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How We Increased Apothékary’s Amazon Sales by 509% Within 90 Days

As an ecommerce advertising agency, Tuff is constantly testing new channels and forms of user acquisition to stay on top of ecommerce trends and capitalize on new opportunities. In 2020, Amazon advertising became the number three ad publisher in the United States, accounting for over $15.73 billion in ad revenue. It’s estimated that Amazon’s ad business is growing even more in 2021, with a projected ad revenue of over $20 billion (over 30% annual growth). 

Amazon drives most of its ad revenue through Amazon sponsored ads, which are search and display ads on the Amazon platform and managed by Amazon Seller Central. It’s estimated that 89% of their total ad revenue comes from ads within the Amazon platform, while the remainder comes via ads served on the Amazon DSP. Having an effective Amazon advertising strategy is an essential part of a growth strategy for e-commerce brands. 

About Apothékary

In the spring of 2021, Tuff partnered with Apothekary to test and scale new acquisition strategies, including overhauling their existing Amazon advertising strategy. Apothékary is an innovative provider of Mother Nature’s Farmacy™️, which are clean alternatives to over-the-counter supplements. Using food as medicine, Apothékary is a disruptor in the wellness industry: from skin-care to stress management, Apothékary provides a new way for users to be wellthy. 

Increasing Apothekary’s Amazon Ad Revenue by 258% in 90 Days

When Tuff first began working with Apothékary, we knew that to be successful on Amazon we needed to drive volume at a positive ROAS to make it a sustainable platform for e-commerce sales. Unlike Shopify, or other e-commerce platforms, Amazon takes 20% of the revenue generated via your sales: so making sure your ads are scaling while maintaining ROAS positive is essential. Within the first 90 days of running ads on Amazon, we increased the daily revenue generated from our ads by 258%, while improving the ROAS from a 0.54 ROAS to a 1.01 ROAS. The increase in direct ad revenue, coupled with organic growth, lead to a total sales increase of 509% for Apothekary on Amazon. 

amazon advertising chart

Reviewing Initial Amazon Campaign Performance

When we took over account management for Apothékary’s Amazon Advertising account, there was only one campaign running, with a broad mix of targeting strategies being applied. We knew that to find scalable success, we would need to create a more thorough PPC strategy and test multiple targeting options.

To start, we combed through the initial automated targeting campaign’s settings, including placements, targeting, bidding strategies, and adjustments, to find any pockets of success we could leverage as historical performance indicators and potential avenues for segmentation. 

After digging into the details, we observed that Apothékary’s ads were having their best success at the Top of Search placements. We also identified that Close Match and Complement targeting had the best ROAS, with Loose Match targeting far behind, yet spending a significant portion of the budget.

These results helped guide us when developing our strategy for new campaigns, but ultimately, we knew we have to test, test, test.

Introducing Branded Campaigns into our Amazon Advertising Strategy 

Much like a successful PPC strategy on Google Ads, branded campaigns are highly effective on Amazon. They serve to drive super-high ROAS results, as well as ensure you are warding off your competitors from taking the top spot on the search results when you are being searched for. 

Because Apothékary has an extensive social media presence and ad budget, we found that their branded terms also had significant volume on Amazon, with shoppers searching the brand and its products on Amazon in hopes of taking advantage of Prime’s great shipping times. 

Unfortunately, Apothékary had yet to implement a branded search strategy on Amazon, and competitors were taking the ‘prime’ real estate of the top search result positions. Of course, we quickly identified a Branded search campaign as a simple and effective opportunity to improve performance and increase overall sales volume by capturing the top search results.

amazon ads

We created two campaigns; one ‘pure-branded’ campaign that targeted only Apothékary brand terms and a branded-product campaign, which targeted the names of Apothékary’s popular products that were being searched often, such as ‘chill the f out’. 

Adding the branded product ads has also protected the real estate underneath the A+ content on the product pages. By ensuring Apothekary products occupy the “Customers Also Bought” section on the Amazon product page of their product listing, it increases additional product awareness and prevents other brands from using Apothekary’s product listings for their benefit. 

Unsurprisingly, results have been stellar, with a combined ROAS of over 18.5 since launch. 

selling on amazon example

Finding Non-Branded Amazon Ad Success

We knew finding success with branded search terms would be an easy, quick win, but we also knew that we needed to introduce the brand to new consumers searching for the best products in the industry to truly help Apothékary grow its revenue. 

We set out on an aggressive testing strategy, implementing new campaign types and targeting options weekly. With Amazon’s incredible search volume and site traffic, gathering meaningful insights on things like CPC, Conversion Rates, and ROAS, was able to be done quickly.

A logical first test of a Non-Branded campaign structure included Manual Keyword targeting campaigns, similar to the Branded campaigns described above, yet focused entirely on Non-Branded keyword themes based on Apothékary’s products such as; use-cases, competitors, and ingredients. To our surprise, we didn’t find much success with a manual non-branded keyword focus, as CPCs in this specific industry were higher than projected. Coupled with low price points and slim profit margins, we knew this campaign targeting strategy wouldn’t be sustainable. 

