The 10k challenge (£)


“Twitter #Ecommerce Q: What would you do if you had a fixed budget of £10k to market an ecommerce site for the next year?” @danbarker

Well, in the perfect world you would invest it in content, writing enough high quality content and it would get magically picked up by Google to drive quality content, the downside is that this typically doesn’t quite work as well as it should – It is the right long term approach (spread over 5 years) but my view is that quality content requires quite a bit more promotion than many content marketing evangelists will tell you, quality content alone doesn’t bring you the SEO benefit.

£2k SEO

There are levels of “SEO” and quite honestly, SEO’ing a site can be practically free to well, 10k without too much difficulty – an how many products, how much time is required to SEO each of them, by SEO I mean unique titles, descriptions and other metadata as well as the onpage content.

£2k Content

Without content the marketing will fail, and 2ks worth of content will provide you with the ability to use services for budget content that won’t be perfect but should give boost the SEO work that is being done – by content in this context I really mean text – and generally this is expanding on the content that is already on the site with the products etc.. which would fall more under the SEO.

6k PPC

For an ecommerce site – the killer source of content is unfortunately Froogle, google base, Google shopping – what ever you want to call it – this is where your products can be matched to buyers within Google – a ppc budget of 6k unfortunately isn’t going to last as long as it should – it may be that seasonality works to your advantage ….

The invisible budget

There is of course email marketing and social media which for some reason I lump together – I think they are often best served together (in one team) and whilst there are costs associated, it’s a piece of string question – does the time and effort required get included in the budget above? I mean are you working for free? Email marketing isn’t really hard (to start with) despite how many people do it wrong – its actually something that when done simply and free can work really well, the same goes for social media – it is something that can be grown in year two, but should be cultivated in year one.



this is a “brain dump” post which I would probably like to come back to later, it is literally me thinking as I type …! 



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8 Responses

  1. Gerry White says:

    Is “CRO” marketing ? Yes – but if you only have 10k would it be an integral part of that ? or …

    is this year 1?

    if it was year 2,3,4,5 CRO would be massively important but go gorilla yr 1 and lets be honest a lot of CRO is really obvious, its the clever stuff that requires a larger number of people – CRO typically includes MVT which to get to confidence levels needs, well thousands of people a day.

  2. Daniel says:

    I’m not personally convinced that CRO does fall under Marketing (despite that being the common place for businesses to house CRO).

    In my opinion, the more the business world is conducted online, the more Analytics should separate into its own department – which could fuel Marketing among other areas of the business that require data. I believe CRO falls under Analytics – as the outcome of analysis should be conversion optimisation.

    I believe that Analytics is simply housed under Marketing currently because that’s where it fits best – but soon will come the day that the growing beast will require its own place of residence!

    Very interesting topic…

  3. Gerry White says:

    This was hotly debated at #MeasureCamp – analytics sort of falls everywhere from accountancy through to management – the “where it sits” question is dangerous as if your boss is head of marketing – they often want you to say how well marketing is doing rather than the truth …

    Analytics is an online marketing tool, but it doesn’t end there 🙂

    CRO is my opinion very definently a marketing thing, typically it includes the very elements that make marketing,marketing – the what if we change this (element of marketing). Analytics is a tool of CRO, rather than being the other way around – but typically a good online analyst knows, and gets SEO, CRO, Analytics, PPC, Social and more – even if they aren’t expert in them, many come from one of the above backgrounds.

  4. This is a fascinating subject. It’s a real life problem for many SMEs, including those in that nasty gap with more than £10k per year to spend but a lot less than multiple tens per month.

    The 6k PPC part interests me a great deal. What if you are in a competitive market but have a viable product offering. Some niche aspect of ‘gifts’ for example. Plenty of small businesses trying to get going there and with a viable long-term chance.

    I’m torn between “save it all for one splurge in the peak period” and “don’t even try — accept that it’s going to be a long and slow build using other methods and simply can’t be fast on this budget.”

    My knee-jerk reaction is that these days you can scarcely get off the ground without PPC. But am I too pessimistic?

