Guide to the Best Marketing Strategies for Fashion Brands
We don’t just wear clothes because it’s the law or for temperature control, it’s also one of the main ways we express ourselves. After all, we spend most of our lives in clothes so they may as well express who we are as a person. For these reasons, the fashion industry will never…well…go out of fashion. That’s great news for you - people will always be looking for businesses like yours. But how do you get yourself in front of these people and move them from being your target audience to your loyal customers?
Following generic marketing strategies are okay. But to get the best results, you need to be following the strategies that work best for your specific industry - the fashion industry. To make your life easier, we’ve created this guide. Following our proven growth framework, we’ve collated the best marketing strategies specifically for fashion brands like yours.
All the info you need, all in one place. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.
Want to talk about how specific fashion marketing strategies can help your business grow? Just get in touch.
Your target audience can’t become paying customers if they don’t have an awareness of your brand or products. Demand generation strategies build this awareness of your brand and generate a desire for your products that will carry your potential customers onto the next demand capture section. But first, let’s see how you can get your brand in front of your target audience.
Paid Social Ads
Social media has become the place to be when it comes to fashion. Not only do people love social media because they get to show off their own fashion creations, but it also gives them a place to search for fashion inspiration. Even people who aren’t as passionate about fashion can’t avoid the fashion content that saturates social media. From family and friends to celebrities, influencers, and ads, fashion is always present on social media.
So we’ve established that your target audience is present and engaging with fashion content on social media. That’s an opportunity for you to get in front of your audience and make them aware of your brand and your products. How do you do it? Paid social ads is the answer you’re looking for.
To catch the attention of your audience and make them interested in you, your paid social ads need to be engaging, eye-catching, and informative about who you are and what you sell. You need something in your ads to hook the customer in. We recommend testing different angles and offers to see what best resonates with your target audience. With this, you can then run different ad creatives.
There are many ad formats you can use on social media. However, here are the 4 we recommend starting with - photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and collection ads.
The benefit of single photo ads is that they let you send a clear message to your audience. This could be to inform them of a sale or to highlight one of your unique selling points (USPs). Combine your image with a heading, description, strong call to action and you’re ready to go.
For example, Snag Tights run single image ads on Facebook and Instagram that focus on their USP that they make size inclusive clothes that properly fit people of different sizes.
We also recommend single video ads for similar reasons to single photo ads - to communicate a clear message. Depending on what social media platforms you advertise on (decided using your customer personas), video ads can be more eye-catching and effective than photo ads. For example, Pinterest is often used for inspiration on a range of topics including fashion. As organic Pinterest content tends to be photo content, creating single video ads on Pinterest stands out and draws your audience in. For example, M&S created this video ad on Pinterest that stands out amongst the static images surrounding it.
Our favourite ad format for the fashion industry has to be carousel ads. Available on many social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, carousel ads let you showcase 2+ images, setup as a slideshow that your audience can flick through at their leisure. It’s the perfect way to highlight your best products so your audience can easily browse through them without needing to leave the social platform.
For example, Cider runs a carousel ad on Facebook with 5 images of date outfit ideas, all linking to a category landing page.
Like carousel ads, collection ads let you display multiple products in the same ad that the user can browse through at their own pace. However, instead of being able to immediately swipe through the products, collection ads require the potential customer to click on the ad to go to a collection page of your products while remaining on the social media platform.
On TikTok, collection ads appear as a video with an interactive button which takes the user to the collection page of your products. Whereas on Facebook and Pinterest, collection ads appear as a larger image of a product above a couple of smaller images of other products. For example, Kurt Geiger runs a Facebook collection ad which, when clicked on, goes through to a collection page of products whilst remaining on Facebook.
With people flocking to social media to share their fashion and be inspired by others' fashion, it makes sense that there are a huge number of fashion influencers, often operating on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Ranging in their size of followers, fashion influencers are doing what you want to do - engaging with your target audience. Working with these influencers will get your brand in front of these followers, generating awareness and desire for your brand and products.
However, working with influencers (especially influencers with a larger following) can be very expensive. So how do you get the benefits of working with influencers without the high costs? Product seeding.
