Every industry has its own unique marketing process. For tech business (as we’ve written about here), it’s about brand promise, design and comms. For food companies (as we’ve mentioned here) it’s about visibility, customer service and really good photography.

For fashion boutiques and labels, it’s a bit of all these things and a lot about customer loyalty.

The industry, which previously relied heavily on branding, pretty pictures and foot traffic (with the objective of getting customers to visit their bricks-and-mortar boutiques), has had to change tactics dramatically as the lure of low overheads and deterrent of increasing rent on shop fronts has seen the massive take up of the clicks-and-mortar e-commerce model.

And while the previous tactics are all still necessary for fashion brands to compete in the online model, the foot traffic that most brands relied on in the past has changed to Google searches and social browsing. Brands need to act smart if they want an opportunity to land in someone’s feed or inbox, and if they’re lucky, get them into their shop.

It presents an opportunity for brands to engage existing and potential customers across a range of touch points, and ideally bring them to their owned assets such as their online store. One or many of those touchpoints can be their content marketing.

Building a loyal audience and getting them to your website

Pretty much all of your marketing efforts should be inspiring people to spend time with your brand and ultimately visit your store. Whether it’s your social platforms, your emails, or any physical marketing assets.

But people don’t want to be sold to. Especially on social media. So posting photos of your products day in and day out is most likely going to disengage your audience all together.

This presents the opportunity to engage your customers in a way that adds value, whether that be on social media or in a way that just happens to bring them to your website.

Saskia Fairfull is the Founding Member of the Independent Fashion Advisory Board, an independent advisory team that works with fashion-tech startups, established fashion brands, and investors to help them gain a better understanding of the fashion industry.

She says “many fashion businesses are chasing the next transaction and doing it without a strategy or full understanding of the cost to acquire”.

And that “the kind of transaction a fashion business should be after is a repeatable one, that occurs as a result of exquisite content (visual and written) with a relatable tone of voice”.

Fairfull says implementing a content marketing strategy is necessary to help brands secure loyalty – the ultimate relationship between brand and shopper.

To see this in action, we should look to some of the most successful online boutiques running in the country.

It’s no coincidence that online boutiques such as The Iconic, ShowPo and ASOS all have full blown publications attached to them.

The Iconic’s ‘Edition’ churns out weekly articles with headlines such as ‘The noughties trends that are resurfacing’, and ‘The pants channelling our Coyote Ugly days.’

ShowPo Edit positions itself as the authority on everything interesting to a millennial female, publishing articles like ‘Kirby Jenner Is The Funniest Person On Instagram’ and ‘How To Negotiate A Work From Home Sitch’ – two topics that have ZERO to do with their product offering.

ASOS Style Feed features ‘summer skin survival kits’, ‘Top 10 books to read’ and ‘4 of the best summer accessories’.

Only in this last piece have they introduced their products in their content, but the great thing about this is that their audience are so engaged with content (read loyal) that in situations like this, the brand has permission to sell.

How smaller brands can do the same

OK, so you’re not The Iconic and you’re not ASOS, but you can still attract and build an audience with valuable content and guide customers back to your website over and over again. You just need to approach it with your brand’s point of difference.

Tackling interesting topics such as ‘how leather tanning works’ helps people to get to know your brand without shoving your message down their throats. Partnering with other people – like these ‘In conversation with’ articles by accessories label Nancy Bird – makes for leisurely reading on the train home. And owning topics such as the ‘top ethical gifts to give this Christmas’ helps to create a relationship with your customer, build brand trust and bring your customers back to your website.

The online boutiques who aren’t focused on creating content for their audience to be distributed via social media and email are missing an opportunity to both engage their customers on a daily basis and increase traffic to their store. An opportunity they can’t afford to pass up.

 

Read next: How to align your content marketing to a customer journey