New Look, a leading fashion retailer, successfully shifted its business model to emphasize digital with the pandemic. Its mission statement describes how today’s approach reflects a “changing retail landscape and a world of new customers, new challenges, and new opportunities.”
This statement also reflects New Look’s and Crealytics’ joint strategy: to focus performance advertising on breaking into the world of new, high-value customers.
Here is how this strategy was successfully implemented on Microsoft Ads.
New Look’s Revised Performance Marketing Tactics
“We were looking for opportunities to expand our reach beyond familiar customers. We are always striving to grow our loyal customer base while maintaining efficiency.”Thomas Charlwood, Paid Search Manager at New Look
When Crealytics and New Look started revisiting Microsoft Ads in 2020, the key goal was to attract shoppers who might not have considered New Look without seeing ads, driving incremental growth.
The team approached this goal by testing and adopting three marketing tactics on Microsoft Ads.
1. Stopped over-indexing on Branded Search to shift budget to more incremental campaigns
Branded Search campaigns absorbed nearly half of New Look’s budget on Microsoft Ads in 2020. On the surface, these appeared to be more efficient than Non-branded campaigns. However, the teams considered the brand conversions hardly incremental — many customers would have purchased from New Look without seeing those ads.
Therefore, the teams felt that ad budgets were better invested in campaigns that reached shoppers unfamiliar with the brand.
In 2021, the team started decreasing the share of the budget allocated to Branded Search, focusing ad investments mostly on Generic Search and Shopping campaigns.
2. Building a full-funnel setup using the Microsoft Ad Network
In addition to serving in-market shoppers via Paid Search, the New Look brand strives to connect with many more consumers, even if they’re not interested in buying immediately.
Charlwood adds: “While shorter, conversion-based metrics are important, it’s also essential to invest in future demand. That’s why continuing to evolve our full-funnel campaign setup is always top of mind for us.”
The teams started experimenting with Image-Based ads, Microsoft’s equivalent of Display ads.
Further down the funnel, Microsoft Audience Ads reached shoppers with buying intent on adjacent, Microsoft-exclusive websites, including MSN, Outlook, and Bing Search Partners.
3. Using New Look’s blog to attract top-of-funnel prospects
“Ecommerce should be more than demand fulfillment. That’s why our New Look Daily blog provides users with style tips and accessible trends. With inspiration, we aim to convey our strong brand proposition in another way,” Charlwood explains.
The teams felt the blog provided highly valuable content for New Look’s target audience.
“We wanted to see whether prospecting campaigns could drive even more fashion-minded consumers to the blog – inviting them to spend time with the New Look brand – and measure if they were open to impulse purchases,” says Ali Sasso, Senior Campaign Manager at Crealytics.
The team used Microsoft Native Ads, a contextual advertisement format that works without cookies. New Look’s latest blog articles were seamlessly advertised on fashion and lifestyle websites with tight control over brand safety.
Results and Learnings
According to New Look’s Paid Search Manager, its revised Microsoft Ads strategy achieved outstanding results. Key takeaways include:
1. Increasing the share of Non-branded budgets converted more people unfamiliar with New Look
The team was very pleased to see that, despite decreasing brand share, overall revenue did not dip. Instead, generic Shopping and Search campaigns effectively converted shoppers, particularly those unfamiliar with the brand.
2. The full-funnel setup helps New Look fill a pipeline for future demand
To justify upper funnel ad budgets, Charlwood advises: “Whenever there isn’t much conversion data, one must be comfortable with a growth hypothesis. Ours is that well-targeted top-of-funnel campaigns contribute to the growth of the brand for all marketing channels. Thus, we were happy to get an additional 11% top-of-funnel clicks from the Microsoft Audience Network on top of Paid Search, especially at roughly 50% lower CPCs.”
3. Promoting New Look’s blog drove impulse purchases at the top of the funnel
Audiences that clicked on Native ads and landed on New Look’s fashion blog stayed longer (+61% vs. landing on product pages) and visited more pages (+119% vs. product pages). They were also much more likely to convert than Display ads (conversion rate + 636%) and drove higher ROAS (+113%).
Charlwood ads, “What we like about advertising the blog with contextual ads is that it bridges the gap between branding and performance with its inspirational, shoppable content, allowing us to amplify our value and versatility.”
Rosaria Alfano, Director at Crealytics, thinks contextual advertising can reach the right people at the right time, without being intrusive and without relying on cookies or third-party data, which are slowly being phased out, with measurable performance. She states: “This is one of the many tests we carry out to prepare our clients for a cookieless future, in addition to our server-side tracking technology. Advertisers can build meaningful connections with consumers actively searching for brands that share their core values.”
What’s Next in 2023?
Setting a foundation to reach new customers on Microsoft Ads was only the first step. Now, New Look and Crealytics are looking to activate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) data. The goal is to steer Microsoft’s AI bidding to support New Look’s mission of tapping into a world of new customers, especially those that promise a high lifetime value. Charlwood elaborates:
We’re hoping to see similar results with CLV data activation on Microsoft Ads, just like we did on Google. AI Bidding systems must bid more when new, high-value customers are searching and less when others do. We’re proud of the infrastructure we built with Crealytics to measure, activate and report predictive lifetime value. And we’re excited to roll that out to Microsoft Ads, too.
Ready to win like New Look?
In addition to New Look, Crealytics has helped countless other retailers, including Zappos, Zalando, and Lands’ End, win with performance marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.