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Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Carpetology Blog: Case Study

Carpetology BlogThis case study explores the creation of the Wear-Dated Carpetology Blog which I launched on December 27, 2007 - in anticipation of the redesigned Wear-Dated website launch date of June 1, 2008.

The web is filled with misinformation about carpet products and the carpet buying process. Much of the content is confusing, focused primarily on price with a hard sell tone and has nothing to do with fashion or style when carpet is a product that enhances a consumer's home.

Wear-Dated had the opportunity to simplify the carpet buying process, share accurate information about carpet styles, carpet care and carpet selection, while demystifying industry jargon, and celebrating the beauty and comfort of carpet. We were passionate about carpet and wanted to share that enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, in the Fall of 2007, we were still a little over 8 months away from launching the redesigned Wear-Dated website. How not to lose all of that time time and opportunity to create carpet relevant digital content? How do so at very little cost?

Based on my experience creating and nurturing Flooring The Consumer, I realized that a carpet focused blog represented a perfect solution: I needed little lead time and insignificant resources to launch it. Content ideas and resources were readily available within Solutia and Wear-Dated and I had already set up Google alerts to monitor stories relating to carpet. Next, I needed to put together a strategy, obtain internal buy-in and formally identify content resources.

Wear-Dated had launched the By The Foot marketing campaign in December 2006. The new website would reflect this look and quirky yet stylish feel. The By The Foot campaign included the notion of 'carpetology' or the science of feet and how they, as the best-qualified body part, evaluate carpet. No surprise, we incorporated that science - and whimsy - into The Carpetology Blog.

Given that women represent our core consumer, making or influencing over 85% of the purchasing decisions, particularly in the home, we considered it critical that this blog authentically represent a woman's voice. We decided that the Women of Wear-Dated would be the blog's voices.

The Women of Wear-Dated consisted of: Marianne Cone, Ann Hurley, Annette Smith, Elizabeth Hise and Christine Whittemore, who was editor, chief content creator and strategist.

The Carpetology Blog launched six months prior to the website launch date, on December 27, 2007.

As of 3/24/09 [my last official day with Solutia and Wear-Dated], The Carpetology Blog had generated 37, 543 visits averaging 1:14 minutes per visitor and a total of 57,686 page views. It continues to generate healthy traffic despite no new posts since then.

We generated 181 stories ranging from stories that specifically promoted Wear-Dated [e.g., See About Us: What is Wear-Dated], to stories offering valuable tips, advice and recommendations, interspersed with 'carpet in the news' stories, color trends and design site reviews. I created a video series titled "A Foot's Perspective" -- showcasing perspectives on and from carpet, celebrating beautiful carpet and offering ‘how to’ tips on caring for carpet -- and a series addressing common consumer complaints and warranty issues.

Here are the top five reasons for visiting The Carpetology Blog.

At the end of August 2008, I submitted an entry for The Carpetology Blog to the Forrester Grounsdwell Awards. With the blog only 8 months old, I identified an ROI of $39,378.25. [Updating that calculation to reflect data as of 3/24/09, the ROI increases to $62,893.86. Not too shabby!]

The most exciting result of The Carpetology Blog, though, is that it became the strongest driver of qualified visitors to the Wear-Dated website:
  • visiting 5.28 pages per visit [vs. an average of 3.8 pages]
  • spending 6:15 minutes on site per visit [vs. an average of 2:55 min]
  • with a bounce rate of 41.94% [vs. an average of 52.03%]
Another result is that the conversations I had with our warranty department to understand consumer carpet warranty and carpet care issues led to creating two new consumer reference documents:
Valuable, credible and authentic content, better qualified website traffic, a strong digital presence, a casual forum for celebrating all of the benefits that carpet offers -- including beautiful, stylish carpet -- a positive ROI and buzz at no cost. So much so, that it not only bridged the 6 month gap until the introduction of the Wear-Dated website, but The Carpetology Blog even outlived the business itself and continues to generate excellent traffic all by itself.

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