Quick Case Study #3: How comparison site conducted series of tests on AI-driven recommendations and UI improvements to increase conversion 30%

CasinoBernie was facing low user engagement with its games grid, underperforming conversion rates from game exploration to gameplay, and inadequate data utilization for personalized user experiences.

So the team decided to embark on a series of A/B tests. The key stakeholders in the decision-making process included product owners, the tech and graphics team, and the SEO/analysts team, who were convinced of the approach by seeing the potential ROI from enhancing user personalization and engagement thanks to the below tests.

User feedback informed these tests. “Feedback from surveys on the usability of the game pages and the relevance of game suggestions has been invaluable, leading to further refinements such as adjusting the visibility of certain UI elements and enhancing the accuracy of recommendation,” said Kasandra Grant, Head of SEO, CasinoBernie.

Let’s take a look at the tests.

TEST #1 BEFORE: Simple list

The games page featured a simple list sorted by release date. There was minimal information and no direct play options.

Creative Sample #5: ‘Most popular’ game category page (control)

Creative Sample #5: ‘Most popular’ game category page (control)

TEST #1 AFTER: AI-driven recommendation engine

The team created a treatment with an AI-powered recommendation algorithm that analyzed user preferences and gaming behaviors to personalize suggestions.

The AI-driven recommendation machine was developed through a process that involved collecting detailed user behavior data, and then analyzing this data to understand user preferences and behaviors and using these insights to feed the engine.

“By implementing machine learning, we ensure that each user's experience is unique, making game discovery not just intuitive but personal,” Grant said.

This engine dynamically personalizes game suggestions by analyzing user preferences and past behaviors, alongside real-time data on game popularity and preferences of similar users. It included dynamic sorting options and rich game information tailored to user preferences.

Creative Sample #6: ‘Most popular’ game category page (treatment)

Creative Sample #6: ‘Most popular’ game category page (treatment)

TEST #1 RESULTS: Increase in user engagement time

“We run all data in Excel and BigQuery,” Grant said.

The treatment performed better than the control:

  • Average engagement time increased 24%, from 2:09 to 3:06
  • Conversion rate from exploration to gameplay increased 30%, from 6.11% to 7.94%
  • CTR improved 40%, from 6% to 8.4%
  • Returning visitors increased 15%

TEST #2 BEFORE: Static image game previews

Static images were used as game previews.

Creative Sample #7: Game preview (control)

Creative Sample #7: Game preview (control)

TEST #2 AFTER: Video game previews

The team tested short video clips as game previews.

Creative Sample #8: Game preview (treatment)

Creative Sample #8: Game preview (treatment)

TEST #2 RESULTS: Increase in average engagement time

The treatment outperformed the control:

  • 200% increase in average engagement time, from 0:45 to 1:35
  • 133% increase in clickthrough rate, from 3% to 7%

TEST #3 BEFORE: Top navigation layout

The site had a traditional top horizontal navigation menu.

Creative Sample #9: Navigation layout (control)

Creative Sample #9: Navigation layout (control)

TEST #3 AFTER: Sidebar navigation layout

The team experimented with a vertical sidebar navigation for categories.

Creative Sample #10: Navigation layout (treatment)

Creative Sample #10: Navigation layout (treatment)

TEST #3 RESULTS: Quicker access to game categories

Sidebar navigation reduced the average time to navigate by 33%, according to user testing, from an average navigation time of 30 seconds to find game categories in the top nav, versus 20 seconds in the sidebar nav.

TEST #4 BEFORE: Minimalist CTA button design

Used a simple and clean button design.

Creative Sample #11: Call-to-action button design (control)

Creative Sample #11: Call-to-action button design (control)

TEST #4 AFTER: Vibrant CTA button design

The team tried bright and bold button colors with dynamic effects.

Creative Sample #12: Call-to-action button design (treatment)

Creative Sample #12: Call-to-action button design (treatment)

TEST #4 RESULTS: Higher clickthrough rate

The treatment outperformed the control:

  • 33% higher clickthrough rate, from 4.5% to 6%
  • 75% improvement in conversion rate to game plays, from 2% to 3.5%

TEST #5 BEFORE: Short and concise

Game descriptions for the control were short and concise, utilizing brief descriptions with bullet points.

Creative Sample #13: Game description layout (control)

Creative Sample #13: Game description layout (control)

TEST #5 AFTER: Detailed narrative

The team tested longer, story-like descriptions that provide in-depth information about the game.

Creative Sample #14: Game description layout (treatment)

Creative Sample #14: Game description layout (treatment)

TEST #5 RESULTS: Increase in engagement time

The average user engagement time on these pages increased to one minute from 35 seconds, a 71% increase.

OVERALL BEFORE: No focus on user preferences

Now let’s look at the impact of all this testing.

Before this testing cycle, game suggestions were purely sorted by last added date. There was no focus on user preferences, and they were not able to interact with the games either.

Creative Sample #15: Category page (before)

Creative Sample #15: Category page (before)

Creative Sample #16: Game page (before)

Creative Sample #16: Game page (before)

OVERALL AFTER: More information for users

The team added a small intro to what exactly people were going to find. They added sorting and more information to the games.

Creative Sample #17: Category page (after)

Creative Sample #17: Category page (after)

Creative Sample #18: Game page (after)

Creative Sample #18: Game page (after)

RESULTS: Increase from game exploration to game play

Conversion rate increased 30% from game exploration to game play. Returning visitors grew 15% compared to before all the changes, suggesting higher satisfaction for the visitor.

Average engagement time on the game page increased 144%, from 0:48 to 1:57.

Related Resources

Website Strategy: Examples of the 3 fundamental site elements that power digital sales and marketing results

Impact of Visuals in Digital Marketing: Examples from a SaaS and a clinical research organization

The 21 Psychological Elements that Power Effective Web Design (Part 1)

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