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Fashion Startups: Acquiring Customers and Marketing Your Brand

At a Glance:

What is Customer Acquisition?

Set Customer Acquisition Goals

Customer Acquisition Strategy for Fashion Startups

Customer Acquisition FAQs

As consumers seek brick and mortar alternatives in a potentially saturated digital landscape, acquiring customers and marketing your fashion startup has become increasingly difficult. Company performance is essential, but early-phase fashion brands must pay close attention to customer satisfaction and customer acquisition costs if they hope to grow their business and stay competitive in an evolving marketplace. 

The fashion industry is known for attracting and retaining notably staunch customers as clothing and accessories brands present the idea of fast fashion with the latest collection of on-trend designs and initiatives. The prominence of e-commerce has captivated digitally-obsessed shoppers and made must-have items accessible to a wider audience, but has also increased competition in the industry for emerging fashion startups. 

Related Article: Leveraging PLM Software to Grow Your Fashion Startup

What is Customer Acquisition?

Customer acquisition is the process of exposing new people to your brand and turning them into paying customers. The idea of customer acquisition seems straightforward for fashion brands; however, pinpointing the exact customer to acquire for your business is a multi-layered process. For fashion startups, it’s not always about reaffirming brand awareness but rather converting curiosity into recurring sales and brand loyalty. Garnering these early relationships with prospective customers is key to maximizing marketing efforts, investor contribution, and ROI as it pertains to customer acquisition.

 Related Article: 8 Ways to Secure Funding for Your Fashion Startup 

Define Your Target Market & Set Customer Acquisition Goals

Establishing sustainable customer acquisition goals goes far beyond the initial transaction phase. We mentioned the idea of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction because repeat business is what generates a consistent revenue stream and the highest return on your acquisition efforts. Repeat customers will also endorse your fashion brand while attracting a similar audience and driving sales through word-of-mouth. 

Taking the following steps will help you develop an effective customer acquisition strategy and provide a steady influx of business to ensure the strength of your fashion startup long-term. 

1. Define your target market: Who is your ideal customer? Are they defined by specific demographics? For example, a children’s clothing brand will likely target parents between the ages of 25 to 35. Are psychographic definitions applicable to your customers? Meaning a sporting goods company might target people interested in outdoor adventure. Whatever details you use to define your customers, ensure they are precise enough to help hone your efforts strategically.

2. Plan your approach: Once your fashion brand defines an ideal customer profile and sets business objectives, ask, “Where can we find these customers?” Answering this question will help you and your team decide whether you plan to obtain customers through lead generation or demand generation. Consider the capacity of your team to manage various acquisition channels like social media, paid ads, and blogs, and don’t take on more than you can handle while getting up and running. 

3. Set sustainable goals: Take time to recognize your key business metrics to set customer acquisition goals that make sense for your brand. Understanding metrics like your average transaction value, profit margins, and monthly budget can help you set goals for your customer acquisition costs that explain what’s working, what’s not working, and where to invest your limited resources. Pulling the plug on a costly acquisition campaign is crucial to keeping your efforts sustainable for your brand long-term. 

Drawing the attention of new consumers and winning their business can be tricky, but once these goals are in place, you can reach new customers through creative acquisition strategies.

Customer Acquisition Strategy for Fashion Startups

When it comes to acquiring customers and marketing your fashion startup, a catchy title and brand imagery will not be enough. Successful customer acquisition strategies are pivotal for fashion brands to gain viewership and showcase products. The tactics and channels you employ must work together to diversify your digital content and engage with customers while establishing your brand tone, voice, and identity. 

Customer acquisition channels are various platforms used to draw new leads, encourage continual web traffic, and achieve a successful customer acquisition ratio. Depending on your current audience, resources, or budget, your fashion brand can implement various paid and free tactics that we will explain for each channel below. 

1. Your Brand Website 

Successful customer acquisition starts with the heart of your business, your website. Before spending a penny on anything else, ensure your website is attractive and easy for customers to transact with your brand. Once those requirements are fulfilled, you can leverage your primary acquisition channel in two impactful ways: content marketing and SEO.

Content marketing is a powerful tactic for customer acquisition. For any industry, creating relevant content is the most effective way to enchant your audience and direct them to your website. In a world of unwanted pop-ups and false advertisements, reliable, highly-curated content goes a long way in establishing consumer trust. 

For example, sharing a blog allows your followers to explore unique topics and learn about the industry. Blogs build rapport among your readers and establish your brand as a thought-leading authority in your space. Blogs provide versatile opportunities to engage with readers through copy, graphics, polls, surveys, FAQs, or calls-to-action with clickable resource links. 

