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by Tara West on 8th July 2011
The fashion industry is one of the fastest growing online, with a year-on-year profit increase rise of 24% in 2011.
Because fashion is such a substantial industry online, it is still essential for websites in this industry to work hard in order to make their site stand out and ensure it has a strong presence within the search engine results pages (SERPs). This post covers some online marketing tips which are particularly relevant for the fashion industry. It was written with ecommerce sites in mind, that have an end goal of consumer purchases, but these tips can be applied to fashion blogs or any other sites too.
Two Sides to the Industry
Don’t forget that there are two sides to the industry, those who work or consider themselves a part of the industry, and potential consumers who may purchase as a result of your online marketing efforts. Even if you think that your end goal is purely to gain sales and market directly to the potential consumer, it is always worth considering those directly in the industry.
It is often those who are directly in the industry rather than simply consumers of it that are the most influential and active online. Therefore the potential for influential links from the industry is much higher than if you were to target consumers directly. These links can then boost your rankings within the SERPs, whether you wish to be found by the industry or potential consumers.
What is your consumer like?
It is important to consider the mind-frame of your potential consumer. Do they usually know what they are looking for and prefer to browse by category? Or do they like to browse as they might do in a bricks and mortar store? High street store Next have achieved a balance between these two mind sets very well, offering the consumer the ability to browse by looks and a catalogue style lay-out for those who want to browse and be inspired, or alternatively by product category for those who know what they are looking for.
Fashion ecommerce sites are an area where suggesting related items can work most successfully. Unlike someone buying a limited purchase such as a phone, who is only going to need a small number of accessories that might relate to, or be relevant to that product (for example a case, spare charger, holder), with fashion and clothing the possibilities for related products that are relevant are endless.
Think alternative colours, accessories such as shoes or jewellery to compliment an outfit, jeans for that top, or a cardigan to go over that dress. Create a related product function of your site but make sure it pulls in relevant results, or you can quickly lose your credibility.
The online fashion industry is one which is particularly suited to content creation. This can be articles, press releases, and any other content platforms you can make use of. It is an industry that is extremely fast paced and always one step ahead of the moment. Reflect this in the content you create. This is especially true when writing content for high fashion brands, as potential consumers for these kinds of brands are usually very fashion forward and aware of the industry’s pace.
The catwalks for the following year’s season often occur the year before, so keep track of these and write about the trends which feature in them as soon as you have information and publish it ASAP. This will give the content time to gain a presence in the SERPs and if it is one of the first pieces of content on that particular subject it is far more likely to gain links.
If your brand is aimed at a less fashion-forward consumer, you should consider writing content that is more practical for the consumers themselves, rather than based on happenings in the industry. For example, if they are a spend-conscious consumer you could write about how to choose classic pieces that will remain on trend for many seasons or how to create a capsule wardrobe that has less pieces but can provide great variety. Write content that gives them advice, for example the best kinds of bikinis to fit different body shapes.
If you don’t already have a blog on your fashion ecommerce site, you should consider getting one. Not only does it benefit you in all the usual ways for SEO (new content, link bait etc), but for the fashion industry it is a way of building your authority in the industry and a loyal following. It gives potential consumers a reason to repeatedly visit your site even if they do not have a purchase on their agenda, and these kind of visits can inadvertently result in a purchase eventually, even if it is not during the initial visit. It is important to remember not to be too sales focused with your blog.
Avoid blogging about your own brand all the time, try to only mention your brand if there is some press-worthy news, for example the launch of a new line or an event. If your ecommerce site has a specific fashion offering for example jewellery, don’t be afraid to blog outside the subject of jewellery. Talk about events and trends in the industry in general. If it naturally relates back to your products or service then feel free to incorporate it where it fits, but don’t shoe horn your product or brand into a post because you feel like you have to.
A blog also helps you rank for terms you may not be able to target as well with the ecommerce pages of your site, especially if the rest of the site is flash based or image heavy.
Guest blogging is an excellent way to build up your reputation within the fashion industry, or potential consumers. The reader loyalty of fashion blogs means that if one blog has let another author post content on their blog, it provides credibility to the guest blogger, almost like a stamp of approval, and it can lead to the guest blogger’s own blog (and ecommerce site as an indirect result) being discovered by a wide range of readers you may never have found otherwise. Spend time making contacts in the industry and on other blogs to increase your opportunities to do this. This means commenting on and reading other blogs before approaching them directly with your work.
Fashion is a Community
Like many other industries, fashion is one which responds particularly well to the formation of communities. Incorporate community into your site. ASOS has fantastic job of this, from having several blogs, to offering a function which lets users share their outfit ideas. This is a brand with vast resources, however even if your resources are limited you can still build a sense of community by encouraging a discussions and comments around blog posts, and ensuring your products and content are ‘sharable’ with social buttons integrated into the site, for example on Chockers Shoes Website:
By making content ‘sharable’ you can let consumers get their friends advice or approval like they might do in a bricks and mortar store.
You could also provide the facility for consumers to review the products, as seen on the Topshop website:
These are just some examples of online marketing tactics which are particularly relevant for fashion ecommerce sites. It is important not to neglect all the usual online marketing practices that can be used in addition to these to ensure that your site performs well online.