OAK + FORT enacted a paid digital ad campaign to expand its audience.
Objective and Context:
OAK + FORT is a fashion brand that provides accessible luxury for women and men who seek everyday essentials reimagined with a modern minimalist approach. Since launching its first boutique in 2010, OAK + FORT has grown rapidly, largely supported by grassroots marketing and word of mouth. Brand loyalists were actively engaging on social media, but the company had not yet made an entrance into paid digital advertising. E-commerce revenue, while growing at a healthy pace, was coming primarily from existing customers making repeat purchases and who were geographically focused in areas near the OAK + FORT stores. The company saw enormous opportunity to better leverage digital for new customer acquisition, and further accelerate its growth.
The accessible luxury nature of the OAK + FORT line meant the brand and its products would find appeal among a much larger and more diverse audience than they were initially reaching.
Key goals were:
The KPIs were:
This was an entirely new campaign launch for a brand that had never run any form of paid digital advertising before. This scenario had consequences for how OAK + FORT would need to design every campaign execution as a test and build its own collection of first-party data with which to conduct further optimization.
OAK + FORT historically was finding most of its organic success in audiences consisting primarily of women in their early 20s, in major cities where OAK + FORT had physical stores.
Beyond targeting for retail support, the growth strategy was to apply an intensively test-driven approach to carefully expand audiences across every dimension: from younger to broader age groups, from mostly women to the inclusion of more men, and from locations with a physical store presence to any market that could drive a profitable return through e-commerce.
The brand leveraged similar audiences of its best customers to help with scale, as well as audience targets for those with an interest in fashion and a list of relevant competing brands. Known customer lists were excluded from the buys to keep the focus of testing on new customer acquisition.
The brand's strategy began with an enterprise-to-local approach. To support retail store performance, OAK + FORT undertook an extensive analysis of two-year trends in store sales as compared to the revenue goals for each store, layering in-local market opportunity data to identify where application of media budget could best drive growth down to the hyper-local level.
The campaign strategy and execution required local granularity and the ability to distinguish between locations where success would be e-commerce only versus a combination of e-commerce and in-store sales.
As OAK + FORT was already finding natural success on social media, attention was given to Facebook and Instagram campaigns. Given the need to introduce new customers, carousel ads were the primary creative activation. This was done to showcase specific products likely to drive sales performance and give new customers an overall sense of the cohesive aesthetic and design values of the brand.
Overall Campaign Execution:
This was a mobile-first strategy and execution, and while the brand optimized across mobile and desktop placements, more than 75 percent of the total budget was spent against mobile.
Given the need to optimize across a broad set of audiences and geographic regions, some which had physical stores and some which did not, OAK + FORT needed to integrate data from the retail point-of-sale to get a holistic view of performance. The brand configured Facebook's offline conversions' application programming interface (API) and automated a data push of customer records from store sales to do attribution matching within the platform.
Continuous optimization across the portfolio leveraged a combination of AI bidding and human expertise. This was done so the brand could strike a balance between achieving extremely high return on ad spend (ROAS) in markets where OAK + FORT had a local presence, while also investing more to develop the brand in markets where it was completely unknown.
Creative optimization was driven by OAK + FORT's release of new collections, and by inventory. With the release of a new collection, OAK + FORT curated the selection of products that best represented the overall aesthetic of the collection. While the primary focus was on clothing items, the brand also tested the inclusion of items from the Home Decor and Beauty product lines.
In addition to the sales-focused campaigns, OAK + FORT supported special events such as new store openings and warehouse sales, using two campaign types:
These campaigns leveraged similar targeting to prospect new customers, but also included existing OAK + FORT customers and fans of the brand to maximize in-person attendance.
OAK + FORT's core audience is heavily engaged on mobile. The program was a mobile-first strategy and execution, which recognized the important influence mobile activations have on driving foot traffic into stores.
The mobile-first nature of this work was a determining factor in every decision, including the selection of Instagram as a primary communication channel, the selection of ad units that represent well on the mobile screen (carousels), and the optimization of mobile-first site pages and checkout experiences.
OAK + FORT's e-commerce team worked to improve mobile site speed, as well as other SEO rank factors that are critical for succeeding in Google's mobile-first index. This work delivered a profound impact not just to the conversion performance of the brand's paid social program, but also to revenue driven by mobile organic and local searches.
At the outset, OAK + FORT had been successful in grassroots and word-of-mouth promotions and in retaining the loyalty of its existing customers. Sales performance was highly concentrated in areas where there was a physical store presence, and no paid digital advertising had ever been attempted.
The program dramatically exceeded objectives, most notably the ROAS, which was unexpected with a first foray into paid advertising.
The campaign delivered:
With results proving the success of mobile advertising in generating both e-commerce and store sales, OAK + FORT's leadership recognized the importance of making mobile marketing plans a central part of store launch practices.
For the long-run growth of the business, and beyond the immediate impact of profitable ROAS, OAK + FORT demonstrated how a mobile-first digital strategy and increased reach was all that was needed to broaden appeal and a customer base across a much more diverse audience. The audience data created from the campaign provided OAK + FORT with a detailed roadmap to future growth, evidenced by steep changes in branded search volume and direct entry traffic following the paid media executions.