I recently came across an intriguing article from one of my favorites, Avinash Kaushik, about the downfall of Kodak and rise of Amazon. Avinash always hits me hard, but one thing in particular jumped off the page for me:

“The retail landscape in the US littered with the carcass of dead stores is proof that two decades [of] Amazon’s demonstrated success is still not enough for companies to pause, learn, reflect, and adapt.”

There’s no denying that statement; many retail stores, giant to small, have been crushed by Amazon’s effective grasp of ecommerce and the utility of their service. But it’s not just retail. Any company that doesn’t actively think two, three, four steps ahead will soon become irrelevant. Meaning, it’s never been more important to research, test, analyze, and implement new growth strategies.

This looks different for every company. But at the core it’s really the same—look for ways to do things better, try new channels, test ideas, and adapt as necessary. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, let’s see how brands of all shapes and sizes are utilizing testing and growth strategies to build their businesses.

Airstream: Basecamp Product Launch

Airstream, manufacturer or the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the longest-tenured recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America. In 2017, they launched their newest product, Basecamp Travel Trailer. It was a huge opportunity for them. Not only was this trailer set at a lower price point and lighter to tow, it also targeted a younger, adventure-seeking audience.

Instead of limiting themselves to past channels to promote the product, Airstream jumped on the opportunity to test Facebook Canvas Ads for the campaign. Using panoramic imagery, high-quality photography, and video, the ad hit a chord with the target audience. Not only did it reach a 9 out of 10 Facebook relevance score (a rating based on how well your target audience is responding to the ad), but it also drove high-quality traffic and leads throughout the campaign.

By testing a new channel, Airstream created over 1.9 million impressions on Facebook, with cost per conversion at an astonishing $1.28. Plus, brands that are able to effectively test a variety of channels will not only expand their reach, but they’ll also diversify revenue streams. (It’s great paid search generates a ton of money for your brand. It’s not great if that accounts for 80% of your overall revenue.)

The moral of the story is this: dip your toes in new channels. And once you determine where the potential is, lean in.

Synovia Solutions: Optimizing Lead Generation

Let’s look at another example, but one that relies heavily on improvement and optimization: Synovia Solutions’ lead gen campaign.

Synovia Solutions is a leading provider of vehicle fleet management technology and software, including GPS tracking and route management for schools, municipalities, businesses and more. Although they were already operating within marketing channels such as email, paid search, etc., they looked to increase leads and optimize channels through research and testing.

First, they started with a four-pronged digital marketing approach, consisting of content creation, email marketing optimization, paid search advertising, and lead aggregation. Through each channel, Synovia tested elements and applied them across channels. For example, if one line of copy increased conversion rates within an email, Synovia looked for opportunities to apply similar messaging in other channels when appropriate, including their product pages on their website.

As it turns out, the little things do add up. Over a 90 day period, leads increased by 134%, organic traffic grew by 11%, and relevant page-one keywords rose by 214%. Today, it’s not enough for brands to simply launch a campaign. They have to constantly optimize, learn, and adapt. Anything less is not only leaving money on the table, but it’s also stagnating learnings. (Remember, “pause, learn, reflect, act.”)

So now that we’ve looked at examples of channel experimentation and optimization, let’s look at how a brand could potentially create a tool for growth.

Newmar Corporation: Lead Distribution Portal

Newmar is the industry leader in high-quality, Class A motor coach manufacturing, and has been handcrafting—yes, handcrafting— coaches since 1968. As a manufacturer with no direct sales channel, Newmar needed a way to deliver sales-ready leads across a disparate collection of RV dealerships to drive product revenue.

The opportunity here is obviously huge. If Newmar was already capturing leads, dispersing them to dealers that could then close only made sense. After looking at tech solutions available at the time, and knowing the potential revenue gains in the future, they decided to invest in building their own custom-designed lead distribution portal and improve their email nurturing.

Newmar built their own growth opportunity knowing what they needed out of the product—to disperse SQLs to dealerships, to ensure product availability depending on the individual’s product preference, and integration with HubSpot to nurture and score leads. In the first year alone, the new system increased retail sales by $4.5 million dollars and increased the SQL-to-deal-closed rate on the Newmar website to 71.9%.

This was obviously not a walk in the park. It was a huge undertaking. Newmar could have ignored the problem or deemed it unsolvable. But by creating this sophisticated lead nurturing and distribution machine, they gained a competitive edge.

Don’t Become a Dinosaur… Or Kodak

No brand is immune to extinction. One day you’re in, the next you’re out. But instilling a growth mindset throughout your organization can help you stay in the game longer. Pause, learn, reflect, and act—it’s the only way to grow.

Dustin Clark
Digital Marketing Director | Element Three
Dustin Clark is the Digital Marketing Director for Element Three, a full-service marketing agency based in Indianapolis, where he oversees the team responsible for managing all facets of digital marketing for the agency’s clients. Over his career, he’s worked with several enterprise and Fortune 500 brands (IBM, Intuit, and several NFL teams, to name a few), helping them derive real business value from their content marketing, UX, SEO, and lead generation strategies.
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