So, with data gathered, we quickly pivoted to other campaign types and settings options that would help us identify areas of success.

Using Automated Targeting on Amazon Ads to Gain Knowledge for Manual Targeting Campaigns

As mentioned earlier, when reviewing the initial campaign set up by Apothékary, we identified that Close Match targeting on an Automated targeting strategy was delivering a positive ROAS. To lean further into this approach, we created an Auto Targeting campaign and removed all other targeting options, such as Loose Match, Complements, and Substitutes. This allowed us to isolate Close Match product targets and set aside a daily budget specific to this campaign. To-date, this campaign is successfully scaling with a 2+ ROAS.

We also took this approach and created additional Automated targeting campaigns, isolating substitutes and complements targeting, with the goal of having Amazon’s automated matching strategy help us identify Substitutes and Complements products that we could then narrow in on and target manually. 

With a couple of weeks of positive ROAS under our belts, we analyzed the Substitutes and Complements being targeted by the Automated matching campaign, and were able to identify over 20 unique ASIN targets that were delivering positive ROAS. Taking these results into account, we set up a Manual targeting campaign, targeting these ASINs specifically in order to segment spend and scale up the amount of daily spend going to these top performing ASIN targets. 

To-date, we continue running the Automated Substitutes and Complements campaign as a seeder-campaign, or a way to identify additional ASINs to add to our ever-growing list of Manual product targets, with both campaigns operating over 1.5 ROAS.

Our Amazon Advertising Strategy’s Impact on Organic Amazon Sales

Amazon organic rankings are impacted by several factors. The two most critical factors are often considered to be total purchases, and review ratings. By increasing the total number of sales via paid Amazon ads, Apothekary has also seen an increase in organic sales, and blended ROAS. 

amazon sales example

Since taking on the account, Apothekary has seen an increase in orders from our paid acquisition efforts increase by 333%, and organic sales by 48%, without making a single change to the A+ content on the product listing page. These increases have led to a blended ROAS increase of 86%. Additionally, since the number of total purchases have increased, so have the total number of reviews – further improving Apothekary’s organic rankings. 

Why an Effective Amazon Advertising Strategy is Critical for Long Term Growth

As you can gather from this case study, our Amazon advertising strategy for Apothékary in the first couple of months has focused on testing all of the available targeting options on Amazon Advertising. We’ve done this by identifying winning strategies: whether they are bidding strategies, targeting strategies, or placement strategies, and then isolating these winners into campaigns where we can scale by controlling spend at the daily budget level.

Not everything we have tested has been successful, but each test has delivered learnings that we have been able to iterate over. Overall Amazon revenue, both directly contributed to advertising efforts and organic, has grown each month. With July set to finish as the best month for revenue from Amazon yet, there is no doubt that these enhanced advertising efforts have contributed directly to this revenue growth.

If you are looking for a growth partner to scale your Amazon Advertising efforts, we’d love to chat. Drop us a line, and let’s talk about how we can take your Amazon ads to the next level. 

A laptop computer on a desk showing an online shop for furniture

9 eCommerce Trends Driving Online Growth in 2021

A laptop computer on a desk showing an online shop for furniture

We get it, we’re sick and tired talking about 2020 just like everyone else. But hear me out: As the world shut down, companies unprepared to sell virtually rushed to bring their products and services into digital spaces. As a result, Shopify, like many other eCommerce CMS (content management systems), saw massive growth, increasing revenue by an unbelievable 89%. This translated to a mind-boggling $2.9 BILLION dollars.

If you recognize your own eCommerce business as part of the above trend, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your online store to see if it’s adhering to best practices and staying up to date as we move further away from 2020 (cheers to that). We put together this guide to help identify areas of growth for your eCommerce revenue in 2021. 

eCommerce Trends

1. Mobile: where shoppers are spending. 

79% of smartphone users have made a purchase on their phone in the last six months. That says it all, doesn’t it? It’d be nice to tidy up this section with two sentences, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

Online shopping continues to move more to a mobile-dependent space. In 2016, mobile commerce sales totaled at $0.97 billion globally. That figure is projected to be $3.56 billion in 2021 – over 3x growth in five years. In addition, it’s estimated that up to 73% of eCommerce sales will take place on a mobile device in 2021. Why such a large increase in such a short time frame? 

Mobile commerce has skyrocketed for three main reasons: convenience, accessibility, and increased screen time. 

In the US, mobile device users are spending 24% more time on their smartphones daily than they were in 2016. Social platforms and ad networks have adapted, prioritizing ads so that they’re served on mobile-friendly websites and incentivizing advertisers to have a mobile-friendly experience. 

Mobile shopping isn’t only about purchases online though. With the rise of BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store), users are spending more time reviewing products online to make informed purchasing decisions. Also, over 80% of shoppers said they have used a mobile phone inside a physical store to look up product reviews, or compare prices. Mobile commerce is more than a trend. It’s a movement. If your eCommerce site isn’t designed mobile-first, you may want to re-evaluate. 

