Tapping into tech to become the most searched high street brands

Contributor: Henk Campher, Vice President, Corporate Marketing at Hootsuite

Now, more than ever before, people are shopping online. While physical stores are closed to protect our safety, consumers who hadn’t engaged online before the Coronavirus pandemic have now been forced to do so. This is going to have a huge impact on future shopping habits and how brands will need to approach selling. Some brands have been getting online ecommerce spot on for years. So what have they been doing, that other brands that are new to the game might want to take note of? 

According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 Report, four of the top ten most common Google shopping searches are for brands that are also found on the UK high street: Nike, Adidas, Argos and Asda. These four brands, known primarily for their instore experience, have also perfected their online strategies. So what is it about these brands that keep customers logging back in for more? 

They all offer a seamless experience that puts the consumer at the heart of everything, whether instore or online. But three key online commerce tactics particularly stand out: customer service, influencer marketing and creative online content. 

Customer Experience 

Customer experience can make or break a brand. Consumers are demanding, and with so much competition, one bad experience is all it takes for them to jump ship to a competitor. To retain customers and ensure loyalty, brands have created strategies that adopt technology, data analytics and social media to better connect with consumers and meet their needs. 

Let’s take Adidas as an example. It heavily invested in its app early on. Offering customers one-touch ordering, order tracking and timely notifications — ordering on the app couldn’t be easier. Adidas has also integrated one-touch ordering into its Instagram account, with customers able to purchase products, while still on Instagram. Payment information storage also makes future purchases even easier. 

Nike has taken a similar approach. With its SNKRS app, ‘sneakerheads’ can read about upcoming releases, track their favourite styles and store their payment information, again to make purchasing more seamless. In addition, Nike also has its NikePlus membership program, with the sole aim of creating more personalised connections with customers.  Something highly valued by 60% of consumers, who prefer 1:1 contact to deliver customer service. Using data analytics, the app uses advanced algorithms to better reward active members, and using demand-sensing technology, it ensures products remain in supply, which increases customer loyalty and better satisfies needs. 

Influencer Marketing 

Influencer marketing is set to become a $10 billion industry this year, so it’s no surprise so many brands have made it a focal point of their marketing strategies. The benefits of working with influencers speak for themselves; increased reach, increased sales, better customer retention, to name a few. There are many different ways to approach influencer marketing, and they don’t always involve going for the biggest, most well-known names. 

Nike has influencer marketing down to a T. It recognises who its customers resonate with, and the power these individuals hold over their fanbase, capitalising on this relationship perfectly. From teaming up with the likes of ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick, and the controversies that followed, to the Nike Kyrie x Spongebob SquarePants collection that brought Bikini Bottom to the basketball court, Nike isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers and get people talking. In a world where competition is fierce and competitors are snapping at your heels, what better way to stand out. 

Adidas has taken influencer marketing that one step further. Focusing its efforts on micro-influencers and even unknown members of the public, it has created its own set of influencers. Launching its Tango Squad FC five years ago, these local influencers have now become brand ambassadors, featured alongside the likes of Lionel Messi in a series of global ads. Adidas has taken its social influence into social selling, allowing members of its Creator Community — a select group of the most enthusiastic Adidas consumers — to sell Adidas products themselves.  

The allure of influencer marketing has also spread to supermarkets. Asda has teamed up with reality TV star Billie Faires to create a range of baby clothing. With over 2 million followers on Instagram, Billie has gone on to design five collections with the supermarket giant. Realising her reach, a lot of the advertising and promotion has been done through Billie’s Instagram page, a proven marketing strategy by brands with 74% of people trusting social media to guide purchasing decisions. 

Argos has also tapped into the reality TV star market, partnering with Lucy Mecklenberg to launch its Christmas hair and beauty campaign last year. Jumping on the popularity of YouTube, and with 49% of consumers depending on influencer recommendations, the campaign was released in the form of tutorials, where Lucy created Christmas party looks using hair and makeup brands that customers can purchase at Argos. 

Creative Online Content 

With 50% of a brand experience being based on emotion, brands have woken up to the importance of getting creative with their online content. Consumers invest in brands emotionally, and creativity is the perfect avenue to appeal to emotions. By optimising their websites and online content to ensure creativity shines through, brands can set themselves apart from the competition that still relies on the basics to satisfy customer needs. 

Nike’s online content echoes its core brand message of inspiring others while creating a deeper relationship with its customers. This is evident on its Instagram page where it has created an engaged community of followers. The brand’s content is bold, original and takes a stance on important social issues. By its nature Instagram is visual, making it the perfect home for Nike’s emotive campaigns. Alongside this, Nike features imagery of its consumers, those who inspire others around them and embody the “just do it” brand ethos. With 104 million followers, it’s an inviting and accepting place on social media that promotes the ‘individual’ and showcases the ‘different’, within society. 

Getting creative with its Christmas campaign, Argos featured its catalogue in advertising for the first time in ten years. Even though today the majority of browsing is done online, Argos decided to play on the nostalgia of physically circling your favourite toys in the catalogue in the run up to the big day. This clever throwback to the past reminded consumers just how ingrained the Argos catalogue was in many of their childhoods — reinforcing its place in the hearts of the British public. 

These four brands put their customers at the heart of what they do, whether that’s through their customer service offering, the technology they have implemented or the campaigns they create. They recognise the competition within the market but are actively employing tactics to build loyalty and retain customers. Social media and technology has played a huge role in helping these brands maintain popularity amongst their consumers. From analysing data to better meet their needs, through to the direct connections being made easier via social media. Brands have to turn their attention to their online strategies and content if they want to reach customers and maximise sales. These brands are stand out examples of who to look to for inspiration.