So much of search engine optimization (and digital marketing in general) is very abstract. The best practices & advice gets lost in “high-level” or vague advice.
In this episode, Nate & Brett discuss companies that are doing SEO right. They use real websites that you can go and look at yourself and see how they are using different aspects of SEO to improve their marketing.
Technical SEO – Moz’s consolidation of subdomains; and various companies’ path to rebranding without losing search traffic.
On-page SEO – REI’s use of different types of content to match different types of website visitors (and outrank Wikipedia and Amazon on broad keywords).
Off-page SEO – Vacations by Marriott’s high quality linkbuilding on a budget. And – MyPleasure’s National Sex Toy Day campaign.
Social Media & SEO – DollarShaveClub and BlendTec’s campaigns to make boring products very interesting.
Offline Campaign & SEO – Apple & Zappos building links with pain points. StitchFix’s approach to customization and packaging
Brett Snyder: Hello there, and welcome to the 26th episode of the Bamboo Chalupa Digital Marketing podcast. My name is Brett Snyder. I am the president of Knucklepuck. I’m joined by my co-host, Nate Shivar, the author of ShivarWeb.com.
Nate Shivar: Howdy!
Brett Snyder: Something I believe that we’ve mentioned on the podcast before, but here at Knucklepuck, we actually have a weekly book club, where we find a great book that we’re reading or that somebody’s reading, and we come in every morning early on a Thursday, and we discuss that. Right now, we’re reading a book called Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. One of the favorite things we like about this book is that it has a lot of case studies. It has a lot of examples.
We always, as marketers, talk about storytelling as a way to get our points across, and really being able to provide case studies is always proven to be a really extraordinary way to do that. As Nate and I were trying to figure out what would be a great podcast episode now that we’re into past 25. We’re past a year into the podcast here, and we wanted to have an episode that would be really engaging for our listeners, and we wanted to talk about case studies.
We wanted to talk about what companies are doing SEO the right way. We want to look at some of the primary aspects of SEO. We wanted to look at things like technical, on-page. We want to look at off-page even complimentary things like social media or your offline persona. What we want to talk about today is how successful businesses and brands are using these different aspects of SEO, and doing them really successfully so we can frame them for our audience here in ways that you can understand how to translate these success stories to your own business.
Nate Shivar: Again, all of these sites, we’re going to have the links in the show notes at bamboochalupa.com so that you can go to these websites, and look and see exactly what they’re doing to try to take some of these more abstract recommendations, and see how they’re done in real life. The first aspect that we wanted to look at is technical SEO.
This is making sure that Google, Bing, search crawlers can crawl your site. They can index it. They can understand it. Of all the aspects of SEO, technical is the most abstract in a way. It’s very hard to grasp what’s going on, but it’s also one of the most foundational, because you’re literally optimizing your website for search engines.
One of the brands that we wanted to call out was Moz. Moz is a leading software brand in the SEO industry. Throughout their history from their early startup days until their rebranding several years ago, they’ve gone through some major, major changes consolidating some brands, doing website redesigns, even transitioning their entire domain name from seomoz.org to moz.com, and so we wanted to call out some of the ways that they were able to transition, and some of the ways that they were able to build on what a lot of times can be pitfalls in the SEO world.
Brett Snyder: We’re going to talk about this through the lens of a rebrand, whereas one of the technical considerations that you have to know when you’re moving from one site to another, but this principle still apply. We want to position Moz’s story because as Nate mentioned, they have gone through a number of different rebrands. I remember people who have been in SEO for a long time, and that Moz wasn’t always a software industry or a software company. They used to do consulting.
I think it was back in 2009, 2010, right Nate somewhere around there, where Moz got out of consulting, and then focused full time on things like Open Site Explorer, and MozGate, these different software elements that I know were pretty essential to the way they were able to offer consulting in the first place, but these principles will translate regardless of whether or not you’re looking to do a rebrand or you’re just trying to understand, “Am I optimizing my site the right way for our search engines?”
