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May 23, 2002
Case Study

National Geographic and National Public Radio Microsite Landing Pages Increase E-Retail Sales by 40%

SUMMARY: Co-branding deals, wherein a micro-version of your site appears on another more trafficked site, have been hot since the mid '90s.  Marketers used to boast about how many deals they closed. Then they started bragging about how they worked with partner sites to get more clicks from their co-brand links. These days the game is not about traffic or clicks.  It is about conversions.  How do you get all that lovely co-brand driven traffic to actually buy something from you? Interested? Check out this brief Case Study on how eretailer increased their co-brand sales from National Geographic and NPR...


When Novica, an eretailer specializing in high-end
artisan's 'treasures' from around the globe, launched three years
ago the word of the day was "co-branding."

To get lots of traffic, you were supposed to partner with related
sites (preferably portals) and get them to send loads of traffic
your way with a button or other link.

The 'co-branded' landing page that visitors arrived at would have
the partner's logo at the top and perhaps a semblance of that
partner's navigation to make the arriving traffic feel more
comfortable and, supposedly in the mood to spend money. Because,
hey it sort of looked like a 'trusted' site they came from,

Many marketers we spoke to back then told us how hard they worked
to optimize that button or other link on their partners' sites.
Changing the creative, moving it up and down or over. The game
was all about getting the most traffic you could.

Early on Novica was lucky enough to land two giant partnerships:
One with National Geographic and the other with National Public
Radio ( As the economy quickly worsened, global
artisan's masks, hand-blown glass, paintings and other
handicrafts did not top most consumers "must buy" lists the way
food, housing and entertainment did.

While lots of people liked to windowship, few would actually buy.
The game had changed from getting heaps of traffic, to making the
most possible sales from the traffic you had.


Novica's marketers decided to focus on the landing
pages, the microsites that traffic landed on from their high
profile partners.

At first all landing pages were the same. Each contained a
listing of Novica's top selling products, plus links to the most
popular individual artisan bios. With, of course, the partner's
logo alongside Novica's at the top to make the co-brand official.

As you can imagine, Novica's landing pages, which featured lots
of images of products, were pretty slow to load. The site's
management team grew increasingly worried about this when study
after study revealed consumers in general leave sites with pages
that take longer than eight seconds to load.

Then in 2000, Novica ran a customer survey to learn how to
improve. One overwhelming response was, "The site is a little

Galvanized, CTO Charles Hachtmann brought in two vendors,
Fireclick and Akamai, to help speed page load time up. Sales
immediately improved. When one of the vendors (Fireclick)
offered Novica a new real-time site analytics and content
"acceleration" tool last year, Hachtmann was eager to see if this
could improve sales as well.

Real-time reporting is all very well and fine, but no marketer
can react 24/7. So Hachtmann arranged for complete reports for
the Company’s twice-monthly management meeting. There everyone
could evaluate what products sold best, and in what positions on
the page, and make decisions about changes.


By studying reports that not only revealed clicks per link, but also sales per click per link, Novica's
management committee has been able to weed down their offers to
just the most profitable ones for each co-brand.

Fascinatingly, these are very different products.

If you click on the Novica button at National Geographic these
days, you will be presented with offers for Murano Glass, Chess
Sets, Drums of the World and Brazilian Cubist Paintings, among
others. However, when you click on the Novica button at,
you will be offered Balinese Animal Figures, Thai Silver Earrings
and Pre-Incan Masks among other things.

Similar, but not the same.

When it comes to eretail, that makes all the difference in
terms of profit. Since implementing the Fireclick and Akamai
technologies to speed site loads and track and arrange products
by microsite landing pages, Novica's conversion rates from
visitor to buyer have increased by 40%.

Hachtmann says, "Two years ago we wanted customers to stay on our
site, the goal was page-views. We thought if we put more
products in front of visitors that they would eventually
purchase. But, we realized we're paying a lot of money for
bandwidth. The business is not necessarily about keeping them on
the site longer - but to get them to convert and check out as
fast as possible."
You find a product you want, you check out.

"We started isolating traffic for different marketing campaigns,
we built different landing pages, analyzed traffic in real-time
to figure out where people were going and changed the product mix
on those pages based on what was converting."

"Now we're able to present products a particular demographic has
a propensity to purchase."

Which equals much higher sales.
See Also:

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