Wins from Q4 2021

Hey friends! I thought I’d kick this thing off with a doozy. Grab a cup of coffee, let’s dive into the Q4 Post Mortem.

Promos

4 Bundles

We decided to give bundles another shot this year. This time around, though, I was determined to build it our using an app that would allow customers to choose their own variants. So instead of forcing them to get all natural colored products, they’d be able to choose a Trout hat with a black Gannett.

I ended up choosing the Shopify app Bundle Products (by PickyStory) and used what they call “Combos” to build the Men’s and Women’s bundles. To make them work I had to duplicate products in Shopify and combine all the SKUs so that different products would be able to be in the same dropdown. For example, to be able to choose between the Gannett and Parry, I had to make a new product called “Men’s Bundle Wallet” and copy all the images and SKUs into it so that it would come up as one line item on the “Men’s Hat Bundle” PDP.

Building the 4 hats and 4 earrings bundles was not clear using the bundle app. For the sake of time and headache, I opted for a standard Shopify discount code that was essentially 25% off when you have 4 of either of the product in your cart. I then used auto-apply URLs whenever I sent an email or launched an ad so the discount felt automatic to the customer. Yes, if the customer changed devices or navigated back and forth from the site, the auto-apply would break, but we only had 2 support tickets related to that — not bad.

The bundles accounted for 7.3% of all orders and 14.5% of revenue in Q4. Here’s how each of them shake out from most impact to least:

  • 4 Earrings Bundle — 2.7% of orders, 4.2% of revenue
  • Women’s Bundle — 2.1% of orders, 5.4% of revenue
  • 4 Hats Bundle — 2.0% of orders, 3.6% of revenue
  • Men’s Bundle — 0.5% of orders, 1.3% of revenue

Given that it was less than 15% of the overall revenue and 7% of orders, am I planning on implementing this again next year? Absolutely. Here’s why:

A great reason to email

  • Our content flow has picked up since September when I jumped in but there’s still a topic gap that exists when it comes to our weekly campaigns. The bundles were the perfect medium to build a launch cycle around and be a consistent element to push with every related holiday campaign.

AOV Boost

  • Since launching the bundles, our online store AOV shot up 61%. While there’s probably an element of seasonality involved, that big of a jump has to be somewhat related.

Converting some low performers

  • For the Men’s and Women’s bundles we decided to include one product with a lower sales volume. Because they were thrown in with the products that everyone wanted, it was a great way to convert some of the sitting merchandise into cash.

Tiered Gift Card Bogo (BFCM only)

This idea originated from Kyle (founder). Basically, it’s a simple tiered “spend x, get y” where the “y” is a gift card. The only change we made year-over-year was increasing the thresholds at each tier. We chose to go this route because we’ve made an intentional decision as a brand to avoid discounts.

This promotion was executed in two different ways. First by standard gift card through the POS in our retail store. Second via dynamic discount code generated by Klaviyo for online sales. The tiering was set up via a flow with descending order value triggers. Here are the numbers:

  • Spend $100, get $25–15% of all orders, 60% of all gift cards
  • Spend $200, get $50–6% of all orders, 27% of all gift cards
  • Spend $350, get $100–3% of all orders, 13% of all gift cards

Are we planning on doing this again next year? Most likely. For similar reasons as the bundles, it was a great way to build hype both digitally and in-store. If anything, the tiering structure will continue to adapt but the overall concept is here to stay.

One other interesting note about the gift cards — 69% of them are already used. In other words, customers were spending enough to meet a threshold and then immediately turning around and using them for more products. A common example was someone buying a bag and then buying earrings right after.

Shipping Upgrade (Dec 13–17)

Our final online promotion was bumping up the free shipping carrier option. We have an evergreen free USPS shipping on orders over $100, but for this week we changed it to free UPS Ground shipping on orders over $100. In the ads and emails, I highlighted the shorter wait time and higher reliability that UPS has proven over USPS. Here’s how it turned out:

  • Dec 6–10–14% UPS
  • Dec 13–17–26% UPS

This promotion is the most up-in-the-air for next year. It didn’t have a huge incremental lift and complicated our shipping team’s usual flow.

Email

Email had the most explosive growth year-over-year of all our channels. Last year we had the basic flows setup, but there were very few campaigns that went out even on the biggest sales days. My goal for 2021 was to make sure we squeezed the appropriate amount of juice out of email without going overboard for our subscribers (being that they were used to almost no communication). Here’s a breakdown of what went out and the results:

*Comparison numbers are run against our Q3 baselines. They are not the actual values. In most cases, I was sending to a segment called “Active Last 90 Days” which is just openers and clickers in the last 90.