Technical SEO, honestly, it’s one of my favorite aspects because it is very process-driven. You can take more of an engineering mindset to understand the technical side of things. There are clear and concrete rules, but it is one of least sexy parts of SEO. It’s one of the things that people tend to overlook, because it’s either overwhelming or it’s simply not interesting to them.
Nate Shivar: One of the things that Moz has done is they used to have all their different learning centers and pieces of software on different domains, different subdomains. One of the things that they’ve done is they consolidated their beginner’s guides, and there are different pieces of software all to one domain that is now moz.com.
If you go to the internet archive, you can pull up where they used to have all these different pieces of software on different domains, different subdomains. I think it was like learn.seomoz.org. They’ve consolidated all these pieces to one domain. Even though that may sound like it wouldn’t really matter, why not have … I know a lot of sites have blog.yourstore.com or shot.yourstore.com that kind of thing.
When Moz was able to consolidate all of these different pieces, they saw a ton of success, because what they were able to do was consolidate all these different signals that each subdomain had into one single domain so that now, search engines would see moz.com as the single consolidated site that people who are previously linking to their beginner’s guide, they are linking to their software pieces, all those links, all that content signals were now around one single site.
The main takeaway here is that just because your developer or just because someone at your organization says that, “Oh, this should be a quick fix. We’ll throw up a blog over here. We’ll throw up a page on this root folder instead of another root folder.” Choices like that can really impact your impact. It impact what you can and can’t do from SEO from just the very beginning.
Brett Snyder: I’ve mentioned this. I use this a lot of times when I’m talking to potential clients, where there’s a huge misconception in the world of Google, and Yahoo, and Bing, the world of search that search engines rank the web. They do not. Search engines can only rank webpages from their index, webpages that they have already identified that they retain some sort of a cache version of.
Understanding that and understanding that if you are not in that index, as far as Google is concerned, you do not exist. To call out some of the things that Moz did really, really well on this, Nate already talked about consolidating a bunch of different assets, but they also understood that they got the brand name before they were doing do the whole relaunch. They actually had it out there. It was crawlable by search engines. It really just had one doorway page, but it allowed them to start seeding the SEO world to start to recognize, “Hey, this is coming.”
People started talking about it. They were actually able to tease it a little bit more. Maybe that isn’t even as much technical, just more along the lines of the rebrand, but they were able to start to tease the fact that they are going to be consolidating to this one new brand. They also looked at this to say they’re getting away from the idea of SEO.
SEO Moz, again, used to do SEO consulting. Now, a lot of people don’t want to call themselves SEOs. They want to call themselves inbound marketers. They want to call themselves digital PR representatives, what have you. At the end of the day, what Moz started to recognize is that being labeled as SEO Moz could potentially pitch and hold them into a one particular vertical, and their software was designed to serve a number of different marketing verticals.
We talked about exact match domains. We talked about having keywords in your domain name as being a benefit to rank for certain terms, but Moz also recognizes that technically having the SEO in all of their domain name and the vast majority of their URLs was potentially putting themselves in a position to be viewed solely as an SEO company.
This rebrand more so than just the technical side of things. It also is indicative of the fact that if you want to pursue SEO for the long term, if you want to pursue marketing and optimization for your website even if we don’t call it search engine optimization, we simply call it optimization for your website, you want to be able to recognize and understand what is it that you … what impression, what brand are you trying to promote to your audience, that audience including the search engines. Then understanding what that audience is looking for, again, including the search engines from a technical side of things to know that all of our signals are consolidated to one consistent URL structure in order that our internal linking is not going through this redirect chains.
They had to make sure that we had that all of these ducks in a row before they ever actually launch on Moz.com, because once they launched, they realize that that’s going to be the massive influx of traffic to the new site. That’s where Google, and Yahoo, and Bing are going to start re-indexing this new site. Then you need to make sure that all of this is done prior to the starter’s piece are going off, or you are going to find yourself in a position where you’re trying to play catch up, or you’re trying to address problems that you never wanted the search engines to recognize in the first place.
