Obviously all business owners want to build profitable brand that can generate steady positive ROI. But how? in this article, I will share proven eCommerce marketing techniques based on my experience working with leading eCommerce retailer to increase their revenue by more than 100% within small time frame.
However, seeing at the recent growth of the industry, it’s clearly not the case. Online fashion sales grew between 2.0% and 2.5% in 2016 and we expect a figure between 2.5% and 3.5% in 2017. A huge amount of investment is being done into this sector with brands like Glit Group valuing at $236 million. There are several key players today including Moda Operandi (valued at 46 million), Nasty Gal (valued at $49 million), ShoeDazzle (valued at $66 million), BeachMint (valued at $75 million) and more. These numbers aren’t inflated but rightly show the opportunities and value proposition in the market. Companies like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Nike are setting new standards for online shopping and with new ecommerce technologies being invented every other day, the partnership of digital and retail works brilliantly.
However, in-spite of the huge growth and the opportunities, there also exist of online fashion brands struggling to survive. It’s a marketplace that is marked by frequent changes in consumption behavior and the inability to adapt leads to losses.
It is necessary to understand that though the online fashion retail market enjoys the same characteristics, there are clear differences when you are trying to sell a particular kind of product in a particular market and targeting particular demographics. Every successful fashion brand has not just been able to find their competitive advantages but is also continually striving to set new targets, branding and marketing techniques. Attributes like pricing standard, packaging, delivery, communication, grievance management have become more important areas to focus upon than the quality of the product. To be able to establish a successful online store, brands need to understand what the customer seeks – low pricing, big discounts, quality products, trendsetting designs, good visuals, convenient browsing, high quality content, interesting stories, social adoption, and much more.
Looking at the successful fashion eCommerce players in the market and their online strategies, here are some takeaways that newer entrants should focus upon:
1. Visual is as Important as Quality
When we had physical fashion retail stores, the showroom experience also relied upon the quality of product display. Fashion brands have been known to embark in displays that give a larger-than-life image to the products. It essentially establishes the quality, authenticity, exclusivity and value of the product. However, when the same store goes online, visuals are limited to the photography content available on the page. It is thus necessary for fashion ecommerce store that the quality of visuals should provide the maximum information to the audience, while heightening the perceived value. Professional product photography helps establish the real feel of the fabric, material, stitch details, emblems and more. Navigable product photographs in successful fashion websites offer option for zooming into images to get a better look.
Other than the product photos, the overall visual (website design and navigation) should feel shoppable. An eCommerce website in this case should be understood the same way you would design a physical store. Further, several stores also add product packaging pictures to let the customers know how they will receive the item.
Pro tip: This is very important part of any eCommerce marketing strategy and highly recommended for the brand having lower conversion rate and higher bounce rate.
2. Don’t sell on the Homepage
The homepage of any online fashion store is more about establishing credibility and trust among potential buyers. The ideal home page is not for displaying products or its prices. Instead it should integrate marketing and promotional strategies that will encourage the visitor to explore the rest of the website before navigating to the product pages. The best you can do is display the product categories on the home page and create an intuitive interface that makes it easier to navigate to the inner pages.
Pro tip: Displaying customer reviews, brand achievements, awards and web security trust seals on home page can increase the conversion rate of your fashion eCommerce store.
3. Unique Story Telling Product Descriptions
Your products won’t sell if you are still copy pasting product descriptions from the manufacturer’s website and adding spammy Meta tags to enhance the traffic. The modern product description is all about being able to communicate the product’s value with a real story. A great example of such salable product descriptions are presented by ModCloth. Each of the description adds more life and personality to the product and adds reasons to why anyone should be buying it.
Pro Tip: User generated content like product review, ratings, questions and answer from the real buyer can boost the conversion rate & decrease the bounce rate of your respective landing pages. It also helps in organic search rankings.
4. Upload and Update Latest Products
For fashion ecommerce brand; the best way to entice a returning customer is to offer a new line of products that he/she might want to buy. A continuous updated inventory essentially signifies that the brand has something new and unique to offer. The same old stock photos will easily bore out customers, especially if customers are returning visitors. One time visitor might have seen those products for first time on your website but that doesn’t mean they never seen those products on other online fashion store. Even with the same kind of inventory, you can always go for fresh looks with new models, new styling and personalized product recommendation. There is no limit to creativity that can market a product.
