We love online marketing because it offers the great advantage of being able to hit large numbers of people with extremely good returns on investment. Traditionally, when we saw mass market media we tended to ignore them for higher end products. The risk of devaluing the brand is far too high, so very few marketers of luxury products would ever take it.
So is there scope for marketing higher value items online? Of course there is, you just need to keep a few things in mind when planning your digital strategy. Some best practices simply extend into the realm of high-value items, gaining more importance.
Look & feel
First impressions count, and in this market, first impressions really make or break your campaigns. High net worth individuals are usually very busy people. Anything that caters for them should feel immediately familiar. There is a very distinct set of aesthetic values that sets luxury brands apart, make sure your brand follows these while being communicative and evoking intellectual intrigue. Functionality should also be seamless, no fiddly controls or long and roundabout procedures.
Unfortunately you cannot really target people by net worth or income levels, but there is still a lot of scope for more of a pin-point approach to marketing luxury items. With careful planning and execution you should be able to get to the right sites to place your ads on. If you advertise on the Google Adwords network, then take the time to research which sites you want to limit your ads to. It might also be worth your while to connect with a few top sites in your sector and purchasing advertising placement manually or working with them on lead generation campaigns.
Quality over quantity
In general you have to accept that the higher the value of the product, the higher your cost per acquisition is. This, however, works out well anyway, to a certain extent, because we are usually looking for a smaller number of clients. The problem this brings along with it, however, is that you can’t rely on numbers alone. You should concentrate much more on analysing the quality of your leads than the raw quantity, because even if you’re paying a lot for them, they might not necessarily be the kind of leads that you need. It is much better to be attracting ten high net-worth individuals than a thousand droolers.
Superior deliverables and service
If you’re charging more for your products because they offer something better than your competitors, then you have to make sure that the whole customer experience matches this. Set SLAs that will determine how long your customer service takes to answer customer queries online, prescribe a tone of voice, and offer something extra. Use social media to extend your service, and if you can afford it, also use social media to solve your customers’ problems, even if you’re not the cause of the problems in the first place. Being nice to people online is a sure-fire way of gaining respect, but going the extra mile for a select group of customers can build the kind of brand loyalty that money just can’t buy.
We’ve already gone over the importance of having clear and concise messages that are well-presented, but we cannot really emphasise how essential it is to have responsive designs and coding for all your online material. Responsive design adapts itself to different devices, so that the content on your website appears differently based on the screen size and type it is being displayed on. You might really love the look of that navigation bar which is small and sleek on a desktop where you’re using a mouse to navigate, but try hitting them with pudgy fingers on a small mobile phone screen and you’ll be pressing the back button to leave the site after your second attempt at hitting the store button. Chances are you’ll never return.
The internet has made the possibility of virtual gated communities a reality, and if you have the budget for it, creating your own community and keeping your customers engaged on it is the ultimate way to build brand loyalty. Even if you do not have the time or resources to build your own, there are quite a few of them out there that are just waiting to be tapped into. A Small World (www.asmallworld.com) is a classic example of a community of affluent (mainly) young adults who are interested in networking with other similar people.
At the end of the day, if you carry the values that made your luxury product a success into the digital world, you should have no problems building the right audience for your brand. Once you have the audience sorted, the rest will follow.
Below we’ve collected some of the sites we admire, and why we love them:
Gucci’s site follows in the footsteps of its products: it is well-designed, works well, and developed to impress. It is also great at showing off offers and/or new products. Gucci also have an impressive following on social media: 12 million likes on Facebook, 2.5 million on Google+, and around a million each on Twitter and Instagram. Not too shabby. Oh, and they even have their own app on iTunes.
Ralph Lauren’s site is beautiful and easy to use. It also offers loads of content, designed to keep you stuck on the site for ages. Their Style Guide is a virtual magazine which helps devoted buyers keep up to date with all the latest trends while RL Magazine is an online roundup of feature articles about luxury living. The brand has over 7 million Facebook likes and posts very regularly.
I’m meant to tell you to steer clear of Flash. I’m meant to tell you that you should not even dream of having a site that won’t work on mobile. I’m meant to tell you a whole lot of things. But instead I’m here, pressing another box, exploring another corner, magnifying another picture and watching another video clip. The Hermes site takes all the things you should not do about a site, does them all and comes up with a magical result that will suck you in (as long as you’re at your computer or at your iPad).
Rolex understood a long time ago that collaborations with major upmarket events can help boost their brand. Their site acts as a perfect extension to this belief and covers all the international sporting events that they associate themselves with. Rolex’s site is a joy to behold, easy to navigate, mobile friendly and highly shareable. The fact that they have well-written articles and stunning photography does not hurt, either.
(A shorter version of this article first appeared in Money Magazine – www.moneymag.me)