So, the question is: does your site have a beautiful mobile experience? If not, get your booty to UpWork and find yourself a UX designer yesterday.

2. Subscriptions: not just for binge watchers. 

A screenshot of Fuego Box's subscription options.

The subscription movement may have started with Netflix, but it sure didn’t stop there. Subscriptions themselves have transformed from a service or product subscription in niche categories to a more practical auto-renewal subscribe-and-save program. By locking in users for auto-recurring orders, brands often reward users with a discount.

This helps eCommerce businesses tremendously; they can pay more to acquire customers because the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer increases tremendously when their purchase auto-renews. This practice largely started because of Chewy.com’s Autoship program, but CMS such as Shopify and Woocommerce are adapting to allow apps and plugins to do the same thing for smaller online stores.

Is your service or product rife for subscription? Have you found success?

3. Social commerce: the real scroll stopper.

Social commerce broadly references a user’s ability to purchase products directly within social media platforms. You’ll see this most often in Instagram—a platform with over 1 billion active users per month. Of this massive number, 130 million tap on shopping posts every month. That’s a lot of volume.

Instagram has been slowly introducing their social commerce platform over the last year and a half, adding tagged products to posts so users can browse catalogs within the app, and now, Instagram Checkout allows users to purchase products without ever leaving Instagram. 

Instagram is putting theory into practice: the fewer clicks, the more likely a purchase. Shopify has been quick to respond by rolling out updates to their marketing channels to allow product catalogs to directly sync with Instagram and Facebook. Since so much of eCommerce user acquisition happens on social channels, this will drastically affect paid social campaigns in 2021 and beyond.  

What’s your best selling product on social? Are you putting enough firepower into activating its full potential?

4. Headless commerce: leaving Shopify out of it. 

For large-scale brands, headless commerce promises to be an early disrupter. This API-driven approach uncouples the front end of your site from a back-end eCommerce platform. Instead, systems communicate via APIs. 

Why do this? For starters, it allows for customization far beyond standard eCommerce CMS. As great as Shopify, Woocommerce, and Magento are, for large scale companies like Nike, Overstock, and more, their needs far outweigh what most CMS provides. 

Additionally, the usage of APIs allows for content management beyond the eCommerce site. Headless commerce can allow for the easy distribution of mass data between the data source and marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, and Walmart. For large-scale companies distributing their products across multiple platforms, this is a transition that provides scale.  

Even if you’re not an Overstock or a Walmart, understanding the future of eCommerce can help you plan for your business’ future: what are you doing to adapt?

5. DTC growth: not just a COVID phenomenon.

I know I already mentioned that we’re all sick of talking about COVID, but this is the last time I’ll bring it up. I promise. 

DTC (direct to consumer) sales skyrocketed during the start of COVID-19, and continued throughout the end of the year for an increase of 24% annually in the US alone. Direct to consumer eCommerce places an emphasis on users going directly to the brand for purchase, rather than relying on a national marketplace, such as Amazon. 

This affects international brands who are shifting to a hybrid approach to sell direct to consumer as well as retail and marketplace sales. It also affects small businesses who likely can benefit from direct to consumer acquisition instead of paying platform fees to marketplaces or service providers. 

That’s not to mention supporting local businesses, a focus that was sharpened throughout the pandemic married with an increasing dissatisfaction with the way Amazon does business. But that’s a blog post for another day. 

The short story: we all want to better support local. What’s your company doing to help us help you?

6. Pay options: dollar bills are a thing of the past.

A screenshot of QuietKat's homepage advertising a pay overtime option.

Have you noticed that a lot of eCommerce sites have banners promoting buy now, pay later options through third-party services like Affirm, Klarna, or Paypal Pay in 4? Payment flexibility within eCommerce platforms has introduced a new wave of users who finance larger purchases that they wouldn’t normally make. Breaking a large purchase up into four monthly payments, while still allowing for the vendor to be paid immediately, sounds too good to be true – but it isn’t! 

It doesn’t stop with financing options – digital wallets allow for quick and easy payments on eCommerce platforms. Online shopping becomes even easier with one click payments such as Apple Pay, or PayPal checkout. Ease of use, coupled with additional payment options allows users to pay however is convenient for them, and opens up a new market of potential customers.

Don’t have a payment plan installed on your site? You’re missing out on beaucoup revenue!

7. AR/VR: more than just for gamers. 

Augmented and virtual reality is becoming a powerful tool in the customer experience. One of the major complaints about ecommerce is that users don’t  have the ability to test or visualize how products will be in person. Augmented reality changes that and allows users to see 3D models of products for a much better idea of what they’re actually buying. 

Virtual reality goes even further and allows users to place items in the world virtually so you can see how a vase looks on your counter, or a photo on your wall. 35% of users say they are more likely to purchase a product online if they could virtually “try-on” a product before purchasing. This also helps cut down on return cost and potential customer dissatisfaction, building brand loyalty. 

Plus, it’s pretty damn cool. Where does AR or VR fit into your customer experience?

