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Inbound Marketing Case Study

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Inbound marketing is all about drawing customers to a brand. Fashion brand Lilly Pulitzer figured out a way to do it and gain more than four million engagements in the process. In this lesson, we'll look at its case study.

Inbound Marketing Defined

What was the last thing you searched for online? A makeup tutorial? A how-to video on a home renovation project? Where did it lead you? Maybe to a company blog or a social media account? If so, you've been drawn in by a strategy known as inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing focuses on attraction customers through useful or entertaining content.
inbound, marketing, strategy, blog, social media, content

Inbound marketing works by drawing customers to a brand through content they seek out themselves, things like blog posts, infographics, podcasts, videos and social media marketing. It differs from outbound marketing, which includes more traditional advertising messages like magazine ads and postcards. Why? Because it's about getting the consumer to seek out the brand rather than pushing a message on the consumer.

One brand that has successfully used inbound strategies is Lilly Pulitzer, a clothing company that crafts women's and children's clothing using bright colors and bold, whimsical patterns. This lesson will showcase the company's inbound tactics.

Lilly Pulitzer Case Study

When you've been around as long as the Lilly Pulitzer brand (nearly 60 years!), you have to understand the need to change and adapt with the times or face extinction. Rather than invest more money in magazine ads, television commercials or in-person events, the aged brand turned to a source less than a decade old: Instagram.

Instagram thrives on the sharing of photos and videos among friends and family you follow and who follow you. When the new social media network started in 2010, it was primarily used by individuals. Growth in use among athletes, celebrities, and brands turning to the platform for attention from its audience has increased exponentially over the past seven years.

It's also where Lilly Pulitzer turned when it realized it needed to do a better job reaching Millennials.

The Challenge

Lilly Pulitzer's fan base spans multiple generations, loyal fashionistas they call the ''Lilly Girls.'' However, after nearly disappearing from the fashion scene in the 1980s and 1990s, the brand knew it desperately needed to appeal to a younger demographic who would view its clothing as both popular and preppy after years of being their mother's and grandmother's clothing.

The Goal(s)

1. To drive engagement on social media among Millennials, the generation born between roughly 1984 and 2004.

2. To boost online sales among young shoppers.

3. To broaden its appeal.

The Game Plan

The team at Lilly Pulitzer came up with an idea to engage in visual storytelling on Instagram and other social channels. The campaign, dubbed ''Lilly 5x5,'' featured the company's famous wacky prints and bright colors in a 5x5 print, shared five days a week at ''around 5 p.m.-ish.''

The art included original drawings from Lilly Pulitzer in-house artists, and often celebrated holidays, fashion, seasons, pop culture and other patterns. According to the company's public relations department, it became the ''most viewed piece of content continually across all of our social platforms.''

Customers began anticipating the daily share from Lilly Pulitzer and leaving comments asking the company to turn a pattern into a piece of clothing or saying they took a screenshot of the image to use as the background on their mobile devices. The campaign connected the audience with the artists in a way that helped share the story of the brand with a new audience.

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