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Staying in the Minds of Consumers (Or, How ModCloth Became my Favorite Addiction)

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I wasn’t always this way.

Actually, a year ago, my philosophy toward clothes shopping was very different. It was something I did when I had to, not necessarily wanted to. It had to be in a brick-and-mortar store, because I was horrible at guessing my size online. I also had no idea what I wanted, or what I looked good in.

For better or worse, the times have changed me. That’s in no small part due to my discovery of an online clothing site called ModCloth. Their products are considerably more expensive than what you’d find at, say, Kohl’s, and there is no brick-and-mortar counterpart to the website. So why in the world would a shopper like me love it so much?

ModCloth happens to possess a combination of awesome products and superior marketing tactics. As a business, they are very familiar with their target audience (technologically and fashionably savvy young women who don’t mind spending a little extra on an article of clothing if it’s unique enough). They understand which channels most effectively communicate messages to this target market, and what kind of messaging this target best responds to.

In other words, ModCloth is successful in ways that all online businesses want to be. But what do they do, exactly, that makes them so successful?

1. They add dozens of new products each day and publicize them well. Nothing keeps me coming back to a site more than the promise of new content. When I make my rounds during my down time online, I’m sure to drop by ModCloth’s online store to see what new items have just been added. More often than not, there is something I haven’t already seen. Even when visiting the site hasn’t crossed my mind, I find myself driven there anyway via their strong presence on Twitter. @ModCloth1stLook is a Twitter account solely dedicated to announcing new products as they are added to the site. And if you follow this account, you’re sure to find yourself taking a peek at at least several items a day.

2. They offer unique products. I won’t go so far as to say that you can’t find these items anywhere else, but if you buy an item from ModCloth, it’s very unlikely you’ll run into someone who owns the same item. For a fashionista, this is often a huge plus. ModCloth realizes this about its audience.

3. All items are limited, and tend to sell quickly. A typical day in the life of a ModCloth consumer: You’re notified on Twitter about an awesome new top they’ve just added to their store. You click through and absolutely fall in love with it. On the other hand, you’re reluctant to make yet another impulse buy this week, so you wait a couple of hours before you come back to the product page. To your horror, when you’ve returned you find that your size has already sold out. A seasoned ModCloth customer has learned the hard way that one must act quickly on the items she really wants. How fortunate for ModCloth as a business — this results in some of the quickest conversions one could possibly hope for!

4. Customers are allowed to opt-in for notifications on restock. Fortunately for the shopper who just missed out on that cute top, ModCloth offers a “Notify Me on Restock” feature. This not only gives the shopper what she wants, but it allows ModCloth another chance to market this product to the shopper — with her permission no less! What online marketer wouldn’t love to have potential customers ASKING for email communications?

5. They cater to and engage their community of shoppers on a regular basis. Aside from straightforward marketing tactics, ModCloth also uses social media and other such channels to their advantage. The ModCloth blog shares fashion tips, information and new trends. ModCloth’s Twitter and Facebook accounts host a variety of contests and games where one can win free stuff from their store. While these tactics are much less direct than the ones I previously mentioned, I think that they are very effective. One game, called “I Spy Thursdays,” takes place every Thursday on Twitter. It asks users to find a specific item in their store based on a riddle-like question. What a smart way to encourage more traffic on their site!

In sum, ModCloth has shown this customer (who works in marketing) how a company can do a great job of giving customers exactly what they want, and at the same time enjoy significant returns.

Think about your (or your client’s) business. How do you address the needs and behaviors of your customers? What will make your site their next favorite addiction?