8 Digital Marketing Tactics that Helped Kuehne + Nagel Increase Profits 229% in Two Years

Kuehne + Nagel generated $21.739 billion dollars in 2019.

By the end of 2021, they had nearly doubled their revenue to $41.285B.

That’s almost 100% growth in just two short years. 

kuehne and nagel growth

And much of that growth occurred in APAC:

kuehne and nagel profits

And it wasn’t just revenue, they grew their profit over the same time period from $0.84 billion in 2019 to $2.771 billion in 2021 – 229% growth!

So how did they do it? And how are they maintaining it?

Sure, much of their growth came from simple expansion. They made some good business moves over that time. 

But a lot of their growth came from some really effective marketing – particularly on the digital side of things. Our team dug into some of their strategies and pulled out 8 brilliant strategies and tactics they implemented on their way to colossal growth.

Don’t think these tactics are untouchable by smaller or mid-sized companies. Most of them are very simple and can be implemented whether you’re doing $10 billion a year or $1 million.

1. Creative Discounts and Promotional Campaigns

In the fiercely competitive logistics industry, differentiation is essential. Many companies often shy away from significant promotions, fearing revenue loss or brand dilution. But Kuehne + Nagel frequently offers creative discounts and meaningful promotional campaigns. 

For example, last year they offered free customs clearance on LCL (Less than Container Load) freight for new customers.

timely promotions

Firstly, this promotion directly addresses a pain point for many customers – customs clearance can be a complex, time-consuming, and costly process. By offering this service for free, Kuehne + Nagel not only provides immediate value, but also removes a significant hurdle for businesses wanting a smooth logistics experience.

Instead of a generic percentage-off discount, which can sometimes devalue services, they’ve chosen a specific, value-added service. This ensures they attract customers truly interested in the full scope of their offerings, rather than just bargain hunters.

Not to mention the fact that such a tangible and immediate saving can accelerate the decision-making process for potential clients on the fence. It can mean the difference between a potential customer going with a competitor or choosing Kuehne + Nagel – or it could mean the difference between a prospect taking 10 months to make a decision and 2 months.

Lastly, this tactic serves as a gateway. Once customers experience the company’s efficiency and reliability, they’re more likely to use other services, leading to a higher customer lifetime value. Their online platform makes these kinds of “upsells” simple and seamless.

How You Can Implement a Similar Discount and Promotional Strategy

  • Understand Your Customer’s Pain Points: Before crafting a promotion, deeply understand what challenges your customers face. For Kuehne + Nagel, it was the complexities of customs clearance. What is it for your clientele?
  • Offer Tangible Value, Not Just Discounts: Rather than a mere percentage off, consider value-adds that make your service more enticing. This not only draws customers but also enhances their overall experience with your service.
  • Promote Your Promotions: An excellent offer is of no use if your target audience isn’t aware of it. Invest in marketing your promotions through the right channels – be it email, social media, or partner platforms.
  • Limit Availability: Create a sense of urgency by offering promotions for a limited time or to a specific number of customers. This can accelerate decision-making and creates a sense of exclusivity.
  • Look Beyond the Initial Offer: Consider building a ladder of promotions. For instance, after the initial discount or freebie, you might offer a loyalty program or referral incentives to keep the momentum going.
  • Educate Your Sales Team: Ensure your sales and customer service teams are well-informed about the promotions. They should be prepared to answer questions and convert interest into sales.

2. Well-Timed Content Promotions

Kuehne + Nagel often aligns content promotions with current events and national/global days. This is a masterstroke in capitalizing on the power of the moment. 

By tying content to upcoming events or global observances, Kuehne + Nagel ensures their content is immediately relevant to a wide audience. Ahead of the Paris Air Show, they smartly tapped into an audience already primed to think about aerospace. Their guide on unlocking the aerospace supply chain wasn’t just content; it was timely advice.

helpful content marketing pushes

World Chocolate Day is celebrated globally, with millions indulging their sweet tooth. By illustrating the journey of chocolate through the supply chain, Kuehne + Nagel not only educated but also created an emotional connection. 

chocolate day social media post

Their use of geotargeted LinkedIn Ads, especially for events like the Paris Air Show, means they’re reaching the right audience at the right time, maximizing engagement and ROI.

Kuehne + Nagel understands that the best content isn’t just well-crafted; it’s well-timed. By latching onto global moments, they make their brand and services resonate on a much deeper level.

