On a crisp autumn morning in the mid-1970s, a 30-year-old man named Roy Raymond walked into a department store to buy his wife lingerie.
What he found in the store were, tacky designs and unappealing nightdresses that stuck out like a sore thumb under the fluorescent lighting…
Add to this the piercing stare of the saleslady who made him feel like a filthy pervert just for being there…
The experience was truly appalling.
However, it was this horrible experience that sparked a wonderful idea in Raymond’s mind…
After finding out that his male friends felt the same way when shopping for lingerie, he saw an opportunity to establish a market where basically none existed.
He got a hare-brained idea to build a lingerie store that would make men feel completely comfortable.
He essentially designed a lingerie store, FOR MEN!
Armed with $80,000 and a lot of guts, Raymond and his wife leased a small space in a mall in Palo Alto, California, and opened a lingerie store.
Raymond imagined the fit out of his store to be from the Victorian boudoir era. He went for the name “Victoria” to arouse the kind of respectability that is associated with the Victorian era.
And Victoria’s Secret was born!
Raymond changed the way people thought about sexy lingerie…
And after a few short years his business was booming and he expanded into three more stores in San Francisco and was quickly turning over $4 million in revenue…
Fast forward to today, and the company’s revenue has soared to nearly $8 billion in revenue per year!
With a powerful message and a beautiful fashion show, Victoria’s Secret is one of the companies whose strong marketing have created one of the most influential brands in the world.
The company made the transition to the digital world in the late-1990s and today, its strong online presence makes e-commerce responsible for 20% of its total revenue. In 2016 alone, Victoria’s Secret amassed an incredible $1.582 billion dollars in online sales.
But today, we’re not going to talk about how Victoria’s Secret got to the point where they are right now.
What’s interesting about well-established companies like this one is to analyse how they’ve followed through the transition of going from fully traditional marketing strategies into the online world.
Fail this transition, and your company is doomed.
Victoria’s Secret is the most popular women’s lingerie brand in the world. Their audience is most likely already built for them.
But how do they keep growing? How do they stay on top of the game?
Through strong digital marketing strategies.
It all starts with the website that was launched all the way back in 1998, which is one of the greatest e-commerce websites you’ll see. But what Victoria’s Secret has excelled at through the years is branding, which in the online world translates into social media.
The strategy continues with a very solid SEO, strong paid channels, e-mail marketing and a plethora of promotions.
In this analysis, I’m going to show you how a traditional brand has transitioned into the online world through various digital marketing channels, keeping the original vision and goals in mind and staying on top of the fiercely competitive $2.4. trillion dollar fashion industry.
Disclaimer: I do not have access to any of the internal information at Victoria’s Secret. I have not been in contact with any of the Victoria’s Secret staff or have had access to analytics from inside the company. This analysis has been conducted using 3rd party tools and data along with what I can see online. Recommendations and analysis are based on knowledge and how I would optimize their website.
Table Of Contents
- Social Media & Influencer Marketing
- Traffic & Rankings
- Anchor Text
- Click Depth
- Page Speed
- Paid Marketing
- Google Ads
- E-mail Marketing
- User Experience
- Home Page
- Product Page
- Presenting The Product
- Shopping Cart
- Mobile UX
- How Can A Startup Replicate Victoria’s Secret’s Online Success? (10 Key Takeaways)
Let’s start this analysis by having a look at the brand recognition of VS across social media, and how the brand leverages not only its own Facebook and Instagram accounts, but also the one’s of its superstar models; the Angels.
Social Media & Influencer Marketing
One of Victoria’s Secret’s biggest strengths in social media is the brand’s network of influencers; the Angels.
Each one of these models, while being closely connected to the brand, has their own image and voice and represents much more than just the brand itself.
They represent the lifestyle.
And what better way to communicate that perfect way of life than via Instagram?
VS has their own Instagram account, of course. With a staggering 58 million followers on their account, every single post averages almost 200,000 likes and over 400 comments. Top posts have over 800,000 likes and some posts have over 2,500 comments.
Thanks to great pictures and videos, beautiful products, strong hashtags and amazing PR and branding campaigns, Victoria’s Secret positions itself as the 24th largest Instagram account in the world.
In. The. World.
And it doesn’t stop there.
As I mentioned earlier, VS has a great network of influencers in its Angels. Here are the top five Instagram accounts by number of followers.
