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Susie Hood

Digital fashion marketing best practice: Industry expert tips

Tips from fashion industry experts

Online fashion retail is an incredibly competitive marketplace. It can be difficult for brands to cut through the noise and be front of mind with potential customers’ when it matters.

At Hitsearch, we’ve been helping fashion brands grow their online retail presence and results for many years. Our team of experts in this sector have contributed their tips and advice to this guide, to help fashion businesses generate more sales, maximise their profit and get better ROI in the short, medium and long term.

1. Gain a true understanding of your current marketplace

Even if you’ve been in the fashion retail sector for decades, customers will always find new ways to surprise you and shopping behaviour, especially online, is always evolving. This means that whilst your past experience can of course be of benefit in determining what you should do in the future, it doesn’t give the full picture. Creating things like buyer personas is not a ‘one and done’ task; they will need regular revisiting and comparing to your customer data to ensure that you’re still focusing on the right people and the specific needs or requirements that they have.

You can look at information like:

  1. What problems do they have that you can solve?
  2. What trends do they follow? Are they after specific colours, styles and sizes?
  3. How do they look for what they want? What search terms might they use?
  4. Where are their digital hang outs? How much time do they spend and what do they do there?
  5. What sent them to you? Where are they likely to visit next?
  6. What and who influences their purchases?
  7. Are there patterns to when they buy?
  8. What is their average basket value?

You need to get under the skin of your customers to ensure that your digital fashion marketing activity is focusing in the right areas and providing them with what they need in order to make a confident purchase; and then come back for more.

You also need to ensure you know your competition properly to help make sure you stand out and offer something different. Look at:

  1. What they sell and how it differs from your products
  2. Their pricing strategy
  3. What are they doing from a marketing point of view? How are they positioned? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where, when and what do they post? What is their reputation like?
  4. Their SEO performance in comparison to yours
  5. Are they working with any influencers? What do people say about them?
  6. Their social media profiles and sign up to their email newsletter – what do they do on these channels?
  7. How their process works from online order to returns – make a purchase from them to truly experience this
  8. How can you use the best of what they do to inspire your own activity? Your job isn’t to match them – it’s to better them.

2. Set up a cohesive digital marketing business plan

Based on all the information you now have, you need to create a fashion marketing plan that incorporates activity designed to move customers along their buyer journey and make every step as easy as possible for them.

You’ll want to set targets and understand how to best measure every element of your activity in direct correlation to the business objectives you’re trying to achieve. Communicating these targets and KPIs to team members is vital – they also need to know what success looks like and you need their buy-in to succeed.

Monitor progress regularly (but not so much that it detracts from the time spent actually marketing) and celebrate successes as a team. This will help you to identify opportunities and areas that need improvement and things do sometimes change mid-activity – requiring you to react and change your strategy. Don’t be afraid to reforecast if this happens.

A joined-up marketing strategy is essential; missed opportunities and wasted resource often happen because activity exists in silos and isn’t a collaborative approach that crosses teams, departments (even agencies) and tactics. The most effective retail marketing tactics complement each other, such as:

  1. PPC providing great insights for your fashion SEO strategy
  2. Website visits feeding into remarketing activity across channels e.g. display and paid social
  3. Organic social and boosting posts being a great way to amplify SEO-friendly content
  4. PR providing great link building opportunities to support SEO
  5. Email marketing helping to amplify website content and social campaigns to new audiences

Having a shared plan where the responsibilities are mapped out across all marketing strands is vital to keep everything on track and within deadline. Communication is key and a good plan will scope out potential bottlenecks and other blockers to stop them before they happen. Only appoint agencies that will work as an extension of your team.

With many customers likely to have several touchpoints with your brand across different channels before they buy, you can help move things in the right direction by maintaining consistency across them all. This includes on your website, your social channels and your email marketing activity as well as with your offline activity, such as direct mail, catalogues and any in-store merchandising if applicable.

Customers don’t see these things as different elements - they are all arms of the same brand and need to support this with consistent messaging and creative.

3. Make it easy to buy from you

Buying something shouldn’t be in any way an arduous process. Positive online shopping experiences not only make that customer more likely to buy again, but they are also more likely to leave a positive review or tell their friends about your brand. You can try:

  1. Using personalisation that will remember a visitor’s previous products viewed or what they have purchased in the past
  2. Making sure the site loads quickly, whatever device they are visiting on
  3. Making sure that your site offers (and shouts about) the payment options that your target audience want to use e.g. PayPal, Apple Pay, Klarna

4. Invest in great content that makes your products stand out

If you want to stand out from other retailers selling similar products, one way you can do so is with excellent written and visual content. A product with a range of images, including detail close-ups as well as lifestyle applications provide customers with a clear way to imagine them owning this product themselves. You can include:

  1. Fashion photography
  2. Products in isolation
  3. Close-ups on fabrics, details, embellishments or other features you want to highlight
  4. Colour swatches
  5. Lifestyle shots to show the piece paired with other complementary products in a real-world setting
  6. Video to show how the product moves and how it fits when in motion

5. Protecting profit margins

While profit margins can vary, depending on your business model and processes, it’s important to closely monitor your sales attribution so that you can make sure your spend on those channels and any specific incentives is representative to the return you’re getting as part of your ecommerce marketing strategy.

