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5 ways Redbubble plans to grow in 2017

Design online store Redbubble has big plans to ramp up business this financial year and revenue is expected to jump by 50.26 per cent to $172.2 million this financial year.

Launched in 2006 in Melbourne, Redbubble is a website that allows artists to sell their art, photography and patterns, which are printed on a range of items, including t-shirts, cushions and phone covers. Redbubble takes care of the sale, manufacturing and shopping of products.

Here, they share what’s on their to-do list for the year ahead.

  1. Website optimisation

At the core of Redbubble, improving revenue is a constant drive to improve the user experience of their website. This in turn improves conversion rates which has a dramatic effect on revenue, making every marketing channel more profitable without increasing ad spend or traffic.

One way Redbubble plans to improve its user experience is by focusing on improving its search algorithm. There are currently more than 10 million images online, which can be used on more than 60 different products from over 438,000 artists, so ensuring customers can get to the right images and products in the least number of clicks is key to maximising conversion rates.

In line with global trends, Redbubble experienced a 71 per cent growth in mobile visitors to the website, compared to just 28 per cent growth in desktop users. However the conversion rate on mobile was just 1.18 per cent last financial year, compared to 2.52 per cent on desktop, leaving a lot of opportunity even when cross-device conversions are taken into account (where a user browses on a mobile device but converts on desktop later).

To take advantage of this opportunity, Redbubble intends to focus on improving its mobile experience, making it easier to transact across all devices. Mobile improvements to the responsive website that are now in place or currently underway include an updated shopping cart, one-page checkout, upgrading from off-site PayPal card processing to on-site Stripe payment processing and personalising delivery date information, so customers know when to expect their order delivery.

To further improve the experience for mobile users and improve repeat buyers, Redbubble are also working on a mobile iOS app which will make it easier for people to find artwork and product.

The third major focus for this year is personalisation – learning about users and then serving the most relevant products to every unique visitor to the site. This not only helps with repeat purchases but can improve conversion rates for users requiring multiple visits to the website before converting.

Redbubble has started by implementing a new personalised homepage which showed each user a unique set of products based on previously viewed and purchased products. This personalised homepage has outperformed the generic version and now the changes are being rolled out site-wide across categories and search results.

The company also plans to continue conducting user testing and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data to make major and minor changes that continue evolving and improving the site and thus its conversion rate.

  1. Marketing optimisation

Redbubble plans to continue optimising its marketing channels to maximise both profitability and the volume of sales coming from each source. In the last financial year, free traffic sources such as organic search or email marketing made up 68.5 per cent of sales with paid traffic, such as Google Adwords making up the remaining 38.5 per cent with all of their paid sources profitable from the initial purchase.

RedBubble plans to utilise more targeted product feeds in Google Shopping this financial year. With millions of artists’ images available on more than 60 products, creating, maintaining and optimising a product feed is a significant investment. However, Google Shopping is currently their most significant advertising product and is one that offers the most scope for improvement due to its ability to automatically target very niche search terms.

Over the past year, Redbubble has completely re-built the way its platform interacts with Google and by doing so, are now able to push more content and images into the feed on a much more dynamic basis which is growing the volume of sales, whilst maintaining profitability. This financial year, Redbubble plans to utilise the same optimised product feed to launch a Bing Shopping campaign which has recently re-launched in Beta and offers increased volume with lower competition than on Google Shopping.

Increasing the volume of sales generated from both paid and free social media sources is another major focus on Redbubbles agenda this year. With such large audiences on social media, the networks offers a lot of room for expansion given the relatively small ad budgets currently being spent.

Paid social advertising, via Facebook in particular, is beginning to drive a significant volume of profitable conversions for Redbubble since the launch of ad campaigns in 2014, so scaling these will be a key driver of revenue improvements. With their mobile conversion rates improving, social networks which operate predominantly on apps, which will also offer opportunities for profitable paid social advertising, along with promotion of Redbubble’s planned new iOS app.

Increasing free or organic social traffic is also a priority for Redbubble. To help the business grow, Redbubble will work closely with artists and give them the tools they need to easily share and promote products and content to their own followers to drive free social traffic to the website, generating sales for Redbubble and its artists.

