Leveraging Community and Customer Feedback for eCommerce Growth with Emily Hollender (episode 487)

Emily Hollender is a Fractional Marketing Director for Early-Stage Consumer startups, especially those looking to build brand and community across both online and offline platforms. Current and past clients include: Rent the Runway, The Wing, Tia, The Sill, and Modern Animal. 

Emily Hollender Next Wave Marketing Studio on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in:

[04:25] How Emily ended up doing community marketing.
[08:02] Unlocking sustainable organic growth without paid media.
[10:51] Centering customer in decisions, creating two-way dialogue.
[13:59] Investing in ambassador program takes time, dedication.
[18:26] New technologies and community management softwares offer exciting possibilities for creating branded digital communities. Focus on program integrity before investing in tools.
[20:11] Find out how your customers are being motivated.
[22:46] Incorporate community into business strategy for success.
[23:54] Listen to Emily’s Top Tips!

Leverage Customer Feedback for Strategy Development 

Emily’s eCommerce journey shows customer feedback’s importance as a foundational marketing strategy element. Without formal marketing training, she relied on analyzing customer feedback and net promoter score or NPS data to shape Rent the Runway’s retail marketing strategy. Emily says that understanding customer needs and preferences is crucial for developing effective marketing strategies, especially in the early stages of a business or when entering new markets. 

The Critical Role of Community in Long-Term Growth 

For long-term growth Community and Branding are important. But these are often overshadowed by the emphasis on performance marketing. For Emily, integrating community-focused initiatives into the marketing strategy can significantly contribute to sustainable growth. This is particularly relevant in the unpredictable landscape of digital advertising, where algorithms change frequently. Building a loyal community offers a stable and organic growth channel that is less susceptible to external platform changes. 

Organic Growth Through Owned Channels 

Emily emphasizes the importance of focusing on owned channels within a brand’s ecosystem, such as organic social content, email, and events, to drive organic growth. This allows brands to control their messaging and directly engage with their audience without relying heavily on paid advertising. It also highlights the need for brands to activate and engage deeply with their core customers, leveraging the brand’s most vital growth asset. 

Implementing an Ambassador Program 

Emily provides practical advice on starting an ambassador program. Start with identifying if your customers are naturally talking about your brand. Keep initial efforts simple and feedback-oriented. Use straightforward tools like spreadsheets and messaging apps before investing in specialized technology. This approach ensures that the ambassador program aligns with customer motivations and the brand’s capacity to manage and grow the initiative. 

Community Engagement as a Strategic Business Component 

Emily says integrating community engagement into the overall business and marketing strategy is not just a tactic but a mindset. This means embedding community-focused approaches across the organization and ensuring marketing strategies consider the community’s role in business decisions. By treating the community as a core part of the business strategy, brands can develop deeper customer relationships, leading to more meaningful and sustained growth.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Community marketing, such as ambassador programs

Tool Top Tip

  • Notion productivity application

Carbon Top Tip

  • Get creative about your packaging and think of materials that can be reused or recycled.

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • The Subscription Business Model: Customer Retention Strategies with Grub Club’s Alessandro Di Trapani (episode 447)
  • The Six Core Principles of eCommerce Growth with Kunle Campbell, co-founder of Octillion (episode 453)
  • How Sustainability and Community are super-powering this fashion brand with Katie McCourt from Pantee (episode 373)

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