What role do bloggers play in the intimate apparel industry? Part 2 of 4
by Cheryl Warner, www.investinyourchest.co.uk
‘Is blogging a vital aspect of social media and can it really benefit a lingerie retailer?’
You’ve read how Facebook, Twitter and original online content can benefit your business, but how does blogging fit into all of this? As a passionate blogger and social media geek myself (as well as an avid blog reader!) I’m fascinated how blogs can bridge the gap between customer and brand.
The blog is the original and best social media platform and is very much here to stay. Customers are changing the way they shop and research potential purchases and an increasing amount of people are turning away from traditional marketing tactics (which are expensive and increasingly ineffective!) such as: direct mail and catalogues, magazine and print media, TV advertising etc., and turning towards a fast-paced, effective, honest and best of all cost-effective method.
Unlike the outerwear sector, lingerie can’t be flaunted by celebrities going about their daily lives or shared in fashion magazines or between friends in quite the same way. Bloggers are an ideal and unique way for brands and retailers promote their products and get feedback – and customers can share experiences and opinions with each other.
Brands with a huge online presence have reported significant sales increases this year, for example the blog-savvy Curvy Kate who have released claims of a sales increase of over 400% this year.
Blogs help to create a fantastic customer-brand relationship which keeps customers engaged, informed and interested; and with a little bit of know-how the biggest cost is some time.
Independent blogs potentially offer dedicated and regularly updated literature about your brand, a consistent form of inbound marketing. Instead of shoving information or ‘implied marketing’ down a consumer’s throat, it offers (in theory) useful, entertaining and original information that sparks a customer’s interest or answers their questions about something they are potentially considering buying. It is one of the most direct ways to reach a high quality, relevant and powerful demographic of potential customers.
Link-backs created by blogs improve your company website’s SEO, and with improved search engine rankings, content marketing can then work its magic – ultimately allowing you to connect directly with these new potential customers and driving sales and leads.
• 61% of marketers will invest more in earned media (inbound marketing) in 2011
• The average budget spent on company blog and social media has nearly doubled in the last two years.
• 2/3 of marketers say their company blog is “critical” or “important” to their business.
• 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their company blog, and 42% have acquired a customer through Twitter.
• Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing.
• 55% of companies who blog reported leads from their blog were “below average” in cost.
But don’t just take my word for it or trust a list of statistics – I took this question to some industry professionals, bloggers and retailers:
Heather Kipling, PR & Marketing Co-ordinator at Panache Lingerie: Along with our PR and Marketing campaigns there has definitely been an increase in the awareness of Panache brands including key lingerie bloggers starting to speak about us, which has in turn helped with our social media following. I think blogs really appeal to the consumer as they encourage a sense of community, they listen to each other’s opinions and really value what bloggers are saying on key values such as fit, support, sizing and shapes. It’s great to receive the support of bloggers and long may it continue!
Ruka, owner of Sugarlesque Boutique: I would say social media probably depends on the big 3 right now; facebook, twitter and blogs (blogspot/tumblr/wordpress). What sets blogs apart is the fact that there is scope to elaborate on whatever topic or product you’re trying to promote and that each blog post is a very personal piece of writing. I hope that blogs stay as relevant as they have been in the past as I really enjoy sharing my blog (http://sugarlesque.blogspot.com) with my customers; it allows them to put a human face to my lingerie brand, which I personally consider an invaluable tool.
Treacle, writer and editor of The Lingerie Addict: Blogging is a vital component of any well-developed digital media strategy. Search engines favour dynamic (read: regularly updated) websites. So if your website is always generating fresh content with a blog then that sends a lot of positive signals to search engines, not to mention how much all those keywords and phrases help your SEO.
Hannah Houston, marketing Manager of Curvy Kate: To me blogging seems to be the bigger picture. It’s the social media that draws fans in to the blogs and then the blogs offer the fuller content and in turn make the fans more long lasting and more likely to return.
Ellen Lewis, Lingerie Briefs: Absolutely! My research has shown that blogging is the number 1 method of search engine optimization on the web. If you go to the Underfashion Club site and search for the Social Media seminar I moderated, you can learn more.
Nikki Hesford, Company Director at Miss Fit UK and the Big Bra Bar: Absolutely – with the most successful bloggers installing Facebook like and Twitter share buttons on their blog posts there is no limit to the mass audience of a good blog post. Say 20 people share a blog post on their Facebook wall, and each one of those 20 people have 300 friends, that is 6,000 people reading about your product. Of that 6,000 a further 1% may click the ‘share’ button, if they all have 300 friends that is another 18,000 people… and so it continues. A very good blog post with a large readership can easily go viral and receive thousands of hits to a website, as happened with the launch of our new site www.thebigbrabar.com which sells clothing, lingerie and swimwear for big busted women. A few influential bloggers wrote about our new SlinkyDip swimwear brand and a few pieces were reviewed and as a result, the styles that were featured sold out very quickly.
