In 2011, retail was still a viable marketing avenue for most luxury brands. Internet sales were on the rise, but at the time, online shoppers were hesitant to purchase expensive, unseen items online.
This frequency has now disappeared. About 17 billion pounds of luxury goods are sold online, equivalent to 8% of all sales worldwide.
The cell phones most of us used 10 years ago have nothing to do with the black touch screen laptops we carry around which we can find and compare fancy items and everything else in a matter of seconds.
In a new report titled “The Future of Luxury” written by students of the International Master’s Program in Luxury Management (IMLUX), 80% of sales are now “digitally impacted” compared to 45% just seven years ago.
What does this mean? On individual buying journeys, four out of five buyers have accessed “digital touch points” at least twice before purchasing a product or service. Brands have no control over some of these touch points — they are bloggers, influencers, and social media peers that consumers look to for advice.
Luxury brands are investing much larger sums in these new forms of marketing with the aim of increasing sales and establishing useful online connections with a more targeted demographic.
In this article, we are considering the most successful approaches that luxury brands have taken to digital marketing with a special focus on their websites and social media campaigns.
Search Engine Optimization
Established brands have a built in advantage when people search for them or their most popular products online.
Take examples from Pandora and Tiffany’s – two very successful brands.
For terms like “Pandora bracelets,” “Pandora charms,” “Tiffany’s engagement rings,” and “Tiffany’s necklaces,” both brands take first place in organic (unpaid) search results on Google.
Neither company has fallen into the trap that many well-known companies do by relying on the strength of their brands and distinction to drive traffic to their sites.
Pandora’s SEO strategy based on tightly organized keywords and URLs ends up first with non-brand terms like “promise rings,” “earrings,” “bracelets,” and “charms.” Likewise, Tiffany ranks first in “Women’s Jewelry”, “Shopping Jewelry”, and “Real Pearl Necklace”.
Your keyword strategy should focus on winning terms that match your product scope but not rely on a customer using your brand name as part of their search query. This gives you the opportunity not only to compete with other luxury brands but also to sell to consumers who are able to buy your products, and for whatever reason, they will not use your brand name when they are ready to buy a particular product.
Tell your brand story through great content
Google prefers sites that are constantly updated and added, just as Pandora and Tiffany add to their sites through regular blog posts.
Ideally, much of your written content should be core content – content that is comprehensive and generous with its information that others will relate to.
Articles about your products, articles about company history, and articles that provide visitors with the information they need to make an informed purchase. Share with visitors why your company exists as well as what it does and why.
Video marketing also offers exciting opportunities. For example, a luxury tour operator might want to create extensively written articles about the destinations they take clients to—articles about the destination’s history, its best restaurants, local opportunities to appreciate art, and more backed by a 2-3 minute period to immerse their visitors further.
Whether it is text, images or videos, additional value can be extracted from content time and time again by promoting it via social media channels and email newsletters.
Create excitement for your products
Some brands want to sell online but others require more contact with a potential customer before making the sale.
When someone visits a page where a sale can take place or when they can leave their contact details to continue, assume this might be the last time you see them.
Use compelling text, beautiful images, and engaging videos to showcase your brand and explain why the product or service someone is interested in is the right choice. Back this up, if possible, with testimonials from customers and reviewers to explain to the visitor why others think your brand and what you’re selling is the right choice for them too. After all, part of the allure of any luxury brand is “social proof”.
Apple may or may not be a luxury brand – the debate continues. However, it may just be a phone, but the way they present the iPhone 13 Pro on their site is one of the reasons why many consider their products to be the best of the bunch, beautiful and luxurious.
Build your email list
Consider each visitor an opportunity to make a lasting connection by inviting them to sign up for your email newsletter.
Email marketing provides a very high return – up to 2500%. Many companies use email marketing as an opportunity to send promotion after promotion to their subscribers, but email marketing for luxury brands should be different. With all the luxury products and services, part of the reason people buy them is to subscribe to a lifestyle as well as to enjoy the benefits of the product or service.
The emails your customers receive should look and feel an instinctive part of your company like any direct mail campaign you send out. Email layout, word choice (particularly in the subject line), and overall aesthetic should feel an intrinsic part of the external communications and marcom approach.
Create a sense of distinction
Early fears that an online presence would somehow mitigate the exclusivity of luxury products and services proved unfounded. Some argue that the opposite may, in fact, be true.
If one of the functions of owning luxury products is to display status to others, then it can be demonstrated that owners of luxury products now enjoy a higher perceived status than ever before.
This is because the Internet has significantly increased public awareness of the quality and exclusivity of these products on individual brands. This new vision has created new demand for these products and services, but since the price at which they are offered often presents an insurmountable barrier to entry for most people, this demand remains unsatisfied. This lack of satisfaction creates a feedback loop where the perceived exclusivity increases over time.
For your actual customers, you can feel exclusive online through a combination of:
- loyalty privileges,
- Concierge services (such as those offered by luxury SWM magazine to its clients), and
- Private member groups online.
If your company has the branch network to support, bringing together the online and offline worlds by inviting your most important customers to events like launch parties where they can meet and interact with other like-minded advocates will increase their existing loyalty and increase the likelihood of selling more often to these important group.
Attractive and practical user experience
Consumers are now demanding access to all companies’ websites on whatever device they use.
For a standard website, 55% of their traffic comes from mobile phones. People who visit the desktop version of the website spend 4 minutes 50 seconds longer on the site than those who visit the mobile version.
Mobile phone users appreciate the ease of navigating around a website and don’t expect to have to work hard to find the information they want.
Luxury Brands Social Media
According to Business of Fashion, luxury customers post twice as much as the average user, interact three times more, and consume five times more content. Generation Z will be responsible for 45% of sales of luxury brands in 2025, spending up to six hours of their weeks shopping online.
Visual social networks
Many luxury products are admired for their physical appearance as well as the materials from which they are made. Likewise, luxury service providers offer their customers moments and experiences that they can share with their friends and followers.
Instagram gives brands the opportunity to tell their story through photos and videos. You can encourage your followers and customers to share their experiences with other followers and customers through user-generated content to create a community.
Pinterest’s 460 million users deserve to target luxury brands.
Using social media to generate sales and website traffic
For luxury brands who are comfortable with the idea of selling their products and services across social media platforms, Facebook Ads can deliver highly targeted ads to your key audiences that they can act on instantly to order from you.
Social media gives all businesses including luxury brands the opportunity to connect on a personal level with their new and future customer base. While the vast majority of your content shouldn’t be naked commercial in that it is there to drive new sales and traffic to your website, some of it should.
As you address new and future customers on Facebook and Instagram, your company is a guest on a platform that you have no control over how it operates or the rules that govern it. Encouraging your social media followers to come to your site where you have complete control gives you the opportunity to get their direct contact details either by subscribing to newsletters or when purchasing from you.