Loake, the shoemaker: Stepping up digital to make the most of Black Friday during lockdown

Challenge

Black Friday is a crucial period in Loake’s retail calendar. Up until 2020, this landmark late November shopping weekend had seen Loake market their range of classic handmade English shoes and boots through intensive price promotions, supporting both their “occasion shoe” ranges and their gifting lines.

2020 presented a new and daunting challenge. Black Friday fell on 26 November during a renewed national Covid-19 lockdown. Because people like to try on premium shoes before they buy, 80% of Loake sales had historically come from bricks-and-mortar shops. With all non-essential physical retail outlets now shut how could Loake sustain their sales with online marketing only? Having begun working with Loake only three months earlier, JAA were up for the task.

Solution

JAA devised a single-minded Black Friday digital strategy centred on paid search and social activity, reflecting the sales efficiency of both channels in earlier testing. Digital display was used in support. Precise audience targeting was key. We set out to reach people who already had an affinity with Loake as well as prospective new buyers whose online behaviour had signalled interest. Contextual targeting activity completed our plan.

Paid search

Efficient bidding for branded keywords was our PPC bedrock, enabling Loake to harvest the demand generated by their broader Black Friday promotion. We then built on this solid foundation:

  • To make productive use of non-branded terms we capitalised on an emerging pandemic shopping trend by focusing on ’Buying British’, a resonant message for a brand with Loake’s heritage
  • Keyword targeting was extended to non-brand terms to boost Loake’s visibility amongst other luxury British shoe brands
  • Google Smart Shopping was used for the first time, serving targeted product ads based on user interests and online behaviour and increasing our Google coverage

Social

The role of social media was to prompt purchases from our core Loake audience and to showcase Loake’s visual assets. The audience was defined by a combination of demographics (AB men), interests (footwear, weddings) and lookalike targeting. Augmenting paid social with retargeting activity, we applied learning from Loake’s Autumn/Winter campaign to further optimise the Black Friday campaign.

Activity ran on a variety of placements across Facebook and Instagram. Dynamic creative was used to run catalogue and collection ads, targeting relevant messages to specific audiences.

Display

Digital display was very efficient in delivering low CPMs and in identifying and targeting users who were likely to convert to purchase. Our Black Friday creative executions produced the lowest display cost-per-sale yet.

+ 84%
Volume sales
+ 125%
Value sales
+ 108%
ROAS

Results

Despite all UK bricks-and-mortar stores being closed, Loake recorded one of their most successful Black Friday periods ever. Combined search and social results were outstanding, with campaign performance exceeding targets for all key measures:

·       Volume sales    +84%

·       Value sales        +125%

·       ROAS                  +108%

Overall cost-per-sale was 41% lower than planned, a powerful reflection of how effectively Loake and JAA adapted our Black Friday strategy to successfully meet the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

Loake Black Friday Banner ad


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Loake, the shoemaker: Stepping up digital to make the most of Black Friday during lockdown

Black Friday fell on 26/11/20 during the second national lockdown. Historically 80% of Loake's sales came from physical shops so JAA needed to sustain sales through online marketing alone. Our digital strategy centred on paid search and social activity with impressive results.

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John Ayling & Associates

02074396070 rtemple@jaa-media.co.uk