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PUGS Inc.With the explosion of eCommerce over the past 15 years, we've seen Amazon and eBay pave the way for online sales success for thousands of other companies. Amazon has done an incredible job modernizing their shopping experience for the 21st century. More customers are shopping online, and as a result, more companies are finding that it's critical to have a efficient eCommerce option that compliments an in-store experience.

While newer companies are able to take advantage of the ease of starting their stores with Squarespace, Shopify, and BigCommerce, it can be a much greater challenge to take an established company and help them transform their first attempts at eCommerce success into actual success.

That's what Revenue River faced with our client PUGS. Knowing the challenges of online eCommerce solutions, we've been able to double sales and triple their traffic after years of successful campaigns. 

PUGS - A Nationwide Leader in Outdoor Gear

PUGS Inc was founded over 25 years ago and has become one of the leading providers of sunglasses and general merchandising to convenience stores and other vendors around the country. They have built a strong brand and large fan base over the years, but they were slow to implement the changes to their website that they needed to drive real sales combined with an enjoyable customer shopping experience.

When Revenue River started working seriously on their online marketing and eCommerce campaign in 2013, we had a long list of goals and a longer list of to-dos to reach them. While we had the benefit of name recognition with PUGS, the online sunglasses space was becoming more crowded by the day, and we had to address several key areas to prepare for growth.

Improving the Website

The PUGS website was not user friendly and was not a great place to host valuable content to outdoors and sports enthusiasts—the majority of the PUGS fan base. The interface was clunky and the buying experience was slow and not responsive to the needs of modern or mobile shoppers.

See what site visitors saw in 2013:

Old Pugs Website

The site was missing the clear buyer's journey that is so common on eCommerce sites today, so our first order of business was to move the site to a more flexible and modern system and modernize the design.

Rebuilding the shopping experience

To meet PUGS needs and budget, we chose BigCommerce for a the eCommerce framework. Once in place, we integrated both HubSpot and Authorize.net to provide a seamless and reliable buying experience. Using web consumption data from Lucky Orange, we took a growth driven web design approach to improving the website.  After reviewing heat maps, scroll maps, and user recordings we were able to apply what we learned with into the UI/UX. Some highlights of our changes include enhancements to the navigation and functionality, product page overhaul to make each item easier to view and learn about, and a total revamp of checkout process to make it easy to buy from any device.

The consumer weren't the only ones to benefit from the new toys

This combination of technology (or tech stack as we like to say) provided the PUGS team an increased level of insight and capabilities for customer management as well. With complete visibility into every customer's connected engagement and purchase history we were able to greatly improve communication and service. With a complex series of highly segmented lists and behavioral-related automation triggers we were able to engage their database in much more personalized and contextual manner. No matter where the communication originated, everything now feeds into a single timeline with automated triggers for a large variety of communication needs. 

Customer service is important to PUGS. Their growing problem has been around the customer's convenience. Their social channels have become a growing point of origin for customer service requests. The need to serve their customers across all the different channels and manners of contact has grown steadily. With the integrated customer timeline in place, customer service, monitoring, and community engagement are now managed from a single endpoint. This has allowed PUGS to run a thin front office from a personnel perspective, leaning on technology to empower people to be more efficient and effective with their time.

This is the current version of pugsgear.com:

PUGS New (& Current) Website

Here's a short list of the improved web metrics in 2017:
  • 415% increase in organic search traffic
  • 40% increase in page views
  • 25% decrease in bounce rate
Here's a snapshot of the three-year lift numbers:


3 Years worth of Growth!


Winning with eCommerce is bigger than the website alone

A revamped website only goes so far if you can't get more eyeballs on it. A modern eCommerce website needs a a sophisticated digital marketing campaign to power it. so when it was time to promote PUGS, we tackled several key areas to help improve results:

Email Marketing

We unified the contact lists that PUGS has on hand so we could strategically create cohesive and comprehensive email marketing campaigns. This provided valuable content and unique buying opportunities to our fans.

Additionally, we improved abandoned cart and restructured other automated emails to help make the eCommerce store more efficient. This improved the site conversion rate and turned more and more visitors into customers. With control over merchandising and promotions, we were able to offer special sales and discounts to help reach new customers while also bringing old ones back. Check out this example of a recent promotional email we sent a few weeks ago:

Joe Thomas Giveaway - PUGS Promotional Email

Finally, by maintaining a customer-first mindset, we lowered our email unsubscribe rates by offering relevant content to our growing lists. All in all, we've quadrupled the overall size of our email marketing base, growing from 2,693 contacts to a whopping 10,776 contacts, even with standard annual attrition.

Social Media Marketing

A vibrant and diverse social media strategy is critical to achieving eCommerce success in 2017, but the outdoors arena is a tough place to stand out on social media. With so many brands fighting for the same attention, we wanted to focus on the core PUGS fan, and grow from there. We created campaigns that focused on customer interaction, customer support, television and professional sports partnerships, product promotion, re-marketing, and giveaways. Through these efforts and through PUGS' social followings, we were able to grow passionate followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help establish a core group of power users who love interact with the PUGS brand.

