Archery brand goes on first-party data expedition, but Google scores, too

dollar arrows

Archery product maker Pure Archery Group has been on a three-year hunt for customer data, according to its director of marketing Jeff Suiter. Like other consumer product manufacturers, the Oregon-based sporting goods marketer — which makes products for hunting and backyard target shooting, including Bowtech brand bows with model names like Guardian and Revolt — has worked to establish direct relationships with its customers. And the pandemic provided an opportunity to deepen those connections as well as the brand’s database.

In April 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic started to become very real for small and local merchants, Pure Archery Group sent emails to people in its customer database who lived in areas with nearby dealers. The emails offered $100 off a Bowtech bow to people who booked an appointment at their local shop. But there was more to the exchange than a discounted sale to spur foot traffic.

When people clicked from the email to learn more, they landed on a page hosted by independently-owned customer data platform Cheetah Digital. There, potential bow buyers confirmed personal information, provided appointment preferences and were asked to respond to questions about the last time they bought a bow and when they planned to buy another. Information about the customer and appointment was provided to the stores to arrange scheduling.

But those emails or other offers the company runs through similar promotions don’t just drive in-store sales, they generate psychographic and purchase intent data on people’s favorite bow features or what they dislike about bows they own currently — information Pure Archery can use to detect what people in its database might be interested in buying down the road. 

“All of those attributes can be expanded on and modeled to both cross-sell to that group again and deepen that relationship in addition to finding more buyers that look like them,” said Claire Russell, head of media at Fitzco, an independent agency in Atlanta.

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Sometimes there are tensions with retailers when product makers in other sectors, like consumer packaged goods, want to take more control over the customer relationship, said Chris Chapo, vp of customer success at customer data platform firm Amperity. However, he said experiential brands such as sporting goods makers are well-suited to generating data without alienating retailers because the data might be used by the manufacturer to provide product use information as well as to keep in touch with customers to promote future in-store purchases. “If you figure out the best way to serve the consumer, all boats rise,” he said.

Pure Archery Group’s data gathering strategy wasn’t always as dialed in as it is today. Now, if a social media influencer like Eva Shockey — also a TV personality who’s been seen on her dad’s Outdoor Channel show Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures — promotes a sweepstakes giveaway for the Bowtech “Eva Shockey Signature Series” bow, that Cheetah Digital data generation process is at work behind the scenes when Bowtech supplies influencer talent with product images and a link to a promotional landing page. “They have access to a lot of followers…and we capture their audience,” said Suiter.

Firms like Cheetah Digital that are pushing brand clients to gather first-party data argue it’s a way to reduce their reliance on Google and Facebook’s audience connections. “The vast majority of marketers’ budgets go to the duopoly,” said Richard Jones, CMO of Cheetah Digital. He suggested that, by building their own first-party data about their customers, brands can “drive them off those platforms and get them in their own database.”

But it doesn’t always work that way. Suiter said he often uses Bowtech’s customer data to target personalized ads to specific people through Google, which he said sometimes costs less than paying Google to layer on targeting data. “We’re providing our data set to the walled gardens to advertise against…so our dollar goes much further,” he said. “I actually just let them load those people up — we don’t pay as much money for that.”

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to reflect that Cheetah Digital is an independently-owned company.

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