Coupons and discount codes can be a great incentive to generate more sales, but you’ll only usually reach the full profitability potential if they also make full-price purchases in the future after the initial discount attracts them.

In a similar way, affiliate marketing is great for driving sales but can prove detrimental to your profits if your affiliates end up ranked higher than your brand does in search results for discount-related terms. Shoppers presented with an option to input a code will often leave the site in search of one, and may return via an affiliate site, meaning you end up paying commission for a sale that might not have needed this push over the line.

Utilising competitions or promotions using social media for fashion marketing can be a great way to reach a wider audience, but need to provide a good ROI in order to be a sustainable tactic.

Selling via a discount voucher that also includes an affiliate click, and possibly some paid search or social clicks too, could mean that some of your transactions are making a loss.

6. Offsite product visibility and reviews

Seeing your products being worn by others or being talked about positively by influencers can make a big difference to how receptive real customers are to shopping with you. It inspires trust and can increase desirability when products are shown in the right way.  Consider:

  1. Outreaching selectively to influencers with a highly engaged audience that is a good match for the brand.
  2. Taking into account the influencer presence across multiple platforms for a better return on your investment e.g. if they run a blog as well as an Instagram, TikTok or YouTube account.
  3. Providing assets like images and videos to the influencers to make it easy for them to produce the content you’re looking for.

7. Using PET tactics

PET stands for persuasion, emotion and trust and includes a range of tactics that are designed to increase the sense of urgency around making a purchase, whilst providing messaging that helps persuade the user to buy, along with instilling trust and helping provide an emotional connection for the shopper. Often used by large retailers and travel companies, PET tactics can be a highly effective way of getting transactions over the line. They can include messaging such as:

  1. Brand new stock
  2. Last few left
  3. XX people have this in their basket now
  4. XX people have bought this today
  5. XX people are viewing this product now
  6. Highlight great reviews from real customers
  7. Time limited offer/exclusive

8. Increase basket values

Increasing the average basket value means that your business makes more from the same number of customers, which can make a big difference if it carries across the majority of customers.

It’s important to balance any upsell, cross-selling and bundling offers with profitability, to make sure that you’re still making a good margin, but making it easy for customers to add complementary or related products to their basket during the buying process can be great for boosting revenue.

You can try:

  1. Upselling a slightly upgraded version of the product already in their basket – show features comparison to highlight why they should upgrade
  2. Cross-selling products that complement what they already have in their basket, such as accessories that work really well with the outfit they want to buy
  3. Bundle related or complementary products together for a slight discount vs buying them separately

9. Plan for multiple visits before a sale

It’s rare for customers to buy on the very first visit to a website. Shoppers are savvy and want the product they are looking for at the best possible price from a trusted store. This means that they might visit your site several times before committing to buy, and your marketing strategy and budget needs to take this into account. E.g.

  1. Basing your paid media bidding strategy on the fact that first click is unlikely to produce sales directly, for top of the funnel search terms and targeting especially
  2. Spending on retargeting to remind customers about your brand and products after they have left the site. Remarket via Google and Bing, retarget via Facebook and Instagram.

10. Encourage repeat purchases

The first purchase from a new customer is always great, but you can take action to help make sure it doesn’t end at that. Each new customer has the potential to become a repeat shopper. Making the buying process (and fulfilment) as straightforward as possible is a big help. You can look at:

  1. Fulfilment – the delivery process and communications throughout
  2. Easy returns and refunds
  3. Emails asking for reviews on relevant third party review sites (with your team monitoring these sites so you can respond to reviews – good and bad)
  4. Being careful with your email communications so that you encourage people back to the site to buy again rather than pushing them to unsubscribe by sending updates too often

11. Partner with the right agency

Getting your fashion digital marketing strategy right takes expertise in many different areas and disciplines, often including:

  1. Market experience in sales and the fashion industry – both on and offline
  2. Specialist knowledge and experience in digital marketing for fashion brands
  3. Content that engages your audience and is focused on what matters to them
  4. Expert analysis of data
  5. Customer care expertise

Making sure that all of these skills are present doesn’t mean that you need a large team in-house. The right agency support offers a wealth of specialist expertise and a proven track record in getting results in all of these areas.

At Hitsearch, we’re a digital marketing agency with 15 years of experience in working effectively with fashion brands to grow traffic, revenue and taking businesses to the next level. Take a look at our case studies to see how we’ve helped some of our clients.

Get in touch today for a free 15-minute consultation with fashion marketing agency experts to find out how we can help your retail business. Call 0800 011 9715.

If you have a business in the financial sector and would like to up your marketing game or receive some expert information about digital marketing for financial services, then get in touch with a member of our team!

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