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Does Seasonal Messaging Really Work? How one company's wrong assumptions led to a 25% decrease in clickthrough

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As marketers, it is vital that our campaigns remain relevant to customers throughout the year. Seasonal campaigns tailored to specific holidays or events might be one way to ensure that our messaging remains in constant alignment with the motivations of our prospects.

How can we be sure that our seasonal campaigns are truly bolstering the appeal of our product and enhancing our core value proposition? Despite the opportunities that season-specific campaigns present, how can we be sure these changes will not negatively affect the clarity of our messaging?

In this 35-minute Web clinic, our research team shared strategies for finding the balance between seasonality and clarity, including a test that resulted in a 25% difference in clickthrough.

Published in: Marketing
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Does Seasonal Messaging Really Work? How one company's wrong assumptions led to a 25% decrease in clickthrough

  1. 1. Does Seasonal Messaging Really Work? How one company's wrong assumptions led to a 25% decrease in clickthrough
  2. 2. We’re sharing on Twitter! #WebClinic
  3. 3. #WebClinic Today’s speakers Jon Powell Senior Manager of Executive Research and Development, MECLABS Institute Ben Filip Vice President of Partner Development, MECLABS Institute
  4. 4. #WebClinic Experiment: Background Background: A large financial institution. Goal: To convince visitors to take out a mortgage or refinance an existing mortgage. Research Question: Which email treatment will generate the highest clickthrough? Test Design: A/B sequential test *Note: Test has been anonymized to protect partner confidentiality. Experiment ID: TP 2077 Record Location: MECLABS Research Library Research Partner: (Protected)*
  5. 5. #WebClinic Experiment: Control • The Control uses a non- seasonal headline • The body of the email features bulleted value copy
  6. 6. #WebClinic Experiment: Treatment • The Treatment incorporates a seasonal headline • Halloween-themed imagery and seasonal modifications to the value copy are implemented throughout
  7. 7. #WebClinic Experiment: Side-by-side Control Treatment
  8. 8. #WebClinic Experiment: Results Relative decrease in clickthrough25%The treatment with integrated seasonal style messaging recorded a statistically significant decrease in clicks. Click Rate Relative Difference Level of Confidence Control 8.1% -- -- Treatment 6.1% -25.1% 99%
  9. 9. #WebClinic Why didn’t the seasonal treatment win?
  10. 10. #WebClinic Why didn’t the seasonal treatment win? Many marketers assume that seasonal messaging plays an important role in delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time. How can we ensure that seasonality enhances, rather than sabotages, our campaigns?
  11. 11. #WebClinic Today’s focus Today we will be looking at two key principles from this test that can be leveraged to prevent similar one-time campaigns from costing us revenue.
  12. 12. Principle 1
  13. 13. #WebClinic Seasonal messaging 1. For seasonal messaging to be effective, it must be relevant to your product and enhance your core value proposition. Unnecessary seasonality strips away the clarity of the offer and dilutes your core value proposition. Key principles
  14. 14. #WebClinic Which is likely to enhance my core value proposition during Christmas? This? Or This?
  15. 15. #WebClinic Not this …
  16. 16. #WebClinic But this …
  17. 17. #WebClinic Experiment: Control • The Control already achieved a decent level of clarity with customers
  18. 18. #WebClinic Experiment: Treatment • With the addition of Halloween copy and imagery in the Treatment, much of this clarity is obstructed • This brings up one question: If the additional content doesn’t clarify the value proposition, does it increase its appeal, exclusivity or credibility?
  19. 19. #WebClinic • The Halloween messaging fails to make the offer more appealing to the prospect or add exclusivity to the offer • In addition, there is no meaningful connection established between Halloween and mortgage acquisition or refinancing Experiment: Treatment
  20. 20. #WebClinic Background: A computer retailer. Goal: To leverage seasonal messaging in order to increase computer and accessory sales. Research Question: Which page treatment will generate higher conversion? Test Design: A/B split test *Note: Test has been anonymized to protect partner confidentiality. Experiment ID: TP11170 Record Location: MECLABS Research Library Research Partner: (Protected)* Experiment: Background
  21. 21. #WebClinic The Control: Traditional Design Marquee w/ Featured Products Product Category Menu Categorized Products 4th of July Discounts Experiment: Which page converted more? The Treatment: Integrated Seasonal Design 52% In conversion (99% LOC)
  22. 22. #WebClinic Experiment 9%In Open-Rate 26%In Click Rate Original Subject Line: Book now to save up to 30% on hotel stays this December in [City] Treatment Subject Line: Holiday Shopping, [Traditional City] Dinners, Cathedral Concerts and More [City] Traditions
  23. 23. Principle 2
