How online video helped one e-commerce brand sync with customers

Jakub Mazal / June 2020

With so many screens, platforms and channels for people to tune into, marketers are faced with the decision of where, when, and how to advertise. There’s no easy, one-size-fits-all solution when finding the balance between TV and digital, so every brand needs to consider its individual goals when deciding how to reach customers.

Testing a digital approach

Elefant.ro started in 2010 as an online bookstore and is now a digital shopping mall ⁠for the digital age — offering everything from toys and books to electronics and cosmetics to over 1 million customers throughout Romania. For years, the online retailer used TV advertising to build brand awareness. Conscious of rising costs, the company wanted to take a more effective approach to reaching customers who are rapidly shifting to digital and spending increasingly more time watching online video. In 2019 Elefant transformed its strategy and moved advertising online, a change that would serve the business for months to come.

With book sales central to the business, Elefant.ro chose to launch their digital-first approach on International Book Day in 2019. Happy with the results, the teams continued to test for three more months before choosing Elefant Days — their biggest sales event of the year — as their first digital-only campaign.

All in online... now what?

Partnering with digital marketing agency Mavericks, the team shifted 100% of TV ad spend to digital. They began by developing new creatives, using different story arcs, branding, and pacing, rather than repurposing what was used for TV. The core audience for Elefant.ro is broad, 18-45 year olds, but using YouTube’s tools they were able to pinpoint more specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and intent.

“We had all the right ads, we had the audiences in mind, all we needed were tools to help us pair the two” says Răzvan Cojan, Performance Media Specialist at Mavericks.

Both the agency and retailer were open to varied approaches. They tried almost every version of YouTube ad formats depending on the outcome they were looking for, honing in on what worked best.

How online video helped one e-commerce brand sync with customers

Having the data at their fingertips meant they could see proof of their success. With 1100% Return on Ad Spend, the teams felt confident they made the right decision. They measured how much people searched for Elefant.ro since they fully switched from TV ads to YouTube campaigns in the second half of 2019, and saw a 70% increase in Search volume year-over-year.

And what’s more, they could act with speed.

“One of the biggest wins for us was the ability to make changes on the go ⁠— to be agile,” says Radu Metes, head of marketing at Elefant.ro. “With YouTube, there are more indicators to look at. We can see how many people saw a video and where they stopped. If the creative is not focused, we can change it very quickly. It would take us almost a month to get an ad on TV.”

Agility beyond the ads

Elefant.ro’s ability to pivot doesn’t just lie within its marketing efforts. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the company took a proactive approach — acting fast before Romania was affected.

The teams put together a video in just 10 days talking about preventative measures and describing how they were keeping customers and employees safe ⁠— something made possible by their digital-forward approach in the prior months.

Warehouse shifts were made shorter and on different timetables, all locations regularly disinfected, and employees fully supplied with masks and gloves. The company expanded into new categories, adding personal care and hygiene products like hand sanitizers and soaps. And they’ve just begun selling food.

As the situation unfolds, the online retailer continues to adapt. The teams fast-tracked a marketplace in only seven days, something they had planned to launch in 2021, so vendors who may not be able to sell online could easily plug into the Elefant.ro platform.

At the end of the day, the focus is on the customers ⁠— being able to be where they are with what they need. And with a new digital-forward data-driven approach, Elefant.ro is more equipped than ever to do just that.

Now at home, people bring their offline passions online with YouTube