The Problem

Smack dab in the middle of the biggest recession in recent history, a luxury consumer brand wanted to build out its e-commerce presence. With significantly lower overhead costs than selling via its offline distributors, the online business presented an attractive opportunity to build gross margins.

There was just one hitch: the company wanted to grow revenue without investing any additional money into the channel. And, they were not investing any marketing spend elsewhere in the business.

The Approach

The e-commerce business had a lot of the standard digital marketing channels in place. But, the existing team had limited bandwidth leaving many of these channels to fend for themselves. That was tackled immediately.

Optimize PPC Media

Google Adwords is always changing, which means a PPC program left unwatched will go astray. We re-worked ad campaigns, shut off poor-performing campaigns, and allocated a small test budget to regularly test if new keywords or ad groups could bear fruit.

Build Up Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is all about building relationships with affiliates and getting them to feature your goods. We dumped the old affiliate agency that was charging us flat rates independent of how they performed and brought on a young agency that was hungry for our business and open to a pay for performance scheme based on the business they could generate for us.

We made customized marketing collateral for the affiliate channel, and especially for vendors who we thought could be high-value affiliates. We also built promotional calendars for our affiliates so we could leverage the business’s natural seasonality and annual sales.

Reinvent Email Marketing

As a well-established brand, the business had an email list with over 100,000 addresses. The only problem: it was barely getting used. We turned this around asap. We developed an email marketing calendar to plan for more regular email sends and do A/B testing to optimize subject lines, promotions and times the emails were sent.

With better planning we created the lead times needed to leverage the company’s internal design team to design our emails. By dropping external freelancers we were able to drive costs down.

Better Seasonal Sales Planning

A little-known fact was that bi-annual sales drove a huge piece of the e-commerce business. The better the inventory, the better chance we had of building revenue.

Being a global business, the company had discontinued inventory scattered in regional offices. By building out the sales planning schedule and bringing in the Operations team as part of seasonal sales planning, we were able to gather far-flung inventory of the best-performing discontinued items to offer up more attractive sales products.

With an optimized marketing ecosystem and more proactive planning, we knew we had a machine in place to better grow the business.

The Results

In spite of having lots of cards stacked against the e-commerce business, these activities made the channel shine.

Revenue Growth:

Though we were in the middle of The Great Recession, the e-commerce business grew its revenue by 10% during this period.

Getting More From Marketing Channels:

We were able to build PPC revenue by 18% while reducing the channel’s costs by 28%. We also doubled the revenue coming in from email and affiliate marketing while keeping costs fairly constant.

Building Pay for Performance Channels:

We introduced a rigorous standard for our marketing agencies. We were happy to pay them…if they performed. Negotiated contracts with strict pay for performance schemes gave them more skin in the game and resulted in better results than past agencies.

Did You Know...

Everything’s negotiable…especially in the realm of affiliate marketing. If you really want to get affiliates on your side quickly, offer special new-affiliate commission structures and give them customized collateral with their business name or logo. For younger businesses, this is a great way to get in front of attractive channel partners.


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