‘Mesh’ Your Messaging: How H&M Can Get Digital Right

HM Storefront

Image from: H&M / Shutterstock

There are a number of ways that a company can work towards getting their holistic digital strategy right. Impactful emails, a well-designed website, guerrilla hashtag campaigns, affiliate marketing, et cetera. But mixing together a blend of actions isn’t always enough – and there’s always room for improvement.

First, let’s go over what H&M does brilliantly:

  • For one, their email marketing is killer. Clean images, effective HTML, and catchy titles (as well as coupon codes galore) help drive the fashion-forward to their stores in droves after each new offer.
  • Another is their collaboration with Wrapp, a mobile coupon and gift card wallet that allows you to sometimes send friends extra savings – but more on Wrapp later!
  • H&M features high-profile celebrities, like Miranda Kerr, David Beckham, and Beyonce in their television ads – that bit’s not quite as digital, but still effective.
  • The retailer also masters fast fashion, or rapid trend-following upkeep of their stock.

But what about that third point – their TV strategy? It’s a solid one, to say the least. H&M’s ads tend to be minimalist, highlighting their clothing with catchy music and very little text. Featuring popular celebrities also catches your attention without having to scream for it.

Still — H&M’s current marketing strategy may have many strengths and merits for today, but the future of digital consumption is moving fast. There’s always room for improvement — so let’s explore what that might mean for a retail giant like H&M.

Multitasking Strategy

This space for improvement is in “meshing,” as explored by our 2014 AdReaction research on multiscreen usage. We introduced a number of new words into the marketing dictionary: shifting (non-simultaneous use of multiple screens), stacking (using a second screen while watching TV for unrelated media use), and meshing (using a second screen to complement and engage with television content).

Applying Consumer Behavior

Now, let’s say a consumer sees one of the retailer’s Beyonce/summer 2014 ads on TV and promptly turns to their second device to look up the product (this is meshing).

Beyonce Meshing

The keywords “hm beyonce bikini” immediately yield a link to H&M’s swimwear ecommerce page, but none that efficiently get to the exact item featured in the ad. Another point of concern is that H&M’s 1st-place position on the first SERP (search engine ranking page) comes organically, but direct links to the actual featured product lead to sponsored links from external retailer eBay.

“Shop the look” content isn’t new by any means – but the fact that it exists means that there’s a great space for companies to take ownership of the way their products are found online — as opposed to letting other retailers take up that real estate.

Of course, it makes sense to lead potential customers to the overall swimwear page as opposed to one item. The point of shopping is to acquire more objects.

But if H&M ramped up their meshing strategy by, say, using vanity URLs to lead customers to the exact outfit or collection Beyonce dons in a specific advertisement, they’d potentially get their consumers to their clothing much faster. A mobile-optimized landing page or website section for such requests would be an ideal place for digital multitaskers to immediately grab their tablets or smartphones and add the articles to their carts. Better yet, an investment in streamlining targeted search engine ads with their television ads would help them take control over their corner of the market.

Getting Digital Right

All of this isn’t to say that H&M is lacking in their marketing strategy. On the contrary — the company really does get digital right and consistently delivers powerful content in constantly updated media.

But for all companies looking to develop their digital techniques, behavioral information will become paramount. Understanding the three types of digital behavior is the first step in preparing the advertising experience for the future, and early action creates the potential for a company’s marketing to soar above the competition.

See the AdReaction 2014 study here, or check out behavioral website data from a panel of 2 million US users at Compete.com!

About Johanna Gunawan:
A Political Science/International Affairs sophomore at Northeastern University, Johanna joins Millward Brown Digital as the spring '14 Digital Marketing Co-op. Apart from her interest in digital infrastructure and her majors; Johanna enjoys absurd quantities of imported coffee, haggling for cheap flights, and constantly editing her website. Find her on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.