October

Oct 5 — Steps to make a wallet

  • Content: Built out a more in-depth description of the three main steps each of our small goods requires from hide to finished product.
  • Results: +32% open rate, +12% click rate, -38% revenue

Oct 14 — New TX & WY hats

  • Content: Launched a new series of hats with our two most popular states.
  • Results: +36% open rate, +100% click rate, +44% revenue

Oct 21 — Magnolia Silobration

  • Content: Remind folks in the area that we’ll have a booth at Magnolia and explained where/when.
  • Results: +71% open rate, -41% click rate, -68% revenue

Oct 27–3 new Range hats

  • Content: Launched 3 new non-state-specific hat designs.
  • Results: +61% open rate, +88% click rate, +121% revenue

November

Nov 2 — More new state hats

  • Content: Launched a 14 new state hats from both collections.
  • Results: +47% open rate, +65% click rate, +133% revenue

Nov 10 — Bundles preview

  • Content: Just an image of the bundles and a “Notify Me” button that added a custom Klaviyo tag. I also added a “can’t wait” section with our best sellers.
  • Results: +89% open rate, +206% click rate, +137% revenue

Nov 12 — Bundles launch

  • Content: Another big header image with the 4 bundles in a PDP-like layout (title, price, description, CTA).
  • Results: +65% open rate, +194% click rate, +491% revenue

Nov 18 — Bundles reminder

  • Content: Same content as the launch email, I just changed the header image and CTA buttons to a more holiday color scheme.
  • Results: +19% open rate, +106% click rate, +81% revenue

Nov 26 — BFCM promo launch

  • Content: A gift card tier graphic and the bundles list again. Made the background black as well.
  • Results: +50% open rate, +65% click rate, +343% revenue

Nov 26 — Black Friday reminder (early)

  • Content: Sent the same exact email to folks who were sent the initial email but didn’t open or click.
  • Results: -16% open rate, -12% click rate, -37% revenue

Nov 26 — Small Business Saturday (late)

  • Content: Sent to local folks with a where & when event details email — similar to the Silobration email.
  • Results: +34% open rate, -6% click rate, -78% revenue

Nov 29 — Cyber Monday launch

  • Content: The same content as the Black Friday email, just with a brighter, more holiday style.
  • Results: +49% open rate, +41% click rate, +121% revenue

December

Dec 2 — Ornament launch

  • Content: Launched our 2021 ornament (header image, description, CTA) with the same bundle blocks below.
  • Results: +53% open rate, +118% click rate, +128% revenue

Dec 7 — Stocking stuffers

  • Content: Big header text, best selling products alternating sides, big CTA at the end.
  • Results: +72% open rate, +59% click rate, +282% revenue

Dec 13 — Shipping promo launch

  • Content: Big header callout with bundles again.
  • Results: +27% open rate, -24% click rate, +175% revenue

Dec 17 — Shipping promo last call

  • Content: Duplicate email as the launch just with a red header background.
  • Results: +71% open rate, -18% click rate, +53% revenue

Dec 18 — Free ornament with purchase in-store

  • Content: 3 image header, location & date callout, get directions CTA.
  • Results: +50% open rate, -24% click rate, -100% revenue

Dec 22 — In-store last call

  • Content: Big image of the shop, hours, description, get directions CTA.
  • Results: +79% open rate, -29% click rate, -100% revenue

Dec 24 — Merry Christmas

  • Content: Headline, family photo, thank you piece.
  • Results: +47% open rate, -29% click rate, -64% revenue

Ads

Facebook

Facebook has always been a major acquisition channel for Range, driving almost all of the online revenue since the Shopify store launched. In previous Q4s in my past agency life, it seemed like we were overcomplicating the campaigns. I wanted to keep Range’s setup as simple as possible and really double down on whatever stood out as working well.

What Worked

Campaigns by product categories

The theory behind this one is a bit complicated. It’s my understanding that when targeting broad on Facebook, the algorithm chooses an audience “pool” for your campaign based on the ads, limited by whatever parameters you have at the ad set level*. With that in mind, my hypothesis is that the algorithm is able to choose a better pool for each campaign if it only has one product category to look at. It makes sense — the earrings audience is going to be very different than the hats audience (with some level of overlap). Can’t say with certainty but it seemed like this strategy helped performance.

Another smaller aspect is that I’m also helping manage the crafters in-house who are making all the products. By dividing up the campaigns I could push certain SKUs that we had a lot of or were quick to make. There’s always a looseness to whether the purchasers of a campaign actually bought that product, but the sales trends on the Shopify side were always within a comfortable margin of error to keep managing this way.

*not saying this is 100% true, it’s just what I’ve heard/agree with

Advantage+

This was a new feature for me since jumping back into the ad account on the daily. Since I had a lot of my standard setups rocking I thought why not test it out. I’ve always had good results launching new Facebook features — I think because the algorithm gives you a little bonus juice for helping them get data on their new thing.

The only note on these was that it took *at least* 3 days to be anywhere near KPI goals. For me, that was fine cause I had other campaigns working. But once the Advantage+ ones gained momentum they ended up being some of the best performing campaigns of the whole year — and for 2–3 weeks, not just days.

Single image ads

This was mostly a resource constraint. Of the top performing ads, most of them were studio images with text overlay that I shot. Outside of studio shots, lifestyle single images (from previous shoots) and straight single images accounted for about 40% of the top ads.

