How eCommerce Startup Cotopaxi Acquires Customers With Facebook Ads

cotopaxi-backpack

This article is part of a series where we perform an in-depth review of the customer journey and marketing strategy used by our favorite brands, with a particular focus on Facebook & Instagram advertising funnels. No company paid for or asked for this review. Thanks for targeting us anyway!

Most people would not consider getting targeted with a certain ad on Instagram to be “as if ordained by a higher power.” Most people aren’t me.

The nature of working on the internet means that work often follows you home. This multiplies ten-fold when you work on Instagram. And twenty-fold when you sometimes scroll through Instagram as a pre-sleep routine. (Doctors, it’s not pretty or healthy…but it is true.) So, while a lot of people find “eerily relevant” Instagram advertising…well…eerie, I am into it. An opportunity to check out a company’s social advertising funnel out in the real world, while also shopping for something I might actually want? Yeah, don’t mind if I do.

The First Touchpoint

When this bad boy showed up in my feed a few days ago it was incredibly special for two reasons:

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  1. I’m in-market for a new travel bag. In fact, I’m currently testing models by similar companies like Peak Design and Nomatic. Great targeting, Cotopaxi!
  2. When big-boss Matt Lampkin and I met to discuss this article (before I got hit up with this ad) I chose Cotopaxi right away. I was familiar with the brand, but had never explored their social media or website before. Plus, it was especially “current” for me as I’d already done tons of competitor research on both Facebook and Instagram.

So when a company targets you—right after you target them—it’s incredibly special. Or incredibly creepy. But here at Fetch & Funnel we’re in the business of advertising on social media…so it’s a little bit of both.

The Second Touchpoint

Here’s the deal: I did not click on the above ad. It’s a sexy ad. It’s a gif that flashes and entices me in all the right ways. But I’m a busy woman. I currently have FOUR bags that I’m testing in my living room, and frankly, I was a little surprised it took Cotopaxi this long to get to the party.

Before I saw this ad I had been seriously searching for a bag for three weeks, and my browsing activity was definitely being tracked by a variety of Facebook pixels on small and big business websites. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been a little too generous on the card swiping. If Cotopaxi had been targeting their competitors on Facebook and Instagram, they would’ve had my number a while ago.

So, I waited until I was in a safer place to look into Cotopaxi. [Read: I wanted to wait until I narrowed down my choices in real life before adding another potential to the list.]

After a few more days of extremely scientific packing experiments in my living room, I went back to where it all began: Instagram.

And before any analysis: I hit the follow button.

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Initial impression: The Cotopaxi ‘gram is, all in all, a travel ‘gram. The images are bright, curated, and showcase attractive people in the mountains. A few things stuck out to me:

  1. Decent follower count at 155K. Good for retargeting, engagement, and social proof.
  2. The grid has a good combination of videos, product spots, user-generated content, and nature porn.

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I liked a few photos. I took note of a giveaway that was currently going on…link in bio to submit. I didn’t. I shut down my mobile for the night, hoping for a sweet retargeting sequence within the next few days.

The Third Touchpoint

Folks, I did not have to wait long.

Cotopaxi followed up on my Instagram engagement almost immediately, with another gif.

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God, I’m so glad I did not see this before I started testing travel packs. This definitely would have been a contender.

First, they got the memo to do unpacking stop-motions on the bags. Well done, super effective. It definitely makes you stop and watch. The bright colors help with that, too.

All in all though, I did not click. That’s what you get for getting me at bedtime, Cotopaxi. But I like your style.

Fourth Touchpoint

I got smacked with another ad the next day before even going to the website.

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It was a typical flash sale affair, complete with a good photo graphic and the offer right in your face. 40% off too, not bad. If they had hit me up a week earlier I might have looked into this…

Fifth Touchpoint

Later that day I was scrolling through my feed and saw some of their organic content in the wild.

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  1. I like that they are using Instagram Shopping.
  2. This is just great content. It shows a behind the scenes look at one of their employees (the copy is killer!) while also revealing the true ethos of their brand. Plus, a great sense of humor.

I liked Cotopaxi even more because of this piece of content.

Sixth Touchpoint

Next order of business was to do a quick Google Search on the brand name.

I quickly saw they have some Google Shopping and branded search running.

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Next I scroll down to see their SEO at work.

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Cotopaxi was ranked first on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), which is great considering they share a name with a mountain in Ecuador that’s popular with tourists (probably the same kind of people likely to buy their products). I imagine that their backpacks are their best sellers, followed by men’s apparel. Free shipping on $99 seems like a pretty “meh” offer to me, since so many of their products are probably around that price range anyways.