- Adriana Lima: 11.5 million followers
- Candice Swanepoel: 11.6 million followers
- Taylor Hill: 9.5 million followers
- Sara Sampaio: 6.1 million followers
- Lily Aldridge: 5.2 million followers
Combined, the 12 Angels currently working for the brand have 66.6 million followers.
Add that to VS’s 58, and that’s a total of 124.6 million.
Indirectly, that positions Victoria’s Secret in third position for largest following base on the planet, right after the Instagram account itself (@instagram) with 228 million followers and Selena Gomez with 131.
Think about that for a second.
The top hashtags used by the brand are mostly related to the brand name itself, such as #vsfashionshow (with 580k+ publications) or the more recent #vsxbalmain.
The strategy evolving around influencer marketing hasn’t gone as granular as Daniel Wellington, who uses one of the largest network of influencers in the world (not everyone dare posing with a Victoria’s Secret product on Instagram), but the strength and power of the Angel’s combined voices allows to reach an insane amount of fans each day.
But although Instagram is doing great, not all of their social platforms are.
Let’s move on and have a look at their Facebook efforts.
With a staggering 28 million likes on their Facebook page, it’s an understatement to say that VS is doing pretty well for itself.
But such a large pool of followers doesn’t make its page perfect.
According to the Meltwater report, VS’s page only has a 1% engagement rate and a low response rate to messages, although the “very responsive to messages” tag on the page seems to contradict this last statistic.
When looking at the comments of many pictures and videos, it seems like many unhappy customers take it to Facebook to express their issues.
A large follower base of such a popular brand has its negative effects and dissatisfactions, surely. But several bad reviews and unanswered issues will only feed the rage of customers and grow the negativity surrounding the brand.
Victoria’s Secret has to tackle this issue and take care of their customer satisfaction online. Social media is the best tool today to communicate directly between brands and customers and many unsatisfied people take it to Facebook to express themselves.
If the problems cannot be solved, the company needs to take the time to explain to its customers the reasons behind their decisions.
And to VS’s defence, they sometimes do.
Overall, it seems like this Facebook page doesn’t really have a good vibe. VS should try a different Facebook strategy by interacting with their users in a more positive way.
The page has a balanced video/image posting rate of 40/60%, but is lacking cruelly of notes, text, questions or quizzes. This type of content would interact more with users, asking questions and taking advice from them, making them feel closer to the brand.
These actions would largely increase the engagement rate, as well as bring something even more important.
Helping customers feel closer to the brand adds trust. If people feel they are listened to, they will be more inclined to buy from you because they trust you. It creates a connection that results in a strong customer relationship and ultimately, in more sales.
Unsatisfied Facebook comments show that customers feel they are not being listened to. Answering these comments by asking questions more often and listening to the users would solve this problem.
Now, let’s take it to VS’s third biggest social media channel and have a look at how they’re doing on YouTube.
Victoria’s Secret’s YouTube channel has 1.4 million subscribers.
And that’s a LOT of subscribers.
What I love about this YouTube channel is that’s it’s not all about the VS products. It’s concentrated on the lifestyle around them.
This is great because while the videos are still indirectly selling the products, they also bring a great deal of inspiration to people watching.
Sport videos are motivating viewers to “Train like an Angel”, and “Behind the scenes” videos or “Real talk” interviews help to humanise the supermodels. For many people, these superstars are incredible people that no normal human being can become. This helps relate to and understand the brand (and their ambassadors) in a different way.
Obviously, there are also many very popular TV commercials and other advertising videos on this channel. And I haven’t even mentioned the Fashion Show.
But overall, these videos all blend very well together. The channel is great and I really think VS should continue going this way. Fans seem to love it as well.
And even though Victoria’s Secret has these incredible numbers of followers and subscribers on their social media channels, consider this:
Social media brings 4.56% of Victoria’s Secret’s total website traffic.
That’s only the 5th largest channel, according to SimilarWeb. And it’s not even close to being number one, as we can see on this graph.
So let’s get to the real source of traffic; SEO.
As digital marketers, we spend long hours dedicating our time, explaining to people how important SEO is for their business. And it’s sometimes really difficult to understand, as it’s a long-term effort and companies often cannot see any direct results. This makes it somewhat difficult to measure compared to other channels.
But here is a very clear and strong example of why SEO is so beneficial for any business. Especially in a competitive field.
Traffic & Rankings
Victoria’s Secret has an amazing 32.6 million visitors on its website every month. That’s over 1 million visitors per day, and over 40,000 visitors per hour. An incredible amount of visitors!
And where do they come from?
