Dorsal: 571% Growth By Driving Social Demand & Capturing It via Search, SMS and Email


Accessories & Jewelry


Full Service Growth

The Brand

Launched in 2018, Dorsal began with a cause: remove one pound of trash from the ocean, fund coral restoration, and aid in ocean conservation efforts for every purchase.

Founded by Chad Ross, it’s a lifestyle accessory brand that offers a wide array of bracelets, necklaces, and apparel online — while providing customers with a chance to support sustainable causes.

Dorsal brand imagery, products, cleaning beaches, coral restoration

The Challenge

Upon teaming up with Common Thread Collective (CTC) at the start of 2019, the brand had been spending less than $100 on ads a day with limited creative.

It had earned a solid social following but sales were modest: ~$11k per month.

“Dorsal was essentially a brand starting from scratch,” said Growth Guide, Ryan Stafford. “The challenge to work around was how to pull off driving a ton of traffic to the website and getting them to convert when there were only two ads in the account to start with.”

To achieve its initial dream of hitting $500k in revenue, Dorsal needed to dramatically increase traffic against the challenge of holding its conversion rate.

“I wanted to build a brand with streams of revenue that Facebook could fuel,” said founder Chad Ross, “but I didn’t want it to end there.”

The Solution

The pivotal first step was expanding Dorsal’s creative library.

“If we were going to increase ad spend dramatically to drive traffic, we needed the creative to support that effort,” explained Stafford.

The CTC team focused on delivering creative each week that clearly explained Dorsal’s mission — from product on white to lifestyle shots to long-form and short-form video ads.

The strategy became three-fold:

  1. Find creative that resonated with its audience
  2. Make a ton of it, and then …
  3. Test landing pages for conversions

Dorsal Ads creative exploration

With its audience’s age demographic primarily on Snapchat and Instagram, the most successful ads featured creative content that felt native.

“Ads that interrupted the user’s feed while scrolling weren’t what made Dorsal successful,” said Stafford. “Instead, it was the opposite — content that naturally fit in with social sharing.”

Once the winning ad concepts were identified, the next step was to aggressively increase spend across channels.

Through the second half of 2019, Dorsal did exactly that: anchoring its spend on Facebook and extending into halo efforts on …

  • Google for branded search and demand capture
  • Worldwide advertising to extend its reach
  • Rewards to foster retention and lifetime value
  • And an ambassador program for referrals as well as influence
While paid social provided the brand with a steady stream of website visitors, the traffic didn’t always translate into conversions.

To increase conversion rate and more effectively transform social audiences into satisfied customers, Dorsal leveraged Attentive’s SMS marketing platform.

Dorsal directed traffic from its Snapchat ads to its website, where visitors were immediately greeted by an opt-in form offering a discount in return for signing up to receive emails and text messages from the brand.

  • Dorsal SMS example
  • Dorsal branded search results

To everyone’s delight and surprise, SMS quickly surpassed email in terms of revenue generation. Even though Dorsals’ email subscriber list is three times larger than its SMS list, when the brand sends emails and text messages featuring the same offer, the two channels provide nearly identical returns.

In addition to triggered messages, Dorsal focused its text messaging strategy on informing customers of new product releases, restocks, and sales.

Beyond targeted campaigns, Dorsal saw a CTR of 74.3% for its triggered welcome messages and a CVR of 27.1% for cart abandonment texts, enabling the brand to automatically drive sales based on customer actions.

"We wanted to find new channels for Dorsal to try to scale up their business. Because we were able to send so much cost-effective traffic through Snapchat, their text message list growth was off the charts,” said VP of Sales, Scott Kramer.

“And knowing that for them, text messages convert so much higher than email — it pretty much crushed it from a conversion and revenue standpoint."

With this holistic strategy in place, Dorsal rose to the challenge: increasing visitors while also increasing conversion rate. A one-two combination of efficiency rarely seen in ecommerce.

The Results

Within six months, Dorsal achieved its first dream of $500k in revenue. That was December of 2019.

Now, it’s on track for unprecedented growth. Year to date, online store sessions are up 832% compared to 2019.

To measure its efforts, Dorsal uses a metric known as MER: marketing efficiency rating. In short, total sales divided by total advertising.

True to its hallmark strategy, spend has increased 1,269% — across Facebook, Snapchat, and Google — all while maintaining a 2.5 MER.

Dorsal: By the numbers

Chad Ross, Founder at Dorsal
“Since partnering with CTC, Dorsal has grown 571% YoY. We achieved our first dream of $500k annual sales within months, smashed through $1M within the first five months of 2020, and will crush our second dream of $2M by year’s end.”

“Our media buyer, Ryan, has been incredible from day one — especially his role in helping us sell internationally and positioning Dorsal’s mission from the ad creative to the copy to the landing pages.

“As a marketing agency, they understand how to drive demand on social-media platforms through native, influencer, and direct-response content. Their big-picture approach then capitalizes on that demand on both social and Google.”

Chad Ross,
CEO & Founder at Dorsal

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