April 14, 2021
Case Study

Best Practices Are Pooled Ignorance: 4 quick marketing case studies of brands that found success by taking a different approach


We all want the shortcut.

The tricks. The marketing hacks.

But sometimes when we go down this all-too-tempting path, we wind up at a dead end. Just because it worked for someone else’s customers does not mean it will work for yours.

To give you ideas for challenging the status quo, today we bring you examples from NASCAR, a nonprofit organization, and an ecommerce mattress website.

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

Best Practices Are Pooled Ignorance: 4 quick marketing case studies of brands that found success by taking a different approach

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way”

Paul Anka’s words come to mind when I think of the case studies we publish here at MarketingSherpa. There are 1,668 case studies in the MarketingSherpa library according to the latest count (along with 7,037 how-tos, charts, videos, and other information to help you improve your marketing).

But these case studies are not meant to be followed verbatim. We publish these case studies from your peers to inspire your next great idea, not dictate your marketing strategy. To inspire your ideas when you do it your way.

As Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS Institute has said, “best practices on the internet are often just pooled ignorance” (from the video Best Practices Are Often Just Pooled Ignorance: How to avoid this mistake by mapping your customer’s thought sequence).

In other words…never let your curiosity and creativity take a back seat to what some other marketer at some other brand (or worse – vendor) says will work. Seek to understand your unique audience and customer base, and then work hard to constantly challenge the status quo to find the most effective way to serve them.

To inspire your next great idea, here are four quick case studies from your peers.

Quick Case Study #1: Nonprofit organization spends less than 5 cents per person reached using influencer marketing for nation branding

The State of Israel has been embroiled in a long-lasting conflict with its neighbors with no end in sight. For decades, the Israeli government and pro-Israel advocacy organizations have focused their efforts on explaining and justifying Israel’s policies, leaving little space for other focuses. Recognizing that Israel is in a unique and challenging situation, Vibe Israel – a nonprofit organization that essentially functions as Israel’s marketing and branding agency – set out to brand Israel as a country, not a conflict.

Vibe Israel commissioned research that showed once people around the world connect with Israel and experience the country firsthand – whether through business, culture, or an in-person visit – they are more likely to form positive perceptions of Israel.

With this in mind, Vibe Israel formed the Vibe Tours program with the goal of connecting online influencers to Israel so that they could share their experiences with their followers. Vibe Tours takes international influencers on a weeklong, all-expenses-paid personalized experience of Israel. Each tour has a subject theme, such as art, food, photography or environment, and tours only have four to six participants to create a more individualized and exclusive experience.

The team reached out to influencers through a direct message or email. “With time we have made a name for ourselves in the influencer market and we get a lot of our new participants through their influencer friends that already [participated in] our tours. The tours we offer are unique in this field since they are made specifically for the group of influencers joining and targeted to their specific field of interest, making this opportunity more valuable to them than others and making our recruiting process much easier,” said Joanna Landau, Founder & CEO, Vibe Israel.

What makes Vibe Israel’s tours different from other like-minded trips is the uniqueness of the nonprofit’s branding initiatives through niche marketing and people-to-people strategies.

Because Israeli culture is so multi-faceted, a single tour cannot adequately cover all of its aspects. Rather than giving a surface level explanation of all dimensions of Israeli culture, Vibe Israel focuses its tours on a specific subject area and seeks out influencers most interested in these topics, creating a seamless connection between the influencer and Israel that is then portrayed to their followers.

“Even though Vibe Israel’s objective is to market Israel, Vibe Tours focuses on connecting people, not showcasing a place. By connecting influencers with Israelis who share the same areas of interest, these tours help to foster long-term connections and friendships,” Landau said.

Creative Sample #1: Instagram post by influencer who went on a Vibe Israel tour

Creative Sample #1: Instagram post by influencer who went on a Vibe Israel tour

Survey results from participants both before and after tours show a vast improvement in positive perceptions of Israel post-tour. The feedback about the tour experience from participants is also extremely positive. 

For example, in a sustainability focused post-trip survey, there was a 36% increase from the pre-tour survey in the participants’ perceptions of Israelis as warm and caring, a 59% increase in the perceptions of Israelis having a can-do spirit participants’ admire, and a 185% increase in participants’ beliefs that Israelis are accepting of all religions, sexualities, and many other lifestyles.

The team tracks the viral effect of our tours using online software to measure social media impressions and has found that tours reach around 10 million people a year through the influencer’s content. Recently, the team has also started using tracking software to calculate the industry value of the influencer posts published and has found that each of the tours has a value price point of over three million dollars if they were to pay for each post.

Dividing costs into the overall potential reach of over 10 million followers, Vibe Israel spends less than $0.05 per person reached.