42.1% of visitors come from Search, that’s over 13 million visitors who type a search query every month and land on victoriassecret.com.
That’s 300 users per minute or 5 users per second landing on Victoria’s Secret website after having searched on Google.
And how much does that traffic cost?
It’s 100% fully organic traffic, directly resulting from high rankings of the website.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what keywords VS is ranking for.
For this analysis, we are going to look at the US market, where Victoria’s Secret has its largest pool of customers as well as visitors. As we can see on the following graph, 70% of the website’s total traffic comes from the US.
So, here’s a list of the top high Search Volume keywords where victoriassecret.com ranks on page 1 in the US, excluding branded keywords:
The keywords in red are directly related to VS’s products. Keywords in blue are names of current or past Angels (once again, influencer marketing shows its strength).
In total, these top 20 keywords have a total monthly Search Volume of over 3.5 million.
The keyword “pink” itself has a Search Volume of 1 million. Estimations tell us that ranking in position #1 brings roughly 30% of the total Search Volume of a keyword, meaning that victoriassecret.com has 300,000 monthly visitors coming from this keyword alone.
How qualitative this traffic is remains arguable. But who cares? It’s FREE!
Even if only 0.05% of this traffic were to convert into a sale (and I just completely invented this percentage), that translates into 150 monthly customers buying Victoria’s Secret’s products after having searched the word “pink” on Google.
That’s VERY powerful.
Here’s a quick overview of their keyword rankings around the world.
Globally, Victoria’s Secret ranks for an incredible 680 thousand keywords, with almost 35,000 of them ranking in the top 3 (65,000 in the top 10).
The next graph gives a more specific look at the evolution of the website’s keyword rankings on the US market over time.
So how does the website rank so well for all these amazing keywords?
Well, Google has over 200 criteria for ranking websites on its Search Engine, which can be summarized into three categories: On-page, Off-page and Technical SEO.
Victoria’s Secret doesn’t have a blog or work specifically with Content Marketing strategies. This leaves us with Off-page and Technical SEO.
And we’re now going to look at one of the most important factors; the backlink profile (off-page).
Backlinks have a direct influence on the rankings of the website’s pages, but it also happens to be the second largest incoming traffic channel for victoriassecret.com (referrals), as seen in the Traffic Sources graph.
Talk about two birds with one stone…
So let’s have a look at some of Victoria’s Secret’s referrals and analyse the traffic that comes from it.
16% of the total website traffic comes from referrals. That’s almost 5 million users visiting victoriassecret.com after clicking a link from another website.
And these referrals have a double effect, as links are also a powerful authority indicator to Google. They increase keyword rankings in the search engines, as well as bring traffic directly to the website’s pages.
Let’s take a look at some examples from the graph above.
As we will see later in the User Experience section, Victoria’s Secret uses a lot of promotions on their products to attract customers and use the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) effect.
Coupon websites like Dealsea.com take advantage of these promotions and keep track of any changes to keep its users informed. By informing their readers of new Victoria’s Secret promotions, the website earns money from the brand through affiliate links.
Promotions are a very strong way to bring in new customers and keep users on their heels. And Dealsea brings in almost 300,000 visitors to the Victoria’s Secret website alone every month.
Hulu.com is an online streaming platform, enabling VS to leverage video content and earn traffic from its awesome commercials.
I don’t have access to Hulu.com to verify this but I’m pretty sure that the company has some sort of advertisement on its platform similar to YouTube Ads.
Here’s a look at what one of these ads looks like.
Video advertisement is a great modern way of bringing users to a website. And as we can see in this example, Hulu.com brings in 150,000 monthly visitors.
Hip2Save is another coupon website, tracking various deals from the brand to give out to its readers.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the promotion articles are filled with affiliation links, meaning that if a user clicking on one of these links results in a sale for Victoria’s Secret, Hip2Save earns a commission.
Once again, a large amount of monthly traffic comes from this website (130,000 visitors), making these affiliation deals very interesting for both parties.
These are the websites that bring the most traffic through referral links to victoriassecret.com. But, to have a good ranking on Google and bring in as much traffic as possible from referral websites (the double effect I mentioned earlier), this list of referrals needs to get much longer.
So let’s have a look at the broader picture of referrals: the backlinks.
Basically, the backlink profile is the full list of referrals, containing every website that has a link to victoriassecret.com somewhere on its domain.
But why is it still so important to have a large number of backlinks?
It’s not. The number of backlinks itself has no importance by itself.
