How to make your retail web store successful



  • Do we have any web guru's round here? My father in law has a brick and mortar retail store that does very well and has for 30+ years now. 3-4 years ago he popped up a website in hopes of spreading his success to the web realm to no avail. He's got an in house marketing/graphic/site maintainer guy, but he is not driving much new traffic to the site, and since his main job is site maintenance etc.... it's hard to pay him full time (IMO). I like my father in law, his store is great, his site is okay, i like the fella who is taking care of their marketing, photography, commercials, etc and i want the site to succeed. what to do?

    www.randypriceandcompany.com

    check it out. buy some expensive clothes 🙂



  • SEO is the answer, the site looks well designed.

    But how would I ever find it when searching for "clothing" in google?



  • that's what i'm asking you 🙂



  • @hubtechagain said:

    that's what i'm asking you 🙂

    No I told you, SEO.

    Hire an SEO expert to help you (your father).



  • A web site is only as useful as you can drive people to it. What is he doing currently to drive traffic there? Billboards? Ads on other sites?



  • anybody here a SEO expert?



  • The tagline is actually Southern and Preppy

    I'm really laughing here. That's hilarious. Honest, but hilarious.



  • Looking at the website quickly, looks great. Looks like it is well designed and could easily be confused with a very large clothing company. I see no site specific issues at first look.



  • this is what i'm trying to figure out. he's not doing much as far as driving traffic, i know that's what it takes, but i'm not sure how to achieve it. I dont think bilboards are the key as everyone who is willing to spend this type of money on clothing already knows about his store and prefers the in-store experience. i'm talking about how to get this site popping in the US. it's geared kinda southern US. He follows the trends of the southern college kid up to the 30-40 somethings with spare change.



  • So I actually do not believe that SEO is the issue. And here is why....

    SEO is only important for businesses that are being searched for. NTG does no SEO, because no customer of ours would ever be searching for us. Never. Sixteen years, never once gotten a customer because they searched for us, never came across one who tried and didn't find us. Doesn't happen.

    Has anyone here ever searched for southern preppy clothing? Nope, me either. Would I wear it? Maybe. But I start by going to Target, Nordstroms or whatever. I don't search for clothing on Google, I search at stores that I buy from.

    So thinking that SEO will fix anything, to me, makes no sense. SEO is needed for certain kinds of businesses, but far from all.



  • bilboards in other towns!



  • @hubtechagain said:

    I dont think bilboards are the key as everyone who is willing to spend this type of money on clothing already knows about his store and prefers the in-store experience.

    This can't be true. If this was true, why would be care about having the site? The site is there because he doesn't have all of these customers yet. I don't mean local billboards, I mean across the country.



  • yeah, my head was local



  • @hubtechagain said:

    it's geared kinda southern US. He follows the trends of the southern college kid up to the 30-40 somethings with spare change.

    Right, so how do OTHER clothing companies do this? Let's start with tried and true.

    They run magazine ads, ads on Facebook, billboards along I10, get in with DoubleClick, have Google Ad Words, open storefronts in prominent areas.... we are very solidly in the world of traditional marketing here.



  • yeah, i'm feeling that. how few people are googling "drake xyz jacket" etc. hrm.



  • Exactly. Someone, certainly, but very, very few people. It's become a natural reaction to think that everyone finds everything through Google today. But it simply isn't true. I find my clothing by going to stores that I already know. I don't care to sort through people advertising to me randomly nor do I have any idea how to search for what I want or need.

    I don't find restaurants by searching, I find them by driving past them around town.



  • I would say any B2C business is going to benefit substantially from good SEO in place, whereas it's a little less important for B2B businesses depending on your lead generation strategy.

    With that said, SEO is one of the most frustrating topics because:

    • The rules are always, always changing, so really it's something that you should probably have a dedicated expert handle. But...

    • IMO You're more likely to find a charlatan than an actual SEO expert if you try and buy a managed SEO service or hire an SEO expert. The field attracts a lot of people that either find one tactic and stick with it, even if that tactic stops being effective, or flat-out con artists. You almost need an SEO expert on staff just to know which SEO firms are using legitimate tactics!

    Content marketing is the current "Big Thing" in SEO, and with good reason... it's basically the idea that you should have a regular stream of free, helpful information on your site that showcases your brand's expertise and draws potential customers in organically through search or social media. Here's an example:

    Imagine you have a RP&C blog added onto your store, and right around now you publish a post like "How Fleece Keeps You Warm Without Dragging You Down".

    This post gives an overview of what your brands' fleece jackets are made of, why fleece is so warm without being bulky, and how they're perfect for layering if you end up in rain or snow. Then you toss in some situations where a fleece jacket comes in handy... hunting, camping, whatever you think your target market might be doing at some point where having a light, cozy jacket would be nice.

    Depending on what sorts of wording you use, that post might be shown to someone looking for a new jacket to take camping, someone just wanting a cozy jacket, someone interested in why fleece can be so warm without being bulky, etc. These are all people that would just end up on Amazon if they googled "clothing" or even "jackets".

    Then they're on your site, and even if they don't buy your products online right then and there they might be back, and either way they'll be more likely to notice your brand & store offline after the fact. A link to this story on social media is also much more clickable and shareable than a generic "Hi we are a store please come visit us thanks" ad.

    I'm a fan of content marketing because you don't need to buy ads to get your name out there, and honestly it's one of the more benevolent forms of advertising - you're literally trying to help people out when they need it in order to get that brand recognition people spend hundreds to thousands of dollars to establish and maintain otherwise. I encourage you to check it out and consider if it would work for you - just keep in mind it's not actually free, because adding a stream of content to your site is a big jump that will add significant ongoing copywriting overhead to your website.

    For general SEO tips, check out varvy.com for some more technical/infrastructure stuff, and consider grabbing this eBook from Yoast.



  • So you feel that customers are searching for this specifically and will find it? Have you seen consumers doing this? It just seems very far fetched.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    So you feel that customers are searching for this specifically and will find it? Have you seen consumers doing this? It just seems very far fetched.

    That example in particular could be far-fetched! I didn't do any actual research on whether or not people actually search for that stuff before writing the example, and that sort of research is important when putting content marketing to use so you don't waste time writing about stuff no one is searching for. With that said, millions of people Google all sorts of random things and at this point I would be more surprised if people hadn't searched for that at some point or another. The big questions are how many people are searching for a given topic, how often... and if the people searching for that will convert into a lead when they visit your site. This kind of frustrating, vague marketing voodoo is exactly why I left marketing and went into IT 🙂

    With blog-focused content marketing, you try to create article topics according to the same research you'd do if you were putting together an AdWords campaign - keyword research, search volume for target terms, etc. The SEO guy's job with this strategy is to keep the copywriters updated on which article topics are most likely to bring organic traffic in - AKA which relevant topics have a high search volume but aren't already well-covered by competitors.

    So maybe The North Face is already getting all the people googling for Fleece Jackets, but it turns out there's a good number of people looking for comparisons on fleece vs down jackets as an insulation layer for their winter gear and the first site that comes up is only vaguely related to the search query. Then you can publish an article on the pros and cons of both layers, and that will probably rank highly in results for that term because it's more relevant to the search query. Disclaimer, I didn't do any research for that example either so I don't know if people are actually searching for that but hey maybe!

    Spiceworks is home to a ton of content marketing in action if you'd like to see some non-blog, real-life examples. This is most obvious with the string of auto-featured "how-to" or "list of resources" posts written by vendor reps which seem to have become more common recently... That's textbook content marketing, but I would argue that any vendor-specific troubleshooting help written by vendor reps could be considered content marketing as well.

    Another example would be StorageCraft, which seems to have a strong content marketing strategy in action based on what I can tell from their blog archive. Looking at the archive, you can see that they seem to have a wide variety of topics targeted towards IT admins and MSPs trying to learn more about their trade - they're not exclusively writing about storage or disaster recovery, although those are definitely their most commonly-recurring article topics.

    I would bet that each article that's not related to their primary topics is there because someone associated with StorageCraft did keyword research on IT-related topics and invited people to write articles that will rank highly for those keywords. The end goals are likely brand exposure and getting new email marketing leads from the CTA that pops up at the end of each article.

    Here are some case studies on content marketing strategies being put in place, the kind of work that legitimate SEO firms will put into creating strategies, and the results from putting those strategies to use.

    Overall, it's a very popular digital marketing strategy right now, but it's definitely possible that it's not the right fit for the company.

    I think a good question to ask would be: what sort of marketing goals there are for the website itself? Is it mainly a digital storefront so people that know the company already can easily buy from it online? If so, then there's not much need for marketing at all, let alone SEO - it's a convenient offering for existing customers to continue buying from someone they know. Depending on the cost to keep the site up and income from existing online customers, this might be just fine!

    On the other hand, if the company wants to expand their market to out-of state customers and others that might not already know about them, then I would say investing in SEO will make that goal much easier to attain.



  • @WingCreative said:

    Spiceworks is home to a ton of content marketing in action if you'd like to see some non-blog, real-life examples.

    but...

    1. That's a content industry.
    2. They are at the peak of content stores for it.
    3. Advertisers routinely state that there is no return on it and no one is finding the advertiser's content.

    So that is a perfect example of how something much more appropriate than this doesn't even work for the Google Fu in that way.

    And SW is in the industry that is the MOST active in online content consumption. Nothing comes close that I know of. This would be one of the least. The gap is huge (ha ha... Gap.)



  • I understand that good SEO can do a lot. But if someone isn't searching for what you have, you are doing it all for nothing. You could literally spend millions and never get a single customer. Even with the best SEO ever.

    Working in an industry like this where people never search I'm used to this. We spent years working on marketing strategies from yellow pages to web pages. What we learned after years and years was that.... no one was looking for certain products and marketing was wasted.

    Sure, if you can create a community and content and put in years to do it, you can potentially change that.

    But how did Spiceworks do this? A decade of creating content and a place to host it. They built a community and used VC capital to get it to work with a huge community of people creating content on their behalf.

    So if @hubtechagain's FIL wanted to do something like develop a community to create discussions around southern preppy clothing, that could work. But that would move his business from being one of sales (like a vendor) to being one of being a social media platform operator (like Spiceworks.)

    As a vendor, your SW example suggests that he needs to find somewhere to pay to advertise, which is what we already recommended. If you are picturing him as SW themselves, that would be a dramatic change of business direction and a risky one as he is in an industry where conceptually there is no discussion like SW has so he'd be boot strapping an entire industry in that way.



  • @WingCreative said:

    I think a good question to ask would be: what sort of marketing goals there are for the website itself? Is it mainly a digital storefront so people that know the company already can easily buy from it online? If so, then there's not much need for marketing at all, let alone SEO - it's a convenient offering for existing customers to continue buying from someone they know. Depending on the cost to keep the site up and income from existing online customers, this might be just fine!

    He said that the existing customers don't like the digital experience and come into the store. It's purely for drawing in people from other regions. Not necessarily out of the South, but from outside of town.

    So it is all about getting the people who have no idea that southern and preppy is even a market category to find them.



  • The locals use the store as an online catalog. "oh they have that in stock I want it" and then they take screen shots, show up int he store, show the worker their phone and ask for whatever size lol. I'm trying to figure out how to grow his strictly web sales. I belive most of his potential growth is in this region.



  • Do you have any 'market research' as to where his potential customers are shopping instead? Does he have any obvious competition (likely non-local.)

    This might be obvious but this isn't my clothing scene so I might be asking something that seems to be rhetorical but I'm actually asking.



  • well, there aren't any "big box" stores that carry most of his brands. of course Patagonia, TNF, Frye, etc, are big brands carried everywhere, but most of his clothing vendors cater to the boutique scene. Once something hits say Dillard, or stores similar to that, they quit carrying them. Usually because the brand has decided to push volume instead of quality.

    and no, no research. was hoping for a super magic SEO answer 🙂



  • Yeah, sadly by guess is that the best SEO in the world will do essentially nothing. You could do a survey of your existing customers to see what they search for when looking for clothes, but I bet you will come up with nothing at all.

    SEO is never a magic bullet - if SEO paid off, everyone would do it and it would escalate to a point of no return on investment. In the real world, most SEO is a scam. It sounds great but it is built on the premise that

    • No one else is doing the same SEO tricks, it can only work for one or two companies so any broad use of it is self defeating.
    • That the return is greater than the cost, rarely true.
    • That people are already doing the searches and just getting other hits.
    • That the SEO you optimize for is the same one that people are searching for.


  • Apologies for the late response, I've been busy holidaying it up 🙂

    I wasn't sure how familiar people were with the content marketing term around here, so I gave some real-life IT examples that people would recognize. I wasn't trying to suggest that OP should try to emulate them outright, sorry for the confusion!

    I figured it would be worth sharing the most popular trend in SEO that I'm aware of as a way to help focus OP's research and see if they thought it could work for them... With that said, please don't invest effort and/or money on building a whole new branch of marketing just because a guy on the internet said it might help 😛

    Scott's definitely right that SEO by itself isn't going to be a magical panacea for drawing a bunch of customers in, and there is always a good chance that hiring a dedicated SEO "expert" could end up being a bust. Passive traffic is helpful but it's not the constant flow of paying customers that some make it out to be.

    I think the reason why SEO is usually considered an essential part of online marketing by most marketers I follow is because putting current SEO best practices in place doesn't just generate passive traffic. Since most current recommendations focus on making your site experience easy to use and helpful for visitors, having SEO in place means the people drawn in from your ads elsewhere will be more likely to stick around and explore. It also means you have some reliable way of tracking where site traffic is coming from, so you can track which ads you're putting out are actually bringing in traffic.

    With content marketing specifically, it means your ads on social media can have a more interesting hook than a small discount or just a link to your site - Even if no one ever googles "fleece vs down jacket insulation", you could have an ad that points to the imaginary article mentioned in my last post that gets shown to people who list camping, hiking, hunting etc as an interest on FB. Then, even if they weren't actively searching for that info, their interest might be piqued by the article and either way you've gotten the idea that you're an authority on that sort of thing out to them. I'm pretty sure this is how Dollar Shave Club gets quite a few new customers - I never googled "subscription razor blades" but I get reminded of their existence every few days!

    I would say that no one here can know enough details about the business in question to give a truly definitive answer for you because some of the details needed to form that answer (current sales volume, average customer lifetime spend, etc) would be foolish to post publically.

    Ultimately, if you are committed to expanding the digital sales side of your business, you should consult with someone who specializes in digital marketing and discuss the details of your business, including what you do to market yourself right now. They they can help you build a digital marketing plan with clear goals, documented methods for achieving them, and metrics that you can use to measure the ROI on each method. Otherwise, it's all too easy to spend money trying out a smattering of different methods without ever really knowing which, if any, actually helped.



  • SEO doesn't imply that people will be drawn in or stay more, it could do the opposite. SEO literally stands for search engine optimization and while things that are good for tricking search engines might be good for end users, it is not necessarily true and could be very much the opposite. They are not opposing forces but they are not directly related ones. One could have the best site and terrible SEO and vice versa.



  • @WingCreative said:

    Ultimately, if you are committed to expanding the digital sales side of your business, you should consult with someone who specializes in digital marketing and discuss the details of your business, including what you do to market yourself right now.

    Considering you are on a site for a digital marketing company..... LOL. Look at the big ad on the bottom 🙂

    But actually one of the big mistakes I've found is from the digital marketing camps. Remember they make their money selling their services to YOU, not in making you make money. Both is good, but the latter is a bonus. They sell to you. Their bread and butter is getting you to think that you need them.

    Digital marketing could be a key here, but I would start without digital marketing people. Start by running ads, get traditional. Do traditional digital ads and do traditional ads and see what works for your customers. You can bring in high priced specialists but unless you are dealing with huge volumes and massive additional growth potential it is nearly impossible to cover the cost of the marketing specialists even if they do a great job for you.



  • @WingCreative said:

    They they can help you build a digital marketing plan with clear goals, documented methods for achieving them, and metrics that you can use to measure the ROI on each method. Otherwise, it's all too easy to spend money trying out a smattering of different methods without ever really knowing which, if any, actually helped.

    True marketing is black arts, you can gather some metrics, but only a little bit. Because a marketing campaign today might influence sales next year with no direct connection the metrics can actually show things not working when they are, or lead you to believe that things are working that are actually driving away a lot of customers, too.


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