Selling online is difficult for everyone in the highly competitive digital marketplace, but when your client is in the business of selling items that run hundreds or even thousands of dollars, the process can be especially frustrating. Every potential conversion can potentially make or break the business, and it seems like every consumer is just looking for the cheapest buy.
So how do you establish value and drive online shoppers to invest a bit more in your client’s inventory? At Coalition Technologies, we recently faced this precise challenge with TimeScape, a Minneapolis-based provider of luxury watches, watch winders, and timepiece accessories. In only three short months, our marketing and development teams helped TimeScape to multiply their revenue several times over, using three essential methods that every online marketer, designer and developer should be utilizing to the fullest: SEO, PPC, and conversion optimization. Today, we'll go over exactly what we managed to accomplish, and how we made it all happen.
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A little bit of context...
In the summer of 2015, TimeScape reached out to us for custom development and online marketing work, and we were pleased to accept the challenge. The company was struggling to distinguish itself in an oversaturated marketplace, and they were looking to increase their web presence and conversion potential. Thankfully they already had one major advantage in their favour: a Shopify store. We knew that in order to maximize their traffic and revenue potential, we would simply need to optimize the powerful tools that they already had at their disposal.
As a Shopify partner, we already understood how the Shopify platform enables ecommerce companies to grow at an unprecedented pace and exceed their online business goals. As a digital marketing agency, we consistently recommend Shopify to our varied customers for its breadth of sophisticated features, cutting-edge SEO functions, and unparalleled ease of use. Here are the three things we did to help grow online traffic to TimeScape's Shopify store in the short time since we began our campaign.
Step 1: SEO
We began working with TimeScape at the end of August, and since that time, we worked hard to improve their website and online presence. In less than three months, we had fully analyzed their site, created original content for all of their major landing pages, optimized their metadata, redirected all of their 404 errors, engaged in extensive public-relations outreach for high-quality link building and exposure, and improved the aesthetics of their site. If your client campaign involves any sort of web marketing, you will want to pay particularly close attention to these key essentials:
Know your keywords. If your client deals in high-value items, it’s important to know where your greatest revenue potential lies. For example, TimeScape offers a wide array of luxury watches, but so do thousands of other online retailers (many of whom have much larger marketing budgets). TimeScape realized that their biggest sellers actually aren’t watches at all, but watch winders, and so much of our marketing efforts have focused on those less-saturated but highly lucrative products. So when deciding which keywords to go after, don’t just reach for the obvious answer. Make an honest assessment of what has the highest revenue potential, and tailor your search accordingly. The AdWords Keyword Planner is an excellent free tool for carrying out your keyword research, if you aren’t already making use of it.
When deciding which keywords to go after, don’t just reach for the obvious answer.
Content is king. One of the most effective SEO measures at our disposal has been the creation of keyword-optimized content for every major landing page. Consider this: During the first two months our campaign, we saw a 98% rise in TimeScape’s organic conversion rate, a 120% rise in transactions, and a 240% increase in revenue. The most recent period of mid-September through the end of October has been particularly successful, thanks largely to the publication of optimized content. During this period, the company experienced nearly a 3000% increase in organic revenue. Strive for at least 400-600 words of content that targets your relevant keywords, and don’t forget your title tags and meta descriptions, as they can provide huge SEO and click-through potential.
Don’t overlook the technical. If web development is your bread and butter, this tip is especially for you. Far too many novice SEO specialists make the mistake of focusing solely on the visible aspects of SEO, while neglecting the more elusive but critically important technical aspects: remedying 404 errors, optimizing XML and HTML sitemaps, implementing 301 redirects as needed, and even optimizing site speed. Believe it or not, these seemingly innocuous factors can make a huge difference for your campaign, so when you’re developing a website, don’t simply focus on aesthetics and usability. Pay close attention to SEO.
The key takeaway:
High-value merchandise is a numbers game. It may take 10,000 or even 100,000 visitors to generate 1 sale, so it’s important to drive as much organic traffic as possible. Approach SEO from every possible angle, and craft your content in a way that not only introduces the product, but also creates value and emphasizes specific reasons why customers should buy from your client.