How You Can Utilize Timely Content Promotion in Your Marketing:

  • Map Your Calendar: Start by mapping out industry-specific events, global observances, and regional celebrations relevant to your business. Pre-plan content that resonates with these occasions. For example, a tech firm might prepare content ahead of major industry conferences or product launches. Keep in mind, your promotions don’t have to be new pieces of content – you can promote older content as well.
  • Diversify Your Content: Depending on the event or day, choose the most impactful content format. While guides and articles may be apt for industry shows, videos or infographics might be more engaging for broader observances.
  • Geo-Target the Promotion: Utilize targeted ad campaigns to reach the right audience. If an event is location-specific, such as a conference in Indonesia, geo-target your ads to that region to maximize relevance and engagement.

3. Personalized Content through Stories for Emotional Appeal

In an era where information is abundant but attention is scarce, Kuehne + Nagel has effectively employed a storytelling approach to make their content both engaging and memorable. 

Rather than long form blog content on somewhat boring topics, they explore topics through a personal lens and tell human stories along the way.

For example, in a piece that explores logistics for perishables, they use one of their employees Marloes to tell the story. She details her experience firsthand.

emotional content marketing

By featuring employees like Marloes, the company moves beyond the abstract concept of “logistics” to the human faces and experiences behind it. It transforms a corporate entity into a collection of passionate individuals, making the brand more approachable and relatable.

On top of humanizing the brand, stories have always been humanity’s preferred way to process information. They evoke emotions, which in turn foster deeper connections. Readers aren’t just absorbing data about perishable logistics; they’re journeying with Marloes, feeling her challenges and triumphs.

story-based content

A first-person narrative offers insights without sounding preachy.. Rather than lecturing on the importance of logistics, Marloes’ account effortlessly educates by showing, not telling.

 It builds trust and showcases real expertise. Readers aren’t just digesting company-crafted content; they’re learning from individuals who are hands-on in the field. This boosts credibility immensely.

How You Can Tell Personable, Human Stories within Informative Content

  • Highlight Real People: Instead of keeping content abstract or overly technical, bring forward team members, clients, or partners who can narrate their real experiences. Showcase their day-to-day roles, challenges faced, and solutions implemented.
  • Structure Like a Story: Structure your content like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Introduce the character, set up the challenge, and conclude with the resolution. This narrative structure is inherently engaging and memorable.
  • Use Relatable Themes: Delve into universally relatable themes such as overcoming adversity, the joy of success, or the value of teamwork. These emotions make content resonate more deeply with readers.
  • Use Multimedia: Complement storytelling with images, videos, or audio snippets. A candid photo of the employee in action or a brief video interview can make the story even more immersive.
  • Stay Authentic: Ensure that the stories remain genuine and aren’t overly embellished. Authenticity strengthens trust and credibility with your audience..

4. “Veiled Promotion” by Putting Partners and Causes Front and Center

If you scroll through Kuehne+Nagel’s LinkedIn page, you’ll see a lot of posts about their partners, clients, and causes they’re passionate about. It might make you wonder, “Aren’t you supposed to use social media to promote yourself?”

story-focused linkedin post
linkedin post

But there’s something genius about this kind of veiled promotion. 

Today’s consumers are discerning and crave authenticity. By spotlighting people, customers, and society, Kuehne + Nagel crafts narratives that resonate on a personal and societal level, deepening their bond with their audience.

In an age of ever-present marketing, incessant self-promotion can be deafening and counterproductive. By championing external causes, especially those as universally vital as sustainability, the company underscores its commitment to larger objectives. This not only promotes their brand indirectly but also paints them as altruistic industry leaders.

It also helps to strengthen partnerships. Celebrating clients and partners isn’t merely a marketing ploy. It’s an investment in relationships. Recognizing partners publicly reinforces mutual trust and can pave the way for further collaboration.

Believe it or not, these outward-focused posts often outperform traditional corporate posts. They invite interaction, shares, and discussions, amplifying reach and engagement.

While many companies narrowly focus on business achievements, Kuehne + Nagel’s approach crafts a holistic brand image. They’re not just logistics experts; they’re global citizens invested in the well-being of people and the planet. This does wonders for their brand image.

How to Implement an Outward-Focused Marketing Approach

  • Identify Core Values and Align with Causes: Determine your core values and beliefs. From there, identify societal causes, themes, and partners that align with your ethos, be it sustainability, community development, or technological innovation. 
  • Celebrate Partnerships & Client Successes: Dedicate a portion of content and social media strategy to highlight collaborations, joint ventures, and the achievements of clients. By celebrating their milestones, you inherently showcase the supportive role your company plays.
  • Involve Employees: Empower employees to share their stories, involvement in community service, or participation in sustainability initiatives. This not only amplifies the company’s commitment to external causes but also adds a personal touch.

