What can you do when, due to your subject matter, many online media won't run ads for your ecommerce store? You test, and test, and test some more. Discover guerrilla techniques used by a top toy site for women. Includes conversion marketing, affiliate and email campaign tactics that more mainstream ecommerce sites could pick up ideas from: Zebroff scaled back dramatically, deciding to focus entirely on ecommerce.
Aside from that drama, there were only two problems: First, no significant mainstream sites would run ads for Libida. In fact, the site's Yahoo store test was repeatedly shut down without warning. And, affiliate networks declined to allow the site join. Adult sites would take ads, but they sent the wrong traffic. Even though we're considered adult by mainstream sites, it's very different from adult.
Libida's hoped-for customers were mainstream women ages who were almost certainly "uncomfortable" with porn sites. Second, Zebroff had to cut the marketing leadership position from her original budget, which meant she was in charge of marketing personally. And she didn't know diddly about marketing. I had a Doctorate in Human Sexuality but no business experience. They knew they had to work harder, to be the most affiliate-friendly site around to make up for any inconvenience the lack of a network connection might mean.
Plus, as soon as budget allowed, she hired two more female sexologist writers to keep affiliates topped up with loads of fresh content. Advance warning of specials and news Zebroff sent affiliates a monthly newsletter Link to sample below with info on upcoming specials, sales and new product launches so affiliates would have at least 30 days to prep their marketing campaigns for the next month.
Test a more mainstream microsite The team also tried launching a secondary site, PassionBlush. They hoped that affiliates that weren't quite comfortable with the main site might consider working with the other site.
Then, the marketing team worked on the back end to graduate incoming customers to the larger site's offerings when appropriate. Start a customer council As soon as the site launched, the registration process began to ask visitors if they'd like to join the advisory council.
Add more reassuring content Zebroff decided to play to her strengths on the site and focus on creating content throughout that educated the shopper, and made the shopping experience feel safe and reassuring. Example article headlines posted prominently on the site: Ever regret shelling out your hard earned cash for a sex toy?
Try our Decision Maker. Encourage honest product reviews Zebroff knew that women trust other women more than anyone else. So she had the Web team build in a product review function with the very first site launch. The actual review form itself contained far longer instructions than we've ever seen on another site.
Link to sample below. Reviewers were exhorted to be truly honest in their reviews and were given topics to consider including in their review.
Use an in-house photographer "Great photographs can make or break product sales," notes Zebroff. When she reviewed the photos many manufacturers provided for their sex toys, she worried these would not attract a mainstream female audience.
Plus, the search marketing team tested the term 'Discreet shipping' in paid search ad copy. Constantly test new free-gift-with-order offers Zebroff set a schedule to test out a new gift-with-order offer every month. That way she'd learn what worked best and entertain returning customers.
She figured it was so hard to get that initial traffic to the site that she wanted to gather as many email opt-ins as possible from it. So, she reserved the free shipping offer as an opt-in incentive.
In fact, the incentive was "free shipping for life. Email campaigns were sent to the opt-in list every two-three weeks. Frequency depended on whether it was a "cold weather month" or not with more frequent emails during winter.
The team alternated between an email newsletter format containing four-five articles plus the free-gift-with-order of the month, and a shorter format featuring just one product and a single must-read article hotlink.
Link to samples below -- note, the email content is somewhat adult in nature. Delivery was obviously a gargantuan problem. The team relied on a third-party email service provider who could help keep them on the good side of major ISPs. Plus, more filter-able words were contained in images rather than text. However, subject lines were a problem. Just as with other ecommerce sites, the team found they could not use terms such as 'Free" "Sale" or "Discount" without being heavily filtered.
The goal -- subject lines that were short, interesting and not at all misleading. From the very launch, the target demographic when they were able to find the site proved unexpectedly enthusiastic. Yet, the council is still strong enough to provide high response rates to surveys.
Affiliates were equally enthusiastic. The site signed up almost affiliates despite not being on a network for nearly six years. CJ has just now agreed, at long last, to take Libida on.
The best affiliates are those that focus on content as well, educating, entertaining and informing the same demographic of women. Natural partners include lingerie shops online. The site now features user reviews of most products.
The merchandise team discontinue products that get consistently bad ratings. However, they allow negative reviews for currently sold stock to stay live in the policy of honesty is best. Which proves that what women respond to most is convenience, rather than overt sexuality.
Useful links related to this article: Creative samples of Libida's campaigns -- we've noted which ones have slightly explicit content: