November 2, 2007, 12:00 AM

Outside help brightens search marketing results at Sunglassesonly.com

Struggling with the intricacies of search engine marketing, Sunglassesonly.com brought in OrangeSoda to manage its campaign. Web sales doubled almost immediately, and recent enhancements are bringing down acquisition cost and raising click-through rates.

Charley Gray is the first to admit his search engine marketing campaign for Sunglassesonly.com was a disaster. “We were just throwing stuff out there,” says Gray, general manager of the Utah-based retailer. “We were trying to learn as we went, but we didn’t have the time to manage it on our own.”

Gray looked around for a company that would work with a small merchant and settled on OrangeSoda, which helped him organize a major push during the 2006 holiday season. “We virtually doubled our sales right away when we started using them,” Gray says.

Among the improvements OrangeSoda made was to take visitors who searched for a particular brand of sunglasses, Hoven for instance, to a landing page featuring Hoven shades, instead of the Sunglassesonly.com home page. More text was added to the pages to raise their relevance to search engines. Paid search ad copy was improved, and OrangeSoda integrated Google Checkout as a payment option, which results in a Google Checkout icon appearing on the site’s paid search ads in Google.

While those steps helped, the OrangeSoda team persuaded Gray that his results would improve even further if the landing pages did a better job of selling the particular product that the consumer is searching for. “Sunglasses are a fashion statement,” says Chris Finken, chief information officer at OrangeSoda. “You don’t need 50 different angles, just a clear, nice picture and a big ‘add to cart’ button.”

OrangeSoda has been working its way through the more than a dozen brands that Sunglassesonly.com sells, refining the landing pages for each brand. Among the results to date: click-through rates are up from around 1% to around 3%, and the cost of acquiring a customer from pay-per-click advertising is down 39%.

“The cost per acquisition is the biggest thing,” Gray says. Before bringing in OrangeSoda, his goal had been to spend no more than $50 on search advertising for every $100 in sales from those ads. “But,” he says, “it was hard to maintain in-house.”

Gray, whose site generates about $30,000 per month in sales, declined to discuss what he pays OrangeSoda, other than to say that its fees are comparable to similar search marketing firms. Sunglassesonly.com started launched its web site in 2004, but added a store in American Fork, UT, a year later because some manufacturers would not sell to a web-only retailer, Gray says. OrangeSoda is based in Orem, UT.

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