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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.