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Declaring the digital high street 'o-fish-ally' open: an online growth success story

Weird Fish is a clothing retailer with both brick and mortar locations and a growing online presence. As with all non-essential shops in the UK, the March 2020 lockdown closed all Weird Fish stores. Overnight there was a big warehouse of stock and no open shop windows for it to be sold through. Retail was the worst hit industry as a result and job losses exceeded 40,000. 2020 saw some big brands fold such as Animal and Debenhams, so the stakes were raised to get the online offer right and start bringing customers in through the digital high street. As a response to this the business had no option but to continue trading online and increase investment there to keep the business afloat. A quick overhaul of the account was required as there was a prominent skew towards customers already familiar with the brand, and minimal activity attracting new ones.


At the start of lockdown, we were tasked with three main goals:

  1. Efficiently increase reach and acquire new users in order to sustain the business during the turbulent year ahead.
  2. Improve the online user experience as a way of substituting for physical store visits its customers were missing out on. We also needed to build a new brand experience which introduced new customers to Weird Fish and build a relationship from the brand awareness stage down to the final sale.
  3. Drive incremental revenue. More sales volume was required from paid search whilst remaining profitable. This required an overhaul of the account in a very small space of time to meet the business needs. The client was happy to accept an ROI of 10/1000% providing revenue growth was being achieved. It was imperative that we capitalised on the higher intent market during Q4 to maximise the revenue opportunity.


We took time to review the current offering and found the activity we had running to be heavily lower funnel and high-intent user targeted, without any focus on the brand awareness or consideration stages of the purchase process.

Understanding what was possible creatively from the client’s side, we worked from the bottom up to produce an ambitious full funnel approach, designed to acquire new users with measures in place to maintain cost efficiency. We planned to engage at the top of the funnel and push down users to add to the pool of high intent users who would sustain the business through repeat purchases.

We launched a range of mid and upper funnel activity including discovery, display and generic search. We also expanded our offering on the Microsoft Ads platform which gave us extra reach.

We knew YouTube would provide us with big reach at an affordable cost. We didn’t have any video assets to use however and filming during a pandemic could have been a costly undertaking.


The solution

We used Google’s creative services to re-purpose the autumn, winter, and Christmas social creatives to be more YouTube format friendly. We increased the pace of the videos, shortened the length and used simple calls to action to create an online buzz around the brand.

We topped all this off by testing and implementing fish puns in the ad copy which enhanced brand tone of voice and mirrored the tongue in cheek, dad-joke, fun style of communication the client has with its customers.

weird fish ad 1weird fish ad 2


Increase reach and acquire new users

  • Traffic from paid search increased by 419% YoY.
  • YouTube drove 1.3 million impressions, we gained 240k views and 9.3k clicks to site.
  • Discovery campaigns drove 49k sessions from new users.


Improve online user experience

  • We increased sessions from new users by 428% YoY by implementing the fuller funnel.
  • Bounce rate reduced by 12%.
  • Pages per session increased by 24%.
  • Conversion rate increased by 34%.
  • We grew our remarketing lists in 2020 and now have converters and similar audiences to target specifically in Gmail, display and YouTube activity going forward.


Drive incremental revenue

  • Overall, we achieved a 570% increase in revenue YoY.
  • In the run up to Q4 peak, a 30% off sale was cancelled as the client was selling through stock too quickly. This meant we could sell products at a slightly slower pace, but higher price, driving profitability for the business.
  • Black Friday – Cyber Monday saw revenue increase by 332% YoY. This was despite a 2-hour website outage on Black Friday and shows the approach taken was working, even in a competitive period such as this.
  • Achieved a ROAS of 13.72 for the year which far exceeded the clients target of 10.


“2020 was a challenging year for most retailers and it was this year that the Weird Fish website really started to make great advances in many areas and our paid search campaigns were a significant part of this plan. Targets were constantly re-evaluated during the year (due to Covid 19) but to have an account that generated over 570% increase in revenue YOY at a better AOV and Improved ROAS has got to be good news for any business. These metrics only tell part of the story as conversion and traffic, a key driver for us, also exceeded expectations. Merkle, however, didn’t rest enjoying these type of figures, there were numerous challenges from us at Weird Fish and numerous ideas from Merkle that continued to drive performance over and beyond expectation particularly in the last two months of the year that puts us in a great place at the start of 2021 to consolidate the position and drive the growth strategy though 2021 and beyond…”

Steve Hammond

head of ecommerce


ROAS achieved by the whole account achieved for the year, exceeding the client’s target by 37%


increase in sessions from new users YoY


Increase in revenue YoY achieved by the account overall


Increase in revenue YoY seen on Black Friday – Cyber Monday

Keys to success

  • Full funnel strategy
  • Well executed basics
  • Effective use of brand tone of voice to enhance UX
  • Trust between client and agency

Discover how we did it. Contact us today.

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