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Gill Marine

Ecommerce sailing business increases campaign ROI by 215%

Since its inception in 1975, Gill Marine has established itself as one of the foremost manufacturers and retailers of high-performance sailing clothing, accessories and coastal apparel.

Their product range includes both hard-wearing clothing designed to protect you through the harshest weather conditions and stylish deck clothing that’s perfect for relaxing on your boat.

The Challenge

Our challenge for Gill Marine was to improve on the results that we had already achieved for them. Prior to March 2018 we had achieved a return on advertising spend of 2.8:1, which they challenged us to improve to 5:1 during the five-month period between April and August 2018.

Along with the increase in ROAS, we were also challenged to provide an increase in revenue from paid traffic by 25% and to implement an international PPC strategy with positive returns.

The audience for these targets was comprised of UK-based marine enthusiasts and other people with outdoor hobbies who were looking for performance clothing. The international campaign broadened our scope to include the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.

The Strategy

There were four steps to our strategy:


Strip back the account to remove wasted spend

We quickly identified a large amount of wasted spend in the account, which needed to be addressed before it could grow. Media spend was decreased by 60%, focusing on positive return campaigns, ad groups and keywords, and removing anything that wasn’t performing positively at the time.

In spite of this reduction in spend, the return on advertising spend (ROAS) increased so much that the overall revenue generated actually increased across the account.


Undertake a ‘clean up’ operation to implement best practice across all channels

We spent some time optimising their Shopping feed with correct identifiers, optimisation of product titles, descriptions and so on, plus automating the feed updates to ensure new products were always being showcased and stock was managed appropriately. We also began making bidding decisions based on stock levels of the most commonly ordered sizes and colours (using custom labels to control this within campaigns).

Next, we implemented search query filtering techniques within the Shopping campaigns to segment products into high and low priority groups, applying budget accordingly. Therefore, we saw a stronger return on ad spend by being able to judge user intent (based on n-gram analysis of historic search query data).


Identify new growth areas through revised keyword research, data analysis and the use of scripts

We launched search campaigns for our client, segmented at the top level into ‘generic/non-brand’ and ‘brand’. This allowed us to capitalise on the brand side on the high search volume for our client’s brand name and specific products, playing on the fact that Gill is very well known and making huge gains because branded traffic is usually the cheapest option. This also allowed us to position our client favourably alongside their distributors who were, for the purposes of this activity, also our competitors. We used words like ‘buy direct’ and ‘official store’ to further promote the fact that these ads were direct from Gill themselves.

Within our search campaigns, we noted that at the start of a new season, users will search for specific product models such as ‘Gill OS2 jacket’. We therefore used SKAGs (single keyword ad groups) to target those specific, high intent searches with aggressive bids to capture as much of that traffic as possible.

As part of this model-specific targeting, we also integrated with our client’s other channels. For example, they sent email campaigns promoting new items and when they did, we made sure they were completely visible across their paid channels for that item. Similarly, our PPC strategy mirrored their social media calendar, helping to promote their focus products each week.

We used the following scripts to push our campaigns even harder:

Brand Position 1

This pushes our bids to achieve position 1 on branded searches as we know conversion rates (and therefore ROAS) are highest here.

Ngram analysis

Ngram analysis finds high performing keyword groups and facilitates optimisation of campaigns based on the phrases that work best.


Build international campaigns based on the successes of the UK

Once we were happy with the UK campaigns, we turned our attention to the US market. On the whole, we were able to use the UK structure and this produced positive returns from the off.

However, in the US, Gill also sells fishing equipment (which they don’t in the UK) so we undertook keyword research and competitor analysis to craft new ‘fishing’ campaigns too.

Given that the US vernacular differs from the UK, we also had to optimise our campaign content to speak to the US market, working closely with our client’s US team and utilising competitor analysis to ensure all ad content was localised effectively.

The Results

Comparing Jan-Mar 2018 to Apr-Jun 2018 (when Impression adopted campaign management):


increase in sales


increase in revenue


increase in ROAS (from 3:1 to 9:1)

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