Nate Shivar: Having your ducks in a row is a very good way to say how to approach technical SEO. I think the key thing even if as a business owner or even a director of marketing if you don’t want to get into the weeds of flashing bad URLs en masse, or solving redirect change, simply understanding the thought process behind your website infrastructure, behind your subdomain choices, behind your folder structure, understanding how your website is structured and the technology behind it can go long ways into implementing all of the best practices that will get you into the right position when it comes to talking about on-page SEO and off-page SEO, which we’ll talk about right now.
Brett Snyder: That’s a great segue. We talked about technical. Just to reiterate Nate’s point there, it is the foundation of the way Google, or Yahoo, or Bing will interact with your site. Remember, SEO is about optimizing for a computer program, a computer algorithm, so you have to have the technical foundation in place.
You also have to know that the content and everything that you put on the page, everything that you use to talk about your brand, to talk about your product or services, your competitive advantages, your unique selling proposition, once you have that foundation in place, it’s essential that you have this consistent and consolidated theme around your core capabilities. That’s where we talk about the on-page factors.
Nate Shivar: The best company to look at on-page SEO to see what’s the best practices, what can you reverse engineer is an outdoor company called REI. They retail outdoor goods. When it comes to implementing on-page content, and going beyond what are our target keywords, going beyond just keywords [inaudible 00:11:30] into what is our audience looking for, what is some incredible content that we can create, map out, and have on our site that will get us to rank for some of these extremely competitive terms.
REI has become a favorite case study in the SEO industry, because they’re one of the few sites that they will actually outrank Wikipedia for very, very broad terms. Even though REI is a big company, they’re not the biggest company. They’re a small niche retailer than can consistently outcompete, outrank some Fortune 500 companies like DICK’S Sporting Goods, or Walmart.com, or even Amazon on some queries.
We’re going to dive in and look at the different types of content so that when you go to REI.com, you can reverse engineer and see how they approach content going beyond just we just have these keywords on these pages.
Brett Snyder: What’s really important here is, and Nate, you touched on this at the beginning, where REI is an ecommerce store. REI sells products for outdoor activities. A lot of people say that you can’t do good content strategy when I just sell products. I’m just a retailer or a distributer. I can’t do good content strategy because I’m just selling somebody else’s products, or I’m selling individual products. There’s only so many ways that I can describe this jacket until I’m just really repeating myself across the 35 different variations that we have.
What’s really interesting about the way REI has built their content strategy … This has been for years. This is not something where they’re just coming on to the scene. John Coleman who actually went to work on Facebook’s content strategy after he left REI was really one of the primary architects here, one of the smartest marketers that I have ever met, and one of the people that I continue to really admire the work that he’s done to be able to do something like this content strategy at scale.
What it really does is it understands the core focus of what a search engine is looking to accomplish, and that is to provide an optimal user experience. A lot of SEOs consider user experience to be an add-on. They consider experience to be one of those things where, “All right, well, once we get the rankings, then we’ll worry about the user experience.”
Now, REI flipped it on its head, and said, “We need to focus exclusively on providing our users with exactly the type of information that they need to be able to live the lifestyle that they want.” REI focuses on their audience’s lifestyle as opposed to REI’s products. Now, when you think about it, if you will have an outdoor lifestyle, that is going to be very closely tied to the outdoor products that you use to be able to live that lifestyle. REI understands that.
This is not at all a selfless promotion of content here, but what they’re writing about, and Nate’s going to give a couple of examples of the different types of content, they are writing content that aligns with what their audience is looking to accomplish with the lifestyle that they live. They want to be outdoors. They want to be able to experience hiking, climbing, biking, water activities
To have the optimal experience in those realms, you have to have great products. The people who are able to produce these great products are also largely considered to be the experts in being able to determine what goes in to having that type of experience.
