Jan 14, 2019

A Digital Marketing Strategic Blueprint for the Fashion Industry

by Digital Marketing Institute

The fashion industry is known for its trendsetting, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking. It has paved the way for fashion greats from Coco Chanel to Stella McCartney, with new talent hitting the runways every day. It changes with the seasons, remaining fresh, while also putting added pressure on marketing strategists who are competing for a place on the fashion stage.

The industry, which once strongly depended on a close relationship between design houses and print, is moving quickly into the digital age. Because digital marketing for fashion is very different from other industries, you need to have a clear understanding of what your strategic blueprint should look like. So, here is a guide to digital marketing in the fashion industry.

Interesting Marketing Trends

Crowdsourced design has introduced a collaborative way for designers, companies and consumers to work together to get new brands launched in the fashion industry. “Crowdsourced design is a movement that is allowing brands to create new and authentic content. The aim is to create collaborative projects with a clear story that consumers can get behind,” says Ryan Kang, CEO and Cofounder of ROOY, an online footwear creation platform.

Crowdsourcing reduces financial risk because the consumer element is introduced early in the creation stage. This provides valuable input on where improvements can be made, while also reducing the risk of investors backing fashion brands which ultimately fail due to lack of consumer interest.

Big data helps retailers get better at determining what their customers want. According to a study done by McKinsey, retailers who use data can improve operating margins by over 60%. Large retailers such as Nordstrom are using data successfully.

“We are positioning our technology organization to better support our long-term growth plans,” says Nordstrom Chief Information Officer (CIO) Dan Little. Experts in the industry believe that using big data will help retailers avoid discounts, providing higher profits. It will also help to streamline operations. However, the fashionista who lives for “the find” might be disappointed if clearance racks begin to disappear at their favorite retail stores.

Omni-channel retailers that combine brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping are becoming the go-to for fashion, as people like to explore the product online but then experience it in person, in a store. That helps improve the shopping experience.

Tech trends and digital content are enabling customer interactions for designers and fashion retailers in new ways, creating new opportunities for touchpoints with consumers.

Last but not least, according to The Wall Street Journal, high-profile fashion brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton have switched advertising gears, increasing their digital spending by 63%.

The long-time relationship between design houses and fashion magazines has helped to drive the fashion industry and its ensuing trends. However, the digital world could be challenging this relationship. The trend is continuing, with brands such as Calvin Klein completely leaving pure print advertising behind in favor of digital marketing in 2019.

Influencer Marketing for Fashion

Today, the fashion industry is far more interested in online advertising channels as well as influencer marketing. Influencers can include major celebrities such as Lady Gaga and David Beckham who have helped to drive fashion trends, but can also include unknown fashionistas who have a few thousand followers on Instagram. When popular fashionistas talk about brands, they can have far more influence over an audience, and you are also saving many thousands of dollars in advertising.

As more companies shift away from print, they are spending more advertising dollars on image-focused social media platforms, Instagram in particular. However, it is the everyday users of these platforms who have become the celebrities of the fashion world, and most have no formal training in the fashion industry. Their talent lies in knowing how to post engaging content online to gain followers.

Chiara Ferragni gained attention when Vogue named her the blogger of the moment. Her blog is worth over $10 million, with over 20 million Instagram followers. Chiara is the perfect example of an influencer who can get millions of eyes on a fashion brand.

However, you need to be wary of some things when using influencers in the fashion world. The large followings of these influencers can mean an oversaturation of attention on fashion items. That can have an adverse effect, especially when poorly timed. According to an article in Huffington Post, Neiman Marcus blamed bloggers for making their merchandise so prominent on social media that, by the time the product hits store shelves, the interest of the customer has waned.

Influencers come in different categories based on the number of followers they can bring to your brand. A mega-influencer is expensive because they help you reach a broader audience. However, for fashion marketing, emerging influencers can be quite effective based on their niche. It is worth considering working with more than one micro-influencer to reach different audiences. That is a great way to engage subcultural communities, which in turn can help generate attention from larger publications looking for unique fashion stories.

