The Marketing Holy Grail: Right Message, Right Person, Right Time

The Marketing Holy Grail: Right Message, Right Person, Right Time

Case Study: American Heart Association

A picture is worth a thousand words. Similarly, so is a powerful case study. A few years back we attempted to achieve the “marketing holy grail” of getting the right message to the right person at the right time. The process involved in this project is so fascinating, we had to share it with you. As you read through this case study, you might think about how this could be applied to your business.


In 2004, the American Heart Association (AHA) faced a challenge. Cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year, yet women were not paying attention. In fact, many even dismissed it as an “older man’s disease.” To dispel the myths and raise awareness of heart disease as the #1 killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red For Women – a passionate, emotional, social movement designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

Unfortunately, as of March ’09, less than 3% of those signed up for the Go Red For Women operation had donated money.


Project Goals

Increase donations from the 750,000 people who were already engaged and aware of Go Red For Women.
Develop an internal process to deliver “the right message to the right person at the right time”

Key Insight: “Our Thesis”

mindtype_cropAn individual’s propensity to make a donation is a function of 3 separate vectors:

  • Stage in purchase cycle
  • Serving a message that motivates THEM
  • Repetition (frequency) without being annoying


The message which optimizes donations will vary by:

  • Engagement level (“Purchase Stage”) with Go Red
  • MindType™ Segment (proprietary approach that segments based on people’s response to a message rather than on simple demographics)

Review of Previous Research Revealed 3 Critical Insights

  • Personal characteristics (e.g. age/lifestyle, heart disease in family) affect how someone engages with the American Heart Association/Go Red For Women
  • Engagement levels affect behaviors (e.g. people more involved tend to donate at a higher rate)
  • Highly engaged members donate more $
  • This was an important learning because asking for a donation too early in a person’s Engagement Cycle negatively impacts donation frequency and donation levels.

This chart is based on historical data that we analyzed before the MindTyping exercise. It compares the donation rate and annual value by the involvement of donors. Notice how much higher the annual value is for donors who are involved in the program.


Determining Message Motivation

We extracted a sample from the Go Red For Women database and ran them through an exercise that helps determine their most motivating message. The tool we use for this type of exercise is called IdeaMap®. At a high level, IdeaMap® is based on STIMULUS→ RESPONSE communications theory. In other words, it maps out the drivers behind consumer actions by measuring the response they have to different messaging concepts. All IdeaMap® asks the respondent to do is to react to the concept presented to them.

In the background, the different messaging elements shown to the respondent are strategically altered in an experimental design. During this process, we are able to tease out the relative importance of each messaging element and identify causal relationships (not just correlations).


In the end, we are able to cluster respondents based on the similarity of their individual responses to the alternative messages. Each cluster, or MindType™, has a different message that is most impactful/motivating. This is important because if you can communicate the right message to the right audience, you improve your chance for success.


Lead Generation Email Blast

Once we identified the different MindTypes™, we projected these insights out to the entire Go Red For Women database. Detailed content (emails and landing pages) were created around each MindType™.

A short 5-question survey was created to classify the respondent into one of the MindTypes™ identified during the IdeaMap® study. The short survey basically functioned as a filter. After we knew which MindType™ someone fell into, we knew which messaging would be most motivating to them. All of the emails and landing pages delivered to each lead from that point on was based on their MindType™ classification.


Advanced Lead Conversion

The email campaign mentioned above was used to classify existing leads in the Go Red For Women database. For new leads, the 5-question survey was used as an initial screener when people show interest in the Go Red For Women program.

Engagement Phase AND MindType™ Results were Superior

By serving the right call-to-action message to the right MindType™ at the right time, donation rates improved significantly. As mentioned earlier, donation rates before the AHA conducted this research were less than 3%.

As you can see from the chart, the donation rates for people who were filtered through the MindTyping™ approach were vastly higher, ranging from 10% to almost 39%, compared to a donation rate of less than 3% for those who were not MindTyped™.


Process Overview

  • Build Knowledge Base
    • MindTyping™ – identifying which messaging should be communicated to each of the segments
  • Develop Campaign Library
    • Developing the content around the insights gained from the MindTyping™ exercise
  • Lead Generation Campaign
    • Push your campaign out, but filter leads through the MindTyping™ screener
  • Lead Nurturing
    • Nurture new leads with the content that is most relevant to them (via their MindType™)
  • Develop a reporting and learning feedback loop

It IS possible to improve response by getting a more motivating message to the right person at the right time

Leave a Reply

Join our Newsletter

We'll send you newsletters with news, tips & tricks. No spams here.

Your Name (required)
Your Email (required)