How to Nail The Strategy & Execution of SEO with Blink SEO’s Sam Wright
With the rising costs of paid media, organic search can be key for DTC brands. It’s a performance-marketing channel that drives customer acquisition and growth, and it’s a “need to have” to stand out in today’s crowded DTC landscape.
You’re probably familiar with the SEO buzzwords—keywords, meta description, product title, image title—but how can you leverage SEO without getting lost in the strategy and the execution?
We caught up with Sam to learn more about how DTC brands can get their categorization and positioning right, and why this is crucial for delivering SEO and PPC campaigns that actually deliver results.
All of Blink’s clients are SMEs—either multi-category retailers or DTC brands. Generally speaking, their annual revenue ranges from a quarter of a million to five to six million plus.
“Brands come to Blink to sell more products,” says Sam. That’s their main goal—although each business is at a different part of the journey. And, they all require different approaches as it relates to ecommerce SEO.
However, within the DTC space, categorization and positioning are not well-understood concepts.
At Blink, the first step to implementing a strong SEO strategy is all about categorization—how the customer perceives a brand and classifies it in a digestible way. It’s all about who/what the customer compares the brand to—and often the results are not what one might expect.
That process includes unpacking the customer’s wants, needs, and pain points, which all inform SEO strategy before any tasks like keyword research are carried out.
And, it includes asking the golden question: What’s the point of differentiation?
That answer should match up with what people are searching for online.
Unfortunately, most of the time that’s not the case.
For example, DTC brands that rely on Facebook ads quite often have a categorization problem. That’s because their business only works when they’re pushing out an ad; in that case, consumers aren’t actively or organically discovering the product.
KURU Footwear is a great illustration of a brand that truly understands positioning and categorization in SEO. They’re a DTC shoe brand on a mission to eliminate foot pain and conditions. They create content that’s structured to answer questions and dive deep into topics like finding the right shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Fixing categorization isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. It might require some work— it could mean changing the product or completely reframing it—but it’s worth it.
“Aligning your point of differentiation and what people are actually searching for online is extremely powerful.”
3 Reasons Why Your SEO Isn't Converting
Strategy and execution go hand in hand.
Most SMEs are not served by agencies. That’s because they focus on the execution and less so on unpacking what’s already working vs. what’s not working.
Sam has seen numerous DTC brands skip the strategy stage and blindly launch an SEO campaign. But, that’s not the best course of action.
He recommends spending the time and effort to go through traditional marketing work such as customer research, user personas, and pain point analysis as well as reflecting on past wins and mistakes.
When SEO doesn’t work, it’s often due to tactical reasons. It’s possible that:
- The business is operating in a field that’s way too competitive.
- The business doesn’t have a clear point of differentiation.
- The business’s categorization is incorrect.
At a distance, SEO may look easy. But, it’s not. It’s all about bringing together the strategy and execution stages to reach an audience by giving people exactly what they’re searching for in a way that benefits the brand.
“At Blink, we stress the difference between strategy and execution. You can’t succeed without one or the other. You need both.”
It’s never been easier to dive into audience analysis, yet some brands still aren’t doing it.
Talking to customers and asking for feedback is a must. The brands who’ve nailed that are the ones growing quickly.
Sometimes, user testing and customer feedback require brands to ask hard questions. But, those tough conversations are instrumental in helping brands adjust their SEO strategy accordingly.
To succeed in the world of SEO, DTC brands need to understand the customer's POV and also know how to position themselves as a solution.
And, relatively speaking, it’s not that hard to do, especially with customer surveys. The Blink team is a big fan of Conversion Crimes, a fast and easy way to improve user experience and increase conversions.
Any feedback makes a big difference.
That commitment to the customer and extreme focus on their pain points and needs is what sets apart successful brands from unsuccessful ones.
“Most SEO boils down to understanding your audience.”
Tracking Metrics: The Power of Blended ROAS
“Brands can’t iterate themselves to massive growth,” says Sam.
Some of SEO is about the quick wins, such as page optimization. But, the brands looking to 20-30x their growth can only achieve that through audience analysis and honing in on their goals and why they’re doing what they're doing.
Although every business has its own set of goals, Sam recommends focusing on Blended ROAS. That number gives DTC brands a quick idea of whether or not a campaign is performing.
Ultimately, that metric provides merchants with a fuller picture of the business. But, the data never stops there. It’s also important to look at other site metrics—conversions, CPA, CTR, etc.
“Understanding ROAS is a common struggle for brands. At a high level, it gives you an understanding of how campaigns are going and whether things are scalable or not.”
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
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33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
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