Running eCommerce Digital Marketing Like a Defense

We’re deep into the NFL Football season now, and I’ve been thinking about eCommerce digital marketing like a defensive coordinator. Do you want to play your defense man to man, where a defensive player is designated to guard a specific offensive player, or more like zone, where a defensive player is responsible for guarding a particular area of the field? I think a lot of merchants assume marketing would be more like man to man. Identify the customers you want to attract and put your resources into going after them. But I think the more sophisticated and effective maneuver is to play digital marketing like a zone defense. The right customers for you are out there on the digital field. What you need to do is make sure your digital marketing has a presence in each zone. When your customers wander into that zone, your marketing can just pick them up.

For the past half-year, we’ve been working with Wendell August Forge, a retailer of handmade gifts in Pennsylvania for nearly a century. For years Wendell August has been crafting metal into ornaments, wedding gifts, and all manner of high-quality functional art. As we were about to begin a digital marketing campaign to ramp up exposure before their big holiday season, they got tremendous news. Wendell August got a license to sell NFL team branded products! This opportunity was too good to pass up, so we played zone defense to promote Wendell August in a few different digital marketing funnels, SEO, PPC, and Pinterest, for every kind of customer they wanted to attract.

Search Engine Optimization

On the SEO front, our timeline got accelerated. We still had to push the keywords related to holiday gifts up the rankings in time for the shopping season. We also had a new section of our list, NFL keywords, that needed to get some movement on Google in time for football season. Each keyword on our list has a target page, which is the page on the client’s site that we want to rank for the relevant keyword. When we take on an SEO campaign we move specific keywords up the rankings by optimizing the target page of that keyword with new content and by creating backlinks to that target page. We frontloaded content and backlink work for targeted pages related to NFL keywords because we knew we had less time to build them up than we did with the holiday ornament keywords. Google also takes into account the age of a page into how much they trust it. Our urgency was compounded by the fact that the NFL pages were brand new and would have a lot less authority than the site’s more established pages.

During the months that our SEO campaign has been in effect, revenue from organic search has increased more the 40% and transactions from organic search by more than 50%, when compared to the same time period in the previous year. The NFL target pages that were brand new when the campaign began now rank on pages 1 and 2 for 14 of the keywords on our list. In the last 2 months, since football season has begun, we have seen the number of visitors finding the site on Google through the NFL category page more than triple.

Pay Per Click

Defending the Pay Per Click zone, we employed a similar strategy, dividing our budget between holiday gift and NFL merch related bids. We split our PPC budget into 13 distinct campaigns, some focusing on particular teams, others focusing on a holiday or event. This way our PPC strategists can customize their approach in a more specifically targeted way. It also helps us track more acutely which types of products are bringing in the most impressions, clicks, and sales at any given point.

In the past 6 months, compared to this time last year, paid search traffic to the site has more than doubled. We have also seen transactions from paid search traffic increase by more than 25%. Our year-to-date statistics show that Wendell August’s average cost per click is down, while impressions clicks and conversions have all risen during the same time period.

Social Media Marketing

Our third defensive zone is social media, specifically Pinterest. Pinterest’s algorithm is unique compared to other high profile social media platforms. It works very much like Google. Content on Pinterest builds authority over time. Because there was no content on the site related to NFL products before this campaign began, we took care to ‘age’ that content to give it more weight in Pinterest’s eyes. We made a lot of NFL content and distributed it to other places on the web, with a link back to the Pinterest account, to diversify the network of links Pinterest was reading. We also created boards on Pinterest which were specific to NFL and boards which were specific to holiday and event gifts. Pinterest also helps us with our Pay Per Click retargeting. If we notice that a product gets likes and shares on Pinterest we mark it as a good candidate for retargeting on Facebook and other social media channels.

Our Pinterest campaign has an engaged audience of 175 thousand and brings more than 3 thousand clicks back to the site each month, on average. We have an audience engagement rate of just over 4%. Wendell August’s motivational content does particularly well, and even snagged a reshare from Lindsey Lohan!


Playing digital marketing like a zone defense is about already being where your customers are. Instead of following them to the newest, hottest online trend, it’s about building a solid presence with time tested strategies. If you’re putting your brand out into the world effectively, the right kind of customers, the kind that are going to make a purchase, will find you, instead of you finding them.

If you’d like a professional opinion about how to put your business where your customers already are, talk to the eCommerce digital marketing experts at 1Digital Agency. Our strategists are well versed in building a multi-channel eCommerce digital marketing campaign that works in synergy with your brand and the direction you envision for the future.

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