From their namesake to their brand values, Talley & Twine is a reflection of its founder and president, Randy Williams. Williams started the luxury watch company in 2014, naming it after an intersection near where Williams grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Talley & Twine hasn’t relied on outside money in seven years, and brings in an estimated $1-5 million in annual revenue. Williams’ special edition Juneteenth watch collection has caught the eye of some big names in pop culture - you may have seen Talley & Twine’s watches promoted on Steph Curry’s Instagram, or in T-Pain and Normani’s music video for Google. This publicity has been hard won - Williams spent the early years using organic social media outreach to build brand awareness. This strategy’s success is reflected in their strong direct and search traffic today.
Let’s see how Talley & Twine’s founder let his products reflect his values, and cultivated a strong understanding of his audience to build a name for his business.
Let your products reflect your values to reach users who are searching for representation
As an avid watch collector himself, Williams started Talley & Twine because he observed that very few watch companies were started or advertised by people that looked like him. Williams’ company is Black-owned, and his identity is integrated into the brand. In the Summer of 2020 as the Black Lives Matter movement gained significant momentum, Talley & Twine became part of the national conversation about supporting Black-owned businesses.
In June of 2020, Talley & Twine released a limited-edition watch (see their 2022 collection above) to celebration the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Williams says, “It's great seeing people realize that where they shop can be another form of activism, that it's a way to put your money where your mouth is.” The watch sold out before the holiday itself. Their revenue from April to August of 2020 was $830k, triple what it was during the same period in 2019.
This was not a one-time event—Williams has turned this limited edition drop into an annual tradition. They released a similar line in 2021. One of their top paid search terms during April-June of 2021 was “juneteenth flag,” bringing in 12.08% of their paid search traffic.
Start with organic outreach to build momentum, then scale using tools like Google Channel
In Talley & Twine’s early days, their team would go to Facebook and Instagram pages that were interested in fashion, and simply engage with users who they suspected could be potential customers. The people who were responsive to these outreaches (those who commented back, followed their account, continued engaging) informed their understanding of their key demographic. In the last two years, they began building out search campaigns based on these insights. As a result, their primary source of traffic has switched from direct to search.
In 2021, 81.68% of their site traffic was direct. This indicates that the majority of their audience at that time was familiar with their brand by name, and sought their site out directly. By fostering relationships with users on social platforms, Talley & Twine generated brand awareness that was reflected by their site traffic.
Today, their search traffic has surged to account for 52.77% of their overall site traffic (see below). According to Bloomberg, this change aligns with Talley & Twine’s increased focus on Google Ad campaigns. Williams told the outlet that the search engine’s ability to direct customers to his Shopify store “[has] been a saving grace.”
According to Williams, by the end of 2021, Talley & Twine had seen a 300% return on their Google Ad spend. He attributes this success to his company’s use of Shopify’s Google Channel app which automatically updates their ads to accommodate new products. As a company with more than 120 products, manual indexing is off the table. In the three years leading up to their use of Google Channel, Talley & Twine had grown 150% year over year. They use Google’s smart technology to optimize their ads automatically.
Talley & Twine’s organic approach to social media outreach builds brand awareness and offers an accurate profile of key demographics they can target. Once they have built momentum and need to scale their outreaches, they let Google Channel do the work.
Understand what motivates user purchases in order to create products that will encourage repeat customers
Initially, Williams thought it was important to stay within one category, so they only carried watches for men. Through Google Analytics, Talley & Twine discovered that half of their customers were women purchasing their products as gifts. This meant that 50% of Talley & Twine’s customers weren’t spending money on themselves - an observation that presented Williams with the opportunity to convert this audience of gift-buyers into customers themselves.
In 2017 they released their first line of women’s watches. “That was probably the most significant change that we made. It allowed us to grow a lot faster and gave us a really diverse community of customers as well,” says Williams. Prior to this introduction, Talley & Twine was doing around $2.5 million in business each year. The following year, this number doubled.
This simple insight discovered through Google Analytics showed Williams that a chunk of his audience was not being used to their full potential. The women’s line of watches was a way to reach a demographic that was already familiar with their business - a demographic that now makes up 45.78% of Tally & Twine’s website users (see below).
By getting to know their audience through personal outreaches, Williams was able to understand his audience on a more intimate level - this strategy built a foundation for their brand name and was also applied through the introduction of their women’s watch line. Williams is similarly willing to integrate his own values into Talley & Twine’s products - this authenticity was well-received in the form of their special edition watch lines. In anticipation of Juneteenth 2022, Talley & Twine has continued their tradition with the release of a special edition watch collection. By integrating Google Channel to generate optimized ads for all new products, Talley & Twine can count on consistent traffic for new products they may release in the future.
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