Product seeding works by sending your products to influencers who interact with your customers for free without any expectation of the influencer posting content with your product (although, of course we hope they do).
We recommend reaching out to around 500 influencers every month. Out of these 500, around 100 should be interested in being sent your product. Then around 30 of these influencers usually go on to create a couple of pieces of content featuring your product, creating 60-90 pieces of free, unique, user-generated content.
As well as getting your products in front of your customers, the content that the influencers create can be used in your paid ads, adding a human element to your campaigns. Having a bank of user-generated content also helps to prevent ad fatigue as you’ll have a regularly updated bank of content that you can use.
A great example of a brand using product seeding is Oh Polly with many fashion influencers creating TikTok content unboxing and trying on their gifted items.
The fashion industry (as you’d expect) has a strong focus on visuals. Therefore, content marketing is going to be a major tool for your business. Ensure there is a range of useful, relevant, and SEO-optimised content on your website. From blogs, gift and style guides, and e-magazines, to high-quality product images and videos, showing off your items from every angle, content is one of the main ways to bring traffic to your site and encourage conversions. Good content will also demonstrate your trustworthiness and expertise within your industry.
As well as creating content for your website, you can also reach your customers by making content on social media. Inspiring and engaging fashion content can range from images for Instagram and Facebook to short videos for TikTok and reels for Instagram and Facebook.
The benefit of social media video content is that your audience doesn't need to be aware of or following your brand to see your content. When scrolling on TikTok and flicking through Facebook and Instagram reels, your audience are usually watching videos from content creators they’ve never interacted with before. Instead, the platform algorithms are showing your audience new content based on their interests. Therefore, if you create engaging and inspirational fashion video content, it should be shown amongst your target audience who are interested in fashion, giving you the chance to greatly increase your organic reach.
There’s also the chance that your content or content you’re featured in could go viral and be shared across multiple social media platforms, further increasing your organic reach. For example, this TikTok by Richelle Zhang went viral with 5.6M views and 9839 shares. In the video’s comments, people are discussing the name of the dress and where to buy it, showing that this video has generated a desire for the dress.
When your target audience sees your content, you want them to remember you so they can find and purchase from you in the future. To do this, you need distinct and consistent branding. A signature look throughout your site and across all the platforms you use and paid ads you create will help you stand out and firmly lodge your brand into your potential customers minds.
As well as consistent colours, imagery, and a distinctive logo, another aspect of your brand that will make you stand out and be remembered by your target audience is highlighting any positive ethical, social, or environmental aspects to your business. For example, if your brand is focused on vintage clothing, uses sustainable materials, or works with a charity, highlight this to your audience.
For example, Adidas have created a distinctive brand for themselves using a colour theme of black and white and the iconic 3 stripes which have been consistent throughout their logo updates. With a brand image of their products being for everyone, Adidas have a focus on diversity, supporting international communities, and helping charities. For example, in 2018 they worked with Parley, a non-profit who helps to look after the oceans.
Now you’ve got your brand out there and generated a desire for your products, it’s time to capture that demand as well as any other demand for your products on search engines. But what’s the best way to capture this demand?
If you want to capture the demand for your products, you need to go where the demand is. And that’s search engines. It’s the first place many people go to when looking for a product, and the higher up you rank, the more likely you’re going to be seen by your target audience.
So how do you rank as high up as possible, as quick as possible? The best way is through paid ads like paid search. But it’s important to think about which search engine your customers use so you know which one(s) are best to set up your search ads on. Although many people still use traditional search engines like Google and Bing, your target audience may be more active on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram. For example, if you’re targeting a younger audience, it’s useful to know that nearly 40% of Gen Z prefer using search engines like TikTok and Instagram over Google.
To set up your paid search ads, you’ll need to carry out keyword research to know which keywords you should be targeting. Depending on the search intent of your chosen keyword, the landing page for your search ad will vary. However, we recommend your ad landing page is either a category page or a product page as these have a lower bounce rate than using your homepage as a landing page.
For example, when a potential customer searches for “sequin dresses” a paid search ad appears from Oh Polly linking to their dresses category page.
