It’s time to embrace new strategies for apparel: Broadening tactics through user intent
Clothing retailers, listen up! Columnist Thomas Stern explains why apparel brands must evolve their strategies and measurement beyond just conversions.
With more data on purchase intent, consumers, advertising methods and the shift from big-box retailers to online stores, the apparel industry has seen a massive shift in its advertising structure over the past few years. More powerful marketing technology and a more competitive market have forced the industry through its most profound transformation since the industrial revolution.
Google regularly changes their search result types based upon user intent, allowing them to home in on what people need in certain verticals. A search engine results page (SERP) may display videos, related articles or answer boxes based on the user’s presumed intent. That means apparel retailers need to expand and optimize their content offerings based on SERP displays for their target keywords.
Furthermore, advertising and marketing are no longer solely about conversions — apparel brands are also setting goals and measuring success in terms of how well they appeal to, interact with and engage returning and new consumers. To stay relevant in today’s apparel industry, it’s essential for brands to embrace new marketing methods and measurements.
The apparel vertical’s competitive landscape continues to increase with new brands, shifting search trends, and of course, the increase of online conversions versus in-store sales. By leveraging the reach of new digital methods and different devices, apparel brands can improve user engagement in ways that go beyond the simple click to purchase.
Have a relatable voice
Brands must engage their core audience members by relating to them through personalized content. By understanding their users, brands can create a content strategy that aligns with their SEO and social media goals.
While conveying their relatable tone of voice and personality through content, brands must also use key insights from purchase data, audience data, and even seasonality to appeal to people. For instance, Nordstrom has mastered tailoring content around important events and seasonality. This includes events like prom, wedding season, seasonal work attire and swimwear for different occasions.
When searching for the query of “wedding guest,” Google understands my user intent: finding something to wear for a friend’s wedding. Nordstrom ranks highly in the SERP, as they have formatted their online content and optimized it with the user intent in mind.
On Facebook, Nordstrom leads the discussion for work attire and the newest wedding looks. They’re simple and sleek throughout imagery, post copy and the links provided that clearly result in engagement, visibility, word-of-mouth, and even conversions. It’s no wonder the brand’s millennial mindset has paved the way for their future.
Content that’s written for the purchase intent prevails with this strategy. The key is to focus on what the consumers want to interact with.
For another example, take the online male apparel brand, Chubbies. This brand is extremely niche, selling mostly shorts and swim trunks for men. The brand has developed a distinct voice and culture for all its digital channels with a unified brand image.
Find your influence
Marketers know that people trust people more than they trust brands. Developing and implementing an influencer campaign exposes your brand to new audiences that are more likely to enjoy your products. It’s also a chance to harness relationships that may have not derived from more traditional methods of digital marketing.
For example, this BlackMilk Clothing influencer taps into her own social circles and followers to share her favorite items. She answers user questions and spreads word of the brand to new audiences.
At ZOG Digital, we’ve seen a targeted increase in followers when employing this strategy. By working closely with niche fashion influencers for blogging and social media efforts, we directly saw over 300 percent increase in average engagement rate on Facebook only and over 520 percent increase in new followers on Instagram.
And influencers are not just for social media; many influencers run their own blogs on top of social media platforms. When influencers develop new blog content featuring or linking to your brand, it can have a direct impact on the visibility of your brand in SERPs.
Brands should vary how they communicate with (potential) customers, pushing content across their own web properties and those of influencers. With their now expanded media metrics, the outcomes can all be connected and work toward a specific brand goal, like visibility, increase of engagement or followers and simple brand awareness.
Take online shopping to specific products
While many brands recognize the power behind traditional search ads and Facebook ads, they still have not expanded into or experimented with Shopping ads.
Shopping ads, also known as Product Listing Ads (PLAs), appear at the top of Google mobile search results and in the right rail on Google desktop search results. They’re more than a simple text ad — there’s a visual aspect as well. These ads show users a photo of your product, a title, price, store name, color and size. And if that’s not enough, ad extensions can help you add more detail to your Shopping ads.
Brands that use Shopping ads to promote their inventory have often seen improved website and in-store traffic. These ads can also nurture leads who may be thinking about purchasing a product. We’ve seen significant success within apparel brands utilizing Shopping ads with tailored strategies encompassing different product categories.
When implementing a shopping campaign as a part of our client’s paid strategy, we saw a direct impact on the total site conversions and traffic. During the first month of the new Shopping campaign, the client saw nearly 5,000 conversions, with the Shopping ads playing an essential role in 40 percent of those conversions. Since the campaign’s implementation, the client has seen year-over-year growth in direct traffic revenue of 90 percent, with Shopping ads assisting overall site revenue by over 50 percent.
It’s time for apparel brands to evolve their strategies and measurement beyond just conversions. Rather than rest on your laurels, take these digital marketing tactics for a test drive and see if they work for your audience.
It’s imperative to test content strategies, influencer marketing, shopping ads and other approaches. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind in the heat of competition — optimizing and hoping for conversions, rather than embracing and accepting the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing.