How Online Fashion Retailer Bonobos Suits Up Its Content Strategy

When Bonobos opened its online store in 2007, selling men’s pants, it did so with the idea that many men prefer to click and shop rather than walk into a brick and mortar location.

By taking the virtual route with its product, the New York-based online retailer of trendy men’s clothing had no choice but to build an exceptional ecommerce experience of its brand using web and social marketing.

Contently recently caught up with Richard Mumby, vice president of marketing at Bonobos, to learn how the company keeps its name at the forefront of men’s online fashion.

Contently: The content strategy at Bonobos is fairly extensive. What kind of content do you produce and what need does each type of content fill?

Bonobos: Bonobos does produce a wide range of content — from product, to social, to email — and each serves a specific purpose.

Content for Bonobos starts with our product. As a largely web-driven retailer, we must provide ample context around our products and create a distinct brand position. We craft a story of how each product was conceived, how we could foresee a customer wearing it, or a creative, funny story to entertain our customers. The content is usually connected in one way or another with our product names, which are individually conceived — often bringing the humor and irreverence of our brand to life.

Without a physical retail store, it is critical to develop a social environment. We use our social content to create a sense of community where we contextualize our brand without explicit focus on transactions. This tact deepens the relationship with customers, which is apparent from frequent Facebook posts, questions, and responses to our content.

We know that email is a critical channel to drive revenue, but an explicit focus on transactional emails only exhausts customers and doesn’t provide a more premium brand position. We spend a lot of time finding ways to include editorial content in our regular cadence of emails. Also, we have a set schedule of campaigns around contests, events, and Bonobos culture.

Contently: How does your content strategy integrate with your company?

Bonobos: The company started by selling pants, but we’ve always focused on developing a distinct brand in the men’s apparel space. Content is a large component of how we’ve done this — from video chats by founder and CEO Andy Dunn, to a long history of blog posts. We also hire many creative people, and we encourage employees to contribute to various content platforms.

Contently: How much and how often do you publish?

Bonobos: While we don’t have a publishing calendar, we release new content nearly daily in the form of product launches, social media campaigns, blog posts, or email initiatives.

ContentlyWhat types of content have been the most well-received?

Bonobos: Our social media campaigns are the easiest to track in terms of engagement, response and ROI. Most recently, we held a private customer event in New York City hosted by NBA All-Star Deron Williams around the launch of our Foundation Suit collection. We asked our guests at the event to check-in on Foursquare and share photos from the party via Instagram and Twitter using #BonobosSuitsU for the chance to take home one of the new suits.

We also invited customers around the country to join in the conversation surrounding the event on social media. They participated by visiting our website and tweeting their favorite Bonobos suit using #BonobosSuitsU. The customer who got the most retweets also scored a new Bonobos suit. While we had 250 people attend the event, we reached more than 850,000 people on Twitter with 3,500+ mentions and 4,000+ retweets of our #BonobosSuitsU hashtag.

Contently: How do you measure the success of your content?

Bonobos: We measure the success of our content where possible and relevant. For example, our email content is evaluated based on click-through rates. We measure our social media content based on shares and engagement.

The key to success with content on social is limiting the “hard sell.” We’re fortunate to have a passionate and engaged social community. Questions about product development and merchandising or quick humorous posts and photos that bring to life the Bonobos brand consistently drive engagement rates at least 10 times higher than posts designed to encourage customers to purchase.