Oliver Goffe, co-founder of Marloe Watch Company, explains the benefits of reinvesting time and budget into content during the coronavirus.
Since the coronavirus crisis really hit the UK, we have experienced a distinct change in how customers are behaving. We have found that more customers than ever are visiting our mechanical wristwatch site, but instead of primarily coming to buy, many are coming to “window shop.”
In the week leading up to the UK’s lockdown (w/c 16 March) we experienced a 281 per cent year on year increase in those visiting our site, with a bounce rate reduction of 13 per cent. And this trend continued in the weeks that followed. Customers were visiting us, and they were staying longer, but they often weren’t committing to a purchase. This “window shopping” behaviour seems to be the result of consumers having more time to browse sites they are interested in at home, while at the same time, feeling less confident about spending.
For online retailers such as ourselves, who may or may not be struggling with coronavirus-caused cash flow issues already, this situation is less than desirable. When it comes to marketing focus, many online brands have responded with heavy discounting to try and ensure consumers commit to purchasing. While this is understandable, if retailers can do what they can to hold their breath while purchasing power dips, this period could actually provide a powerful and unique window within which to connect with your core consumer.
Let content take centre stage
We’ve always been a brand that likes to create a lot of varied and rich content for our customers. This includes articles giving insight into projects, glorious photo assignments, updates on the business, and much more. Content is always in the spirit of our brand and the philosophy behind our mechanical wristwatches, and we’ve always felt this helps increase buy-in for our most aligned customers. As traffic has increased to our site over the past few weeks, we’ve promoted this content so it is front and centre on the website. Our beautifully designed new quarterly magazine was launched just before the crisis exploded but we have pressed on with its second edition – launching it just this week. With customers hungry for quality escapism, we expect it to sell-out quicker than the first. We want to give our customers something extra, and they seem to love digesting the content.
Tell inspiring stories
Storytelling has always been a key feature of both our brand and our marketing strategy and it’s even more prominent now. We are very inspired by stories of great British endeavour and each of our watches celebrates the ambition, courage, and bravery of some of our greatest adventurers and explorers. These are people who pushed the boundaries and had huge amounts of personal resilience and grit. The tone of their stories feels particularly relevant now, and we hope our customers can draw on them. During these uncertain times it’s nice to have some space to absorb oneself in a good story or two, and if this story resonates with our customers and fits with our times, we see high levels of engagement.
Make it personal
Inbound communication from customers has increased with our web traffic, and to add a personal touch and show that my co-founder Gordon and I are in the same boat as everyone else, we’ve been taking it upon ourselves to reply directly. It feels right to go that little bit further when it comes to customer service at the moment, and be a touchpoint (however small) for care and reassurance.
During this challenging period it hasn’t felt right to focus marketing on trying to push sales. We would much rather continue to build relationships with our customers, old and new, so once the dust has settled we have customers who are still engaged and excited about Marloe Watch Company and in the direction we are moving.
By creating engaging content we believe we’re building relationships, making them stronger, and most importantly, increasing the duration of those relationships. We might be missing some one-off purchases, but we hope to lay a foundation of long-term loyalty in its place, and this could ultimately prove to be more valuable.
 Web data for w/c 23 March 2020 compared with data for w/c 23 March 2019
Image: Marloe Watch Company’s MWCQ magazine