Why is Sosandar ‘the British fashion brand everyone is talking about’?
As we’ve identified previously, fashion brands today must navigate multiple challenges.
Amongst these include addressing concerns about fast fashion, inclusivity and sustainability, not to mention ensuring that they have a comprehensive and creative digital marketing strategy in order to perform in an extremely competitive online landscape.
With this in mind, we got to thinking about Sosandar – the women’s fashion retailer that’s experienced stratospheric growth recently.
What is it about this rising British brand, which is exclusively online, that is resonating so well with female shoppers and what are they’re doing that little bit better than their competitors?
Join us as we shine the spotlight on Sosandar, delving a little deeper into the fashion marketing tactics they deployed in 2019 and ultimately learning the secret to their success.
Wait, tell me a bit more about Sosandar first…
Sosandar has a fascinating backstory.
Prior to being established in 2015, its two founders, Ali Hall and Julie Lavington, worked together as editor and publishing director at the now defunct women’s fashion magazine Look (although the online publication survives).
They claim Sosandar came to fruition after identifying a gap in the market for women over the age of 30 seeking professional yet trendy clothing.
Since then, they’ve dubbed Sosandar ‘the British fashion brand everyone is talking about’ and by no means are they being boastful.
Since May last year, UK traffic to their website has skyrocketed and revenue is soaring.
Indeed, according to SEMrush data, where they were once averaging organic traffic at roughly 14,000 in 2018, as of June 2019, traffic spiked to somewhere in the region of 37,000 and consistently increased in 2019.
Impressive! How have Sosandar Achieved Their Growth?
1) Social Media & Influencer Marketing
A brief look at Sosandar’s Instagram bio reveals that their clothes are ‘loved by women, celebs and stylists’ and we can see that they have a healthy following of 42.2k (at the time of writing).
Looking at their profile, they certainly appear to have been very successful in utilising influencer marketing and getting fashion bloggers and celebrities onboard to help them achieve their growth.
In fact, a recent statement by the company confirmed the recent success of a customer acquisition programme was largely driven by its growing celebrity fanbase.
The majority of the photos they’ve shared, or been tagged in, are of celebrities wearing their clothing. This includes the likes of high-profile TV presenters such as Susanna Read, Amanda Holden, Lorraine Kelly, and Kelly Brook.
Similarly, Sosander clothing is clearly #gifted to lifestyle bloggers and stylists with large followings. Having these influential individuals as ambassadors for their brand – at the time of writing Amanda Holden had 1.3million followers – no doubt helps to give Sosandar a wide reach.
By comparison, the likes of Olive Clothing, Me+Em and Great Plains, all of whom have a similar organic positioning to Sosandar, do not have such a visibly strong backing from celebrities.
Instead, they tend to utilise the same few models or influencers in their Instagram imagery.
Interestingly, all of these brands are better established than Sosandar and typically have a larger social following (bar Great Plains). Despite this, SEMrush social traffic data indicates that Sosandar generally outperformed these competitors last year – but noticeably so in the month of October. In fact, social traffic in October was the highest it’s ever been. Mainly, this traffic came from the Sosandar Facebook account.
With over 83k followers and regular updates, Sosandar’s Facebook page contains a good mix of content in terms of images of their products, branded quotes and general discussion prompts about popular culture. As with their Instagram account, we can see that once again they also rely on influencer marketing.
In this post we can see a photo of the aforementioned Amanda Holden wearing their ankle boots, with a link that takes you through to the relevant product page on their site.
Over on Twitter, however, things are a little quieter.
Whilst its 1,050 Twitter followers (again, at the time of writing) seems measly in comparison to its other platforms, Sosandar still use it to actively respond to customer queries.
Olive clothing and Me+Em have equally small followings on Twitter but appear to rarely interact with customers via Twitter. This again, helps Sosandar to stand out from their competitors and provide a superior customer service.
Sosandar have clearly got a good grip on using social media and influencer marketing to their advantage and to help them with their rapid growth.
Their competitors might want to take note of the impact celebrity influencers can make, as well as the strong customer service and mix of content they provide on their social channels.
2) Strong Backlink Profile
So, what else have Sosandar been doing to help them achieve their rapid growth?
Well, by the looks of it, link building may be a part of it.
A quick review of Sosandar’s backlink profile in 2019 reveals links from some high profile and trusted domains including The Mirror, The Express, The Sun, Mumsnet and Woman and Home.
As identified with Sosandar’s increased social traffic, October 2019 was particularly crucial in seeing this huge uplift of new backlinks to the site. Indeed, the site gained 2555 backlinks that month alone.
That said, competitors such as Olive Clothing and Great Plains do have a much stronger backlink profile overall. This is to be somewhat expected though, as these brands are more well established. Plus, the gap between Sosandar and its organic competitors is slowly narrowing.