In addition, in the follow-up to these tours, participants have been offered various business opportunities – brand ambassadorships for Israeli products, speaking engagements at conferences and festivals, etc. – stemming from the connections they formed in Israel.

Landau offered this advice for other marketers based on the case study:

  • Believe in your product

Letting go of control when working with influencers is a basic requirement – if you truly believe you have a great product, it will speak for itself, don’t put words into their mouth. It’s their voice, let them celebrate it.

  • It’s not about what you want to say but what your audience wants to hear

Sometimes we have something to say and are convinced that’s what our audiences wants to hear. More often than not, we’re too busy talking to actually listen. Take a moment to assess what your audience cares about, is drawn to and wants to engage with. If necessary, do research to find it out. And then adapt what you wanted to say to what they want to hear.

  • The more specific the topic, the better

When we started our tours, one of the topics we focused on was food. Then we decided to delve deeper and do tours such as vegan-focused trips and a just-pastries experience. And when we do food tours, we sometimes will choose only sophisticated recipe creators vs. easy home cooking. There are hundreds of thousands of people who care about the same, very specific, topic. The secret is not in how many people you reach, but how engaged they are. The more specific the content, the more engagement you’ll get.

Quick Case Study #2: Click-to-reveal email increases CTR 19.2% for NASCAR

“When it comes to showing a subscriber that you are thinking about them, sending a birthday message or any other loyalty message goes a long way, especially as we all experience this pandemic together. Personalized messages ‘just because’ show that you care. Yes, you want to give them a nice little promo offer, but you are also building a connection with them and your brand. We need to thank those subscribers for sticking with us during this nutty year and tell them how much they are appreciated within the brand’s community. In return, they will continue to show you their love of your brand. Brand loyalty needs to be front and center for all marketers this year!" said Maria Braune, Product Marketing Manager, Liveclicker.

NASCAR sent birthday emails to their customer database. The birthday emails contained a static image with a special discount, encouraging fans to celebrate themselves with a gift from the NASCAR Shop.

NASCAR tested a static image against a peel-to-reveal mystery offer using the Liveclicker real-time email marketing platform. Both emails offered discounts, incentivizing customers to click through to the shop. However, the click-to-reveal email sought to transform the passive promotion into a tactile, engaging experience, evoking the feeling of unwrapping a gift on the recipient’s special day while driving more traffic back to NASCAR’s website.

Creative Sample #2: NASCAR’s peel-to-reveal birthday email

Creative Sample #2: NASCAR’s peel-to-reveal birthday email

Compared to the default campaign that promoted equivalent offers, the mystery offer on average saw a 19.2% increase in clickthrough rate (CTR) from April-July 2020 and a 2.9% increase in clicks. Year over year, NASCAR saw a 94% increase in conversions and a 308% increase in revenue after implementing the new birthday campaigns. The team also achieved a 161% increase in site visits and 406% jump in orders during the same period.

"We thought that by creating newsletters that were sent to our fans on their birthdays, that we were already doing a great job of engaging them in a personalized way. We found that by adding dynamic elements from Liveclicker that created more interaction and excitement that we could reach a new level of email engagement. It's always worth it to keep trying new things, and keep testing, even on elements of your marketing strategy that are already doing well,” said Donald Baal, Senior Director, Digital Marketing, NASCAR.

Quick Case Study #3: Live social proof decreased order conversion for online mattress store

For two months, the team at MattressInsider.com A/B tested live social proof – essentially a browser pop-up customers see on e-commerce sites with a message like “Dawn in Jacksonville just bought this product 25 minutes ago.”

The addition of this feature to the website resulted in a 10% drop in order conversions over two months.

“A lot of ecommerce sites use those social proof services and I suspect they don't test them to see how they impact conversions and revenue. While it may work for certain types of sites, it clearly didn't work on ours,” said Jonathan Prichard, Founder & CEO, MattressInsider.com.

Quick Case Study #4: Amazon Pay decreased revenue for online mattress store

The ecommerce mattress website from the previous case study ran a test displaying Amazon Pay during checkout.

It led to a 20% drop in revenue over the course of two weeks so they abruptly shut that test off and removed Amazon Pay from the site without further testing. 

“Amazon is a direct competitor in many of the niches we are in and we suspect we were giving customers a reminder to go search Amazon.com during check out before buying from us. If you're offering products that can also be found on Amazon, you definitely want to split test this,” Prichard advised.

Related Resources

Discovering What Works in Marketing: 7 quick case studies of marketers challenging the status quo

The Hidden Side of Email Marketing: The once-and-done option, A/B testing and a supersmart kind of dumb

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