I recently worked with a team on a marketing analysis for an information management company here in Houston. The task: make recommendations on how to improve their 2013 marketing campaign. No problem. In addition to great recommendations we provided, I cited a company for a case study: Volusion.
Like them or not, Volusion’s name is everywhere. Here’s how they do it.
According to a recent post by CEO Clay Oliver, Volusion is acquiring a 75,000 square foot building to aid in serving their 35,000 customers. This is larger than any building I’ve ever worked in, except for maybe the Verizon corporate campus in Seattle. To put this in perspective, one of the largest web hosts around – Hostgator – has a 20,000 square foot building here in Houston which services their more than 400,000 customers.
So why does Volusion need such a large building to serve such a relatively small customer base? Well, I don’t know, but my assumption is that they have a huge marketing department. Rather, I assume they have a lot of people who contribute to marketing. Designers, SEOs, writers, social media mangers, PPC campaign managers, customer service acquisition representatives, event planners, and people to drive the Volusion Van. Wow. That’s a lot of people working to market brand awareness.
Now let us consider the extent or reach of Volusion’s marketing efforts.
First, and foremost, Volusion has a killer website. Just go to Volusion.com to see it at work. The call to action (CTA) is the first thing you see. “Click here for a trial” – that’s what you’re supposed to do. The company’s purpose as an e-commerce solutions provider is front and center. Additional information like pricing and features is easy to find and pleasant to look at. It’s just perfect.
All of this is important because the website is the most important part of any marketing campaign. Your ads, e-mails, tweets, links, shares, queries, backlinks, and search results – everything leads back to the website. For this reason, the website is priority number one in any campaign and it has to be optimized for humans and search engines.
Volusion really excels at sending potential customers back to its website, where they can then be funneled to specific actions – like signing up for a test store. This is achieved through a combination of outreach tactics that are also well thought out and executed. Here’s a few.
Volusion has mastered branded blogging. Frontman Matt Winn delivers Volusion’s “Two Minute Tuesday” each week with a YouTube-hosted video (which provides backlinks) and a text version on the Volusion blog. Matt does a great job and tends to give out some good newbie e-commerce advice. This serves one purpose: acquire thought leadership; gain recognition as an industry leader.
Next, Volusion takes their articles and videos to Twitter. Just search @Volusion on Twitter to get an idea of how good this company is at spreading its name. See all those retweets? That’s free name recognition and backlinks. Keep in mind that Twitter isn’t responsible for this alone – it’s all part of the marketing machine that involves research, writing, design, video, SEO, SEM, and so much more.
It’s not hard to find Volusion on Facebook. Again, you’ll see that Volusion posts content to Facebook that always, always, always links back to their site where visitors can be funneled. Of course, you’ll also probably see some pissed off Volusion customers, but that’s another story.
I mentioned this already, which is evidence of how well Volusion has intertwined their marketing channels. If you happen to search Google for “ecommerce platforms” or “selling online” and end up on a Volusion site, then you’ll likely start the process of seeing Volusion’s advertisements in your youTube videos. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Annoying? Probably. Effective at spreading name recognition? You bet.
Have you noticed a theme with how Volusion represents itself visually? Colors, font, images – it has all been meticulously planned out, and they hold their resellers and partners to the same standards. See for yourself. Creating a brand identity with design is probably the oldest marketing tactic in the book, but it’s also one of the most effective.
If you have a small business and are struggling to develop an identity and reach out to customers, don’t reinvent the wheel – just follow the lead of companies like Volusion that have splurged on marketing and PR. Learn from both what they do well and what they do poorly.
And if you’re thinking about clicking that “Start Your Free Trial” button and trying out Volusion, I recommend that you feed yourself to a lion and get pooped out over a cliff instead.
In the opinion of this e-commerce blogger, you will find a much more solid product in 3D Cart – a company which puts its money into product development that works and charges far less for it. After all, how do you think Volusion pays for all that office space and all those employees? My experience-based opinion: huge bandwidth overage fees.