Social stories: Marks and Spencer

6 minute read

Following on from our previous social stories we thought it was time to look at a British high street retailer – to see how they use online marketing to interact with customers and promote their business. What better example than Marks and Spencer.

Marks and Spencer were founded in 1884 and today have over 700 stores in the UK, selling clothing, food and homeware. In their last annual report they announced an annual turnover of £8.4 billion. But how do they use online marketing?

Email newsletters

Firstly, let’s look at their website. At the bottom of their homepage they advertise both their social media pages and their email marketing newsletter. While it could be more prominent, there is a clear customer call to action and once an email address is entered, you’re taken to a new page to fill in the rest of the details. The website is clean and their data capture form allows the consumer to choose which topics are of interest. As a follow up, they then send a welcome email.  What’s great here is that their data capture form gives subscribers the freedom and opportunity to tell them what they’re interested in – and what can be better for a business? You can then easily target subscribers, and ensure you’re sending the most relevant content, in theory helping to keep unsubscription rates low.

SMS marketing

As well as email marketing, Marks and Spencer also give consumers an opportunity to sign up to receive free SMS text alerts. While they haven’t stated how often you’ll receive texts, consumers are told they’ll receive the latest information, offers and details of special events straight to their mobile phone. The high street retailer are using email, SMS and social media and what’s great is that it can all be seen on the homepage on their website giving customers the instant feeling that these marketing methods are important to them. The customer doesn’t have to deal with the frustration of trying to find out information.

Sharing options

Another great feature about the retailer’s website is their inclusion of social sharing links on all product pages. This means customers can share any Marks and Spencer product with their friends on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. For any business these social links are quick and easy to integrate on a website and from a customer point of view, a nice feature to see on their product pages. Most businesses would love to see their products shared across social media websites as this is instant and viral promotion.

Social media content

When you first click through to Marks and Spencer’s Facebook page you’re greeted with a welcome page, encouraging you to click that all important ‘Like’ button. For any business, a landing page is easy to set up and allows for a friendly way of introducing your business to potential fans.

The page itself is full of content – photos, their latest newsletter and links to interesting content. Their updates are nicely balanced and relevant. For example, two days before St. Patricks day they posted an update advertising themed flowers for the celebrations and at the beginning of March they talked about pancake day. These types of updates are conversational, instead of just promoting their business – exactly as we feel Facebook should be used. Marks and Spencer have also recently used Facebook events to promote a ‘one day wardrobe clearout’, a technique that can help campaigns quickly become viral.

Customer interactions

One thing that’s a little disappointing to see is the decision to not allow fans to post comments on their wall. While they can comment on updates the wall feature has been disabled, although Marks and Spencer do respond to customer comments within updates. However, a look on their Twitter page tells us that this is the primary method they’re using to talk to customers and they are spending the time to talk to people talking about the business and respond to questions. Their updates are also friendly, informative and send a clear message about their brand. They’ve even run competitions where followers can win vouchers – a great incentive to follow a business.

What we can learn from Marks and Spencer

It’s great to see a website so fully integrated with online marketing, not just social media, but clear links to sign up to both email and SMS marketing messages. SMS marketing especially is an upcoming way of promoting businesses and it’s great to see this British retailer utilising the channel. Their social media pages are friendly, and updates are written to help strike a conversation. If you’re going to use multiple marketing methods they need to be fully implemented across the board, and Marks and Spencer have certainly achieved that.

We hope you’ve found this social story interesting, and if you’d like to see a specific social story, get in touch with us in the comments box below!