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Key Apparel

From $400k to multi-million dollar revenue stream


Maximize paid media revenue, maintain a profitable ROAS, and change customer behavior to a direct-purchase mindset

KEY Apparel is a 110+ year old brand specializing in designing and producing rugged workwear. As the story goes, long days on the prairie required a type of workwear that hadn’t been invented yet. Enter KEY Apparel. Starting with denim dungarees, the line quickly expanded when customers saw the quality and value KEY Apparel provided. 

Fast forward to 2020, the company was looking to expand its direct-to-consumer (DTC) presence, and a partnership with LimeLight was born. In tandem with launching other marketing channels to activate the brand, paid media was a focal point of the program. The quick and direct attribution to success metrics made it a key contributor to the growth of the ecommerce business.

KEY Apparel logo

Finding the right investment balance and maximizing the opportunity

Paid search launched for KEY Apparel’s DTC strategy for the first time in early 2020. Leveraging its long brand history and amassed brand fans, the channel was able to quickly grow and scale. The sky was the limit, and both organizations spent time evaluating the breakeven and opportunity to acquire new customers at a strategic customer acquisition cost (CAC). 

The initial problems arose in identifying the performance peak for the brand. Since we were setting the baseline for activity, we needed to locate the pinnacle of paid media performance and avoid diminishing returns. The weight in the metaphorical scale was constantly tipping, so we were performing a constant balancing act between audience growth, adding additional channels, and return on ad spend (ROAS) goals.


A phased approach to paid media expansion

The team decided to phase the build of the paid media campaigns. First, we located brand fans through branded search. With the launch of branded paid search in January 2020, we were able to quickly harness the power of existing brand fans at a $15-$20 ROAS.

The goal then pivoted to audience growth. We activated Google Shopping in May 2020 with the objective of driving bottom-funnel shoppers to a quick purchase and beginning to grow brand recognition with look-alike audiences. 

Non-branded keywords on top-performing product categories launched in September 2020. This strategy was put in play in partnership with incentivized on-site lead capture. It was unlikely that a non-brand searcher would convert on the first visit, but if we could properly remarket through paid ads and email, they’d convert at a higher rate. 

Finally, in mid-2021, we activated a paid social strategy to maximize awareness at the top of the funnel. After 15 months, the entire paid media strategy was built and optimized. This might seem like a long journey, but for a brand launching its DTC presence for the first time, our goal was to get the individual steps correct to fully understand attribution.

Metrics and analytics tracking become more sophisticated by looking at the customer journey trends. Once we maximized brand and product search, it was time to focus on audience acquisition. While it’s more difficult to track directly attributable revenue, the group began tying the value of each new contact to the overall revenue stream.

Ultimately, the client settled on a $4 ROAS goal for all paid media initiatives. LimeLight meticulously  managed ROAS to maximize opportunity and reduce wasted ad spend. The objective of converting retail customers to direct customers is now well on its way. Without cannibalizing the wholesale market, KEY is able to more easily connect with its customers and directly communicate with brand fans.

The Work

An always-on media and management strategy

LimeLight focused on a range of key performance indicators, and increased clicks, impressions, conversions, and cost per conversion year-over-year for three years running. Daily management was performed to evaluate ROAS per campaign. Then, optimizations were performed based on high/low priority campaigns.


Creating a foothold in a competitive ecommerce market

The results produced for this brand are some of the most positive for any ecommerce store we’ve seen. 


Year-over-year revenue growth from paid media for three consecutive years


in directly attributable revenue over two years


average return on ad spend increase in non-branded relevant keywords



impressions year-over-year



in clicks



in conversions

Interested in launching paid media for your ecommerce brand? Let’s chat.