Tim Kaeding and Lela Becker were two long-term fashion denim veterans in 2010 when they started working on their company in Tim’s basement. The clothing industry is cut-throat competitive and having a ton of specific industry experience was a key to their success — they knew what they were doing.
They spent a full year working on the brand before they made their first product. Most small businesses start the other way around. Anyway … they caught a wave and rode the success to Shopify super-stardom. Their “opposite of Mom jeans” are worn by celebrities and they even got a write up in Forbes.
I took a peek into their Shopify site traffic and they had more than 130k visitors in March of this year. Nearly 87% of that traffic in from the US, and more than 50% of it arrives via search. But most of that search … in fact almost all of it … is navigational. That means that folks are searching for “mother denim” or “mother jeans” in combination with other descriptors. Interestingly, about 37% of their traffic comes from direct navigation. So that means that even though they do a lot of search advertising and some social, more than 87% of their traffic is looking for them before they see an ad. They are running on brand power.
The Shopify Theme That They Use
If you have been reading this email for a while you know I do not think that a custom theme is necessary for success the VAST majority of the time. Usually, a good premium theme and some solid tweaking and customization by TaskHusky is all you need. But there are exceptions, and this is one of them.
When you sell $300 torn and shredded jeans and $100 faded tank tops, you need to sell style. They need some custom features to do that. So, I think that the execution of those custom features is worth the extra cash in this case.
What They Do Well
These guys spend a HUGE amount of time on branding, feel, and style. The different between an $80 pair of jeans and Mother Denim is branding, feel, and style so you had better bring it! But they do. The photography is top-notch.
Take a look at all those photos on the home page. They look good, right? Most of the time when we are looking at a high-fashion brand the photos kill the page speed. And when I say “kill the page speed” I mean suck the life out of a site like Dracula. But this page weighs in a just 3MB. That still 50% higher than optimal, but not bad with all those photos. Someone spent the time to optimize the heck out of those images, squeezing them with an eyedropper. Nice Job.
This is super-impressive. Whether you are viewing on a laptop or a phone, most of the product images on the primary collection pages are short videos. Check out this page. On a laptop/desktop, mouse over a few of the images and they come to life with video. If you are on mobile, press and hold the image and it pops-up to do the same thing. This is what they are paying those fancy-schmancy developers all that money for … so you can see pouty-lipped, dead-eyed models who look like they haven’t eaten lunch in forever slump their shoulders and shift their hips.
Someone needs to give these girls a sandwich or chicken nuggets or something.
The checkout process is clean and efficient … there are express payment options and installment payments via ShopPay. And when the jeans cost as much as a car payment, sometimes you need to make installments. Also note that they have the subscription offer in the shopping cart. That works for me.
What Needs to Be Improved
OK … this is an expensive, highly stylistic custom Shopify implementation. Did you see that “Shop New Arrivals” stock ticker-like text scroll just below the hero image on the home page? Check it out again here. What the heck is that? It’s even scrolling left to right, which is odd. I haven’t seen that lame of a text scroller since 1998 GeoCities sites. Ah, those were the days!
I conducted a few mock-purchases. Part of that means putting something into the shopping cart and then leaving the shopping cart to go back to the main page. Normally, there is an indicator of having items in your art and a way to navigate back to it. Totally could not find that. Big miss here. In order to navigate back to the cart I had to add another item to it. But I finally found it … there is a little circle on the upper right-hand corner of the page. No cart symbol … no words … just a little circle you have to “know” to click. Really strange.
The Shopify Apps They Use
We used our top-secret Shopify scanning tools to determine that this site is using the following apps and plugins:
- Back In Stock: Customer Alerts - Notify customers: products out of stock, in stock, preorders.
- GDPR Compliance Center - GDPR/CCPA/LGPD Cookie Banner, cookies consent, data protection
- Klaviyo: Email Marketing & SMS - Email, SMS, and more - a unified customer platform
- Privy ‑ Pop Ups, Email, & SMS - Email Marketing, SMS, Pop Ups, Cross Sell, Banners & Bars
- Returnly - Automated returns solution with truly instant exchanges.
- SEO Manager - SEO power tool. Rank higher. Get found. Sell more. Manage SEO.
- Shogun Page Builder - Page Editor to Design Blogs, Product & Landing Pages
- Searchspring - Searchspring, the #1 Ecommerce Search & Merchandising Solution
- AccessiBe - The #1 Automated Web Accessibility Solution for ADA & WCAG Compliance
- HotJar - Hotjar lets you see how visitors are really using your website, collect user feedback and turn more visitors into customers.
This seems like “not too many” apps, but I call attention to the multiple “marketing automation” apps. I’ll bet that at least one of those is old and they forgot to remove it.
Marketing Stuff They Do
Mother runs a lot of search ads. They also have active Social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. In other words, the usual suspects. Facebook and Instagram are very active with hundreds of thousands of followers, organic posts, and paid ads. They haven’t posted to twitter in 2 years, which begs the question, “Why have it?” Ditto for Pinterest.
Here are sample ads from their social and search campaigns for your inspiration and enlightenment.
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