Internal internet marketing teams can be great.  They can also be uninformed, ineffective, or worse.  Recent contact with a prospective client reminded us that having an in-house marketing team does not guarantee positive results and may actually be holding your company’s performance back.  Here is the story:

John recently when to Sports Chalet (sporting goods store) in the Los Angeles area do a little in-store research for one of our client’s products.  We are working with long-time friend and collaborative partner Maikel at ExMachina USA to help improve this client’s internet presence and e-commerce sales, so he wanted to see how many SKUs their brick and mortar retails stock, how the packaging looks, and where the product is positioned in-store.

While he was there, he thought about buying a mouth guard for rugby (even though he is semi-retired and his girlfriend tells him he’s too old).

John found a great product endcap created by ShockDoctor (see picture below) along with an informative buying guide.  It was clear that a lot of time and a lot of money was invested into producing this display and getting it rolled out into retailers.

ShockDoctor Mouth Guard POS endcap

 

John dug into the buying guide because he wanted the best mouth guard available.  He noticed that ShockDoctor offered a “custom” guard offered as their “top of the line” product, but it was unclear how to buy the custom product.  He had to ask the store clerk how to buy it, and the store clerk said that it had to be ordered online and to find the website within the buying guide.

John went back to the buying guide to find the website. Here’s a picture of it:

ShockDoctor Custom Mouthguard page

 

John typed the provided web address into his smart phone’s browser.  The address listing in the buying guide shockdoctor.com/custom returned a 404 error, also known as “Page Not Found.”  Critical Error #1.

Most consumers who want to buy the custom mouth guard and the listed address but find an error will abandon the site without a second thought.  They’ll simply mutter, “They must be out of business” or “I don’t have time for this nonsense” and go on with their in-store search for another mouth guard.  Fixing this simple error could increase sales right away.

Interestingly, the page actually exists at https://www.shockdoctor.com/custom-mouthguard which you can find if you really search for it on their website (which most consumers won’t do, especially when on a mobile device).  Even if someone were to find that page, it presents two conflicting messages – “buy now” or “visit http://cmg.shockdoctor.com/ to customize online & learn more”.  Critical Error #2.

At the product page level of the shopping process, the retailer should aim to limit unnecessary choices/distractions, not provide them.  Providing a link to more detailed product information, on a completely different site, is Conversion Rate Suicide!

At this point in the shopping process, John decided he was no longer sure he wanted a Shock Doctor mouth guard, but did want the company to know about these critical, yet easily corrected, errors.

After several attempts over the course of a month, though several intermediaries, John finally connected with their SVP of Marketing.  His reply:

 

“Thank you.

The issue is the POS is old and the URL is old on the POS. The product is in phase-out.

We know of this issue. We will re-direct the URL.

I will not be contacting you as we have a team internally that manages this.

Thanks again.”

 

And so we circle back to the thesis of this story: Internal internet marketing teams can be great.  They can also be uninformed, ineffective, or worse.

We appreciate that with any team, you have to trust that your teammates will take care of their responsibilities and you can’t micromanage them.  There’s too much work and not enough time for that.

What the SVP clearly didn’t understand was that John wouldn’t have spent time tracking down the CEO and now the SVP of Marketing and Product Development if the redirect was the only issue with ShockDoctor.com and their other company, CuttersGloves.com.  It was really just a symptom of greater problems lurking below the surface. There are fundamental things that need to be configured correctly  in order to be included in Google and Bing search results  before any optimization is performed . . . and shockdoctor.com & cuttersgloves.com (also owned by Shock Doctor) weren’t doing these very basic things.

 

Why should this matter to them?

With over 20,000 people per month searching for mouth guard related terms on Google (see Google chart below), about 71% of those searchers will click an organic result on the first page of Google search results.  Shock Doctor was #5 for the query “mouth guard” which is searched 18,100 times per month, meaning they only get about 5.5% of that 18,100 demand = 995 per month.  If they were #1, they’d get 31%, or 5,600 per month.

Google Search Demand for Mouth Guards

5th result

Moving up four spots would drive 5.5x more visitors to their website on mouth guard related terms alone!  This would have a clear and significant impact the e-commerce revenue achieved by ShockDoctor.com.

Critical Error #3

Every website has a file called robots.txt that tells search engine crawlers/spiders where they can go, where they can’t go, and where the XML sitemap is.

You can find these robots.txt files at:

https://www.shockdoctor.com/robots.txt
https://www.cuttersgloves.com/robots.txt

Click on those links and you will see that both of these files say that the sitemap for both sites is located at:

https://www.shockdoctor.com/sitemaps/shockdoctor/sitemap.xml

Both websites are essentially telling Google that the addresses for all of their webpages can be found using the same sitemap  – which is NOT the case.

They are two completely separate websites and should have two completely different sitemaps!

THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM

This suggests to us that simply emailing the “internal team” about these errors won’t solve the underlying problem; they simply do not have the skill set required to do this work, otherwise this issue would never have existed.

 

The global issue is that ShockDoctor can’t leverage the wealth of video content and web authority  because of these critical errors.  Without fixing these issues, they are unable to rise to the top of the protective sporting equipment marketplace, drive additional traffic to their website, and therefore build e-commerce revenue growth.

As an example, when we searched for “mouth guard” on Google, ShockDoctor.com should be the number 1 result instead of the 5th result.

What would it mean to their bottom line if ShockDoctor.com appeared in the #1 spot instead of DicksSportingGoods.com, SisuGuard.com, or GladiatorGuards.com?  Tens of thousands of dollars in additional revenue . . .

Is your internal internet marketing team great?  Contact us and we’ll help you find out through a complimentary consultation. miles@halfdomepartners.com