Why Nine Line Apparel dedicates 60% of its marketing budget to Facebook

July 28, 2016 11:34 AM

At Nine Line Apparel Inc., 60% of the marketing budget goes directly to Facebook Inc., says Myles Burke, chief operating officer for the company, which sells military and patriotic apparel to veterans and first responders.

The reason? It works to drive traffic, Burke says. 30% to 40% of the retailer’s mobile traffic comes directly from Facebook. “The good thing about Facebook is that we can show specific content and filter who sees posts by age, male or female, and even more specifically, like if they are a veteran,” Burke says.

In addition to advertising, Burke says uses Facebook in more unconventional ways. For example, it employs the social network to help it decide on new products by asking Facebook users to offer feedback on new potential designs. Paying attention to Facebook has even alerted Nine Line to problems with its mobile site, Burke says. “In October we had a crisis on our website where all the images were accidently deleted for about five minutes,” Burke says. “People immediately began commenting on Facebook and alerted us.”

Nine Line, No. 849 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000 forecasts its mobile sales to grow 46% to $8.75 million this year. Additionally, 59% of Nine Line’s traffic stems from mobile while desktop accounts for 41%.Total web sales in 2015 grew a staggering 391.1% to reach $9.33 million last year, making it the fastest-growing apparel retailer in the Internet Retailer Top 1000. And web sales continue to surge. The retailer forecasts expects online sales will reach $15 million in 2016.

Nine Line clearly has sales growth and Facebook marketing chops in its corner. However, despite strength and growth in mobile traffic, the retailer doesn’t have an app. “A lot of competitors have apps but we don’t see the need to have one right now,” Burke says.

Nine Line is partaking in what Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., calls borrowing “mobile moments” from the enormously popular mobile apps like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (which ranks No. 9 in a recent comScore study in app penetration with 38.6% of smartphone app users having the Instagram app). Retailers, she says, should meet consumers in apps they already frequent on their mobile devices rather than spend time, money and resources to get shoppers to download and use their apps. Going it alone on an app often is unsuccessful, she says.  

A recent report from Forrester Research finds that while consumers spend 85% of their time on phones in apps, they spend the majority of that time with only five apps. What’s more, many of those apps are social or chat apps like Facebook Messenger or What’s App, Ask says. Retail apps account for about only 5% of the time spent apps, she says.

It seems retailers in the forthcoming 2017 Mobile 500 are catching on to this as the number of Mobile 500 retailers with an iPhone app this year remained nearly static at 275 apps compared to 274 last year. Android smartphone apps were much the same with 245 having an Android app versus 244 last year.







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