Case Study: SPARX Hockey 50% Year over Year eCommerce Revenue Growth

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Case Study: SPARX

50% Year over Year eCommerce Revenue Growth

PPC & SEO Strategies for Shopify Site

Sparx Hockey is an innovative startup offering a unique at-home skate sharpener used by hockey players ranging from competitive youth players to olympic athletes and NHL pros. Sparx offers game changing performance for competitive players and is a major time saver compared to bringing skates to local shops to be regularly sharpened. Sparx was founded in 2013 with a goal of helping players achieve peak performance.

Bottom-line results

50+%

Lift YoY In Revenue & Transactions

12%

YoY SEO Traffic

50%

YoY SEO Revenue

200%

YoY in PPC Revenue

1000%

Return on Ad Spend typical across all PPC channels

The Challenge

OpenMoves was engaged by Sparx Hockey early in 2018 to plan and implement an improved PPC and SEO strategy that would grow ecommerce results, especially growing sales of the flagship skate sharpener product.

The OpenMoves team developed a strategy focused around search ads on Google and Bing, Social Media ads on the Facebook/Instagram platform and a complete SEO strategy. The overall project was a major success in 2018 with year over year results including:

  • 50+% total year over year lift in revenue and transactions
  • 12% YoY lift in SEO traffic and 50% YoY lift in SEO revenue
  • Almost 200% YoY lift in PPC revenue
  • 1,000% Return on Ad Spend typical across all PPC channels

PPC Challenges + Strategies

Modern B2C ecommerce PPC is landscape requiring both creative ideas and strong tactical execution. Sparx has several direct competitors fighting for market share in the skate sharpeners category, and more broadly Sparx competes with other sporting goods expenses that hockey players must evaluate. Some of the specifics of the Sparx landscape and challenge included,

Seasonality. The hockey market is of course a seasonal market, with demand rising in Q4 / Q1 and falling during the summer months. OpenMoves worked with the Sparx marketing team to develop monthly target budgets that were sensitive to seasonality and worked to prioritize campaign activation based on monthly budget and seasonal demand.

  • Attribution. Sparx operates within a complex environment of marketing analytics and attribution. The primary target product, the skate sharpener, is a considered purchase with a typical price of $899. The target audience will often interact with Sparx across multiple channels and touchpoints before making a decision and correct marketing measurement relies on detailed data interpretation. Though there’s no single correct answer, working closely with the Sparx marketing team to measure and report results has been key to developing a winning strategy.
  • International Marketing. Sparx is an American company which historically has mainly served the US market, but clearly the Canadian hockey market is a major opportunity. We worked with Sparx to identify the target Canadian customers by persona and geography as well as developing creative and promotional messaging specific to the Canadian market.
  • Complex Facebook Audiences. As is our typical process, OM worked with Sparx to develop a strong customer definition including multiple testable variables. We operated Facebook Ads with remarketing and retention audiences for low-funnel results and lookalike audiences for higher-funnel prospecting, with demographics features including location, age, income, and interests layered on top of Facebook’s automated targeting to identify the best prospects at scale.
  • Facebook Mobile Creative. In partnership with our Facebook agency team, OpenMoves deployed Facebook’s “MobileWorks” program to partner with a mobile-first video creative team and develop unique, Facebook optimized video creative designed to engage and convert audiences using mobile devices. We found these mobile-first assets some of the most effective in the account.

“OpenMoves has been a great partner to help us hit and exceed our goals in 2018 and we’re excited to keep growing with them in 2019. The OM team is very experienced, responsive and capable and our results with OM have been much better than with past agencies. They are a great partner and really understand digital marketing for growth.”

-Steve Jones, Vice President, Marketing & Customer Acquisition at Sparx Hockey

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Above image shows year over year revenue growth (blue represents current year, orange represents previous year)

SEO Challenges + Strategies

Modern B2C ecommerce PPC is landscape requiring both creative ideas and strong tactical execution. Sparx has several direct competitors fighting for market share in the skate sharpeners category, After only a couple of months, OpenMoves was able to achieve numerous page 1 rankings in Google’s organic search results by creating new, relevant and targeted pages on the Sparx website.
The success of OpenMoves’ Search engine optimization (SEO) for Sparx had similar challenges to pay-per-click: a competitive landscape and seasonality.
Not only is there fierce competition in the organic search results from other skate sharpening competitors (local shops and other portable sharpeners to name a few), but there are a lot of informational pages that rank for related keyword phrases as well that Sparx ends up competing with in the organic search results.

Another SEO challenge we had was determining which new keyword phrases ought to be targeted; which words or combination of words we think potential customers will use when searching.

  • Fundamentals. If you don’t get the site’s technical fundamentals right, you’re not going to have success with SEO in 2020 and beyond. To that end, we worked with the Sparx team to ensure the site’s technical SEO was done right. From title tags to internal linking to fixing 404 pages, and everything else in between, we made sure the site was technically solid and easily crawlable.When the technical fundamentals have been done correctly, adding new, relevant and well-optimized pages can generally rank very well. If you optimize them correctly, they can often rank on page 1 of the search results right off the bat. That was our goal.
  • Choosing Keywords. By looking at the competitors’ rankings and organic search rankings for Sparx on page 2 or 3 of the search results, we discovered keyword phrases to try to target, and listed the ones that had the most chance of success.
  • New Pages. We created new pages on the Sparx website targeting the keyword phrases on our final list by:
    Making each page highly relevant to keyword phrase we were targeting.

    • Crafting laser-focused Title tags
    • Adding relevant text to each page that’s helpful to visitors
    • Adding a bullet list with links pointing to other internal pages relevant to the page
    • Adding a relevant image or video to each page
  • Links.
    • Added internal links with keyword-rich anchor text to the page from other, relevant Sparx pages
    • In some cases, we built a link to our new Sparx pages on other, external sites where we could add value

    The results, after only a few months of making new pages, are encouraging. Sparx already has more new, competitive and commercial intent keyword phrases ranking on page 1, all generated from the new pages we created as described above.

  • Full-Featured Google Ads Deployment.
    Through 2018, Google Ads spend rose by 50% while revenue rose by 150%. To achieve this success required a complete deployment of Google Ads features including display remarketing, display prospecting, Smart Shopping, demographics and income targeting, and traditional brand and non-brand search.
  • Adding Bing for Incremental Scale. Like many of our search clients, Sparx found success adding Bing into the media mix once Google Ads began to mature and show results. Though Bing obviously is not as impactful as Google or Facebook in driving top-line growth, Bing is able to efficiently replicate Google Ads strategies and in fact generally shows cheaper CPCs and higher ROAS than Google for Sparx.

Conclusions

Both Sparx Hockey and OpenMoves were very excited to see the strong results PPC was able to deliver in 2018 and we’ve set aggressive goals for growth in 2019 as well. Speaking for Sparx, VP of Marketing & Customer Acquisition Steve Jones commented,

OpenMoves is proud of our success with Sparx and excited to continue to drive growth for B2C ecommerce brands seeking performance marketing through PPC and SEO. To learn more about how we can help your brand achieve profitable growth through digital advertising, please contact us today.