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Bonobos and Warby Parker Use Social Media Analytics To Increase Engagement, Enrich Curation

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This is Part III of Retail TouchPoints’ multi-part feature investigating trends and developments in social media analytics and the business intelligence the technique provides. This segment focuses on insights from two leading retailers, based on their current, real-world social media analytics applications. RTP’s June 19 newsletter will reveal similar insights from other retail leaders. The series will conclude in the July 10 newsletter with “Advice For Retailers,” offered by several of the analysts, vendors and retailers participating in this update.

If retailers want the consumer-to-brand relationship to be as strong as possible, it’s no wonder they’re intensifying their social media efforts, and the use of analytics that gauge their programs’ success.

In fact, social media sites generate the most consumer traffic outside of advertising for Bonobos, an online-only retailer of men’s apparel, according to Craig Elbert, VP of Analytics for the eTailer. “Our social outlets are the second-largest traffic drivers to our web site, so clearly we know there is significant success being generated by the social communities we are building, and our consumer-to-brand relationships are being strengthened by this traffic.”

But unlike many retailers that analyze social efforts to pinpoint straight ROI of one program, channel or content campaign over another, Bonobos is most concerned with level of engagement. “Our primary goal is not to blindly maximize the number of site visits from each social community,” Elbert told Retail TouchPoints. “By getting hung up on that, we might overlook the larger goal of our social media efforts, which is to engage and interact with our customers.

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It’s an interesting balance: We’re a very data-driven organization, so we always want to understand the numbers of our business, including social efforts. But, more importantly, we want to humanize our brand within social media by connecting one-on–one with consumers, then speak to them, not at them, in a voice that is authentic, not pushy or salesy.” 

The problem with social media marketing from a brand perspective is “that many brands are too concerned with number of ‘Likes’ and followers, but that’s irrelevant,” added David Fudge, Director of Consumer Engagement and Innovation, Bonobos. “What you really want is a high level of engagement, which is not achieved through a manufactured audience, but a quality one.”

To determine that engagement, Bonobos relies on a combination of tools, including the basic metrics provided by Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter Web Analytics. “Google Analytics shows us organic referral traffic and revenue data, which we marry with information from Facebook and Twitter to identify engagement and reach, among other findings,” reported Fudge.

After engagement, numbers related to new customer acquisition and repeat purchase rates come to the forefront at Bonobos. “With these goals in mind, we look at the resources and analytics available to us to measure the total amount of traffic generated from repeat visitors, and the total revenues we are driving,” Elbert stated. “By cross referencing the tools, we can see specifically the content that is resonating and translating into traffic and revenue. We then use a marketing platform from Buddy Media for more social marketing insight into Facebook and Twitter, and Buddy Media’s analytics dashboard for more graphical detail of the types of people we are reaching. We relate that data back to the platform and type of content we are distributing to determine what works and what doesn’t. This approach also gives us additional information about customer engagement. So, it’s really a combination of different sources that gets us to the information we think is most valuable.”

Following are screenshots of the sample data Bonobos receives from the Buddy Media dashboard to determine which content is performing best:

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Content Sharing Boosts Interest In Brands

Moving forward, Bonobos is experimenting with image sharing sites such as Pinterest, where consumers are sharing millions of images of the things they love. “We want our products and brand to be a part of that conversation,” said Fudge, “and image sharing perfectly with our business model.”

Fudge said Bonobos will continue to investigate new platforms like Pinterest and other social curation content. In the future, “information mined from platforms like these, combined with our consumer data, will be leveraged to produce a highly personalized shopping experience,” Fudge stated. “We are focused on building the foundation of this experience today. It’s an approach that offers a world of possibilities, and is particularly exciting because it’s never been done before.”

As leading retailers like Bonobos continue to look seriously at Pinterest, traffic on the image-bookmarking site is flourishing. According to comScore, Pinterest obtained 18.7 million unique visitors in the U.S. in March 2012, compared with 17.8 million a month earlier, and 11.7 million in January 2012. Those levels since have hiccupped then surged again, but one thing is clear: Pinterest is the third-most-popular social network in the U.S., behind Facebook and Twitter, according to an April 4, 2012, blog on Experian Marketing Services’ “Marketing Forward” web site.

With Pinterest’s gain in traction come the companies dedicated to analyzing the site’s performance and impact on brands. Curalate states on its web site that it is the world’s first monitoring, analytics and brand intelligence platform focused on social curation. Its goal is to help brands form stronger relationships with consumers and help consumers discover great content. The Curalate tool combines sophisticated image recognition algorithms with scalable Big Data technologies to provide a comprehensive understanding of a brand’s social curation presence.

Warby Parker Analyzes Social Curation

Warby Parker, an eTailer of boutique-quality prescription eyewear, with an established working revenue model for Pinterest, uses Curalate to analyze what people are saying on Pinterest ― in pictures, not words ― about its products.

The company turned to Curalate because “as soon as we saw traffic from Pinterest begin to grow, we wanted to know more,” reported Jen Rubio, Head of Social Media Marketing for Warby Parker, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. ”For example, what content is being pinned from our site? How many more impressions are our products getting from those pins?” She said that while Google Analytics shows conversion data, Curalate allows Warby Parker to dig deeper.

“We know from our ‘Home Try-on’ orders coming through Pinterest that this site has enabled users to discover the Warby Parker brand,” said Rubio. “But through Curalate, we also know details such as customers drawn to our brand by images of our bolder frames may actually end up with more classic styles in their ‘Home Try-on’ selection. In addition, we’ve been able to build out our Pinterest community more easily by using Curalate to respond to customer comments on pinned images,” she continued. “The content on our boards has become more strategic from the data we’ve gathered from Curalate. It’s also helpful to know which boards and images resonate most with our followers, so we can become better curators.”

Salesforce Radian6 also offers Pinterest monitoring tools, used most notably by GNC. “We think Pinterest is going to change the way companies think about how they graphically represent content,” said Rob Begg, VP of Marketing for Salesforce Radian6. “Already the site has been keeping the attention of its users at a higher rate than Twitter did at a comparable point in history,” he reported.

In addition to image sharing sites, the Radian6 platform ― at the core of PacSun’s social media analytics efforts ― scours Twitter, Facebook, blogs, mainstream news, forums, videos and more, pulling in hundreds of millions of posts each day. That data is layered with demographics, influence, sentiment, intentions and more to give retailers better insight into what’s being said and shared about them on the web. More often, results are being used to improve not just social marketing, but many operational areas within of the retail organization.

“Retailers are sharing these detailed insights with teams from design and merchandising through to the supply chain to help shape their store environments,” said Begg. “We also see retailers use these analyses for hiring purposes: For example, they want to know how they are perceived as employers, with the goal of improving and attracting a better group of employees with higher retention levels.”

As far as cost, “the money retailers spend on an eight-page advertisement in a major metropolitan area, or even on one focus group, can pay for several years of social listening,” claimed Begg. “When it comes to social media analytics, the issue is rarely cost, it’s resources ― being able to dedicate the people to roll up their sleeves and devote themselves to listening to, profiling and analyzing social media to determine what their customers really want.”


Part IV of RTP’s update on Social Media Analytics will continue in the June 19 newsletter. It will conclude July 10 with “Advice For Retailers,” offered by several of the analysts, vendors and retailers participating in this update. Click here to read Parts I and II.

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