Social Media Tips

Social media and fashion work very effectively together, thanks to the immediacy of the channels and the prominence of the images. Here is your blueprint for a powerful social media strategy:

  • Prominent images: Use the best platforms for images, such as Pinterest and Instagram. The images will speak for themselves, and can be complemented with well-written, concise captions. Thought-provoking image posts also generate plenty of comments and conversations, which helps drive traffic.
  • Tailor-made text: Since this is the fashion industry, pay close attention to your text, using tailor-made messages to reach your audience. Keep in mind that, although your audience is consistent in that they share a love for fashion, they can change from platform to platform. Make sure you understand the demographics so you can segment your message to suit each persona.
  • Consider your messaging: Look at the messaging from some prominent fashion brands across the different platforms to see how they execute this. Michael Kors is known as the brand to follow, and their social media savvy is apparent from each of their social media channels. Their Instagram account focuses on lifestyle and product shots, while they create boards on Pinterest using interesting album topics such as style tips and style icons.
  • Honor your customers: Create a lifestyle and story that your customers can aspire to. Showcase your clothing in a manner that generates interest. Kate Spade used a gallery-hopping story, while Christian Dior has used historical references to Versailles. You can also include video to enhance the visual elements, using trendy, thought-provoking music. Your goal should be to show people how your clothes will enhance their lives.
  • Depend on your fans: Fashion labels have just as many fans as celebrities have. You can use fans’ stories to generate your own narratives. Once you start doing this, you will gain more followers, as people become interested in spotting themselves or people they know on your storyline. That will also encourage people to post stories about your brand while prompting more questions and comments on your posts, which you can then engage in publicly.
  • Use personality: If you are a startup brand, feel free to show a little personality with engaging stories which fans will relate to. It can be a picture of you sewing a new design or something showing your team at work, or a more playful behind-the-scenes shot. This can help to build up a supportive following, where people will love sharing in your success and offering sympathy for your bad days or failures.
  • Stream: Fashion shows are now being streamed live on websites and social media channels, such as YouTube and Facebook. Other popular sites include The New York Times, Huffington Post Style, and Who What Wear. You can create your own edgy videos and put them on Facebook and YouTube, which will help to build your following and engagement.

PPC Tips

Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns help you to land in front of fashionistas and lure them to your content via a tempting link. They provide a manageable budgeting option as you pay only for ad clicks. Google Shopping is a must for brands selling online, even if you also have a brick-and-mortar presence. Users can search for and compare products right in the search results without having to click to your site. It’s like a mini fashion show to encourage sales!

Retargeting is another must. It allows you to target people who have already visited your site or searched for a specific item such as ‘camisole’ and show them the item they had been looking at on their last visit to your site. It keeps you top of mind and encourages a revisit or sale.

SEO Strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps search engines find your website. This is essential for online stores. SEO is crucial for any fashion retailer or designer who wants to direct traffic to their content.

One of the easiest ways to get started with an SEO strategy is to create a blog that talks about fashion trends. Keywords within your blog will capture the attention of search engines. You can work with a company that specializes in SEO in order to develop effective content.

Your expertise and passion for fashion will attract fashionistas to your site. Linking to your blog from your social media pages also helps to raise your profile and get you to the top of the rankings.

Final Thoughts

This digital marketing strategic blueprint provides an overview of how fashion influencers, social media channels, PPC ads and SEO tactics can be used to capture on online following, convert new customers and ultimately grow sales. Whether you are involved in digital marketing for a prominent brand or a small startup, a good combination of these activities can definitely keep you in vogue!

Upgrade to Power Membership to continue your access to thousands of articles, toolkits, podcasts, lessons and much much more.
Become a Power Member

CPD points available

This content is eligible for CPD points. Please sign in if you wish to track this in your account.