The launch of Metis, MediaVision’s one-stop-shop search platform came to fruition more widely at the end of 2022 after a long-term collaboration with fashion retailer New Look, which gave insight into how an e-commerce business needed fast data, actionable insights and a way to integrate and bridge gaps between internal teams to ensure that SEO was a core part of their digital strategy to maximise sales and audience growth.
New Look appointed MediaVision in ealy 2020 to boost its SEO, as part of ambitious growth targets. Later that year, MediaVision was given the “internal reins”, says Founder and CEO Louis Venter, who was taken aback by the amount of data SEO teams were feeding elsewhere in the retailer’s business, leaving little time to optimise and interrogate the data with a results-driven mindset.
“From an e-commerce point of view, when a customer visits a retailer in-store, they’ll likely see around 90% of a product range. Online, you land on the store at a specific point – viewing around 5% of the product range onsite because that’s what you searched for – and then you’ll leave,” comments New Look’s Senior SEO Manager Sam Pennington.
The expectation to bring customers in at multiple points means a big difference in how category and product optimisation works on site – particularly with the scale of categorisation at New Look.
Venter says: “Once we identified that as an issue, we built a cross-category linking algorithm, which meant we’d have something that balanced search demand rankings, with other criteria such as seasonality, and ultimately build the view to maximise the coverage that we can get from an internal structure into those categories.”
The result of the collaboration is MediaVision’s demand tech platform Metis – which continues to help New Look drive growth and efficiency and ensure SEO is an integral part of the retailer’s strategy rather than a ‘hygiene’ function. At the heart of Metis is the delivery of search insights on a weekly basis – speeding up data delivery for New Look – but the ability to assess consumer behaviour and deep dive into specific categories allows for actionable insights.
Pennington says: “One of the realisations was that we had the Digital Demand Tracker in place, is that parts of the team internally were using and to understand the buying and merchandising element on site. We then had the internal trading and optimisation teams looking at how they change the navigation and how they change easily viewable parts of the site like the homepage and department pages with the relevant links for seasonality at the right time.”
But the wider use of the data beyond feeding SEO numbers created its own challenges.
“It became clear that there were data points missing and there were slightly different angles to view some of the data points at where we could enhance stuff 10 times over. But when we started to do that, we realised that all these individual tools and reports that we were getting were expanding the data sets and it wasn't physically possible to show it in one way, in one individual tool and the data just got lost in it.”
A core part of the partnership was then how to make the tool easier to use to address the different challenges – so New Look and MediaVision created a number of ‘case studies’ that formed part of the Metis suite.
Organic strategy is now aligned with search trends through insight into demand, meaning that search demand can get tracked early. This gives New Look the ability to optimise onsite revenue and integrate search marketing channels into one strategy. The tool also delivers insight into daily website operation, to provide the opportunity to optimise performance and solve issues.
Share of search and market tracker tools track thousands of keywords across the core retail sectors. Optimisation comes from category monitoring for daily recommendations to improve page categorisation, or identify problems across SEO ranking factors, while conversion is aided by category merchandising and product visibility tools that can help highlight high performing products and the opportunity to boost their visibility.
“We’ve definitely moved from a tool that powers SEO into a tool that’s within e-commerce. It’s an insight engine. We’ve got a team at MediaVision that looks at insights every week and looking at that demand data to make reactive decisions and changes,” says Venter.
Pennington adds: “Typically a market and an e-commerce store has a set cycle; every competitor will do the same thing. You have trends come through at the same time because everyone's looking at the same trend data. So, if everyone's looking at the same data points, nobody's getting a competitive advantage realistically.
“Someone's always going to be first, and it's typically a business that has more freedom in terms of the way the site works and the team works and the processes work. And a lot of that comes down to the tech stack that they've got. Now because we know we've got this tech in the background, we are able to take some of that challenge away by knowing before everyone else what they're going to do.”
Venter expands: “We've built a recommendation engine and we're constantly looking at expanding those recommendations as more people use it in more ways. You just click a button that tells you your recommendations from the data. But we've also got a dashboard where anyone can have a look at how we are trending on those things over time. All of this is really for the teams by nine o'clock in the morning with the recommendations for them to do that day.”
New Look can see the benefits of improved internal understanding, says Pennington.
“We've got benefits from the physical numbers in terms of sales and performance and rankings that we've managed to generate and improve over a period of time. We've got other ways to be able to prove exactly what we've done and our timeline of events from start to finish.”
Between March 2021 and January 2022 the retailer saw a 300% improvement in top three positions, and a non-brand traffic growth of 22%. ROI increased 10x.
But there are other efficiency benefits, says Pennington. “The workload has decreased because it's actually more focused in certain areas than it was before. So it's taken chunks out of what was [staff’s] normal processes that they don't need to do any longer.
“Metis has allowed us to not only identify the opportunities and the trend around the opportunities,it also helps us to understand, from the performance of a particular page, how that performance is coming down to individual sub-sections. So the keywords that are driving performance, and how they are optimised for that.”
Venter comments: “My feeling is SEO is seen [in the industry] as slightly outside the insight driven engine into the e-commerce of the business. The insights that Metis offers show that organic should be at the centre of marketing strategy, and not just siloed within SEO teams.”