Digital drove 837% more sales and average purchase price upwards by 70%
A revised digital strategy instigated months before the pandemic and refined during the first three weeks of COVID saw online sales for WoodenGold rise by 837% and the price of average purchases shoot up by 70%.
Niche jewellery artisan and one-time film prop maker, Stephen Cichocki makes one-of-a-kind rings using a technique perfected by the Vikings called sand casting. Using wood or 100% recycled ethically sourced silver or gold and gemstones, his unique rings are proving popular with 25-35-year-olds and brides to be.
I built a beautiful stylish website that my customers didn’t use
Having set up a website using WIX a few years ago, Cichocki made the classic mistake of building one as beautiful as his rings, with heavy imagery to showcase his work but with little thought of whether his customers found it easy to use.
“As well as having a stylish but ineffective website, I primarily sold via Etsy, which started well but soon tailed off,” says Cichocki. “I think because third party sites push very crowded product listings which miss the step of building trust in the seller. Deliberately, I took numerous actions to better understand how to market my business, including contacting Superfast Business Wales (SFBW) in November 2019 to learn how to sustainably create cashflow and growth.”
Now I focus on the customer and think like a marketer
Cichocki attended a SFBW digital marketing course, which Digital Business Adviser Pete Mackenzie helped unpick. He focused on the customer; building their confidence in Cichocki and his products, as well as emphasising the purchasing journey across relevant digital platforms and the website.
Cichocki says, “From my experience with Etsy, I knew I had to build trust in me and my business, and Pete helped with that. He suggested using social media to showcase me, as a crafter of rings, as well as my products. The thought was this would drive traffic to my updated website, now based on Pete’s trust triggers and marketing principles, and designed to make it as easy as possible for my customers to buy.”
I was determined to mine the digital jewel in the crown
“By the time the pandemic hit, I had a natural three-week break from work which I used to look seriously at my marketing, social media and online presence. I knew retail giants like Amazon would take the lion’s share of the extra £5.3 billion spent so far online during COVID, but I was determined to find the digital jewel in the crown and level the playing field”, says Cichocki.
“Understanding my customers and where they are active was key. 90% of them reside on Instagram and throughout the pandemic had a ‘support independent traders’ vibe so this is what I wanted to tap into.”
Building buyer confidence and followers on Instagram meant more customers said ‘I do’ to my rings
“I started pushing out videos on Instagram showing me hand producing rings in the workshop to gain trust from potential customers. Then promoted posts for wooden rings priced at £60-£70 then more expensive items in silver or gold. And I used more intensive social media outputs for the very high value gemstone items.”
“Though Instagram was more important, I didn’t ignore Facebook, because Friday nights and weekends were very effective for ads during lockdown when people had more time to spend on it,” reinforces Cichocki.
Combined with understanding seasonal trends for wood and silver in winter and gold or wedding/engagement rings in summer, the strategy of building buyer confidence and followers proved pertinent. Particularly because the more expensive the product, the more time Cichocki’s customers spend researching and asking him questions.
The approach has put life into the business and crucially helps with cash flow
He says, “The approach is putting life into the business and crucially helps with the cash flow. I spend £10 a week to boost organic posts and underpin this with rolling ads of high value wedding and engagement rings to get me in front of the right people.”
Sales come from Etsy and from website product listings, but for every six or seven e-sales of normal silver or gold rings, someone will want something bespoke, usually centred around stones which are popular all year round. Outside of lockdown this involves a visit to the workshop if the buyer is local, but video conference calls or simple phone calls have worked well given the circumstances.
You can stand out and grow a customer base, even in adverse conditions
Even during a global pandemic, more and more customers are saying ‘I do’ to Cichocki’s unique handmade rings. “Christmas was manic, and I’ve sold my first Diamond ring. I think the take home for anyone listening is you need robust interdependent sales funnels that convert though your website. You’re only as effective as your marketing. And whilst you can’t compete with the likes of Amazon and eBay, with the right help you can stand out online and build a growing customer base even in these adverse conditions,” says Cichocki.