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Step 2: PPC
As with any online business, TimeScape’s success cannot be attributed solely to organic traffic. Pay-per-click is another valuable weapon in any online marketing arsenal, as TimeScape’s recent revenue jump can attest to. Since taking over the company’s PPC campaign in July, the Coalition team has helped them to increase their conversions by 41% while decreasing their spend by 13%. The average cost per conversion has dropped by a full 20%, and click-through rate has climbed by about the same percentage.
So how did we do it?
Market research. Before you even start investing in keywords, it’s important to conduct preliminary research to determine where your market is strong. When we realized that luxury watches were oversaturated and that watch winders were underrepresented, we were able to build a PPC campaign that drove the highest-converting traffic. Explore your analytics, and conduct external research to capitalize on market trends. The AdWords Keyword Planner, mentioned earlier, can also be very helpful. Using this handy tool, you can determine the difficulty of competition for any potential keyword, as well as the suggested bid and other important variables.
Trial and error. The key is to find the minimum investment for the maximum return, and that will usually take some trial and error. Don’t expect to get it right the first time. Explore an array of relevant keywords, and see which ones convert the best. That will help you to adjust your campaign accordingly. Yes, you may lose money in the beginning, but if you continuously tailor your campaign according to the results, it will more than pay off in the long run. Just remember to manage your client’s expectations, and ensure that they understand the trial-and-error aspect of the process, otherwise you may find yourself facing some very awkward phone calls early on.
Calls to action. Believe it or not, this is one of the biggest mistakes that even seasoned PPC professionals make on a regular basis: Forgetting to include a strong call to action. We’ve all seen the research on CTAs. They will dramatically increase clicks and conversions every single time, and yet still we see PPC ads that include only bland descriptions with no sense of urgency. Make sure to write descriptions that not only encourage people to act, but actually get customers excited.
The key takeaway:
When marketing high-value inventory, PPC is always to your advantage. A $3.00 Google listing can result in a $3,000 sale, but it’s going to take some patience and strategy. Don’t overlook this extremely valuable marketing tool.
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Step 3: Conversion Optimization
What is conversion optimization? In short, it’s the process of organizing your site in such a way that generates the highest number of sales or closes. Getting people to the site is easy. The real trick is getting people to buy, which is an especially difficult pursuit when dealing with products that run from hundreds to thousands of dollars on average. Thanks to Shopify’s intuitive point-and-click design features and built-in ecommerce analytics, our team was able to easily QA the TimeScape website from top to bottom and optimize every page for maximum conversion potential.
Unfortunately, though, there is no exact science to conversion optimization. As with PPC, there is a certain amount of trial and error involved. The placement of banner ads, the wording of content, and the types of images used can all have a positive or negative effect on sales. For example, it may surprise you to learn that the phrases “Shop Now” and “Buy Now” can actually convert differently, which is why it’s helpful to use conversion optimization tools like Unbounce. There are, however, a few universal truths when it comes to conversion optimization:
- Content matters. Don’t just write it, but make it exciting.
- An ugly or unprofessional web design will drive away potential customers. Implement designs that are not only pleasing to the eye, but accurately reflective of your client’s industry.
- Make sure the design is fully responsive. Mobile web surfing now exceeds desktop surfing, so if the website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re losing out on tremendous business.
- More ways to pay mean more sales.The more payment options you offer, the more your client’s products will sell. Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Google Wallet...implement as many choices as possible.
- Free shipping. You may be amazed to learn of the enormous conversion power behind these two simple words.
The key takeaway:
Try to imagine what would get you excited to buy a product, and then exemplify that on your client’s own landing pages. Give people a reason to buy from your client, make the process easy and convenient, and stress the small details.
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Let your product shine
TimeScape is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, but there is really nothing special about the work that went into it. The company’s recent successes are simply the culmination of basic market research and a commitment to customers’ needs. If your client’s merchandise is desirable enough to warrant a high price tag, you’re already at a competitive advantage. You just need to showcase the true value of the products and give customers a reason to choose your client’s business. With the tips outlined in this article, you will be well on your way.