5. Commitment to ‘Value Selling’ or ‘Solution Selling’

Kuehne & Nagel recently began to emphasize the idea of “value selling” or “solution selling” over working to get a quick sale using traditional tactics or pressure. 

Their pivot towards this kind of value selling shows a deep understanding of the evolving B2B landscape – in ASEAN and beyond. 

Their Senior Vice President of Global Sales observed, “Today our salesforce is focused on ways of ‘value creation’ for our customers.” This shift in perspective shows that they realize transactions are no longer simple, linear interactions; they’re multifaceted relationships built over time.

The days of the quick sale and high pressure tactics are gone. “The day of quick closes is a thing of the past,” the Senior Vice President said. Things are more complex now. Businesses no longer operate within the confines of single decision-makers. Instead, decisions are usually the product of “committee consensus.”

This holistic strategy not only positions Kuehne & Nagel as a partner rather than just a service provider, but it also aligns perfectly with their aspirations: “Our methodology to seek solutions and find alternatives for these customers must also change in order for us to continue our double-digit growth.”

This shift has to play a role not only in how sales reps go about their work, but how the marketing team promotes products and services as well. Kuehne + Nagel doesn’t just blast their promotions to everyone everywhere. They carefully roll out campaigns targeting the right people at the right time.

How to Implement ‘Value Selling’ in Modern B2B Sales

  • Deep Dive into Customer Needs: Instead of leading with what you offer, start with understanding the specific challenges and needs of the client. 
  • Create In-Depth Buyer Personas: Do this for each person / role at the decision making table. Get detailed and make sure both your sales and marketing teams are clear on these.
  • Cultivate a Consultative Sales Force: Train your sales team to act more as consultants than traditional salespeople. Equip them with skills to analyze complex problems and design custom solutions.
  • Embrace Collaborative Decision-Making: Recognize that today’s decisions often involve multiple stakeholders. Foster an environment that encourages collaboration, both internally within your company and externally with clients. 

6. Smartly Utilized LinkedIn Carousel Posts 

The LinkedIn Carousel is a feature similar to a slideshow – or like flipping pages of a book. Each swipe bringing forward a new facet of a story. Kuehne + Nagel frequently utilize the carousel, transforming the way they present content on LinkedIn, both organically and through LinkedIn Ads. 

carousel post
carousel post

These posts consistently get more likes and shares than their single, static posts. Why is this the case?

  • Stories and Narratives Engage: Traditional LinkedIn posts can be monolithic and one-dimensional. However, with Carousels, Kuehne + Nagel weave narratives. 
  • Visual Engagement: Carousel posts cater to our love for visuals. Kuehne + Nagel craft a collection of images, graphics, and text, ensuring that their message is not just heard, but experienced.
  • Tailored Messaging: With multiple slides at their disposal, they have the flexibility to delve deeper into topics. This means nuanced messaging, segmented information, and structured presentation. They can commence with a problem statement, dive into statistics, and conclude with a solution — all within a single post.
  • Interactivity Boost: The act of swiping itself is interactive. When users actively engage with content by swiping, they are more likely to retain the information presented. Not to mention, LinkedIn is more likely to reward these posts in their algorithm.
  • CTA Endings: Often, they use the final slide of the carousel as a call-to-action, guiding the reader towards a next step, whether it’s visiting their website, downloading a resource, or getting in touch. 

Kuehne + Nagel’s use of LinkedIn Carousels is not just about adopting a new feature. It’s about reimagining how stories are told and information is presented in the digital age, ensuring messages resonate deeply with the intended audience.

How to Implement LinkedIn Carousel Posts into Your Social Strategy

  • Tell Stories: Just like any good story, your Carousel should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Plan out each slide’s content, ensuring a logical flow and narrative.
  • Invest in Great Design: The beauty of the Carousel is its visual appeal. Ensure that your graphics, images, and text harmonize well. You may be able to use design tools, but if you don’t feel confident, hire someone. It’s worth it.
  • End with a Strong Call-to-Action: After taking the viewer on a journey, guide them towards a desired action. Whether it’s visiting your website, signing up for a webinar, or learning more about a product, make sure the final slide gives clear direction on the next steps.

