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Case Study

Sea to Summit’s Ecommerce Site Traffic Climbs 189%, New Subscribers 820%

Amanda Schreier
Ecommerce Manager

“With Matcha, we’ve increased our social traffic 5x this year. Now, 1 out of every 5 sales is influenced by Matcha content.”

For nearly 30 years, Sea to Summit sold their huge catalog of outdoor gear and accessories exclusively through retail partners.

In May of 2018, Amanda Schreier was tasked with building Sea to Summit’s first-ever direct-to-consumer business from scratch. Although part of a larger company, she acts much like a solopreneur, managing all aspects of Sea to Summit’s ecommerce sales channel, including digital marketing.

A year and a half in, Amanda has the company’s ecommerce website running strong. But the brand’s long-standing wholesale model meant there were challenges in the early days. 

For one, Sea to Summit’s existing marketing strategy had been built to support their retail partners. They didn’t have levers in place to attract new visitors to their ecommerce website. Or build a high-quality email list. Or reengage customers after a sale.

Plus, they were somewhat detached from their customers because all sales were happening through third-party retailers. Marketing is a tough task on any day, but without customer data, it’s nearly impossible.

In short, Amanda had many of the same challenges of a young direct-to-consumer brand. She needed a way to quickly ramp up website traffic, gather actionable data about her audience, and grow an email program that would ultimately convert readers to buyers. 

And she needed to do it all as a team of one. 

So in 2019, Amanda began using Matcha to create a blog that would overcome these challenges quickly.

Just four months in, that blog has attracted over 110,000 visitors to the Sea to Summit ecommerce website. It’s helping them add hundreds of qualified subscribers to their email list each month and gather data about their audience. Not only that, but a growing number of buyers, representing 21% of total ecommerce revenue, are reading blog content before they make a purchase.

“It would have taken us five years to learn what we’ve learned about our audience in four months with Matcha.”

– Amanda Schreier, Ecommerce Manager, Sea to Summit

Sea to Summit’s Results with Matcha

Website Traffic • Email Subscribers • Ecommerce Sales • Customer Insights

A before and after chart showing Sea to Summit's results with Matcha

About Sea to Summit

  • Legacy wholesale brand: Sea to Summit has sold their huge catalog of outdoor gear and accessories through retail partners for almost 30 years.
  • Design-forward: Sea to Summit’s drive for design perfection has guided them to produce functionally beautiful products for all kinds of outdoor adventures — from high-altitude expeditions to family camping trips and everything in between.
  • Growing direct-to-consumer business: Sea to Summit’s ecommerce website operates like a lean direct-to-consumer brand, with one person managing the website and the digital marketing strategy.

The Matcha-Powered Workflow That Sea to Summit Uses to Grow Their Ecommerce Business

Product ads can work well for people who know your brand and are ready to buy. But what about the 98% of your potential audience that would love your brand but don’t need your product right now?

“Right off the bat, we were converting our ecommerce traffic at a high rate,” Amanda explains. “But we were only capitalizing on people who already knew the brand. Our marketing wasn’t bringing new audiences to our website.”

For Amanda, an experienced ecommerce marketer, the answer was clear. They needed a smart content marketing strategy.

“If you don’t have a blog and you don’t have content, then the only thing you have to say to your customer is, ‘Here’s another widget. Come buy it.’”

– Amanda Schreier, Ecommerce Manager, Sea to Summit

Lack of new website traffic affects everything down the marketing chain. You can’t gather audience data, grow your email list, or grow your customer base without it.

So Amanda set some new goals. 

Sea to Summit’s Ecommerce Marketing Goals

  • Quickly increase traffic to the Sea to Summit ecommerce website
  • Gather audience data and use it to guide future marketing initiatives
  • Increase qualified subscribers to the Sea to Summit email list
  • Accomplish these goals with an ecommerce team of one

The Tool: The Matcha Platform

To accomplish these goals as a team of one, Amanda turned to Matcha. Matcha makes it simple to publish professionally written articles while providing the tools to convert readers to subscribers and measure your blog’s impact on your business.

The Workflow: Audience → Insights → Email

There are three steps in Sea to Summit’s blog workflow.

  1. Grow their audience: Publish valuable content and promote it through content ads on social media
  2. Refine and segment: Use Matcha Insights to find the most efficient audience segments and learn what content motivates them to click and convert
  3. Email marketing: Use that content and data to build a qualified email subscriber list that can be marketed to for free, forever

Step 1: Publish licensed content for quick audience growth

Matcha’s licensed content is Amanda’s secret weapon. With it, she can consistently publish the kind of valuable content that attracts new people to the Sea to Summit website.

“I publish five licensed articles from Matcha each month and spend about 20 minutes doing it,” she explains. “I don’t know what we would do without it. We don’t have the bandwidth or ability to write that much content.”

Licensed content is content created by a trusted professional publisher that’s available for you to use on your website. 

There are over 10,000 articles in Matcha’s library — more than enough for Amanda to cater to each segment of Sea to Summit’s audience.

Amanda uses Matcha’s licensed content to attract visitors to the Sea to Summit website by promoting it using social media ads. Content ads on Facebook are a low-cost way to quickly increase traffic from your target audience. Our research shows that content ads cost nearly 90% less than the average Facebook ad.

