The web-only retailer focuses on content marketing because it can’t afford steep acquisition costs.

While most digitally native, vertically integrated brands rely heavily on Google and Facebook’s direct-response ads to acquire customers, Tortuga Backpacks takes a different approach. The retailer, which sells luggage that combines elements of hiking backpacks with a design that’s optimized for air travel, focuses on “long-game” search engine-optimized content marketing tactics that include extremely detailed product pages and a blog that aims to solve a consumer’s travel problems or packing questions.

The decision to focus on content grew out of necessity; the retailer couldn’t afford steep customer acquisition costs from other marketing channels because most consumers only need one piece of carry-on luggage.

“We had to find a way to be sustainably profitable given our [lifetime value] challenge,” says Taylor Coil, the retailer’s marketing director for the retailer. “We know we can’t solve the [lifetime value] challenge overnight, and so we had to figure out a way to turn a profit with a customer’s first purchase.”

That starts with a data-centric approach to content development. Every quarter, Coil works with the brand’s product manager to examine the data collected by its analytics vendor, Kissmetrics. Using first-touch and mid-funnel attribution models that enable it to evaluate consumers’ paths to purchase, it evaluates which blog posts generated the most traffic, which resulted in product page views and which led to a sale.

“The data enables us to understand how to tell stories that are genuinely useful to customers and those that ultimately sell product,” she says. Different stories serve different purposes, and the retailer’s twice-weekly article cadence enables it to drive traffic to its site via travel posts, such as “How to get upgraded to first class (and when paying for it is worth it),” as well as those that lead to sales, such as “How to pack cords, chargers and cables for travel.”


Similarly, the retailer’s product pages follow the basics of search engine optimization by offering shoppers a deluge of information that shows how its products address their travel issues. The pages feature a surfeit of images that showcase a backpack from a variety of perspectives, as well as on actual travelers (including the model’s height to help a shopper determine how the piece will fit on her).

The product page includes a wealth of details such as the backpack’s dimensions and weight, as well as the item’s basic features and functions. The more in-depth details are accessible by clicking an Expand button, such as what types of items fit inside the bag, a video showcasing the bag’s bells and whistles and in-depth product features, including a page that walks a shopper through all of the backpack’s pockets and features.

The idea is to offer a lot of information without creating a busy, overcrowded page, Coil says. “Luggage is a considered purchase,” she says. “From the first moment that someone learns about our brand to the day they complete their purchase can be 30 to 90 days. That means the burden of education is on us to provide those who are seeking reassurance with the information they need to click the Buy button.”


While most site visitors don’t click the Expand button, the ones that do find it “quite valuable” and have a higher conversion rate than other site visitors, she says.

Moreover, the content is also valuable to the retailer because it is content that can be crawled by search engine spiders. That search engine optimization benefit ultimately helps other consumers discover the brand, she says.

The approach seems to be working as organic search accounted for 69.4% of traffic to from March 2018 to March 2019, according to SimilarWeb Ltd. data.


Tortuga Backpacks is No. 798 in the just-released Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000 report.