The average 16-year-old girl may not be able to afford bespoke shoes, but that doesn't mean that teenagers can't help promote a site that makes them. Earlier this month, etailer Shoes of Prey reached out to a young teenage vlogger from Tennessee to try out their product and enter her viewers into a contest to win a pair of shoes.
A self-professed "Haul Queen," Blair Fowler (aka Juicystar07) created a sponsored video that went on to become the fifth most viewed video on YouTube worldwide. And the video is still paying dividends for the online startup.
Founded by former Google employees Michael Fox and Mike Knapp, the Shoes of Prey website lets users create custom shoes for a price point around $200. And while Fowler's audience of 13-17 year old girls may not be in the income bracket that the etailer really wants to target, they hit pay dirt in terms of traffic when they contacted the vlogger.
They paid her some undisclosed sum to create a sponsored video, but it coudln't possibly have been comiserate with the traffic she sent to Shoes of Prey.
As of this weekend, the site had 700,000 visits. 500,000 of those came in the week after Fowler posted her video. Previously, coverage by TechCrunch and Springwise brought the site its record of 17,092 views in a week. But Fowler's YouTube video brought in 197,104 views in the same time period.
Will those viewers translate into purchases? Not exactly. This weekend on the company's blog, they admitted that they saw more sales from getting a spot on a popular New Zealand talk show:
"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."
And the founders don't attribute all of their sales increase (which double in March) to Fowler. However, there's no telling how many future sales will be attributable to all of the word of mouth that this is generating. The video has almost 480,000 views on YouTube and that alone continues to generate articles (like this one).
Also, $200 shoe purchases are not something that many people do every day. However, if a consumer is aware of a site like Shoes of Prey and they like what they saw, they are likely to come back if they have trouble finding special occassion shoes they want.
The company wasn't expecting their YouTube efforts to have nearly this impact:
"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."
But they have a few things in place that are poised to help them take advantage of the increased traffic. For starters, a big concern with custom-made products (especially those purchased from the internet) is that they won't look or fit right. Shoes of Prey deals with that with 100% Guaranteed Gratification.
Videos like this could also go a long way to get over the company's imaging issue. Shoes of Prey uses cartoon images to demonstrate their shoe styles. That's not a very exact method for purchasing a product. But having a young girl like Fowler hold up a shoe, speak to its quality and explain the process in a simple way helps demonstrate that the site is not a rip off.
But I think the biggest lesson is this. If you're proud of your product, getting it in front of people who will covet it is a big step toward getting them to buy it.