Free extensions have been used in this ad like site links and review ratings. Oh Polly also have Google brand verification which allows their logo to be shown alongside their ad. Without costing you anything extra, you can use these extensions to take up more SERP real estate and make your ad stand out more, ultimately increasing your CTR.
Another way to capture the demand for your products using paid media is through paid shopping ads. Like paid search, paid shopping ads appear at the top and the bottom of the SERPs. However, in contrast to search ads, shopping ads allow you to capture the attention of your target audience with a product image.
For example, BooHooMan have set up shopping ads for their suits so when the keyword “red suit” is searched in Google, their shopping ads appear:
With shopping ads, you won’t have as much control over which keywords your ads are shown for. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure your feed is optimised in your Google Merchant Centre.
In terms of CPC (cost per clicks), shopping ads are cheaper with an average CPC of $0.66 whereas paid search ads have an average CPC of $2.69. This means that when you’re looking to optimise or invest in paid media, it’s worth focusing on paid shopping first.
Paid ads are great for getting you a quicker ROI, but you’re going to want to increase your revenue further. That’s where organic SEO comes in.
Building SEO takes time. That’s why it’s best to use paid ads while you’re optimising your site and waiting for your organic SEO to build.
Once your SEO is running successfully, we recommend still running your ads as stopping them wouldn’t have a big impact on your bottom line but would have a huge impact on your top line. Combining your paid ads and organic SEO will mean you take up more SERP real estate, increasing the likelihood of your potential customers clicking through to your site (and ultimately making a purchase).
So how do you build your organic SEO? The main three pillars are technical, content, and authority:
Without optimising technical SEO, your site isn’t going to function properly and the rest of your organic optimisations aren’t going to have much effect. You need to ensure that your site can easily be accessed, crawled, and indexed by search engines so they can understand and rank your site.
Technical SEO is vast with a wide range of strategies that you can use like adding hreflang tags, ensuring the correct no-index tags are in place, and optimising your site architecture to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. But which are the best strategies for your business within the fashion industry?
People love to window shop, both on the high street and online. So your customers are likely to spend time scrolling through your products. Making it easier for them to navigate your site with UX optimisations will help to keep them on your site and interested in your products. This could include adding a search functionality, faceted navigation, and ensuring you have fast loading speeds. Within the fashion industry, you’re likely to have a lot of images and videos of your products which can slow down site speeds, so it’s especially important to check and optimise these page loading speeds.
Another important technical SEO strategy is optimising your site for a range of devices. In 2021, 72.9% of eCommerce purchases were done on mobile devices and this is likely to keep rising. Capture this demand on mobile devices by ensuring your content resizes for different size screens, mobile-friendly site navigation is set up, and your checkout forms are large and clear enough to fill out.
Next up is optimising your content. The main starting point here is keyword research to know what keywords you should be targeting with your content. When doing your keyword research, we recommend focusing on long tail keywords as they tend to have less competition for ranking in the SERPs and a higher commercial searcher intent.
Once you’ve got a list of keywords that you want to target and rank for, you need to know how to use them in your content. Search engines won’t react positively to your site if your keywords are overused in your content. Instead you should use the keywords naturally throughout your metadata, headings, and main body of text.
Content performance in relation to keyword rankings should be regularly reviewed along with updated keyword research so you can make any adjustments that are necessary.
When optimising content for SEO, we look at 3 areas - current content, new content, and content strategy. Your current content can be optimised just by naturally adding in the keywords you want to rank for and ensuring the content is targeting the right search intent for those keywords.
After adjusting your current content, new content can be created to target any keywords you don’t already have content for. This is then followed by creating a content strategy, planning what regular content you’re going to create supported by keyword research, customer research, and pain point research.
Search engines need to see your site as trustworthy, relevant, and useful to the user. To be ranked higher in the SERPs, your site needs to have similar or higher authority to your competitors. So how do you build your authority in the eyes of search engines?
The key to building authority is link building and digital PR. Gaining backlinks from relevant sites with higher authorities tells search engines that your site can be trusted and your content is valuable within the industry.
If you’re interested in finding out how SEO can boost your business, just get in touch.
