In the old offline-only days, the buying process was standard: you would go to your favourite shoe shop and you would deal with a particular employee that already knew your tastes and could help you with tailored suggestions.
In ecommerce this is very difficult to replicate - there is no shop assistant or personal touch in it (however good your online customer service team may be!), and you don’t “see” anyone, it’s a self-service shopping experience.
As customers, we can often speak to a customer service agent about an order we made, and we may love a specific campaign - but we never put a human face to those behind the brand. Do they actually like the brand’s products? Do they wear them? Would they recommend it? How would they use them?
This blog post is about a recent trend we’ve observed in some online retailers’ content strategies: to feature their staff in marketing campaigns using email marketing, social media, and even dedicated sections of their websites.
Whether a short interview, a style preference or an opinion on must-have products, employees are being presented as loyal, interesting brand advocates that are worth getting to know.
Similarly to fashion bloggers that we often see featured in fashion brands’ emails, staff members can also be seen as industry and trend dictators. Whether in terms of clothing, decoration, or other styling products, retailer’s staff are entitled to provide insider tips on how to pull a certain outfit or match the latest seasonal colours.
Here are five retailers doing it really well.
1) Marc Jacobs
World renowned fashion brand goes well beyond portraying merely the founder Marc Jacobs himself. Sure, we want to know as much as possible about the CEO and founder, but they also have an ongoing “Staff styles” marketing campaign, well-orchestrated and promoted across three channels:
The below newsletter is all about store manager Nicole’s choices. Dressed in Marc Jacobs designs, this email includes Nicole’s favourites from the collection and why she loves them, with links to product pages of all the items described.
On its official Instagram account, Marc Jacobs promotes the same staff story, introducing Nicole to the account’s followers, and inviting them to find out more about her styles on the website.
This is replicated on Marc Jacobs' website, which features a content-rich section about the ‘World of Marc Jacobs', including these ‘Staff Styles’ chapters.
Each edition includes a short interview about the staff member's personal hobbies, music tastes, etc, and what they most like about working at Marc Jacobs.
The home furniture shop makes use of its newsletters to share staff members’ wishlists, (and offering up to 80 per cent off certain favourites). Country manager Martina and copywriter Chris were invited to select their favourite pieces of their wide range of products, and to justify their choices.
3) Mr Porter
The men’s fashion brand makes use of their blog - “The Journal” - to present staff picks, on their “Our Go-to Shoes” editorial. Four staff members elected the pair of shoes they could not live without:
Each staff member even adds their suggestion of jackets or trousers to match with their chosen shoes:
The fashion brand promotes its “What We’re Wearing” campaign, which proves that staff members of a fashion brand can easily be seen as a fashion expert themselves. They promote it across two marketing channels:
Website blog “The Oasis Fashion Journal”
This blog has a chapter for each staff member, in this case Ellie, with an interview about the products she selected, and what she looks forward to next season.
The interview finishes with a link to shop Ellie’s favourites, that redirects to the following category page:
Oasis also featured Cathy, their marketing assistant, in a newsletter, describing her choices for the season and how to style them in an outfit for a ‘date night’. All the pieces of clothing have a direct link to product pages.
5) Wool and the Gang
Wool and the Gang are, at their core, a brand that is all about creating a community of knitting-fans that share their final creations.
As such, they feature members of their HQ “gang” in their marketing messages, featuring in this edition their web developer Rosie. With a link to read her full bio on the website, the story goes on about how she first started working at Wool and the Gang, and why she loves it (and of course, what she likes to knit!).
In such a competitive environment, online retailers need to differentiate themselves and make their brands feel as personal as possible. Introducing and including your team in marketing campaigns is a great way of adding this personal touch, and something you might like to experiment with.
Likewise, if you'd like to explore other storytelling angles in online business you can read about it here.