How On the Beach pivoted their advertising strategy and saw a 72% higher conversion rate

After running the BCG Digital Maturity Framework assessment, the team at On the Beach realised that they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel for their advertising strategy – instead, they just needed to make a few tweaks. Find out how the travel retailer, in just 30 days, drove a 202% increased return on ad spend and a 72% higher conversion rate for holiday seekers.

The business challenge

As a leading online retailer of beach holidays, On the Beach is constantly aiming to be more efficient with its marketing spend. “It’s important that our digital strategy is always developing, but it’s not always easy to understand where efforts are best placed,” says Dan Roche, Head of Performance Marketing. “We’re often our own worst critics, so it’s useful to have a straightforward way to objectively benchmark our strengths and gaps to work on versus the market.”

The approach

On the Beach set out to measure themselves against best-in-class global advertisers and uncover opportunities where they could efficiently grow volume. After running the BCG Digital Maturity Framework assessment, the team spent time reviewing the strengths they could double-down on as well as gaps that quickly needed closing.

This activity has shown that sometimes you haven’t exhausted your existing channels and they can perform so much better with a few tweaks here and there.

In developing their digital maturity plan, On the Beach outlined top priorities, with the first of these being more advanced use of audiences. To begin, they migrated their Google Ads campaigns to utilise Google’s Smart Bidding algorithms, allowing machine learning to generate audience lists based on conversion probability and high or low basket value users.

“The audiences that we created massively improved the results from our Google Ads campaigns, enabling the Smart Bidding algorithm to learn faster and to reach users who have a higher propensity to convert versus users who have shown less intent,” Roche explains.

The results

After just 30 days, On the Beach saw strong results: a 202% increased return on ad spend and a 72% higher conversion rate for audiences imported from Analytics 360 compared to non-audience-list campaigns.

The team continued to develop further audiences to test, scaling the results where they saw success. By revising their approach to audiences, On the Beach has advanced along the digital maturity spectrum. Now they’re tackling more advanced audience strategies, such as lifetime value and propensity modelling.

Coming from someone who has created thousands of lists, the simplicity and speed of being able to create effective audiences that work really well was astonishing,” Roche says. “So often we look for external ways to improve performance – new channels, the next big thing. But this activity has shown that sometimes you haven’t exhausted your existing channels and they can perform so much better with a few tweaks here and there.”

On the Beach is now applying their learnings across different media and platforms. For instance, they are launching new video and display campaigns based on the audience strategy. They’re also running other projects that the framework helped to prioritise, and plan to run a second maturity assessment six months after the first to understand how they have progressed and see where their new focus areas should be going forward.

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