Sure it’s faster (and probably easier), but what about the value?
Here’s where organic growth trumps →
💠Higher conversion rates
💠Greater visibility (and when 97% of all customer experience start with a search, this is key!)
So HOW do you harness it for your ecommerce and D2C brand?
Alex Cook, Head of Growth for Duel has the answers for all these questions, and let the true guru be your guide. Alex has generated over $2M in pipeline revenue (in one YEAR), with just a small team, built & led the acquisition team for Europes #1 hair and beauty booking platform and was the founding partner of the marketplace for hair salons in London and Paris✨
🗣️: What are the key strategies for growing brand organically?
💬 Alex: This is a biggie - I'll try and keep it to the top three bullet points I feel are the most important:
1) Have clarity on your brand values
If you don't have a strong position on what you stand for, you can't expect anyone else to advocate on your behalf. If you're dependant on people identifying with and sharing that story, authentically and consistently, you need to make it easy.
Single Value Proposition: it's much easier to remember one thing than three. Each additional message you try to cram in makes it less effective at being easily understood.
Shareable: What's your talk trigger? What's the one thing that is easy for someone to bring up when discussing your brand. Toms built a legacy on their 'one-for-one' story (for every pair of shoes you buy, they buy one for someone that needs it). What's yours?
Short: Keep it snappy. Enough said!
2) Truly understand your customer
This applies to a lot of strategies and channels, but it couldn't be more applicable to organic. If you're looking to scale word of mouth marketing, you have to be intentional. How are you showing up for your customers in a way that means something important to them? If you aren't, because you're not sure what is, then find out! You'll make better decisions when it comes to positioning, your processes for how you engage with them throughout the customer lifecycle and the product that you've developed for them. You don't need a huge data team or expensive piece of software to get started on a small scale. When was the last time you picked up the phone and asked your customers how they felt about your brand?
3) Invest in people, not channels
When it comes to deciding where their budget should be spent, brands often look at the channels that they know. But depending on your CAC, spending that on rewarding your biggest advocate will be far more effective in terms of generating reach and referral revenue than anything Meta or Google have built to date...
🗣️: How do I make my brand stand out in Google searches? Is there anything that can influence on click rate?
💬 Alex: Another great question! So there are a few tactics I would suggest:
Think about the most common questions that people are asking about your product and/or brand. You can pull this from search queries, your customer support team/inbox and (you guessed it!) asking your customers if there is information that they'd find valuable to know more about, in addition to what you already share with them.
Start to create content of the back of these (how-to guides, user generated content of others demonstrating the product, etc.). If it's something that your existing customers are asking, you can bet that there is an even wider audience of people that would benefit from the same answer.
2) Be distinctive and memorable.
Whether it's in your campaign copy or your meta-description, these micro-moments are a great place for you to reiterate your brand in a recognisable way. If you've got a playful tone of voice, why wouldn't you include that in your headline copy? Just because it's going on Google, doesn't mean it needs to be watered down to look like just another search result. Precious real estate for your brand!
3) Incentivise reviews.
This might seem like an obvious one, but how to generate them is often made much harder than it needs to be. No one champions your brand and product better than the people who love you the most - your fans. Think about how you can use all of the space on mobile/desktop when it comes to Google Search.
How can you encourage people to leave reviews on your GMB profile, or on product comparison websites (depending on if that's appropriate to your brand)? Investing a little into rewarding that behaviour can have a far greater impact on your conversion than the cost of putting that into traditional performance marketing channels. There's a bunch more but hopefully these are three handy ones to start with 🙂
🗣️: What skills should I develop to build organic growth in my company?
(a) Customer interviews: The insight that you get from the people that love your brand is foundational to everything you build after that. It will help you to tap into the mind of how others who would benefit from what you offer could be thinking about, or what challenges they're experiencing with their existing solutions. This doesn't even need to be an existing customer, it could be a prospective one. You can offer gifting/rewards/perks in return, or simply be open and say that you're building in public alongside your community - and this is the first step!
(b) Content production: Build a machine and feed it. All that insight and expertise you have in your field isn't going to do any good if it's stuck in your head! Get into a habit of writing down what it is that you solve for, and then think about how you can repurpose that across different channels. Your blog article is the script for a video, that video can be split up into Social assets, and those Social assets can be used to promote an event on the subject. The possibilities are endless, but ensuring that you produce and distribute content that aligns with your brand and adds value to your audience is crucial.
Better yet - look at the content that is already being created by your community. That testimonial or product review makes an incredible Social asset, or that piece of UGC makes for a high converting image for your product gallery!
🗣️: Could you give us some helpful resources to learn more about organic growth?