If you’re not selling on marketplaces, you’re missing out on nearly half of the amount of potential customers who bypass traditional search engines and go straight to marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. This is even more important within the fashion industry with marketplaces available that potential customers often flock to for their next fashion fix, including Asos marketplace and Zalando.
Listing your products on a marketplace is the first step. Once your products are listed, you need to give them a boost to get them in front of your target audience and capture that demand. Over time this will happen organically, but initially you’re going to need to use paid ads.
Let’s use Amazon as an example. Amazon offers automated ads which list your ads for search keywords based on common keywords throughout your product listing. Amazon also has an option for manual ads where you choose the keywords your ad is listed for. Manual ads are the ones we recommend so you are in control of who sees your ad and where your budget goes.
The next stage of setting up your Amazon ads is that you need to decide if you want your ad to list for exact matches, broad matches, or phrase matches of the keyword you’re targeting. You’ll want to target all 3 but we recommend doing this as separate campaigns so you can strategically control your budget. If you don’t split your campaigns, it’s likely that your budget won’t be split equally throughout the different types of matches and most of your budget could be used up on high-bidding exact words that aren’t going to get you the results you want.
Below you’ll see an image of how this works and the solution to keeping control of your budget and listings. Instead of having one campaign with multiple ad groups, it’s better to have multiple campaigns with one ad group each.
Email marketing is a great tool to be used as part of both the demand capture and customer retention aspects of our growth framework. We’ll start here with demand capture email marketing and we’ll get to customer retention email marketing later.
Before you can do anything with email marketing, you first need to collect a list of email addresses of potential customers. You can do this by offering an incentive in exchange for their email address. For example, you could offer a discount, entry into a giveaway, a free sample, free delivery, or results to a fashion quiz the website visitor took (like which fashion style best suits your body shape).
Adding a pop up on your site to encourage your website visitors to sign up is likely to be the most effective way to collect email addresses. Although it would also be useful to have the ability to sign up elsewhere on your site in case they decide to sign up later on in their website visit. While signing up with their email address, you could also ask subscribers for a little bit of information to help you send them relevant emails. For example, when signing up for a 10% discount at Dr Martens, after inputting your email address, they ask for your name and the gender of products you’re interested in.
To find more ways to build your potential customer email address list, check out our article.
Once you’ve got your email address list, it’s time to get back to capturing that demand. You now have the chance to directly contact people who have expressed an interest in your brand and products. Take advantage of this opportunity by setting up email flows that move your potential customers down the funnel to conversion. Ideally you’ll set up a flow for basket, checkout, and site abandonment, back in stock, and product launches to name just a few.
One of the most important email flows for demand capture is the welcome flow. The welcome flow builds trust and provides the subscriber with everything they need to make a purchase (including information about your brand and products, customer reviews, and fashion inspiration). Check out what a welcome series could look like:
As well as standard email flows, you can also utilise email marketing to boost sales around certain times of the year. As the seasons change, so does the demand for fashion. Whether it’s a demand for summer holiday-wear, a new outfit for a Christmas or New Years Eve party, or a cute outfit for valentines day, these popular times of year for the fashion industry can be leveraged with email marketing.
For example, Yours Clothing sent out this email around Christmas time to encourage subscribers to buy an outfit for their Christmas parties.
Once customers have bought from your store, you don’t want to lose them forever. Instead, you want them coming back and making regular purchases. The beauty of the fashion industry is that there are always more fashion products to be bought, even if a customer has just made a purchase. After all, you can never have too many clothes.
So how do you encourage your one-off customers to be loyal regular customers?
If you don’t collect emails of site visitors, you’re missing out, but if you don’t collect emails during checkout, you’re just doing it wrong. Once a customer has made a purchase, it’s vital for customer retention and just general customer experience that you have their email address. This allows you to send order confirmations, delivery information, review requests (photo reviews are great for the fashion industry), and the all important retention email flows.
As well as the seasonal and holiday emails that can be sent to pre-purchase and post-purchase customers, cross-sell and upsell emails can be sent to encourage additional purchases. For example, if a customer bought a dress, you could upsell by emailing them with the perfect jacket and shoes to complete the look, or you could cross-sell with dresses in a similar style to their original purchase.