8. Personalization: making your customer feel like you only have eyes for them. 

When advocates or politicians talk about the need to have privacy online, rarely is it ever discussed how data creates a personalized web experience. Certainly there is a need for increased privacy for users, as well as better data collection practices, but this should not come at the expense of a personalized web experience. It’d be bad for advertisers, it’d be bad for users both to have a non-personalized ad experience on social platforms, display networks, and more. In short: there’s a more nuanced way to approach this. 

Even more so, personalization is incredibly important for eCommerce businesses. Personalization for eCommerce can be as simple as having recommended products based on the user’s browsing history within your site. It can be as complicated as dynamic content based on acquisition source and A/B testing user flows for a multi-touch personalized experience. 

Personalization is such a fascinating concept because it’s an easy way to increase conversion rate, average order value, and engage recurring customers on your site. AI powered personalization has produced many fascinating results, showing that revenue lift can be directly tied to a personalized user experience within your eCommerce site. 

Let’s get personal with your customers. What does this look like for them?

9. eCommerce content marketing: welcome to Tuff’s world.

A screenshot of a Tuff content strategy Trello board

Many eCommerce growth agencies are using paid acquisition channels like Facebook, TikTok, Google Shopping, Instagram, and more to generate revenue and acquire new customers. The problem with paid acquisition, however, is that it can be difficult to acquire users at a ROI that makes sense for your business. 

Tuff has seen success with organic eCommerce content marketing for multiple brands. Ranking for non-branded keywords pertinent to your product can help reach users organically in a much more cost effective way for the long term. We recommend balancing paid acquisition with content marketing so there’s a healthy approach to short-term wins, and long-term gains that can drastically increase the number of online shoppers coming to your eCommerce site. 

Know you need juicy content but don’t know where to start? Let’s talk! 

Conclusion

It’s too soon to tell whether or not all of these trends will be here to stay. That said, it’s likely that many of these eCommerce trends in 2021 will persist long after this year is over. When eCommerce trends stay they turn into best practices for a holistic eCommerce business to implement. Three years ago, Instagram was criticized for its implementation of IG-story advertising, and now it continues to be one of the hottest ways to market to users on social media. 

eCommerce marketing is not as scary as it may seem, but it’s nice to have help. As a growth marketing agency, we’ve partnered with over 50+ brands in the last 4 years to couple eCommerce trends and growth marketing techniques for scaling eCommerce businesses.  Want to learn more? Download a sample growth proposal today

A clean desk with a fresh document up for writing a new blog

Powering eCommerce Growth With Content Marketing

A clean desk with a fresh document up for writing a new blog

When we hear from eCommerce companies how they are powering their growth traction with digital marketing, they usually reference their ads performance, how specific products are selling, or how their revenue growth looks from a year over year perspective. 

Rarely do they talk about their eCommerce growth in relation to their organic revenue and content marketing strategy. 

From our perspective, as an eCommerce growth agency, that should be the number one focus for every eCommerce marketing strategy: generating targeted performance content that search engines will slap on page one. This, most importantly, drives potential customers to your site. And as a bonus, it becomes fodder for sharing in your email newsletter, on social media, and more. 

What is Content Marketing?

“We have a blog!” is the answer we get when we ask brands about their eCommerce content marketing efforts. 

That’s all well and good, but what exactly is on your blog?

If it’s content written for a specific target audience that helps them solve a problem using focus keywords that will enable the search engines to rank you as an authority figure in your industry, then you’re on track. 

If it’s brand content about what your founder had breakfast then keep reading.  

Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that eCommerce companies (but really all companies no matter who you’re selling to) should leverage as their go-to lead generation strategy. That’s a bold statement for an agency that also has a robust and powerful team of paid acquisition experts. 

Used in tandem with search engine optimization (SEO), a strong content marketing strategy produces content (think product copy, written articles, infographics, how-to videos) based on keyword analysis and topics related to an eCommerce site’s industry. 

A content strategy agency like Tuff can help you do it, too. 

Why Content Marketing for eCommerce? 

The answer is simple: would you rather pay top dollar for every single keyword you want to rank for in the form of paid search placements or would you prefer to get top rankings for free? 

We’ll assume you went with the less costly approach. 

You may be familiar with content marketing from other industries outside of eCommerce like B2B and SaaS. They produce content like ebooks, white papers, and case studies that contain information that their audience finds useful based on their own unique industry perspective or product. 

eCommerce content strategies are no different, but instead of ebook and white papers, we’re all about helpful guides, how-to articles, and most importantly product pages stacked with content that’s highly optimized for search engines. 

A content marketing strategy for eCommerce enables you to show search engines and most importantly potential customers that you’re an expert on your industry. Just selling products within your industry space isn’t enough, you need to prove that your product or service is solving a problem by being the authority leader in your space. 

How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for eCommerce

The good news: getting started growing your business with a content marketing strategy for your eCommerce business isn’t rocket science. But it does take some deliberate planning and focused research. 

First, you’ll want to put together a core list of target keywords you want to rank for. 

