COVID-19 Marketing Strategies for Apparel and Accessories Brands

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Overview

The coronavirus has transformed ecommerce, and in particular, the apparel and accessories industry. It has altered how people purchase clothing and fashion related products, caused inventory and sourcing issues, and transformed communication between brands and their customers. As a result, it is crucial to meet these new demands and industry changes by adjusting your messaging.

In this guide, you will learn best practices around creating segments, campaigns, flows, and forms amid the coronavirus pandemic. You will also learn how to use insights from these channels to better serve your brand going forward.

No time to read? Check out the webinar below for a walkthrough of best practices around COVID-19 for apparel and accessories brands with one of Klaviyo's Onboarding Specialists.

Touch Up Your Ecommerce Site

Before diving into Klaviyo features, let’s take a step back and mention what to include on your site. To start, if you have any issues with shipping or fulfillment, let your customers know with a banner on every page of your site to set expectations. Fulfillment issues will not likely deter someone from purchasing so long as you welcome them into your brand and make them feel a part of your community. Conversely, if you do not have shipping or fulfillment issues, you can have a banner onsite to let customers know that they will not experience delays with their orders.

Likewise, if you have physical locations, make sure that customers know whether or not they are open. If your physical location is not open, consider putting up a way for a passerby to subscribe to your marketing from your store window with QR codes. You may also want to pivot your product offering to better serve your customers at this time with options like online consultations, e-gift cards, subscriptions, curbside pickup, and more.

On your homepage, be sure to feature your best products for being at home. In particular, draw attention to any comfortable at-home attire. This may pertain to branded athleisure wear, work-from-home essentials, your new spring collection, etc.

Lastly, to build a sense of community from someone’s first time browsing on-site, offer a quiz to help browsers find the best option for them and showcase everyday people using your products on social media. After preparing your site, let’s explore how you can get the most out of your Klaviyo account.

Create Key Segments

Segmentation allows you to learn more about your customers’ habits at this time, and target them with effective communication. Even if you already use segments, now is a great time to redefine engagement to account for the coronavirus.

Some key segments for your industry are:

In the following sections, you will learn how to create each segment and adjust conditions to target those who continue to be loyal to your brand during this uncertain time.

For additional details around each of these segments, head to our article on Segmentation Strategies Amid the Coronavirus.

Cross-Sell Segment

A cross-sell segment groups people who recently purchased a particular item but have not purchased one or more related items. This allows you to guide customers in the direction of a product they may be interested in and will increase their likelihood of purchasing a second time.

If you plan to target cross-sell segments via email, you must add a condition to include those in your main (e.g., newsletter) list. If you target via forms or use these segments to create a lookalike audience for Facebook ads, then this added condition is not needed.

For example, you can create a segment of customers who have purchased a bracelet, but who have not purchased a matching necklace. Use that information to target those who are likely interested in the necklace to encourage a second purchase.

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Alternatively, a cross-sell segment can promote a new collection. If you have information on who purchased from a previous collection, target those shoppers with your new product line. The segment below targets customers who purchased from your fall collection, but have not yet purchased from your spring collection. Since they shopped seasonally in the past, they may also be interested now.

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In one last example, you can also keep cross-sell segments more open ended, where someone has made any purchase from your store this year, but has not bought a specific type of product that is now trending amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For example, if you run an apparel store and sell workout clothes, you can target those who have recently gotten into a fitness routine with lockdown in place. Target shoppers who have never purchased athleisure apparel but are customers.

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Highly Engaged and VIP Segments

Highly Engaged Segment

With the rise in COVID-19, it is time to redefine engagement criteria in a segment to target those who recently interacted with your brand. If you have changed your website or email communications already, this is a great indicator that your messaging is resonating with your audience. Add conditions around recent purchase history or profile properties to tighten the group to only include your most active subscribers.

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VIP Segment

If you do not already have a VIP segment, now is the time to create one. High engagement reveals which subscribers are most loyal to your brand and will continue purchasing despite disruptions in their lives. Send them exclusive deals and content that drives traffic to your site. Moreover, ask them for what content they are interested in seeing amid the current pandemic to source ideas and get to know them personally.

For more in-depth information around gathering and interacting with your VIPs, head to our Guide to Running a VIP Program.

