How did Country Road see an x18 return on adspend? This is an exclusive report from our April edition. To subcribe and read more stories like this head here.

Imagine being able to tap into over 15 million and nine million Australian customers every month. Think about giving them a daily call to action. This is number of local active users on Facebook and Instagram offers respectively.

Before shaking off the platforms merely as a means to communicate with those already engaged with a brand's online presence, consider two points.

The mobile generation is here to stay. Australians are increasingly using their smart phones to shop online, with purchases made from a mobile device growing 52%, according to statistics from Australia Post.

Combine that with insights from Zenith, which revealed social media advertising to be the fastest-growing component of internet advertising. It grew 51% in 2016, and it is predicted to grow at an average rate of 20% a year to 2019.

These figures reveal a trend, a pattern that indicates more and more people are flocking to social media channels to research brands and products.

Facebook head of retail Kate Box says this is an important note to remember, as both platforms enjoy a strong following that use their mobiles to search for fashion-related content.

“We have a significant audience on both those platforms and we know that a large percentage of them, running into the millions, are highly interested and engaged with fashion content.

“We can see that fashion brands are using the platforms in the role of 'discovery'.

“Over 90% of how Facebook is consumed is on a mobile device, rather than a desktop, with Instagram being almost entirely.
“Think of mobile as mobile feeds and the fact that they are incredibly powerful places for fashion brands to have their products, and in some cases have the brand itself, discovered.”

Box points out that this shouldn't come as a surprise to retailers, as each platform is seeing a strong uptake from brands operating in the fashion space.

“We are seeing growth in the platform and fashion is a popular category. We know through a Deloitte study that it is now 58% of women's apparel decisions that have a digital touch point.

“This means that before someone purchases in the apparel space, they are using digital to either search for that product, to research that product or to discover that product.

“We know that a significant amount of that is done on mobile. It's about 38% of purchases that have a mobile digital touch point.

“This means that the businesses are following the consumers, their following that consumer behaviour and therefore are more active on our platforms as a result.”

Country Road is one of those Australian retailers.

In 2015, the brand created a visual and mobile-driven Facebook ad strategy to promote its “Holiday 2015” campaign.

The use of social media advertising led to an x18.2 incremental return on ad spend across both online and in-store sales.

A more recent example saw the brand once again tap into Instagram's 'stories' capabilities to market its CR capsule collection.

In this instance, Country Road saw a average return of x18.05 on ad spend.

Country Road marketing manager channels Paul Conti says the campaign saw conversions outside the CR collection itself, as the platform acts as a visually engaging touchpoint for a multitude of shoppers.

“We saw the traffic that was coming through those ads were purchasing the capsule range but were also purchasing other collections too.

“It was a great entry point into the brand for other people to take a look into all the other collections we have available as well.

“For us when you're talking about fashion and community engagement, Instagram was just a natural fit.”

Outdoor apparel brand Kathmandu has also seen success with Facebook and Instagram advertising. Its campaign yielded a 6% lift in ad recall, reached 5.5 million customers and saw a x8.6 return on ad spend.

Box says these two cases are good examples of how the two social platforms' successes are based on what the key objectives are.

“But importantly Country Road was targeting its existing loyalty database and Kathmandu was attracting new customers.

“They wanted to attract a younger audience to the brand because they had a shift in brand metrics with some younger people.

“So it is a great example of a different objective having a different KPI put on it.

“You are going to get better return on people who already shop your brand than you will from investing in raising awareness and getting new people into the fold to shop your brand. “

“You are going to get quite varied results depending on who you are targeting and what your core objective is, whether that is reach or that's driving conversions.

“There isn't one answer to what you would get from say, $10,000. It is about optimising for a particular business result.”

However, when it comes to the story of budget, size does matter. Just not necessarily in the way you might think.
While it's obvious that brands with larger budgets can spend more on campaigns, brands with smaller budgets often opt to only use Instagram.

“As a general trend with the global brands we work with, like global luxury brands, because they have a more significant budget they can choose to build their strategies across both platforms,” Box says.

“What they are doing is they are telling the algorithm about the people they want to reach and we are just reaching those people in the best and most cost effective way through Facebook or Instagram.”

Box says that while budget is a contributing factor to how a brand advertises on a platform, less established labels recognise that Instagram could soon replace more traditional methods of advertising.

“For the smaller players in the market, they tend to gravitate more toward Instagram. It lends itself to a higher understanding of the fact that it can play a role like magazines once did.

“New brands, that are largely launching on our platform, will have an almost 'always on' strategy as well. This is where it is small amounts being invested every single week, to drive awareness.

But what works for fashion brands on these social channels? Box says fashion is one the more experimental categories, keeping up to date with the most visually engaging updates.

“The important trends we are seeing are video, whether it is Boomerangs or slightly longer videos, used to capture attention in the feed.

“That is being used in both paid and organic content that the brands are using. We are also seeing a lot of experimentation in stories as well.

“They are really engaging with both of those areas to drive discovery.

“More so the paid element, where we are seeing the brands want to focus on generating sales and calls to action to shop now. That tends to fall more broadly under the paid element of what they do.”

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