The apparel eCommerce market is expected to reach $54.2B this year in the US alone and is quickly becoming the top eCommerce market second to consumer electronics. The apparel online market is growing substantially faster and is expected to grow at a rate of 17.2% through to 2017.

There are plenty of inspirational online fashion stores worldwide and each with their own unique product offering. Getting discovered will take considerable amount of time, effort and money. Money spent on paid and social media advertising, content marketing and search engine optimization. Whilst not forgetting a sophisticated and easy to use website plays a huge role in keeping customers returning.

We take a look at a few of the lower cost options to help market your online fashion store:

Influencers

There are a number of people you can reach out to: Press, Fashion Bloggers, Fashion Vloggers and Instagram Influencers.

The size of their audience varies, but some of them have large followings who are ultimately the ones with buying power.

You can easily find bloggers and vloggers who you think will be a fit for your clothing, approach them with a simple email and/or sending them samples of your clothing.

For example, if you sell vintage fashion pieces and would like to approach a vintage fashion blogger, simply search using Google:

Google Search

Or use Followerwonk to find top profiles of bloggers on Twitter:

followerwonk

A recent study also says that Instagram gives brands 25% more engagement than any other social platform and it’s also a great way to drive traffic and awareness for your store – especially if you know how to target influencers.

Here’s an example of an email communication to approach a blogger or influencer with:

Dear Astrid,

My name is Jessy and we’re a huge fan of your fashion blog/Instagram account and especially enjoyed a recent post on your summer fashion picks.

I just wanted to inform you that we’ve recently launched an online fashion store, where there are a number of fashion pieces that you may love.

(Give some detail on your fashion range).

I’ve sent you a little gift to the address listed on your contact page and if you adore it as much as we do, we’d love if you would consider sharing it with your audience on Social Media?

If you need any more information or if there is any assistance I can be of, my direct contact number is 123 456 789.

Wendy

wmfashion.com

A couple of Do’s and Don’ts when reaching out to influencers:

  • Don’t go for the biggest – remember the bigger the influencer the harder it will be to get their attention. Focus on finding influencers within your niche who are rising stars.
  • Do offer to pay influencers – but ensure you negotiate to pay on performance-based metrics.
  • Don’t offend your influencer – these influencers may come across unprofessional to their audiences, but never forget they are professional individuals. Treat them with respect and respect will be given back.
  • Do give them freedom – remember these individuals grew their audience with their own creative styles. Give them the freedom to promote your brand in the way they know will have their audience engaged.

Engage on Social Media

Today’s consumers are very active on social networks, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Google Plus being the major channels. This should be an important part of your marketing strategy, you shouldn’t skip any of these social networks.

Be sure to use images for every post – research shows that visual images have a higher CTR. Interacting with your followers improves your overall engagement and boosts your credibility. Hosting live chats will encourage your customers to engage with your brand. Using hashtags will help your posts get discovered by potential customers interested in the topic. Linking products in your posts is particularly important to ensure each post has a clear call-to-action. Be clear about what you want the customer to do.

Consumers are time-poor – give them information that is easy to digest and quick to consume. The best form is via the use of videos. According to one study, after watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online.

There are a number of video tools out there, be sure to upload your videos across all social media channels including YouTube.

See also: Three Social Media Channels Working for Fashion E-Commerce

Blogging & Guest Blogging

Creating a blog for your online fashion store is a must-have for your inbound-marketing strategy.  The key to a successful blog is highly targeted and quality content, the customer has to be the hero in your content marketing strategy.

The Google Adwords Keyword Tool can assist you in focusing on creating rich product descriptions and using powerful keywords by finding out what customers are searching when they Google your competition. This will give you valuable information about what keywords you should concentrate on when creating your blog content.

By searching hashtags across social media channels, you will also be able to pick up on trending topics being discussed online. Utilize this valuable data to compile a valuable blog post answering the questions asked by consumers.

Guest blogging is an incredibly powerful way to get traffic to your site. Identify which relevant sites to target, use MOZ pagerank tool to determine their page authority. Write awesome content and submit to these sites. Be sure to include links back to your own site.

Here are few examples of great store blogs worth learning from:

http://blog.fashionbunker.com/
http://www.2020ave.com/blogs/blog

These blog’s are easily visible and accessible from their homepage. Content is posted regularly to these pages and it’s relevant, current topics.

Referral Bonuses

Let your very own customers bring in more cash for you! Offer them discount vouchers off their next purchase for referring their friends and family to your store.

Make the process as simple as possible for your customers – this is the best way to increase their success. For example, you could offer a system on your site which allows customers to refer friends via email directly and a specific code generation once a friend makes a purchase.

A few great examples of referral programs include:

Nordstrom sets days where customers can earn bonus points. This is a really effective way to boost engagement and help promote your loyalty program.

Gilt created a tiered referral program. By providing great rewards for moving to the next tier, Gilt is motivating their customers to get active with their program to earn more rewards. The benefits of this program is that it helps to increase user engagement, creates exclusivity for your shoppers and rewards loyal customers.

