ModCloth search strategies cut from a different cloth


Image from: ModCloth

From mp3 players to custom shoes, we’re a culture obsessed with being different. This is apparent in the success of companies that have harnessed crowd sourcing techniques for women’s fashion. The community around ModCloth is clutch because the pictures and comments they add under the product descriptions make you feel more comfortable with buying clothing online. Community aside, the simple fact that a clothing manufacturer actually cares what designs the consumer likes and allows them vote up the best designs is incredibly attractive. If you’re not yet familiar with, I’m certain it’s your fashionable lady friend’s best-kept secret. Putting the shameless gushing over Modcoth’s technology and community aside for a moment, I must comment on what a killer job their marketing department is doing. Whomever works with Modcloth’s paid search campaigns deserves a raise (if I were a recruiter with this information, I’d be looking to poach your team). If you take a look at the graph below, you can see how the paid search spend had directly impacted their growth over the last 2 years (the proof is in the pudding).

ModCloth Total vs. Paid Search Referrals

If you take a closer look at their keyword activity for the last 90 days, 60% of their top 10 keyword phrases include the word “dresses” -of which 80% have over 40% keyword spend. This blows competitors like out of the water.

ModCloth Top 10 Keywords and Paid Search

From a competitive search stand-point they should look out for copy-cats like Judging by the experience I had when searching for “ModCloth” via Google and coming up as a paid referral, the technique of paying for ModCloth’s branded terms (albeit a popular search term) seems to be an ill-fitting strategy.

Total Search Referrals for and

Competitive Recommendations

From an incoming traffic strategy stand-point, could stand to learn something from’s social networking success. For example, if I were ModCloth, I’d be standing over my web developer’s shoulder right now adding Pinterest to my social sharing bar, ShopRuche has more than twice as much traffic from this source as ModCloth does. I’d also likely be spying on ShopRuche’s Twitter stream and engaged followers as well as racking my brain to figure out what connection they have to the look-a-like

If I were I’d be looking into what makes’s search strategy so incredibly vivacious and also checking out if their Facebook activity is most engaging from a “be the buyer” stand-point or if it’s another initiative.

Given some of the information above and your experience with these up-and-coming brands, what observations can you glean? Is ModCloth’s model the future of fashion, or just a passing trend?

About Lindsey Mark:
Lindsey Mark works in Client Relations at Compete and is responsible for the strategic development of client retention and support policies for, with a focus on education and training efforts. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY so she's a certified technology junkie and open source advocate. When she's not thinking about marketing or training digital 007's at compete, she's doing yoga & blogging about gluten-free diet and lifestyle. Find Lindsey on Twitter as @linji, Google Plus as Lindsey Mark or connect with her via LinkedIn.