SEO · Marketing

E-commerce entrepreneurs, how are you spending your marketing budget? Building SEO? Adwords? Agents?

Pierre Thys MBA Candidate at Harvard Business School, CEO at PH Socks

March 28th, 2016

I started a socks-retailing company focused on an specific line of socks. We launched the website in November 2015. 
  • We are currently spending ~$150 on Adwords, conversion has been less than 1%, traffic to the site ranges from 20-30 unique visitors daily
  • We just hired a guy to improve our SEO over 3 months, we'll see how that goes
My question is: am I spending my budget correctly? Should we pour more money into marketing so we can gain more relevance online?

Majority of our sales are coming from Amazon, I want to improve sales through the site. 

Thank you all!

- Pierre

Andrew Goodman President at Page Zero Media

March 28th, 2016

From an AdWords perspective: single-line apparel companies (high quality but unknown brand) tend to fail with AdWords because there is no search user intent that syncs up well enough with the vendor's offering in question. So even if you get it perfect, it isn't likely to set the world on fire. It is an awfully tough way to bootstrap a company. That being said, if you can cherry-pick a few of the most relevant queries, using the right match types... and if you can get PLA's going for you... there might be a little ROI there (not volume though). Some of the most common mistakes in an AdWords account of this type might come down to keyword selection, match types, failure to employ negatives (keyword exclusions), and a lack of attention to attractive ad extensions such as Sitelinks, Callouts, Review Extension, and automated extensions such as Seller Ratings.  E-commerce works great for Goliath, but David may have trouble. The little guy has to nail everything just so in order to get to break-even in the PPC auction. Best of luck.

David Jaeger ✪ SEM/PPC Guru ✪ eCommerce Growth Hacker ✪ Online Business Consultant ✪ $25 Million/Yr Managed Ad Spend

March 28th, 2016

If your sales are coming through Amazon, and you've got good margins, try their text ads program. It works REALLY well.

On your website side (if Amazon is truly performing for you, chances are, your website may not ever catch up, and that's okay), try to get into Google Shopping, and many of the other shopping channels as well. They will out perform (for the most part) your text ads.
One of the challenges with Google shopping is that if your SKU isn't listed by other retailers who are in Google Shopping (e.g. if you are the manufacturer), then often times, the Google algorithm does a worse job of creating positive relevance/quality score for that product, and it will be a struggle to get alot of the big volume.
We've seen this problem happen sometimes, and you can't even solve it by raising bids.

We'd recommend getting on eBay/Rakuten/Newegg, who will push your products in shopping. Even if they don't get many sales, it could help you generate more sales in shopping, which is far more profitable than the text ads.

Also, make sure you are doing dynamic remarketing on both Google & Facebook. You can test out a criteo or Adroll, but I'd recommend going direct first, and seeing how it works for you.

At your low volume, it may be hard to see results, though.

On the conversion rate side, a 1% conversion rate sounds very low, for a low priced item. It should be closer to 2.5%, otherwise it will be hard to make the numbers work.

We'd recommend putting together a fixed date sale (e.g. twice/month offer 20% off). That can push your conversion rates up, up to 30% incremental.

I can't see your site, to see if there any issues I see.

Bottom line though, is for site sales/traffic, you'll need to look at conversion rates a bit more closely.
I'd also highly recommend you look at Gmail Sponsored Promotions (once you've got your conversion rate issues ironed out.)

John Griffin Co-Founder at Spiral Scout, Founder at Cutcaster, Co-Founder at Instigate Labs (Maker of Moment)

March 28th, 2016

You should pour more money intro tracking to make sure that your ad and marketing spend are earning you long term, valuable customers. Very basically, you need to figure out if the long term value of a client is more than what you are spending to acquire that one customer. If it costs you 10 to get a customer and that customer will pay 20 on your site then that could be a good trade for you. You need to know how to track and report these so you can figure out your numbers and know if you can scale your marketing efforts. 

Chris Lowden President at Get Up to Get Down Elite Entertainment

March 28th, 2016

$150 on Google ad words is extremely low for a national campaign. (Which I'm assuming you are doing). You can do a couple of things to rectify the situation.  One add a minimum of $1,000 or squeeze your campaign down to more of a local level.  Otherwise you could be getting burned by google themselves for a low budgetem.  Google will use a larger budget before a smaller one.    A lot more in depth than that but should give you an idea.  

Alper Cakir

March 28th, 2016

Hi Pierre, it depends heavily on the product but seems like you have a low conversion rate. This may be due to various things such as your content/messaging and/or technical (such as the speed the page loads) . Nevertheless until you fix UX issues, and make it  clearer, faster, more usable I would not suggest putting marketing dollars into it.

Here is a case study for a project we recently wrapped up. We were able to increase  the monthly revenue by 265% after UX and UI optimizations.

I also suggest looking more into Inbound marketing (content marketing), it's a longer path but when done correctly it provides greater value. e.g. We have organically grown Xtensio (our startup toolbox)  to 30K users with no ad dollars spent.

And finally it's hard to evaluate your spending efficiency without the customer's LTV (life time value).

Best wishes

CJ PRODUCER Owner at Money Tree Financial

March 28th, 2016

Why is your conversion so poor? Is your website great? CJ Silberman, J.D.Find my new course, "Law Matters" on Udemy: How to Fix Your Credit, LLC vs S Corp-

Bruno Leveque PrestaShop Inc. CEO & Co-founder

March 28th, 2016

Hi Pierre,

Congrats on your online store, it looks great ;-)

You should try additional channels such as:

- Bing Ads
- Facebook Ads
- Amazon Marketplace
- eBay
- Retargeting (Criteo & others)
- Other shopping guides and marketplaces (check out
- etc.

Instead of pouring too much at once, you could give a try to each of these channels (for instance $500 per channel for 7 days) and compare which ones convert best.


Chicke Fitzgerald

March 28th, 2016

Buying keywords is not a sustainable strategy, as as soon as you stop spending, your traffic tends to disappear.  As the others have suggested, first make sure you don't have any site issues (speed of page loading, user experience).  You can use to see real user feedback.   You can do it with people on different platforms, in different age groups and even on different continents.

Then test different traffic strategies and measure the results.

Ngaire Takano Senior Digital & Ecommerce Marketeer

March 28th, 2016

Hi Pierre
Your question is indeed interesting and one that is often faced by many start up businesses or even those that have been online for a while.

First and foremost, a website is your shop window. This needs to be looking and working the best and if it is not rendering correctly, errors with coding etc, easy navigation and further more not UX (user experience) than it is indeed going to cause issues. These would be for the user/visitor as well as google.

Before one starts throwing money at google adwords, advertising etc, make sure your front end loves your back end (your front of the website with the back server, hosting, usability etc) and vice versa. Does not matter how much money you invest, if these are not working then money is just being lost in a dark hole.

I see you have a few issues with the website from loading, navigation, issues rendering with different browsers.

The next is content and also the SEO and then SEA. These two work hand in hand as well.
Initial small steps with ensuring the above is correct will help grow a stronger and more stable online business, or foundations are solid, helps to build a stronger and stable building! (same for the web)

Frank Watson Co Founder at Kangamurra Media

March 28th, 2016

As Andrew said above clothing can be a hard sell and given your item is niched I too would recommend only advertising in Google Shopping - formerly Product Listing Ads - you may also want to add a Pinterest account.
I also would pick some select geo areas to target - looks like you are going for the young Wall Street types so think financial neighborhoods in NY - Wall Street area - etc.
Would might also want to approach someone like Jack Threads as that is your demographic and Etsy might fit too.