Nate Shivar: One of the sections that to start off with is the REI adventure section. This is REI.com/adventures. The content that they have on this page really understands the emotional reasons behind why people purchase this equipment. They take the extra step to write for the motivating factors rather than just the knots and bolts. In fact, a lot of these, you can actually book some of these trips directly from REI.com, so it provides that immediate user experience.
If you’re thinking about hiking the Grand Canyon, you’re going to need to buy backpacks. You’re going to need to buy camping equipment, but you’re not going to buy the camping equipment and all that until you have planned out your trip. REI understands that.
The romance and the adventure of hiking the Grand Canyon, they need to break that adventure down into something that’s achievable, something that people can book. They understand that providing that easy user experience will lead to the purchasing of equipment that they retail.
Brett Snyder: What I find really fascinating about this is REI’s audience is very broad. They’re not focusing solely on these lifetime hikers, the people who have hiked the entire appellation trail, or people who have swam the English Channel, these super intense people who their lives are fixated on these outdoor activities. They have information that aligns with the wide variety of audiences, people who are just getting started into hiking, people who may say, “Hey, I’m starting to date somebody, and she’s really interested in hiking. What do I need to know to be able to keep up? I really like this person. I want to spend more time with them, and this is important to them.”
They are able to provide information for all different, we’ll call it skill levels, but it really is experience levels, in all the different experience levels that people have with these outdoor activities so that somebody who maybe has been hiking for 30 years that knows exactly the types of products that they want, but are interested in new innovations versus people who have never bought a pair of hiking boots in their life, and have no idea where to start.
What is gore-tex, or should I get leather boots? Should I get ones that are more of a nylon fabric? They have information about expert advice that contains both written and video content, and gives people the education they need to get excited about the activity rather than trying to get people excited about a product.
Products are a means to an end. I don’t come home from a hike where [inaudible 00:17:34]. My wife and I are trying to plan a hiking trip to the next couple of weeks. I don’t come back from hikes like that, and say, “Man, I had just an awesome time in these boots today.” I said, “I had awesome views. It was great to be out there in nature.” I’m able to actually go to work the next day because my feet aren’t torn up, because I bought the right types of boots.
They have this. They break down their content, their educational content into the categories that speak to their users. They talk about climbing, or cycling, or paddling activities, but they also understand that cycling can mean any number of things. You’re going to their website. They’ve got sections for bike commuting and touring, road cycling, recreational, urban cycling, and mountain biking. You go down to something like paddling. To me, paddling activities are pretty straightforward as being not involved in that type of sport.
There’s a difference in canoeing versus kayaking versus paddle boarding. There is going to be different questions that I’m going to ask if I want to plan a paddle boarding trip as opposed to potentially a white water kayaking. REI understands this, and caters their content specifically to these very niche groups so that somebody is able to find exactly the answers that they’re looking for regarding the activity rather than having to just simply look for products, and have to understand, “Hey, this may or may not fit with my particular activity, but I know I need a new pair of water shoes before I can go on this trip.”
Nate Shivar: What’s so awesome about this when it comes to SEO and getting organic traffic is that this is exactly the type of user problems that Google, and Bing, and Yahoo are trying to solve. When they come to a search engine, and type in a very, very broad keyword, say paddling or paddle boarding, that can mean a lot of things. To be able to rank for that query, which has a lot of volume but doesn’t have a lot of intent, or it has a lot of different variations of intent, it can be very hard to rank for that. That’s why, often, you see just the Wikipedia article.
If you want to get in front of the biggest audience that you can from an organic traffic perspective, it means that you need to have this type of content that will appeal to all experience levels, but then rapidly triage, I guess you could say, all the different types of people who are looking for that term into exactly what they’re looking for. If you start doing different variations of these terms, you’ll see REI ranking for paddle boarding.
