Our ads do very well relative to benchmarks, but we don’t feel like we’re reaching our potential.

We—at TreeRing, a custom yearbook company—put our customers first, but why don’t our ads start with the customer?

We didn’t have a good answer, so, we decided our ads will now feature real human beings. Read on to learn why we’re featuring real people in our ads, and how we’re going to measure the impact of real people on our bottom line.

Our Products Weren’t A High Priority for Our Customers

Recently, a customer bluntly told us where the yearbook ranks in administrative priorities:

“It’s like number 32 for us,” she said.

This customer wasn’t short-changing the yearbook. It’s an important part of her school’s community. But the context is important: Many schools across the country have only one or two volunteers who spend hundreds of hours creating a yearbook— on top of their full-time jobs.

That makes it difficult to capture someone’s attention and convince them switching yearbook companies should be higher on their list of priorities.

How We Kept Our Products on Our Customers’ Mind

Retargeting and CRM Retargeting helped us stay in front of yearbook advisors when they were thinking about their 31 other priorities.

Historically, we’ve used our ad space to remind people that they’ve got work to do—and that we can help them do it.

Depending on which pages of our site you hit, our current ads look something like this:


Our click-through rates are in line with publicly available metrics—as many as we can find—and half of our campaign’s click-to-conversion rates hit what Larry Kim at WordStream classifies as awesome or unicorn.

Every day, we hear a new story about how a yearbook advisor is volunteering their time, dedicating their talents and stretching their creativity to capture their schools’ stories. TreeRing helps them do that.

In fact, because their success rests on their shoulders, we don’t often call our customers yearbook advisors. We call them yearbook heroes.

Our content marketing efforts, our sales process, our customer success team—all of it is focused on helping people who work on their school’s yearbook create an even better yearbook in less time and with less stress.

It’s a bit like that Jeff Bezos quote: “Start with customers, and work backwards.”

The ad above, though, doesn’t actually celebrate that. Why, then, does our ad not start with the customer?

We don’t have a good answer to that question, so we’re doing something about it.

Soon, our ads will completely feature real, live human beings, who also happen to be TreeRing customers. They’ll look something like this:


The Data Showed Us the Importance of Customer Stories

This change brings us into better alignment with our company’s mindset, but it’s also based on performance. Visitors our testimonials page are some of our top converters.

This is an opportunity to bring slices of the testimonials page to everyone.

It’s a wholesale change, but we’re not making it without testing impact.

We’ll run these ads against more product-centric ads to measure whether featuring our customers helps us improve in three areas:

  • Click-through rate
  • Click-to-conversion rate
  • Percentage of net new leads who saw—or clicked—a retargeting ad

We’ll see increases in each of those three areas, according to our current hypothesis.

In the second and third entry in our blog series, we’ll give you an inside look at the early returns, how we’re adjusting and how we’re scaling the test into other areas.

Written in collaboration with Ray Mina. Connect with Ray and Leo on LinkedIn and read the latest from their team on the TreeRing blog.

To learn more about TreeRing and discuss your digital marketing strategy, email our team.