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Predictive Analytics Segments

Segmenting with predictive analytics allows you to gain key insights into how your customers will interact with your brand in the future. Three main segmentation strategies for predictive analytics center around:

  • Predicted Gender
    To target customers with gender-related content (e.g., your men’s and women’s collections)
  • CLV data
    To sort high-CLV customers from low-CLV customers. For those likely to spend more, target them with new arrivals and products they may like. For low-CLV customers, push sales or free shipping offers.
  • Expected Date of Next Order
    To target customers who are likely to purchase in the next few weeks with deals and incentives to do so. Expected Date of Next Order is also used in the Repeat Customer Nurture Series. This is a premade flow in the Flow Library, and will automate the process of communicating with individuals who will likely shop your store again soon.

Recent Cart Abandoners Segment

Abandoned Cart Subscribers, though primarily targeted in a flow, can likewise be targeted via a form that appears to a recent cart abandoner segment.

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Use Forms Effectively

A form is a great tool to gain new subscribers, drive sales, and ask for information from your customer base. If you are not already using forms, now is the time to dive into this feature to grow your business. In the following sections, you will learn best practices for effectively using forms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

If you discuss the virus directly in forms, make sure to do so with a supportive, empathetic tone. Keep in mind that this is a difficult time for subscribers, and make sure that your forms show customers and page browsers that you care about them.

Gain Subscribers and Supply Information

Forms are essential for acquiring subscribers. Connect your primary form to your primary list, such as your newsletter list, so that you can then segment and send information to via email or SMS. During this time, you can choose to use forms that link to more information about COVID-19 updates and their impact on your business.

In the example below, this flyout appears as a banner at the top of the page directing customers to your recently updated coronavirus information around store closures and purchases. Link the page of your site that hosts any coronavirus updates to the button of your form.

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Drive Sales with Forms

You can use forms to drive sales by targeting segments with exclusive deals or links to new collections or product offerings. In this case, instead of having a block for subscribing, use a button that directs customers to the specific page of your site where your promotion lives.

To start, build out a popup or flyout (either from scratch or using a template in the Forms Library) and make the call to action clear, such as encouraging customers to buy from your new collection. In doing so, incentivize this purchase by offering free shipping, 25% off with a code, or product recommendations that they may be interested in. Then, target specific segments with content that specifically applies to them.

Some examples of forms that drive sales are:

High and Low CLV

One example of targeting a segment with a form would be CLV customers. Create high- and low-CLV segments. Once those are established, create a form around new arrivals (for high-CLV customers) and one around a sale (for low-CLV customers). Edit the settings on your signup forms to target visitors in those specific segments.

An example of what this will look like for a low-CLV segment is shown below.

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Cross-Sell

After creating a cross-sell segment that groups recent purchasers of a particular item that have not purchased a related item, target that segment with a form. Since this is an uncertain time, the customers who are continuing to buy from your store are likely some of your most loyal page viewers and this may be just right to nudge them in the direction of future purchases as well.

When you edit the behavior of your form, set it to only appear to your specific cross-sell segment. For example, say you are marketing your new spring collection, your form and behavior will look something like this:

spring_collection.png

Abandoned Cart and Browse Abandonment

Though your focus for communicating abandoned carts should primarily be in flows, you can complement email or SMS messaging with a form that will appear when cart abandoners next browse your site. This added messaging may be necessary during this time, to get your message across in various platforms to remind customers of the value of your brand.

In Behaviors, target those who have recently abandoned their cart using an abandoned cart segment. Below is an example of what this form may look like in Klaviyo.

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Alternatively, consider adding a popup incentive to your product page for those who attempt to navigate away from the page while browsing. This time, in the Behaviors tab of your form, opt to show to this visitor as they exit the page. This will cause them to pause before abandoning an order.

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Profile Properties Forms

Forms are a great way to learn new information about your subscribers that you can then use throughout Klaviyo in messaging. Ask these customers for their collection preference, their motivation for shopping, or even something more personal like their favorite color or birthday.

Once you gain insights via forms, use segmentation to group like-minded subscribers for targeted messaging. Head to Segmenting for Form Results for more information.

Let’s say you run a maternity apparel brand and target your forms to expecting mothers. In these forms, you can collect multiple useful properties — in particular, a due date and expected gender of their baby. You can then use this in segmentation or when creating a flow based on the various stages of pregnancy or in campaigns around sales and promotions. You can also use the expected gender of the baby to inform imagery in the campaigns you send.

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Alternatively, you may use a form to see if a shopper is buying for themself or their friend or relative. This will change the way they purchase and how you can target them with marketing. For example, around holidays like Mother’s Day, use forms to ask who will be the recipient of any purchases so that you can target them with optimal information.

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Mother's Day

Alternatively, if you are running a Mother’s Day form, and want to take customers directly to your collection for gifts, create a form that directly links to those associated products.

