By Rob Snell
Co-owner, Gun Dog Supply
& Author, Starting a Yahoo! Business For Dummies
I’m so excited for the Conversion Conference East in NYC.
Here’s a little bit of what I’m going to cover in my session on e-commerce optimization:
GUN DOG SUPPLY is our family business. We’ve sold training supplies for hunting dogs since 1972 via mail order, and back in 1997, we ran across Yahoo! Store, uploaded our catalog, and were off and running on the Internet.
The first 7-8 years were rocking. We were one of the first folks in our industry to get online, and selling online literally saved our family business.
About 6 years ago, our growth stopped…
Expenses were growing faster than our sales. We had our first down month in the history of our Internet business. My brother, Steve, — now running the company — was concerned. And I was saying don’t worry, it’s just a blip — things will pick back up.
So I dove into our analytics, trying to see if anything was broken or find the problem. In hindsight it’s pretty easy to see what was happening. The competition was growing online. Traffic was drying up. Customers had dozens of choices. All the old school catalogs in our industry now had shopping carts with virtually the same products that we had. And all these new school, “dot com kids” were popping up, selling the same things we were selling.
In 2004, SEO wasn’t new anymore. Competition for those first 10 spots on page one of Google was getting fierce. Paid search was exploding. CPC’s were skyrocketing. More and more folks were bidding up the same keywords. It was EXPENSIVE. And all the other, old, ways of driving traffic? They weren’t working as well as before.
GREAT, SO NOW WHAT DO WE DO?
Steve and I had one of our knock down, drag out “conversations…” Maybe this is the new reality? And we’ll have to get used to this? Or maybe we’re going to have to change how we do things…
So I’m sitting in Steve’s office WAITING for him to get off the phone (again). Steve has these MARATHON phone conversations with customers. I’m talking 20-30 minutes, easy. A customer has a problem with his dog, so he gives Steve a holler. And they’re talking about their dogs. And they’re talking about TRAINING their dogs. And they’re talking about HUNTING with their dogs. And they’re talking about their hunting GEAR. And their GUNS and their TRUCKS…And next thing you know, the guy places an order. And he’s a customer FOR LIFE…FOR LIFE.
This is GREAT, but it doesn’t scale. We handle dozens of these calls every day. There’s no way STEVE can do this with every customer over the phone. He has tons of other things he’s gotta take care of, too. And it’s hard to train folks to channel “Steve.” It just doesn’t scale.
SO I HAD AN IDEA…
What if we do the same thing online, on our Yahoo! Store, that Steve does over the phone? What if we took everything he ever said to a customer, and put it all over the Web site. I Wonder what THAT would do?
We put Steve all over GunDogSupply.com. We put his recommendations on the site. We put pictures of him and his dogs on the site. We put his opinions on the site. We completely replicated the experience you’d get over the phone. Instead of simply offering products for sale, we actively recommended products to solve specific problems. And it worked. Not only did it get us back to where we needed to be, it more than doubled our conversion rate and radically increased our growth.
Just for fun, last year I modeled what our sales would have been had we continued with business as usual compare to our new method so I could see what the difference was. Over the past six years the additional lift was over $10 MILLION. $10,354,767, to be exact, in additional sales above what our regular growth would have been.
And how did we do all that?
Well, you’ll have to show up at my session at Conversion Conference to find out!
About the Author
Rob Snell, Co-owner, Gun Dog Supply, a hunting dog supply retailer, & Managing Partner of Snell Brothers Consulting, a firm specializing in search marketing for Yahoo! Stores. Rob has extensive Yahoo! Store experience with both family-owned stores and consulting clients. The Snell Brothers have designed, developed, marketed and/or maintained hundreds of Yahoo Stores that have generated tens of millions of dollars in online sales. Rob has been online since 1990 and opened his first online store in 1997 when his brother, Steve Snell stumbled across Viaweb (now Yahoo! Store). Rob now consults with Yahoo! Store retailers on improving their e-commerce sites and maximizing their search-marketing campaigns and is a guest speaker and lecturer on search marketing and e-commerce for small business.
See Rob Live!
Rob will be presenting a session on “Relentless Innovation: How to Create a Tenfold Increase in Your Online Store Sales” at Conversion Conference East 2011 in New York City. See the full agenda and read more about this session.
Want to save $700 on Conversion Conference? Contact Rob to request a discount code!