5. Personalized Email Marketing – Email Marketing Structure
Personalized emails can be a very successful marketing tool, especially for an online fashion brands. It is deemed as an instrument to build a long lasting relationship with the customer while acting intelligently to enhance the shopping experience. Email marketing campaigns can be strategically synced with buying behavior and preferences to make customers feel special. Discounts on birthday, anniversaries, etc have always increased conversions. Personalized emails can cover several aspects of shopping, including:
- A thank you letter for purchasing products
- Added to cart but not completed purchase (Remind them your product is in cart)
- Customers who might be interested in new products added to particular categories
- Wish list product updates (Those who have certain products in wish list)
While email is the top source for data analytics for marketers, it will also be a point of contact that customers will check from anywhere, from waking up in the morning to reading emails when driving to office. According to reports Email Marketing has higher conversion rate compare to social media, PPC & direct conversion rates.
6. Don’t Forget to Build Email Lists
A key marketing tool used by most successful online fashion brands is an email subscription form. Whenever a new visitor lands on your website, a simple pop up form can collect the email details of the customer and add him to the list of subscribers. Building an email list through this and other means is essential to generate the maximum amount of attention to everything new that you do. Whether you have come up with a new product, a promotional sale or an event, it is best said through email newsletters. In above image you can see that how Moda Operandi provides sign up offer in subscription form while entering into the portal.
Pro Tip: Create further segmentation in your email list and avoid sending same email to entire list. Understand user interest and accordingly serve the email. This will help you to lower email unsubscribe rate and result in better conversion rates from email campaign.
7. Stay Real
The growth and popularity of social media has made marketplaces highly democratic. Brands no longer dictate fashion but the customer experience and reviews are. It is thus necessary that you stay real in your products, offering and other activities. Anything fake will be noticed and shared. To this end, many top fashion brands are using customer photographs as accompanying product pictures. While it might not look good as a studio photograph, it does add a lot of positivity. Maximize the opportunity by:
- Advertising the right product
- Advertising real photographs, especially those shared by customers
- Advertising only what you can offer and not overstating
A good experience shared by one customer is equal to big paid promotion campaign. If you are also allowing other vendors to sell their products on your fashion store, then make sure the quality of images, description and other factors pass some real value.
8. Be Intelligent to Moderate Reviews
Customer reviews have always influence future buyer’s decision making. It is thus necessary that you moderate all product reviews and ensure that only the good ones are displayed. The better the reviews, the more are the chances of reselling. However, there’s also a limit to which you can choose to filter out the reviews. The purpose should be to help other customers make an informed choice and not just hear good things about the brand/product. If you have very good mind to analyze the product performance then you can moderate reviews accordingly. Don’t moderate only good reviews blindly because it might cost you fortune. Some products on your online store might have high percentage of refunds & return orders, so here you can balance positive & negative reviews so visitors won’t buy blindly just by following positive reviews. Consequently, calculated inclusion of both positive and negative reviews should help you save money in refunds and return orders.
Pro Tip: If you receive genuine negative review for any product, approve it and try to put your point in reply. This will help other buyers to make their purchase decision easier.
9. Sell Look
Since you belong to the fashion industry, the main thing that you are selling is the look. Thus, instead of selling one particular dress, you can suggest other complimenting products and accessories that best go with the buy. You can promote complete looks created by a particular selection in dress, glasses, hats, shoes, sandals, watches, bags, jewelry, etc. Another alternative to selling in combination is to suggest related products (customers also viewed…) on the lading page. Check above image how ASOS provides buy a look suggestion on particular product.
