Nordstrom’s Journey To Connect Instagram Images To Sales ROI

NordDespite having close to a half million Instagram followers, upscale retailer Nordstrom knows that “likes” and “follows” are great for growing community and measuring engagement or affinity, but these actions don’t necessarily translate into hard business metrics. Retailers want to know if that showroom-grade snapshot on social actually sold a tube of lipstick.

“What we’ve primarily done on Instagram is respond to customer questions,” said Bryan Galipeau, director of social media and display at Nordstrom. “Every photo we would post, we would get a number of questions back like, ‘Is that item still available?’ and ‘What does it cost?’”

Because Instagram content essentially lives in its own native environment, “it’s pretty difficult for our customers to make the jump from seeing a picture in the feed and learning more about the item on our site or in our stores,” he added. “The way the platform is set up, there are no links on Instagram and no easy way out to our website.”

Consequently, extracting business value from Instagram is a disjointed process. And, it affected user experience. Consumers had to leave Instagram to search for products on the retail site, thus obscuring Instagram’s attributable value, even though Nordstrom predicted it contributed to ecommerce sales.

Nordstrom began a pilot with Like2Buy, a tool developed by image analytics platform Curalate, enabling users to purchase items directly from their Instagram feeds. When a customer clicks on Nordstrom’s profile link, they are brought to a gallery of shoppable photos from Instagram and can then click-through and purchase directly from Nordstrom.

“What this gave us was one-click access to products and created a seamless experience from Instagram to the photo down to real product information,” Galipeau said.

Facebook and Twitter are all gunning for the one-click purchase. Amazon already has it. Payments startup Stripe, according to Re/code, is in talks with Twitter to facilitate purchases in-tweet.

“Social and ecommerce teams are forming tighter relationships because social is driving traffic their way and they want to know, ‘Did this improve time on site?’” according to Apu Gupta, cofounder and CEO of Curalate. “A lot of analytics tools showed… baseline, organic engagement and engagement with a paid unit… but many brands we work with need to go beyond that.”

Like2Buy, he claimed, enables marketers to measure click-through to purchase and subsequent ROI while improving shopper engagement.

Although Nordstrom’s Instagram strategy has primarily been focused on earned and owned media, Instagram recently rolled out a new set of tools for brands to determine paid reach for sponsored photos.

Nordstrom’s paid media investments are evaluated “on a case by case basis,” Galipeau noted.

“There’s certainly a paid component to our overall ecommerce strategy, whether that’s in Facebook or the mobile environment, but with Instagram it’s so early days that we want to make sure we have the right targeting capabilities to make sure the right content meets the right people,” he added. “Our view is you really need to respect the community that’s on the platform and the way the platform was designed, so we want to keep content relevant.”


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