Local florist builds online franchise model using New Zealand-developed web smarts

published by on 7th May 2004 under Industry News

Ponsonby-based florist Wild Poppies is on its way to becoming an international franchise, reaping substantial online revenue growth by deploying unique New Zealand-developed technology from local website marketing company, First Rate.Kerry Bradburn founded Wild Poppies in 1990, and quickly grew the business to five retail stores. Five years later, a changing market saw her make a sea change – to a single retail store and a business largely based around a website.

70% of Wild Poppies’ business is now done online, and the business is growing at a rate of 40% each year. Online revenues are also growing by 40% per year.

Website marketing company First Rate is working with Wild Poppies to drive that growth, using a combination of astute online marketing tactics, and an innovative software product called Media Tracker. Developed by First Rate, Media Tracker is unique in its ability to match each component of a marketing spend to actual online business results.

One component of First Rate’s online marketing strategy for Wild Poppies is ‘search engine optimisation’. This starts with research into what phrases people use when searching for florists on line. First Rate then tunes the site to ensure that Wild Poppies gets the best possible rankings under those key phrases. This directs people who are searching online for flowers to the Wild Poppies site.

Some web marketing activities instigated by First Rate are new to Wild Poppies, such as Search Engine Advertising. When a premium search position is not possible through optimisation – due to heavy competition – Wild Poppies appears on the ‘paid for’ section of search result pages produced by engines such as Google.

This is proving highly successful in driving online business revenue. 71% of new visitors to Wild Poppies website come from these initiatives, and
First Rate monitor this on a daily basis to ensure the site is maintaining its growth momentum.

Wild Poppies uses Media Tracker to understand the sales process and visitor behaviour from origin to sale. Media Tracker shows how visitors arrived at the website, what they did there, the direct revenue result of that visit, and the subsequent life time value of that newly acquired customer.

The graphic designer who manages the ‘look and feel’ of the wildpoppies.co.nz website is intimately involved with the Media Tracker results. The designer works with First Rate to monitor and track the results of email campaigns, and to detect and redesign any area of the campaign that’s not delivering results.

“First Rate’s research has made them very intimate with our industry, not just our company, so they see what our competitors are doing, and where we are in the rankings,” says Kerry Bradburn.

“Opportunities open up all the time, and if you’re not aware of them you miss them. I benefit from that specialist knowledge. I’m not a technical person – all I want to do is concentrate on what I do best,” she says.

Wild Poppies is now an established brand and gets regular repeat business, through satisfied customers and personal referrals from customers to their friends. However the business growth comes from the Website marketing program.

“It’s a broader customer base, and even though we currently only distribute in New Zealand, a lot of our new customers live all over the world. They live elsewhere, but want to send flowers to someone in New Zealand, so we have free calling numbers on the homepage for various countries, to make it user friendly,” Kerry Bradburn says.

“We’re not just investing in the internet, we’re embracing the whole online world. We don’t just do business online, we absolutely love online business.”

The company is growing its market share, and getting ready to move to the next level, which is to franchise and have a global business. The company plans to establish concept stores first nation-wide, then in Australia. Like the original Wild Poppies store, the lion’s share of the stores’ revenue will come from internet customers.

With the number of visitors to the website growing by 40% per year, and online sales growing by the same amount, it’s clear that visitors are not just ‘looking and leaving’. Kerry Bradburn says one of the beauties of search engine marketing is that you get people who are genuinely looking for your product.

Wild Poppies is now building a brand new website, using First Rate on a consulting basis to ensure the site is built around the needs of search marketing. Wild Poppies’ original website was database driven, which meant sub pages had to be seeded through the site to optimise it for search engines.

“We made the beginner’s mistake of concentrating solely on the customer experience online, and in the process built a site that was hopeless for search engines. We’ve learned that web developers are best at web development and search engine marketing specialists are the ones who deliver the visitors to the site. We’ve opened up a huge group of new of customers.”

Kerry Bradburn says floristry lends itself perfectly to the online world.

“Online, customers can see exactly what they’re ordering, which feels so right because flowers are immensely visual,” she says.

Released by Sayle Noble & Associates on behalf of First Rate. For more information contact Caroline Sayle tel +649 307 8450. Wild Poppies’ Kerry Bradburn tel 09 360 0505. First Rate’s James Fleet tel 09 920 1314

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