You’ll also see them ranking for how to buy a paddle board. Then you’ll also see them ranking for the different types of brands of paddle board. You might also see them ranking for planning your trip for paddle board. All this content isn’t just creating content for content’s sake or for having it on your site for the website visitors who are already there. It’s to bring in all these different types of people who are on Google, and looking for that. If you’re able to give Google that exact piece of content that Google’s users are looking, you are going to be able to get that traffic.
Brett Snyder: It reinforces your subject matter expertise and your authority on the topic. I want to just have one final thing here, where on-page is not something. This is where the great from the extraordinary companies differentiate themselves, where writing great content is only the first step. You have to make sure that that content is continually updated. As there are changes to the content, go and make sure that your content is reflective of the newest trends and innovations in that vertical.
If you’re starting to talk about that the paddle boarding basics have changed, or let’s go in the different direction. Let’s talk about golf. Let’s talk about how the long putter or the ones that Adam Scott uses that he anchors against his shoulder. Those are going to be illegal as far as the PGA is concerned in the next year or two.
Now, if I own a golf retailer, and I’m still talking about PGA rules on putters, and I haven’t updated my content to reflect this change in the regulations, my content is no longer as valuable to the user. When it’s no longer is valuable to the user, it no longer receives the same signals from Google. Then as a result of all of that, your rankings are going to fall.
People recognize that link building and off-page is a constantly evolving process, but content needs to be viewed with that same consistency in terms of being able to recognize that your content needs to stay updated, that there are going to be changes. There are going to be addition. There’s going to be new categories that you want to add, and maybe old categories you want to remove from your content.
It needs to be a constant process of editing and reediting to ensure that everything that you’re promoting is consistent with your subject matter or expertise and the authority that you’re trying to convey.
Nate Shivar: I like it. Let’s talk about off-page. This is all the signals that are on your website, but again, it’s one of the primary ranking factors. Actually, the ranking factor is what other websites say about your site. Case studies in this aspect of SEO are a bit hard to find just because not everyone wants to reveal or reverse engineer what they’re doing well, but there’s a few that I want to call out. One, it was shared by BuzzStream. It was written up about vacations by Marriott.
What I liked about this case study is how it made getting links to your website much more real, and much less abstract. It wasn’t about going out and getting building, or building links or buying links. They did things like targeting newspapers, finding university websites, airport websites, and different types of sites that would have hotel pages or would have pages that would need to link to hotel deals, and doing simple email outreach to ask for inclusion into those.
We’ll link to it in the show notes. Go read the case study. It’s short, concise. The main takeaway for me was that link voting is not a mystical process. It’s just a process of researching websites that share an audience with you, and have an offer that makes their audience interested in what you have. That might be a piece of content. That might be an offer. It might just be that you really are an outstanding resource for them to link to make it a win-win for everyone.
Brett Snyder: Right. You want to make sure that the big thing to remember there is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be your people get in this marketing mindset, especially agencies that come is like, “I was brought in to market these products. I need to be able to build links around these products.” Really, it comes down to that shared experience that Nate was talking about.
When we’re going out there, the best campaigns to be able to build links, understand what the audience is really interested in, what that audience is looking for, and providing them something that resonates with that audience. People aren’t that interested in the fact that this product has X, Y, and Z features that something else doesn’t have. They can read that from the product description.
The stuff that’s actually going to get pressed and PR are the things that have elicit a reaction from the audience. You have some way that people say, “That’s really cool, or I didn’t think of that,” or it’s something where like, “Wow, they’re doing something entirely different.” One of the favorite examples that I actually had an opportunity to work on many years ago is a campaign that was developed largely by a former colleague of mine Adam Millson.
It was for a company, a client of ours at that time when we work together, that sold sex toys. Obviously, this is more of a risky industry, but the owner of the site, the founder of the business is an MD, is somebody who have researched the psychological impact of sexual activity across everything from the elderly to disabled to married and unmarried folks, being able to understand that sexual activity is an integral part of our lives as human beings more so than just from a reproductive standpoint, but also frankly from an entertainment standpoint for a lack of a better phrase there.
