This is one of our favorite client success stories, and we are extremely excited to be able to share this case study with you. Mary Jane’s Headquarters is a headshop based in Kelowna, BC with a massive online store. After several years of slowly declining online sales, the owner contacted us to see if we could turn things around – and in one year we were able to generate over 500% growth!
Since we were hired at the end of Q2 2019, another stark contrast is the year over year results for the 2nd quarter. In Q2 2020 we also achieved 11x sales growth… yes… 11x sales relative to Q2 2019!
We are going to give you a brief history of the company prior to us working with them, and what we did to make the sales of their eCommerce store increase 11x in just ONE YEAR.
*Note: Dollar values are not included in this case study, upon request of the client
Company History & Pain Points
- After buying the physical storefront of Mary Jane’s HQ in 2013, the first thing owner Chris Gayford did was open an online store for the iconic local headshop.
- By April 2016 the store was doing quite well, generating an extra 10-12% of revenue to boost the two physical store locations.
- But in 2017, online sales dropped as web traffic declined, and in 2018 this downward trend continued. The website was outdated and believed to be the source of the problem. Mary Jane’s launched a brand new website in October 2018 to try and recover some of the lost sales, and although the site was better aesthetically – there were some serious technical issues.
- After having a record low for April sales in 2019 (typically the highest earning month due to the 4/20 holiday) Chris decided it was time to look for help and brought in the Diffuse Digital Marketing team.
Diagnosing The Issues
We started with a full sitewide SEO Audit to try and discover what problems were plaguing the site, and it’s user experience. The main issue we uncovered from the launch were changes to the site’s organization and URL structure without notifying Google. This resulted in many of their indexed search results dropping users on 404 error pages. It also resulted in high bounce rates, slashed conversion, and began resulting in a steep decline in traffic. All of this resulted in lost sales.
We addressed this issue by creating & submitting a new sitemap to Google, as well as redirecting old pages to new ones, to immediately ensure anyone coming from search would land on the desired page.
Onpage SEO Optimizations
After that was complete, we worked on some basic on-page optimizations based on keyword research to try and optimize popular products we believed had the highest potential to bring in converting traffic. With a store of 2000+ products and a high degree of tracking/testing involved, these efforts took time. But in the months to come, they began paying off with the slow but steady growth in traffic, and sales increasing month over month.
Looking for Opportunities
Although SEO is a fantastic way to increase site traffic, there are two considerations we like to point out to clients to help manage expectations.
1. SEO takes time & testing. It is not a quick fix!
Don’t expect to see results immediately. It typically takes 3 months for changes to take effect, and from there we need to analyze the data to see what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly. We try to manage expectations that although we expect to see improvements around the 3-month mark, you may not see sizable positive shifts for 6 months to 1 year.
Generating long-term gains requires a holistic approach – each industry and website is different and should be treated as such. This means we need to do a thorough analysis before beginning our work, develop benchmarks, test, track, test again, and make continuous optimizations to achieve major progress on competitive keywords. This is especially true in the eCommerce world.
2. Getting traffic to a page is great, but it’s not the only ticket to more sales (nor is it the easiest).
Typically businesses are seeking more clicks to their website because they want to increase sales, but often, there are easier ways to get there while we work on the long-term strategy for SEO. After discussing this with the client, we were able to pivot from our original “SEO” only role, to work on a more holistic approach to gain more sales. Let’s take a look at exactly what we did in more detail.
Conversion Rate Optimization / Email Marketing
Because Mary Janes HQ is an e-commerce site, the first thing we wanted to explore in more detail was their sales funnel. With an average conversion rate of .44% at the point when we started – we knew this was something we could improve. We started by taking a look at the user experience and comparing that with the funnel analytics to determine where/why users dropped off between landing on the site and checking out. There were several areas we then worked on to “plug the holes” we found in the funnel.
The main one that was evident was that there was no lead capture effort to gather emails from interested users for future marketing. If someone hit the site and didn’t make a purchase, we would likely never see them again – but if we were able to gather their information, we could market to them and potentially convert them in the future.
In Nov 2019, we gained approval to begin email marketing for the store. and we implemented a tool that has been instrumental to our success: Privy.
Privy is a lead capturing / email marketing software that has been an absolute powerhouse for us gathering emails. By implementing a few targeted e-mail marketing offers, we’ve managed to build to 6,300 subscribers in 2020 from Privy sign-ups alone. For reference, that is the roughly the same amount the physical store + online store had collected between 2013-2019.
Welcome Sign-Up Offer:
After A/B testing a variety of options, we found people responded best to 10% off discount code, shown after viewing 2 or more pages. This is our main source of sign-ups, and we have averaged a 4.6% sign-up rate in 2020 (relative to the industry average of 2-3%). Of those that sign-up we have an average order rate of 14.47%.
Abandoned Cart Series & Cart Saver Pop-Up:
We also created a custom abandoned cart email series, as well as a cart saver pop-up to help convert customers who dropped off during the checkout experience. The abandoned cart series is a series of three emails to encourage the users to complete their checkout experience, and the cart-saver is an exit-intent pop up that displays before the user leaves the site. The primary difference is, the abandoned cart series is only sent if someone reaches the checkout and adds their email (and opts-in for marketing), whereas the cart saver can target someone who has not hit the checkout but has an item in their cart.
Once our email list started building, we implemented regular campaigns to inform subscribers about new arrivals and sales, keeping Mary Jane’s top of mind, and resulting in a slow and steady increase to sales month over month from November 2019 forward!
Our Record Breaking 4/20 Sale
In March of 2020, we broke the record for highest monthly online sales since the shop went online in 2013. This was a HUGE milestone for us. We wanted to ensure with 4/20 on the horizon, we were prepared. We doubled down our efforts, studied what was working for us, and utilized it to the fullest.
As we ramped up for a 5-day sale, we decided to set up a “pre-sale” gate. This allowed users to register and get Early Access to the sale – making it a 10-day sale (big thanks to Liam, our success rep at Privy, for this suggestion!).
LEADS CAPTURED: 800+ emails
Our pre-sale registrations were so great, we kept the gate up for the entire sale. This allowed us to gather more emails rather than displaying the code publically to everyone who visited the site. Using this technique, we gathered 800+ emails in just 10 days.
APRIL 2020: TRAFFIC & SALES (1,250% increase in Online Sales)
In terms of site traffic, we grew user traffic from 6,500 visitors in April 2019, to over 21,000 by April 2020! Although the user count was up 223% (a very impressive stat by itself), sales year over year in April were up 1,250%. This data point demonstrates why optimizing for conversion can accelerate sales so much more than just optimizing for clicks alone.
Q2 Comparison: 11x sales year over year
All of that is great, but what is even better is the sustainment of the sales over the long-term. We had one exceptional month, but what’s more impressive is the overall growth, captured by the year over year growth in Q2 and continued growth in Q3.
Diffuse Digital was hired close to the end of Q2 2019, so a year over year comparison feels like the best way to summarize our success together.
To Date Results: 500% growth
In addition, to the hugely successful Q2, as of the date of writing (Oct.1, 2020), we are up 501% 2020 YTD vs 2019 equivalent. We have amassed a list of 6,300+ new emails we can continue marketing to in the future. And with that in mind, we’ve continued building on this strategy, implementing a revised rewards program, and ensuring customers receive information on how to utilize it to build loyalty while gaining new customers.
In one year, we’ve been able to craft a full-scale marketing strategy to not only drive traffic to the site, but also to capture & convert that traffic once it arrives. We are extremely proud of the work that we’ve been able to do with Mary Jane’s, and the amazing brand they’ve built and look forward to what we will achieve by April 2021!