Just in time for Valentine's Day, Lover.ly, a startup focused on brides to be, is launching a social channel where couples can digitally organize their wedding keepsakes—chiefly photos—while inspiring the nuptials of others. Called Real Weddings, it will sport 4,800 so-called "wedding blueprint" guides for those about to get hitched.
The two-year-old, New York-based company—following the idea that attractive pictures sell clothes online—has forged relationships with Nordstrom, Macy's, J. Crew, Dessy and some 2,500 other retail chains, providing them an e-commerce feed. Kellee Khalil, Lover.ly CEO, told Adweek the retailers get back $9 for every $1 spent through her "Shop" channel. "They pay on a cost-per-click basis," she said. "We are more like a Google AdWords system than an affiliate marketing site."
The company, which combines Google search with Pinterest-like social elements such as shareable product images, doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel. Like other shopping aggregators, retail partners supply Lover.ly with their product images while bidding on keywords such as "gowns" or "perfume."
Khalil's performance stats are sure to raise eyebrows: 38 million image views in the last month, and revenue that shot up 400 percent in 2013 versus 2012, she reports. "We expect to grow [sales] by four times again this year," she added. "Our [hardcore user] base, which is five percent of our visitors, comes to the site three to six times a day."
Lover.ly said last year brought 325 million product views. Its mobile app has been downloaded 90,000 times to date, while its email campaigns average a healthy 47 percent clickthrough rate.
Lover.ly's marketing efforts have fallen primarily to social channels, accumulating a combined 500,000 fans/followers via Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram. Khalil hopes the social-minded Real Weddings element will further boost the startup, which is beginning its busy season today—the No. 1 day of the year for wedding proposals.
Lover.ly, which said it is operating on $2 million in investor funding, brings to mind Maker's Row, which has gained notoriety for launching an Etsy-like marketplace for American manufacturers and suppliers.