The already growing trend of buying houseplants was massively accelerated in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Houseplant brands across the board saw a boost in sales, with a recent report predicting that the flower and ornamental plants market is set to grow by nearly $30 billion over the next four years.
As lockdowns were announced, people looked towards houseplants as a way to brighten up their homes. One houseplant brand in particular, The Sill, managed to capitalise on this opportunity and push ahead of the competition, thanks to their innovative SEO strategy and creative social media content.
Building Brand Values Through Social Media
When stay-at-home orders were issued in the US, The Sill supercharged its social media pages, especially by utilising IGTV on Instagram. Their online content that was centered around plant maintenance saw high levels of engagement, as they were providing a much-needed service during a time when face-to-face advice wasn’t possible.
Their social pages also heavily promoted self-care messaging, most notably providing a space for conversation about mental health with the #PlantsMakePeopleHappy hashtag. It encouraged users to share how plants have helped to improve their wellbeing.
Both of these content strategies helped The Sill to display strong brand values during a time where more customers were coming to the brand, with 50% more in sales occurring in April than in March.
Their CEO, Eliza Blank, spoke in an interview about how her company wanted to create organic engagement that would convert new customers into long-term buyers. “In 2020, we weren’t having issues acquiring customers, so we wanted to be really disciplined in how we’re acquiring them, we’ve always had a guiding principle that we earn our customers, we don’t buy our customers,” she said.
Creating Searchable Content
One of the cornerstones of The Sill’s success is their dedication to creating outstanding blog content. On their site, they have a content hub that’s entirely dedicated to educating readers about plant care.
Eliza explained how customers often felt that they didn’t have the necessary knowledge around horticulture, which put them off buying houseplants. “The biggest barrier is that people say “I don’t know anything about plants.” We wanted to create a community that didn’t make you feel silly for asking basic questions,” she said.
More than half of The Sill’s traffic comes from search, with 82% of that coming from organic search. Comparing The Sill’s education hub to similar content from competitors gives some insight into why.
The Sill bases its content around common search terms. Their blog content includes phrases like “how do I know if I’m overwatering my plants?”. Meanwhile, competitors such as House Plant Shop organise their educational content based on plant names. To find that content, customers need to use far more specific and less commonly used search terms.
The Sill’s Educational Blog Content
Competitor Brand House Plant Shop Educational Content
The Sill’s wider blog content reflects the typical kind of search terms a customer might use. Their “Plants By Room” series allows their customers to put their products into context by creating content with searchable titles such as “Best Plants For The Office” or “Bedroom Plants.” More generally, The Sill opts for easy-to-understand and searchable names for product categories, such as, “Best for pet owners” and “Best for beginners.” By using highly searchable terms that lead to genuinely helpful content, The Sill is able to attract new and existing customers to the site in an entirely organic way, whilst increasing the likelihood of increasing both consideration and conversion.
The Sill’s Categories Section
Key Lessons To Learn
The Sill’s approach works. Since starting back in 2012, the brand has secured over $7.5 million in venture funding and was earning over $5 million in revenue as recently as 2018. The company has sold over 500,000 plants in the last year and has been experiencing 400% Y-O-Y revenue growth.
When the company's CEO was asked how she has been able to generate such sustained growth, she said that publishing high-quality content that fostered a sense of community was critical. “I don’t have any big ‘unlocks’ I can share,” she said. “I do think that (customers) are built over time and are built authentically. Community can not be forced, it cannot be bought, not (a) sustainable community, it needs to be inspired, it needs to be organic, and that truly is how The Sill’s community was born.”