Betabrand: An Online Retail Strategy That Works

Betabrand: An Online Retail Strategy That Works

By: Katy Ryan Schamberger
January 23, 2013

betabrand online retail strategyNot only am I a self-confessed shopaholic—as part of the V3 team, I spend a lot of time online (and specifically on ecommerce sites) not only working for our clients but also keeping a close eye on what other companies are doing (can you say “dream job?”). Thanks to a smart and savvy online marketing strategy, Betabrand is currently at the top of my “Companies That Get It” list.

What Betabrand Did Right

Here’s the back story. After seeing Betabrand’s brilliant executive hoodies last May, I followed a prompt by the company to submit my contact information so that I’d be notified when the women’s counterpart became available. Don’t judge me–Shelly is still laughing at the concept of executive hoodies, but what does she know?

After that, I kind of forgot about the product until early December when I received a note from Betabrand’s Chris Lindland:

“Greetings. You asked to be alerted when Betabrand unveils Executive Hoodies for women. Good news: They’re here at last!

As you may recall, these hoodies are made of fine suit cloth. Our first collection comes in two styles…

In Navy Pinstripe:

& Glen Plaid:

I’m letting you know today before we alert the masses tomorrow.  Supplies are limited, so this gives you a 24 hour head start on the holiday hordes.

Thanks for signing up.   I hope you like ’em.


Well before you could blink your eyes, of course I headed straight back to Betabrand’s site to check out the merchandise and buy one of those awesome executive hoodies. Talk about a fast conversion!

How You Can Emulate Betabrand’s Strategy

If you have a product to sell and use email marketing as part of your larger digital marketing strategy, take a page out of Betabrand’s book. There are several things we love about the company’s strategy, including:

Notifications: Sure, I wanted to buy a women’s suit hoodie back in May, the same time that they debuted the men’s collection. But since they weren’t yet available, the next best thing was the ability to sign up and receive a notification as soon as they arrived. As I mentioned earlier, I forgot about the hoodies a few weeks after I visited the site. Yet when the notification arrived, you can bet I was back at Betabrand’s website and shopping within minutes. Why? Because they made it easy.

Also, I spend a lot of time on Zulily and notice that even when their limited inventory of a particular item sells out, they invite you to submit your email and ask for a prompt when it’s back in stock. This is a super smart way to do market research on what kinds of products your customers are interested in. It’s also a way to continue to build and segment your email list. Information is power, so when you ask your customers to tell you what they want, then work to give it to them, it’s no surprise that ultimately you’ll sell more.

First dibs: Here’s another thing Betabrand did right. All of us love to feel special and exclusive, right? Don’t lie—you know you love a little VIP treatment! When Betabrand told me they were giving me a 24-hour head start on shopping, that made me hop over to the website even faster. They created some subtle buzz for their product by essentially saying that, “This might sell out. You better hurry and grab one while you can.” So I did. Mission accomplished.

Short and sweet: Email marketing messages are typically more effective when they’re short, sweet and to the point, which is exactly what Betabrand did. They quickly spelled out why they’re contacting me, the action they want me to take and where I can go to take said action. We’ve said this before, but customers like when you spell things out for them—and the easier it is for them to do something, the more likely they are to do it.

If you’ve got something to sell, try following Betabrand’s example. Give your customers an opportunity to hear about limited-edition items, restocked products or something similar. And reward your loyal customers with special promotions, discounts or other incentives. I predict you’ll likely see increased sales as a result, not to mention a more loyal brand audience that’s ready to spread the word about your company.

Which businesses are at the top of your “Companies That Get It” list? We’d love to hear about your thoughts on this.

Image via Betabrand

  • Couldn’t agree more Katy. After reading this the first thing I said was, “man they nailed it.” Well, truth be told, even in my mind it was #nailedit. They nailed their retouch point factor. They nailed the immediacy factor. They nailed the special-only-for-you factor. They nailed the conversion factor. They nailed the brevity factor.

  • I’m a big fan of Betabrand’s marketing. They did this hackathon and they produced a humorous version of their webpage (SWF I promise). It was very clever however which way you look at it 🙂

  • They’re definitely a company that gets it! I love that they took advantage of an .XXX domain, too 🙂 Appreciate you stopping by, Paul!

  • Exactly! And I’m pretty sure your comment just #nailedit, too 😉

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  • ShellyKramer

    Actually, it’s Katy that wrote the piece and she LOVES the hoodie! And we’ve decided that she’s going to start base jumping now, too, inspired by your video :))

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks for sharing, Paul — love it!

  • Whoops. Sorry Katy. Glad you like the vid. Our customers sent us that footage, by the way. Pretty amazing what GoPro cams are capable of capturing.

  • Great strategy, Chris! P.S. I blame you for inspiring Shelly to decide that base jumping is the ultimate team-building activity 😉