Blogging is the ideal medium for fashion startups to establish trends for their consumer base to follow. Fashion blogs can cover anything from product development to seasonal trends as a way to educate readers on your brand and the industry at large. Guest bloggers are also an impactful resource to increase the credibility of your blog. Whether they are fashion designers or fashion influencers, sharing tips and tools of the trade offers a lot of value for fashion startups. 

The best part about content marketing is that you have free range to create almost any type of content. Examples may include a footwear brand that writes engaging blog content for marathon enthusiasts or a fashion brand that creates videos showcasing the current season’s collection. It’s much more involved than posting memes once per month, but if your content is timely, consistent, and resourceful, then your fashion startup is on the right path toward acquiring customers.

2. Social Media Platforms 

Social media allows fashion startups to establish a brand image and set customer expectations. It is the most dynamic way to engage with an audience and create meaningful conversations and relationships between brand and consumer. Viewers provide instant feedback and opinions on specific posts, which helps build customer profiles and convert inquiries into revenue. 

There are two methods social media uses to drive customer acquisition: organic and paid. Organic social media is used to showcase your brand’s personality, increase awareness, and share digital content such as blogs, video series, interviews, infographics, and so on. Organic social media is a cost-effective tool for fashion brands to create an online community, recognize customer needs, and gauge the response to new products. 

However, if your fashion startup is looking for more immediate results, paid social media advertisements allow your brand to showcase products to a vast audience. Paid exposure means advertising on social media sites to reach your target audience with specific ads created to drive sales through your website and gain meaningful followers. Sponsored posts should offer value to the customer without feeling obtrusive. If your paid campaigns are pitched well but come across as too demanding or forced, then the presence of your advertisement will turn viewers away.  

With so many social media platforms available, allocating your time and budget accordingly matters. Revisit your ideal customer profile to determine where you are most likely to find your potential customers. Below is a quick summary of each of the major platforms:

  • Facebook: While there are plenty of well-known social platforms to focus on, according to Hubspot, 40 percent of marketers still cite Facebook as the tried-and-true platform to provide the most ROI. The platform’s paid advertising options offer the ability to target your ideal customer with pinpoint accuracy but at a premium cost.

  • Instagram: Instagram’s focus on imagery and storytelling makes it an ideal place for brands to define their look and ethos in a way that appeals to customers. Connect with new customers for free and draw them into your website by showcasing new products. You can also leverage Facebook’s paid advertising platform to extend your reach with Instagram ads.

  • Twitter: Start an account and enable your brand to participate in trending conversations that pertain to your customers. Twitter allows you to make your brand relevant and connect with people interested in your content and products.

  • TikTok: While Instagram rules in the realm of imagery, TikTok remains unbeaten when it comes to showing off your brand via video-based content. Fashion and apparel are uniquely visual mediums, making video vital for customer acquisition. You can invest in professional video production or go the more casual route to save money and keep your approach authentic.

TikTok videos allow fashion brands to show consumers what their products look like and how they are worn. Give potential customers a glimpse into your brand’s lifestyle with quick, engaging videos that communicate your story and the value of your products.

3. Influencers

Influencer marketing is a great way to reach an audience positioned to convert interest into sales. Influencers can make your customer acquisition efforts go viral since they already have a loyal fanbase who are likely to purchase a product or invest in a brand recommended by a trusted, well-known name. 

For fashion startups, if an influencer recommends your brand, it can motivate other consumers who want to adopt the lifestyle and look of the people they admire. There are multiple tiers to this customer acquisition approach that takes some time to get started (and often a significant amount of cash), but establishing these relationships will work to reaffirm the credibility of your brand and confidence in your product.

Start by identifying potential influencers that make sense for your brand with a following that overlaps your ideal customer profile. You can reach out personally to get a conversation started or sign up with any of the newly available influencer marketing platforms to explore the possibilities for your brand.

4. Search Engine Marketing and Optimization (SEO) 

Similar to social media, there are organic and paid options for search marketing. Organic search refers to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO enhances marketing efforts with targeted keywords that optimize content and improve search engine results pages (SERP). 

Let us explain: When you search for something on Google or any other platform, you will often click on the first link you see. These are the results you want an SEO strategy to deliver. Ideally, your website, products, and the content you produce will show up toward the top of a results page and entice viewers to head to your website. Digital content like product descriptions and images should be easily found by potential customers and capture their attention without leading them to search through pages of content. 

SEO is still a mystery in a lot of ways, but there are some proven techniques to help your fashion brand rank higher: 

  • Include focus keywords in product descriptions and blog titles 
  • Link internally and externally within your content
  • Add alt text to accompany images 
  • Optimize your page loading speeds
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
  • Utilize product videos to keep visitors engaged on your site 
  • Suggest products that others purchased to help visitors browse more pages

If your brand hopes to improve SEO efforts and rank higher, creating indexable content that search engines can detect and decrypt with a SERP will go a long way. 

