How L.L. Bean Increased its Holiday Web Traffic by +20% YoY

Paid Search
Affiliate Marketing
Display Ads
Brand & Positioning Strategy
September 29, 2021
Sporting Goods & Outdoor

Key Takeaways

L.L.Bean, an American based clothing and outdoor recreation equipment brand, increased its YoY web traffic from October 2020 to December 2020 by +20%.

  • Email Campaign: L.L. Bean's holiday email campaign focused on sharing their gift guides, driving holiday engagement, promoting their 15% off promo codes and creating holiday urgency.
  • Search Ads: L.L. Bean increased its quarterly paid search ad spend by +319% over the holiday season. L.L. Bean bid on branded keywords to capture high-intent queries and on non-branded product names such as "slippers" to capture the middle-of-funnel customers. In addition, paid search ads featured their 15% promo code in the ad copy to help stand out from competitors. 
  • Digital Ads: L.L. Bean invested $3.4M on holiday digital ads, which made up half of their total digital ad spend during Q4 2020. L.L. Bean allocated 42% of Q4 2020's budget in November. L.L. Bean optimized its "Be An Outsider" holiday campaign videos as ads on YouTube and Instagram. On Facebook, L.L. Bean's ads promoted their sale, holiday awareness and retargeted users with dynamic product ads. In addition, L.L. Bean utilized display ads to drive traffic to their gift guides, promote their 15% off sale, build brand awareness and boost in-store traffic.
  • Holiday Events: L.L. Bean hosted a virtual holiday concert featuring Leslie Odom, Jr. The virtual event generated +33.1K responses in total. Every year in Freeport, L.L. Bean hosts a "Northern Lights Festival" which helps increase its brand awareness and engagement.
  • Affiliate Links: From Q3 to Q4 2020, L.L. Bean had a significant increase in new sponsored and no-follow backlinks. As a result, L.L. Bean experienced a +92% QoQ increase in referral traffic. 

L.L.Bean is an American based clothing and outdoor recreation equipment brand that was founded in 1912. 

The company has grown to a global organization with annual sales of $1.6 billion. L.L. bean now offers over 140,000 items and are recognized for their functional, innovative design and high quality. 

During the 2020 holiday season, L.L. Bean had a +20% increase in website traffic in the US relative to the 2019 holiday season.

L.L.Bean promoted their holiday campaign and drove web traffic through email, paid search, digital ads, holiday events and affiliate links. 

1. Email Campaign

L.L. Bean ran a holiday email campaign from the beginning of Nov. to the end of Dec. to drive sales.

L.L. Bean's holiday email campaign can be categorized into the following four groups: Gift Guides, Holiday Spirit, Sales and Holiday Urgency. L.L. Bean's first holiday email, "Easy Ways to Prep Your Home for the Holidays", went out on November 6th, 2020. L.L. Bean's last holiday email was sent on December 25th, 2020, to wish everyone a happy holiday.  

1. Gift Guides

2. Holiday Spirit

3. Sales

4. Holiday Urgency

1. Gift Guides

L.L. Bean shared their holiday gift guides with their audience via email. As holidays can be a stressful time for many, gift guides are a great source to help ease shoppers’ holiday gift buying anxiety. 

  1. Gifts by Category: L.L. Bean broke up their gift guides by gender. This aims to improve readability and open rates. Categorizing helps guide the reader to quickly find what they are looking for. 
  1. Gifts by Price: As customers usually search for gifts within a specific price range, creating a list by price can help improve email open rates and click rates. 

2. Holiday Spirit

L.L. Bean’s “holiday spirit” emails aimed to drive brand awareness and consideration while providing useful holiday content and showcasing new holiday products.

  1. Holiday Shopping CTA: LL Bean used a footer on their holiday emails which featured a CTA to "Wrap Up Your Holiday Shopping". The footer featured links to their holiday gift shop, delivery schedule, gift cards and wish lists.  
  1. Blog Content: The emails drove users to holiday-related content on their blog. They did this to celebrate the holidays and keep their brand top of mind for shoppers.

3. Sale

L.L. Bean utilized their holiday email campaign to promote their 15% off promo code.

  1. Early-Bird Sale: L.L. Bean offered a 15% off discount to spur early holiday shopping on November 11, 2020. 
  1. Extended Black Friday: Brands have been extending this single-day sale into multiple days or even week long events*. To promote their extended sale, L.L. Bean sent out reminder emails on November 29th and December 30th.

