Paid Search Drives Kuru Footwear to 2021 Success


I first interviewed Sean McGinnis for this podcast in November 2020. He had just lately arrived at Kuru Footwear, a direct-to-consumer shoe producer, as chief advertising and marketing officer, with large plans to develop the enterprise.

The outcomes are in for his first full yr: He’s now president of the corporate, and gross sales are booming. “We don’t disclose our financials,” he instructed me, “however I can say we’re rising, we’re bootstrapped, and we’re worthwhile. 2021 was very, very wholesome for us.”

Amongst McGinnis’s first strikes was to reorient and streamline Kuru’s paid search campaigns. He and I just lately mentioned these efforts and extra. Our complete audio dialog is embedded under. The transcript is edited for readability and size.

Eric Bandholz: You at the moment are the president of Kuru Footwear. Congratulations!

Sean McGinnis: Thanks very a lot.

Bandholz: You’ve expressed an curiosity in Kuru increasing to brick-and-mortar. Is that also a risk?

McGinnis: Sure. It’s on the roadmap, however not this subsequent yr. We have now a lot on-line progress in entrance of us first. My aim is to open our first retail retailer in 2024.

We’re targeted on the lengthy recreation. We’re making an attempt to develop quickly but additionally responsibly and profitably. Kuru’s a non-public firm. We don’t disclose our financials. However I can say we’re rising, we’re bootstrapped, and we’re worthwhile. 2021 was very, very wholesome for us.

That’s not like lots of the DTC darlings, as I name them, those which have gone public and are dropping cash.

We’re specializing in the underside of the funnel. Think about that you just’ve bought foot ache, you’ve bought plantar fasciitis or related, and also you seek for foot ache options. We bid on these key phrases in Google and Bing. These are main income drivers for us. The opposite large driver is our e mail record — promoting to present prospects, repeat purchases, issues of that nature.

We cut up our paid search into two channels: branded and non-branded. Every aligns with the three classes or funnels on our website: varieties of foot ache, particular actions (resembling climbing), and work-related.

The third class, work-related, is essential to us. Many roles require employees to be on their toes all day or stroll on concrete — assume supply drivers, warehouse employees, retail staff, meals service employees, nurses, healthcare, lecturers.

So these are the three areas with targeted key phrases that we’re shopping for, which drive prospects into micro-funnels on our website.

Bandholz: 2021 has been painful for Beardbrand. We primarily pulled off Fb. We have to refocus our advertising and marketing methods. Backside-of-the-funnel search acquisition we’ve by no means completed. The place do we start?

McGinnis: I’ve two faculties of thought. First is the generic identify, resembling “beard,” “beard lotion,” and related. You’ve constructed an unimaginable model, and also you’re utilizing the generic time period in your identify. So your branded search time period of “Beardbrand” is probably going dearer since you’re all of a sudden competing towards generic phrases.

I might search for an company that you could belief and pay as little as attainable to get began — except you may have a succesful particular person in-house. Begin small and construct up.

Set a goal advertising and marketing effectivity ratio (MER) or return on advert spend (ROAS). That’s how we handle our campaigns. We have a look at blended charges for MER and ROAS. After we’re extra profitable in free channels, it empowers us to spend extra in paid. Each enterprise is completely different, nonetheless.

About 50% of our paid search income comes via our branded channel and 50% via non-brand. However non-brand is 10-times extra spend. There’s way more aggressive stress on these key phrases. Amazon, New Steadiness, Allbirds, you identify it — they’re in our house.

After I arrived at Kuru a few years in the past, I terminated the corporate’s company and employed an in-house particular person with paid search expertise. Then I employed one other paid search worker, who I knew from a earlier place, to restructure the entire account from the bottom up. She got here in along with her crew. Inside 5 months, that they had all the pieces rebuilt. In my expertise, a restructure about each two years can do wonders.

Bandholz: What about internet online affiliate marketing?

McGinnis: We’re going to strive an company to construct out our affiliate community. If that doesn’t work, I’ll assign it to an in-house worker to present it the eye it deserves. We could create a separate e mail account with my identify on it, and that worker may do outreach to the publishing homes. We’re completely happy to supply free merchandise to their editors, so they may know we’re a legit firm. That’s the present plan. We’ll see the way it works.

Bandholz: Returning to paid search, what are your ROAS expectations for non-branded advertisements?

McGinnis: We’re measuring it. We would like it to return higher than one, however we’re prepared to just accept lower than that, too. Once more, we have a look at blended ROAS for branded and non-branded.

It boils all the way down to being oriented towards progress or effectivity. In the event you’re oriented for effectivity, each single deal needs to be worthwhile — each sale, channel, advert group, key phrase. However if you happen to have a look at it in a blended means, which we do, you tolerate inefficiency to attain progress. That’s our view.

Bandholz: We’ve lengthy relied on a single post-purchase survey query: How did you first hear about Beardbrand? We record all of our advertising and marketing channels on the survey. Then we’ll primarily prorate that quantity into our income for an attribution mannequin. We’re trusting prospects to reply precisely.

McGinnis: We have now an analogous survey, however we haven’t but baked it into our knowledge. Progress requires a willingness to take some dangers and experiment. The place can we spend cash? What are the correct messages? How can we get our model in entrance of nurses, well being care employees, lecturers?.

Bandholz: The expansion you’re seeing from demand seize is unimaginable. I think there are untapped channels for Kuru, resembling Amazon.

McGinnis: That and, additionally, model consciousness. I’m satisfied we’ll ultimately promote on tv, radio, and billboards to lift consciousness. Our CEO is fond of claiming he needs to be the most important model you’ve by no means heard of. In the event you’ve bought foot ache, he needs to be in your face, so to talk.

Bandholz: That’s clearly evident. Your success speaks for itself. The place can folks join with you, study extra?

McGinnis: I’m on Twitter — @SeanMcGinnis. Our web site is


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