Product Videos

One of the reasons why people refrain from shopping for clothing or fashion accessories online, is that they hate the fact that they have no idea what they would look like.

A video is an extremely powerful selling tool which provides the right information at the right time to consumers. 6pm.com uses this to their advantage – a custom-made video showing off the item on a real person is available for almost all their shoes!

6pm

You could go the self-hosting route or even use a third-party service like YouTube or Vimeo.

Creating product videos also gives you the opportunity to tell the story behind the product to give the customer relate-ability via story telling. Here are few great examples of brands doing just that.

A more humorous story-telling like this one from Stout Hoodie:

Another great example, by Kask Protone Helmet, where utilizing your influencers to create a compelling product video review:

 

Interactive Tools

A 2015 report by Walker Sands showed that 35% of customers would shop more online if they were able to try items on virtually, rather than just see images of them.

With the use of Webcams and Kinect, Virtual Dressing Room technology is becoming increasingly popular.

Here is an example by Fitnect of the possibilities:

Customers are increasingly wanting to engage and interact with fashion items online.  Recently launched TheFrontRow.studio provides just this type of interaction. They offer a tool ‘Mix & Match’ which helps the customer to place outfits together, making the customer their very own stylist. Kate Liegey, Co-Founder of The Front Row, Owner and stylist to the celebrities said “Our innovative fit technology and Mix and Match makes this site not only original and effective, but fun and engaging.”

mix&match

Augmented Reality

Attracting buyers through experience shopping is now helped by Augmented Reality apps. This technology is allowing customers to experience a more personal way of shopping online at home. Ikea has made this possible with their 2015 catalog which offers an interactive, online version and is accompanied with an augmented reality feature, called “Place in Your Room,” . This feature allows users to ‘virtually’ view IKEA furniture in their own homes.

Supporting Apps and Tools

There are so many apps and tools which are being released all the time, which can benefit your store.

Here’s an interesting one – Liketoknow.it

This technology gives users the ability to tag items in their photos that links to the item online where people can actually make purchases.

There is an incentive for users to publish and tag photos, whereby they receive a portion of each sale made from their tagged photo.

This is a way for you to incentivise your bloggers and Instagram influencers to publish/tag photos with your products in them.

The tool even allows you to track the photo which generates the most revenue and drives the most engagement.

There are also apps and tools such as Follwerwonk and agora pulse which can help you monitor what’s happening on social media and to identify relevant or interested social media users that you can target to visit your store.

Email Marketing

Your online store should have an email signup link within your content, as well as a popup which appears while a customer is shopping.

You are missing out on a huge sales opportunity, if you do not have this.

email marketing

By having an email database, you have the power to market to:

  • Current customers who have already purchased from your online store
  • New customers
  • Customers who have abandoned their shopping carts

You then have the ability to send out interesting relative content, promotions and sales on a regular basis for instant traffic!

As an example, you could tailor special deals for first-time buyers or throw in a discount voucher for customers who have abandoned their carts, like this one:

special offers

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s when it comes to sending marketing emails:

DO have an enticing Subject Line:

A subject line is often the only point of reference for recipients. Construct a pitch which is enticing and gets your readers wanting to explore further, like for example:

  • An Exclusive Offer just for you…
  • You don’t want to miss out on this…
  • “24 Hours Only”

DO personalize the e-mails:

Although personalized emails do require more time and research, in the end it pays off.  You will benefit from higher open rates, click-through rates and more conversions.

Here’s a methodology on how to do this:

  • Always address recipients by their first name.
  • Say why you think they might be interested or compliment them on their fashion sense.
  • Explain what they will be missing out on if they don’t buy.

DO NOT send to many e-mails:

Your subscribers should look forward to opening your emails and not roll their eyes. Even if you have many special offers happening on your site, one sales email per day is enough – this is also why your subject line is so important.

DO NOT just send a sales pitch:

Give your subscribers what they want: special offers they cannot resist, news they can use or links to your own or other entertaining blogs.

Top tip:  According to a report published by Forrester, including video in an email leads to a whopping 200-300% increase in click-through rate.

Wish-lists

The number of shoppers using mobile devices to research and order online is growing continuously, so wish lists are becoming more and more relevant to the overall online experience. In fact, more than half (53%) of US consumers say they will use a mobile device to research or purchase products during the holiday season and of these customers, 59% state they will use their tablet or smartphone to help make direct online purchases.

Allow your customers to create wish lists on your site and prompt them to share the list with their friends.

wish list

The wish list is marketing for you as it creates a call to action that is difficult to ignore and will give your store exposure to new customers.

The wish list creator has given your store the greatest endorsement possible, by confirming that they shop at your store.

Go Offline

It does not mean that you sell online, that you can’t do any offline marketing.

Here are a few ideas to get the word out about your store:

  • Buy online ads on search engines which target your customers during key buying seasons
  • Create business cards, flyers and print promotional material
  • Hand promotional material out to people at social events, mixers, community events and conventions or even collaborate as an event sponsor such as this online store has done :

events

If you want to quickly and dramatically scale up your customer base and revenue, contact us to learn how.