We love building websites and more importantly, we love building our own websites.
Nothing says ‘you know what you are doing’ than having your own successful website in place.
Let’s take a look at one of our flagship eCommerce website, which is one we own and operate daily.
eCommerce Website Case Study – Earth Inspired Gifts
Earth Inspired Gifts was inspired from a few years of managing one of the largest wholesale crystal websites in Australia. After seeing all the beautiful stock available and having a few runs at selling via eBay and Gumtree salt lamps, it was decided to launch a full-on eCommerce website.
Earth Inspired Gift was born with the focus on Himalayan salt lamps, Jewellery pieces and some earth inspired crystals. Ultimately, the gifts on the site had to be Earth inspired, but they also had to have a global appeal.
After registering the domain name, it was time to put the wire frame together.
One of the most critical aspects to building a website is the foundation.
eCommerce websites are different to your standard websites as they have a number of different categories and potentially, multiple listings of the same product.
So we spent a bit of time researching the competitors to understand what the best selling categories are.
In addition, we made sure to research the keywords of the competitors and the main keywords of the products we knew we were going to be listing.
Many people overlook this critical aspect and just dive in and build a site. Instead, you want to make sure you are focused on doing the essential competitor site analysis along with the keyword research.
In all of this, you are trying to build a solid foundation that has every chance to rank successfully online.
Building a solid eCommerce foundation for the short, medium and long-term
Initially, you are going to be competing with companies who have been in the space for up to 10 years online. So quick wins are few and far between nowadays.
Knowing this will get you to focus on more of a medium to long-term campaign, focused on generating results and good wins in 3-6 months time.
Of course, the length of time before you get some organic successes (like high rankings), will depend on the depth of your competition as well.
Building the eCommerce site and getting it done
As we have a number of clients who need our attention and three kids, it was essential to get things moving fast. We set ourselves the goal to list 60 Earth Inspired products so Earth Inspired Gifts can launch and get the ball rolling.
We felt it was much better to have the site live and generating some business, rather than wait for the most amazing ‘finished product’ before launching.
The truth is, there are no websites which are ever ‘finished’. They are always a work in progress and you need to tinker and adjust based on the analytics and data you get back from live traffic.
So we managed to update the first 60 products on the site, along with basic photos and basic descriptions.
Initial Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for our eCommerce site
One of the essential aspects of any website is to make sure you have your on-page SEO done correctly.
On-page SEO includes factors like:
- Meta title
- Meta descriptions
- Internal linking
- External links to authority sites
- Correct images with keyword focused names and alt tags
The above list isn’t extensive but includes some basic on-page SEO which is an absolute must.
Given we were strapped for time and looking to go live, we stuck to the absolute basics and duplicated a lot of the titles and descriptions. Again this was just to get the ball rolling. We had a plan to revisit all the content, meta tags and imagery down the track a little.
Content focus with the most critical pages
The content was the next major focus. We knew we had some serious competitors in the gift ideas space, especially when it came to Natural Himalayan Salt Lamps.
Some of our competitors have been in business for over 10 years and even sold the popular Himalayan salt lamps via TV commercials. They have been that popular.
So we devised our strategy into two parts:
- The most popular products and their descriptions
- New blog posts targeting more of the long tail keywords
The old 80/20 rule applies here. We knew some of our products are extremely popular.
Our most popular items include:
So with that in mind, we went to work creating powerful content around each of these product listings.
As you can appreciate this took a lot of time and energy. Not only that, but we wanted to have the best content available, so a lot of research went into each piece as well. We researched websites and sourced material from the crystal experts in their books and online sites.
We have also seen how powerful a rock-solid content strategy can be, so went about finding some blog post ideas to create new content.
Once again, we dug into the keyword research to find pockets of opportunity among long tail keywords.
Now we had a list of blog post ideas, it was time to get writing.
There was no way around this. It had to be exceptional content, no matter how much time each content piece took.
Hours and hours of content writing went into the blog posts, which now feature more than 20 blog posts, all with more than 800-2000 words on each post.
Some of them are pillar posts, whereas some are shorter, more direct posts. All in all, this has managed to increase the organic traffic considerably.
Driving traffic via paid advertising to our eCommerce site
Growth hacking via social media, content marketing and basic outreach can get you so far, but the real meat on the bones comes from paid advertising.
We always knew this had to be the biggest part of our initial online efforts.
But this is also where the challenge begins. You see, it is more than possible to spend thousands of dollars in online marketing spend only to see a tiny trickle of traffic.
We knew this to be the case as we had outsourced the AdWords spend on another of our companies. Unfortunately, this outsourced ‘AdWords Expert’ was a flop and cost us several thousand dollars in wasted money. What a disaster.
So we knew right from the start that we had to be the owners of the digital spend. We had to take full responsibility for the results. This was the only way to become masters of our own destiny.
But before we did that, Xmas was upon us. We launched the site at the end of November 2016.
The big push to go live was as a result of Xmas around the corner. Hence the big hustle.
Running Facebook ads to our new eCommerce gift website
To get the ball rolling on paid media, we decided to hit Facebook up to target cold traffic. Not the greatest strategy, considering how little content we had on the site at the time, but a strategy none-the-less.
So we created some Xmassy images, created some basic copywriting for the ads and drove them back to the site.
We started with a modest budget, which was the plan as we had heard how expensive paid advertising can be over the holiday season.
The first two weeks were humming along nicely. Not setting any records but getting some good click through and a reasonable CPC.
So we had to hit STOP. Facebook was just burning through the budget. Online advertising is not something that is for the beginners. You really need to have either a huge budget or a kick-ass strategy that is able to find some really cool pockets of opportunity.
Driving more traffic via Google Adwords and the Shopping PLA with Google
After letting the crazy holiday period cool off, we resumed our dedicated ad spend at the end of January 2017.
We have been running AdWords campaigns in the competitive Forex trading space for many years with budgets up to $50,000 per month, but they were always outsourced. We only managed the content, copywriting for the ads and had the professionals manage the campaigns.
But as you can appreciate, agencies can cost a lot of money and our previous experience saw us waste a few thousand dollars.
So we had to get our hands dirty and work it out ourselves.
After reading a lot of books, attending many online courses in AdWords in a short space of time, we just went for it.
AdWords advertising and setting up an online PLA shopping campaign has a very steep learning curve
The learning curve with AdWords is steep. There is no getting around that. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
But we were going to do this right and go for it.
We built all our own ads, wrote our own copy, setup all the AdWords campaigns and set them free into the Google world, ready for people to click.
We made a lot of mistakes but quickly aligned things, stopped things, changed things, updated products, renewed imagery and in the end kept the ball rolling.
The results have been steady and many months later we are still optimising our Google AdWords campaigns and looking for new networks to advertise on.
We have found the only way to truly nail your AdWords spend is to optimise and adjust things on a daily basis. Not a day goes by that we are not optimising, changing and testing new ideas and copy. There is no shortcut around this.
What does the future hold for Earth Inspired Gifts?
Expansion. The idea is to continue to hone our suite of Earth Inspired Gifts and to offer the best content and online shopping experience possible.
This is something that we are excited to build and continue to grow for many years to come.