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Buying Guide

Another form that asks customers for information is a buying guide form. In this case, you not only market your products, but also use properties to advise your customer on what they may like to purchase next. Ask them about their interests, gender, why they are shopping, and more. Then, follow up in a flow with information on a related item. You can use their answers to segment to see who would be interested in whatever products you are proposing.

In the example below, the form uses radio buttons and multi-checkboxes to zero in on what your customer may be interested in.

buying_guide.png

For more information on properties and how to use and manage properties, head to our Guide to Properties.

Send Targeted Campaigns

Once you are ready to send targeted campaigns, think about what you want to say to those customers. Remember that this is a difficult time, and be extra sensitive to what your customers may be going through in their personal and professional lives.

Some best practices for creating COVID-19 content is to:

  • Refine your audience
  • Adjust your tone
  • Discuss relevant topics
  • Offer deals, discounts, or promotions
  • Highlight your brand community

Refine Your Audience

While some campaigns perform well when sent to a large audience, knowing who to send to is key to generating high open and click rates. After following the segmentation advice above, consider what groups of people you want to receive each email, and target specific segments based on their interests, shopping habits, and location.

For example, a site-wide sale will be a great opportunity to send to a larger audience of newsletter subscribers, and in particular, engaged segments. Meanwhile, a campaign focused on informing customers in a specific location of store closures should be sent to a segment of customers in that area. Understanding your customers and knowing what content is relevant to them will result in successful campaign sends.

Adjust Your Tone

Adjusting your tone in a time of crisis is essential to maintain a positive relationship with your customers. They will appreciate messaging that shows awareness of what they are going through and support for your brand community.

First and foremost, show empathy in your messaging. Individuals around the globe are sick, losing jobs, and losing loved ones. Be cognizant that this is an incredibly difficult time. Though every company has its own unique brand voice, it is important to also be caring, thoughtful, and informative during this time of need. Let customers know of any changes affecting your business that will also impact how they shop or receive products from your brand.

For example, the following text-based email from Shoe Sensation addresses the global pandemic head-on. In doing so, they show support for customers and their employees behind the brand by informing subscribers of health precautions that their team put in place to ensure optimal safety.

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Transparency around how the coronavirus is affecting your company will show that there is a human behind your messaging that relates to what they are going through. For more information on communicating with empathy during this time, head to our COVID-19 blog post on the subject.

Discuss Relevant Topics

Even if you do not directly address the public health crisis, you can still bring up relevant topics such as working from home and the urge to stay inside. COVID-19 has transformed the way people live their lives, so update your content accordingly. For example, advertise products pertaining to cozy loungewear and health-conscious apparel (e.g., facemasks).

In the following campaign, Marine Layer connects with subscribers who work remotely by marketing their comfortable clothing as a “work-from-home dress code.” They refrain from saying anything about the coronavirus, and instead discuss life impacts that customers around the world are facing. Moreover, their button directing customers to these products highlights comfort above all.

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Alternatively, other companies like SoulKu are reaching out to people’s emotions and desire for happier days. Their campaign email discusses the need for love during challenging times and links to their rose quartz bracelet. The call to action is not only about their product, but also motivates customers to do good.

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Offer Deals, Discounts, or Promotions

Now is a great time to explore new deals, discounts, or promotions to offer to your customer base. They show appreciation to brand enthusiasts, boost engagement, and increase sales. If you feel as though percentage-off sales do not align with your business, consider free shipping, buy-one-get-one promotions, or incentives for customer referrals or product reviews.

In the following email, the brand Nicole Miller offers a 25% discount to emphasize gratitude to their customers. Moreover, they note that 10% of all sales will go directly to coronavirus relief organizations to further display how they want to support the overarching community.

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You can add a sense of urgency to your incentives with wording such as: “for one day only,” “48-hour sale,” or “hurry, deals won’t last.” These phrases will boost the likelihood of someone acting upon a deal when they first open an email, rather than waiting and forgetting about the incentive altogether.

Highlight Your Brand Community

Finally, show that you appreciate your customers by highlighting your brand community. A brand community is a great way to expand your business across channels; consider creating a hashtag for this difficult time that emphasizes the strength and gratefulness of your brand and brand supporters. Also, if you have the means, consider giving to the community to showcase your support during the pandemic.

For example, Heist Studios recently sent out a campaign that focuses on staying connected to their community. This text-based email feels human and gives a face to their messaging as is sent directly from their COO. She asks that they all keep safe during these difficult times, as well as stay connected as a brand community. She informs them that the next communication sent out by Heist will be an editorial series that provides insight into the world of underwear and their new collection.