Screenshot of Sea to Summit Facebook ads
Sea to Summit uses their most popular blog posts to create Facebook ads that drive qualified traffic to their website.

Those ads have been absolutely magnetic. They’ve brought over 110K readers to Sea to Summit’s blog, doubling traffic to their ecommerce website.

“Using Matcha content, we’ve increased social traffic by 5x this year. And organic search traffic, which historically grew at 15% yearly, is up 25% in 2019. I know that’s because we’ve made this effort to get people talking about our brand.”

– Amanda Schreier, Ecommerce Manager, Sea to Summit

Step 2: Use Matcha Insights to refine and segment both audience and content

When you know your audience and their preferences, your marketing becomes more relevant and more effective.

But selling exclusively through retailers left Sea to Summit isolated from valuable audience data. Purchase data helps, but different segments may buy similar products. For example, did someone buy a dry compression sack to take camping? Bikepacking? Rafting? 

It takes different marketing tactics, topics, and campaigns to attract and convert each segment. This is where topic-specific blog content becomes such a useful tool for Amanda.

By publishing and promoting an article like 7 Tips for Camping with Kids, she can gather nearly instant feedback from her audience. If someone reads the article, she’ll know that family camping is an important topic to them.

“The purpose of our blog is twofold. First, it gives us a way to engage our audience with more than just product advertising. And second, it’s a discreet way of collecting data based on our audience’s behavior.”

– Amanda Schreier, Ecommerce Manager, Sea to Summit

Matcha Insights makes it easy to contextualize this data.

The conversion funnel in Matcha Insights shows how your content is performing at each stage of the buyer’s journey, from traffic to conversion.

And it reveals which articles are best at driving traffic, generating email subscribers, and influencing revenue.

Plus, Amanda receives weekly insights emails that make content reporting automatic and easy.

“I love the emails I get from Matcha that tells me all of my stats. It’s so nice to have it in front of me instead of thinking, ‘Oh, I have to go check that out.’”

– Amanda Schreier, Ecommerce Manager, Sea to Summit

Guided by that data, Sea to Summit supplements licensed content with original articles that introduce their products in a non-salesy way. So while licensed content is great for attracting potential customers and subscribers, customer content is ideal for moving them further through the sales funnel.

screenshot of Sea to Summit's blog
By monitoring the performance of the licensed articles they publish and promote, Sea to Summit is able to invest wisely in custom articles like this one.

By refining the audience and making data-guided content decisions, Matcha helps Sea to Summit drive traffic from Facebook ads at just $0.16 per click, about 87% lower than the retail industry average!

Step 3: Grow a more valuable email list

Contests and giveaways are a common tactic for growing an email subscriber list. But what if the majority of those subscribers are just in it for the contest and not interested in your brand? 

Is that email list actually valuable?

“Our historic email list was built on giveaway subscribers,” Amanda explains. “There were a lot of people on it that had no relationship to our brand. The open rate from that list was low — around 16.5%.”

So Amanda is using Matcha’s conversion tools to grow and strengthen the company’s email list.

Here’s how it works.

First, Amanda uses Matcha Insights to select a high-performing blog post. Then, that article is locked (or gated) behind an email subscription form and promoted via a Facebook ad campaign. When a reader clicks through to the article, they see a request to provide their email address in exchange for the valuable content.

This tactic is powerful for two reasons. First, the content acts as a lead magnet, increasing the chance that a reader will subscribe (when compared with a newsletter signup form, for example). In fact, Sea to Summit saw a 24.7% conversion rate from their locked content, generating 106 new email subscribers in the first 10 days!

Even better, those readers are more likely to have a meaningful relationship with Sea to Summit’s brand than someone hoping to win a contest. That translates to more emails getting opened. Sea to Summit’s email open rate has already jumped to 20.5%, a 25% increase from previous months. 

Amanda also uses their best blog content to make those emails more interesting. 

“I look at the top content in Matcha Insights, then I use that information to decide what content to promote in emails,” she explains.

The Impact on Revenue

With Matcha, Amanda has built a repeatable workflow to continuously drive new traffic and improve Sea to Summit’s email subscriber list. Using Matcha means she can do it in just minutes each week.

But the impact of Sea to Summit’s blog doesn’t stop at traffic and new email subscribers. Matcha Insights also shows Amanda the growing impact content has on revenue. 

Just four months into the launch of their blog, more buyers than ever made a purchase after reading blog content. Those purchases from blog readers represent 21% of all ecommerce revenue. 

Summary

  • After nearly 30 years of retail-only sales, Sea to Summit launched their ecommerce store in 2018.
  • Their reputation in the outdoor industry helped early ecommerce conversions, but they needed ways to attract new audiences and build a stronger email list.
  • In 2019, Sea to Summit chose the Matcha platform so they could quickly publish content, track its performance, and improve their email marketing results.
  • Since using Matcha, Sea to Summit has brought over 110k readers to their blog, improved email subscriber conversions and open rates, and impacted a growing percentage of revenue.

Marketing for a small ecommerce business is no easy task. Doing it without understanding audience behavior is nearly impossible.

Matcha makes it easy for ecommerce brands of all sizes to contextualize audience behavior, then use that data to drive more website traffic, grow a strong email subscriber list, and influence more revenue. 

To learn more about how Matcha makes it easy for ecommerce merchants to create a high-performing blog, start a free trial today.

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