Here’s another transcript and video from one of our SEMCLT events. In this particular video, Travis Zboch from Fast Growing Trees, shows us how optimization can increase conversions.


Keith Schilling: Thanks everyone let’s get started. Quick story about Travis — I moved here in 2006 and our lot was wiped clean because of a new home and neighborhood. So I googled Fast growing trees. I didn’t even bother to see who owned it or managed it and sure enough I learned it was Travis that was behind the company.

Travis Zebok: (Slides are shown) Thanks Keith. Can you guys hear me ok?. My name is Travis Zebok and I started, that’s how Keith found me, and then two years later we started which is what we’re going to be talking about today. I get a lot of weird looks when I say I sell things online. “Oh well what do you sell?” “Well we sell landscaping trees and shrubs. “ “How does that work?” “Well we ship it all across the country.” “Do you send me a 20 foot tree?” “No it’s more like a six foot tree and it grows really fast and that’s how we save you money on your landscaping.” “That’s really fascinating”. They just give you a blank stare.

So I’m just going to jump into holiday recap. My blog is blog

Plants are a very seasonal item. Our high demand of landscaping items are the highest in the spring. So our challenge is how do we create demand in a product that no one is really interested in in the winter. We focused in on the 4 main streams of revenue Pay per click; SEO: Usability and conversion; email marketing, ad words, reputation management. We focused a lot on reputation management. We really tailored our sight for the holiday season on what folks are really focused on and that was gifts. We started in early November. If someone is checking out your website there is a high possibility they will come back and buy. We really prettied up our landscape for our reputation.

Usability and Conversion:
We focused a lot on the highest converting visitors and they are people who add products to carts and begin the checkout process. However, if you look at your metric and there is an 85 – 95% abandon rate and if you can recover 5% of that it goes straight to your bottom line. So I recommend that you look at that and how you can recover some of that and we’ll talk about that in a minute.

E-Mail Marketing:
People are afraid to email their existing customers. And I try to coax them to do that. They are afraid that their existing customers don’t want anything to do with them. And that confuses me because they have ordered from you already. But people are afraid that you are trying to spam them, well any time you email people are going to think that you are spamming, but the return is far greater than four people clicking that little spam button. We’ll talk about how we use email marketing to promote gifts for the holidays.

Pay Per Click (Gift Key Words):
If you sell products and you are not getting on, gift plus whatever your niche, I highly recommend that you set up a campaign, not an ad group but a campaign. Why a campaign? There are a lot of different things that you can do at the campaign level that you can’t do at the ad level. You can do things like ad extensions, product images tailored toward gifts, site links. You don’t want the same site links that you are targeting for gift key words like a branded key word if someone is searching for gift plants. That is a big niche for us. For site links underneath your ads, you want to tailor towards the buyer free shipping, discount ends today. Things that you wouldn’t necessarily do for someone is searching for a specific product. For a specific product you may do site links hyping the product for gift terms you will want to do things that would hype your business and promotion.

Branded Terms:
We always bid on our branded terms, brighter blooms nursery, brighter blooms, etc. because if you have a reputation management issue and some people are posting unfavorable business experience on your site and not giving you a chance to correct. If you are bidding on your branded terms you get that great big pay per click box. It pushes everything down below the folds that you may not want everyone to see. Branded terms are probably your highest converted pay per click terms. I highly recommend that you bid on your branded terms. If you are worried about fitting it into your budget our CPO is probably about two or three dollars for all of our brighter blooms nurseries

Gift Key Words:
Why should you bid on gift key words? When I say gift key words I mean gift roses, gift plants — finish your holiday shopping in 5 minutes, free shipping. Your gift and your niche is pretty much what you have. Also, buy, order, purchase delivery. These are things pretty much overlooked. Ad groups for each one are all in your gift campaigns.

We picked our customers brain and asked them why and what you are buying for others?. Then we posted on the website the most popular items.that family and friends are not aware of. That really was an eye opener because there were many things that you are not aware of. I get surprised a lot by what people are looking for. One of our most popular items on our website in the spring is roses and the winter is lemon trees. So we promoted lemon trees as gifts in the winter. You want your ads and ad extensions very specific for buying for other people, the ease of buying online vs locally. You are going to have higher bids on the gift key words because of the commercial intent but you make up for it because of the conversion rate. So you might have a cost per click but your CPOs are going to maintain relatively manageable.

As I said before we are not very big in the winter and we cover the southern states. So we cut out ad displays in the northern states. If you have any GO relevance then I would recommend looking at your data by states. And if you have enough you have enough data you could probably eliminate those states altogether. Save a whole lot of money, led to a dramatic decrease in CPO’s , bid higher and totally revolutionize your whole pay per click campaign. So it was very exciting. Actually this month in Internet Retailer Magazine they had a story on us and how we did that. They had contacted our pay per click company which then contacted us and we gave them a little information.

