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In the early Wild West days of the web, a few upstarts took to the unfamiliar terrain to write the new marketing rules before anyone else could. It was…

open season on how the Internet could change not just availability and delivery, but service and engagement too. One of the first to get their well-shod foot in the door was online shoe retailer Zappos.

So why exactly is a USA-delivery-only company so world famous? Essentially because nobody does relationship marketing and customer service quite like them – not even the almighty Amazon. It comes down to a well-curated content marketing strategy that not only knows its audiences, it respects them too.

The company’s Youtube Channel is possibly the best display of this indirect and subtle strategy. While online video sharing has shown phenomenal growth in the last few years, the lazy marketer’s wielding of this powerful tool has all too often been conventional – and blunt – advertising.

Zappos has taken a different (and instructive tack). The company’s account mostly shares videos created by employees on their personal style, as well as expert videos with hair and make-up tips. This is despite the fact that Zappos doesn’t necessarily sell those products. Furthermore, Zappos frequently turns over its Pinterest boards to individual customers to share and manage seasonal themes of their choice. Then there’s the digital magazine Zappos Now, which provides interactive style guides for customers coupled with a buying and wish list feature.

The point is that Zappos has taken the time to create a consistent online experience without making it look like a hard sell. Running through all their platforms is a focus on style without zoning in on shoes. That matters because it all feeds into a brand narrative that ostensibly says that Zappos wants to help customers make their lives more stylish.

Not a unique narrative, perhaps, but when it is built on well-managed restraint and supported by an extra level of customer service, the communication is undeniably powerful.

Take the fact that Zappos employees answer around 5,000 calls a month, and 1,200 e-mails a week. Call centre employees have no scripts and no limit on call times (the longest call reported is 10 hours 29 minutes). Add that to an almost glaring lack of a hard sell across all their branding and what do you get? A level of trust that shows the best of what online marketing can produce.

http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/enterprise-marketing/how-to-create-a-content-marketing-strategy-like-zapposs/
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/zappos-breaks-record-10-hour-customer-service-call

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