Is it possible to use digital marketing and a brand make-over to increase revenues 278% in just 6 months?
If you’d asked me that question a year ago, I would have said you were crazy. But when we were asked to use digital marketing and a brand make-over to kick-start an organization’s sales, we decided to do everything we could to turn things around for them.
To our great surprise, it worked.
In fact, it worked better than we expected. And all we had at our disposal was a modest digital marketing budget and a team of smart, hardworking professionals (both on the agency and the client side).
The Secret to a Digital Marketing Make-Over? Start with a Blank Slate.
To kick things off, it’ll help you to know a little bit about our client. The organization had developed an online training program for people interested in yoga and meditation. The program was called Inner Engineering and sales had been flat for quite some time.
By the way, while I’m thinking about it, it’s important to note that not everything we did for them was successful. In fact, two things we did for them (PR and direct mail) failed miserably. That said, all of our efforts were designed to be measured in some way, so that once we ran the campaign, we could choose to run it again or kill it, depending on the results.
So what was our process? Here goes:
Step 1: We analyzed their competitor’s messaging strategy. The first thing we did was to examine the competitors in the industry (loosely defined as the Human Development Industry). You’ll be familiar with some of their competitors because they have excellent brand recognition — they include Deepak Chopra, Transcendental Meditation, Eckhart Tolle and others. (We even included Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield in the competitive review. They don’t offer yoga and meditation courses, but they do they work in the Human Development industry, so we wanted to see what they were doing to be so successful.)
By examining the competitive landscape, we were able to plot out where our program, taught by an Indian Guru named Sadhguru, would fit into the landscape.
Here’s a graphic that shows how we plotted out the industry landscape on a 2×2:
Now that we had a sense of where the competitors were, we were able to start exploring how we were going to position our client’s product in the marketplace. But before we did that, we had to examine the existing website to analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
Step 2: We acknowledged the weaknesses of the original website. Our next step was to take a look at the existing website. As you can see in the image below, for the U.S. target market, the site would come across as overly-cluttered and wouldn’t express the sense of peace and calm we felt the new site would need.
Step 3: We came to grips with the target market. After doing some initial research into the target market, we realized something important — there are vast portions of the U.S. population who will never be interested in an online yoga and meditation training course.
By our best estimate, about half of the country would be seriously interested in doing an online yoga and meditation program taught by an Indian guru.
With that in mind, we decided to incorporate a strategy that is often used by political parties. When the Democrats and Republicans survey the American landscape, the initially group each state into one of three categories — states they have locked-up, states that are on the fence, and states that they’ll never win in a thousand years.
The low hanging fruit, of course, are the states the political parties have locked up. Their goal here is to spend very efficiently, but not to waste budget. The states that are on the fence get the biggest share of the budget, because the political party’s goal is to get those states to swing over to their platform. The states that get little or no budget are the states they’ll never win in a thousand years.
Using that approach, we divided our target market into 3 groups — people who were likely to take the course (provided they knew about it); people who might consider taking the course; and people who would be very difficult to persuade to take the course.
We then developed personas around these 3 target groups and wrote up a short profile about each, highlighted in the graphic below.
We did a realistic assessment of the target market as outlined below.
Another Digital Marketing Secret? Analyze How Your Prospects Navigate the Sales Funnel.
The goal for most digital marketing campaigns is to add leads to the top of the sales funnel so that you can slowly nurture them through the funnel and convert them to customers.
It sounds easy, but it’s not.
As Jeanne Hopkins (the former Vice President of Marketing for HubSpot) told me, “If generating leads were easy, everybody would be doing it.”
Truer words were never spoken.
All that said, the starting point for a digital marketing campaign is to do an analysis of how prospects will be nurtured through the sales funnel.
Here’s the sales funnel analysis we conducted that gave us a roadmap on how to move forward.
After reviewing their sales funnel and helping the client understand the different mindsets that happen throughout, we started to explore key messages that the potential customers would be interested in. Over the course of time, we took a look at dozens of different key messages and came to the joint conclusion that the prospective customer was most interested in three things.
Here are the three messages we felt provided the biggest opportunity for success:
• Stress reduction
• Improved relationships
• Increased mental clarity
In addition to zeroing in on our key messages, we also wanted to review the consumer thought process. As Dr. Flint McLaughlin at Marketing Sherpa taught me, one of the most important things you can do when creating a landing page is to understand the consumer thought process.
With Dr. McLaughlin’s teachings in mind, here’s the consumer thought process our prospects would go through when they first arrived at our landing pages:
• Where am I?
• What do they have that will solve my problem of stress, relationships or mental clarity?
• Is this different from what I’ve already experienced? What are the benefits?
• Is this credible?
• How much does it cost?
• Do they have a special offer/incentive?
Our next step was to block out what the landing page would look like as a way to explore how we were going to help the consumer on their journey. Here’s what that looked like:
In addition to working through the fundamentals of the consumer thought process as well as the landing page design, we wanted to explore what tone of voice the brand would take on. In order to do that, we plotted out contrasting tonalities and explored where we needed to move those tonalities as we launched the re-branded site.