You might use words you’re bidding for on Google Search campaigns or do research using a search engine marketing tool to find non-branded organic keywords related to your eCommerce industry. 

These will be your focus keywords. As the name implies, you’ll build content around these keywords. For example, check out the focus keywords for this article: 

  • eCommerce content marketing
  • eCommerce growth
  • eCommerce growth marketing
  • content marketing

We’ve chosen them specifically because we know that there’s an opportunity for Tuff to improve our ranking on keywords related to eCommerce content marketing. And the higher we rank, the more people click through to our site. Although we’re not an eCommerce business, the principles hold true: more clicks = more revenue. (How meta is that?)

Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll want to figure out how to incorporate these keywords into a strategy. While there are a number of different ways to go about creating a content strategy, our favorite is the pillar strategy. This is where each keyword focus represents the foundation and you want to build articles off of your foundation to create a pillar. 

Putting These Focus Keywords to Work

Each focus keyword needs to have different types of content built on it. As mentioned, this could be a variety of content types. Consider everything from articles to infographics—this is where things can get tricky, it’s important to create content that is not just designed to attract the attention of search engines, but real humans looking for real answers to their questions. 

The good news: oftentimes many eCommerce brands already have a huge bank of content that they’ve built up over the years. So instead of starting from scratch, it’s possible to take stock of what you’ve already created and design a roadmap for combing through and strategically infusing targeted keywords. This can kickstart a performance content strategy without bucking up and going from 0-60 out the gate.

How to Optimize Your Product Copy with Focus Keywords

A great way to start using your focus keywords is to assign them to top selling products or your entire product catalog (depending on the number of products within your catalog). You will want each of your products to have keyword focus. 

Then using that keyword, it’s best practice to include it within the product title, product description, SEO title, meta description, and product URL. 

This will provide the foundation for your eCommerce content strategy. From here, you’ll want to produce content that features your focus keywords and links back to the foundation product pages that you assigned each specific keyword to. Simple!

Great eCommerce Content Marketing Examples 

Having trouble grasping what a eCommerce content strategy looks like in practice? Here are three examples to show you how it can be done: 

#1) REI.com 

A screenshot of the REI blog with the headline "Expert Advice"

Meet the little-known retailer called REI (kidding). They have a supercharged content strategy that enables them to pull in potential customers on just about any question someone might have about outdoor recreation products. 

Their blog strategy has morphed into what is more clearly defined as a knowledge base on all things recreation equipment—an incredible, powerful, and most notably profitable achievement.  

Strategically creating a knowledge base is becoming a more and more frequent play for eCommerce brands who want to organize their content in a way that enables them to help potential and existing customers on a range of topics. 

Instead of scrolling through endless pages of blog content, website visitors can easily search their knowledge base using a query-based search feature or by selecting topic categories. 

#2) Quietkat.com

A screen shot of the QuietKat blog

For a second selection, here’s a shameless plug for our client, QuietKat, an electric bike brand based out of Colorado. 

We’ve been working with them for the last year to define their SEO content strategy and product content that helps educate existing and potential customers. 

We won’t get too into the nitty gritty of how we do what we do with QuietKat, but take a drive through the QuietKat blog and check out how we’ve designed a content strategy to inform our existing and potential customers on all things electric bikes. 

#3) CulturesForHealth.com

A screenshot of the Cultures for Health blog

The final example of a content strategy from an eCommerce brand we really love is Cultures For Health. Similar to REI, their content is organized within a knowledge base learning center format which enables their website traffic to quickly access the information they need. They can also host multiple types of content together in an aesthetically pleasing fashion that doesn’t look cluttered. 

Their content marketing strategy has allowed them to lay off the paid search play and focus 100% on producing content that their audience loves. 

Here’s a break down of top keywords they rank for and how much organic traffic those keywords generate: 

  • Kombucha – ranking #13 (368,000 searches per month) 
  • Sourdough starter – ranking #16 (201,000 searches per month) 
  • Sauerkraut – ranking #4 (165,000 searches per month) 

Final Thoughts 

While an eCommerce content marketing strategy is not a quick fix, the benefits of a well thought out and executed SEO performance content strategy are huge.

Don’t be in a rush to start ranking on page one for your focus keywords. Rather, build out a strategy and look at from a quarterly growth timeline: where do you want to be ranking in three, six, nine, 12, and 15 months from now? How much content do you need to produce each month to hit your goals? 

Finally, don’t try to do it all yourself. You’ll need some help along the way.

Let a Content Strategy Agency like Tuff help you with the heavy lifting!  

Data to measure your ecommerce conversion rate.

Pairing Market Boom With an eCommerce Growth Strategy

ebike in the snow

When we think about a brand as a good fit for us at Tuff, we look to their current traction and historical growth. How’s their momentum currently and how have they been growing?

Based on the answers to these questions, we then think through whether our team will be helpful to them. Will our strength in Growth strategy specifically around services like Social Advertising, PPC, and SEO be channels that we can drive significant growth month over month? 

