Camera skin retailer Camskns.com says 70% of its website traffic stems from social media, with Instagram as the main channel. The brand experiments marketing on TikTok but has yet to generate consistent results on the social platform.

When Colin Dougherty lost his marketing job in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, he decided that it was the perfect time to launch the business idea he was already toying with on the side.

In May 2020, Dougherty launched Camskns.com, which sells thin protective cases, or skins, for higher-end cameras, such as models of Sony, Canon and Nikon. It has since expanded to sell skins for GoPro cameras and drones.

Sales have been steadily growing each month and have reached the “five-figure range” per month, Dougherty says.

Dougherty attributes most of its growth to marketing and organic posts on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. As customers buy a camera skin, they show them off on social media and tag Camskns, which helps build brand awareness and increase sales, he says.

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Camskns.com uses both paid and organic posts on social media, plus works with influencers to promote its products on social media. 70% of Camskns’ website traffic is from social media, with Instagram as the main channel, he says. Roughly half of its marketing budget goes to social media ads and creating content for it, he says.

Camskns on TikTok

Like many merchants building a brand presence on TikTok, Camskns.com has hit-or-miss results on the social media platform.

“TikTok is a difficult monster to tackle, to say the least,” Dougherty says. “The trends are constantly moving on TikTok, and it’s hard to identify them, turn around the content for them and publish the creative content and hope it all works for your brand.”

For example, a few months ago, there was a trend on TikTok in which users would post videos and pause a certain image during it and then create a musical album cover. Camskns noticed the trend, produced a 15-second video that did exactly this and showed off its product. It took four hours to create, and it received less than 300 views—results Doughtery was not pleased with.

@camsknsWhat do y’all think? #albumcover #photography #photographer #sony #smallbusiness #albumcoverchallenge♬ Hiiipower x DIAND – Michael


In contrast, a video Dougherty quickly created of him just talking about its product and asking for anyone to reach out to the brand on Instagram if they wanted to be an influencer generated nearly 10,000 views within a couple of days.

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“Within 24 hours, we got 70 DM (direct message) requests directly to our Instagram,” he says, which means users had to find the Instagram link in Camskns’ TikTok bio, leave TikTok and go to Instagram to message the brand. Of these 70 requests, Doughtery says about 15 of them have become some of the best influencers for the brand.

“We use [the influencers] mostly for incredible content that we can repurpose on our channel and small amounts of word of mouth,” he says.

@camsknsLet’s rock and roll! ##photography ##photographer ##phototips101 ##fyp ##sony ##canon ##nikon♬ fireflies slowed – reece 👾

While Dougherty hasn’t found the right ingredients yet to make every post successful on TikTok, he is not giving up, as a few business colleagues have had consistently good results on the platform. Plus, he knows its customer base is younger—ages 18 to 40—and this is the popular platform for those consumers. He plans to hire an intern where the job is to watch for TikTok trends and create content in line with the trend, he says.

But he is no longer marketing with paid ads on the platform. Compared with Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s ad targeting options are too basic, he says. For example, on TikTok, the brand can target for age, gender and a broad interest. In contrast, on Facebook and Instagram, he can drill down to very granular levels of interests, among other cross-selling features, he says.

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According to a recent survey, only 5% of retailers advertise on TikTok—far behind the 82% that say they advertise on Facebook, according to a 2020 survey of 105 retailers by Digital Commerce 360.

Camskns.com adds pay-in-installments features

In 2021, next up on Dougherty’s list in growing its business is increasing average order value. After speaking with another direct-to-consumer business friend, he decided to launch a buy now, pay later option.

“[Our prices] are a little high for our current customer demographic, which is a bit younger,” Dougherty says. “The amount of money is not crazy, but maybe they would balk at it and say, ‘I don’t know if I should buy this.’”

Its camera and drone skins range from $42-$64. Dougherty applied to three pay-in-installment vendors. Klarna approved the brand the fastest and thus won its business. Another vendor-approved Camskns shortly after, but because the fees were roughly the same, he decided to keep it simple and launch only with Klarna. Klarna charges Camskns.com 3% plus 30 cents per transaction that goes through the payment feature.

For Dougherty, one of the main selling points of adding Klarna was that the vendor took on the risk of the shopper. Klarna pays Camskns.com the order’s full amount within a week of the shopper purchasing, even if the shopper has three more installments to go.

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“Another big thing that was super appealing to me was (that) they will guarantee the full amount,” Dougherty says.

It took about two to three weeks from contacting Klarna to getting the payment feature live on its site. From mid-January, when it launched Klarna until mid-March, 5-9% of all orders now go through Klarna, he says.

Since launching the feature, Camskns.com’s conversion rate increased 2% in the months it has had Klarna compared with the average in the months it did not have the feature.

Besides financing being an attractive option to shoppers, Dougherty also believes having the Klarna logo helps with conversion because it is a well-known brand that gives credibility to Camskns.

“I think [adding Klarna] is worth it for sure, just from a trust standpoint on the site,” Dougherty says, although he does not have data to prove this.

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Unfortunately, its average order value did not increase after adding Klarna, which Dougherty says is disappointing. The majority of shoppers just buy one product. He hopes that as the brand expands its product line, the financing option will entice more shoppers to buy multiple products or a more premium product, and its AOV much increase in the future.

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