What’s most important about backlinks is to make sure that websites who are linking to you are of high quality. That these websites are talking about you in a good way, with links inserted in a correct position and bringing high quality traffic, just like the referral websites we analysed above.
Low quality backlinks is one of the most dangerous things a website can have. With a large number of them, Google will almost certainly throw a penalty at you, bringing any website to SEO hell.
All in all, victoriassecret.com has an insane number of referring domains, with over 16,000 websites talking about them through over 600,000 backlinks.
As seen on the referring domain graph above, this number has been growing rapidly in the last year, going from 14k to 16k.
And Victoria’s Secret being Victoria’s Secret, the website has some very high-authority websites talking about them. The Guardian, Forbes, Huffington Post, Telegraph, Bloomberg, USAToday, BusinessInsider… The list goes on.
But a large website like this one also has its share of low-quality referring domains. It’s unavoidable.
What’s most important though is to have a balanced backlink profile with more high-quality websites than low-quality. And VS excels in keeping a balanced profile to make sure the website keeps up its rankings
The way these backlinks are inserted as hyperlinks is also an important factor. It’s what we call anchor text.
Victoriassecret.com has over 39,000 different anchor texts. That’s one of the largest anchor text distributions I have ever seen.
One reason for this huge variety of anchor texts is language. VS has platforms across many markets and sells its products online all over the world, creating opportunities for backlinks incoming from everywhere.
But a balanced distribution doesn’t only reside in a large number of them. To show Google that links are not built artificially, these percentages are to be followed:
- 70% Branded Anchor Text
- 20% Naked Links
- 5% Generic Anchors
- 1% Exact Match Anchors
And as we can see, VS’s distribution doesn’t really follow this guideline.
- Taking into account that approximately half of the “Other” section contains branded anchors, these are responsible for 55% of the total anchor distribution.
- Naked links are responsible for 11% of the total anchors.
- The word “here” has 3%, and
- “Victoria’s Secret fashion show” has 2%
Balancing these out would help VS keeping a cleaner anchor distribution profile and avoid any penalties for artificially building links.
However, as the website has such a large amount of anchor texts, we can assume that a very large number of them are varied exact match anchor texts or links to specific pages, which is not a bad thing.
This is nothing alarming in itself. But when looking at keyword rankings and referring domain graphs, we see a dip at the end of 2017. Maybe this has something to do with it?
Now let’s move on from backlinks and have a look at the technical SEO side of things.
We could go on for hours talking about technical points of a website. But although this is an in-depth analysis, I’m not going to do that.
Let’s have a look at two critical points in a website that have a clear impact on keyword rankings: click depth and page speed.
Click Depth is an important factor both for SEO purposes and user experience. The closer all pages are from the home page, the easier and more convenient it is to navigate the website.
It affects these two crucial elements in the same way and for the same purpose, but not with the same target.
On one hand, having pages just one click away from the home page allows you to save crawl budget for the Google bot, thus allowing the bot to crawl and index more pages, more often, and update their rankings regularly. For SEO, a strong internal linking structure also evens out link juice, boosting the rankings of all pages across the website.
On the other hand, users find it much more pleasant when access to all pages from the website doesn’t require clicking more than 2 or 3 times.
As we can see on the above graph, VS’s website is very well built in this way, with over 75% of the website’s 12,000 pages being accessible with 3 clicks or less.
This is largely thanks to the top menu of their pages (which we will have a closer look at in the UX section) which links to all categories directly from all pages of the website, creating a solid internal linking structure.
Page speed is an important factor in rankings for Google, and it’s clearly an element Victoria’s Secret could work on.
With a loading time of 7.5 seconds, I almost had time to fall asleep before the full home page was loaded. It’s very slow.
Unfortunately for VS, reducing their page speed would mean lowering the amount of images on the page or reducing their quality, which isn’t ideal for a fashion brand.
Because just like Click Depth, page loading speed is an important factor both for the Google bot (the slower the page, the fewer pages the bot can crawl) and for the users (who get frustrated by slow loading) who navigate the website.
Overall, Victoria’s Secret has a very powerful SEO. Their keyword rankings are very strong, their backlink profile is diversified and full of high-authority links, and their website is built with a top-notch structure.
But what’s so beautiful about SEO is that it’s never perfect. It can always improve. Victoria’s Secret can continue optimising their website for new sets of keywords, new products, and new categories. It can continue growing its backlink profile by targeting websites who could bring them new qualitative traffic and increase rankings for long-tail keywords and new pages. It can work on improving page speed by reducing the amount of elements that need to load on every page, or reducing the size of existing images…
And the list goes on.