In addition to larger growth marketing opportunities, we look to a brand’s success within their market as well as that market’s current growth. Is it an industry that is booming or stagnant? How does the brand’s offering work within that market and how is that market responding to them? 

We then seek to pair external market forces with a growth strategy.

A great example of how we paired market boom with an incredibly smart growth strategy is from our partnership with QuietKat. 

QuietKat is an electric bike retailer based out of Eagle, Colorado that sells direct-to-consumer, on Amazon, and through a network of large and mid-sized retailers including within the Cabelas and Bass Pro Shop network. 

Unlike many electric bike brands within the cycling industry, QuietKat’s primary audience is not your typical urban commuter. Instead for the last few years, they’ve been carving out a place for themselves with a hunting and outdoorsmen space. 

Turns out that electric bikes, in addition to hauling groceries and kids in an urban environment, are also ideal for backcountry hunting when outfitted with fat tire mountain bike tires and accessories. 

Electric bikes are specifically good for hunters due to their quiet and stealthy approach (hence the name QuietKat) combined with new battery efficiency that gives riders the ability to go further for longer. 

QuietKat came to Tuff to talk about growth in March 2020. Their success in the hunting space had propelled them to seek new audience growth within the Outdoor space.

As mentioned, before we bring on new partners, we do our research to make sure that specific clients are a good fit for Tuff. QuietKat was no different, we did our homework and spent time pouring over historical data, Electric Bike Industry insights, and projections for where the market was headed.  

From our research, we found numerous opportunities for growth within QuietKat’s offering that would pair perfectly with Tuff’s Growth expertise. In addition, we learned that the E-Bike Market was in the midst of a Market BOOM. In short, while e-bikes had taken years to gain popularity outside of niche customer markets specifically for environmentally conscious buyers, the market had shifted sometime in the late 2010s and the mass opinion had decided that electric bikes were ‘in’ and were buying them quicker than brands could build them. 

For example, during our research, we found that Rad Power Bikes, an urban commuter electric bike industry leader from Seattle, had one of their largest revenue-generating years in 2019 with over $100M in electric bikes and accessories sold. In 2020, following their successes in 2019, they’ve seen 300% revenue growth month over month. 

Due to a pairing of market boom with growth strategy, QuietKat has also seen significant growth in 2020. Here’s how we were able to yield results with our growth strategy attached to a growing market. 

We Made Our eCommerce SEO Strategy a Top Priority

We often find that organic is overlooked as a channel. Strategies for growing organic often get put somewhere at the bottom of the marketing strategy and harped on the least. 

Don’t get us wrong, paid advertising is very exciting but in our opinion, brands with organic revenue making up the largest chunk of their overall revenue stand to do the best in the long run. 

The simple fact is that it’s incredibly difficult as a brand to subsist on just paid growth. Typically, you need a pipeline of investment to help pay for that growth when costs increase or you need to scale. 

With a strong organic revenue-producing strategy, you can build your own investment pipeline for the days when cost is high or turning up the scale is prime time. 

But doesn’t an eCommerce SEO Strategy take years to actually start working? 

organic growth from Google Analytics

Yes, it takes time (so does growing a brand), but you can start seeing results in 90-days or less should you know how to build on organic momentum through a tactic called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). 

One of Tuff Growth’s Channel Expertise is SEO, we even have a dedicated channel expert who heads up SEO strategy for our clients. 

For QuietKat, we found that in 2019 Organic Traffic made up 40% of eCommerce revenue, the highest revenue-generating channel with the highest conversion rate in our analysis.

By making Organic Growth a priority we’ve been able to grow that channel. Currently organic makes up 60% of revenue for QuietKat. 

We were able to grow organic with three main SEO tactic improvements. 

Dashboard example from SEM Rush

1. Improving Site Health + Speed

When we first start working on improving the organic performance for our clients, we typically run an SEO Audit to determine whether we can start implementing organic revenue-driving strategies that will work with the current infrastructure. Two primary data points we look to when making this assessment are Site Health and Site speed. 

Site health is based on the number of total errors and total warnings that are found on the pages crawled on your site. We typically feel comfortable implementing revenue-driving strategies when websites have a 90% or better score. 

Another check we do is on site speed. We find that website’s with slower speeds perform at lower rates than ones with faster speeds. This impacts how organic traffic will perform on your website. We can spend lots of time developing revenue driving organic strategies but if the website infrastructure they land on isn’t ready to handle their needs then performance will suffer. 

2. Improving Internal Linking 

Once we’ve improved site health and speed, then we seek to improve the internal linking on your website. For QuietKat we made sure that every single page on their website linked to other content in a parent / child like structure. 

We specifically worked on making sure that there were no dead-ends for the user and that the user always had a place to go that we wanted to rank. For example, they might start on a blog post and end on a landing page, because we had included a link to a collection page within the blog post that then pushed the user to checkout a product page. 

3. Improving Product Optimization

Once we had improved internal linking for QuietKat then we worked on product optimization, which involves one of the most effective tasks you can do in eCommerce SEO – optimized product titles. 