We sat down, and we tried to figure out what are some good ways to be able to generate links based on a more taboo subject that people are not necessarily really that interested in writing about outside of the super niched folks in that industry. Adam came up with this idea that he wanted to do a national sex toy day. He came up with this idea that if we were able to give away, I think it was a thousand vibrators, they were willing to give away these vibrators for free on national sex toy day.
We built an entire micro site around that, which the one caveat to that is I believe the client did not maintain sextoyday.com, so I went to check it out again in advance researching for this podcast. It is not about this marketing campaign, so be warned for that anybody that does try to go to that URL. What was super exciting about this is not only that it was just a giveaway, but that they kept that focus on education. They kept that focus in the fact that sexual education is something that it goes largely undiscussed, but still a very integral part in our lives as adults.
Today, we are able to find links from major news publications that were just saying, “Hey, look at what this company is doing. This is crazy.” We were able to get links from bloggers that talked about sexual health and wellness. We’re able to get to talk about bloggers that are just talking about the shocking on or the things you’ll never see. Did you know that there is a national sex toy day sponsored by mypleasure.com? This was as I said many years ago, and I think the domain has since lapsed, but it had generated a lot of visibility for the client. It generated a ton of links that were able to help us rank for highly, highly competitive terms like vibrators and sex toys.
It did so by not talking about how great a vibrator is or the different product features of the different types of vibrators. It got people talking about a subject that people typically don’t talk about. It gave them an outlet to be able to talk about things like sex toys and vibrators without having people to be like, “Oh man, how many of them do you have under your bed?”
It really redefined the conversation in a way that made it much more accessible and comfortable for a wider audience, and by extension, that was able to generate a lot of awareness for this idea of sexual education. I’ve always found that to be one of the most fascinating off-page campaigns that I have ever personally had an opportunity to be a part of, because it really did tie into that audience focus more so than really having anything to do with the products themselves.
Nate Shivar: I like that. Let’s talk about some of our favorite social media case studies. For social media again, we’ve talked about how it’s not a direct ranking signal, but when it comes to marketing, social plays a huge part of marketing. It is especially on the awareness and just making people more aware of your product, your site.
My favorite is Dollar Shave Club’s campaign, where they use videos and social media to instill a sense of frustration at the status quo of buying men’s razors. It was really interesting to see how social made it so easy to find common ground by leaning on how people thought you had to buy razors. To point out the very obvious pain points when it comes to men’s razors, there are video where they said … There’s a quote. This is also going to give us our first explicit tag on iTunes. They said, “Our blades are fucking great.”
That video now has just shy of 20 million views, and it continues to grow. That’s insane. They have 1.9 million likes on Facebook. This is for a niche razor brand with no celebrity endorsements, no nothing. They just have a incredibly well done YouTube video and a perfectly engineered social media campaign.
Brett Snyder: I just want to repeat that for a second. I don’t want that to go really undervalued here. 20 million views on a video about men’s razors, and not even about a particular type of razor. It’s called the new five blade. It has aloo involved in it and this extra comfort strip, where its 20 million views is just talking about the pain points of trying to purchase razors.
Anybody that tried to purchase them if you’re at the CVS or the Walgreens or the Ride Aid, you actually have to go and get the customer service associate to be able to unlock them. They have it behind lock and key, because these are just such valuable products that people are going to sell, and Dollar Shave Club flipped it on its head there. It said, “This is not … It should not be this difficult to be able to maintain a clean shaven face.”
They were able to find a pain point, and really just go full board into that and be able to say, “I’m going to tear away any of these pre-assumptions that people have about shopping for these products that have largely been established over years of just, as Nate said, the status quo, but 20 million views on a razor brand. Anybody who says that your company is boring or that you have no way to be able to reach your audience, think about the fact that somebody selling razor replacements got their video viewed 20 million times. That should motivate anybody to be able to start thinking a little differently about the assumed realities in your space.