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Set Key Flows Live

Flows help to initiate and nurture relationships with your subscribers, which is more important than ever before. Be sure to set key flows live and refine their messaging to include the strong content, personalization, and relevancy needed to build strong customer loyalty.

Important flows to have in your account include:

As with your campaigns, it is important to update any tonality and important content that has shifted due to COVID-19. For example, you may want to note changes to delivery or inventory, or add a specific message pertaining to health and wellness in your welcome emails.

Below are some suggestions for what you can do to make sure your flows are successful.

  • Remove content around in-store offerings
  • Set expectations around delivery and your return policy
  • Showcase your brand story and community
  • Remove content around going out and interacting while social distancing is in place

One way to alter these flows without disrupting your current content would be to add a conditional split in the flow with 100% of your customers going down the coronavirus messaging for now. To do so, drag a conditional split into your flow wherever you want to insert your messaging on COVID-19. Under Configuration, select Random Sample and set it to include 100% of people from the two dropdowns.

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Then, add your coronavirus-related content under the YES path of your flow. If your YES and NO path are swapped, click the ellipsis () in your split and select Flip Split.

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Once you have the split configured, it will look similar to this:

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When the coronavirus crisis is over, you can return to your previous messaging with ease. Set a reminder for yourself for a few weeks or months from when you make this shift so that you can shift back to your original emails when business returns to normal. When that state of normalcy has arrived, return to this flow and click on the ellipsis () in your split. Select Delete.

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A popup will appear with the following options to delete:

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Select the COVID-19 path and click Delete.

Moreover, you can use A/B testing to see what flow messages produce the best results. If you are interested in trying out two different approaches to writing about the coronavirus, this is a great way to test which performs better with your customer base. Head to our article on A/B testing flows for more information.

As with campaigns, be sure to adjust your tone and connect with your brand community whenever possible. This will help to maintain positive customer relations when sending automated flows to your subscribers.

Analyze Your Results

Once you shift your messaging to reflect the global impact of coronavirus, be sure to analyze the results of your owned channels. Ask yourself:

  • How are campaigns and flows performing with this new messaging?
  • Are sales lower or higher amid the pandemic?
  • What information have I gathered from customers? How will I use it going forward?

Monitoring campaign and flow performance is always important. For instructions on how to review campaign analytics, check out the article Review Campaign Analytics. For flows, see Review Flow Analytics.

Keep track of deliverability metrics, such as open, click, spam, and bounce rates, that affect your sender reputation, as well as how much revenue you gain from each owned channel. For more information around what is “good” for your key deliverability metrics, head to How to Monitor Deliverability Performance.

According to data pulled from Klaviyo customers and beyond, open and click rates are on the rise across the ecommerce apparel and accessories industry. With more people working from home and on their devices, we are seeing dramatic effects on email metrics, as shown in the graphs below. 

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Use these surges in email engagement to your advantage, and learn from your results. If you notice certain messages outperforming others, consider shifting content to align with what has succeeded. You may need to readjust messaging to better resonate with your audience, or edit segments to target more engaged subscribers.

Additionally, keep track of how forms perform to visualize trends and new profile properties. Head to Review Signup Form Analytics for more information around monitoring form results. If you collect properties via forms, see our article around Segmenting for Form Results to learn how to turn these insights into targeted marketing content.

Post-COVID-19

While the pandemic has no clear end date in sight, once stay-at-home orders start to lift, it’s important to continue growing your owned channels and utilizing the insights you have gained during this time. It is more than likely that returning to some semblance of normal will be a gradual process.

To prepare for life after the initial crush of the coronavirus pandemic, consider the following best practices for communicating with customers:

  • Keep customers in-the-know with campaign updates
    If you used campaigns to inform customers of changes due to coronavirus, be sure to continue this transparency while you return to normalcy. Let customers know if and when any brick-and-mortar stores re-open, when items are back-in-stock, and any important company information. Maintain a supportive tone even if your content shifts away from the virus or stay-at-home activities, as the effects of the pandemic will likely linger and vary depending on where your customers live.
  • Keep flows live, but return to original new content that’s timely and relevant
    Your key flows should always remain live; however, if you altered content to discuss the pandemic, be sure to remain updated to either your original content, or create post-coronavirus content.
  • Create segments with new shopping information and profile properties
    If you gained information from customers using forms or email, be sure to turn those insights into actionable marketing content going forward. You can create segments based on profile properties, recent shopping behavior (using the timeline of the pandemic), and more to then make more targeted content. For more information, head to Segment for Form Results.

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