Product titles need to have clear and searchable titles that Google can easily index and rank. When titles are optimized, it’s more likely that user queries will trigger your organic content to be shown on search engine results. 

In addition, we also optimize product descriptions, which helps with driving more organic traffic because there’s more content on the page to rank. High quality content in your product description will work in combination with your product title to help you show up higher in search results. 

Developed a Strong PPC Strategy That Plays Nice With Social & Organic 

Example of an eCommerce search ad on Google.

PPC is one our favorite tactics at Tuff. It works really well by itself and can help bring websites extremely qualified traffic due to the fact that when done correctly brings in people already in the discovery phase of what you’re offering. 

It’s also our favorite because it can work really well with social and organic. 

One big issue that is often overlooked when thinking about Growth is how paid tactics work together individually and with organic. My hunch is that this is due to paid tactics usually being performance based. At Tuff we use performance data strategies to inform us on how tactics are working – a very common perspective to use in marketing. 

Where we separate ourselves at Tuff is how we isolate those tactics’ performance and consider how those tactics are working with one another to advertise as a funnel. How are the paid tactics working in combination with a strong organic strategy? How are we informing users on a more impression-based model to consider our brand down the line? 

Just looking at who saw our ads, clicked, and immediately converted is a poor way to judge an overall Growth Marketing Strategy, but it’s also a great way to determine if a particular ad campaign is performing at a high enough rate to warrant increased spend. 

The secret is to utilize a balanced full-funnel approach to decide what channels serve as awareness or reminders and what channels attribute to the last click sale.  

Understanding Audience Has Never Been More Important

Like many marketing strategies, audience understanding is key to success. For QuietKat, we spent a lot of time on both social and PPC refining our audiences. One of QuietKat’s objectives for us was to find new audiences outside of the hunting space. To do this, we worked off of hunters and found subsets of Outdoorsmen closely aligned with their primary audience that existed outside of the immediate audience. 

To do this though, we tested the same creatives across platforms like Youtube, Google Display Network (GDN), Facebook, and Instagram. 

We quickly learned that these top of the funnel placements would not yield immediate results and that we would need to look to longer conversion paths with multiple touchpoints. 

We found that on average it took 7 touchpoints in a sequence to yield a conversion, but on the extremes, we saw 13 touchpoint highs and 1 touchpoint lows. 

Understanding Multi-Channel Sales Paths

Example of mult-touch attribution for eCommerce.

For QuietKat, our analysis found that due to the cost range of an electric bike by QuietKat ($2500 – $6500), we weren’t going to find one advertising channel that would definitively carry our sales. For higher priced items this is generally the case since the decision stage is inherently longer. 

As explained above, we found on average that conversion required 7 touch points. This meant that customers were coming through to convert on a longer sequence that included our multiple channels from social to ppc to organic to direct. 

For less expensive priced items, we might find that a single channel or two channels play a central role in assisting a conversion. For more expensive items, we’ve found that the buyer’s journey is longer and requires more touch points.  

Having an independent strategy for each channel that worked together underneath our larger growth marketing strategy allowed us to increase overall eCommerce revenue by 88% since our partnership began in April 2020.

Focusing on eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

Example of an eCommerce website.

The final tactic that contributed to our partnership success has been a keen focus on eCommerce Website Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). It’s such an important factor of a successful growth strategy, because you could have the best ad creative and copy, but without a solid conversion rate – your ads might never get the conversion they deserve. 

One area of focus that applied to our overall eCommerce Converison rate was improving onsite navigation by developing a data-driven layout combined with our expertise for eCommerce to build a smart navigation header bar. 

Our strategy helped increase eCommerce Conversion Rate by 26%, which led to over 100% increases in Revenue and Transactions. 

Stats on an increase in online CVR.
Essentially, we were able to get more people to purchase by simply making it easier for them to find what they were looking to purchase. 

By focusing on eCommerce Website CRO, we were also able to increase revenue without needing to increase ad spend budget or traffic. 

MoM data results for online store.

This is possible because eCommerce CVR is directly tied to eCommerce Revenue. When eCommerce CVR goes up, revenue and transactions go up. See the chart above for reference. When we increase the eCommerce CVR to .5%, we see a direct increase in Transactions and Revenue without needing more traffic or an increase in average order value. Growth Marketing Strategy

Each Growth Marketing Strategy looks different for each brand we work with at Tuff. Not all the channels featured in this case study may work for any other brand. Let us take a deep dive into your brand and develop a strategy built for your business. 

Download a Sample Growth Marketing Proposal

Example of an ecommerce email on a phone.

A Crash Course in Email Marketing for Your eCommerce Store

Man working on a computer.

If you sell products online, you have a lot of options when it comes to marketing tactics. From influencers to ppc, it’s less about what you can do, and more about what you should do.  

Whether your limits are resource-related or budgetary, you will typically want to prioritize the marketing tactics that are likely to have the highest impact on your revenue.  In terms of reliability and ease of implementation, you can’t do much better than email marketing. 