We focus on our branded terms in reputation management. We have a lot of reputation issues. Someone buys a live plant and sticks it into their garage for three weeks, it may die. So instead of them contacting us for a new plant, they go straight to the website and write a bad review. And no matter what industry you are in there will be a review site. And there is one that had a lot of unfavorable reviews about our site. At first we whisked it away, and then we decided to do something about it and went straight back to the person and asked what can we do to make you happy and in most cases they just want other plants. We’ll just send you your plants with no shipping. In another week, we saw a favorable review from that person on the same site. So that was one way that we dealt with a reputation issue. That is by far the quickest and effective way to do SEO. Because your branded terms are not really competitive way to deal with your reputation management. And someone is only searching your branded terms if they are serious to buy. If you are curious to know how much your branded key words are being searched, and put them in your ad words campaign.see how much they being search and see if its worth it. But I think if your branded words are on the surface page and your layout is pristene your branded key words conversion is going to go through the roof.

We did this: If you have a reputation management problem, we uploaded how to plant roses videos on U-Tube. Send them a couple of links. All of a sudden they are on the first page for our brighter blooms branded terms. Be sure you put your branded terms in the title tags. U-Tube has a lot of weight on the surface.

Press Releases:
Way back in Earth Day 2011 we ran a promotion. Every plant or tree that we sell, we are going to donate one to Africa. We submitted a press release and said that Brighter Blooms is Partnering with Trees for the Future which is the company that we use to submit the trees to Africa. We submitted it to and for about $100 bucks we got a shining release on the first page where your ranking is. On the press release, be sure and have your company name on it.

Publish a blog with your company name in the domain: Build links using WordPress, Blogger etc to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and then build links to all of these. Exact domain matches get ranked pretty good.

Usability and Conversion:
The highest converting visitor on the website is going to be someone who adds something to their cart. So the check out process is something that we really hammered down. How did we find out what issues people were having during the checkout process. We went to a sight called User You can submit for $39 a usability test. Give them your domain name and then say what do you think this web site is about? What do you like about it? What do you not like about? Add three things in your cart and proceed to the checkout and see for yourself what hangups they are having. And they will. Why would someone buy plants online when they could buy locally, see what they were buying and bring it home? And that is a huge issue, they asked everybody. They asked what condition would my plant be when I got it home. We addressed that and put up huge pictures of customers on shopping carts, customer reviews. Here are some other concerns: size of plant, so we put up pictures of our nursery; why would we not drive across the street and pick it up? What about shipping and packaging – we showed pictures of our warehouse. People are just curious.

We have done about 50 tests. And every test is easily worth $39. You give every user a set of tasks and you give each user a screen capture and follow their path by mouse and follow their eye path. I’ve talked to them and if you are interested in using I have some coupons here. It’s just worth seeing what people’s seeing when they go on your site. A typical task usually lasts about 7 minutes but I can usually milk about 30 minutes.

I’m a very visual person and I say can we do this or can we do that. One of the things that we did was quantity refresh. You know how you change from one to five and you update your cart, but now it automatically refreshes. Another thing we did was offer quantity discounts. Offer free shipping, and we put discounts right in the cart. It is another thing that guides them to the check out button which leads them to buy more or buy for their web site. We answer any question that they would possibly have that may hold them up in the check out process.

On the cart page we have a list of up sales above the fold. Right now I’m going to be testing what Best Buy does. A pop up comes up and adds something to your cart. Here’s a lemon tree, or here’s a watering bag, seed, etc. Things like that bump up the average order. They have phone people to answer chats or calls and they go out into the warehouse and know exactly what is going on to speak intelligently to the customers.

With my list of tasks I would rearrange the less important ones at the end to go through. I have about 10 tasks that they go through and I have a scenario that would go like this: they are a homeowner and this is the first thing you have bought something like this online.

EMail Marketing
People are afraid to email their existing customers. And I try to coax them to do that. They are afraid that their existing customers don’t want anything to do with them. And that confuses me because they have ordered from you already. But people are afraid that you are trying to spam them, well any time you email people are going to think that you are spamming, but the return is far greater than four people clicking that little spam button. Email is a big chunk of our company’s revenue. In December, we started pushing emails on lemon tree, free shipping and 20% off. If we begin to run out of time in December, we start offering gift cards right up until Christmas Eve. That is it and that is how a few changes 101% increase in revenue in December 2010 – 2011.

Various Questions from Audience: (Hard to hear question)
We should be better at Facebook. We are light years away in Social. Our landing pages for organic are our landing pages for our ad words terms. We really don’t rank for gift items as very competitive so easiest way to do it is to just buy it. He is just going on talking but don’t know the question. The best results are other properties hyping up your site really pumping up a review. A Facebook customer asking a question about what is the acidity for my soil is a really good visual.

Thank you everyone.