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Watford BID

Increasing High Street sales by 700%

When the High Street uses hyper-local digital marketing to increase physical sales by 700%.


An ever-popular destination, Watford - at just eight miles squared - is a town which punches above its weight. From a thriving town centre with fantastic shopping, nightclubs and restaurants to a Premier League football team, theatres, award-winning parks – including Cassiobury, one of the nation’s top 10 parks – there is something for everyone in Watford.

But as with many towns and cities around the country, the last few years have been testing for its High Street. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 came on top of existing challenges including the growth of e-commerce. Reports say 10 million fewer people visited each of England’s regional cities on average during this time, according to the High Streets Taskforce.

"Our Christmas Watford Gift Card sales in 2021 were 700% higher than in 2020"

Glen Hempenstall

Marketing & Communications Manager


There was a very clear need to reverse this situation in Watford as we came out of lockdown and give a much-needed boost to the High Street in the lead up to Christmas 2021.

Watford has an active and award-winning Business Improvement District (BID), who have been working with We Are Acuity for several years. It’s funded by over 400 Watford town centre businesses and its objective is to improve the wellbeing of its visitors, employees, and residents. It funds major town centre projects such as the Christmas Lights, Summer Floral Displays, Food & Drink Week and Wellness Week. The aim being to benefit the consumer whilst increasing footfall and sales for Watford town centre businesses.


Although vacancy rates are comparatively low in Watford and footfall hadn’t been impacted as badly as other towns, the BID knew it needed to encourage consumers back to the High Street post pandemic. So, they turned to local marketing experts We Are Acuity for support.



As part of Watford BID’s efforts to support local businesses, it launched the Watford Gift Card in February 2020. The programme is designed to lock in additional money for participating businesses and encourage local spend. It allows anyone to discover the best of Watford with one handy gift card. By taking the decision out of gifting it enables recipients to treat themselves in over 50 Watford businesses, whilst also supporting local. From a night out to a pampering treat they can choose whatever gift is right for them.

The Watford Gift Card had initially been a traditional card, but for Christmas 2021 it would also launch as a digital e-Card. We Are Acuity’s role was to not only launch the card in its new digital form, but also increase awareness and ultimately sales giving the High Street the boost it needed during this important trading period. We had one week to get the one-month campaign live!

Glen Hempenstall, marketing and communications manager at Watford BID said:

“Having spoken to our businesses, it was becoming increasingly clear that many of our businesses are moving towards contactless payments only. Combining this with growing consumer trends towards smart phone payments, we felt it was essential that we introduced digital gift cards so that the programme was more inclusive for our businesses and that it met the needs of the modern-day consumer in Watford.”

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Our recommendation was a highly targeted local digital advertising campaign. Given the nature of the activity we needed to raise awareness for those in market for gifts, as well as those who loved Watford. Our decision was to use Google Display Banner Ads, Google Search Ads and Facebook Ads given the quick turnaround, relatively small budget available and the short duration of the campaign.

Google Display Banner Ads were targeted at a wider audience making them aware of the Watford Gift Card and encouraging click throughs to purchase. 

Google Search Ads provided instant visibility for a wide range of related in-market search terms. Our text ads featured clear USPs and calls-to-action pointing to the Watford Gift Card site to encourage greater conversions.

Facebook Ads were created targeting users and driving them to the Watford Gift Card site for awareness and purchases. We served ads to those most relevant for Gift Cards and Watford, targeting by location, age, and platform with additional targeting of relevant interests.


The relative success of the gift card programme in 2021 culminated with the successful digital marketing campaign with We Are Acuity – leading to a fantastic upsurge in awareness, website visitors, and gift card sales.

“At Watford BID, we regularly work with We Are Acuity for design & creative of our campaigns in Watford town centre and have always been greatly satisfied. Towards the end of 2021, we commissioned for We Are Acuity to run a digital marketing campaign for our Watford Gift Card programme, and we were extremely impressed with our results.

Our Christmas Watford Gift Card sales in 2021 were 700% higher than in 2020 thanks to the excellent Google Ads, Display Ads, and Social Media Ads campaigns as well as the usual high standards of design & creative assets.

 The KPIs were exceeded thanks to their brilliant team, and they managed to provide a really quick turnaround. We will certainly be working with We Are Acuity again for our digital campaigns in the future.”

Glen Hempenstall
Marketing & Communications Manager


If you’d like to talk about your brand’s local marketing why not schedule a FREE 30-minute assessment today here? It will be well worth your time.

Or alternatively read more about Local Marketing on our blog page "Local Thinking': https://www.weareacuity.com/local-thinking-our-blog


Google PPC CampaignGoogle GDN CampaignFacebook/Instagram Campaign
Impressions – 21,661
Clicks – 1,176
Impressions – 1,839,947
Clicks – 2,800
Impressions – 500,881
Clicks – 1,157
Reach – 234,901
Ad recall – 8,460