SEO is the company’s strongest channel, and rightfully so. SEO can, and should be, the strongest channel for any online business. The power that a high-authority website brings in terms of direct cash to the company is far beyond what any other channel can bring.
If you are an online business owner, you must remember this.
But that doesn’t exclude the importance of other digital channels to create a balanced marketing mix. As Google is covering more and more of its search results pages with ads and other snippets, it’s equally important to be on top of the paid marketing channels.
Together with strong organic rankings, optimised paid marketing strategies allow companies to take over bigger spaces in Google’s search results pages and appear all across the web, bringing in even more traffic from search engines and other domains.
It also allows the website to appear on page 1 of the SERPs for keywords that are not ranking very well, thus increasing the chance of drawing traffic from search queries that the website doesn’t rank for organically.
In this section, I will analyse how VS is performing with their Google Ads and Remarketing.
As we can see, Victoria’s Secret top ads are almost all directed to the same page; the home page.
And there is a good reason for that. In total, VS’s AdWords account only contains a total of 7.4k keywords, almost one third of which are in the US market.
For an e-commerce brand selling such a large variety of products, this is a big surprise for me.
With Google ads, one of the big advantages in e-commerce is the ability to bid on a very large amount of keywords with low costs.
By optimising accounts through long-tail keyword research and optimised ads, bidding on a big amount of keywords can target small amounts of traffic in many different areas, who then add up to become large chunks of qualitative traffic costing almost nothing.
Bidding on high-volume, short-tail and high-cost keywords can be very expensive and unproductive as the quality of their traffic is often unproven. However, finding the exact match, mid-to-long-tail keywords that almost certainly lead to a conversion with low competition and low costs will be some of the best spent money in any online strategy.
Unfortunately, almost half of the total keywords that VS is bidding on in the US market contains the word “victoria”, “secret”, “victoria’s secret”, “vs” or “pink”, as shown by the top 5 keywords here.
Branded keywords are not expensive, but although it’s essential to bid on its own brand, it’s not a very interesting strategy.
If I was VS, I would spend time developing a solid AdWords strategy to complement its strong SEO efforts. There is a large area of opportunity here to increase traffic from keywords that they are not organically ranking for, such as new products and collections.
As VS uses tons of promotions on their website and in their e-mails, the company could also complement these efforts by tailoring specific promotion ads in Google and bidding higher on the product-related keywords to make ads more attractive and increase traffic.
I have spent the last few weeks going over victoriassecret.com. I have spent countless hours looking through their pages, products, testing the shopping cart, personalising my account, subscribing to the newsletter…. And I haven’t been targeted by a single remarketing Ad.
Maybe I’m just not the right type of user, but I doubt it. Having spent that much time on the website, I must be a good remarketing target.
Just like AdWords, remarketing is a big area of opportunity for VS. As much in Google as on Facebook, where, in fact I haven’t seen any ads from them either.
Remarketing can be a very cheap and effective channel, if set up correctly. With the great designs the brand has, VS could leverage remarketing to increase conversions.
One channel where I have been targeted (a lot) though is e-mail.
Here’s a snapshot of what my inbox looks like when searching for Victoria’s Secret (yes, I subscribed to their newsletter).
That’s a VERY aggressive e-mail marketing strategy. Two, sometimes three e-mails per day.
And I can’t blame them. E-mail marketing has proven to be a very strong strategy with a 28.5% higher ROI than social, especially in e-commerce.
Victoria’s Secret is working with tons of promotions on their website and with their partners, so it’sunderstandable that they would send multiple e-mails daily to their newsletter subscribers’ inboxes. According to Clench Media, 45% of people redeem coupons via their mobile devices.
Here are a couple of examples of what these e-mails looks like (I’ll just show you a part of it, as they can be very long). One is from Victoria’s Secret, and one’s from PINK.
The design looks great. As we can see the VS team really puts a lot of effort into their e-mails. Promotions, new collections… everything is in there to make avid Victoria’s Secret shoppers go back to the website and spend some money.
If users subscribe to the newsletter, it shows that they are interested in the brand’s products. It shows that they like and trust the brand, and that they want to be informed on what’s going on.
Too few companies leverage this properly, but VS does this in a great way (almost too great in my opinion… I think I’ll unsubscribe from that newsletter now, thanks).
One thing I’m quite surprised about though is that I haven’t been targeted by any cart abandonment e-mails.