  24. 24. #WebClinic Seasonal messaging 1. For seasonal messaging to be effective, it must be relevant to our product and enhance our core value proposition. Unnecessary seasonality strips away the clarity of the offer and dilutes our core value proposition. 2. To guard against future one-time campaign disasters, no assumption should be left untested. As marketers, we cannot afford to blindly rely on “best practices.” Key principles
  25. 25. #WebClinic Assumption: Responsive design will always increase mobile clickthrough
  26. 26. #WebClinic Experiment: Mobile side-by-side Responsive 54%In Clicks Unresponsive
  27. 27. #WebClinic Assumption: Upfront costs scare off prospects
  28. 28. #WebClinic Experiment: Sex offender registry $6 a month for full access Control $6 per month + $20 activation fee Treatment XNo Difference in conversion 99%In Revenue
  29. 29. #WebClinic Assumption: The call-to-action should always be placed “above the fold”
  30. 30. #WebClinic Experiment: Call-to-action placement Control • Call-to-action placed “above the fold” Treatment • Call-to-action placed “below the fold” 220%In Conversion
  31. 31. #WebClinic Assumption: We should leverage our unique brand design whenever possible
  32. 32. #WebClinic Experiment: Local newsletter sign-up Control • Simple, traditional typeface • Standard form field • Brand-specific typography • Branded design for sign-up form Treatment 51%In Conversion
  33. 33. #WebClinic  Is seasonality relevant to my product or service?  Do my seasonal campaign elements spotlight, rather than distract from, the actual product?  Is my seasonal messaging careful not to detract from the clarity of my offer?  Does the inclusion of seasonality make my product more attractive or appealing to the customer? Checklist: Seasonal messaging
  34. 34. #WebClinic
  35. 35. #WebClinic Live optimization
  36. 36. #WebClinic Live Optimization: National Parks and Recreation Primary Audience: Park visitors and potential park visitors Page Purpose: Generate sign-ups and raise awareness of parks and recreation efforts and national parks
  37. 37. #WebClinic Live Optimization: Far & Wide Collective Primary Audience: Prospective customers of artisan-made clothing and home decor Page Purpose: Sell artisan-made products Pop-over newsletter registration
  38. 38. #WebClinic Live Optimization: Bose Primary Audience: Prospective customers of high-end audio equipment Email Purpose: Gather leads in exchange for promotional brochure
  39. 39. #WebClinic Live Optimization: 740 Rewards Primary Audience: B2B — Clients looking for website support and social media management Page Purpose: Lead generation
  40. 40. #WebClinic Live Optimization: Falcon Social Primary Audience: Marketers in need of better social media management Email Purpose: Encourage download of software demo
  41. 41. #WebClinic August clinic preview
  42. 42. #WebClinic Next Clinic: Test background Founded in 1973, the Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies. Every December, the Heritage Foundation sends out an email to members asking for donations to help the group reach their year-end fundraising goals.
  43. 43. #WebClinic Next Clinic: Control • This email was sent by Jim DeMint, the president and most well-known leader of the nonprofit, asking recipients for their support with a year-end gift • The Control leverages continuity, as all support requests throughout the year have come from DeMint • The tone of the email is formal and professional
  44. 44. #WebClinic Next Clinic: Treatment • The email was sent by Christie Fogarty, the nonprofit’s much lesser known Director of Membership, making the same request • The Treatment breaks continuity, as all support requests throughout the year have come from the president of the nonprofit • The email uses a much softer, informal tone
  45. 45. #WebClinic Which treatment won?
  46. 46. #WebClinic Live August 12 at 4 p.m. EDT • The exact changes that resulted in a 380% change in response rate • Why those changes convinced donors to give • Lessons learned from NextAfter’s nonprofit work that can be transferred to for-profits • Key strategies to utilize and pitfalls to avoid when leveraging personalization Join us, along with special guest Tim Kachuriak of NextAfter.com, for the next live 35-minute Web clinic to discover: To see the results To join live, register at the link below: MarketingExperiments.com/personalization Customer Motivation
  47. 47. #WebClinic See how you can conduct research with us Select Research Partnership Opportunities on the post-webinar survey to learn more about how you may be a fit for a MECLABS Research Partnership Our research has been funded by: Work with MECLABS research analysts to increase your company's revenue. x For more information: Contact us directly at info@MECLABS.com or by calling 1-877-635-0565
  48. 48. #WebClinic On-site Training Opportunities x For more information: Contact us directly at info@MECLABS.com or by calling 1-877-635-0565 Select On-site Training to learn how your organization can receive personal, on-site training from the MECLABS Institute
  49. 49. #WebClinic Online Certification x Learn more by navigating to www.meclabs.com/education and selecting “Online Learning” Select Online Certification Courses to learn how you or your organization can receive online training from the MECLABS Institute

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