What are the marketing assets in the fashion industry? In order to design and create effective content based on the specific characteristics of the different media and with respect to each particular micro-moment of the customer journey, digital marketing in the fashion industry can count on a series of assets, typically inbound, which it uses at the same time: the website and e-commerce, SEO, blogs (corporate and external), influencers, and social networks, among which Instagram and video marketing, certainly plays a leading role.
In this post, through an examination of best practices, we will highlight the tools, formats, and innovations in the production of content that has helped redesign the relationships between brands, retailers, advertisers, and, of course, consumers.
In the first of a series of three posts, we will show how brands have interpreted two of these digital marketing assets in the fashion industry: the website/e-commerce and SEO, which represent the first elements of the brand’s entry into the digital world.
The website and e-commerce: the brand’s digital identity card
The first of the marketing assets in the fashion industry is the e-commerce. For fashion brands, the internet is conceived as a space where interactions between people take on their own characteristics in a way that is distinct from those of offline interactions. In recent years, the speed of broadband has also increased the multimedia potential of fashion communication, making various types of content available to all users.
At the same time, the internet offering for consumers has evolved into a complete digital shopping experience, one that is as varied and rewarding as the in-person experience. People have quickly learned to exploit the variety of points of contact with the brand and the new dimensions of dialog, claiming their identity as active and aware consumers.
The convergence between institutional sites and e-commerce
In parallel with the technological evolution of digital media, the channels of contact between what companies offer and the audience are multiplying. We therefore find ourselves in a competitive environment where digital skills allow previously unhoped-for opportunities for visibility and notoriety, affordable even for outsiders such as emerging brands, influencers, consumers.
The first specialized fashion websites that appeared on the internet aimed to be editorial or informational in nature and aspired to replicate the same business model as magazines. They were joined by the first specialized “e-tailers” who also wanted to offer a satisfying shopping experience while paying attention to content (Grand Union Italia).
Once the players in the fashion market enter the digital environment, whether they are e-tailers (among the most popular are giants Yoox and Zalando) or fashion brands, they must succeed in an increasingly complicated and multi-directional consumer journey. And once they gradually become aware of the dynamics and expectations of online communication, their sites evolve from showcase-catalog to content hubs enriched with e-commerce features.
The 10 best practices for creating a competitive fashion website
Today, fashion brands of all sizes are competing for the attention of potential customers. Regardless of their size or niche, successful brands have a few things in common. They:
- Are good at communicating visually with customers, using clear, defined, high-quality images that show products from different angles;
- Use descriptions (technical data sheets, expert opinions) to give personality to their products;
- Tell the story of the brand in an authentic way (history, mission, etc.);
- Avoid selling directly from their homepage, which is instead used as a place dedicated to corporate reputation, to host editorial content and news;
- Feature the catalog of new products;
- Feature an excellent internal search tool that provides users with what they’re looking for;
- Offer users suggestions on sizes and occasions of use;
- Invite customers to be part of their community in a way that is engaging and consistent with the brand’s identity;
- Value user-generated content (especially reviews) to sell their products;
- Are secure: They ensure a secure returns process and make customers aware that they have invested in high quality encryption.
SEO: how to be found easily, by the right people
Next of the marketing assets in fashion industry: SEO is one of the key elements for a successful digital marketing strategy, especially in the competitive industry. Even if there are no magic formulas, there are some basic rules that companies can follow for better site indexing. Here are some of them:
1. Search for keywords, keeping trends in mind
One of the basic principles of SEO is using long-tailed keywords before short-tailed keywords. The former have less competition, reflect more clearly the intent of the search, and are more likely to convert. Another SEO principle states that, to be meaningful, especially in a context of fashion, it is necessary to be current. This involves continuously updating the site (and its keywords) with content that is useful and relevant at the moment or in the near future.
If we combine these two principles we get a third: keywords must be long-tailed and trendy. Google Trends ranks trends, and social platforms like Pinterest or Instagram are also useful for capturing changes.
2. Use beautiful images but optimize them!
More so than most industries, fashion communication is based on images; therefore, the images used must be of high quality. However, images affect the loading speed of a website: the heavier the content of a page, the longer it takes to load; and the longer it takes to load, the less customers will be willing to wait. For this reason, images must always be optimized for:
- Size. Images not only affect the space they take up on a page, but also the size of the image file. The width and height of an image should never be greater than necessary. Specific graphics applications can reduce the image size in order to find the balance between size and resolution.
- Right format: JPEG is better for large images; PNG is preferable for smaller ones.
3. Create relevant content
Sites that rank high in search engine results have content that is relevant. Here are some suggestions for fashion brands to create distinctive and memorable content:
- emphasize the biggest advantage of the product by repeating it several times but also in a variety of ways (to avoid redundancy);
- use powerful words that can communicate how you’ll meet the needs of users, including psychological needs, that the product can meet;
- anticipate any doubts about the product by linking them to its functionality;
- use sensory words to help buyers connect with the product (e.g. “light”, “structured”, “smooth”, “soft”);
- focus on the personas and tell a story that they will relate to, for example by identifying insights related to their experiences of using the product;
- use word of mouth and referrals.
4. Categorize products to avoid “cannibalization” risk
When two or more pages have the same keywords, the search engines that scan them cannot uniquely determine which page should rank higher for those keywords. The website ends up competing with itself rather than its actual competitors, which negatively affects the visibility of the pages in search results. To avoid this problem, it may be a good idea to divide products into categories, allowing each category to have its own description that fits the products included. One page: a series of keywords, no overlap.
5. Use web analytics tools to track user activity
There are tools specifically created to monitor user activity on websites, which help to achieve a two-fold goal: building a corporate information asset and improving conversion rates.
Tags for tracking (e.g. UTM codes), page display statistics, and bounce rate can be displayed on a single dashboard and used in later analysis to develop action plans.
Heat map generators
Heat maps are screenshots of web pages enriched with extra visual information: the number of mouse clicks, are represented topographically with dots and spots.
Heat map generators provide data that is not available in Google Analytics, and vice versa. The best solution therefore seems to be to use both tools, with a view to maximizing the information obtained.
6. Do not leave any pages unconnected
Search engines have robots called “spiders” or “crawlers” that have the task of tracing web pages and making them visible to the search engines themselves. But in order to move from one page to another, the pages must be connected with hyperlinks. A page without incoming links cannot be registered in the index of a search engine and, therefore, cannot be found by potential customers. In addition, two pages that are linked to each other, but not linked to any other page, are not scanned.
Apart from technical issues that have to do with the functioning of search engines, an even more incisive reflection is that of usability: above all, users (potential customers), must be able to navigate freely, with the reasonable certainty of being able to arrive at their destination. The logical planning of the internal link structure must start from such a consideration.
7. Creating backlinks from other sites
To date, incoming links from relevant web pages remain one of the most powerful factors for achieving a high position in Google’s ranking. Building authority and reputation through recognition by authoritative sources and insiders means, on the SEO side, being able to get backlinks from other websites in the industry. There are some construction techniques that can be particularly effective within digital fashion marketing strategies:
- contact fashion bloggers, inviting them to write a post or shoot a short video that addresses a topic relevant to them and the site. The important thing is that the topic and the tone of voice are consistent with the editorial line. There are two advantages: increased traffic and a relevant backlink;
- interview industry insiders. It could be a designer or other industry influencer who is popular among the site’s target audience. The interview should include references to relevant topics;
- organize offline events. Physically participating in a fashion event, online and offline, can lead to interesting editorial partnerships, which can produce content to be used on different channels.