Cart abandonment e-mails are an essential strategy for any website that has a shopping cart. With a staggering 69% rate of shopping cart abandonment, it is crucial for online brands to bring these customers back to their website and finish what they’ve started.
With the quantity of e-mails that Victoria’s Secret is sending, it would be a smart move from them to start looking at cart abandonment e-mails as a mean to bring back customers who haven’t finished their shopping.
Now that we’ve gone over all the channels bringing traffic to victoriassecret.com, let’s have a look at the most crucial part of Victoria’s Secret’s online strategy.
What’s really impressive with Victoria’s Secret’s website, is that it changes ALL the time. I keep going on there, and I see new promotions, new images, new products… All the more reasons to come back to the website regularly to check out what’s new.
Unfortunately for this review, I realised too late that using the Wayback Machine wasn’t possible on the website due to their robots.txt blocking the archiving, as seen on the picture below. For this reason I won’t be able to show or analyse various home pages over time, but I would strongly recommend regularly visiting the website’s home page to see what these guys are doing with their promotions.
Let’s have a look at what their home page looked like during the Christmas period, a very important part of the year for any fashion brand.
Promotions, Promotions and…. Promotions!! People know VS is expensive, so they’re looking to get it at the best price. This allows the brand to keep their customers addicted to coming back to the website.
By changing the home page often and offering new promotions regularly, VS is keeping their customers on their heels… constantly. It’s VERY aggressive.
Let’s have a look at the home page by dissecting the page into each part.
Above the fold
Victoria’s Secret is a brand that sells much more than a product; it sells a lifestyle.
This lifestyle is mostly put forward by the models that wear and promote the Victoria’s Secret brand.
The underlying message is: “wear Victoria’s Secret products and you will look as good as our models”.
This is very powerful and not uncommon in the fashion world. Most brands use this strategy in some way through the choice of their models, selling a lifestyle or a vision.
But why am I mentioning this? Because, as we can see in the attention and heat maps, the products themselves are barely put forward above the fold.
As we can see in the following regions of interests’ picture, none of the other regions of the picture than the models seem to draw any attention from users at all.
This is very different from websites or products we have analysed in past articles. Most brands are specifically targeting the solution that their product brings and putting their products on the front page.
But not here. The models and the context are more important than the products themselves.
Selling the lifestyle…
Note two important features on this page that we see directly above the fold:
- The promotion header at the top of the page
- The promotions footer at the bottom of the page
These features follow the consumer while scrolling down, making sure users stay aware of existing promotions.
The Top Menu
The top menu encompasses all Victoria’s Secret’s categories and allows users to always be one click away from their desired products.
It’s a great navigation tool built more professionally than most menus you’ll see out there.
It contains suggestions with its “Sexy Solutions”, “Trending Now”, “What’s Hot Now” and “Gifts” sections to help users find what they are looking for. It also shows “Limited Time” promotions for each section, allowing users to be informed of which products are being promoted without changing pages.
Further down the page, VS presents its first promotion, directly followed by a second, third and fourth promotion.
Here it gets interesting.
As we can see, Victoria’s Secret was initially very interested in putting forward their models and selling the lifestyle.
Here, the promotions are much more focused on the promotion texts and the products than the model. The strategy has shifted from selling the dream to selling the product.
Let’s have a look at all of these promotions one by one, as well as their attention and heat maps.
As we scroll down the page and analyse the way it’s built, it’s interesting to try and understand the strategy behind Victoria’s Secret’s home page.
It’s all about prompting people to start shopping by using the FOMO effect to the extreme while selling a dream lifestyle of beautiful and sexy.
As opposed to a startup like Casper who’s selling “the best mattress”, VS doesn’t spend much time talking about the quality of the fabric, the speed of the delivery or technology behind its successful products.
They’re not trying to tell a story like Daniel Wellington, either. There is no story. It’s the sexiest lingerie brand in the world, period. Now, buy it! There’s a promotion going on.
Let’s keep scrolling.
It’s that time of year again. Christmas is here!
As many shopping brands were doing during that period, Victoria’s Secret was helping its users find good gifts for Santa Claus to bring home.
I’m a bit surprised by the minimalistic design of this part of the page. No models, no product pictures… Just some glitter. Not very successful at drawing my attention.
Maybe they want to avoid more pictures to increase page speed? Or maybe they want users to concentrate on promotions over gifts?
In either case, I don’t think the VS team spent too much time on this. It’s just kinda… there.
Let’s move on.
Showing Off Influencers
I really like this. I even think that every e-commerce brand should use Instagram and show off their influencers on their website.
