Challenge: expanding e-commerce internationally via paid advertising while keeping a positive ROAS and measuring the impact of paid media on performance

North Sails is an international sailmaker and clothing manufacturer with operations in 29 countries. They ship worldwide and are active in markets such as Germany, United Kingdom, France, and Spain but wish to expand their market share internationally.

As a long-term digital & data partner of North Sails, Artefact was asked to help the business with expanding their e-commerce internationally via Search, Social and Display advertising, to (relatively) new markets with rapid digital brand introductions while maintaining healthy performance KPI’s.

Being a fast-growing company with limited budgets to invest, North Sails has to spend wisely. To ensure effective spending, the following two conditions were set:

  • Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) has to be positive at all times.

  • Effectiveness of media channels, such as the assisted impact of search, has to be measured and acted upon.

Solution: Integrate North Sails 1st party CRM data in a custom attribution model that links the cross-channel paid media performance to the customer journey

The solution was to integrate North Sails first-party CRM data in a custom attribution model that links the cross-channel paid media performance to the customer journey. In order to do this, the following had to be mapped out;

  • Distinguish transactions coming from new or returning customers;

  • Which channel drove the transaction and which other channels played a role in assisting this transaction.

In order to differentiate between existing and new customers, the CRM data from Salesforce had to be forwarded from the backend to a data layer so it could be used within Google Tag Manager for tags and triggers (such as Floodlight). Conversion insights were mapped by setting up an attribution model via an ad server, in this case, Campaign Manager 360, that only looked at clicks in order to compare Paid Search, Paid Social and Display advertising. In order to map all channels, the channels had to be tracked.

To get the best view on channel performance, a comparison was set up between the last click floodlight model (which 100% converts to the last click) and the linear conversion model. Comparing conversions with assisted conversions exhibits the impact the different channels have on each other in the total customer journey. Finally, a consolidated view of the CRM data in the attribution model and comparison, reveals how many returning and new customers convert via each channel and in which part of the funnel.

Unique about this solution is the fact that the performance results can be viewed in real-time because the up-to-date CRM data is directly connected in the back-end. Therefore, campaign settings can be tweaked instantaneously in order to steer towards the marketing goal(s). In the case of North Sails, to gain more new customers. Without this advanced model and the real-time integration with North Sails CRM data, the campaigns cannot be optimised towards this KPI because the data is only visible in retrospect.

Results: Performance above target with 66% increase in sales YoY

The campaign results after the 6 months test run were astonishing:

  • Sales through paid media channels were up by 66% year on year.

  • Results were 18% higher than the company target.

Beside the positive campaign results, the test provided valuable learnings about the roles of paid search, display and social advertising in the overall customer journey, which are being implemented in future North Sails media plans. Furthermore, North Sails will continue to benefit from the CRM integration as it improves retargeting options, feeds into market-specific expansion strategies and paves the way for a data-driven attribution model.