Business growth does not necessarily require a massive budget for paid advertising.
You can grow your business by understanding how to better serve your customers with your marketing.
To spark your next great idea, in this article we bring you examples from an adventure travel website, AP automation fintech, and synthetic ice company.
There are two ways to grow your business – get more money for your marketing budget or get better ideas.
I can’t help you with the first one. As for the second, we meet every Wednesday in the ChatGPT, CRO and AI: 40 Days to build a MECLABS SuperFunnel LiveClass to help marketers and entrepreneurs improve the ideas behind their marketing strategies.
And we bring you case studies right here as well to help spark those better ideas. In this article we provide practical case studies that illustrate how small businesses can grow by serving customers better:
Adventures On The Rock is an online blog that shares information on how to get into overlanding and adventure travel, including tips on off-road vehicle modifications and how to leave no trace while camping. The company struggled to receive high-authority backlinks to get its brand noticed on Google.
“As a smaller brand, getting big news publications and other high-authority websites to link to you can be difficult – especially if you don’t have contacts on the inside. We did pretty good at getting guest posts on medium-authority sites, but the big ones felt out of reach,” said Bill Widmer, Owner, Adventures On The Rock.
The team sent hundreds of manual outreach emails but with very little success. Less than one of every hundred emails sent resulted in a guest post or link to their content.
“Realizing our strategy wasn't working, we switched gears. Instead of just going after guest posts and editorial links, we decided to try offering something journalists would want to link to – unique and interesting data,” Widmer said.
The team first had to brainstorm a topic that related to their industry but also provided value to the journalist or publication. The team came up with the idea of ranking states based on a “Camping Index Score.”
In other words, on a scale of 0-100, how camping friendly is the state?
To figure that out, they created a set of parameters to score the states. The parameters they came up with were as follows:
(The topic piqued my interest, so I asked Widmer how Florida ranked. “It ranked 45th! Mainly due to the high amount of rainfall and lack of hiking trails,” he told me.)
After crunching the numbers, they pulled their data into a study and crafted an email to send to journalists. Here's a portion of the email they sent out…
Creative Sample #1: Public relations pitch email to journalists
They sent this email to hundreds of journalists from publications across the USA and Europe, whose emails they found using LinkedIn and Hunter.io. This time, their outreach had a much higher success rate. Adventures On The Rock received links from 13 publications, with some of these links from heavy hitters like MSN, Yahoo Autos, and state-level news sites like the Idaho Statesman.
Local was their highest-converting outreach, appealing to local pride. The team targeted the top 10 states mostly, with a lesser effort on the lower states. Success with the national publications was also affected by where the journalist writing the article was from or where the publication was headquartered.
They reached out to publications in Europe as a test since there are quite a few UK publications that publish articles about the US, and they were hoping to appeal to them. They only landed one link, but it was from a high DR site, so the team considered the outreach worth it.
"As a long-time SEO, I knew these links would have a strong impact. But even I was surprised to see how quickly they moved our Google rankings. Just a few weeks after receiving the links, we started seeing more traffic from search engines,” Widmer said.
“Not only that, but now I also have a list of journalists who might take an interest in future studies. This was a huge success for our brand and will likely continue to improve our rankings over the coming months and years.”
Medius is an AP (accounts payable) management software that uses automation and AI.
The company’s marketing strategy consisted of online advertising, SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing. While these strategies proved effective for building brand awareness and generating leads, the company recognized the curb-appeal of a topic like fraud prevention; not only to accounting and business professionals, but the general public, too.
The team at the fintech company decided to expand its marketing strategy to reach a new and highly engaged audience with a message about protecting businesses from fraud and decided to launch a company-branded podcast.
From the perspective of Medius's CMO, Kim Albrecht: “We recognized that in order to truly stand out in the B2B sector, we needed to break the mold and experiment with new formats. The content needed to take on a unique twist.” So, instead of creating another business podcast, the team launched ‘Accounts Deceivable,’ a high-production-value, true crime podcast that looks at the impact of invoice fraud on people, businesses, and communities.
Creative Sample #2: Podcast cover art
The team wanted to cut through the noise, recognizing that new and evolving methods could be used to reach the target audience – AP and finance professionals – as well as create broader brand awareness with people outside of the sector.
The limited series podcast looks at a growing category of white-collar crime – invoice fraud – and even included lessons from the fraudsters themselves. Three real-life stories uncover the impact this type of fraud has on people, businesses, and communities, featuring interviews with victims and perpetrators of fraud in a true crime format:
The team knew that telling these stories would take a lot of care and time, so they felt more comfortable limiting themselves to telling three great stories, rather than try to rush out a longer first series.
The team used a mix of approaches to find the stories. Some of the crimes had already been reported; Sherry Williams, for example, had previously gone public with her story to help support her charity. Vernon Beck was sourced initially through a public speaking agency, as he had a past in talking about his story at business meetings, conferences etc.
The initial setup work was mainly done remotely, with team members and the podcast guests. The interviews were all recorded in person across the United States – one of the team members spent 48 hours on a cross-state trip to do so. The team did this because they wanted to ensure that the audio was of the highest quality and to get into an entire conversation with each guest. They found that doing this in person helped the guest feel at ease and overall contributed to the best versions of their stories.
The team targeted accounting professionals through LinkedIn with both organic and paid posts to promote the podcast. Organically, they used both audiograms and static image quotes from the podcast. On paid LinkedIn, they found that audiograms performed best.
Creative Sample #3: Podcast trailer audiogram (organic + paid LinkedIn)
The podcast garnered 6,000 downloads, 450 subscribers, and a 90% completion rate. “We're thrilled at the number of listeners who have tuned into ‘Accounts Deceivable’ and look forward to continuing to push the boundaries of traditional B2B marketing,” Albrecht said.
Medius’ organic engagement rate historically sat around the 1-2% range on LinkedIn; they’ve now seen it resting in the 4-5% range, with Accounts Deceivable content regularly reaching well above this average.
And the team has heard from customers, with many expressing gratitude for the valuable insights they've gained from listening.
Lastly, I had to pretend I was a reporter from Variety magazine, and ask that all-important question every producer hears, to which their PR rep told me, "We’re very excited to say that there is indeed a second season in the works. We can’t give away too many details, but we’re continuing to look at some recent real-life cases of fraud and the stories behind them."
PolyGlide Ice sells synthetic ice panels that can be used to create a home ice rink. Its founder has appeared on the network television show “Shark Tank.”
The team originally tried to capture email addresses of visitors to its homepage using an incentive of a 10% product discount code.
Creative Sample #4: Discount pop-up
The team changed the incentive on the pop-up to a giveaway of a holiday home rink valued at $995.
Creative Sample #5: Sweepstakes pop-up
In the two days before he launched the sweepstakes (Thursday, March 2nd and Friday, March 3rd, 2023), PolyGlide got 37 signups on the form from 1,200 views, for a 2.95% signup rate.
In the first two days of the giveaway (Saturday, March 4th, and Sunday, March 5th, 2023) the popup got 149 signups from 1,600 views for a 9.04% signup rate).
The team will email contestants that did not win to offer them a ‘Golden Ticket’ discount of 20% off.
“It’s been said that ‘The money’s in the emails!,’ and there’s no better way to harvest those emails than a giveaway pop-up! Try implementing a monthly giveaway with your home page pop-up and watch your email list grow!” advised Jim Loughran, Founder/CEO, PolyGlide Ice.
This article was distributed in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
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