Once again, leveraging influencers and using Instagram pictures to “humanise” the VS models is a great way for users to relate to these superstars and tell themselves “I can also be sexy like that”.
If VS were able to install the “buy what you see” feature, that would be even more awesome. This implies that a user would click on an Instagram photo and see the products that are being worn by the subject and be able to buy it directly.
Daniel Wellington has done this in an awesome way as you can see here.
Obviously, it would be slightly different than buying a watch, but in any case it would be awesome to be able to buy products that are worn by people on Instagram. It allows you to not only see the products, but also to understand in which context they are worn.
And that’s very powerful.
Let’s keep moving to the bottom of the page.
The footer is a good way of providing users with useful information. It is also a good way of creating a strong internal linking structure for the website.
In Victoria’s Secret’s case, the internal linking aspect isn’t really needed, as the top menu takes care of that.
Here, the footer is mainly for helping users with a Help menu, easy access to the account, presenting other ways to shop with the store locator, or providing other means of following VS through social media.
However, an important element (often used in footers) is the e-mail signup box. This website has one, but it’s just not big enough.
As important as the e-mail strategy is for VS, I believe it would be a smart move to make this box more visual and more attractive to draw the user’s attention. I would even test bringing it higher up on the page, all the way up to the top.
It would be smart to have a message like “sign up for our newsletter and be part of the few who know about all our exclusive promotions” to lure more users into inserting their e-mails and helping to grow the brand’s e-mail list.
Now that we’ve fully analysed the home page, let’s continue our UX journey into the product pages.
The product page looks pretty standard for an e-commerce website. I like the filter menu which is on top instead of the more commonly used sidebar.
In terms of design, the pictures and the layout look great. Our Clarity Score picture shows how clearly the items on the page are presented in comparison to other elements of the page.
The idea is clearly to present the items to the users, and VS have done this perfectly.
You can add each product to your “Love list”, which is a nice way to save your products for later or compare them without placing them in the shopping cart. Only negative part here: you need an account.
Presenting the Product
Clicking on a product on the page opens Quick View.
This feature nicely presents the product with a subtle way of presenting the existing promotions for the items.
However, although the call to action button is a clear bright pink, it’s not nearly as visible as it should be to optimise the conversion of the user, as shown on the attention and heat maps
To increase conversions from Quick View, VS should draw the attention towards the two important features of this page:
- The promotion
- The call to action button
Being very active with promotions, VS constantly tries to incite their customers to buy more. But to unveil the power of these promotions, the page has to make sure the user sees it.
Making the text bigger, brighter, bolder, or adding a flashy (but good looking) background colour to the text would all have positive effects on drawing the user’s attention to the promotion.
In regards to the call to action button, it deserves a bigger spot. It’s actually quite small for the size of the Quick View window. Increasing the size of the button and changing the colour to create more contrast will have a direct impact on its visibility, resulting in more products added to the customer’s bag.
Another solution is to bring the button higher up in the window, just below the title.
The sidebar Shopping Cart is great, with a clear summary of the products as well as some upsells with a products sidebar.
Checkout with PayPal is a good shopping option as well.
I’m slightly surprised that the Live Chat is only available from this point on. Why is it not appearing during the shopping experience to help users with their shopping?
The checkout page is also pretty standard, although a few improvements could be made to increase the chances of users going through with their purchase.
I would remove the promotion at the top and bottom of the page to avoid distractions. Same comment about the live chat. Remove distractions.
A summary of the products that I’m buying would be great as well in the right-hand sidebar so customers don’t need to go back to be sure of what they’re buying. You can click on the “View Shopping Bag” to see the products again, but this relies on an action from the user. Instead, this sidebar should be open at all times during the checkout process.
Asking for an e-mail address at this point is good but it would be smart to do it even earlier. I would suggest that VS create a page asking for the e-mail before asking for a billing address. This later allows for the cart abandonment strategies we discussed earlier.
So, once I’ve gone through the three phases of this checkout page (Address, Delivery and Offers & Payment), I get redirected to another page on a subdomain to finish the payment.
Honestly, this feels a bit clumsy. Why can’t I finish the payment on the original domain? Or why wasn’t I directly redirected to this subdomain to have a full checkout process here?
It doesn’t make sense to split the process into two different steps. This second checkout actually looks much better, and I would suggest that the whole process would be made here.
But being redirected at this point to a new page is sure to create some frustration and having people leave the website. VS needs to simplify this.
