June 13, 2022
Case Study

Marketing Funnel: Examples of how marketers try to perfect the customer journey in their SEO, printed content, and landing page


“When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from someone who never left home,” Rumi said.

Which is why we don’t bring you thought leaders at MarketingSherpa, we bring you case studies from your peers.

See what ideas our latest batch of case studies inspires in you by reading the article below, with examples from a sales consulting company, coffee subscription business, and home services company.

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

Marketing Funnel: Examples of how marketers try to perfect the customer journey in their SEO, printed content, and landing page

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

There are eight micro-yes(es) you must earn from a customer in order to gain a conversion from that customer, according to the Landing Page Blueprint.

This is true of the specific – you need to win these micro-yes(es) as your customer journeys through your landing page.

But it is equally true for the general – the overall journey of your customers. You need to earn these same micro-yes(es) throughout your sales and marketing funnel.

To spark your best thinking for how to earn more micro-yes(es), in this article we bring you three examples.

First, we focus on Micro-Yes #1 – “Yes, I will pay attention” – as we take an inside look at how a sales consulting company earned more passive links by focusing on journalist intent.

Next up, Micro-Yes #2 – “Yes, I will engage deeper” – we show you how a subscription business used printed content to increase customer engagement.

And finally, we end where we began – the landing page. We look at how a home services company tried to earn more yes(es) for Micro-Yes #4 – “Yes, I believe.”

Quick Case Study #1: Sales consulting company focused on journalist intent to grow domain rating from almost nothing to 52

The team at IRC Sales Solutions wanted to improve its SEO and decided to focus on journalist intent.

What is journalist intent? Its like search intent…for journalists. Search intent is the SEO practice of trying to get in the head of the potential customer and understand what they are looking for when they search in a search engine. Journalist intent takes that one step deeper to try to determine what journalists are looking for in their searches.

Here’s why it can be so powerful. If a journalist is searching for a specific piece of information, they may include it in their article and then link to the source of that information.

This link building approach is known as attracting passive backlinks. Passive backlinks come from websites that find your information and determine it is helpful enough to link to from their site. As opposed to active backlinking strategies like outreach, guest blog posts, and broken link building.

You can think of it as inbound marketing versus outbound marketing. Passive link building is basically inbound link building for inbound marketing.

For example, the website you are reading right now has a Domain Rating of 83 with 505,235 backlinks, according to Ahrefs. I would guess 99.9999% of those backlinks are passive backlinks – people reading an article just like this one and considering it valuable enough to link to (and thanks for that SEO tip o’ the hat to all the readers that gave us those links).

Sounds great, right? Well, there is no free lunch. Grinding out content day in and day out for the 13 years I have worked here I can tell you this – it is extremely hard to create content that will naturally attract links.

Let’s see how they did it at IRC Sales Solutions. The team decided to focus on the keyword “sales follow up statistics.” They believed that journalists were looking for data to include in their articles to help make a point.

So, they rounded up the most up-to-date versions of commonly referenced statistics online about this topic.

They made a special effort to look at why people were linking to other statistics pages, studies, etc. If they saw that someone was referencing an old version of a study or an out-of-date statistic somewhere, they made a point to put the up-to-date version in their content – a statistics page they published on their website. They put the most important info in text at the top and included an asset – an infographic.

 Creative Sample #1: Top of SEO-focused page for sales consultancy

Creative Sample #1: Top of SEO-focused page for sales consultancy

In fairness, this was not an entirely passive approach. First, they had to get the ball rolling, to make this info easy to find for the journalist engaged in a search for the right information. So, they engaged in active link building for the page (with tactics like guest posting), got backlinks, and ranked the page for “sales follow up statistics.”

The infographic played a key part. Essentially, they wrote the pitch emails for guest blog posts before the infographic was made. The pitch emails helped inform the infographic. By writing those emails it focused the team on having to provide value to their audience’s audience – the end reader of these guest blog posts.

After trying out some pitch emails, they further optimized the emails by customizing the first sentence of the email template to each prospect. This doubled the response rate of the outreach campaign.

Here is an example copy of a pitch email that worked for the team…

Hey Michael,

Just read the article you published about fueling growth with sales incentives. Great stuff! I love how the article breaks down what makes an incentive kick-a[expletive redacted]. Personally, I’m one of the 60% that would be most incentivized by a quota goal.

