Ecommerce Marketing Case Study: How an Online Shoe Retailer Retargets Customers for Less than $0.03 per Click with Email

Posted By Devesh Khanal | 4 Comments

Today I’m going to show you an ecommerce marketing case study of how a French online shoe retailer used product bonuses to retarget visitors for one one-hundredth the cost of Google or Facebook retargeting.

Retargeting by email also gets him click through rates in the 14%+ range — a massive improvement from typical PPC retargeting click through rates.

He did this without spending hours on social media.

And he did this without fancy web design tricks.

He also didn’t have to spend tons of time creating new content — he just used what he already had.

Let’s meet him.

Free Bonus: I’ve put together a one page checklist of the ecommerce product bonus technique as well as a guide on how to hack Mailchimp’s autoresponders so you can send multiple different leadmagnets to people on the same list. Get both for free by clicking here and telling me where to send them.

Meet Maxime, the owner of a French ecommerce shoe store

Maxime and his partner Valentine are the owners of Jacques & Demeter, an online store of high-quality French shoes.

ecommerce store owner maxime
Side note: Don’t they look like they wear really nice shoes?

But he didn’t always run Jacques & Demeter.

Before starting the store, he ran an audit firm (exciting!). But he had always dreamt of having a business based on his passion for really nice shoes.

In his own words:

The job at the audit firm was boring. I wanted to be my own boss because I couldn’t bear to receive orders from some people who have one and only quality: to be older than me.

Well said, my man.

So, in 2011, along with Valentine (who was a graphic designer), he started Jacques & Demeter. Since then he’s built it into a business that supports him full time and is growing.

Operation Leave Boring Audit Firm = Success!

Ecommerce Marketing Rule #1: Don’t “Waste” Visitors Who Don’t Buy

Like any beginning ecommerce business owner, after the business was up and running (and making money!), Maxime started learning all he could about marketing his ecommerce business, including converting more of his visitors into customers.

Getting traffic is already hard, so when someone comes to your site, they’re a pretty “hot” lead. In the entire universe of sites, they’re interested enough to come to yours.

Great.

But the typical ecommerce conversion rate is around 2-3%.

Which means: 98% of these ultra hot leads end up NOT buying.

blog_plots

That’s just business. But wasting those leads is bad business.

That’s why remarketing and retargeting are so popular.

What is retargeting?

In short, you put a some code on your site that puts a cookie on the device of folks that visit your site. So now Google, Facebook, or whoever know when one of your past visitors is on their site. Then you pay them to show ads to these past visitors.

So people who visit your site end up seeing your ads all over the internet.

Note: If you want to learn more, Growth Grind and PPC Mode have great guides on remarketing.

This way you don’t “lose” or “throw away” those leads.

In fact, because these people have already visited your site, they click on your ads twice as much as everyone else.

blog_plots

The two problems with retargeting: Money and CTR

But the problem, though, is two-fold.

First, that “twice as high” click through rate (CTR)?

It’s still only around 0.2%! (Ads just don’t get a high CTR compared to email, more on that later.)

Second, you have to pay Google or Facebook for those clicks. How much you pay is heavily dependent on the details (as anyone who has done PPC will tell you), but people routinely pay in the $1 – $10/click range, and I’ve heard of people paying a lot more for a single click.

Not everyone who clicks is going to buy (duh), so it can take many $1 – $10 clicks to get a sale.

For Maxime, when he tried retargeting through Facebook, it took him 3000 impressions to get one click (0.03% CTR), and that click cost him $3.15.

Maxime retargeting stats

Yes, he only got 1 click, so $3.15 doesn’t indicate his long term CPC. But being a two person, not-yet-profitable operation at the time, he knew he didn’t have the budget to scale this, and he knew that even if we did some ad optimization, he wasn’t going to get much lower than $1 CPC (at best), so he stopped.

Fortunately for Maxime, a failed retargeting campaign wasn’t the end of his conversion optimization efforts. He found a method that was far more effective and costs a fraction per click.

It’s a method I called the Ecommerce Product Bonus, and Maxime discovered it on my blog.

Now most people read blog posts and go back to watching Empire on Netflix, but Maxime took action. Here’s part of the email he sent me saying he implemented it:

Re__What_business_are_you_in__-_devesh_khanal_gmail_com_-_Gmail

How the Ecommerce Product Bonus Helped Maxime retarget to 122 visitors at a fraction of the cost and with a 466X higher CTR

I’ll explain exactly what the Ecommerce product bonus technique is in a bit, but first let’s look at the results Maxime got.

