In a digital space ruled by behemoths like Amazon and department stores with deep pockets, ROI Revolution Director Denis Coombes said brands must be creative, strategic and learn from the expensive mistakes other companies have made in order to drive online profit growth.

For the last three and a half years, ROI Revolution has worked with Silver Jeans Co. to sharpen its online marketing strategy. Coombes joined Mike Girardin, Silver Jeans Co. director of e-commerce, at Fashion Digital New York to outline how the denim brand has intensified its online marketing campaign, turning virtual window shoppers into paying customers.

Here are three takeaways from their discussion.

Know Your Audience
Plug into Facebook. “Look at your Facebook numbers—that will give you an idea of what age group you want to target,” Girardin said. For example, Girardin says the under-18 crowd will never spend anywhere near as much as 35- to 44-year-olds. As a result, the brand aggressively targets its ads to the spenders.

Parental status makes a difference, too. Girardin said by looking at its demographic on Facebook, the company found that mothers tend to spend a lot more and more frequently than non-parents.

No One Likes Non-Branded Key Words
If you have a strong brand and there’s a level of awareness for your brand, consumers will find you by searching branded key words. However, Coombes said brands have trouble making a profit on non-branded key words, like denim and jeans.

“They cost money and don’t always return you the money that you want,” he added. Instead, Coombes said brands must look at non-branded key words as “stepping stones to sales.”

Girardin agreed, noting that everyone he talks to in the industry struggles with non-branded key words. He said Silver Jeans Co. justifies the cost of non-branded key words by looking at the lifetime value of the customer. How much a consumer spends over the course of five or 10 years will help determine how much you want to spend to convert them to a paying customer.

Be Smart About Smartphones
It is finally the year of mobile. Coombes said there’s been a fundamental shift of consumer behavior in the US as more search queries begin on smartphones than desktop computers. “If you are completely ignoring the mobile space you will probably be extinct in the next couple of years,” he said.

Girardin stressed the importance of offering a frictionless, one-click payment option for mobile. He said Silver Jeans Co. sees 50-60 percent of its traffic from mobile, and smartphones account for 80-90 percent of that traffic.

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