10 of the Most Creative eCommerce Ad Campaigns You Can Learn from
Here are some of the most creative eCommerce campaigns from the world's most loved brands. Learn about brands like ASOS, BarkBox, Blue Apron, and Purple.
Published November 18, 2023.
The pandemic has permanently changed the way we live, work, and shop. With more people shopping online, eCommerce brands are looking to double down on their digital marketing efforts while focusing on customer acquisition.
According to eMarketer, digital advertising spending by eCommerce businesses increased 49.8% YoY in 2020. Clearly, eCommerce marketers are going all out to generate leads and drive conversions.
In such a competitive space, you need to get creative with your eCommerce advertising campaigns if you want to stand out from the crowd. But that’s easier said than done.
So, we’ve put together some of the most successful eCommerce marketing campaigns of all time that are guaranteed to inspire you. We’ll also share some useful tips on optimizing your ad campaigns so you can grow your eCommerce store quickly and efficiently.
When it comes to creative marketing, Dollar Shave Club definitely takes the cake. Since its launch in 2012, the company became hugely popular because of its clever marketing strategy.
Dollar Shave Club started by offering a cheap razor subscription that was cheaper than buying a $20 pack of 5 blades every month. But they did face two big challenges:
- They needed to convey their value proposition effectively to their target audience.
- They were in direct competition with eCommerce giants like Gillette.
So, Dollar Shave Club produced a series of quirky, tongue-in-cheek videos featuring their founder Michael Dubin, and highlighting the benefits of their subscription model.
Their first campaign, “Our blades are f*cking great” brought in 12,000 customers in just two days! It also went on to become one of the most viral videos of 2012. With over 27 million views on YouTube, it continues to attract viewers even today.
Dollar Shave Club’s display ads are equally quirky yet brilliantly designed. CTAs are crisp and highly effective at communicating their value proposition to their prospective customer, which complements their video marketing strategy really well.
- Create catchy content that helps establish and showcase your brand identity. DSC established theirs right off the bat with their first video. It helped them stand out from the crowd.
- Know your audience before you create an advertising strategy. Touch upon their struggles, offer solutions, and create a compelling narrative.
Pro tip: want to create an award-winning campaign? Hire an expert campaign manager.
Sometimes, people bond with each other in the strangest of circumstances. Uber wanted to celebrate such connections with its #BeyondFiveStars campaign — a nod to the highest rating a passenger can give to its drivers.
Uber encouraged customers to share their amazing experiences with Uber drivers on all social media platforms using the hashtag #BeyondFiveStars.
From those customer stories, Uber handpicked a few and created videos to share the heartwarming stories of these drivers for millions to see. Here’s a great story from an Uber driver named Fred. Thanks to Uber, he got to meet one of his favorite celebrities, the famous American singer Pat Boone.
To keep the message of this campaign alive, Uber still offers a feature called “Compliments, ” where passengers can let their drivers know how they made their day.
- Humanize your brand in your creative advertising campaigns. It can help you form stronger bonds with your customers and make them feel valued and special.
- Social proof is a powerful strategy for building trust, so leverage customer success stories in your online content and ads campaigns.
3. Blue Apron
Most companies highlight their products in their campaigns and put them front and center. But if you want to really make your brand memorable, then make your customers the heroes of your stories. Just like what Blue Apron did.
Blue Apron is a meal kit company that rose above the competition with their “What Can Cooking Do” video marketing campaign. They created videos that were inspired by real stories from their customers and highlighted the significance of cooking — how it’s so much more than putting food on the table.
The campaign focused on the struggles of people who couldn’t find the time to cook fresh and healthy meals for their families. And the positive emotions they felt when they got help from Blue Apron’s service.
Here’s an example:
These powerful stories and testimonials strongly resonated with their audience and tugged at their heartstrings. It even made some people cry.
- Stories from real people are powerful. Leverage user-generated content to show how your products make life easier for your customers. Authentic storytelling is a lot more powerful than blatant self-promotion.
- Use these stories in your abandoned cart emails. A gentle nudge combined with an emotional touch can revive lost sales.
