Growth Voucher funding E-commerce Success with Strategic Management Partners & From Small Acorns

How Direct Marketing and Search Engine Marketing Increased e-commerce website revenue by 400% within 3 months

Background
The client, an experienced and qualified management consultant, with high skills and knowledge in specialist environmental products, had been running his startup for about a year. He had identified a niche and built an ecommerce store with a large national IT provider. However the website had gained very little traction in the search engines and as a result was seeing limited click-through and too few conversions.

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To help increase visibility in the search engines the client had purchased search engine optimisation support from a large ecommerce provider.

The Challenge
The ecommerce store and merchant accounts were costing almost as much as monthly income. An increase in sales was vital but too few products were being sold to offset this cost. The client had serious concerns about the ecommerce platform chosen. He decided an alternative support provider was required to meet his immediate and future sales needs.

GrowthVoucher Funded Support
He was awarded funding to subsidise 50% of external professional fees and chose to use two strategic management partners to work in tandem to develop both online and direct marketing solutions. His partners, Clive Bonny and Lee Turner, were chosen on their proven technical capabilities in SEO, market research and direct sales. The suppliers website content showed similar challenging projects being resolved with structured diagnostic reviews leading to delivered action plans and successful measurable outcomes and impacts. Clive and Lee had proven experience in building high growth enterprises, had previously worked closely together on a GrowthAccelerator project funded by the Business Innovation and Skills department, and had relevant professional qualifications with skills in risk management and business continuity planning.

Planning
Clive and Lee mapped out an 8 week action plan with weekly progress reviews. Lee provided the client with a full review of the features and benefits of the ecommerce platform, advising on technical configurations to make sure it was correctly setup for maximum conversions. A thorough review of the Google analytics ensured they were able to track ecommerce transactions. Further analysis was made of the online behavior of site visitors, from adding to a shopping cart to checking out and paying.

Research
Simultaneously Clive undertook a market research assessment of current suppliers and their customers perceptions of the quality of products and services. These niche product buyers were widely dispersed. Clive first segmented the buyer and supplier groups, then identified their respective strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Each buyer group was then prioritised and a contact management plan created to introduce the clients new products. Different offers to different buyer groups were tested by direct marketing, email and telemarketing.

Outcomes
Clive’s tailored offer testing resulted in a unique value proposition being formulated to differentiate the client from competitors. The direct marketing support activity to build new awareness and relationships was intensive. 378 buyers were contacted by email making them aware of the new offer, and the top 50 prospective buyers were identified and contacted by direct telephoning. Lee’s implementation of a Google Adwords campaign also provided immediate results. This enabled sustainable longer-term website awareness in associated product and service markets. SEO analytics and actions were followed by further advice to assess the potential opportunity size and profitability of the market. As the traffic increased to the ecommerce site Lee implemented extra website specific tests to assess visitor activity and influence higher conversion rates.

Results
Traffic to the site doubled within 2 months. The strategy combining direct marketing with SEO balanced the immediate needs for traffic and conversion with longer-term brand awareness and enabled the traffic to the site to increase from 355 visits to 702 within just 2 months.

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With targeted traffic being driven to the site and conversion rate improved, in 2 months the ecommerce site revenue has grown by 400%:

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The external support has enabled the client to move from a previous uneconomic ecommerce platform to a new platform with a higher level of control and flexibility. The ecommerce site is profitable and the client can scale up marketing actions and introduce tailored offerings to meet different buyer needs.

Conclusions
A structured SWOT analysis and diagnosis of online and direct marketing opportunities identifies the most profitable route to market. Measuring the right metrics such as conversions, landing & exit pages, sales conversion rate and cart abandonment gives web-based suppliers the confidence to run a sustainable ecommerce store long term. The synergy combining SEO with direct marketing support can multiply success by 400%. Above all careful selection of experienced professionally qualified business advisors who deliver projects on time to clear quality management standards objectives will ensure success.

Contacts
Lee Turner, From Small Acorns, 01273 252030, 07989 381448
Clive Bonny, Strategic Management Partners, 01273 308865, 07973 799153