Web marketing

Natural Life struggles to repeat 60% online sales growth from 2021

As the cost of digital ads increases, online clothing retailer Natural Life is paying more for fewer ads clicked, says Carolyn Grana, chief digital officer. Rather than allocating most of its ad spend to Facebook ads, Grana says the disappearance of third-party cookies has forced the retailer to re-evaluate its digital marketing strategy.

“It was easier to put a lot of eggs in the basket on Facebook ads,” says Grana. “But it’s no longer reliable.”

Natural Life is an online women’s clothing brand offering bohemian-inspired clothing and home decor items. The retailer’s average order value is around $90, with a conversion rate of around 3.5%. Most of her clients are women between the ages of 25 and 54.

“AOV has grown tremendously since apparel has become a bigger part of our collection,” Grana says of the past two years.

Despite pandemic-related lockdowns in 2020, overall web sales jumped 150% from 2019. The retailer maintained momentum with web sales growing over 60% in 2021 from a year on year, compared to 2020.

Growth slowed in 2022, says Grana. This year, sales are up 30% year-over-year compared to 2021. But Grana believes that figure may be higher.

“We are definitely seeing a slowdown in growth,” she says. “Acquiring customers is becoming increasingly difficult and we are still facing major industry-wide economic disruptions.”

Email is a source of revenue for Natural Life. Grana did not disclose how much of the retailer’s sales come from email traffic. But she said email and text sales have increased over the past year.

Email and targeted search

Email remains a go-to source for retailers, according to a Digital Commerce 360 ​​digital marketing survey of 73 respondents in April/May 2022. Seven out of 10 retailers cited email, search engine and marketing of content, as well as Facebook, as the main digital marketing tools to reach customers. . Email leads with 86% of citations, followed by search engine ads at 85% and content marketing at 78%.

While seeking to diversify, targeted ads remain an important overall part of Natural Life’s digital marketing strategy, says Grana.

“We’ve definitely been impacted by the rise in CPMs,” she says, adding that the retailer tracks weekly. “Print totals are down year over year.” Cost per impression (CPM) is an advertising option where businesses pay a price for every 1,000 impressions/views an ad receives.

“We’ve been proactive in trying to at least maintain the number of impressions and reach some of our target audiences,” she continues. “But it’s also by expanding through other social platforms and being a bit more independent rather [than relying heavily] on major technology partners.

Grana says she thinks the industry as a whole will be looking for ways to diversify how it approaches its digital marketing strategies without relying on a handful of players like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram.

“We’re looking to see how we can collaborate and set up brand partnerships,” she says.

Natural Life is also looking at other options, such as DISCO

“The DISCO app we’re testing led to a very inexpensive CPA [cost per action]Grana says. “It’s not generating a ton of volume, but we’re seeing a positive increase at least.” Lift refers to an increase in sales in response to advertising or promotions.

DISCO uses an algorithm to recommend products from brands the customer is likely to engage with. Retailers only pay if a shopper clicks on an ad that generates a lead (potential customer) or sale.

Retailers are allocating more of their budget to paying for ads. According to digital marketing firm Merkle, “The Performance Media Report: Right-now marketing trends for Q3 [2022]”, 57% of advertisers said paid search spending increased year over year, with similar trends on Google Shopping and Google text ads.

43% of respondents said that effectively targeting users in the face of new privacy regulations and tracking changes was one of the top two priorities. An encouraging sign, according to Melissa Reilly, associate director, strategic content at Merkle.

“It tells me that brands are recognizing the importance of creating personalized advertising experiences for consumers to really drive performance and build lasting relationships,” says Reilly. The report was conducted by Ugam, a Merkle company, in May 2022 among 250 US-based marketing decision makers representing companies with over $100 million in annual revenue. 46% represented B2C companies, 7% DTC and 47% B2B.

Natural Life’s trial-and-error approach to customer retention and growth

The retailer is looking for options that go beyond advertisements. Increasing collaborations with influencers is a strategy. Natural Life has over 629,000 followers on Instagram. He has over 68,000 followers on Pinterest and nearly 50,000 on TikTok. It also collaborates with other brands to offer customers combined assortments or gifts. Grana says that currently, with the exception of Facebook and Instagram ads, she spends more of her marketing budget on print direct mail ads than anywhere else.

The retailer runs their e-commerce site using Shopify. Grana says it’s in trial and error mode. He is currently testing various technologies to see what works and what doesn’t. One such trial included TapCart, which allows Shopify stores to create a mobile app, “no coding required.”

Grana didn’t specify how the trial would go, but as of June 2022, the retailer hasn’t had a mobile app available for download. Nearly 80% of Natural Life’s mobile traffic comes from mobile shoppers.

Other Digital Marketing Tactics

Texting is another way to attract and engage with customers, she says. The retailer launched an SMS program in November 2020 and used this channel to supplement its email revenue. Grana declined to disclose the percentage of communication with customers via SMS messaging, but said the percentage growth was “in the triple digits”.

“I think the retail industry as a whole is looking to be more independent instead of relying on big tech vendors,” says Grana. “And we’re looking at where we can collaborate with other brands to drive traffic to us.”

Meanwhile, testing continues. Grana says the company tested two other technologies in April, but the traffic impact was not significant, Grana says.

“We will not be testing these channels in the future. [TapCart]says Grana, adding that the retailer has a few more planned but it’s too early to reference specifics.

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