Using all time data from SEMrush, Olive Clothing has somewhere in the region of 11.4k total backlinks, Great Plains has 12.3k and Me+Em have 20.5k. Considering at the start of 2019, Sosandar had a total of 3277 backlinks, they have played a good game of catch up and now have a total of 7.6k backlinks
Backlinks are particularly valuable as they essentially indicate to Google a ‘vote of confidence’ from one site to another. Whilst links from the likes of newspapers mentioned above are generally ‘no follow’, meaning Sosandar does not have any link equity passed to its site, these backlinks are still extremely valuable in terms of generating brand awareness and traffic to their site.
If Sosandar continues to pursue a backlink strategy and earn backlinks from high quality, high domain authority websites, be it naturally or through actively reaching out to them, this will positively impact on their ranking positions and visibility in the SERPs and will only see them continue to grow!
3) TV Advertising & Out of Home Digital Media Campaigns
This obvious growth in social traffic and boost in backlinks in October of last year got us curious.
What activity were Sosandar undertaking the month prior in September?
Turns out, in the 6 months leading up to September, Sosandar invested heavily in advertising across TV and digital billboards at London tube station escalators.
Running alongside this was the brand’s first foray into TV advertising. The September campaign saw them test adverts for different TV regions, channels and programmes. Subsequently, the fashion brand itself reported a record number of email subscriber sign ups (increasing 224%).
With their first TV advertising stint proving such a success, Sosandar has openly admitted they intend to increase investment in this area.
By comparison, Me+Em, Olive Clothing and Great Plains do not currently advertise on TV, which, again, will only continue to provide Sosandar with an edge over their competitors.
4) Online Marketplaces
Whilst it is associated with some risks, it can prove a smart step for fashion brands to join an established online marketplace.
Online marketplaces provide an additional channel to market and sell products, plus there are other multiple benefits including providing the buyer with an element of trust and offering opportunities for overseas growth.
Whilst Sosandar mainly sells its women’s clothing via its own website, since June 2019 it also features on the marketplace SilkFred. CEO Julie Lavington has claimed that selling on SilkFred has helped Sosandar reach more consumers and that they are looking at potentially selling through other marketplace websites.
Indeed, according to SilkFred’s brand partnership page, those brands that team up with the online marketplace benefit from reaching 1 million monthly website visitors, 1 million followers via their social channels and 500k email subscribers.
In the context of the competitors mentioned in this blog post, selling on a marketplace appears to be exclusive to Sosandar meaning they are able to reach customers that their competitors aren’t.
5) Paid Ads
Once again, October 2019 proved an especially successful month for Sosandar, this time for paid traffic.
Indeed, paid traffic peaked at 5,854, compared to 4k in November, perhaps an indication of an increased budget to coincide with the TV advertising campaign.
Sosandar, perhaps unsurprisingly, mainly seem to bid on branded terms such as ‘Sosandar dresses’, Sosandar clothing’, ‘Sosandar jumpers’ and ‘Sosandar coats’.
Interestingly, they also appear to have produced ads in the past targeting terms regarding Amanda Holden and items of clothing that she’s been photographed in. For instance, they capitalised on search volume associated with ‘Amanda Holden Dress on BGT’ (Britain’s Got Talent) with paid ads linked to a now deleted landing page on the Sosandar site about Amanda Holden’s style.
Meanwhile, zero paid traffic to the Olive Clothing site has occurred in the past 2 years – indicating paid is not a focus of their digital strategy. Similarly, Me+Em and Great Plains received almost half the amount of paid traffic to their site in November that Sosandar experienced.
The fact that Sosandar’s competitors are apparently failing to invest heavily in paid search, plus their ability to be reactive to their designs being worn on TV, has seen their paid traffic grow from 766 in May to 4371 in November 2019.
Ultimately, Sosandar have pursued an aggressive marketing drive over the past year and it seems to be working.
They’ve diversified their efforts, with their fingers in a few pies, and it is paying off.
They’ve managed to grow a strong social media presence and a popular following amongst celebrities and influencers. At the same time, they’ve invested in tv advertising, OOH digital media, direct mail and paid ads and as a result, they’ve seen an incredible increase in paid/organic traffic and backlinks to their site. No doubt, a speedier checkout, will have helped matters somewhat too (Sosandar replatformed its ecommerce site onto Magento 2 at the end of 2018).
With all this in mind, what does 2020 hold for Sosandar? Well, if the first month of the year is anything to go by – the only way is up! As it stands, in January 2020, organic traffic has peaked around the 47,000 mark. Perhaps the likes of Olive Clothing, Me+Em and Great Plains should take stock of Sosandar’s previous marketing tactics for the year ahead.
If you’d like to find out how we could help you with your social media marketing, influencer marketing, link building or paid advertising, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our team would love to help! You can either give us a call on 01273 733 433 or leave us a message via the contact form below: