After working with Convertro to see the full digital path a shopper takes before completing a purchase, the wine-related products retailer found affiliate coupon sites weren’t adding value.
Zak Stambor , Managing Editor
Because Wine Enthusiast Cos. sells wine-related products like wine racks and glassware with an Internet Retailer-estimated average ticket of $150, the e-retailer had a hunch that most customers weren’t making impulse purchases.
“Someone might Google ‘wine refrigerator,’ click a paid search ad to land on our site, and then sign up for our e-mail list and Like us on Facebook before they actually buy one of our wine refrigerators,” says Glenn Edelman, vice president of digital marketing for the retailer, No. 434 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide. For a purchase like a wine refrigerator, the typical sales cycle is 90 to 120 days, he says.
But until it began working with digital marketing vendor Convertro in 2011, the retailer could only see the click shoppers made immediately before making a purchase.
Convertro changed that. The vendor places a cookie on consumers’ computers to show the full digital path a shopper takes from seeing an ad or viewing an item on a web site to completing a purchase. The cookie works in conjuction with a pixel to register when a consumer visits a particular page. A pixel is an invisible tag placed on an ad or web site that, when clicked on, generates a notice of that activity. In some cases, the vendor can also link consumers’ actions on multiple devices, such as when he opens an e-mail on his smartphone and then visits the retailer’s site on his laptop.
The move to Convertro gave Wine Enthusiast a clearer picture of how consumers shop. For example, it quickly found that the retailer’s investments in coupon affiliate sites weren’t driving traffic to its site; the majority of shoppers were visiting WineEnthusiast.com, leaving the site to find a coupon code, then returning to the site to complete the purchase.
“We realized that the coupon sites weren’t providing value and we were giving them commission dollars,” Edelman says. Rather than spend on coupon sites, the retailer bought the domain WineEnthusiastCoupons.com to highlight WineEnthusiast.com’s special offers. “We weren’t going to stop the behavior, but we might be able to control it,” he says.
The decision to stop paying coupon affiliate sites for traffic didn’t impact sales, Edelman says, and the money it saved paid for the retailer’s annual subscription to Convertro. The vendor declines to disclose its rates.
Convertro has also helped the retailer get a better sense of which keywords actually lead to sales. For instance, before it started working with the vendor, it thought “wine refrigerator” was underperforming. But Convertro helped it understand that the clicks that stem from “wine refrigerator” often lead to sales, even though those purchases often take time.
“Convertro has helped me look differently at the terms we buy,” Edelman says.