Turning the Tide: How Outdoor Voices Can Rebuild by Prioritizing Retention and Personalization


Allene Yue

Outdoor Voices, a loved outdoor apparel company, recently made the decision to close ALL physical retail stores, all while barreling toward bankruptcy. Unfortunately, their reckless spending decisions caught up to them this year, and a once very successful apparel brand suddenly ran fresh out of cash.

So let’s look at how their marketing efforts contributed to this unfortunate turn of events and what they can try to do to make a comeback.

Reckless Marketing

Several years ago, Outdoor Voices began to ramp up their marketing efforts in very extravagant ways, inflating their CAC. They burned through cash by booking expensive photoshoots, lavish events, and excessive social media campaigns. According to employees, there were invoices for their Instagram and Facebook ad campaigns for $500,000 that weren’t getting looked at or nor getting paid. It was an utter disaster.

For most retail companies, marketing is one of the BIGGEST areas of spending. But why spend millions on marketing when you could spend half the amount and experience double the return? When it comes to marketing, spending smarter, not harder, makes a big difference.

Digital ads, general marketing campaigns, and brand awareness events are losing its hold on customers. The ad space, especially on social media, is becoming more and more saturated by the day, meaning that most of these ads just end up flying right over viewers’ heads. So not only is it costly, but conversion is also pretty weak.

Small Steps in the Right Direction

While Outdoor Voices did make some mistakes here and there, they did do some things VERY well. For example, Outdoor Voices made themselves a data-centered brand. They invested in data visualization platforms that helped them measure and keep track of retention, LTV, revenue by product or category, along with KPIs at store level.

They have a solid email marketing strategy as well, with different flows ranging from a Welcome Journey email campaign, to a Lost Checkout Journey email campaign. It’s unfortunate that these email campaigns weren’t their main focus - they’re certainly a lot cheaper AND drove stronger results in increasing AOV, retention, and CLV all around.

But clearly, there was certainly room to take it a step further in terms of personalization.

What Now?

Now that Outdoor Voices is directing their focus to e-commerce, there’s still a chance for them to make a comeback, especially if they take their data more seriously. But it means that they need to stop trying to attract a swarm of new customers and hone in on their current and old ones.

To do this, they need to 1) segment their customers and 2) customize marketing campaigns based on these segments. And AI-driven tech (like Cotera) automates this exact process.

Email flow customization no longer has to be limited to just frequency and campaign type. Deeper personalization dramatically increases the chance of winning back a lost customer, preventing a customer on the fence from churning, or keeping a new customer around long term.

For example, say Outdoor Voices wanted to do a promotional campaign - something along the lines of “Buy $50, get $10 off.” This specific promotion would likely derive more value out of a customer who spends $35-40 on average, but probably not as much for a customer who spends $10 on average. And, for a customer who spends $100 on average, they wouldn’t have even needed this promotion in the first place to convince them to make a purchase, so Outdoor Voices would be LOSING money on that customer.

Or, imagine if Outdoor Voices could recommend products directly in an email campaign based on the customer’s browsing behavior or past purchases - that’s SURE to catch someone’s attention.


  • Social media is a crowded space - don’t waste your whole marketing budget on digital ads
  • Collecting and storing as much data as possible is essential for generating useful insights
  • When it comes to personalization, you MUST go deeper - it’s not just about the type of campaign, but also the content

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