Nate Shivar: The other case study I wanted to bring out speaking of very boring spaces is blenders. Before BlendTec, I would be very challenged to name any company, any brand in the blender space or at the kitchen appliance space at all.
Brett Snyder: It’s been too long since you got married my friend. [Inaudible 00:31:54] name all sorts of appliance.
Nate Shivar: That really is the only time that anyone would ever consider brands in the kitchen story. It’s like they got one shot, but after BlendTec, it becomes something where consumers are actually thinking about the brand that they’re buying, and they want a BlendTec blender. Of course, they are the ones who started the Will it Blend campaign. They are the ones who they took an iPhone, and they had dropped it to their blender. It’s not high production value at all. They literally just took their blender. They took a product, and they hit play with a … It looks like a pretty basic camera, and they just said, “Will it blend?”
They established this whole campaign that’s running to this day just promoting their blenders. Now, you could go online. In fact, 1.2 million people watched them tried to blend an Apple watch. That is insane, because now, when people think of blenders, they think of Blendtec blenders. I think that’s just a really good case study to check out, especially when it comes to production values use in the thought process behind it.
Brett Snyder: Just to go a little bit more into the thought process, what they were trying to do is that’s actually a way for them to talk about their product features without talking about their product features. They want to be able to say, “We have this industrial great equipment that it’s going to be able to saw …” I think one of the first ones they did if I remember it correctly is they tried to blend a bag of marbles. They wanted to show that this is not going to snap the blades. This is not going to ruin the product for you. We have built these Blendtec blenders to be able to blend anything.
One of the things that I really like about this is it lets them go outside of the Will it Blend would be … It’s always interesting to see what are you going to drop into a blender, but it allows them to news jack a little, to hop on some key trends. When there was all that buzz about Hilary Clinton using her personal Blackberry to send government emails, Blendtec actually released a video that said, “Will it Blend Hilary Clinton’s emails?”
Now, obviously, they can’t drop any emails in there, but they dropped in a Blackberry. When they dropped in a Blackberry, it blended as everything else that they’ve dropped in there, and 86,000 people viewed that video. Some of them maybe just wanted to see the Blackberry. Some of them were just interested about, “What are you talking about? You can blend Hilary’s emails?”
It was able to capture attention on something that’s very fleeting. Attention is very fleeting especially online, and they were able to almost transpose this campaign to go after trending topics and even ways that is not specifically within the constricts of the traditional campaign where they’re not blending anything, but they were able to still take advantage of this hot button topics, and capture visibility, capture brand attention in a highly scattered and fragmented world that is the internet.
Nate Shivar: Let’s finish up our case studies by talking about something that might be a little counter-intuitive, but I think we have discussed it before about how your offline marketing efforts can directly impact your organic visual efforts.
Brett Snyder: What we’re talking about here is we’re talking about people who have primarily internet businesses, but at the end of the day, there’s always some connection with an actual human being on the other end of their computer. This computer is still a means to an end. Especially if you’re buying a product, eventually, that product needs to reach the consumer. If you’re offering a service, maybe that means that a technician or a contractor is coming to your home.
Sooner or later, there is some sort of an offline interaction with your brand unless you have a solely internet business, but those are frankly quite rare, but there is some offline interaction with your brand. People typically will discount this from an internet marketing standpoint, because they say, “Hey, what happens offline isn’t going to impact what Google is going to do.”
You can talk about ways that this can actually generate buzz. This can generate PR. It can generate links, and provides you with thought or for content on your sited that are based around these interesting things that brands are doing off page. I know one of the ones that Nate and I have definitely talked about offline to bring this full circle and talk about one of our offline conversations here. That has to do with for one of these examples that we want to talk about is a brand like Apple.
Nate Shivar: It’s interesting how brands like Apple are hyper focused on the small things that have a big impact like the packaging. They spend so much time focusing on making sure that the packaging gives you that adrenaline rush when you open it up. In fact, Gizmodo even has a piece on how Apple has package designers who all they do is sit around and recreate the package opening experience to try to make sure that it has that Apple brand feel.
