Friday, March 26, 2010

The incredible power of a 16 year old video blogger

Well, it's taken me a week to think through all the ramifications of this and put it into a blog post, but last week was the best ever for Shoes of Prey by a large order of magnitude, and it's all thanks to this video by a 16 year old YouTuber, Juicystar07 aka Blair Fowler.

Yes, that video has had over 450,000 views and more than 90,000 comments, each of which is a potential customer who has visited our site, designed a pair of shoes, then written a description of those shoes and what event they would wear it to - talk about brand engagement!

The video was the 5th most viewed on YouTube worldwide last Wednesday and the most commented on video worldwide for the day. It was the 58th most viewed video and 2nd most discussed video worldwide last week! Our Google Analytics traffic graph is my new favourite image of all time:

We've now had over 700,000 visits to the Shoes of Prey website, and 500,000 of those came last week!!! Our previous best day of traffic was 17,092 visits during the week that both Springwise and TechCrunch covered us. That day now looks like a speed hump compared with our new best day of 197,104 visits. And the traffic sent by the traditional fashion magazines and newspapers that have covered us over the past 5 months looks like the flat line graph on a heart monitor after someone's had a heart attack!

Unfortunately conversions is a different story as Juicystar07's audience is primarily 13-17 year old girls. They love shoes and clearly love to design shoes but we're a little out of their budget. Tee Twyford of NZGirl did a piece on us on one of the popular morning TV shows in New Zealand last week and we've actually had more sales from that, so traditional media is far from dead. Still, this is phenomenal and given how much Blair's followers have engaged with our site I'm sure if we were targeting 13-17 year olds sales would be going through the roof. 5 years ago there was no way a 16 year old could have achieved the following and influence that Blair has. The fact that she can more than triple our total traffic in a couple of days after 5 months of work from us shows the power of new media like YouTube.

And even at 16 she's a savvy business women. We paid her for the review, though she doesn't do videos for everyone, she reviewed our shoes herself first before agreeing to take payment and do the video and all this is disclosed on her YouTube channel. And we worked with both Blair and her agency to put together the competition so that it would work best for us and for her viewers.

Clearly we're big believers in online media, but we're still in the process of picking ourselves up off the floor after witnessing first hand the fact that a 16 year old YouTuber can deliver us 3 times the traffic in a couple of days that some excellent traditional media coverage has over 5 months.

Juicystar07 and new media, we love you.

Update - Here's our follow up post on how we managed to convert this traffic resulting in our sales tripling.


  1. pretty interesting... so much to wrap your head around here. Where all of our marketing plans, and ad buys don't be much compared to a kid with a youtube.

    I've noticed you haven't added her in your "As Seen In" section on homepage. scared? :)

  2. Hi Adam, we've considered it. We figured though that only her subscribers really know who she is and while there are a lot of them they aren't our target market, so putting her on our homepage probably won't help us.

    While Marie Claire etc. didn't send us the same amount of traffic, our target market have heard of them, so it helps us to mention our coverage in them on our home page.

    Still, I expect that will change. Blair is only 16 now, imagine what she'll be doing in a few years time!

  3. Glad to hear that our mix of traditional (via Breakfast) and online ( article and our Facebook page) mix have contributed to sales.

    Blair's definitely one to watch.

    Yours in gorgeous shoes,
    Tee x

  4. Thanks again Tee. That's actually a good point, your piece in NZ was as much online as offline and I'd hazard a guess that the competition on your Facebook page had a big part to do with it. Brilliant brand engagement for us with all those designs being posted. I hope it's worked out well for you too!

  5. Ooo that's awesome, I haven't heard of her before but she sure has a lot of viewers! Can't believe she's only 16.. would've thought she's early 20s or something.

    Would be great if you can do a follow-up post on sales increase, it'll be fun to see how many convert! :)

  6. have you considered that the spike in traffic also coincided with your new glasses free photo? I think you should do some correlation analysis here...

  7. It will be really interesting how these kind of direct "friend" marketing techniques turn into real dollars in the future as the people who grew up with them start to spend.

  8. Will do Beverly. It's a little hard to track exactly which sales are coming from the YouTube video. Sales have more than doubled since last week. Some of that is due to the NZ piece (lots of buyer in NZ), but the rest of the increase is spread around the world. It's direct traffic in Analytics, rather than coming from YouTube but we think what's happening is all the 13-17 year olds are telling their older sisters and mums who are the ones designing and actually purchasing the shoes. Hopefully in a few weeks we'll have some more data and can analyse more. :)

    Edward - Haha, glad you're fond enough of my new photo to think it may have boosted sales!

    Tarwin - It's a good thought and I reckon for now it will be friends and family of Blair's viewers buying the shoes. Hopefully in a few years time Blair's viewers are ready to purchase. Her mention of designing shoes for prom was a good one on that front.

  9. the power of junnior bloggers is astounding. Tavi, anyone?

  10. Tavi is incredible. I particularly love the photography on her blog.

  11. This is incredible! Congratulations guys, love your work.

  12. Using hot young girls to hawk your merchandise. Works for me.

  13. Wow, I'm writing a pitch for a company right now based on Haul and makeup youtube video and this is some great research...the fact that they are so young and primarily students is one difficult factor though. Thankfully the product I'm working on selling isn't as pricey and custom as yours. Awesome experiment though. Really cool.

  14. Thanks Ned.

    Rachel - that is good timing with your pitch. Even though Blair's audience is young and most are students, if our experience is anything to go by your client will still get a fantastic ROI doing this sort of thing.

  15. One thing that would be worth A/B testing next time you get a traffic spike of the sort (young girls) is flashing a banner/message pointing out the time they have left to order to get the shoes in time for prom and seeing what that does for conversion.

  16. Great post and really great to hear about another "success" story for online voices making waves. A bit confused as to why you paid her to post on your brand if you didn't feel she was reaching the right audience?

  17. Guillaume - good thoughts. We definitely need to get more on top of A/B testing on the site and testing different messages to different audiences like that is a good idea.

    DSkaletsky - we figured we were getting good value just from a brand awareness perspective if around 20% of her normal 400k-500k viewers visited our site. We certainly didn't expect more site visits than the video had views, nor nearly 100k entries to the comp! And while conversion rates are abysmal, sales are definitely up and they've more than paid the cost of the spot now. :) But as for the original decision, our thoughts were on brand awareness rather than conversions.

  18. Amazing post!

    I think is one of the best actions of marketing that I have seen for a long time in this kind of online products. Congrats for the success!
    The only problem that I see it´s the target (girls from 13 to 17) they will be costumers in the future but not now. Anyway this girl has a good future in advertising if she continues with the blog and her followers.

    All the best for your website!
    Regards from Spain


  19. Thank Michael -- we actually posted an article about this post on our blog ( Nice job!

  20. María - thanks so much for your kind words.

    DSkaletsky - thanks for the post!

  21. Hi, I just came across your blog and wanted to let you know that although I'm not in the same demographic as Blair's viewers, I have been watching her videos out of interest for around 6 months now. It's safe to say that at 23 I'm way out of her average viewing age :) Although I was already aware of your site through twitter, her video prompted me to have a play around with it.

    Love your shoes and congratulations on such a fantastic traffic spike. I know first hand how lovely it is to see something like that happen.

  22. How did you support the spike in traffic from a hosting environment? Mirror, load balancing, cloud

  23. Thanks Lola - glad to hear that it had an impact on you! :)

    Chris - we use Google AppEngine for hosting. It took the load really effortlessly.

  24. Great post and awesome blog. I love it.