“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
– 1800’s American merchant John Wanamaker
When you’re just starting out with an e-commerce business (or any business really), your marketing focus by necessity is primarily direct response ads like AdWords search where you need to see an immediate ROI or you can’t afford to do it. You need to spend $x and see a direct return of $x + something. That’s how we approached marketing in the early years. Over time though, particularly in the past few years, we’ve started strategically spending on brand advertising, where the primary objective is growing the Detailed Image brand, and any directly attributable sales are just a bonus.
In just the past year or so we’ve noticed in our data that more and more sales are coming from people who know our brand. More sales from direct traffic (people who type in detailedimage.com into their browser or who have bookmarked us), and more sales from search terms that start with “Detailed Image.” When you embark on brand advertising you have all of this anecdotal evidence like customer feedback that helps to somewhat assess success, but seeing a tangible increase in sales from people who are starting out already knowing our brand is the real proof that it’s working. Those people are thinking “I need detailing supplies, I’m going to Detailed Image” instead of “I need detailing supplies, I’m going to search Google to see who has what I need.”
To be clear, a large part of building the brand had nothing to do with ads. Since the beginning we’ve strived to build a great website, provide great customer service, and offer fast and affordable shipping. Now that we’re able to also do campaigns like our very successful #DetailerShirt and spend some money on highly targeted brand advertising, it seems to have strengthened the brand to the point where it’s a legitimate factor in why we continue to grow.
In the spirit of that John Wanamaker quote above, we weren’t quite sure what, if any, of the brand campaigns we embarked on would be successful. There was a predictable lag in the data, and I couldn’t necessarily break down the relative effectiveness of each brand campaign, but we’ve seen evidence that as a whole it definitely works.