FN Summit: DSW Pairs Shoe Lovers

The secret to DSW Inc.’s success at using social media to engage consumers is knowing how they shop, said chief merchandising officer Debbie Ferrée.

“We’re a very data-rich company, [as] 89 percent of our revenue comes from 19 million members of our DSW Rewards loyalty program,” said Ferrée.

Of those members, 9 percent are what Ferrée classifies as “shoe fanatics” — a group that makes up a third of revenue.

“Our vision is to be America’s favorite place for shoes. We spend a lot of time working on … expressing a fun, flirty personality … that is consistent across TV commercials, on Facebook and on Twitter,” said Ferrée, stressing the importance of being predictive and targeted with messaging.

“We don’t just throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. We make sure we engage customers in the way they want to be engaged,” she said.

Case in point: The retailer’s Facebook fans are answering each other’s posts.

In fact, DSW boasts a customer engagement rate of 66 percent on its Facebook page, according to Ferrée. “Meanwhile, Facebook told us a rate of 18 to 20 percent is the average,” she said. The retail firm has nearly 600,000 “likes” on Facebook, and is holding a campaign to garner

1 million “likes” by promising to give away 1,000 pairs of shoes when the moment comes.

But what else keeps the customer returning for more? “A lot of fun things,” said Ferrée, citing gifts with purchase. “You think, gift with purchase, everyone does that. Well, our customers will go home, take a photo of the gift and post it on Facebook.”

Due to consistent activity on Facebook, DSW has found that its fans on the social networking site are spending twice as much money as the average customer.

The retailer also is finding early success with its recent adoption of Pinterest, the content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to a virtual pinboard.

When asked how this medium was being incorporated into the larger social media strategy, Kelly Cook, SVP of marketing at DSW, said the firm introduced a “pin it” button next to product descriptions on its website as recently as two weeks ago.

Since then, customer traffic to DSW.com has shot up 30 percent, making Pinterest one of the firm’s top 10 referral websites, Cook said.

She also noted that DSW will set up its own Pinterest boards by August, to be curated by a team at the firm.

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