You don't have to be a marketing guru to realise that creating and curating content is now vital to growing any brand.
Companies with interesting things to say have always been more likely to engage consumers, but with the recent changes to Google's algorithm, the decreasing role of link-building and the ubiquitous influence of social media and smartphones, content marketing in retail should be at the top of every brand's priority list in 2014.
Content is king once more
The Content Marketing Institute has stated that marketers are now spending, on average, 28% of their budget on content marketing. Take a look at our post on content marketing trends in 2014 for more on the strategies that are developing. Whichever sector your company sits in, you should be considering your content.
Perfect for retail
Retail brands are perfectly placed to take advantage of the benefits of great content marketing. With a constant stream of new products, companies can utilise imagery, video and social channels to effectively engage their target audience. And retail brands are increasingly concentrating their budget and resources in this way.
A recent study showed that 4 in 10 retail brands are now using Vine, Twitter's short-form video service, as a way of demonstrating products and creating interesting content for their fans and potential customers to share. So with the retail sector placing ever-increasing emphasis on content marketing, we thought we'd take a look at five great examples that have really worked for retail brands, large and small.
1) Forever 21 – Blogger Crushes
In the past three years, the 'fast fashion' brand, Forever 21, has exploded. With sales of over $3.5 billion dollars, a strong foothold in Europe and Asia to complement their huge market share in the US, and almost nine million Facebook fans, it's squeezing the likes of Gap and American Apparel. So how have they achieved this success? Sure, their affordable but on-trend lines and heavy investment have been the foundations, but they are also extremely savvy in their use of social and mobile, recognising that their target market of 18 to 24 year olds are never off their phones and constantly engage with social media.
Their 'Blogger Crushes' campaign on Pinterest is a perfect example. Reaching out to the fanatically followed fashion blogger community, they have encouraged bloggers to 'pin' photos of themselves wearing the latest Forever 21 lines to their own Pinterest accounts, before Forever 21 curates this content on their own company Pinterest profile. The result is a constant stream of amazing product photos, reaching its audience via a medium that's perfect for mobile and short attention spans, whilst being endorsed by hugely influential fashion voices. Simple but very smart.
2) Keen – a product story
It's not just big brands like Forever 21 that are cleverly utilising content marketing though. Keen is a company that makes durable shoes, with a 'bungee'-style harness for your feet, ideal for trudging city streets or even hiking. The Keen website beautifully conveys the traditions of its product's craftsmanship through clear and interactive product descriptions. The copy and imagery is informative, easy-to-read and engaging.
This is followed through on social, where Keen interacts constantly with its loyal base, encouraging customers to submit their own guest blog posts about recent travel adventures they've had with their Keens. They also ask Instagram users to tag their photos with the Keen handle so they can be featured on the Keen account. The Keen blog is a masterclass good content, with travel inspiration, behind-the-scenes info and stories about the interesting things their employees have been up to. All in all it's a great way to tell the story of a potentially pretty dull product. They've brought it to life and engaged their audience through brilliant content.
3) ASOS – Unboxing on Vine
Not unlike Forever 21, ASOS are masters of content and how to seed it via social channels. Their attention to detail in terms of their customer's journey is often integral to them creating fantastic, clever content, and their 'Unboxing' campaign on Vine was no exception.
This entailed encouraging their customers to create a Vine video of them opening (or unboxing) their new delivery, and then tagging the Vine with #ASOSUnbox, allowing ASOS to showcase the videos on their own account. By taking the potentially unglamorous act of opening an ASOS box and making it into an exciting showcase of their products, they introduced a little bit of magic to online shopping as well as reinforcing their 'cutting edge' credentials.
4) Tesco – TescoLiving
The phenomenal success of platforms like Pinterest and Buzzstream have led to major brands reconsidering the look and feel and format of their content. The result is websites like TescoLiving, cleverly tapping into a template which allows them to feature photos, videos and user generated content from social.
Largely aimed at mums, TescoLiving provides high quality advice and 'how to' content in a large, image-driven design. The stories are concise and perfect for the time-poor and those reading on their mobile. Buzzstream-style quizzes and snappy 'how-to' YouTube videos help to make this an engaging portal for anyone in need of life advice.
5) DFS – Our Stories
In my house at least, DFS have always been a bit of a joke. The cheesy ads and constant sales have left them open to ridicule. But this is an interesting example of how a previously maligned brand can attempt something genuinely interesting. Recognising the need for search-engine friendly content and a little brand personality, DFS have created an 'Our Stories' section of their website.
Taking the reader behind the scenes to meet the furniture makers, it's a great way of showing off the craftsmanship and quality involved in the manufacturing process of that sofa you're considering buying. The content may sound a little dry but it's created with a lightness of touch which is rather endearing.
So there are five excellent examples of content marketing that have really worked for retail brands. It seems that the big brands in the sector are starting to get their act together when it comes to content, but small, agile businesses are often the ones that can create momentum and growth through simple but well-planned content marketing. Contact us at Ad-Rank to see how we can help you with your content strategy and creation.