  5. Craig Sullivan says:

    @gerry CRO doesn’t need high traffic and quite often, the holes I find in websites are really dumbass stuff – like broken flows, browser issues, lack of testing – lots of inherently fixable stuff that drives huge revenue. I don’t do MVT tests on low traffic sites – as you need to shift behaviour in a big way, so the statistics give you a noticeable swing. MVT just takes too long and with serial A/B tests, you’re learning in shorter loops and leaps anyway!

    I agree with you on CRO – it’s not so much a thing as a mindset, a way of orchestrating people, process, techniques, tools and data – to drive unearned income that’s present in every site.

    @timlb I’d simply ratchet down the PPC spend to keep the same level of conversions going (or keep the spend the same and see them rise). The thing you’re not thinking about with a fixed budget question like this is the d’oh thing – if you’ve shifted conversion 20% – that extra income ought to get spent on more things that drive value!

    So – I must be just a blissful optimist but I think if you’re doing really fast analytics/CRO build/measure/learn loops – then you’ll get the best return. You only have to spend a higher PPC (as a % of revenue) right at the start of the work – by the time you’ve raised it – you’re earning and converting more. And the crucial final bit – if you and your competitor are paying almost the same on PPC, and you convert 20% more to customers – you’re actually kicking their asses because THEY now have to outspend YOU.

  6. Gerry White says:

    Thanks Craig – I agree with completely, in my head I was thinking we were working with a website that was up, running and had been through a process of testing at a basic level – and with ONLY 10k being available … There is so much to invest in, in simply driving people to the site that I would hope the ‘funnel’ was smart and defined.

    Agreed on the converting more to spend less though, I noticed your coming up to Manchester in a couple of weeks, hopefully staying around a bit longer?

    The other factor in this is does that 10k include “you” the online marketing guy – in which case you would be working at, segmenting and using the analytics to shape everything… I know the CRO is a skillset that not all “online marketing managers” have…

  7. Craig Sullivan says:

    @gerry No worries – I will be up and will probably stay the night and be there early on so be good to talk.

    Yeah the cost of the expertise is a good one – so I thought about some of the stuff that other practitioners have shared with me (and stuff I’ve found recently). The longest piece of analysis work was about 4 days worth of GA and CRO checking by 2 people, 3 user tests (friends and family), a bit of immersion work and lots of questions. Total cost of this was £2400.

    In almost all cases, ranging from about 300 quids worth of work up to the £2400 top end – holes were found ranging from a few thousand a year (for a small company) to some causing several hundred K worth a year, if not into Millions.

    As a proportion of their business – in all cases it was huge. For some sites, we are talking predictable fixes or totally estimable outcomes that are huge compared to the cost.

    I agree with what you say about the skills in the marketing department. I’m finding a lot of younger hires (<30) soming through with cross disciplinary skills – being excellent at one thing and very good at another, like analytics. This gives me hope that CRO just becomes the norm – with companies using new techniques we haven't yet dreamt of.

    A short sci-fi story I read (I'll find it for you) postulates a future Newsroom where a story is managed, linked, prodded and finally viralled through a set of realtime techniques. It's a stunning story of what future realtime optimisation might be about – some humans orchestrating some algorithms to tune every channel.

    I therefore think that a good CRO freelancer deserves some of the budget here – £2000 is a good start and then more, if it works as expected.

  8. James Gurd says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Great question and some interesting responses.

    My answer would depend on the website, the product and the audience.

    For example, if it was a lifestyle fashion brand with a youngish audience, then I’d have content & social media high up the list so that my investment had a wider reach than just the campaign – say £4k.

    I’d then ensure there was SEO budget to cover basics + invest in link building via respected bloggers/journalists etc. Not paid links per se but using an expert with contacts to get people excited using the content – £2.5k

    PPC would feature but very specific, probably down to a couple of key ranges/products where we could guarantee good conversion due to being super competitive. £2.5k

    And i’d add a small budget for retargeting as i’d expect a good conversion rate – say £1k on this.

    If there is no analytics & optimisation person in-house then you’d need a bit for that as Craig suggests, using the additional revenue made to keep funding it. Then i’d need to reflow my spend.

    No right answer, surely has to be situation dependent?


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