Catherine, Kiss Me Deadly: For brands, I hate to admit it but the SEO people are right, we get more traffic and better rankings and better conversion when I write regularly. Plus it makes customers more confident that there’s actually someone there at the end of the computer when they’re buying online. And we get the best conversion rate from traffic to sales from blogs. I’m hoping this will eventually mean that we don’t have spew out really boring press releases to mainstream print press in the long run!
Georgina Horne, blogger of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust: I believe it is. More and more people are turning to the internet to buy products, to share photos, to meet new people, to find old friends, to read magazines and listen to music and so on. Therefore blogging is the perfect way to share something with many people. People tweet, retweet, share, review, email, tell friends and before you know it one website has gone round the world twice. Social media is destructive on so many levels as rumours and stories can spread, but it can also be an advantage for those who want to be heard.
Laura Cohen, owner of lingerie e-tailer Lembrassa: Many companies believed social media would be a great and fast platform to promote their brand and special offers. Instead, consumers use social media as a way to interact with brands, shoppers and gain important information. So blogging is key because it allows consumers to find information, ask questions or give feedback. Consumers want to know what is happening with brands they purchase from regularly – having a blog as part of a company social media campaign is an important part of keeping in touch with an audience.
Darlene Campbell, owner of Campbell and Kate: Yes–it allows so much more depth than outlets like FB or Twitter, and it gives a consumer a way to feel she has a connection with a company. When I visit an ecommerce site, the first two pages I visit after the product pages are the ‘About’ page and the blog. I want a story behind the products that I buy, and I enjoy sharing that story with others. When an About page is impersonal and there is no blog, I have nothing to tell others.
Becky Mount, Curvy Kate and Brastop blogger: Absolutely – there’s only so much you can fit into 140 characters, or a page update! Similarly, websites such as Twitter only have a certain lifespan, as with all social networking sites, whereas blogging is a medium that is the most reliable. Like an online diary, it’s the original social media and it is, for me, absolutely key for any company jumping on the social media wagon. No other medium allows you to connect with customers in such a way. Blogging will always be at the very heart of social media.
“Blogging will always be at the very heart of social media,” – Becky Mount
Of course I can’t promise that the use of blogs or social media will be the saviour of your brand awareness or overwhelm you overnight with customers – building an online presence can be almost as gradual as with direct sales and marketing. It’s needless to say, however, that inbound AND outbound marketing can work in tandem to gain customers and build trade. For the cost of setting up your own company blog (you needn’t pay over $200 to set up your own URL and host it) or even a platform-hosted blog which needn’t cost you a thing. You can then go on to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to spread organic material and in-depth implied marketing that only blogging can bring.
No time to do it yourself? Why not contact an independent blogger to see if they’d be interested in reviewing a product for you? Take into account their presence, influence. This can be indicated by their Klout score which measures their social media influence:
“Klout measures influence online. When you create content or engage, you impact others. Klout analyzes that impact to find your Klout Score, influential topics, and your influencers. Klout is the standard for influence.” – Klout (www.klout.com)
And their Alexa rating which measures their website traffic data:
“Alexa provides information about websites including Top Sites, Internet Traffic Stats and Metrics, Related Links, Online Reviews Contact Information and Search” – Alexa (www.alexa.com)
Both of these services use algorithms to generate their information, and neither are perfect. I’d suggest triangulating the two as well as their industry word-of-mouth reputation and your personal opinion on the quality of the blog itself to help you decide if a sample or two is worth the return investment. Klout or Alexa ratings can be unreliable and tricky tools to use but there is no harm asking a blogger for a snapshot of their stats to help you decide – that said, a few ‘quality’ and well-informed readers can be far more beneficial than numerous untargeted page views! When it comes to marketing, it’s always better to receive compliments from others than to get wax lyrical about your own product – of course you’re going to think your own product is worth buying or you wouldn’t be selling it. As Catherine of Kiss Me Deadly so eloquently put it:
“In all seriousness, what is the point of me reviewing my own product? I mean if I didn’t think it was genius in the face of an entire industry full of vaguely similar things, I wouldn’t have risked months worth of development and sourcing and grading and photography and shilling it round the trade shows, would I?”
Physical sales are giving way to online, and where customers go companies should follow, particularly when it can be so easily and lucratively done.
But what do people really think of the difference between independent and company blogs? You’ll have to wait until the next installment in the series to find out!
Read the Full Series
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 1 of 4
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 2 of 4
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 3 of 4
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 4 of 4