Getting your ecommerce email strategy right, however, can prove a challenge. You only get one chance to grab a potential customer’s attention, after all, and you don’t want to lose sales once you have someone in your funnel. 

Keep reading for tips on how to build your list, the most popular email triggers, and inspiration from some of the greats! 

Building your list

In order for any type of marketing to work you need an audience. To pursue email marketing, this requires, of course, email addresses. There are several ways you can go about collecting these. The easiest is to simply acquire emails at your point of sale. This is a natural part of eCommerce, and customers who do not want targeted marketing can always opt out. Of course, this only allows you to target people who already buy from you.

One popular method to grow your customer base is to institute a “pop-up” that entices website visitors to submit email addresses for a coupon. Keep in mind that you do not need to directly ask for the email address. Instead, simply offer the coupon. If the customer bites and you gain a sale, you will collect the email naturally. 

eCommerce email pop up example from Brumate.

Another strategy involves giving away free content. For example, you could provide “how-to’s” related to your industry, such as recipes if you sell cookware. These are called “lead magnets”, because they lure potential customers to your website through the voluntary submission of contact details. If you have a popular blog, you can request emails for access to a newsletter with exclusive content. 

Picking your triggers

Since online consumers get bombarded with marketing, a straight-forward email-based solicitation likely won’t get you many buyers. Because of this, you’ll need a trigger, or a purpose for your email. Some of the most effective triggers you can utilize include emails for abandoned carts, up-sells and cross-sells, promotional offers, and special promotions for customer loyalty and re-engagement.

Abandoned Cart Emails

We’ve all seen them in brick-and-mortars: the abandoned shopping cart, left idle like flotsam amidst the swift-running current of commerce. The e-commerce equivalent of this happens all the time. Any number of reasons can drive us to click away from our shopping carts before we complete a transaction. A sudden caller may arrive at the door, for example, or the phone rings, the baby cries, or we get diverted through a particularly salient social media post.

Believe it or not, nearly 70 percent of all online carts get abandoned before submission of payment. Shipping fees provide the number one reason for this, as customers get turned off by what they perceive as an “extra cost”. A simple way to transform this loss into a win is to send an abandoned cart email that offers free shipping. If you can’t take this hit to your margins, you can alternately send an email survey to learn the reason for the abandoned cart.

Up-Sell Emails

Up-selling occurs when you invite a customer to purchase a more expensive item in order to increase the overall value of their order. Cross-selling, a similar practice, happens when you recommend a similar or complementary product. Since customers with a three-year relationship spend 67 percent more than new customers, it makes sense that these tactics regularly target preexisting business. One way to capitalize on this tendency is to simply send an order follow-up email with related items. 

Promotional Emails

The promotional email offers a one-time discount or coupon, or announces a sale. These are among the most popular types of email marketing for sellers and consumers alike. Seasonal sales provide shoppers the opportunity for discounts, and give sellers the ability to clear out unsold stock. Coupons can help drive a burst of immediate sales, and can provide shoppers discount on bundles, or one-time savings that convince them to finally buy that expensive new toy. 

Example of sales promotion from an eCommerce brand.

A special type of promotional email is that which seeks to reel back in an old customer. If someone has purchased from you once, chances are they will do it again if given the right incentive. A customer loyalty or re-engagement email can provide just this kind of incentive, through promotions like those mentioned above. What makes these different than straight-forward promotional emails is that they feel exclusive. For example, the discount could only apply for customers who have made a purchase in the last year, or those who made purchases from a specific category.

Creating your emails

Having seen a ton of great emails pass my way, I’d love to share a short list of some of the emails that have stood out to me. 

Uber

Like all of Uber’s brand-related communications, the email was streamlined, clever, and well designed. These qualities help identify their brand, and therefore make Uber’s marketing efforts all the more successful.

Poncho

Some of the most effective communication weds brevity with humor. I like how the customizable weather forecast tool Poncho regularly utilizes this strategy through colorful, short marketing emails punctuated with witty copy. For example, the email below used a bright gif to communicate a forecast of high temperatures, and paired it with a statement about slathering on sunscreen to impress the dermatologist you’re crushing on.

Pit Viper

These emails have character. Pit Viper sells sunglasses online and their brand has a voice unique. Here’s one of my absolutely favorite emails from them that came after I ordered a pair of their sunglasses. This sticks out to me because it’s a simple confirmation email. They already had my money but instead of it being the same boring “thanks for your order” they took the opportunity to leave a lasting impression with their customers. 

Example of an order confirmation email.

Warby Parker

Lastly, Warby Parker, which could probably offer a PhD in emailmarketing, sent me a feedback email a couple of weeks after I bought a pair of glasses. I like this one because it’s short to the point and honest. And the subject line “Three cheers for feedback” is human and inviting. 

Bottom line, all eCommerce sites should get into the practice of email marketing as soon as possible. The benefits are simply too broad, and the expenditure so low, that it makes email marketing a no-brainer. Once you have your list of recipients, you can experiment with which types of emails work the best for your business. Get started soon, and each sympathetic recipient will not only grow your list of subscribers, but also your business’s bottom line.