We are all now very aware that fashion retailers are feeling the brunt of the decline of the UK’s economic climate over the years and some may be thinking ‘Is it going to get any better’ and ‘Will we survive?’
Many retail owners within the fashion industry (whatever your sector) joined this ever evolving industry because as cheesy as the cliché is, you have a passion for fashion. It’s what you love. So when you have invested so much hard work into building your business, accumulating the product or designs that match the ethics and heritage of your brand beautifully whether this is clothing, underwear, accessories, jewellery or footwear; you want to be rewarded with return on investment (ROI) as ultimately you need to make money!
But having realised that the shopper’s trend has changed over the years and online shopping has become a social and accessible platform to your customers, you invested again into building an e-commerce site. However, unlike a shop you cannot rely on the natural footfall of traffic you could benefit from by being positioned in a high street or town…so how do you drive traffic to your website when there’s a volume of competitors ranking higher than you hiding your site from search engine audiences?
Hello PPC (Pay Per Click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)! If you are not familiar with these it is time to welcome them as they are going to be your website’s two best friends…so let’s introduce you.
PPC is a marketing tool that allows you to bid on specific keywords to your site (usually a few pence unless the keyword is highly competitive) so that Adverts you have written for your site can appear at the top of Google immediately. You will recognise other sites using this tool if they appear in the top coloured box in Google presenting Ads and also all of the results in the right hand margin are Ad results. The great thing about PPC is that you only pay for PPC when a customer clicks on your Ad from the search engine they are in to click through to your site. It also enables you to compete with the large retailers on the high street, which is good for you if you are an independent store in the UK selling branded product as many of you have not been able to compete with the multi store channels when they have been commencing seasonal sales earlier than you can afford and constantly offering promotions as they have a marketing budget that you cannot compete with. Although PPC cannot guarantee you will rank higher than them (because their keyword bids are probably considerably higher than yours) it can ensure that your Ads rank with them which in turn makes you look a very reputable and interesting independent store.
SEO is a marketing tool that allows you to grow your ‘organic’ presence within search engines. It does take longer than PPC as you will not begin to see significant results for 6-12 months but is great for longevity as the techniques that have been used will always be recognised by search engines. Unless you are outsourcing an external company to manage this for you this is completely FREE. However if you are outsourcing an external company because you are not familiar with the practises of SEO then it is still a very cost effective marketing tool as it is cheaper than PPC because you do not need to provide an SEO Agency with an additional marketing spend on top of their service fee.
As a married couple PPC and SEO can be very compatible but they each individually have their own benefits:
THE BENEFITS OF PPC
- PPC has instantaneous results presenting you at the top of SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages) in Google immediately – this means you can be seen above your competitors straight away and in the fashion industry, it is a never ending race to the top.
MANAGE YOUR MONEY:
- You can track the success of each keyword as your Google AdWords campaign can tell you the CTR (click through rate), CPC (cost per click) and most importantly “Cost Per Conversion” so you can see how much you have to spend on average with each keyword before you achieve a sale and revise your budget accordingly.
- Time is always an issue and many success stories are a result of luck, being in the right place at the right time. With PPC you can create your own luck by managing the timing of your adverts by timing them to appear in scheduled hours of the day when you know your customer will be shopping – and can be noticed when they are in the mood for shopping! After all, if you appear in Google when they are looking for that new black leather handbag…they really were looking for you, they just didn’t realise it.
- PPC enables you to only market to your target audience so you only approach people that would be interested in the product your site has to offer, as you select keywords of relevance to your product to bid on. This is also one of the benefits to being online as opposed to solely in a bricks and mortar store as in a store; you cannot market only to your target customer as you are constantly presented to the general public.
THE BENEFITS OF SEO
- SEO does not cost you each time someone clicks on your organic links in search engines. So if you have optimised the keyword ‘womens leather handbags’ and someone’s search converts in to a sale, you haven’t got any additional marketing costs eating into the margin of your sale.
- SEO is predominantly a clever use of content. The content contained on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter has been discussed hugely recently (those of you that listen to Chris Moyles on your journey to work in the morning will be very familiar with this subject) as it has become public knowledge that any content you have ever uploaded to any website lives forever – including social network sites. This can of course be bad if what you are publishing on these sites and your own site is not very good for your company or your customer eg: If the content is negative or unhelpful. But if it is informative and relevant to your customer eg: Linking to new ranges, linking to special offers or linking to help pages then this content is very good and will always help your website for SEO purposes, as search engines will always be able to find your site from this content, score you nicely and as a result rank you higher.
- The entire purpose of SEO is engaging with your customer, enticing them to your site and then building a relationship with them based on their interests. This is how SEO works to improve your rankings as it is all about optimising what you already have available to your customer. The content on your site or related to your site is everything written on it, posted on it eg: Offers, visual content such as videos, images, tutorials and customer reviews. Search engines can capture all of this data and as a fashion e-commerce site your content will always be updating due to seasonal selling windows and the updating of trends/ new products which keeps search engines very happy as they like to see that you are refreshing your website and again, rank you higher for being interesting.
PPC and SEO combined can definitely increase the relevant traffic to your website which in turn will increase your revenue as you are more likely to convert a sale from a customer’s search if your site is only advertised to your targeted audience. So you really need to think about the person buying your products and the brand tiers you sit alongside in this industry so you market yourself smartly and cost effectively eg: You may be a high street shopper, but if you buy your clothes from Topshop you are unlikely to be interested in buying clothes from M&S (Autograph) as you haven’t different lifestyles, interests and personal taste. Without either of these techniques you will find it very difficult to be noticed in an overpopulated industry; with both of them you will see significant improvements which will make you very excited again to be in retail!
Follow my next blog for top tips on how to improve your PPC and SEO marketing campaigns where I will show you how you can promote your products with your Ads in Google to entice customers to buy from the moment their search results appear, and how you can track the results you are achieving to judge the success of your online marketing.
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