Test run successful: KEEN uses socialPALS for retail marketing

The vision is no less than to become the most trusted outdoor shoe brand in the world. To this end, manufacturer KEEN from Portland is now relying on active support from socialPALS in the European region - namely in the topic of digital trade marketing!
KEEN Footwear
KEEN Footwear

Test run successful: KEEN uses socialPALS for retail marketing

The vision is no less than to become the most trusted outdoor shoe brand in the world. To this end, manufacturer KEEN from Portland is now relying on active support from socialPALS in the European region - namely in the topic of digital trade marketing!

Supporting all retailers comprehensively with digital marketing campaigns including the deposit of advertising budgets has been difficult for KEEN until now. Now there is finally an efficient solution for this challenge: socialPALS! Alexandra Kim reports on her first experiences with the retail marketing platform.

Alexandra Kim

Alexandra Kim
Digital Retail Marketing Specialist | KEEN

Alexandra, tell us a little bit about yourself and your job at KEEN!

I’ve joined KEEN Family in June 2021 as a digital retail marketing specialist. Having brand marketing background, I was excited to start my new job, to work closer to the sales team and retailers, to get experience of a different angle of marketing, and I don’t regret the choice! Taking care of our brand presence at retailers’, making sure that they are getting all the support they need, including online and offline solutions, training – I enjoy managing these tasks.

You recently started using socialPALS to provide your retailers with high-quality campaign content, making you the first pure footwear manufacturer in our portfolio. You are also our first brand that doesn't have its own dépendence in Germany. Why did you decide to test this form of automated retail marketing for your communication in the G/A/S region?

To start with, Germany is our biggest European market, and unlike most of other EU countries we arrange all the marketing support for German retailers from our European headquarters in Rotterdam. I would also say that Germany is a very interesting market due to the split of retailers – it contains ecom giants, big players that operate both online and offline, and small- and medium-sized retailers mostly operating offline. The last mentioned are extremely important for our business.

We all know that the world has undergone significant changes that enhanced already existing trend of digitalization. That, in particular, made it even more difficult for small and medium sized retailers to compete with the rest for the attention of a consumer. They are mainly the ones we wanted to support by providing the tool that could help to strengthen their positions on the digital marketing scene.

What was the goal of the first brand campaign and how much internal effort did you put into getting it off the ground? Did the platform save you time and reduce your workload compared to "classic" retail marketing?

The first campaign was mainly focused on connecting to the retailers that have already been using socialPALS and inviting others to join the initiative. It was a trial for all of us, we all needed to get to know the platform and the process. Together with socialPALS team, we engaged a lot with our Sales team, to make sure everyone understands the benefits the platform brings to all parties.

Given the number of our small- and medium-sized retailers, it was very hard to fully support them with digital marketing campaigns in the past. We did it only upon request, and could only provide the assets, but not arrange the whole campaign and support with budget. That’s why socialPALS opened a huge opportunity for us. With this automated platform solution, it’s a pleasure to plan marketing campaigns.

This way, retailers can reach their local target group online - easily and without special marketing knowledge!

How difficult was it to motivate your retail partners to participate? Is the "online marketing" component accepted as an integration into the sales concept?

I wouldn’t say it was difficult, most of the retailers having experience with socialPALS before gladly joined the campaign. However, we indeed needed some more time to get more retailers on board. I see that now retailers’ interest is rising, and they are coming to us themselves, asking when the next campaign will take place, what its focus will be.

It was a little late for us to integrate current campaigns into the sales concept, as the SS22 sell-in season was over long ago, however, we did include the socialPALS into the tool-package for the coming season and further on.

Participation in a socialPALS campaign and thus the playout of the turnkey content calendar is confirmed by each retail partner after one-time registration via 1-Click. Were there also merchants who took a closer look at the platform and e.g. planned (additional) postings or advertising budget themselves?

Most of the retailers used the 1-click solution, but there were a few that adjusted the campaign a little. Some chose the timing that fit better their posting schedule, some adjusted the assets/caption to the ones more relevant to their assortment. I believe this flexibility is a great advantage of the platform, as all retailers have very different product range, and the ‘tone of voice’ for the communication with their customer.

Was the campaign successful? What KPIs do you use to measure success? Were you able to draw helpful lessons from it – for example, which channels or advertising formats are best suited for the product?

We are happy with the first results, given the fact that not all ‘new-to-the-platform’ retailers managed to join in time, it was a good start. To measure success, we looked at Engagement and CPC – it’s important to see how actively people interact with the content, as the goal is to lead them via this content to the store. From experience, we know that paid social work well for us, so we decided to go for it during the last campaign. But we will definitely try other formats in the future.

What challenges do you currently see both for KEEN and for your retail partners? Has the "corona crisis" had a lasting impact on the industry, including, for example, the current supply chain issues? Have the requirements for local marketing also changed as a result?

Of course, there are hardly any global brands that haven’t suffered from the challenges caused by covid – logistics issues, increasing prices of the containers, etc. However, we keep being positive and do everything possible to avoid product delays next season. I believe that slowly but surely, we are getting back to the normal schedule. For now, resulting from these outside factors, marketing needs to be more flexible – to quickly adjust the campaigns and focus based on the product availability.

How can socialPALS support you in overcoming these challenges?

socialPALS is an ideal platform for such unpredictable times. It’s user-friendly, straight to the point; you can arrange a campaign any time if you have the assets. It perfectly covers the needs retailers and brands have for digital retail marketing campaigns.

How do you see the future of retail in the context of the market power of the big online players? Does the local specialty store still have a chance if it invests in digital measures in good time? Do end customers want to shop stationary?

We often see such retailers growing into the local heroes, so I wouldn’t underestimate the local stores. They have their own unique customer base, that comes to such stores with whole families, seeing the owner and store employees as specialists and the best advisors. Last couple of years showed to us, that despite digitalization, it’s still important for people to go to physical stores; we see that they are going back to the physical shopping routine. More than that, nowadays, customer journey interconnects online and offline. That’s why I believe that the key for these stores is to keep building their online channels to enhance their capacities and obtain new customers.

Are you already planning further campaigns to support your retail partners?

Our second campaign has started a few weeks ago, and the other day I kicked off the planning of at least two campaigns for FW22. We have big plans for SS23, and retailers are already looking forward to it.

How was your personal experience with socialPALS? Do you have any suggestions?

Sign me in the list of the most grateful partners! I’m very happy with the platform and with the support of socialPALS team. Special thanks to Marlon Vinko and Patrick Haas for a great onboarding of me, and our Sales team, for always answering all the questions, and supporting when needed.

As for the suggestions for the platform, I believe it would be very useful to have the asset- and caption- hub available for every campaign, where brands could store additional materials. With this, retailers would have even wider range of assets to make their campaign more customized to their assortment. Additionally, it would make the campaigns relevant for more retailers, so more of them would join the platform.

That's what our retailers say:

Finally, a supplier provides me with proper assets for a social media campaign – and it’s simple and straightforward via socialPALS! On the platform, I can easily (re)schedule all postings, integrate them into my channels and direct them to our own landing page. A small advertising allowance is also included. What more do I want – except more suppliers following suit?

The Keen campaign was a complete success and I am very satisfied with the use of the socialPALS platform. Especially the personal support is great – I always get a contact person and everyone is very friendly. Thank you!

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