High-end designer denim brand Evisu was having a hard time getting consumers in North America and Europe to shell out for its jeans, which often sell for $400 a pop.
Evisu launched online globally about six years ago, but soon after pulled back to concentrate on building business in Asia, says Evan Haner, director of global e-commerce and digital marketing at Evisu Group Limited.. About two years ago it decided to give North America and Europe another go, he says.
However, after trying to go it alone in the Western markets, Evisu realized its digital advertising efforts in paid search and social media, particularly Facebook, were costing more than the revenue they were generating.
In December 2015 Evisu began using Adgorithms LLC, a marketing platform that uses artificial intelligence technology, with its Albert software to automate and improve its ROI of digital advertising in Europe and North America. Albert aims to perform many of the manual, time-consuming tasks involved in a marketing campaign, from digital media buying to execution to optimization and analysis. Albert additionally offers retailers insights and recommendations on information it learns over time.
Artificial intelligence continues to cement itself in the technological lexicon, but defining exactly what it is and how it can be used can be hard to pin down. Answers vary depending on who you ask, but in general, AI systems are trained to use their “intelligence” to achieve specific results, despite not being programmed by a human for every obstacle they may encounter. Such systems then use the knowledge they have gained to adapt for future interactions and improve over time.
Evisu provided Albert with digital and social media marketing goals and advertising creative material, including images and text. Albert then took over the brand’s North American and Europe digital advertising. Within the first month of working together, Albert was able to meet Evisu’s U.S. campaign goals. By the end of the first year, Albert increased Evisu’s total international online sales by 500%.
“Sales growth for North America over the past few years was in the mid-single digits,” Haner says. “We’ve now throttled that up to double digits and in some months triple digits.” Online traffic from North America, which used to be flat to negative, is now in the mid-to-high double digits, Haner adds.
“Before, we couldn’t get any traction in terms of sales from Facebook (in North America),” Haner says. Now sales from Facebook account for a double-digit percentage of total North American online sales, he says.
Adgorithms manages social media marketing, display and banner ads, as well as keyword buying and analysis for Evisu, Haner says. The vendor charges Evisu a commission based on a percentage of the brand’s media buy. That means if Evisu spends $5 million on digital marketing, Adgorithms gets a cut of that of that money.
Using the vendor has also helped Evisu grow sales in Europe beyond its core European market of the United Kingdom, Haner says. “Before we used them we had no idea that we had growing interest in Germany and France,” he says. “But we did a global campaign to test the waters with ads in German and French and we saw a spike in traffic and conversions.” Running ads in German and French has helped Evisu increase sales from nearly zero in those countries. Now sales in Germany and France account for 10% to 15% of total online sales in Europe, Haner says.
Adding Adgorithms was easy and the program took about a month to get up and running, Haner says. It mainly consisted of granting the vendor administrative access to Evisu’s marketing channels, such as Google AdWords and Facebook.
Evisu likes that the program is nearly all automated, meaning Evisu’s small staff doesn’t have to put much time into overseeing its digital advertising and marketing.
“It helped us as an organization,” Haner says. “We only had one person focusing on Google AdWords and doing on-site merchandising. Now we can take a step back and be more surgical in our approach versus a one-size-fits-all model and being totally in the weeds.”
In the future, Evisu wants to target online shoppers in North America with advertising based on their region. For example, a consumer New York might soon see a different ad than a shopper in San Francisco based on weather and trends in each area, Haner says.