In a digital age marked by artificial intelligence, social media, data analytics, and e-commerce, marketers at luxury brands now have an unprecedented number of tools in their toolboxes to target their ideal customers. Of course, their competitors do, too — which is why more and more brands are looking to craft unique, holistic customer experiences using the best of what offline and online marketing and customer support have to offer.
According to McKinsey & Company’s 2018 The State of Fashion report, about 60 percent of fashion executives said that they would focus on omnichannel integration, e-commerce, and digital marketing efforts in 2018 to drive growth (watch our recent “Buzzword Alert” video on Omnichannel Marketing).
However, it’s not enough to simply set up multiple channels and wait for customers to come a-calling. Having an effective omnichannel marketing strategy requires hard work by skilled creative and marketing talent. We asked experts to weigh in on how big-name brands can upscale and modernize their omnichannel marketing efforts.
Integrate traditional channels and modern opportunities
Think offline marketing is obsolete? Think again. Consumers still want to purchase products in person. According to the Boston Consulting Group’s 2018 State of Luxury study, the top two reasons consumers purchase from mono-brand stores are to sample the products and see the range of store offerings.
Traditional channels like direct mail, phone calls, and print ads remain part of the marketing strategy for Wixon Jewelers, a Minneapolis-based jewelry company specializing in engagement rings, fine Swiss watches, gemstones, and diamond jewelry.
Jayme Pretzloff, Wixon’s director of marketing, says these pathways continue to drive sales. “I think it’s a mistake to completely shut out traditional forms of media in lieu of all digital marketing, and vice versa,” Pretzloff says. “Marketers need to understand that each different marketing vehicle is an extension of your business. It’s another window that consumers view your business, and it’s critically important to build these ‘windows’ effectively.”
When building up a marketing team for a luxury brand, companies need to hire marketers who know how to translate the brand’s core values into each channel — digital or not.
Understand the potential of email lists
Many retailers already email offers to potential or previous customers on their lists, but marketers should use their email lists to reach consumers wherever they spend the most time online. Marketing teams can use their email lists, for example, to create custom audiences on Facebook, says Kevin Simonson, CEO of Metric Digital, a New York-based marketing agency with notable clients such as apparel company Canada Goose and watchmakers Bulova and Raymond Weil.
For luxury brands, qualifying buyers willing to pay for premium products before getting them to your site is key, he adds. “Every brand can upload their email list as a custom audience in Facebook and use the Audience Insights tool to learn about the demographics, page likes, and purchase behavior of their users,” Simonson explains. “Once that data is known, it can be used for dynamic retargeting to reach pre-qualified leads and convert them into paying customers.”
Know the ins and outs of influencer marketing
As millennials and Gen Zers become increasingly habitual social-media users, influencer marketing is becoming a critical tool for luxury brands to reach consumers. Social media and influencers were the top sources of information for purchasing luxury goods in 2017, pushing magazines down to a close second, according to the BCG State of Luxury report.
Brands looking to reach consumers via influencers must have marketers on their team who know how to harness the power of this genre of advertising. “Don’t just treat influencers like human billboards on which to advertise your products. Approach them as a mutually beneficial relationship,” Simonson advises.
Of course, it’s of utmost importance to know that if you’re going to go the influencer route, that you should have your analytics team do a deep dive on your potential partners. As The New York Times recently reported, influencers sometimes acquire fake followers to bolster their credibility. Your researchers should also run tests to know which platform will be the most successful outreach tool for your brand. “Luxury brands mistakenly think they can get the most value from Instagram influencers alone, but analytics will show that they're not able to reach that many customers on that platform,” Simonson says. “Facebook incentivizes brands to use their ad formatting — i.e., Right Column, Messenger, Audience Network — which drives ad price down.”
Measure the right metrics
In order for luxury brands to use social media as part of their omnichannel strategy, marketers must know which data points (aka key performance indicators, or KPIs) are the most important. Brands commonly overvalue engagement, which is significant but not the most valuable metric on the platform, says Simonson.
Take Instagram, for instance: Understanding what the platform is about and how consumers use it will help companies establish the right metrics to follow. “Instagram should be seen as an acquisition channel and revenue driver,” Simonson explains. “If marketers talk about success as a function of engagement, they’re missing out on what Instagram has evolved to be, which is a strong growth channel.”
Omnichannel marketing is particularly valuable for luxury brands that want to sustain sales over time, especially outside of seasonal and holiday peaks. As luxury brands build their marketing staff, it’s critical to hire people who can evolve as technologies and consumer buying habits change, says Wixon’s Pretzloff. “The marketing landscape will continue to evolve into a segmented world where digital marketing is [increasingly] necessary to harness and leverage an omnichannel approach,” says Pretzloff. “To have successful marketing in today’s age, it’s important for marketers to have a strong digital proclivity and a sense of changing trends in our industry.”