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KEEN Case Study

Creating evergreen content in support of brand story.

Content Marketing
Blog Writing
Style Guide Creation

Who is KEEN?

the wildly popular outdoor shoes with the distinctive rubber toe

Launched in 2003, KEEN introduced the outdoor industry to a completely new kind of footwear. Today, the Portland brand is well-known and well-loved for unconventional looks and uncompromising comfort. If you live in the PNW, like we do, it’s common to see outdoorsy families marching up and down Dog Mountain every summer in their KEEN shoes. Your neighbor outside strapping a canoe to the roof of his Subaru Outback? He’s probably wearing them, too.

Why KEEN called Thread

to help drive organic traffic and boost online sales

Like many successful retail brands, KEEN’s marketing strategy had been focused almost entirely on wholesale. But as online sales became a bigger slice of the revenue pie, the brand saw a need to invest in strategies to support D2C sales.

KEEN recognized that relevant, engaging content would be the engine to increase organic traffic (49% of searchers use Google to find a new product) and boost online sales. Enter Thread.

“ was facing the fact that there had never been an SEO-driven content marketing strategy designed to attract organic web traffic. Crucially, we lacked consumer-facing content to support our own products.”

— Havalah Gholdston, SEO Manager at KEEN

How Thread helped

fun, SEO-rich content pulled eyeballs to KEEN’s site

Thread developed the strategy and creative execution for KEEN’s Content Center, a hub for inbound marketing content. The how-tos, listicles and buying guides are designed to drive organic traffic to the site by tapping into questions shoppers were already typing into Google.

We used this strategy to concept, pitch and create useful, engaging content like How To Find a Perfect-Fitting Pair of Hiking BootsTips For Better Outdoor Bathrooming and Your Foot is a Tripod: The Truth About Standing Up. (Eventually, we also created pandemic-relevant content like 3 Fun Ways to Connect Kids With Nature at Home.)

Thread introduced an editorial content calendar, monthly “writers’ room” meetings and a story pitch process to help alleviate the workload and project management for KEEN’s in-house team. Once concepts were approved by KEEN’s editorial director, Thread writers sprung into action to turn them into eight to 10 fun, educational, SEO-friendly articles each month.

As a newcomer to the KEEN brand, Thread also offered the value of a fresh perspective. We made our own assessment of KEEN’s existing content and offered new angles and ideas to create stories that would resonate with the target audience and make the case for what KEEN has to offer them.

How story worked

friendly advice and how-tos fit right inside KEEN’s existing brand story

SEO data guided many of the pitches, but SEO alone can never tell a story. KEEN’s point of view has always been solidly down-to-earth, and its unconventional approach to the outdoors sets it apart from the adrenaline-fueled narrative of its competitors. With this in mind, Thread made sure that every article felt like another chapter of KEEN’s story, told in a voice that spoke directly to the excited first-time hikers, daily commuters, and eager parents and grandparents who have made KEEN one of the most beloved outdoor brands.

The stories we chose to tell are grounded by KEEN’s accessible approach to getting outside, with the belief that any walk can be a hike, and any time in nature can add joy to your life. By covering topics that everyday people are curious about and offering advice with encouragement and humor, KEEN’s content center not only attracted the attention of search engines, but of the consumers who would eventually feel right at home with the brand.

The upshot

542% increase in organic sessions (and that’s just the first six months)

Within six months of our partnership, KEEN noticed a 542% increase in organic sessions, a 9% increase in ecom conversion rate from Content Center traffic and a 1,000% increase in revenue generated from the site’s content (compared to the same period the year before).


Increase in organic sessions


Increase in ecom conversions


Increase in revenue from content

“Working on organic traffic is such a long game. But I can already say from an increased traffic lens that this content from Thread is already succeeding beyond what I hoped.”

— Havalah Gholdston, SEO Manager at KEEN

Drumroll, please: Thread is now a Certified B Corp! We 🎉 are 🎉 stoked