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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.

Image: YouTube

Meghan Keane

Published 30 March, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

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Greg

I really hate here voice but I've passed one of her vids on to some female friends of mine for a product review she did awhile back.

over 6 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

I find it fascinating that we have evolved to such a confused state of being as marketers.  We now fully admit that examples like this one are meaningless when it comes to actually generating measurable demand/sales.

Yet we also, as marketers, feel comfortable (obligated?) to invent ways that these events might just matter. These random, passive instances of quantitative, momentary novilty ("lots of" hits, views, clicks that have little durability)... somehow they must have meaning. They must be durable.  They might, could, should, kinda will, likely do have effect on people buying things!

It's almost as if we've all collectively MISSED the point of Chris Anderson's Long Tail (yet somehow we have the nerve to use the term at the drop of a hat).

Big hits don't matter.  

over 6 years ago

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selina howells

It may be the product that hasn't converted sales. This sort of product, although it says you design it etc, what you end up with just looks lke any typical brand of shoe, not your brand of shoe. Picking colours does not really deliver much of a unqiue product. And as you say, picking colours off a screen makes no sense. The chances you end up with a better look than something put together by someone with an eye for colour who is actually seeing the real thing is zero.

over 6 years ago

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buyer beware

What if thousands of teeangers create their own pair of Cinderella slippers specially for their prom night, wear them once, then return them for a full refund? I know people who do this with clothes, buy them for an event, wear them, then return them for a refund. M&S is popular for this among a few of my friends who are hard up.

over 6 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy

Jeff, I wouldn't say that this campaign was "meaningless" for sales. The company's sales doubled in March, and while Shoes of Prey can't directly tracked those increases to this effort, it certainly didn't hurt. Also, I think that "big hits don't matter" is a misreading of the long tail. If you're only focused on big hits, you're probably wasting your marketing budget. But getting a new brand out in front of new eyeballs is not worthless. Especially when done at such a nominal cost, like this.

Buyer Beware, Shoes are a lot harder to return after wearing than something like a sweater. If a teenager were to wear one of these shoes to the prom, she'd own them.

over 6 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Thanks for the thoughts, Meghan. We certainly disagree and for our own reasons. And my reasoning is often in the minority. While I respect your opinion and reasoning I believe if we're going to have any success as marketers and turn things around (marketers are, these days, the least respected team in the house) we need to set the goal post higher than "it didn't hurt" or "it probably helped boost sales incrementally."

We need proof.

The foundation of my argument is that with digital marketing we *can* have the proof -- if we design the campaign or initiative to yield it. And if we don't design it to prove effectiveness we're failing not just the company but ourselves.

Essentially, the marketers are picking themselves up off the floor in this case but I'd wager the CFO isn't nearly as impressed.

over 6 years ago

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buyer beware

I would put my money on teenagers being inventive enough to find ways to wear a pair of shoes and return them as unused/did not fit and make the company's returns policy its achilles heel.

Made to order manufacturer/retailers always work on the basis that if a product has been customised for you it is no return. It is deeply wasteful if you think of it to offer to make shoes individually and then agree if the customer does not like them they can return them. Legislation for distance selling even assumes this.

Not that this company achieves personalisation in my view. It offers variables for consumers to combine in literally thousands of pointless combinations since however you 'design' these shoes they look like high street shoes.

Fascinting story and this is about media, despite being a shopaholic the video's host did not like these shoes enough to buy them.

over 6 years ago

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