New ads over YTD best performers

One thing that surprised me this year was that launching net-new ad ideas that I just created or shot performed better than launching new campaigns with ads that already had a ton of social proof. The process of seeing an ad I liked on Instagram, turning around and recreating it, and launching it fresh worked better than regurgitating the tried-and-true ads from previous months and years.

Remarketing — 7 day view or ATC DPA

No surprise here. The good ol’ 7 day DPA worked as well as it has for the past 5 years in media buying. If I had to note a difference it would be that I had far less budget allocated to remarketing than previous years (<10% overall budget).

Remarketing — 90 day cluster (ENG, WCA, VC, PV, ATC, IC)

Because of the nature of how the platform changed this year I went with the best practice — stack all remarketing audiences into one ad set. Since people who opt out of tracking are only tagged with their last action, you need to make sure and cover each drop-off point. By putting all these audiences together allows for the algorithm to serve anyone in this group they see engagement from — rather than trying to force it to spend against tiny audiences.

Loyalty — All klaviyo purchasers + 90 FB pixel purchasers

Similar to remarketing, with the microscopic percentage of spend this campaign did very well on the ROAS front (both in platform and blended). This is another area that could be built out more next year as our return custom rate was sitting in the 15–20% range.

What Didn’t Work

IGS only

I had some Pinterest assets kicking around that I decided to retrofit into IGS ads since this was a campaign that smashed back in 2020. Why not try it while things are working and we’re scaling? Well, it was trash.

Complicated LLA & INT CBOs

Ahead of Q4 this year I did a quick year-over-year Facebook analysis to make a list of top audiences and ads. Most of the strategy consisted of various lookalike and interest group combinations. CBOs, ABOs, testing campaigns, scaling campaigns, engagement-to-conversion campaigns — the whole bit. I brought a few of these ideas back this year only to watch them completely flop.

The Results (YoY)

I’ll be honest, year-over-year numbers were rough. We spent way more money to acquire a few more customers than last year. There are a thousand excuses I could make related to the events of this year and the ecosystem we now play in, but we’re all in the same boat and it’s my job as a growth marketer to figure out how to win no matter the environment. Here’s the official year-over-year breakdown:

  • Ad spend: +75%
  • Revenue: +18%
  • New Customer Revenue: +7%
  • Blended ROAS: -33%
  • New Customer Blended ROAS: -39%
  • CVR: -6%
  • AOV: +61%
  • Return Customer Rate: +85%

For Next Year

All that said, here are the things I want to do better for next year:

Start preparing earlier

This seems obvious but it’s so easy to get distracted by the day-to-day that Q4 can sneak up on you. Next year I’d like to use Q3 to execute all the assets and content we’ll need so that Q4 can be launching and managing issues. I also just want to put more time into thinking through promotions, customer experience, and the production/margin calculations that determine our overall profitability.

Start ramping ad spend in early November

This year there was a little miscommunication about our goals with paid media in November. I ended up having to absolutely crank spend during BFCM and going into December. Next year I want to be more strategic and gradual about how we’re spending. I think there was a lot left of the table this year that I don’t want to miss out on again.

Bundles were great but creating them was a pain

For the two 4-packs, I just made a standard Shopify discount code and then just made sure to use the auto-apply link everywhere that referenced it. This created issues for CX, though, because people could navigate out of the URL scheme and couldn’t find their way back.

The Men’s and Women’s bundles were made using the Shopify app I mentioned above. The challenge was that we wanted to give people the option between different SKUs which meant I had to create new “Gift Bundle” products and duplicate the SKUs that I wanted to be options within those new products. It worked, but clearly not ideal.

Is there a solution that could combine these all in one app and work properly? Not sure. I’m hoping by next year I find one or someone new makes one.

More holiday images (for emails & ads)

We didn’t have the photo studio set up in time for me to produce holiday-specific assets. Next year I want to have more of an actual plan for what I need to shoot and what needs to be outsourced so that there’s plenty to pull from for ads, emails, and the site.

Holiday tailored email flows & popup

Again, for the sake of time, I didn’t change the standard email flows and popup at all. It was our standard evergreen stuff. Next year I’d like to have completely new flows and popup with tailored holiday content.

Push gift cards last week before Christmas

Something I saw a lot of brands doing in the weeks between their last ship day and Christmas was pushing gift cards. Such a no-brainer. I 100% want to have content with this messaging ready for when we cross the shipping threshold and have some momentum going into “Q5.”

Run video ads in “Q5” for retargeting in January

One thing I noticed over the holidays out with family was that people had a lot more downtime for scrolling socials. Even though the buying season was over I would be curious to see if we could capture some of that engagement for use in early January. Specifically, test engagement campaigns with videos so that the data stays on platform and is more accessible for targeting later.

Post-holiday ads for return season

Another great idea I saw in the DTC ecosystem was ads with “get what you actually want” messaging. I’d love to test this out next year.

What a year.

I wish you all the best in 2022. If you liked this, let me know on Twitter. Thanks for reading.

-Tim

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