Posted: Monday 25th April 2016 in Owned and earned media, Retail Strategy.

ASOS has quickly established itself as the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer.

Selling more than 80,000 products from more than 800 brands; it has made an impressive mark in the last 16 years. And it has seen continued success: last week, it reported a 17% rise in active customers, to 10.9 million.

Nick Beighton, CEO of ASOS, put the results down to investment into its technology and logistics, as well as a constant stream of fresh content. But was he right to attribute this level of success to content?

Our own research has found that customers who have engaged with content in the past (in this case, with an ‘inspiration’ area on an interiors retailer site) are 30%-40% more likely to buy than those who haven’t. The bottom line is that consumers want to be inspired.

However, great content comes with a cost. ASOS had upped its marketing budget by 5.2% to achieve the results it did. So with budget to play with, it is important that retailers are both resourceful and strategic with their content.

Firstly, brands need to get the basics right. Keywords, used throughout any copy, should reflect the search terms that consumers use when looking for a specific product that is discussed.

For example, if ASOS was to publish a blog looking at how to style a summer work wardrobe, in order to promote a new line, it should think about what else people are looking for around the topic. Google Trends informs me that people also look for “capsule work wardrobe” and “work wardrobe essentials” when looking to invigorate their office garb – so these should be worked in to enhance the piece’s natural SEO.

But the content itself should be led by the products people are searching for at that particular moment. This is usually dictated, or at least informed by the seasons.

Festival season, for example, is kicked off by Coachella in April. This is an American festival, famed for A-listers swanning around in their finest boho looks. It sees a peak in searches as photos of celebrities begin to appear across social media and the press, rather than in the lead-up – as to attend Brits need to shell out for a ticket over the Atlantic.

However, the peak in searches means that ASOS and similar fashion brands should look to push out content on festival style right about now to make the most of this uplift.

To truly get to grips with how different products peak across each season, data is key. We build seasonal curves for our clients, which show what people are researching products, as well as when they convert, these are mapped against different moments in time: it’s important to recognise that shopper behaviour varies for each item.

Take the upcoming 2016 Euros, for example. In the longer term, people may be looking to invest in their TVs for an improved viewing experience. In the shorter term, they might be looking to buy a BBQ to throw a party, if the weather is looking good. The more fashion forward might look to ASOS to buy a vintage football kit to celebrate a victory.

All of these buying opportunities occur in reference to one calendar event – but the demand for these products occur at different times in relation to the event. To effectively layer content around the event, brands and retailers need to be aware of what people are looking for and when the demand peaks, to reach people in the right frame of mind.

Content does make a difference when it comes to sales. But the age old principles still applies; retailers need to understand their audiences – and specifically, what they are looking for and when in order to really capitalise on this rich resource.


Republished from The Wall, 22nd April 2016.