How do you measure the success of digital marketing? We round up the key metrics.
As more and more fashion e-commerce players are entering the market with aggressive expansion strategies – Farfetch has been continuously challenging e-commerce businesses with more traditional distribution models, while new players like LVMH’s 24 Sevres and the Modist are now also claiming a stake in the market – companies are going bolder and bigger when it comes to their marketing strategies, in order to stand out in the increasingly competitive online market.
Strategies can range from traditional advertising campaigns featured on the brand’s own channels and in-print glossiers, to influencer collaborations, physical events and targeted product promotions. The success of such initiatives can be directly measured against the numbers of clicks and sales they generate.
But at the same time, even when there is not a direct return on investment in the form of a sale, certain marketing initiatives can generate buzz and raise brand awareness, which is equally important for a fashion e-commerce business. In the age of Instagram, where strong visuals are key, e-commerce players continue to shoot seasonal ad campaigns. The difference is that now, a company’s budgets is less invested towards promoting campaigns in print publications and more invested towards promoting on digital channels such as websites, newsletters, and social media.
Net-a-Porter’s newly launched Fall 2017 campaign, shot in Paris by Gregory Harris, was designed to highlight the key trends and brands in its buy, while Browns is continuously publishing an array of imagery featuring its latest selection of products – from Vetements hoodies to Ganni dresses. Browns’ campaign imagery, as well as its new website format, are inspired by social media – a new aesthetic and strategy spearheaded by chief executive Holli Rogers in an effort to engage customers and drive clicks, likes, and shares, and grow beyond its South Molton Street boutique. These investments and productions in editorial campaigns might not drive a direct return on investment or result in significant sales, but online retailers continue to invest in producing visual assets like these, measuring success through the reach and buzz they create.
In luxury, raising the profile of the business through visual representation is just as essential as driving sales, while in high street businesses, a more direct ROI is what most businesses are aiming for. For high-street, House of Fraser, investing in technology ensured that its campaign banners reached the brand’s online audience, both on desktop and on mobile devices, which resulted in 22 times more clicks and 82 times more mobile sales in the last year.
Working with influencers to capitalize on their significant social followings has also become an integral part of any marketing strategy in fashion e-commerce. Companies often team up with bloggers to promote products either through sponsored Instagram posts, blog posts or mentions in vlogs.
In the case of Net-a-Porter, for example, a series of widely-followed influencers have been trotting the globe and promoting the retailer’s resort wear through sponsored posts marked with the hashtag #jetaporter.
When it comes to influencers, there seems to be a divide between those with followings in the millions, whose posts serve best at raising brand awareness and micro influencers who, despite boasting a smaller following, are more relatable; their posts tend to convert to sales more successfully.
In order for a marketing campaign to be successful, e-commerce websites should employ a multi-tiered approach working with more than one influencer or carefully select the right type of influencer, depending on whether an uptick in sales or brand awareness is the overarching goal.
Content is another major factor in e-commerce marketing strategies, as retailers aim to inspire and educate their customers in order to increase their loyalty and encourage them to make a purchase. Net-a-Porter founder, Farfetch Non-Executive Co-Chairman and BFC Chairman, Natalie Massenet, has long talked about the importance of content and commerce and her former company continues to produce a weekly digital magazine, the Edit, as well as a print publication, Porter, as part of its marketing efforts.
Matchesfashion.com is another business that puts a lot of weight on content, with their weekly Style Report that highlights key trends and lifestyle destinations, while offering up styling tips and exclusive interviews with designers.
In an oversaturated market where readers’ attention span is so low, does editorial content continue to influence sales? According to Matches it absolutely does. Shoppers are exposed to content on the site, spending on average twice as much time browsing the site – 12 minutes – looking at twice as many pages, while having a better conversion rate and better average basket value.
That’s why the company has continued to incorporate editorial content into its marketing strategies and in order to optimize its success, has also recently announced a partnership with AI content distribution platform, E-Contenta, which will tailor editorial content to certain customer groups depending on their interests and online activity. The editorial will appear in the same way that product is advertised.
Marketing strategies vary between different companies, depending on their growth goals and respective audiences. Some might invest more in editorial content and others, who want to tap into younger millennial and Generation Z consumers, might shift focus towards influencer initiatives and Instagram-friendly imagery. Yet in all cases, to build a business that has longevity, it is key to drive focus beyond sales-driven results, such as building a brand image and raising awareness.