Oxbow, a clothing and outdoor equipment brand provided us with 10 top tips to optimise one’s digital marketing ROI. Pierre Charbonnel, Digital Director at Oxbow, shared the best practices he acquired from his experience in the field: How to optimize your digital strategy? What traps to avoid? What tips should you follow to avoid making mistakes…? After a discussion with Pierre Charbonnel, I have taken note of the main lessons below.
Oxbow’s 10 top tips to optimise one’s digital marketing ROI
Disclosure: Emarsys is a client of ours
Pierre Charbonnel, after two years of working in consulting at KPMG, was hired by Oxbow in 2020 after the company’s ownership changed.
Oxbow’s new management sought to rebuild the brand’s entire digital ecosystem.
In this new position, Pierre applied the methods acquired in his consulting practice. When working in consulting, he often changed industries, consequently ignoring prejudices and having pragmatic approaches to cases.
Oxbow: the ultimate outdoor brand
In the ’90s, Oxbow was known as the quintessential brand for surfing, snowboarding, windsurfing, mountain biking, and motocross. Unfortunately, in the 2000s, the surfing and outdoor sports industry was no longer buoyant and Oxbow turned to lifestyle clothing.
The brand stopped targeting sports and began looking to sell clothes in large cities where there is high demand. Oxbow shifted away from the mountains and the ocean, and through their apparel, appealed to city dwellers.
To increase sales, Oxbow focused on the pricing strategy of discounts as it was necessary for the brand’s survival.
In June 2020, the brand was purchased by two individuals from the outdoor world seeking to reposition Oxbow as a French brand of eco-responsible action sports.
Action sports are all the sports that can be done outdoors. Today, Oxbow’s desire is to reposition itself as a brand that wants to be credible among sports practitioners ranging from water to mountain sports.
Here is a summary of Pierre Charbonnel’s 10 digital marketing tips for the correct management of your brand. When deemed helpful, I will also share my own experience.
1 – Improve your digital marketing ROI by keeping things simple
Upon his arrival in January 2021, one of Pierre’s first tasks was to “understand who we were working with.”
Deep digital knowledge wasn’t necessary, some common sense was sufficed
Precisely, Pierre Charbonnel knew how to surround himself with digital strategy consultants who “were very instrumental in challenging his partners on the technical aspects.”
In three months, Oxbow went from having 47 partners to 22, and it was just a matter of common sense to say, “Do we really need some of these?
2 – Dealing with priorities
Peter’s second piece of advice is the importance of prioritising one’s needs.
One must learn to walk before one runs. “If some solutions seem too complex for you, and you have other priorities, you have to start by dealing with those priorities first.”
In this case, Oxbow’s priority was the redesign of its e-commerce platform.
Taking Emarsys as an example, Pierre transparently states: “I assumed that we had to stop because the solution seemed too big for us. So we embarked on a benchmark for two months, and then we met all the vendors.
Then finally, we realised that this was the tool we had to continue to use because it suited us perfectly.”
3 – Big and small suppliers
Pierre Charbonnel’s third piece of advice is:
It is better to be a small supplier’s biggest customer than a large supplier’s smallest customer
This is well-known, and as a former customer, I can only agree.
“We switched to a smaller agency. Perhaps they are not as well known internationally, but they are excellent and have a great relationship with Google and Facebook,” says Pierre.
Here is an anecdote from my past:
One day, I had lunch with the head of a large agency of which I had been a long-time client. However, they served us terribly, were very expensive, complacent, and overall, I was very dissatisfied.
At lunch, I introduced myself because he didn’t know me (mistake number one), and I said to him: “Oh! We’re customers”.
He replied with a straight face: “Not really! Not such a large one though.” As soon as I got back to the office, I went back to my spreadsheet and crossed this agency off my list.
I then went on to a much smaller agency that satisfied us completely and treated us decently.
4 – Discounts: think twice
One of the issues with Internet commerce is that there are so many promotions there, that in the end, margins tend to go down the drain.
Price discounts are a real issue in retail and this is not limited to the Internet. Byron Sharp dealt with this topic in his famous opus “How Brands Grow, What Marketers Don’t Know”
5 – Digital marketing ROI: Don’t believe what others say
Adtech players are quick to confuse you. As a former client, I can only agree with Pierre, as he points out:
“Attribution is a difficult area to understand.” So when a retargeting expert told him he had an ROI of 14 when he only saw a 0.5 figure in Google Analytics, he was rather puzzled.
Therefore, it was necessary to understand the ROI and not rely on hypothetical figures
Here’s another personal anecdote:
While I was in charge of digital marketing for a large business-to-business entity, I often negotiated advertising partnerships with web publishers.
They always delivered statistics that were a little emphatic.
But, I only believed what I saw. So I turned to my internal statistics tool on the server and compared, likes with likes, the clicks that were supposedly sent and those that were received.
Therefore, Pierre worked with the Welcome Tomorrow agency, which helped him understand. After studying, they decided to discontinue these campaigns favouring “other channels whose ROI was easier to measure.”
Even if it meant coming back to them later on if needs be.
6 – Don’t start all your projects at the same time
“When I joined, everyone told me, ‘We have to change everything,” explains Pierre.
But resources are limited, and it is important to prioritise projects and work on them one by one.
Oxbow’s top priority was revenue and profitability. Therefore, the company equipped itself with a dashboard that allowed it to monitor the business regularly.
“I cross-reference my data with finance and general management to ensure that we are still heading in the same direction,” explains the former consultant.
This allows decisions to be made on many issues that may seem impossible to solve, prioritise actions and remain focused.
7 – Know your metrics
At Oxbow, “an ROI of 5 makes up a 20% margin. Below that, the digital marketing channel isn’t profitable.” In that case, the brand can rely on other channels such as its own points of sales and distributors.
8 – Hyper-personalisation is key
Hyper-personalisation is strongly linked to artificial intelligence. “We use it in our email campaigns,” which is one of the most profitable channels for Oxbow.
Thus, through “hyper-personalisation, we can serve our customers one by one.
This AI based personalisation allows us to move away from mass emails that treat everyone indiscriminately
It allows you to address everyone by saying, for example: “John, you haven’t finalised your The B2B purchasing process is the result of a long life cycle often linked to a contract as there are many people to convince., please come back and we will give you a freebie…” or “you purchased this product, why not have a look at this other one, you’ll like it” or “enjoy this offer just for you with this personalised code…”
9 – Email is one of the most effective tools
It is one of the most profitable tools because “you can measure everything from an ROI point of view. We notice that as we send more emails, our turnover increases”, says Pierre Charbonnel.
We send manual campaigns at a rate of two per week with thorough Market segmentation is as important in B2B as in B2C. Strictly speaking, segmenting means dividing one's market into subsets (segments) because we don’t want to tire our audience
Oxbow also resorts to marketing automation that automatically triggers messages.
He explains that they are “pretty simple tricks that work surprisingly well, such as welcome offers.”
When a customer joins Oxbow, “we send them a 5-euro welcome offer. If they don’t respond within two weeks, we send them another one for 10 euros. These are small gifts that “trigger purchases,” Pierre tells us.
Automation is a superior tool that makes hyper-personalisation possible in the digital world
10 – Quality data means higher digital marketing ROI
When he joined the company, Pierre carried out extensive data cleansing of the database. He took a significant risk by removing 25% of the addresses (100,000 out of 400,000).
This paid off:
The real key is to have clean data
“This clean data makes elaborate scenario possible” Pierre Charbonnel went on, “beforehand, poor data quality was making this impossible.”
Common sense is it!