Last year, the average adult spent 1,300 hours on social media. Thanks to the pandemic, our time was spent doing important things like watching TikTok dances, streaming YouTube music videos, and saving Instagram posts for that next at-home cooking project. And let’s not forget, that screen time didn’t even account for all the other time spent online, doing work and other essential activities.
So with screen time at an all time high, it presents something of a conundrum to retail brands. Yes, you’ve never had a more captive audience, but at the same time, that audience will forget about you approximately 10 seconds after seeing your content, due to the amount of stimuli the average person encounters online. So how can brands design marketing and promotions that cut through and convert? Today, we’re highlighting three tactics that can help improve both engagement and conversion.
One interesting shift playing out in fashion, even before the pandemic, was that of the pre-order model. Businesses like Moda Operandi put early access to items at the heart of their operational strategy, knowing that it was a win-win for both the consumer and the brand. Consumers get first dibs and brands can make only what’s being sold. However, “first access” isn’t just a merchandising strategy, it can also be a marketing one.
Smart brands are giving select groups of their customers first dibs to items via their social and email marketing campaigns. (We may be adults, but there’s really nothing like cutting to the front of the line to make us feel like we’re winning at life.) This could be first dibs on a limited product drop, exclusive access to a gift with purchase, or early access to promotional pricing. A perfect example of this in the real world is Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale; Nordy Club and credit card holders were able to access the sale and add items to their cart before the sale officially started. It’s this combination of communicating an offer’s scarcity, along with recognizing a customer’s status, that can really drive long-term customer loyalty.
When devising a “first access” strategy, consider utilizing a tiered approach. A subscriber is not the same as a top-spending customer, so think about how you can segment access in a meaningful way to each audience.
A shift towards “interactive marketing” has been underway for quite some time now. Interactive marketing includes activities that are “triggered” in response to an individual’s behavior and preferences, rather than generic, one-size-fits-all types of marketing activities. A perfect example of this is that email you receive from an e-commerce site after online cart abandonment which is triggered by your online behavior of putting that item into the cart and not completing checkout. On the one hand, this is an example of personalized marketing, yet, it feels anything but. On the scale of personalization, it may be a sometimes effective approach, but it’s not a particularly unique one.
So how can brands push the personalization boundaries of interactive marketing? Make it participatory. Brands who actively solicit feedback from their shoppers and involve them in the process of making decisions about products and services are doing themselves more good than they may even realize. They may opt for an easy-to-use tool like a social media poll that can quickly help brands decide what and how to market their products. Some brands might consider a “living profile” where the consumer gets to design the type of experience and products they wish to see. Or others may get product testing panels together to gather early product and pricing feedback. Whichever approach works best for your business, know that the more participatory the marketing, the more personal and ‘in my control” it feels to the shopper.
We’re in the golden age of influencer marketing, a fact to which all our social feeds can attest. The influencer marketing industry is set to grow to $13.8 billion this year, with three quarters of brands expecting to allocate a standalone budget to influencer marketing spend.
While influencers might be the go-to choice of today’s marketers, let’s be honest: they’re not always experts and their constant hawking of wares can come across as disingenuous. So that begs the question of who the real experts are behind those beauty, fashion, and lifestyle choices. Said another way, “who’s influencing the influencer?”
We’d argue there’s a real opportunity for expert marketing, that is, incorporating educational content from those people who have the experience, expertise, and of course, passion, to make product recommendations, but aren’t necessarily in it for the profits. These types of influencers have also been dubbed “genuinfluencers.” Vogue Business notes their rise in 2020, pointing out that “social networks transitioned from spaces of inspiration to places for information and education.” Executed properly, engagements with these types of individuals can help cultivate and communicate authenticity, establish the brand’s educational chops, and open up a brand to the bigger conversations and questions that impact its audience.
This piece first appeared in WhichPLM on August 24, 2021.