💬 Alex: Absolutely - although my real passion lies in learning about examples from other brands, and the principles they used to build their brands (much of it organically). I've loved reading things like:
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
This Is Not A T-Shirt by Bobby Hundreds
I'm happy to share some more varied resources if it would be valuable (such as podcasts, newsletters, etc.), feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
🗣️: What are the benefits and challenges of organic growth?
💬 Alex: The benefits are endless, but my favorite three are:
More cost-effective customer acquisition (using your community and authentic brand advocates to distribute your content/brand/product to your audience on your behalf)
A higher rate of conversion on ads and on-site (using user-generated content and reviews from trusted sources, not from the brand pushing their own agenda)
Increase lifetime value (a customer acquired through a referral is a far more valuable client in the long term than through paid ads, as this is likely someone who truly believes in and identifies with your offering.
It's hard! People buy ads because Google and Meta have made it very easy to do, and also the analytics tools that are always going to tell you about the ROI that they have attributed to that spend. Customer interviews, creating content, and incentivizing your advocates are all things that require effort and real investment.
It's long-term. People like to look for quick solutions (what do I need to sell by the end of the month, how can I please my shareholders before the next board meeting). The tactics follow suit, with brands being more willing to invest in campaigns rather than something that will show greater returns later down the line.
🗣️: What makes a website search engine friendly?
💬 Alex: Before I share, I have to admit that I'm not an SEO expert. But a colleague who I had a lot of respect for often shared companies that focus on a great User Experience (no to be mixed in with UI which is quite different) are the ones with the strongest SEO.
What makes a user's experience great?
1) Content SEO: Helping solve their needs
Are you offering them value, especially value that you've said you would be (during ad copy or meta description)? What kind of educational and informative top of funnel content are you providing them that helps to grow your authority as an expert. We can look at metrics like bounce rate, click through, internal and external domain linking but if you approach it with that overview then you're already doing better than most.
Think about the keywords that you want to be notorious for. And not just the ones with high search volume, but the ones that are specific to your niche. It may not be the highest volume for search but it could be uncompetitive or something that you have a unique solution for. There are some best practices worth remembering when it comes to content, such as:
Optimise title tags
Resolve duplicate title tags
Resolve duplicate meta descriptions
Low content to HTML ratio
These might seem technical, and in a way are, but it serves to improve the experience.
2) Technical SEO: Making the content easy to consume
These can be some of the more traditional technical optimisations like optimising
First contentful paint
Time to interactive
Total blocking time
Largest contentful paint
Cumulative layout shift
You can also look at things, using tools that Google and others provide (like Screaming Frog):
Fix internal broken links
Fix broken external links
Optimise anchor tags
Improve the page crawl depth of important pages
Resolve orphan pages
Again, definitely not my area of expertise but a good foundation for a healthy website!
🗣️: Me and my partners had just actually started a business on the on the line of hair and beauty booking platform as well here in the Philippines. What's your advise on starting on that for organic growth. How do we increase organic traffic is this line of business?
💬 Alex: It's space that's very close to my heart. I spent a good chunk of my career at a couple of similar startups.
Let's get into it:
1) Keyword obsessed
Look into where there is a clear demand. If you can find data that shows that a bunch of people are searching for 'men's barbershop in BGC' then you know that any barbershop you sign there you'll be able to drive traffic to. This has been a crucial tactic adopted by many marketplaces. Airbnb, Booking.com, OpenTable, Treatwell, etc. You want [requirement] + [location] = [where i need to get some supply!]
2) Supply first, demand second
It doesn't matter how much demand you create. If somewhere isn't able to select the salon/restaurant/etc. where it is convenient for them, then they're never going to book. You're not going to navigate traffic in Manila for 1.5 hours to get a 30min haircut!
Think about your 'local gems'. Instead of signing up any salon to the platform, think about which ones are going to be your 'lighthouses', your big locations in an area that you can meet demand for afterwards. Get them at all costs, and it will help you sign other salons in the neighbourhood that want to avoid FOMO.
3) Inspiration to destination
This covers both your first and second question as it's traffic specific. Think about how your marketplace is a one stop shop. You want people thinking about hair, reading about hair, looking at hair and booking haircuts on your site.
Creating organic blog content that helps people make a decision, on your own platform(!), will become your best friend. Look at some queries: 'short, back and sides vs undercut', 'short bob vs. long bob'. If you can help someone decide what suits them best, you're able to then say: 'Great choice, here's 133 salons in Manila offering that service.'
Bonus) SEO rich salon profiles
Most salons don't have the bandwidth to optimise their pages. You can create meta-descriptions that are clear, and photos that help too.
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