Skip to content
Talk With US
Talk With US
Christina Clemens5/7/15 10:43 AM5 min read

Growth Hacking: The ModCloth Model


If you study e-commerce growth like we do, you can’t ignore ModCloth – they do everything right. Starting out in the Carnegie Mellon dorm room of founder Susan Koger, this vintage clothing business grew from collecting thrift store finds to a 100-million-dollar online business. If you’re wondering how Susan and her husband Eric did it – you’re not alone! 

Most of their growth hacking techniques are related to principles around inbound marketing. Inbound marketing refers to the efforts of producing quality content and using methods that attract prospective customers to a company or product versus outwardly approaching them. On the contrary to traditional marketing efforts, inbound focuses on aligning your content with customer’s needs and interests. (Click to Tweet!) There are many takeaways that we can learn from ModCloth’s growth hacking. We’ll look at their website to see how you can take on a similar approach with your inbound marketing efforts.

First, let’s look at what ModCloth does now to streamline their website structure for ease of use. Their landing page is clean with one large scrolling image highlighting their top features for the day. The welcome bar to the left has links to items their customers want most (through the glory of e-commerce, this is all trackable!).

Takeaway: The same rules apply for your website structure. You want to have a user friendly website that highlights exactly what your customers are looking for. Today, tracking capabilities are essential to determine your customers’ pain points and to provide solutions.

Something new is posted on their website around 3-5 times per day, at least. Products come in with limited quantities, so it pays for users to check early and often or risk losing out.

Takeaway: Can you do something similar with your business? You may not be able to upload new items throughout the day, however be sure to keep your website current and keep your prospects interested. Create limited time offers and specials to gain a scarcity effect similar to ModCloth’s. Updating your website with local events and news in your industry is a great idea as well!

Structurally, the ModCloth website has intuitive user experience down to a science. That’s not by accident or stroke of genius – that’s A/B testing at its finest! As a ModCloth user, you can easily filter by size, designer, color, most popular, type of garment, accessory or furnishing. How easy is your website to navigate? 

TakeawayEvery company with an online presence should take the guesswork out of determining which page designs produce the best results for your company. Whip up a few designs and get your A/B testing on!

Now, let’s look at the point of sale – because this is what can make or break a website. ModCloth gives its shoppers the option to choose “Add to Bag,” “Add to Wish list,” and “Add to Amazon Wish list,” which reduces the “abandoned cart” problem. From there, a series of windows open with options for PayPal and credit card payments. Then they give you a tracking number so you know when your new purchase will arrive.

This system works really well if you have a lot of products for sale on your website – especially the wish lists. They act like bookmarks to items customers want, but can’t yet afford, increasing the probability they’ll be back later. 

TakeawaySo at this point, your customers are deciding to use your product. This could mean they are making an actual purchase, subscribing to your blog, or signing up for a free demo. Whatever the transaction may be, the steps your customer takes from landing on your page to the point of purchase must be smooth and structured in order to ensure the best user experience possible.

One of ModCloth's secret ingredients is how they interact with their clients to hone in on exactly what their customers want. Their “Be the Buyer” program allows users to vote on new offerings, effectively crowd-sourcing to see if a new product will be profitable and popular, or not. They have staff monitoring Pinterest and Polyvore boards of their fans, and their “ModStylists” interact freely with their fans on Facebook. Most importantly, they allow – and encourage – user reviews on their website. A bad review gets an immediate response from a customer service representative where all can see it, and good reviews get a cheerful thanks – one review even sparked a heartfelt reply from a customer service rep with both the rep and customer bonding over their grandmothers’ wardrobes. Can you call your customer service heart-warming? Because that’s what ModCloth has going on.

TakeawayEngaging with your prospects and listening to your customers are key elements that are sometimes underestimated. Find out what your customers care about most and strike up a conversation with them. (Click to Tweet) Remember, you’re not here to shove your product in their face. Think more about how you can attract people toward your company and product in a natural way. 

ModCloth’s most recent step was to go mobile – they were among the first online retail companies to produce their own easily navigable app for iPhone and iPad use, and they just came out with a new feature that allows users to search for outfits based on reviews from users who have their exact same measurements. No more wondering if it will fit – you have stats from other users telling you it does. 

TakeawayGet your business mobile! You may not be the first to go mobile, but it will definitely help your success. Take your niche and put it at your customers’ fingertips. Google favors mobile, users favor mobile… Get the picture?

Going mobile doesn't mean you have to create an app either, first you should make sure your site is mobile optimized. Read more on the importance of mobile optimization and the effect it has on your mobile site's search engine rankings with Google's Mobilegeddon algorithm change.

Inbound Marketing Takeaways:

  • Streamline your website structure for ease of use
  • Keep your website current and keep your prospects interested
  • Get your A/B testing on
  • Make your website user experience a good one
  • Engage with your prospects and listen to your customers
  • Go mobile

And, one last golden quote from a 2013 New York Times interview with ModCloth’s Co-Founder, Mr. Koger:

“The traditional model of e-commerce is focused on closing the deal with her every time she comes to the site. We think that’s the wrong way to approach a long term relationship.” Susan adds: “ModCloth is the fashion company you’re friends with.”

Click the link below to learn more about Inbound Marketing and start your journey to higher quality leads and sales to begin reaching your website and business goals!

 Get A Free Inbound Marketing Assessment

Christina Clemens

Check out all of the latest marketing blogs written by Christina Clemens, Inturact's Client Success Manager.