10. Make Contact Process Easy for Customers
Though digitization has made shopping more convenient, we still look out for a human touch to the processes, especially when faced with difficulties and issues. To be successful, it is necessary that the customer finds it easy to contact representative. The common tools to this end include emails, chat, phone calls, social media communication, contact forms and others. You can also be creative to make this more convenient. One more important thing to keep in mind is the use of social media wisely. We have seen some famous brands are using auto reply feature when someone mentions them online (Twitter) and later users badly trolls them for poor management. Try to give 100% personal touch and manage all complaints easily so later can track it. In recent Facebook update now Facebook Page will show the total % of response rate in particular time. So, give quick response to all messages on Facebook brand page as well.
11. To Sustain Customers, Provide Product Offers Time to Time
Every once in a while, customers need an impetus to continue with a particular shopping brand / shopping portals. This best comes in the form of discounts, offers, coupons, and the like. In a year there are plenty of various festivals and days where online fashion stores are providing huge discount offers on holiday sales like Christmas, New Year, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, St. Patrick’s Day and many more days. Don’t relief yourself after uploading discount banners on shopping portal. Reach out to the audience via Email Marketing, AdWords, Bing Ads, Social Media and other forms.
Pro Tip: this Cookie lawCheckout before you implement the same on your website. One need to strictly follow the same and make their website visitors aware that you are collecting cookies.
13. Find Vendors on ETSY
If you are in the process of creating fashion ecommerce marketplace, you will require sellers who will advertise their products on your website. The best resource to find top sellers in fashion niche is ETSY. Here, you can look for bands that don’t just match your product categories but also advocate your brand image while offering a great deal in pricing and delivery.
14. Market and Advertise Brands Intelligently
Depending on the business model you follow, it is necessary to evoke a trust benefit from your customers. For instance, if you are running a portal selling many different bands, it is necessary that you prioritize the marketing of your own brand name rather than focus on the brands you work with. Advertising in this case should be very strategic such that you are placed above a particular brand and whenever a return customer is looking for a particular product, he/she would come back to your website rather than looking elsewhere for the brand.
To meet this end, you will need to:
- Investment in ads at Adwords, Bing Ads and other platforms
- Shopping Campaign
- Display and remarketing ads
- Brand Name Search Campaigns
If you owns online store then you should spend some time to define eCommerce Marketing strategies. For any eCommerce site one has to advertise their products on Google AdWords & Bing Ads. This paid marketing platform provides different types of marketing campaigns to sell your products. For example, if you are selling even 10 products online then you can create shopping feed and shopping campaign in Google AdWords & Bing Ads. Shopping Campaign will provide highest conversions, conv. Rate and ROI as they are the cheapest form of advertisements as compare to other.
Always think that your competitors are smarter than you. Yes, your competitors will never miss a chance to grab your customers and Google AdWords can play a key role in it. If your shopping portal is quite popular and you are not running Search Campaign in Google AdWords by your brand name then you are losing huge opportunity to boost sales. Competitors might be running ads on your brand name so whenever any users search your store name in Google they might see your competitor’s ad on first place and visit their store instead of your’s. So be intelligent and start running ads on your brand keywords. If you can spend some more money on marketing then don’t hesitate to run ads on competitor’s store keywords as well!
15. Train Your Customer Care Team
The nuances of customer care are changing drastically with the continuous evolution of the online fashion industry. The work they do is beyond handing logistics and delivery related troubleshooting. You will thus need to train your customer care team to be knowledgeable about industry trends and even be able to give style advice to customers.
The modern customer care team will address complains on social media, handle social posts and even track brand mentions across the internet.
16. SEO and Content Marketing
Content is still the king when it comes to online leadership. For fashion retailers, a key to success in this regard lies in fashion blogging and photography. Regular fashion related articles (4 to 5 lengthy articles every month) is the modern way of marketing brands and looks. They don’t just create interesting stories but also assist in the technical aspect of website marketing involving SEO (H1 tags, Meta Tags, Alt Tags, Internal Links and more). eCommerce store should have better content marketing strategies to boost ranks on Google on targeted keywords.
Invite in guest bloggers who would help market your brand among their audience and consequently, also offer a greater exposure to your products. Collaborate with leading fashion bloggers of the industry which might adds value to your store.
Surviving the swell in the online fashion retail industry is difficult but if you are doing all the right things, there would be enough encouragement for you to continue experimenting, improving and learning.