Casper is the biggest player in the bed-in-a-box market.
Since launching in 2013, the company has raised $239m from investors at a $750m valuation. In a $1.2B industry with over 100 competing mattress companies, it has managed to scrape and claw its way to the top.
And a big part of how it got there was by staging an all-out war against “mattress bloggers” on the internet.
It’s a blogger’s game
As Fast Company reports, in the past few years, dozens of blogs have surfaced that exclusively focus on reviewing mattresses.
These guys have a very specific game plan: they vie for SEO dominance on phrases like “mattress review” and “best mattress,” then strike affiliate marketing deals with certain mattress brands.
For instance, if a blogger links to a $1k Leesa mattress and a customer clicks through and buys one, the blogger typically makes around $50 (or 5%) per sale.
And Casper used to love these guys
When they first started out, Casper went super hard on striking deals with these blogs: it was a big part of their marketing strategy, and it paid off.
In particular, they fancied Sleepopolis, run by a skinny Arizona blogger named Derek Hales. D-money was one of the internet’s most prolific mattress reviewers, raking in 500k blog hits per month. For some time, he and Casper shared a mutually beneficial relationship.
But, when Casper got a new infusion of cash in 2015, they stopped working with affiliate bloggers like Derek — and Derek started touting other mattresses instead. With the SEO power he wielded, Derek cost Casper millions in lost sales.
So, Casper sued
In April of 2016, Casper filed suits against Sleepopolis and 2 other mattress review sites, alleging that they had engaged in “false advertising” and had failed to disclose affiliate partnerships with competing brands like Leesa.
And when Sleepopolis refused to settle, Casper allegedly funded a buyout of the blog to shut them up. Today, Casper claims Sleepopolis is run independently of Casper — but their mattresses are “magically” #1 on the blog again.
Who knew the mattress game was so cruel?