Personalization is a powerful eCommerce marketing strategy. But BarkBox, the dog toy subscription from BARK, takes it to a whole new level.
Using its “No Dog Left Behind” program, the company engages up to one-third of its customer base every month to collect essential data points on their dogs' habits and behaviors. Based on that data, BarkBox creates more personalized product offerings for its audience.
Their social media campaigns are funny and effective at grabbing the attention of their target customer, and they’re super innovative.
For example, they turned the little-known “National Squirrel Appreciation Day” into a social media sensation. Every year on January 21, squirrels supposedly take over their social media accounts to share memes, talk about nuts, and cause a stir. This is a killer strategy to increase brand awareness among their target audience.
Here’s another ingenious strategy they used to drive up engagement and awareness among their social media audience. On new year’s eve of 2017, BarkBox launched the “#DanceForYourDog” campaign encouraging their fans to dance for their furry friends and share those videos on social media with that hashtag.
Here’s another great video ad from BarkBox:
- Personalization is the key when it comes to running successful Facebook ad campaigns.
- Don’t be afraid to showcase your quirky side in your video ads — especially if it aligns with your brand personality.
- Repurpose your videos to Amazon (as Amazon advertising), on social networks, and add them to email campaigns targeting customers at all stages of your marketing funnel.
Modern society (especially social media) sets highly unrealistic beauty standards that cause low self-esteem and poor body image issues among women and young girls.
In 2014, American Eagle Outfitters’ Aerie was one of the first companies to take a bold step to challenge these norms. They started using un-airbrushed images of models in their “Aerie Real” campaign, highlighting their scars, disabilities, etc. that are most often underrepresented.
They also introduced the #AerieREAL hashtag to encourage and empower real women to share their photos wearing their products. The hashtag has been used over 350K times on Instagram alone which indicates the impact of this campaign.
Since then the brand has become synonymous with body positivity, inclusion, and women’s empowerment. In 2020, they gave away $400K in grants to 20 different female ambassadors who made a positive social impact.
As a result, Aerie gained strong support from its audience and recorded double-digit sales growth for 20 straight quarters. The momentum also carried over to its parent brand, American Eagle’s sales performance.
- Emotional, bold campaigns can be powerful at connecting with people.
- With the right planning, long-term social media campaigns can be very effective.
- Don’t focus on sales as a short-term campaign objective. Think bigger picture. Chase the engagement and implement a creative strategy to tell your brand story.
The Black Friday holiday season is an annual event that every retail and eCommerce business eagerly looks forward to. But in 2015, REI refused to participate in it.
They closed their brick-and-mortar stores and shut down their website. Instead, they inspired customers and employees to take a break and spend time outdoors.
REI’s #OptOutside campaign quickly went viral on social media and recorded a 7000% increase in social media impressions in the first 24 hours. Soon this seemingly counter-intuitive marketing strategy became a cultural phenomenon.
Overnight, REI established itself as a brand that stands for a cause. Many non-profits too, decided to partner with them. By 2019, engagement with the hashtag #OptOutside had surged 3000%, from 338K mentions in 2015 to 11.6 million mentions in 2019.
- Don't be afraid to challenge convention if it aligns with your brand values.
- Consider engaging with nonprofits and other brands to extend the reach of your campaign.
- Think of what’s most important to your current customers and create a campaign that’s customer-centric.
In 2018, ASOS combined influencer marketing and user-generated content to create the wildly popular #AsSeenOnMe campaign.
They asked both influencers and customers to share photos of themselves wearing outfits and accessories from ASOS with the #AsSeenOnMe hashtag. The campaign quickly went viral and the hashtag garnered over a million mentions on Instagram.
ASOS even displayed some of the best images on their website.
When people saw their peers in these cool outfits, they started looking for similar items in the ASOS store. As a result, they recorded a 28% increase in sales that year.
- User-generated content combined with influencer marketing can be surprisingly effective.
- UGC increases engagement rates on social media and click-through rates on email campaigns and product pages. You can use it literally everywhere.