While 64 percent of marketers prioritized and invested in organic SEO in 2020, paid search marketing, or pay-per-click (PPC), is equally important. Paid search is a marketing tactic where advertisers place ads on platforms like Google or Bing. In most cases, you will start by paying per click on your ads, but by integrating e-commerce data into your advertiser account, many platforms allow you to set your maximum cost per acquisition on ads. That is the best way to ensure you are not spending more than you can afford to bring in new business. 

Paid search advertising allows your fashion brand to create search results and pay for them to rank, in addition to optimizing content organically. Platforms like Google and Bing offer “Shopping Ads” that allow you to showcase your brand and products in appealing formats for customers who are ready to buy. You can also run traditional ads that highlight your brand’s website when searching relevant terms. Boosting content in this way requires a steady budget, but your brand is more likely to be discovered by high-intent prospective customers. 

5. Email Marketing 

When brands collect customer information through these various acquisition methods, they build an organized email list to leverage content and engage long-term for repeat sales. Email is an effective way to connect with your customers and keep your products top-of-mind. Your fashion startup can share content, helpful tips, promotional events — you name it. 

Specific links within your email campaign can inform you of what consumers are interested in. Conversely, those who unsubscribe from your email list provide insight into how people respond to and engage with your content. Email marketing tracks and monitors consumer behavior without being overly invasive or asking too many questions. Your brand will receive direct access to an individual’s inbox if they open your email, whereas social media and search marketing do not have that capability. 

Informing customers of upcoming sales, events, or early-access offers is an excellent way for fashion startups to connect with audiences and drive sales. If done well, email marketing will lead to high conversion rates because your fashion brand can tailor your communication specifically to people who are likely to provide feedback and engage. 

6. Word-of-Mouth Marketing 

Word-of-mouth marketing is an often overlooked customer acquisition strategy. We’re not talking about door-to-door salesmen, but this channel can be triggered by an individual’s experiences and reflected in their dialogue with others. Companies can encourage consumer-to-consumer interactions by providing incentives for shoppers to share their products or services. For example, fashion brands may include a ‘refer a friend’ option with a coupon code during checkout. Additionally, an organization might offer to donate a portion of each sale to its charity of choice. These tactics are used to create a buzz around your brand and garner interest in your products.

Providing a section on your website for feedback and reviews is another way to get others to engage with your brand and share positive sentiments. If you actively respond to customer inquiries and exceed expectations through excellent customer service, consumers are more likely to pass the word to others. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool as 92 percent of shoppers trust the opinions of friends and family over traditional media platforms. 

Related Article: What is Dynamic Data?

Customer Acquisition Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you measure customer acquisition costs? 

Customer acquisition cost is determined by dividing marketing costs associated with a specific product launch or marketing campaign by the number of new customers generated from that campaign. 

  • How do you minimize customer acquisition costs? 

Your fashion startup can minimize customer acquisition costs in several ways — improve website conversions and take advantage of free opportunities to promote your business. Leveraging social media and word-of-mouth marketing are powerful ways to reach new customers without additional expenses.

  • How do you make your customer acquisition strategy sustainable? 

Understand how much your brand can afford to spend and regularly monitor your paid campaigns to optimize results. As we shared above, knowing when to cut out a particular marketing channel is the best way to ensure you don’t overspend with no potential for breaking even or turning a profit. 

Have the resources in place for your marketing content to drive organic traffic for months and years to come. Whether your team is writing blogs or creating digital ads, inbound content marketing creates a sustainable flow of consumers. 

  • What is customer churn? 

Also known as customer attrition or customer turnover, the churn rate is the percentage of users that distance themselves from your business and don’t return to purchase your products. The ideal customer is a repeat customer, so offering friendly customer service, easy return or exchange programs, and high-quality products that customers will love are necessary elements of growing your brand successfully.

  • What is customer lifetime value?

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the total value a customer brings over their lifetime with your brand. If your average customer purchases $500 worth of products each year and remains a customer for an average of 5 years, your gross customer lifetime value would be $2,500 on average. Apply your brand’s profitability margins to find a net value that you can use to set limits for customer acquisition spending.

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Acquire Customers with Backbone

Acquiring customers for your fashion startup is about solving problems and answering consumer demand. To achieve these goals, proper product development is a must. The best acquisition strategy your brand can take is adopting a dynamic, cloud-based PLM solution to innovate, design, and develop new products at digital speed. 

If your fashion startup seeks to create products faster while scaling for growth, refer to our selection of case studies, blogs, and customer reviews to learn more about the role PLM software plays in a successful product development cycle.

    Ready to see what Backbone PLM can do for your fashion startup? Schedule a free demo today!