7. A Robust Library of Content Across Multiple Mediums

Kuehne + Nagel have a robust library of content – blog posts, long form articles, whitepapers, webinars, a podcast, a YouTube channel, social platforms, email newsletters, and more. They do a brilliant job of repurposing each piece into the next so that no matter what medium their audience prefers, they can easily find and consume it.

content library
youtube content

By providing a diverse range of content types, Kuehne + Nagel cater to different learning styles and preferences. This approach also helps them stay relevant in an ever-evolving digital landscape. With their blog posts, they offer timely industry insights and thought leadership. The long-form articles delve deeper into complex topics, demonstrating their expertise. Whitepapers provide in-depth analysis and research findings. 

podcast episode

Their webinars offer interactive learning experiences, while their podcast delivers audio content for on-the-go consumption. The YouTube channel showcases visual content, providing a more engaging and dynamic experience. Their active presence on social platforms ensures they can connect with their audience and foster meaningful conversations.

The wide variety of content types helps them:

  • Maintain relationships with existing clients and partners
  • Attract new prospects and leads
  • Supplement sales conversations with content
  • Stay top-of-mind with contacts and subscribers not ready to make a purchase decision

This strategic approach to content not only solidifies their place in the market, but also allows them to adapt to emerging trends and technologies. As their audience’s needs and preferences evolve, Kuehne + Nagel are well-equipped to deliver the content they crave, ensuring continued engagement, retention, and customer growth.

How to Maintain a Robust Content Library of Your Own

  • Ensure You Have the Resources: Plenty of companies plan on working the content flywheel only to realize they don’t have the resources or bandwidth to keep up with their content calendar. If you have the resources, make sure people’s roles are well-defined and that clear goals are set. If you don’t it’s okay to start small.
  • Repurpose Content: Don’t start from the scratch with each content idea. Start with a long form article or video and then parse it out into social posts, emails, shorter videos, etc…
  • Make Sure You Hit Each Customer Objection: A great way to plan content is to consider common customer objections and triggers that lead them to working with you. Create a few different pieces of content around each objection and trigger.
  • You Don’t Have to Publish on Every Platform: Choose your platforms and mediums wisely. It’s okay not to have a presence absolutely everywhere. Consider where your audience is to have the biggest impact.

8. Testing a Wide Range of Ad Variations: Audiences, Copy, Imagery

Everyone who has some experience with digital ads knows that testing variations of ad copy, imagery, and audiences is wise. But Kuehne + Nagel takes it to the next level. 

They’re ruthless about nailing down the perfect copy, imagery, and message. Just take a look at one of their recent Facebook Ad campaigns:

digital ad variations

It takes some time, effort, and resources, but it allows them to send the perfect message to the right person at the perfect time. 

This ad in particular is a hiring ad in Germany targeting potential employees. They played around with a handful of different messages focused on a few different selling points:

  • Great colleagues
  • Being a part of a global team
  • Playing a role in sustainability / CO2 neutralization

They also rotated between at least 4 different visuals, and tested the audience each was shown to. 

Testing ad variations slowly over time can be helpful, but this kind of rapid experimentation helps you land on conclusions fast, and determine which variables are most effective as quickly as possible – saving you time and money.

How to Rapidly Test Ad Variables Like Kuehne + Nagel

  • Hire Experts: First and foremost, unless you have a background in digital advertising, don’t try to master digital ads on your own. Hire experts or a digital marketing agency who are in ad platforms everyday. It will be worth it.
  • Determine Your Variables: The first step is to identify the variables you want to test. You may already know from previous campaigns your image is perfect for the target audience. So don’t test it – focus on what you don’t know yet.
  • Make Sure Your Tests Are Significant: Running a $100 campaign probably isn’t enough to determine the best copy for an ad. Consider your experiment and make sure you get enough data to draw a conclusion.
  • Don’t Test Multiple Variables at Once: The key is to isolate your variables. If you’re trying to determine the best copy, use the same images and audience type – only vary the copy. You won’t know which variable is leading to the result otherwise.

The Basic Principles Always Win Out

What’s interesting about Kuehne + Nagel’s success is that they don’t do anything revolutionary. At the heart of their digital marketing strategy are just a few basic tenets:

  • Know your audience deeply
  • Tells stories that resonate with people
  • Roll out promotions at the right times
  • Create content that provides real value
  • Always be testing

They have seen colossal growth not because they’re on the frontlines of marketing technology or rolling out never-before-seen marketing campaigns. They’re sticking to the core principles that have always succeeded in sales and marketing – and they’ve executed them with excellence.

If you want to grow like them, do the same.

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