It’s something that translates online. There’s a whole industry on YouTube of the unboxing, the unboxing bloggers on YouTube. You get press write-ups about incredible things like having a package designer. Even though Apple is the world’s biggest brand, I think it’s interesting to reverse engineer the things that they do to stay on top as the world’s biggest brand, taking care of the small details that even though they’re offline, they have these online implications.
Brett Snyder: Make no mistake about it. Gizmodo didn’t just hop in upon this. Apple made it very clear they had a subtle marketing campaign to get people to talk about the fact that packaging is important. Anybody who has ever bought an Apple product knows that it’s not difficult to open the packaging, but it’s not something where it just flips open on its own. It is able to build a sense of suspense as you’re opening it without frustration. That’s a very fine line and something that most people don’t think about, but Apple was able to do that, and they plant the seed as with their digital PR team to be able to say, “This is something that we want people to talk about, what we want people to know.”
It’s one of those things where marketing is all about making sure people understand every little thing that makes you special. That’s where these offline things translate into what Apple has been able to do. We said Gizmodo is writing about it. There’s a ton of other. VentureBeat I think had written about it. There’s a lot of folks who are talking about these dedicated box openers on Apple’s team, because it’s something that they want the world to understand about the attention to detail they have with their products.
Nate Shivar: Yeah, and you don’t have to be the world’s biggest brand like Apple. You can actually build your brand from the ground-up on these offline initiatives. That’s how Zappo’s. Zappos started by turning the primary pain point of ecommerce, which was shipping and being able to return things into a competitive image. They made shipping free both ways, and they understood that was the primary thing keeping people from not just ordering from them, but ordering online period.
They were able to reposition into an entire business, and are now the world’s largest online shoe retailer. It ended up getting actually bought by Amazon.
Brett Snyder: Again, we’re going even smaller. Nate [inaudible 00:39:09] of the world’s biggest brands, and gives an example of the world’s biggest online shoe seller.
Nate Shivar: They started out small. That’s what I’m saying. They started out small. They built it on top of that.
Brett Snyder: No, of course. I think what we’re trying to get at here is to understand what the pain points are, and understand that all the little things that go into your product, even if it’s not going to your product, not into your website, but going to your product. My wife is a big fan of stitch fix, which they tell you of your fashion, your fashion sense and the style that you like, and they send you a package of clothes. I think there’s like four or five different products that come in there. You are required to buy one of them.
They know that they’re going to get you to keep some. That’s how they make their money, but they rely on the actual packaging process to scale personalization of that fashion. They ask you to tell you what you like, and when you send something back, what didn’t you like about it. Then you say, “Oh, I didn’t like the horizontal stripes.” It’s like, “Oh, I’m not going to send you horizontal stripes anymore,” or, “I didn’t like the large necklaces, the large beaded necklaces.” “Oh good, so you want something maybe a little bit more classic, a little bit more subtle. Good, we know that for next time.”
These are ways that they are able to translate that online to be able to promote this brand that is focused on personalization. Something like fashion is an intensely personal experience. You can have something where there are fashion trends and there is tons of bloggers out there that talk about emerging trends, but your personal fashion is an intensely intimate experience that you create yourself.
A company that is essentially trying to monetize personalization of fashion needs to understand what that is. They don’t do that by asking you to go back to the website. There are ways that you can do that right from the products in the packaging. These are ways that they can work to evolve their understanding of your preferences, and to be able to provide you with a better online experience based on feedback that you’ve provided from your offline experience with the products themselves.
Nate Shivar: All right. You can find links to all the case studies and all the websites that we mentioned on our website at bamboochalupa.com. You can also find previous episodes and our contact information there. If you don’t want to miss another episode, please go subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and do leave a comment and a rating while you’re there. We learn a lot from your feedback, and it helps others to discover the show.
For Brett Snyder, I am Nate Shivar. Thank you for listening.