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Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. Exceeds ROAS Targets Twofold by Harnessing Search Behavior Trends in Google Shopping

THE SCOOP

Mad Dogg Athletics® is a leading provider of fitness equipment and education serving millions of indoor cycling and Pilates enthusiasts and instructors around the world. The retailer took a manual approach to Google Shopping campaign management, but its small marketing team soon realized that this wasn’t scalable. It needed an automated solution that could capitalize on emerging opportunities on Google Shopping, and a team of e-commerce experts that could guide strategy. That’s where Sidecar came in.

PROFILE

Retail Category
Sporting Goods, Apparel
Website
Headquarters
Venice, CA

The GOAL

Maximize Return Through Automation

Google Shopping has always been a positive revenue generator for Mad Dogg Athletics, but VP of Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Don Delzell recognized an opportunity to drive better results by approaching the channel more strategically. Mad Dogg Athletics manually managed Google Shopping alongside its text ads and display ads. This stretched its small marketing team’s bandwidth and hampered their ability to develop effective strategies tailored to each channel.

Mad Dogg Athletics didn’t have the time to implement essential segmentation tools that could maximize Google Shopping returns, like dayparting, device bid modifiers, and negative keywords. Given this low-touch management, Delzell recognized the potential for exponential gains from the channel with the right technology.

“Google Shopping is a significant portion of our paid search revenue, but we knew it was an underserved area for the company. With a more data-driven, strategic approach, we could spend more efficiently and see much bigger returns,” said Delzell.

Initially, Mad Dogg partnered with an agency to oversee its Google Shopping and paid search programs for its Spinning® site, Spinning.com, which has a catalog of 933 products. While this freed up the marketing team’s time, the agency continued to manage the channel manually. This hampered Spinning.com’s potential on Google Shopping, and the site experienced only incremental sales gains. Delzell quickly realized that manual management could not scale to the escalating amount of data available to drive product bid decisions.

Delzell wanted an automated solution, built for Google Shopping, that was easy to implement and could develop targeted campaigns to maximize a limited budget. He wanted the ability to optimize bids based on factors like time of day, search queries, and device. Delzell recognized those benefits in Sidecar’s machine learning technology.

“When the opportunity came to evaluate Sidecar for Shopping, we saw it as a way to invest dedicated resources into Google Shopping, and maximize our returns with a machine learning solution,” said Delzell.

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, Delzell knew he needed to move quickly and began assessing Sidecar for Google Shopping after one of his colleagues met with the team at an industry conference. Both the robust machine learning technology and the expertise of Sidecar’s analysts confirmed Delzell’s confidence in partnering with Sidecar.

“After researching the technology, I determined that we could benefit substantially from Sidecar’s algorithm-driven, machine learning solution that is guided by human expertise,” said Delzell. 

BY the Numbers

993
SKUs
on Spinning.com
62%
Revenue Growth
for Spinning.com in first month
22%
Cost Reduction
for Spinning.com in first month
118%
Improvement Over ROAS Goal
for Spinning.com in first month

The strategy

Optimize for Search Behavior

The people behind Sidecar’s technology were critical to Mad Dogg Athletics’ success, Delzell said. Not only did they develop a strategy that took into account ROAS targets and search volume for each and every product in the retailer’s catalog, but they also implemented the solution quickly in order to take full advantage of the holiday shopping season.

“Sidecar was a savior in getting that done,” said Delzell, “When we signed on with Sidecar, we were right on the bleeding edge of not having enough time. The account person worked with me closely and we launched just in time to benefit from the increased traffic and high purchase intent that comes with the holiday season.”

Sidecar revamped Mad Dogg Athletics’ entire Google Shopping strategy to meet the retailers’ ROAS goal of 5.5:1. The new approach is centered around search behavior and device optimization. Sidecar used its Search Query Management technology to focus campaigns on top-performing keywords and implemented bid adjustments to maximize device performance.

To execute these strategies, Sidecar for Shopping ingested Mad Dogg Athletics’ Google Shopping data, product feed, consumer search behavior, and the retailer’s unique goals. In aggregate, this data is known as the Sidecar Retail Index.

Sidecar’s algorithms learn from this data to bid efficiently at the individual product level. Based on the traffic’s conversion potential, Sidecar algorithms will automatically adjust the bid to capture the greatest revenue possible.

For example, analysts using Sidecar’s Search Query Management technology discovered that a handful of keywords, including “spinning,” “spin bike,” and “spinner” drove the majority of conversions for the site. Sidecar developed a campaign targeting searches with these queries and increased bids to maximize conversions.

Sidecars analysts also focused on mobile optimization, something Mad Dogg Athletics had never implemented for its Spinning® products. Most of the retailer’s products are big-ticket items that have a longer purchase cycle, such as Spin® bikes. Although the retailer anticipated low conversions on mobile because of this, Sidecar analysts knew mobile would prove a powerful vehicle for product discovery and help drive desktop conversions.

The Sidecar team structured the retailer’s campaigns to deliver exposure on mobile devices at conservative spend levels, using negative mobile bid adjustments. As a result, Mad Dogg Athletics was better positioned to drive new mobile traffic to its site at a low cost. 
After researching the technology, I determined that we could benefit substantially from Sidecar’s algorithm-driven, machine learning solution that is guided by human expertise.
Don Delzell
VP of Digital Marketing and E-Commerce, Mad Dogg Athletics

the results

ROAS Surpasses Expectations

Within one month of launching with Sidecar, Mad Dogg Athletics saw a 12:1 ROAS for its Spinning® products, meeting the retailer’s 5.5:1 goal twice over. Month-over-month revenue from Google Shopping increased 62% and cost decreased 22% in the same time period. ROAS continued to exceed Mad Dogg’s target, averaging 9.3:1, three months after launch.

The Spinning® brand’s exposure has grown as well. Impression share increased 3% on Google Shopping since launch, reaching 38%.

Finally, Mad Dogg Athletics has seen major gains in the previously overlooked world of mobile shopping. Since the retailer began working with Sidecar, mobile clicks have increased nearly 4X year over year while mobile revenue on Google Shopping has grown 113%. That has helped Mad Dogg Athletics engage a completely new segment of shoppers it had never actively marketed to before.

“The results have been spectacular,” said Delzell. “We were operating under a ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it mentality.’ But with Sidecar we’ve been able to elevate our Shopping campaigns so that they’re an integral part of customer acquisition and revenue growth strategies.”

Looking ahead, Mad Dogg Athletics is working with Sidecar to continue to refine its campaigns based on performance data collected since launch. Because it has more data at its fingertips, and because Sidecar’s algorithms get smarter over time as data accumulates, the retailer can slice and dice its product catalog in more targeted ways.

Sidecar and Mad Dogg Athletics are developing plans to shift the retailer’s Google Shopping approach to a profitability model. To do this, Sidecar will group products together based on gross margin targets rather than ROAS. Grouping products by gross margin will help Sidecar’s technology identify new areas where spend can be cut or shifted to drive greater revenue.

Delzell realizes that streamlining product feeds and optimizing bids are just the first steps. He’s eager to see Sidecar’s technology learn from the millions of data points its collected and develop even more sophisticated and granular strategies with Sidecar’s team. 

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