US Sports Camps (USSC) is the leading organizer of sports camps across the US and worldwide through its subsidiaries.
The company operates over 1200+ camps in 48 states across 16 different categories including eSports. Based out of San Bruno, CA, USSC was founded in 1975 and as of 2021 almost 100,000 kids and teenagers attend its camps every year. The company is also an exclusive partner of Nike, running their branded sports camp program.
With such a vast network of camps, USSC needed a creative advertising strategy that would not only attract new customers but, also allow scaling advertising budgets and campaigns without loss in performance.
Before USSC partnered with Dizzain, the company had a different advertising strategy and hadn’t used Facebook as a sales generation platform.
The youth sports industry experienced challenges prior to the pandemic. According to the research by Aspen Institute, only 38% of kids engaged in either a team or an individual sport as of 2018, down from 45% in 2008.
The dropout rate is caused by many reasons – economic situation, different interests, and general burnout and pressure from families and coaches that kids are experiencing. Covid-2019 brought a new set of challenges to the struggling industry.
Massive cancellations in organized sports activities and concern of parents for their children’s well-being brought a sharp decline in activity.
During the pandemic, time spent on games has declined to 59% and practice time decreased by 54%. By September 2020 the activity started to rebound somewhat, yet the uncertainty remained with the expectation of the next wave of government mandated lockdowns.
In the face of this uncertainty and declining demand, USSC decided to engage Dizzain to help them expand their digital marketing program and proactively plan inventory based on demand.
Low mobile devices performance
Sub-par measurement accuracy
Search for new effective channels and tools
Sold-out inventory impact on GA and FB performance
Promoting camps with poor performance
Recover from the pandemic effect
Restructure accounts and develop new PPC strategy for Google Ads and Facebook
Scale campaigns even in comparison with pre-pandemic years
Increase transactions from Facebook for sports with low demand on Google
While building of the back of the successful 2021 and the pandemic passing In 2022, the inventory of camps increased significantly relative to 2021, which led to a change in our goals – we focused on maximizing the number of transactions and also maximizing the utilization of camps.
Device performance varied greatly in 2021. Desktop demonstrated better results for Google Ads than mobile, so in order to increase the performance of the mobile channel, we decided to focus on relevant low-price mobile transactions with high ROAS. To achieve this goal, we needed more control over our targeting, so we multiplied the number of ad groups and divided them by device targeting. As a result, mobile device CPA decreased by 60% in 2022 in comparison to 2021.
In 2021, we made excellent progress in optimizing our campaigns. However, we reached a point where further improvements would only be limited to additional tools. Therefore, we decided to focus on improving measurement accuracy. To do this, we switched to a data-driven attribution model for all conversions on Google Ads and set up advanced conversions.
Every year, we try to find new effective tools for our partners. In 2021, our main finding was Dynamic Search Ads, which outperformed standard search ad groups.
In 2022, our main experimental tool was the Performance Max campaign type, which helped us to increase the number of transactions by 22%.
Performance Max campaigns help you increase conversions across Google’s full range of advertising channels and inventory.
Our remarketing strategy on Facebook needed an update in 2022. We not only wanted to attract new traffic but also increase the number of transactions. To do this, we fine-tuned our location targeting system to feature more than 1000 different camps in various cities. This allowed us to better serve our audience and create a more seamless experience for users.
We shifted our focus from targeting entire states to targeting the cities where camps were located, plus a 15-mile radius around those cities. This structure allowed us to quickly update our campaigns by removing cities with no active camps and adding new camps, without wasting our budget on camps that had already started.
Advertisement for poor-performing camps was yet another challenge in 2022. The main goal was to increase the number of transactions for these camps, which proved difficult to do on Google Ads. As a solution, we started to advertise these camps on Facebook and with the help of Facebook Custom audiences, we managed to reach the right audience without a big increase in CPA.
We started using the Conversion API for USSC in the fall of 2022. This feature allows advertisers to measure ad performance and attribution better, and avoid loss of transactions in the Facebook data. We expect this to lead to a 10-20% increase in the accuracy of Facebook campaigns performance (number of transactions, revenue, ROAS) in 2023.
In 2021 USSC and the industry as a whole faced a lower demand due to the effects of the Pandemic. We made maximizing ROAS our top priority that year.
2021 was a very important year due to the end of the pandemic. To fit the rapidly increasing demand for sports camps we’ve created a new strategy and new account structure on Google Ads and begun to use Facebook as the second digital channel.
Camps for various sports are sold at different price points and have different cost structures, therefore our ROAS targets varied per sports category. We organized Google Ads campaigns by sport type to maximize ROAS per sport using ad automation. One of the biggest points was the expansion in the direction of the upper-middle funnel with the audience which isn’t ready to buy but is interested in sports camps through similar audiences in Display Ads and Video Ads. The lower funnel with the audience which has already decided that they want to use sports camps services on the other hand was expanded by Dynamic Search Ads.
In 2021, we started using Facebook as a channel to generate new sales. We focused on remarketing audiences as a source of high-quality traffic and a low cost of sale. We set up a full e-commerce tracking system on Facebook, which allowed us to track Revenue and ROAS from each campaign.
USSC had a large volume of users already familiar with the company, USSC website, and services (USSC brand). It allowed us to launch Facebook remarketing campaigns to USSC users and get a large number of sales at a CPA 10 times lower than the average Google Ads CPA. We also used Facebook as a channel to drive additional traffic for those sports that had lower performance on Google Ads (Esport and Kids camps).
Dizzain’s new strategy increased lead generation by more than 2x while reducing the Cost per Sale by 38%.
Facebook campaigns not only allowed USSC to interact with potential customers more effectively but also increased occupancy at camps that had difficulty getting applications on other platforms.
Cost of sale
I’ve been working in SEO and PPC for the past 12 years, and what impresses me the most is their knowledge of the space and willingness to continue to iterate on campaigns that are not working and double-down on the campaigns that are.
I am very critical of the vendors I leverage and am constantly looking for teams that I feel are an extension of my own team. I need a partner that understands what I want to achieve and knows how to get us there the quickest way possible. Dizzain is that partner.
Joshua Van Horsen
VP of Digital Marketing