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ModCloth Converts Customers into Brand Evangelists with YouTube

jarboe-greg
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susan-gregg-koger-of-modclothIn the fickle world of fashion, finding, engaging, and retaining brand devotees online is not easily stitched together. Just ask Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger, husband and wife co-founders of ModCloth.com, an online-only retail operation that started in a college dorm room and has since grown to global, 275-employee company in less than a decade. In 2010, ModCloth was named one of America’s Fastest Growing Retailers by Inc. Magazine.

With Susan directing the creative aspect of the firm and Eric responsible for business operations, ModCloth specializes in independent women’s fashion and décor, having achieved near cult status to a devoted, 18-34 female audience – a demographic that definitely defaults to digital, rather than traditional, advertising.

“Our objective is to democratize the fashion industry,” says social media manager Natasha Khan. “YouTube is a great partner because it empowers users to be content creators and influencers in beauty and fashion.”

The emotional impact of content on the company’s YouTube channel helps ModCloth increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. YouTube enables the company not only to share its message, but also to engage with the core customer base, building deeper levels of loyalty and engagement.

Launched in 2008, ModCloth’s branded YouTube channel has nearly a million video views and close to 4,000 subscribers. Since they are an online business, ModCloth employs a digital first strategy. Digital media, including video ads, deliver fast, accurate, and analytical data to track the performance, impact, and return on investment.

YouTube TrueView video ads allow ModCloth to promote their engaging video content and then analyze its performance. A recent YouTube TrueView promotion drove traffic to the ModCloth website with a click-through rate that was upwards of 18 percent, when industry averages are typically in the single digits. Compared to their average $0.55 cost-per-click search campaigns, ModCloth has been able to strategically reach even more customers with an average $0.06 cost-per-view TrueView video ad campaigns.

“That’s huge,” says Theresa Rockovich, Search Engine Marketing Specialist at ModCloth, “This proves that by targeting the right audience on a granular level, we can drive potential shoppers to our site, where they spend significant amounts of time consuming product information and actively engaging with our brand.”

ModCloth’s core strategy is to use keywords as specifically as possible and then leverage YouTube Analytics to gain a deeper understanding of who the audience is, where they are coming from, and how best to interact with them.

After YouTube Insights (now YouTube Analytics) was launched, the team realized some of their YouTube videos were attracting a 50 plus female audience, who appreciated the content but did not convert to buyers. ModCloth invested in producing on brand videos, and edited their descriptions, tags and campaigns for an audience that matched their target demographic – females 18-34, and conversions lifted immediately.

In addition, ModCloth discovered that audiences segmented by fashion-oriented keywords did not necessarily convert as well as viewers consuming indie music on YouTube. Again, they modified content to appeal more directly to the female shopper who happens to have an interest in the topic of indie music.

“We would love to make ModCloth a household name. YouTube – the second biggest search engine in the world – allows us to integrate SEO, referral content and paid campaigns while reaching the greatest possible audience across platforms and devices,” says Rockovich. “It’s amazing to see our brand come to life through the emotional impact of video. It is the ultimate medium for us engage our audience and, more importantly, for them to engage with us.”

ModCloth’s foray into video started with a simple scarf tying lesson.

A mixture of pure ingenuity, cues from customers, and a deep understanding of their core customers’ interests has helped ModCloth design editorial content and engaging contests. The team has launched three contests on YouTube, including a ModCloth Style Short Contest in June 2010, a Bow Wow Contest in April 2011, and the DIY Boss Contest, which was recently announced in March 2012.

The ModCloth team is “constantly amazed” at the time and energy users put into videos submitted to the ModCloth video contests. Check out this impressive user created stop animation video for how to make a Polyclay Monster Pin.

Layering calls to action on top of videos also helps curious viewers find new wares, accessories, and products on the ModCloth.com site.

How can you leverage YouTube to fulfill your marketing goals?

"Embrace experimentation; be true to your brand and message," said Sarah Klenakis, Editorial Team Manager at ModCloth. "Basically, just tune into your community and join the conversation."


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