I continued to scroll through the first page of Google and saw that they were featured in a Forbes article called “Gear for Good.” Interesting. Similar to how Patagonia speaks to sometimes-nature-loving elite urbanites and Arc’Teryx specializes in tech gear for San Francisco bros, Cotopaxi’s ethos seems to be based on moral decency.

I clicked onto the Forbes article.

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I didn’t read the article, just the title. What sticks out to me more than the “do-gooder” part is when it calls out that “Millennials Want Stories.” Much agree.

I hit backspace, scrolled up, and clicked onto the homepage link in the organic search ranking. Here’s what I found:

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Mountains. Dude smiling. Bright colors. Teca Flash Sale. I saw the button ledger on the bottom right to indicate a carousel, but my page seemed to be static.

I didn’t bite for the CTA “shop sale” and continued to scroll down the first page.

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I came across some of the bags that hit me up on the original Instagram ad. The coloring was kind of much for my all-blackwear preferences.

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This reinforces the “do-gooder” vibes I got from the Forbes article. I didn’t click the CTA, but it did help to hammer the point home, which I like for branding.

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This, same as above. Cotopaxi, you’re good dudes.

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TBH, this was kind of a nothing point for me. Maybe it’s their blog? I’m not sure. The CTA to “Read More” was pretty lost on me. The fitness topic doesn’t seem on-brand to me, either.

When I got to the bottom of the page a pop-up appeared immediately:

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15% off is a pretty sweet deal. I hope they did a split test to determine when the ad would appear. I imagine it was based on how much of the page I scrolled through or how much time I spent on the site, but there’s huge potential for this popup to have a bigger impact, had it appeared midway through the page or maybe after 20 seconds or so (as opposed to ~45 seconds).

All the way at the bottom of the page I came across an Instagram collage:

Here’s what it tells me about Cotopaxi customers:

  • They’re lovers of the outdoors
  • They prefer nature vacations to urban ones
  • Mountains > The Beach
  • They’re into the less technical side of mountaineering
  • They loved “Into the Wild”

After this I decided it was time to go shopping. Here’s my first look at their famed bags:

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This splash struck me as kind of bland. I would test lifestyle images here, or at least figure out the best ratio of white vs gray space.

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These colors seem to be for a very particular person. I wonder if they have tested using a default color for product pages, or tried some other way to make the products seem more uniform in nature. With so many colors competing for my attention, I had a hard time focusing on any of them.

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I decided to click on the Allpa 35L. Immediately I was impressed with the number of product photos to cycle through. I noted that the backpack was available on AfterPay and that $200 for a bag isn’t too bad at all.

Let’s dig into this product.

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Oooof. That’s a lot of text. I didn’t even bother reading the left side. Shorter paragraphs and call-out text would make this easier on the eye.

Features seemed pretty straight-forward, but nothing jumped out at me. That is, until I saw the “Accessories” section. These are strong selling points and might do better at the top!

I also saw that there seemed to be some kind of bundle available with the Nomadix System and Water Bottle.

Next up:

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Ah, I love this feature. It’s so cool to be able to see the product IRL…

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Reviews, nice. I read the first two.

I scrolled back to the top and looked through more photos. This one is very enticing:

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I took note of the water bottle and gathered that this must be the bundle I’d read about. The photo definitely makes me want to check it out.

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So, I added to cart.

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And just to make sure I’d get some of that sweet retargeting action, I hung out for a while on the checkout page. Then, I left.

Seventh Touchpoint

I got hit up with this ad again the next day:

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It seemed like this flash sale had been going on for at least a week, maybe longer. Same copy and graphic as before.

I didn’t take any action on the ad, aside from taking a screenshot. It might have been more effective to change up the creative for cart abandonment.

Eighth Touchpoint

A day or two after I abandoned my cart I was hit with this carousel ad:

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The first thing that caught my attention is that the images don’t seem to be the right fit for the placement, especially the second image. I can’t really tell which part of the bag I’m looking at.

The Takeaway

After this final touchpoint, I tore myself away from Instagram and got cracking on this article. Which, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the present. My overall impressions of Cotopaxi’s ad funnel:

  1. Branding is consistent, appealing and feels pretty fresh.
  2. Cotopaxi’s creative is bright and designed to catch eyeballs. They make great use of static imagery, gifs, mobile first video animation, and they pair creative well with social ad placements.
  3. They’ve got their Google game down.
  4. They could probably benefit from split testing a few things on the website, like pop-up timing and use of color.
  5. They made good use of Instagram retargeting after my initial engagement.
  6. The only thing that kept me from buying a Cotopaxi backpack was timing. If they’d done some In-Market and Custom Intent targeting earlier on, I would’ve been powerless to resist.
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