I’m emailing you today because we just created an infographic about the importance of following up with leads, and I thought you might be interested in republishing it on Sales Hacker.

The infographic starts by going over some powerful follow up statistics to illustrate the importance of following up with prospects, then dives into exactly how to implement a follow up strategy into your company’s sales process.

Mind if I send it over for you to take a look at to consider publishing on Sales Hacker?

Thanks, Michael! Have a great week!

Once their proactive link building started getting the page to rank in the top five for “sales follow up statistics,” that focus on journalist intent had a multiplying effect and the page started to attract links on its own.

“We started to get backlinks, passively, from sites like HubSpot, Podia, and other influential sales and marketing sites because they were looking for statistics to help them make a point in their article, and they referenced us because we made it easy for them,” said Nicholas Rubright, Founder & CEO, New Reach Marketing (IRC Sales Solutions’ SEO agency).

So far, the page has received more than 100 backlinks while the team only “built” about 15 of them and earned the rest.

“Our SEO team was able to inflate our domain authority from 13 to over 50 by getting [these] passive backlinks to our website,” said Spencer Smith, Founder & CEO, IRC Sales Solutions. “The result of these passive backlinks is that we don't have to increase our link building budget so much to continue growing our domain authority and we can be very focused with how we conduct link building outreach.”

Quick Case Study #2: Coffee subscription business triples word-of-mouth referrals by using printed content

The team at Batch Coffee sends out specialty coffee sourced from independent coffee roasters every two weeks. In the specialty coffee world, there exists a tasting aid called a flavor wheel. When professionals taste coffee, they can refer to the flavor wheel to best describe the delicate notes of specialty coffee.

The team created its own flavor wheel.

Creative Sample #2: Coffee flavor wheel made by coffee subscription business

Creative Sample #2: Coffee flavor wheel made by coffee subscription business

The team made A2 (16.5 × 23.4 inches) prints of the flavor wheel and sent them out for free – plus £3.95 P&P (postage and packaging in the UK, similar to shipping and handling in the US).

The team promoted the flavor wheels to customers through ads and blog posts.

Creative Sample #3: Pinterest ad for flavor wheel

Creative Sample #3: Pinterest ad for flavor wheel

Creative Sample #4: Blog post flavor wheel promotion

Creative Sample #4: Blog post flavor wheel promotion

When they sent the flavor wheels, they added an extra poster inside the tube and wrote a note on branded postcards that says, “Here’s a poster for you and one for a ‘coffee mate.’”

“We have found that the customer finds great pleasure in giving away the extra poster to the person that they feel loves coffee the most in their life and in turn we now have our poster and marketing on their kitchen wall or café,” said Tom Saxon, Co-founder, Batch Coffee.

From August to December 2020, the company had 61 word-of-mouth referrals. They launched the flavor wheel campaign in August 2021. From August to December 2021, the company received 226 word-of-mouth referrals.

They included a unique discount code when they sent out the flavor wheels. That discount code was redeemed 130 times from August to December 2021.

Quick Case Study #3: A/B testing of landing page nets 18% conversion rate increase for home services company

Precision Painting Plus serves homeowners and property managers in six states. It uses localized landing pages to attract potential customers.

Creative Sample #5: Landing page for painting company (before)

Creative Sample #5: Landing page for painting company (before)

The team had had two main hypotheses about its customers and decided to A/B test its landing page to discover how to better serve customers with its marketing.

“Rather than not provide a menu navigation, which can be typical in the lead generation space, a painting business with a higher price point requires more customer knowledge and consideration,” said Ryan Toner, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Precision Painting Plus. So, the team wanted to include a navigation that pointed to a few of the highest viewed pages on its website that led to a conversion.

Second, customers visit the general reviews page frequently. The team wanted to place a larger emphasis on reviews/testimonials on its page to convey the trust and quality of work the company provides. They wanted to ensure this social proof was displayed above-the-fold and in an entire content area a bit further down the page.

Based on these two hypotheses, they created the following treatment.

Creative Sample #6: Landing page for painting company (after)

Creative Sample #6: Landing page for painting company (after)

As a result of the testing, the team saw an 18% lift in overall conversion rate for both form fills and phone calls for its website, with an 11.21% form fill increase and a 26.47% increase for phone calls.

Related Resources

Get this Landing Page Blueprint to help you create and optimize high converting landing pages

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