Let’s now have a look at what all of this looks like on Mobile.
As I mentioned earlier, victoriassecret.com changes all the time. Since I started writing this article, I have seen many different home pages.
And because I cannot have access to the Wayback Machine, I don’t have access to the same home page as I analysed in the Desktop UX.
So let’s have a look at what the current website looks like on Mobile.
This new home page confirms what was already the case on Desktop; the models are in essence more important than the products themselves, as we can see on the heat and attention maps.
On mobile, the attention of the user is drawn towards the top promotion and the models. The products are barely seen, or at least not at a first glance.
Just like the Desktop version, the product page is good at keeping things clear for the user to navigate the page.
However, as we can see on the heat map, the product page is similar to the home page in that it directs the attention of the user towards the promotion and the models, more than the actual products that are for sale.
Presenting The Product
As Quick View isn’t really possible on mobile, VS has made a full page for presenting the product on the mobile website.
I would give similar recommendations on this mobile version as I did on Desktop. The call to action button needs a bigger spot.
I can’t even see the button without scrolling down. Even though scrolling is more intuitive on Mobile than it is on Desktop, I would strongly advise VS to bring the button higher up the page to allow users to see it just like it does on the Shopping Cart page.
The Shopping Cart is clean, intuitive, and has a clear CTA button at the top of the page to move forward with the purchase.
Checkout step 1 & 2
Same comments here as on Desktop; it’s too complicated to divide the checkout process into 2 steps. VS needs to fix this.
Overall, victoriassecret.com is a great website. It’s easy to navigate, easy to access and easy to shop on.
This website made its first sale in 1998 and has its share of experience in this field.
But this doesn’t make the website perfect. It has a great structure and design, with some small and easy, but important changes VS could increase conversions and make the website even more pleasant.
How Can A Startup Replicate Victoria’s Secret’s Online Success? (10 Key Takeaways)
It’s easy! Just get yourself an army of supermodels.
Jokes aside, Victoria’s Secret is a brand that has been around for 40 years. It has its share of experience, to say the least.
But once again, that doesn’t mean that everything they do is perfect. They do a lot of incredible things, but lessons can also be learned from things they are not doing as well.
As a startup or even as a well-established business, here are the 10 key takeaways from Victoria’s Secret that can boost the digital marketing of any company.
- Leverage influencer marketing. Create yourself a pool of influencers on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook that talk about your brand. It’s best if it’s organic (like Daniel Wellington), but it also works with partnership programs if you spend your money the right way.
- Listen to your customers. Hear what they have to say and answer their needs. Adapt your strategies to their feedback. Create an aura of positivity around your brand and make users feel like they are part of something.
- SEO is your most important channel. Nothing beats organic traffic in terms of profits. It is a long term effort indeed but worth every penny you will invest. Optimise your website, build a strong backlink profile and get some nice content on there.
- Page speed is important. Decrease your loading time to the minimum to avoid frustrating users and maximise the Google bot crawling budget.
- Keep your pages close to the home page. It will improve navigation both for users and the Google bot and will spread link juice evenly across your website, increasing keyword rankings for all pages.
- Use AdWords to its full capacity. Develop a balanced strategy using mid to long-tail keywords coupled with catchy adtexts. Google Ads is a powerful channel when used correctly and should not be neglected.
- Use remarketing. It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it can be used both on AdWords and Facebook. It brings back customers who already know about your brand and often has high conversion rates.
- E-mail marketing strategies can be very successful. 91% of internet users use e-mail, making it one of the most used services online. Use it.
- Don’t forget about cart abandonment e-mails. Bring back users who have already been on your website and started their shopping but haven’t finished. These people have a great chance of pursuing what they’ve started and becoming customers.
- Make the user experience of your website as easy as possible. Guide your users through the purchase by simplifying the steps to the maximum. Big CTA buttons and few steps are key to success.
Lots of great lessons can be learned from a big brand such as Victoria’s Secret. Good or bad, there are things to replicate and things that can be improved, and business owners should look at what big brands like this one are doing to find inspiration for their own companies.
VS has perfectly transitioned from traditional marketing to the online world, creating one of the most influential social media channels in the world along with some top-notch SEO and a great website.
However, there are still improvements that can be made in channels such as Google AdWords, Facebook or E-mail marketing.
But the most important thing that we keep learning through these in-depth articles is that Digital Marketing remains the most interesting and diverse way of marketing in the world. So many strategies can be used, in so many different ways.
And everyone can do it, at every level.
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