The outdoor brand Patagonia is known for its unapologetic support for environmental causes and its loyal customer base. Its social media campaigns align with its values and contribute to its powerful brand identity.
Take the “Shell, Yeah!” campaign, for example. Patagonia wanted to promote its Shell Yeah line of water-resistant products made from 100% recycled material. Besides educating potential customers, their campaign objectives were to create awareness and boost sales.
They created a video showcasing how their products are made and the positive impact they have on the environment. Then they used it to create several video ads for Facebook and Instagram and used YouTube and Google ads to further increase their reach.
The results were phenomenal. At the end of the ads campaign, they recorded over 66 million impressions and 728K video views.
- Support a cause you believe in and communicate your values through storytelling.
- Create campaigns that connect with audiences at an emotional level to see jaw-dropping results.
New mothers often struggle with body image issues post-childbirth because of society’s unrealistic beauty standards. Mothercare launched its groundbreaking #BodyProudMums campaign to spread the message of body positivity and help new mothers feel proud of their bodies.
They worked with 10 new mothers to create powerful images and distributed them across all of their offline and online channels.
They also encouraged their audiences to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #BodyProudMums. This gave a voice to new mothers struggling with body image issues. Thousands of social media users shared their stories and the campaign went viral.
The campaign generated more than 1 billion impressions and increased brand engagement by 18%.
- Be more than a brand that just sells products. Stand up for your audiences.
Purple, the eCommerce mattress company, has a very successful content marketing strategy. They use funny video ads to showcase their products in the best light. Some of these videos have over 33 million views.
Unlike many other brands, Purple didn’t wait for luck to strike and make their videos go viral. Instead, they leveraged Facebook ads and Google ads to put their videos directly in front of their audience.
Another reason for Purple’s success is that they understand the value of their products, and they’re able to convey it equally well in their adverts, often highlighting where their competition falls short.
- Great content isn’t enough. Use paid advertisements to actively promote your engaging ad campaigns.
- Know your products and convey their value proposition really well.
3 great strategies to improve your eCommerce ad campaigns
To create truly effective and creative eCommerce ad campaigns, keep the following strategies in mind.
1. Know your goals and audience
Not all campaigns are created equal. Some focus on brand identity (the Dollar Shave Club campaign) while some focus on customer engagement (the Uber campaign). Others focus on driving traffic, boosting sales, or increasing awareness.
Before you start planning your next campaign, determine your goals. A clear goal provides clarity to help you plan subsequent stages of your campaign.
Also, segment your audience based on demographics, location, preferences, and behavior. Find out more about their struggles, aspirations, motivation, and craft your content strategy around those things.
Interviewing customers is a great way to know them better. Also, surveys and polls may work. You can also find some interesting insights on relevant forums that your target audience frequents.
2. Think out-of-the-box
Here are some creative ideas for you to consider:
- Tell a story. Most of the examples mentioned above have one thing in common — they all tell a story. Breathe new life into your campaigns by supporting a cause, celebrating the human connection, or sharing stories of unsung heroes (your customers, suppliers, or employees).
- Be unpredictable. Remember how REI closed its doors on Black Friday to motivate people to enjoy the outdoors? That’s not only brilliant thinking but also shows that the brand cares about the cause.
- Be funny. Dollar Shave Club, Purple, and BarkBox — all three have the bragging rights to running some of the funniest and most successful video campaigns. You can't go wrong with tasteful humor. Pick something your audience can relate to and showcase your lighter side.
3. Pick the right channels
While some of the best eCommerce campaigns may leverage video content, it’s not a necessity. Depending on your goals, you may use any format — images, emails, search ads, blog posts, etc. Contests, giveaways, customer reviews, and user-generated content can be equally effective.
Once your campaign goes live, make sure to track and measure the results. Keep optimizing your campaigns to increase their performance.
The average consumer is bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages every day. No wonder customers are more resistant to uninspiring, self-promotional ads than ever before.
Your campaigns need to be creative and original to stand out from the crowd. We hope these examples will inspire you to create unforgettable eCommerce campaigns that resonate with your audience.
Need any help? Talk to one of our expert creative agencies today!