Fossil Keeps Up with the Times through Shoppable Images

The retailer is increasing engagement via user-generated photos and the ability to make purchases directly from images.

Are you fluent in images? To reach today's consumers, marketers need a savvy understanding of the various ways consumers communicate through photo-heavy platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. With more than 400 million monthly active users on Instagram and 100 million monthly users on Pinterest, it's essential that retailers get their social media and image strategy right.

1to1 Media caught up with Jencey Keeton, global marketing and digital brand manager at Fossil Group, to discuss the retail company's strategy for engaging Millennial shoppers through images and the data that's driving its strategy.

1to1 Media: How would you describe Fossil's average customer? Is it someone who is a heavy social media user?

Jencey Keeton: Our average customer is actually a little older than a Millennial but we're starting to see more interest from younger customers, especially through social media. It's important to speak to Millennials and we're using social CRM to better understand the purchase patterns of that demographic. In 2014 we began doing a lot of work getting in front of a group that we call "fashionables." These are people who are conscious about style and are tech savvy.

How are you getting in front of the "fashionables" and how are you measuring those results?

We know that consumers are moving from Facebook to other platforms like Instagram and Pinterest but there haven't been a lot of tools that were great for measurements or engagement on image platforms. Then we found Curalate. They're able to integrate with Pinterest and Instagram and provide in-depth analytics like follower growth, organic reach, and engagement.

Curalate also work with our care team to look for hashtag correlations and things that have been pinned from our site and interacting with those consumers. They have an automated system that allows us to ask people for permission to repost their photos of our products. We look for photos with hashtags like #fossilstyle or #fossil and fans love it when we share their images.

We quickly saw an increase in engagement once we started doing more with our images. For instance, we weren't seeing a lot of traffic from Instagram but Curalate has a Like2Buy feature that lets fans shop the images [by clicking a link on the photo that takes them to the brand's online store]. Within a few months after adding shoppable feeds to our Instagram profile, Instagram went from zero to 16 percent of our social traffic.

What are the types of images that resonate with your customers?

It's interesting for us that while most brands see a lot of engagement from lifestyle photos, our research shows us that our fans want to see products in a day-to-day use. We have different names for those types of photos like "from where I stand," "bag-in-hand," and "wrist view." These photos are really popular on Instagram and Pinterest and they give our fans ideas on how to take great photos.

We know that having user-generated content on products also increases engagement and potential to buy so we've implemented a tool that lets us gather user-generated photos that we have permission to share in a gallery on our site and Facebook and Instagram. It's a gallery of street styles that's meant to be inspirational. Our team is doing a lot of measurements over the next six months to see how this affects time on site and conversions.

What are the key metrics you're using to track images from engagement to conversion?

We look at the images in two different ways. On the brand side, we don't have high conversion goals. We're interested in engaging the fans and growing our fan base. So typically when we look at images, we look at reach and impressions and interactions with images such as likes, comments, or shares. We also look at the quality of the engagement on the photos. If we notice that a photo has a higher than average engagement, we'll look at what fans are saying about it. We also try to get as close as we can to comparing what's driving traffic in terms of paid, owned, and earned media versus the products that are driving the most conversions. We try to look at everything from a 360-degree view and the more analytics and strategy we can provide for the creative team, the better our content performs.

What social media trends are you keeping an eye on?

Social is constantly shifting. For a while, I thought the influencer bubble was going to pop. But now with the growth of Instagram and mobile, it's becoming more important than ever to partner up with influencers to create content that reaches their direct audiences instead of brands just pushing the content themselves. I think that'll continue to be a trend-brands will have to figure out how to authentically reach their target audience as ad platforms become more cluttered.