Here’s the brand tone analysis we developed that helped us fine-tune their brand tone of voice.
The blue dots where where their current brand tone was. So, as an example, on the bottom spectrum, you can see their brand tone gravitated too far towards towards mysterious. Our recommendation was to move them more towards the red dot on the left where they would be seen as more open.
The same was true on the contemporary vs. traditional spectrum. Our goal was to move them away from a traditional tone of voice and more towards a contemporary tone of voice.
In addition to a brand tone analysis, we also developed a visual analysis that helped us explore where to take them graphically.
We knew that colors, textures, and graphics were going to be pivotal in our brand make-over. With that in mind, we analyzed three different directions we could take the brand aesthetic.
The first, see below, was called Classic Cool and represented an updated, East Coast aesthetic that was reminiscent of Ralph Lauren.
In the end, we decided that Classic Cool was too elitist to appeal to a broad audience, so we explored another aesthetic called American Heartland that looked like this.
As much as we liked the American Heartland brand aesthetic, it still felt too traditional for our target market, so we developed a third aesthetic, which was called California Cool. You can see that one here.
The graphics seen above pointed us in a good direction, but we still needed to drill down, so we started exploring color themes that we felt would work when we re-launched the brand. Here’s what we ended up with from a color theme point-of-view.
Now that we had settled on many of the brand elements, it was time to put pen to paper and build out the website.
By Doing a Little Digging, We Uncovered a Secret Weapon That Transformed the Campaign.
One of the key things we wanted to do when we re-launched the website was to feature testimonials from people who had taken the online course or who had said good things about Sadhguru. In one of our multitude of brainstorming meetings, we uncovered an as-yet-to-be-revealed nugget of information — Ariana Huffington, Donna Karan and Ed Begley were fans of Sadhguru and had publicly said some very kind things about him.
That was a goldmine.
What better way to add credibility to a brand than to have respected thought leaders saying positive things about it?
So, of course, we introduced testimonials from these three celebrities smack dab in the middle of the home page. Our intent was to get visitors comfortable with the idea of an online course from an Indian guru by showing them celebrities who were already fans. That way, we would be able to ease people in to the sales funnel and ultimately convert them into customers.
In the end, the re-designed website incorporated all of the brand aethetics and messaging that I’ve referenced above. Here’s what the re-designed website looked like.
As you can see, the new website design was more friendly, less cluttered, and more contemporary than the original design. The openness and minimalism was designed to ease people in to website so that they felt comfortable and relaxed.
You Might be Surprised by This, but We Were Disappointed by the Initial Results.
What were the results of the re-launch? I would love to tell you that we hit a grand slam right off the bat, but that wasn’t the case. Our digital marketing campaign that launched to support the brand make-over had some good things going for it, but we had to scramble to quickly make adjustments to the overall campaign.
For starters, the conversion rate on the landing pages was better than the original site, but not as high as we wanted. So, we began A/B split testing new landing pages with different designs and different messages. Ultimately, we were able to more than double the conversion rate of the original landing pages.
But that wasn’t all we had to do. We also realized that our paid search campaign was going to struggle to convert. Why? In a nutshell, nobody is going to buy an expensive online course the first time they click through to the landing page.
Given that, we had to supercharge our email marketing campaign. In other words, we had to drop people into the top of the sales funnel so that we could build a relationship with them that would ultimately result in a sale over time.
Within months, we started to see the results get better and better. About 2 months after our re-launch, we started to turn the corner. By the 4th month, we had more than doubled their sales. And by the 6th month, we increased monthly revenues by more than 350%. (Ultimately, we averaged out to a 278% increase in sales, which is why the headline of the post uses that figure.)
Three Secrets We Learned During This Journey.
We learned a great deal during the re-launch of the Inner Engineering brand. It wasn’t always easy, and I have to give credit to the client whose inquisitive mind and attention to detail forced us to keep drilling deeper and deeper for insights and information.
With all of that in mind, here are some things you should consider if you decide to move forward with a re-launch of your own.
Clean the Slate. Your re-launch will yield the best results if you allow your agency to start with a blank slate. That’s not always possible, but if it is, give them that kind of flexibility.
Think Backwards. One of the best things we did was to get inside the mind of our prospect and think backwards from there. By having a customer-centric approach, we knew that our end result would meet them where they wanted to be met.
Test Your Way to Success. As mentioned, the digital marketing campaign wasn’t a grand slam the minute we re-lauched the site. But the fact that we measured all of our results allowed us to track what was working and what wasn’t. By adjusting the program along the way, we were able to optimize the campaign, which resulted in a 278% average monthly increase in revenues vs. the previous same year period.
I’ve covered a lot of ground here. Believe it or not, this is only about half the story. If you’d like to hear the rest of the details, feel free to email me. I’m more than happy to share some of the additional details via email.
Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and SIXTY an Atlanta-based advertising and digital marketing firm that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.