Power Digital Drives Lord & Taylor’s Digital Growth
Founded in 1826, Lord & Taylor is America’s first and oldest department store. Its flagship store, built in New York in 1914, is a historic landmark.
The company underwent perhaps the largest transformation in its nearly 100-year history when it was acquired by investment firm the Saadia Group in October 2020. It had undergone a string of ownership changes over the past few decades, and in the spring of 2021 it relaunched as an exclusive online retail department store.
To accommodate the change, the iconic American retailer had to refocus its digital marketing efforts, according to Sebastien Lesage, Lord & Taylor's senior vice president of marketing and digital.
That was a huge uphill climb. It needed to rebuild its growth strategies without brick-and-mortar stores while identifying and relinquishing tactics that had held it back in the past.
"The goal was to change the brand aspect and to digitize every aspect of it," Lesage says. "Lord & Taylor was known as a brand for special occasions. We also realized that we had a portfolio of customers with a higher income, which allowed us to scale up to designer, more sustainable products."
The first step was to understand how each of the digital channels added incrementally to Lord & Taylor's bottom line, according to Lesage. The company had selected one digital agency to help with that task but after a while learned that the marketing firm could not provide the lead acquisition it needed. "We also wanted to focus more on paid social to be able to get new traffic to the website and get new leads. So we started to look for other digital marketing agencies."
It found what it needed in Power Digital, a digital marketing firm based in New York. The switch came in February 2022, and everything went live about a month later."We showed them what we were spending and what we were doing, and they came back with a proposal to move some money from paid search to paid social," Lesage recalls.
Marketing campaigns became more focused at the top of the sales funnel, though there was still some focus on targeting customers deeper in the sales funnel, according to Lesage. The goal was a balance that would provide better returns.
"We wanted to make sure that we weren’t just paying for a channel that doesn't add incrementally in terms of demand," Lesage says. "We worked closely with Power Digital to properly set different spend levels for different channels based on the [expected] incremental returns and the cost of the acquisition we had as a target."
Power Digital's tactics included rigorous audience and creative testing, dedicated product category and brand testing, and a value-based acquisition strategy focused on high-value customers.
"I've been super-excited about the partnership," Lesage says. "It took about a month to transition to Power Digital, then it was a matter of learning how to optimize each campaign."
The first few months were challenging, Lesage admits, as the company experimented with different campaigns to find out what worked best. The spring is a naturally soft time for the retailer, and it wanted to have everything aligned for the critical Black Friday shopping period in the fall.
The efforts paid off. During Black Friday and the few days that followed, Lord & Taylor saw a nearly 400 percent increase in the return on paid media; a 268 percent incremental increase in the return on digital marketing, and a 151 percent increase in Google Analytics revenue compared to the previous year.
Lord & Taylor is going to continue to evolve its campaigns based on the results it receives from its customers, according to Lesage. "We continue to see big traction on two main components—designer brands and special occasions. So we're focusing a lot more on those."
Additionally, the retailer is going to focus on monetizing its websites, Lesage says. Lord & Taylor will work with Power Digital to enable vendors to place ads on its website, which will help increase revenue while driving cross-sales and retargeting of customers.
Lesage also expects personalization efforts to continue to improve, matching customers with exactly what they want or need.
By working with Power Digital, Lord & Taylor achieved the following results during the critical Black Friday shopping period:
- a 397 percent increase in return on paid media;
- a 268 percent increase in return on overall digital media; and
- a 151 percent increase in Google Analytics revenue.