Through 2 bonuses on his product pages, he was able to convert 1.7% of his product page visitors to his email list.

That’s a solid conversion rate, considering we’re talking about shoppers (not loyal niche blog readers, or another uber-engaged group.).

Once they’re on his list, he sends them through an autoresponder and emails them about deals, tips, how-tos, etc. That way, they are constantly getting value from him.

His emails are sent to between 1500 – 3500 potential customers and typically get a 35% – 50% open rate and 12% – 16% click rate.

ecommerce email marketing stats

Think about this for a second. A typical retargeting banner ad on Google gets a 0.2% CTR and is considered “good.”

But nearly 50% of people who get Maxime’s emails are opening them (and are exposed to the messaging, tips, deals, etc.). And 12 – 16% click to go do something on his site.

Look at the difference:

blog_plots

Of course, you could argue not everyone who visits his product pages opts into his email list, only 1.7% so far. If we account for that, email still wins:

blog_plots

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s look at the cost…

Cost per click of remarketing by email instead of PPC

Now how does remarketing by email compare to PPC in terms of cost?

Say you wanted to remarket to 10,000 people.

Taking Mailchimp’s costs as an example, if you sent them 10 emails per month, at a 3.3% click rate (average), you would get 3300 clicks and pay $75 to Mailchimp.

That’s $0.02/click.

TWO CENTS PER CLICK.

Are you kidding me?

Other email providers prices differ, but not by enough to make that a difference. Hell, you could pay Infusionsoft $200/month, and it’d still mean you’re paying 6 cents per click.

But did the product bonus reduce product sales? No!

One key question I always get about this technique is: but does offering content for download in your store reduce sales of your product?

Let’s look at what happened to Maxime.

He offered the download in his accessories pages, and he started offering it in mid-September.

Here are his accessories sales over the past several months:

blog_plots

The arrow points to when he started implementing product bonuses on his accessories pages. Clearly, accessories sales have been on a massive rise and the product bonuses didn’t seem to hurt it one bit.

Clearly, offering his shoe care guides did nothing but help.

Now that you’ve seen the results, let’s look at how Maxime set up his ecommerce product bonus

Step 1: Pick a product category to give away some content

The ecommerce product bonus technique doesn’t mean you’re slapping customers with some PDF you want them to download all over your store.

Sure, if you have a small, niche store, you can offer something sitewide.

But it’s generally best to pick a particular product category and offer the bonus there.

For Maxime, he picked his accessories pages.

Kit_de_produits_d_entretien_pour_chaussures_en_cuir_nubuck

Why? Because customers shopping for shoe repair accessories are the perfect audience for his content piece…

Step 2: Create or Repurpose Content That Genuinely Helps Your Customers

Maxime had already created some high-value PDF content on his blog. The content was on taking care of shoes:

guide-d-entretien-chaussures-cuir-et-suede_pdf__page_1_of_4_

So he offered it on his accessories pages. People there are looking to buy things to take care of their shoes, so, naturally, they’d be interested in a guide to help take care of their shoes.

Win win.

In Your Store:

Think of a product category where people would naturally look for more information. For example, a gardening store could give away a guide to spring/summer/fall plants and gardening on certain key pages. A sports store could offer a guide on tennis/running techniques only on pages with tennis racquets or running shoes.

You get the picture. Be specific.

Step 3: Give it away for free, in exchange for an email.

This step is simple but is the one place where you need some technical chops or a developer to hand off to.

You just need to offer it somewhere on the page in exchange for an email.

Maxime used Leadboxes from Leadpages to do this.

Kit_de_produits_d_entretien_pour_chaussures_en_cuir_nubuck

The steps involved in this (regardless of what form/software you use) are:

1. Upload your PDF to your optin service (like Leadpages) or your email provider (like Mailchimp).
2. Put a form on your product pages advertising the guide (or, you can use a popup like Leadpages or OptinMonster)

Now, when someone opts-in, you have to find a way to actually deliver the guide to them. You can do that a couple ways.

If you use single opt-in (in other words, they don’t need to confirm their email first before they are on your list), then check out this blog post by Optinmonster on the different ways you can deliver a lead magnet. In short: You can link to it on the thank you page, or redirect them to the pdf url itself once they optin.

Or, if you are using double-optin, then you’ll need to create an autoresponder in your email provider that sends a link to the lead magnet after they opt-in. Check out the bonus below to get a free guide on how to do that.