The image below is an example of a post-purchase cross-sell email sent by Asos.
In the fashion industry, styles are always changing. This gives you the opportunity to send out regular emails with style updates and advice, creating a fear of missing out on the newest trends. Combined with exclusive offers and incentives for loyal customers, style update emails will encourage your customers to keep coming back for more and increase LTV.
Email marketing isn’t the only way to directly contact your customers with retention marketing messages, you can also use SMS marketing. Offer the option for SMS marketing as part of the checkout process or as a pop-up when you collect a customer’s email address.
Using SMS is a more personal approach to retention marketing and shouldn’t be used as regularly as email marketing. Therefore, we don’t recommend using SMS marketing as your sole retention method. Instead, SMS works well as part of a combination of retention marketing strategies.
Bombarding your customers with retention texts will likely lead to an increase in unsubscriptions and a loss of future conversions. To avoid overwhelming your customers while still keeping them engaged with your brand, we recommend sending no more than 4-5 SMS messages a month. These messages should be short and informative. For example, delivery information, a welcome text, or a notification of a new sale or product launch.
However, SMS marketing is more costly than email marketing. Therefore, you may want to reserve your SMS marketing budget for your best, most loyal customers. For example, Monsoon runs SMS marketing to customers in their loyalty programme, letting them know about any vouchers or offers available to them.
As well as using direct communication retention strategies, you could also use paid retargeting ads to upsell, cross-sell, and remind previous customers of your brand and products. However, it would be a waste of ad money to target recent customers with these ads. Instead, you should target customers who haven’t interacted with your brand in a while.
Another thing to note when it comes to retargeting is that you don’t want to be targeting the same customers with both your standard ads and your retargeting ads as this could be overwhelming (and wastes your ad budget). The issue is that retargeting on meta, post ios 14.5, isn’t as effective, resulting in customers receiving retargeting ads as well as your standard ads. Therefore, there’s no point in running retargeting ads on these platforms as they won’t have any extra beneficial effect.
However, there are some platforms that do allow this level of control over who sees which of your ads. Google lets you do this by linking your email platform to your Google Ads account so that the customers on your existing customer email list are blocked from your regular ads and only receive your retargeting ads. As first time purchases are made by new customers and their email addresses are added to your existing customer email list, Google will automatically update the ads that they see from standard ads to retargeting ads.
Incentivise your customers to keep them coming back over and over again by offering some form of loyalty programme. From the convenience of a subscription box to the luxury of memberships, make your customers feel special.
One loyalty option is a tiered point system. This is the type of loyalty programme Urban Outfitters runs. UO Rewards give customers the opportunity to level up from a regular member to a silver member (at 300 points) and on to a gold member (at 600 points) by carrying out a range of actions which earn them points. As the customer climbs the membership tiers, they earn more and more benefits, incentivising them to earn more points and level up further. This not only encourages customers to purchase again, but also encourages them to leave customer reviews and subscribe to email marketing.
Another option for customer loyalty and retention is clothes rental boxes. A great example of this is the Moss Box by Moss Bros. With this service, subscribers pay each month and are sent 2 items of clothing which they can return and get a couple of new items to wear when they want a change. This lets your customers try a range of your products without needing to buy them (but you’re still getting profit from it). You never know, if a customer falls in love with a product, they may go on to buy it, further boosting your profit and customer retention.
Using social media, you can build a community around your brand and a relationship with your customers, encouraging an increase in sales, brand loyalty, and LTV.
Your customers might use social media to create content featuring or reviewing your products. Sharing, interacting, or creating a TikTok stitch with this customer content will show your customers you care as well as increasing your organic reach and improving your social proof.
To encourage content creation featuring your products and brand, you could ask your customers to tag you or use a certain hashtag to build a sense of community and increase your organic reach.
Phase Eight is a good example of building a customer community on Instagram. How have they done this? By regularly featuring UGC, running giveaways, and encouraging the use of #MyPhaseEight.
As you work your way through our growth framework, integrating these demand generation, demand capture, and customer retention strategies into your fashion business, step by step your brand (and your revenue) will see the growth you’re after.
Would you like to talk to a marketing specialist about implementing these strategies into your business? Just get in touch.