April 4, 2012, 5:03 PM

Home improvement e-retailer triples traffic in three months

Retargeting and highly specific paid ads spur growth for SustainableSupply.com.

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Traffic to SustainableSupply.com is up three or four times since January, when the environmentally friendly home repair products retailer launched its redesigned web site and added 200,000 new products, says founder Brian Fricano.

Founded in 2009, Sustainable Supply Co., No. 974 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, had about $1.5 million in web sales in 2011 and is tracking to nearly double that this year, the merchant says.

Increased interest in the additional SKUs is driving much of the new traffic from search engines, but several new marketing tactics are also making a big impact. “There’s a lot of technology that we are able to implement easily,” Fricano says. “It’s inexpensive and readily available. Even with something like display retargeting, we see a lot of big brands doing it and you look at the cost on it and say, ‘Hey, we can do that.’”

One new marketing strategy is an inventory-driven search program the retailer implemented in October. A new arrangement with ChannelAdvisor ties paid advertisements on Google and other search engines to specific part numbers of items the retailer has in its inventory. Then if a consumer searches for a repair item by its part number, for example, an ad will show up on Google from SustainableSupply.com saying something like, “We have your part number in stock and 20,000 more.”

The retailer pays ChannelAdvisor about $800 per month or around 2% of sales that originate from the program, whichever is larger, Fricano says. The merchant also pays Google or Bing for clicks on the ads, and thus far, the costs are worth it, he says. “We could potentially be the only one that is doing an ad on that item, so this has made a big difference for us. Conversions on inventory-driven search are trending at a minimum of 25% for us and that is just far beyond any other pay-per-click campaign we are doing.”

SustainableSupply.com is also working with AdRoll on retargeted display advertisements. When a customer comes to the site, the retailer will place a cookie on her computer and an ad for SustainableSupply.com will follow her after she leaves the site. “With all the new traffic coming in organically, we want to be able to effectively retarget these people,” Fricano says. “We want them to remember us and to keep our brand in front of them as much as we can.”

The retailer pays AdRoll about $1 or $2 per thousand impressions the retargeting program. The package shows previous site visitors a generic ad for SustainableSupply.com that brings consumers back to the home page when clicked. Fricano is considering expanding the program to show ads for the same product the visitor viewed on the site.

SustainableSupply.com also upgraded the look of its site, with a large rotating hero image on the home page, improved drop-down navigation and product pages that contain more original content.

In preparation for adding the many new products to its site, SustainableSupply.com upgraded its site hosting arrangement with Volusion to a semi-dedicated server with increased bandwidth. “With the launch, we added 200,000 new products and 800,000 images to the site, so we were concerned about how it would perform,” he says. “Page load times have so far been good.”

Mike Ryan, director of online marketing at Lowe’s Inc. will be speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in June in a session titled, “How to break through the paid-search ceiling with search retargeting.”

 

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