Next Step: Do this Yourself

To help you (and your team) execute on this method on your site, I’ve put together a simple one page checklist that outlines the steps of this method. And I have a step by step guide on how to hack autoresponders in Mailchimp so that you can have people get different lead magnets depending on where they opt-in but still be put on the same list.

You can get both of these PDFs, for free, by clicking here and telling me where to send the PDFs:

Bonus Downlaod

Any questions about commerce product bonuses or Maxime’s story? Ask me in the comments. I’ll answer every question.

If you own an ecommerce or SaaS business that has annual revenues of at least 6 – 7 figures (or you’re venture backed) and want to convert more visitors into buyers or subscribers on each visit, reach out and I’ll tell you about our 2 week conversion research product that will outline where you should focus your efforts and what kind of gains you can expect.

4 Comments

  1. Daniel Daines-Hutt
    November 19, 2015

    Hey Devesh

    Kick ass post as usual and as a retargeting nerd I had to come and comment
    I’ve said this before, you have a great writing style and your character really comes across in your articles- it won’t be long until your a household name in marketing circles i’m sure!

    Buuuut….. like any good writer you have inspired me to both agree and disagree with you 😀

    I love the post I really do but I have a few things to say for my <3 Retargeting

    I agree that for those on a small budget, retargeting definitely costs more out of the gate, and it truly is an ongoing cost
    For some markets the CPC can be huge (Ever try marketing luxury super yachts? If you want a niche they'll pay out around 50k per lead that turns into a sale….but man the cost is high…anyway)

    Let me run through the post and add my 0.02 cents

    The initial campaign at $3.15 is still not bad, and looks like it was turned off too soon. You have to think of retargeting as more than just trying to get the click.

    Its also a form of advertising to help stay top of mind (For example the click through may be low but did they measure any growth in direct search? Often people will not click your ad but will instead come to the site to look around on their own terms)
    It also builds authority and raises the perception in the viewers mind of your business
    It also grows repeat sales and referrals from those visitors

    Ogilvy said it best in that "advertising should be seen included in the production cost of the product, not the sales cost" in that advertising can bring about the highest ROI for your business

    There are a lot of stages to measure the effects, not just CTR

    That's not to say I'm against email either-I openly recommend customers to use it to help build the 7-15 touch points they need to make a sale

    I actually believe to be truly effective you need multi-channel distribution, social, email, video and more

    What I would suggest is for them to actually retarget the visitors of his category upgrade and retarget them instead with a direct optin, so as to collect their email address

    Step #1:

    Its generally much cheaper and a more cost effective method of building a paid list (I'm getting between $0.08-0.42 cent optins at the moment retargeting with the leadmagnet)

    Step #2:
    Not sure if Mailchimp has this but Active Campaign does, set up email retargeting on specific URLs

    You can build out a system of sales emails designed around specific category or even product pages if you wish. You can set these to only trigger if someone on your list visits that page (and of course hasn't gone through the sequence already)

    Pro Tip: Wait 6-12 hours or longer before you send the email or you'll freak them out, and dont call out their action in the email

    For example lets say they have visited the mens shoes category, and then a particular style of shoe and opted onto your list from the shoe care optin

    You could then run a sequence based around their initial interests and categories, that leads into a more direct offer for a product…

    Current styles and trends
    How to wear brogues with winter 2015 colours
    The latest style of brogues (and links to purchase them)

    Hopefully this helps!

    Daniel

    Reply
    • DeveshKhanal
      November 20, 2015

      Daniel good points.

      Of course, having someone on your email list also gives you all of the repeat sales, top of mind, and authority building benefits. But, I think (and I don’t see calculations otherwise) for a lot less per click.

      The idea for retargeting to get more people onto the email list is a great point. That is, in effect buying your way to a higher visit-to-optin conversion rate, which, if you have the budget, is a great option.

      Reply
  2. Paul Manwaring
    November 20, 2015

    this is a great tip BUT doesnt it rely on having organic traffic already to the pages in order to get the email signups.

    I new ecommerce store would be able to use this technique

    Reply
  3. Daniel Boswell
    November 22, 2015

    Devesh,

    The ecommerce product bonus is a great tactic. However, I don’t think you clarified how you actually do retargeting with email. For Google and Facebook you put code on your site to track visitors, but how would you actually retarget visitors to your site using email? Perhaps I’m missing something obvious.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Daniel Daines-Hutt

Cancel Reply