How TheOutnet stole the show through content and innovation

This week at Shift 2016, Andres Sosa, Executive Vice President of the online retailer TheOutnet.com, gave a talk on innovation and content-creation.

It reminded us how his company managed to dominate one of the biggest fashion trade shows in the UK and gain an estimated 25 million unpaid pieces of media impressions, and a 318% increase in brand mentions, all from a five day event.

And what had spurred on this sudden popularity and engagement? TheOutnet had thought originally and creatively, and decided to actively sniff out the trends of London Fashion Week 14, themselves.

But this was not just a synonym for having a team of marketers conducting some thorough research or sending in a Journalist to ask a question or two. No, TheOutnet took an entirely spontaneous route and chose to literally send in a four legged friend to report at London Fashion Week.

Their aim? To directly access a group of key industry influencers- Fashion Editors and Designers, and more specifically, their feet!

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TheOutnet had realised that as good as 50% of their revenue, was coming from Mobile and Andres recalls: “From the social media point of view, the category that generated the most amount of engagement was shoes, specifically on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter”.

What TheOutnet did with those two key findings was ingenious. A real-time play on words and emotions and an innovative, original marketing stunt. TheOutnet decided to take some creative license and, working on the assumption that “every woman loves a dog”- sent in a Sausage Dog to LFW, armed with a go-pro, to sniff out the latest shoe trends.

Que ‘Sergio the Dog’, the perfect agent to ensure share-ability.

The full approach? Sergio was sent in to identify the latest trends and designer favourites and to get up close and personal with some of the most fashionable faces in the industry, from a dogs-eye-view.

He matched the shoes that these influencers were wearing, with outfits which TheOutnet stocked, so that customers could shop the trends, as they were occurring!

This was clever, innovative marketing which generated a desire for engagement, and in-turn, a responsive podium for content creation and sharing. As Andres said “It’s about… really understanding your customer, in order to truly engage them, in a fun way.”

Sergio hijacked the outlets’ social channels, including creating his own Microsite around the event, and updating daily highlight videos, live feeds and various images and comments on his observations.

Because of existing consumer engagement on social media, around shoes, TheOutnet placed particular focus on generating and circling the content that Sergio was creating; on their Instagram and Twitter channels. Sergio entirely took over the outlet’s Instagram platform for the five days of the event, and constantly tweeted about his adventures and invaluable style tips!

The results? Outstanding. TheOutnet gained a huge following, tripling their Twitter engagement and doubling the bulk of its Facebook followers each day that the campaign ran.

Three quarters of these fans came from organic search rather than paid, and a quarter came from people directly searching #SergioShoeHunter, suggesting active awareness and engagement.

TheOutnet increased their social-media following by over 5,5000 followers in 9 days and immediately earned the interest of influential vloggers and celebrities in the fashion industry- with various models and fashion editors even featuring Sergio on their channels and tweeting or retweeting about Sergio over 300 times. Sergio the Dog was mentioned more on Twitter than Vogue was!

And to generate this buzz- content was key! Andres said “Content – for us is really important. It is really at the heart of what we do, so we say that it runs in the DNA of the company”. He voiced that TheOutnet aims to create content in-store but, ultimately, focuses their content creation off-site, on their social-media channels.

Innovation pushes things further, but content can push things beyond that. I’m sure many would agree. Businesses need to take the time to listen in and analyse their consumer’s behaviours. What are they doing, where? What data can we draw from these insights that can help us decide the direction we should take?

But analysing and identifying key trends is one piece of the pie. The next, is identifying novel and unpredictable ways of interacting. Providing something which the consumer is not getting from a competitor, which stimulates them on various levels. And once you’ve connected? Allow things to go further. Generate great content to spread it, share it and make the most of it.

The Outnet managed to create a fun, unique and memorable experience for their consumers and key influencers to share in, and kept each of those groups informed, engaged and interactive along the way.

Through this unique, entertaining and innovative marketing stunt, equally fun and innovative content was able to be created and the campaign achieved levels of engagement both on social, and in print, worldwide; which TheOutnet had never imagined it would.

The bulk of followers came from Instagram, where they had focused no media-spend, but simply generated and shared content on the one-time experience.

Andres notes that “the US market is a very crowded space … difficult to cut through and expensive, but … through Sergio we managed to actually get some traction”. TheOutnet’s site was flooded with its highest ever volume of traffic to its shoes, and they saw a 92% uplift in interaction, with shoe sales.

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Andres puts this all down to 3 key things, which he defines as TheOutnets mantra. Firstly, “think like the customer- know them!”, secondly “be creative” and thirdly “make sure you are having fun” … you, your teams and your customer… because if this is happening “you are generating engagement”.

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