From Local to Global: How International Expansion with Paid Ads Drove a 139% Revenue Boost for a Luxury Ecommerce Brand

Performance Metric Numbers in Green

BACKGROUND

Our client, a luxury brand specializing in premium pens, stationery, wallets, and luggage, has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years with their high-end products. Their success is additionally impressive given that they take a unique marketing approach from other traditional DTC brands by never running traditional sales or incorporating other discounting strategies into their marketing. 

Instead, they’ve positioned themselves alongside other premium brands like Apple, who built their reputation based on quality over price. So how do they drive buying excitement throughout the year? Instead of building anticipation around big sales events, they focus their marketing efforts on new product launch events. These events are eagerly waited for by their sizeable community of customer enthusiasts who can’t wait to get their hands on the brand’s latest goods.

These new product releases not only drive extra revenue throughout the year, much like a Black Friday sale does for other ecommerce brands, but also encourage repeat purchases and build customer loyalty. 

Feeling that they had reached an audience saturation point in their current domestic market with their niche products, they decided to expand their paid marketing efforts into international markets. Shoelace was excited to help them with building out and managing this expansion plan.

OBJECTIVE

The Shoelace team got to work on the expansion strategy by first determining what KPIs would make venturing into new territories not only profitable from the start but also align with the brand’s long-term goals. We calculated a return on ad spend (ROAS) of at least 3x for the brand’s expansion to be considered a success.

STRATEGY / EXECUTION

With our goals set, here are all the pieces that went into developing our marketing strategy:

Market Analysis

Our strategy development began with a deep dive into the client’s analytics from the past year. We combed through their Google Analytics and Shopify data and identified patterns and trends that pinpointed which international markets already had the highest engagement and conversion rates. We then cross-referenced the new markets that we had identified with international shipping logistics and costs to see which locations made the most economical sense to launch paid marketing campaigns. For this client whose domestic market is in the UK, the new countries that we pinpointed to launch included Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, US, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. 

Audience Identification

With these new markets identified, our next step was to understand who our potential buyers in these regions would be. We did audience research by using a combination of local demographic analysis and insights from existing customer data. One challenge we wanted to address was ensuring our domestic messaging resonated with our selected audiences. We tackled this by not only targeting demographic groups with high disposable incomes but also those who had cultural alignments with the brand, such as “liking” English-language entertainment and similar lifestyle brands. This way we could run ads without translating them into the different languages and just re-use the English-language ad creative and copy we had on hand.

Campaign Strategy

The core of our advertising strategy involved using our client's most successful ads from the past 6 months in the newly targeted markets. We began by selecting top-performing ads from existing campaigns - those with the highest engagement and conversion rates - and reused them in the new markets. This approach maintained brand consistency and ensured a strong starting point.

Creative Strategy

A key element of our strategy was not just using the same creative and copy from our best performing ads in our domestic campaigns but using the exact same ads in our prospecting campaigns. We did this by adding the post ID of that particular ad in all of the ad sets we created. This allowed us to run ads that had a large amount of existing social proof, which created a sense of familiarity and trust in new markets. The continuity from the ads was crucial in building a brand connection with new customers, providing a strong endorsement from other users and encouraging new users to engage with and trust the brand.

Paid Channels

We began by launching our campaigns on Meta platforms (Facebook and Instagram), and then, after about two weeks, launched two Google Ad campaigns - Performance Max and Brand Campaigns. We waited for our Meta ads to tell us which cities had the highest conversion rates, and then used that information to set up Google Ads that only targeted those specific areas.

Here is how we split the ad spend budget between Meta and Google Ads (with a goal of always trying to hit 3x on both platforms):

Month 1: 

  • We split the ad spend budget 50/50 between the two channels.

Month 2: 

  • After a few weeks, Meta ads were outperforming Google Ad campaigns, so we increased the Facebook spend to 65%, and lowered Google’s spend to 35% of the budget.

Here’s how we further split the budget inside each channel:

Meta

  • Prospecting Campaigns: 90%
  • Retargeting Campaigns: 10%

Google Ads 

  • Performance Max: 65% 
  • Branded Campaigns: 35%

We increased the ad budget from month one to month two on Google Ads by 58%, and scaled Meta’s ad budget by a whopping 265% by the second month.

RESULTS

After a few weeks of testing the new markets, we kept running campaigns in all the locations that had a ROAS of at least 3x.

Facebook Ads Manager Screenshot

The ROAS from the campaigns in Germany were less than 3x, so we paused campaigns in that location so we could focus more efforts (and budget) on the other countries that were giving us a profitable ROAS.

Here are the results achieved over the first 30 days:

  • Revenue up 139% 
Revenue Increase Bar Chart
  • AOV up 11%
AOV bar chart
  • ROAS started as 3x Meta, went to 4.67x 
ROAS Line Graph Increase

KEY INSIGHTS & TAKEAWAYS

If you’re considering expanding your brand to new markets, here are a few key tips to keep in mind:

Market Entry Strategy

Don’t choose countries at random that you feel you should expand your paid marketing to - do a deep dive into your analytics to see which countries continue to pop up in the data with website visitors and perhaps buyers who already found your brand organically. Use this data to pinpoint which countries to launch campaigns in first.

International Shipping Times

Keep in mind that different countries will have different shipping timeline cut-offs. For instance, if you’re running a Father’s Day campaign, make sure you turn off the ads in areas that fall outside your shipping deadline window. You want to make sure your customers receive their orders before the holiday and not after.

Shopify Markets

If your storefront is on Shopify, definitely set up Shopify Markets to assist in launching new markets. Their currency converter allows customers to see product prices in their own currency, significantly improving the shopping experience and helping to build trust. It also allows you to offer localized payment options to help streamline the entire purchasing process for your customer.

Creative Testing

This advice is good for anyone running paid ads: always be testing new creatives so that you have a back-up in the event that your best-performing ads start to decline in performance. Especially if you are running campaigns using post IDs from other campaigns, as we used in launching campaigns in new markets. You don’t want to be caught unprepared to launch other successful creatives when needed!

Using Social Proof 

Leveraging social proof in your campaigns can be incredibly effective, especially when reaching out to a cold audience. Displaying ads that already have likes, comments, and shares helps build trust and credibility with new potential customers. By using post IDs from successful past campaigns, you can create a sense of familiarity and confidence, encouraging engagement and conversions.

GROW MORE REVENUE

Expanding into new international markets has been a successful journey for our client, and they plan to continue by adding new countries over the next year. With careful planning and execution, entering new markets can lead to substantial revenue growth and a broader customer base. 

If your brand is ready to experience growth, Shoelace has the expertise to help you achieve your goals. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help.

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