As the market has shifted, we have added paid social promotion into the mix, achieving a 4-5x ROI on monthly ad spend. We've achieved this by crafting an omni-channel amplification strategy that focuses spend on cost-to-value initiatives. We've developed a custom audience with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. Our advertising efforts are improving with time, as the data builds. This means lower spends and more sales-per-visit going forward and a great reason to be confident going into 2018. The other, obvious driver behind our paid media strategy has been staying focused on the customer. It's not all about the discount or promotion, we focus add copy and offers around providing relevant value to each user. Providing value is what drive conversions. 

Overall, our social media marketing has resulted in a 743% increase in social media traffic to the website from 2014 to 2017.

All Social Media Traffic generated for Pugs In from 2014

We also were able to count on social media to generate the most contacts, versus other traffic sources. Our social amplification strategy has led to a massive increase in not only traffic, but also contact conversion. We've achieved a 5.26% conversion rate from social traffic in recent months.

Over the last three months, we've generated over 2x as many contacts from social media (at 497 contacts) than we've generated from the next best traffic source; direct traffic (at 225 contacts). See below for proof:

Chart showing 2x more contacts generated from social media than direct traffic

That's not all we were able to achieve for PUGS' social media. Over the entirety of the campaign, we published 2,672 posts on Facebook and Twitter. These posts generated 7,285 new Twitter followers and 77,117 new Facebook fans because of the following statistics:

  • 5,030 total clicks on social posts
  • 3,709 total likes, comments, re-tweets, shares, etc.
  • 8,795 visits from social media
  • 477 new contacts
Search Engine Optimization

Prior to Revenue River, PUGS did not have a sophisticated SEO strategy. As a result, their search engine rankings were mixed and often fluctuated. We made it a focus of our campaign to start from scratch with our SEO strategy and bring the latest and greatest opportunities to drive traffic to their site.

With a growing eCommerce site with hundreds of products, the challenge was obvious to keep our site pages valuable to both site users and search engine crawlers. With a diligent strategy, we've seen incredible fruits from these efforts.

The 405% increase in organic traffic mentioned above stems from the increase in search engine rankings on target keywords, improved product schema and descriptions, and the addition of content marketing to PUGS' SEO playbook. We made it our goal to introduce PUGS to new visitors with relevant information.

Ecommerce SEO is an ever-evolving challenge, but our diligent approach has yielded incredible results; more than a 400% increase in organic traffic. See the screenshot below:

organic traffic growth

Content Marketing

Finally, we needed to make a change in the way that PUGS provided value to all site visitors through content, not just people looking to shop. Previously there was a huge focus on PUGS products and how they were used, making blog posts little more than long form advertisements.

Our attention was honed in on our core users and their interests. This pivot allowed our content strategy to talk about what our fans were spending their time on, everything from snowboarding to beach trips to Halloween costumes. With this adjustment, we were able to improve the way that our fans saw our content and how it related to their lives that ultimately provided a more engaging and exciting way to share that content via social media and email.

This pivot resulted in a 150% increase in blog traffic from 2014 to 2017, which resulted in over 18,000 views. Even more, we also increased the number of conversions from users who read a blog post before visiting the rest of the site.

With eCommerce, the strategy for content marketing is simple: produce content about the interests and lifestyles of your key customers, and you will earn more visits, and ultimately, more customers. 

The End Result is Always About the Sales

Improving traffic, social media following, and keyword rankings are all great metrics, but in the end, every eCommerce client wants to see growth in both sales revenue and number of sales. There's no overnight formula to improve these results, and it takes a combined effort through all of these elements to see consistent growth.

Through our efforts tackling all areas of the digital marketing spectrum, we have seen these eCommerce metrics increase from 2014 to 2017:

  • 202% increase in total sales revenue
  • 130% increase in total orders
  • 250% year-over-year increase in new customer acquisition
  • 37% average year-over-year increase in total products sold
  • 80% increase in abandoned cart recovery
  • 35% increase in conversion rate

Additionally, we've seen growth in average order value, percentage of users that view a product, add a product to cart, and complete checkout, average lifetime value, and number of repeat customers. These numbers represent incredible growth over the years thanks to our web, marketing, and overall optimization efforts to improve the buying experience for all visitors. We're proud of this eCommerce success story.

Final Thoughts

Ecommerce is a challenging industry packed with aggressive competition, and every store has their own unique obstacles and opportunities. But while the product and company may be different, the strategy, execution, and focus on the customer experience that Revenue River utilized for PUGS showcases the power of consistency and delivery to modernize an eCommerce store and increase metrics across the board.

Whether you have an established brand or are starting out fresh, the tools and resources available to start or expand your eCommerce abilities have never been more powerful. We're excited to continue this amazing success for PUGS, and we look forward to helping future clients better reach their customers.

If you're ready to modernize your web, marketing, and eCommerce presence, reach out to our team through the form below.

Let's Talk Strategy


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