With 39 per cent of traffic being generated from organic traffic sources, Redbubble is reliant on Google and Bing’s search algorithms and rankings for a large part of their success. Along with optimising and improving their paid marketing channels, a continued focus is improving their SEO rankings and increasing their organic traffic and sales. With 24.9 million pages from RedBubble appearing on Google, onsite optimisation and ensuring the site is easily and effectively indexed and in-line with Google’s best practices is a major priority in their SEO efforts. Throughout the year, they have many technical optimisations planned to improve rankings and traffic flow.

Another way Redbubble plans to grow organic traffic is by continuing to increase the size of the website with ‘collections’ of products allowing creation of pages targeting high volume search terms such as ‘gift ideas’ or ‘gifts for kids’. They also plan to increase the number of artists listed on the website which will expand their (already huge) range of products, and allow them to dominate the rankings for niche searches such as ‘rainbow unicorn t-shirt’ and event driven searches such as ‘Donald Trump duvet cover’ as these artists add new artworks.

  1. Product expansion

Another growth area for Redbubble is expanding their product range. Every time a new product is available for printing, millions of new product options are added, as most artworks can be adapted to fit the new product. Growing the product line, whilst ensuring fulfillers maintain the quality of the products they create is something that has contributed to their growth over the past ten years.

So far Redbubble has launched eight new products and in the next month in order to hit their ambitious revenue growth targets, they are planning to launch at least three new physical products focusing on the home and gift giving category.

Another innovation which Redbubble is trialling is the launch of their first digital product – packs of “digital stickers” for use in Apple’s iMessage app and available for purchase in the Apple app store. These packs of stickers are priced from 99c-$1.49 and utilise existing artwork on Redbubble’s platform with each pack focused on just one artist’s work. There is certainly no guarantee these products will prove a big money maker, but given the margins involved when selling digital products, it is one they will explore and develop over time.

  1. Target market expansion

Redbubble has offered their products internationally since they started via 22 fulfillers around the world with products being sent by the nearest located fulfiller. However their website has always been in English. To continue growing their business, they are now planning to expand their target market to speakers of other languages. This started with a German site in March, French in June and Spanish in July.

This allows Redbubble to maximise the conversion rates of visitors that speak that language who now find the website easier to use and buy from. It also means that the 10 million artworks and 60+ product variations all have a page on the website in each language allowing Redbubble to rank for foreign search terms, improving organic traffic. The significant amount of work to launch these new websites is paying off with Germany now their fastest growing market, showing a large uptick in performance since March last year.

Time is now being spent on improving these international sites and artists are now able to improve their automatically-generated translations for each product and marketing efforts are underway to attract new foreign-speaking artists to the platform. Local marketing efforts have also begun with paid marketing in German, French and Spanish and translated product feeds being integrated with Google Shopping to allow product ads on foreign searches.

  1. Business optimisation

In 2016, Redbubble focused on transitioning their old, legacy IT platform to a scalable cloud infrastructure. This was a huge effort required to migrate the website and systems, but the business is now ready to scale and grow globally – the added benefit being that the cloud infrastructure has lowered costs. This move to the cloud has also helped the business’s drive to improve the speed of the website, especially at peak shopping times such as Christmas, which leads to a better customer experience, increases search rankings and better conversion rates.

In line with the global growth of the business, Redbubble is also continuing to add fulfillment partners with three new partners in the US and Australia with more in the works. Adding localised fulfillment capabilities ensures shorter delivery times, which improves website conversion rates and leads to a better customer experience, which in turn increases repeat purchases.

Improving margins on Redbubble’s products allows a larger spend on marketing with the same level of profit and thus ability to grow sales volume, market share and ultimately revenue. With the growth in the business, Redbubble’s supply chain team are now in a position of strength, so this year will focus on improving the margins by negotiating savings with third party fulfillment partners and shipping companies.

Redbubble is also focusing on minimising the cost of customer support which is a variable cost that has been growing in line with the business. To do this, the business plans to outsource customer support which will be more efficient but which will need to be monitored closely to ensure the customer support experience remains high.

Duncan Jones is a data-driven performance marketer who works for online marketing agency, Web Profits.

This story first appeared on our sister site, Inside Retail Australia.

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