4. Holiday Urgency

L.L. Bean drove holiday urgency with helpful holiday reminders and last-minute gift ideas. 

  1. Holiday Reminders: As the deadline to receive gifts before Christmas approached, L.L. Bean sent out reminders to purchase before the cut-off. 
  1. Last-minute gifts: After the cut off date for holiday shipping, L.L. Bean sent out an email with last-minute gift ideas such as a gift card or an outdoor experience.

Fact: In 2020, 79% of shoppers left their gift shopping to the final two weeks before Christmas. 64% of these last-minute shoppers intended to shop in person, possibly because they worried an online gift wouldn’t arrive at its destination on time.

Over the holiday season, L.L. Bean bid on branded keywords to capture high-intent queries and on non-branded product names to capture the middle-of-funnel customers. 

2. Paid Search

During the holiday season, L.L. Bean increased their paid search ad spend to capture high-intent queries. In Q4 2020, L.L. Bean spent $2.0M on search ads, which was a +319% increase from Q3 2020.

Search ads generated nearly 3M impressions in Q4 2020:

Over Q4 2020, 57% of L.L. Bean’s top search ad description copy mentioned their free shipping on orders over $50. Additionally, 21% featured a FALL10 promo in the ad headline.

L.L. Bean optimized their holiday ad campaign creative across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and display. Their digital ad campaign focused on their holiday sales, holiday awareness, specific products and their gift guides.

3. Digital Ads

L.L. Bean promoted their holiday campaign with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and display ads. L.L. Bean invested $3.4M on holiday digital ads, which made up 50% of their total digital ad spend during Q4 2020. 47% of Q4 2020’s budget was spent in November.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

L.L. Bean promoted their holiday campaign videos with 15s and 6s YouTube ads. Holiday video creative can be categorized into the following three groups:

15% Off Promo | Spend: $42K | Impressions: 2.3M | Avg. CPM: $18.06

Using footage from the other holiday videos, L.L. Bean promotes their 15% off sale with 6-second pre-roll ads.  

“Give Comfort. Share Joy” | Spend: $60K | Impressions: 3.3M | Avg. CPM: $18.06

This video series promotes L.L. Bean’s long legacy of keeping people comfortable outdoors and celebrating the holidays with L.L. Bean products.

“Be An Outsider” | Spend: $569K | Impressions: 31.5M | Avg. CPM: $18.06

This videos series features the hit song “Got to Be Real” which helps provoke an upbeat mood. The videos features close ups of specific products and then cut to unique scenes of people enjoying their holidays. The videos use the headline “Made for This” followed by their tagline “Be An Outsider”.

L.L. Bean holiday ads on Facebook focused on promoting their sale, holiday awareness and dynamic retargeting product ads. 79% of their Facebook spend in Q4 2020 was allocated to carousel posts.  

Sale Promotion:

Holiday Awareness:

Dynamic Product:

L.L. Bean optimized the video campaign creative “Be An Outsider” for three video posts ads on Instagram.

Post #1, Post #2, Post #3

On display, L.L. Bean drove traffic with digital ads linking to their gift guides, promoting their 15% off sale, and utilizing their holiday campaign creative. Additionally, L.L. Bean used Google Map ads to drive in-store traffic.

In 2020, L.L. Bean hosted “A Virtual Holiday Concert with Leslie Odom, Jr.” and the “Northern Lights Festival” in Freeport.

4. Holiday Events

L.L. Bean hosts holiday events to increase awareness and drive brand engagement. On Facebook, L.L. Bean hosted a virtual holiday concert with Grammy Award Winner, Leslie Odom, Jr. The virtual event generated +33.1K responses in total. 

L.L.Bean Presents: A Virtual Holiday Concert w/ Leslie Odom, Jr

Each holiday season, L.L. Bean hosts a Northern Lights festival in Freeport. The event includes a holiday light show and tunnel, festive photo ops, an interactive walk and more. In 2020, L.L. Bean promoted the event on Facebook and encouraged visitors to use the hashtag (#beanoutsider).

L.L. Bean Northern Lights Celebration

In Q4 2020, L.L.Bean increased referral traffic and sales with affiliate links, including sponsored mentions in their affiliates’ holiday gift guides. 

5. Affiliate Links

During the holiday season, L.L. Bean increased referral traffic with affiliate links. From Q3 to Q4 2020, L.L. Bean increased the number of new sponsored and no-follow backlinks by +392% and +161%, respectively. As a result, referral traffic increased by +92% QoQ.

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