Go Ape Facebook and Instagram Advertising & Google PPC

How we turned around Go Ape’s Facebook and Instagram advertising and Google PPC


To improve the return on investment from Facebook and Instagram advertising, improve the performance of Google pay per click advertising (PPC) and boost corporate/group bookings

Oyster was invited to pitch for the digital marketing account of the UK’s number one outdoor activity provider, Go Ape. Go Ape is a well-known brand in the leisure sector with 34 sites in the UK, offering high ropes challenges, treetop adventures, zipwires, Segway tours and axe throwing in stunning forest locations. Despite the company’s high profile and strong brand image, its Facebook and Instagram advertising activities were underperforming, and there was also room for improvement with Google search advertising. 

After a three-way pitch, Oyster won the business and took over the account from the incumbent agency in late November 2020, just as the UK was on the brink of another Covid-19 lockdown which meant that all Go Ape’s sites were soon to close.

Oyster’s immediate challenge was to find a way for Go Ape to generate income during this difficult period and to then devise a strategy to maximise sales when Go Ape sites reopened after lockdown.


Enhanced targeting led to improved results

With only a week to spare, we devised a Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend promotion in conjunction with Go Ape, offering a 25% discount on any gift cards purchased during the 4-day period. Go Ape had run a similar offer on Facebook and Instagram the previous year which had generated £27,725 in sales, however we recommended they invest more in the campaign and we also adjusted the targeting so the ad spend was focused in areas around Go Ape sites using their customer heat maps for guidance (previously a nationwide approach has been adopted). This strategy led to our campaign generating £74,531 in sales over the 4-day period which was a very encouraging start.

Sadly, the country went into full lockdown shortly afterwards and while further campaigns to sell gift vouchers in the run-up to Christmas achieved a better return on ad spend than the previous year, we knew there was untapped potential and we could achieve a lot more. 

Our findings from our initial Go Ape campaigns showed that it was taking too long for our 34 local campaigns to exit the learning phase in Facebook, which meant that the algorithm was not able to perform to its full potential. While our localised targeting was a vast improvement to the national approach, we needed to further adjust our strategy ready for Go Ape’s reopening in the spring.

Instead of grouping the sites by location, we created regional campaign groupings and experimented with using ‘add to cart’ rather than ‘purchases’ as our conversion objective. This strategy paid off and we saw a strong improvement in the return on investment. 

In terms of Google PPC advertising, we began by reviewing the campaign structure. The majority of Go Ape’s campaigns were national or regional and we decided to restructure their campaigns so that they were predominantly site-based. By doing this, we could achieve higher ad quality scores and take customers to relevant landing pages. In turn, a higher quality score would result in a lower cost per click and cost per conversion for the client. 

Like we did for Facebook, we looked at Go Ape’s Power BI to analyse their purchasing heat map. This contained information on where customers lived, visually enabling us to recreate the map in Google Ads around each Go Ape location to better target customers. This reduced wasted spend in areas that were not converting.

Finally, we reviewed past search terms to start creating detailed negative keyword lists. By doing this, we were able to start filtering out specific terms and words that were not relevant and were wasting money.


Facebook and Instagram advertising & Google campaigns

The majority of Go Ape’s sites reopened in time for the Easter holidays in 2021 and our reopening campaign achieved some unprecedented results, thanks to pent-up demand, impactful advertisements and enhanced regional targeting.

During a 2.5-week period, our campaigns generated sales of £264,636 from a media spend of just £1,541, representing a phenomenal return on ad spend of 171.73 overall.

We were especially pleased with the results of our retargeting campaign which generated a return on ad spend of 350.6, the highest return on ad spend we have ever achieved as an agency.

We also achieved great success on Google Ads, achieving sales of £271,689.90 for a spend of £9,901.59, representing a return on ad spend of over 27.

We are currently refining Go Ape’s Google advertising to further improve ROI, planning further advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, and we have experimented with running school and corporate campaigns to attract more group bookings on LinkedIn. 

We have also created a new remarketing campaign on the Google display network, targeting users who visited our landing pages but did not convert. Essentially, we follow the customer online to show them eye-catching ads to remind them of Go Ape and grab their attention with the aim of encouraging them to make an online purchase.

Finally, we are in the process of creating new YouTube ads to promote corporate days out, school/college trips and generic Go Ape adventures. We are hoping to build on our current success and drive sales on this new platform. In the future, we hope to investigate TikTok and Snapchat as potential routes to market for Go Ape.

To find out how Oyster Studios can help you achieve more sales via digital marketing, contact us today.

Google Ad stats
65,683 clicks
204,150 impressions
£9,901.59 ad spend
3,681 conversions
£2.69 cost/conversion
£271,689.90 sales

I’m delighted to be working with Oyster Studios. They are full of ideas and have worked incredibly hard to turn around our digital marketing activities. I particularly like the test and learn strategy that Oyster has brought to us, always seeking different ways to reach new customers and challenge the norm. The results they have achieved so far are unprecedented for Go Ape and we look forward to building on this success and continuing our partnership with them.

Facebook/Instagram stats
6 reopening ads
1,536 link clicks
263,611 page impressions
171.73 average ROI
350.6 retargeting ROI
£1,541 ad spend
£264,636 sales