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Four tried and tested approaches to brand engagement

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Leading retailers enhance engagement by encouraging customer interaction and affection for their brand,  be that by providing a source of must-have information, loyalty rewards, useful apps or ensuring that the brand’s values and image matches those that of its target customers. Here are four approaches that work for leading IRUK Top500 retailers.

1. Provide valued information… 

Whether it is styling notes, patterns for the knitters, advice for new mums or DIY instructions the leading retailers in this dimension engage customers with content that will appeal to their target market. Such content may take the form of a blog, online magazine, free downloads or ‘how to…’ videos, but it needs to be relevant and regularly updated. For some market segments finding the right material can be challenging: Bensons for Beds, for example, has come up with an amusing video on the history of the bed, while for  Homebase and B&Q there is an endless assortment of videos and text-based guides on anything from “How to repair patches in the lawn” to “How to fit a splash back”. B&Q also provides a neat online bathroom design tool allowing shoppers to place and rearrange all the necessary fitments in a 3D model of their own bathrooms. Hobbycraft, too, has an enormous selection of “how to…” ideas and craft tips as well as numerous free downloads from knitting patterns to cards for children to colour.

2 … and make it easy to find

Both B&Q and Homebase include “ideas and advice” in the pull down menus on their landing page as does John Lewis with its “inspiration and advice”. Marks & Spencer has “Style & Living” accessed from “Inspire me” in its page headers, but it also adds a selection of topics prominently beneath the special offers on its landing page with click throughs for daily updates on a range of topics – from product news and trend updates to recipes for “end of January” cocktails (posted very timely on the 30th). Also on the landing page is “Adventures in Food” with recipes and topical interviews, such as with clean-eating foodie Jasmine Hemsley. All these are very obvious and accessible. In contrast, while Debenhams puts “My Beauty Club” among its page headers, its link to “Our Style Debrief” is way down at the bottom of the landing page with the small print.

3. Encourage ratings and reviews

For some shoppers those endless invitations to leave a review can be more of an irritant than a way of delivering brand reinforcement but, fortunately for retailers, such curmudgeons are outnumbered by those who love giving feedback. The number of Top 500 sites providing product ratings was up by 12 percentage points (pp) this year to 62%, while those encouraging reviews increased by 8pp to 61%. For a retailer such as Clarks, with its seasonally changing stock assortment, the number of reviews varies from single digits for the current styles to well over 1,000 for core lines. All are accessible, but fortunately the product page initially only displays the latest eight. Shoppers are asked not only to provide a header for their review and a few lines of text but also answer such questions as the reason for purchase, where they bought their item and whether they’d recommend it or not. Shoppers provide feedback on comfort, quality and style as well as a star rating.

4. Raise your social media profile

Engaging in social media remains a vital daily activity for many and some 98% of the Top500 retailers have a Facebook page, 98% maintain a Twitter account and 92% have a Youtube channel. Instagram (91%) and Pinterest (87%) are both popular but only around one in five (22%) have so far adopted Snapchat. Having gone to the time and trouble to establish and maintain these social channels it is perhaps surprising how many retailers hide the information away at the bottom of the landing page along with the small print about customer services and delivery information. Surprisingly few then use their social media data to validate products: only 18% of the Top500, according to RetailX researchers. John Lewis, one of the Top 25, neatly displays the number of Facebook likes for each of its products on the relevant page as well as providing a  click-through to save the item on Pinterest. Others scoring well on this type of social validation include Clarks, Superdrug, Homebase, Wickes and Benson for Beds.

We’ll be sharing four more approaches in Thursday’s newsletter. This feature first appeared in the IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement Performance Dimension Report. Click here to explore that report. 

Image: Fotolia

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