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Feather in one’s cap

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Feather in one’s cap

Hollands Country Clothing Ltd. is a family-owned online retailer, specialising in outdoor and country clothing. From humble beginnings, since coming under Dark Horse’s protection, Hollands has seen steady growth with their business and become a one-million-pound company!

No longer a small marketplace, Hollands Country Clothing is now a leading online retailer. Hollands was hungry and ambitious to become a market leader in outdoor fashion and retail – just the type of client Dark Horse likes to work with.

Hollands was already with an “award-winning” agency when it first heard of Dark Horse. A forensic audit of their PPC performance was needed. The results were less than complimentary for this “award-winning” agency. Enter Dark Horse.

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More than just a hole in the pocket

From the get-go, it was clear that Hollands campaigns were not optimised, to say the least, the ad groups that were running had limited budgets and small amounts of change historically, meaning minimum activity was happening on the account.

A look under the bonnet showed us that referral traffic had been set up incorrectly, huge amounts of revenue were incorrectly assigned. PPC was not getting the credit it deserved when it came to making a profit.

It was also clear that the “increase in revenue” coincided with the increase in costs. The simple maths meant that Hollands was making very little impact to its sales when you truly looked at the numbers.

It didn’t stop there. Much of the account had been set to automated bidding without any form of proper segmentation; this was also included Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). Over 51% of DSA campaign traffic had no segmentation at all. Any decent PPC agency knows that segmentation is needed to make a campaign successful. Think of all the variables that can be segmented, demographic, age, gender, keywords etc. To make an actual impact, you can’t truly optimise your account without taking segmentation into account.

The lack of segmentation and overall structure to the campaign meant that keywords categories were all grouped together. A massive 91% of search traffic came from automation but again, with no form of proper segmentation and no trust that you’re actually reaching your target audience. Ask yourself, how can you truly optimise your ads if you aren’t looking closely at the keywords being used?

Due to the lack of keyword segmentation, optimisation keyword relevancy was tanking. Keywords have a detrimental effect on the overall Quality Score of the campaign not only do you need to specify what you are looking to target; you need to be clear about the keywords you DON’T want to be associated with. With this account having a lack of negative keywords, there was a negative effect on Hollands relevancy and Quality Score.

These were just a few examples of the basics that were being missed by this “award-winning” agency.

Hollands was left in a terrible state due to what we like to call the “set and forget it” management style we’ve seen all too often. Not really the “award-winning” approach you expect to see from your PPC agency, is it?

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Seriously cool branding, backed by serious PPC knowledge.

“The problem with a lot of PPC agencies is that their secret focus is to maximise spending on your Google Ads account, this is normally linked to the amount they invoice. Our relationship with Dark Horse is founded upon a deep focus on efficiency and getting the best return on advertising spend.

I would recommend them to any business who feels they need to switch up their Google PPC agency, or are struggling to manage/understand their Google Ads account themselves.”

Matthew Holland – Hollands Country Clothing

Looking Sharp

Avenue85, an e-comms clothing company, had heard about Dark Horse’s reputation. It came to us to grow its site and reduce third-party platform reliance. It had heard that Dark Horse was forensic in its actions.

Avenue85 presented Dark Horse with a challenge; raise performance significantly to a minimum of 6x ROI, maximise revenue from 25 brands and achieve a cost of sales equal or better than Amazon. We accepted.

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Dressed to the nines

Something had to change, and fast! Before signing on the dotted line Hollands gave us a challenge. They had a strict “no less than 10x ROAS” policy.

With the criteria set in stone, there wasn’t a moment to lose. A lot of the basics needed to be fixed so we had a solid foundation before anything else could be done. It was goodbye “award-winning” agency, hello Dark Horse.

A complete restructure to the account had to be the first step. Due to the large size and scale of the account, we began by giving each brand its own campaign, then each campaign was given its own ad group. This meant that we were finally targeting audiences who were in the market for what Hollands had to offer.

Once the restructure had been secured, we moved on to implementing Responsive Search Ads (RSA) updating their old and outdated ad formats to present day. With this alone we saw an immediate increase in Click Through Rates (CTR)! Now that RSA ads were up and running, we could test multiple different combinations within just one ad copy, negating the need for multiple ads to perform split testing.

Through machine learning, we identified which audience segments respond better to certain assets. Thanks to machine learning we could personalise the ad copy based on what Google feels that a specific user would most like to see using signals such as time of day, day of week, location, device, interests, demographics and more.

The next stage of our plan focused on looking at ad relevancy and increasing Hollands overall Quality Score by creating compelling messages with strong Calls To Action (CTAs). From there, we optimised our ads based on the segmentation and learnings we found from the newly implemented RSA ads.

We continue to change these bidding strategies regularly, ensuring that we are hitting their clients at the point of purchase.

In summary, Dark Horse has completely changed this account for Hollands and the results just keep getting better and better, month after month.

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increase in revenue from around £100k to £1 million in revenue


increase in conversions from 2,575 to 25,603 conversions


reduction in cost per click

MaxiNutrition is the UK's premier sports nutrition brand, focussing on highly effective, research-supported nutritional products. Its aim is to help consumers achieve their physique, sporting and fitness goals. Since 1995, it has helped millions of people push harder, go faster and further. Break limits and personal bests. Build confidence and realise dreams. Whether you are an elite sportsperson, a gym purist or a complete beginner, MaxiNutrition is the go-to sports nutrition brand.

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Increase in ROAS from 3x to 5.97x

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