American Apparel: “We’ve made as much as $50K in one flash sale on Twitter”

Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable marketing tool for edgy clothing brand American Apparel. In an interview recently posted on the Twitter blog, American Apparel’s Director of Marketing Ryan Holiday discusses a single flash sale on Twitter that earned $50,000 for the clothing brand.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers. Why does Twitter work so well for American Apparel?

Realtime Marketing Platform for a Realtime Brand

As a brand that creates, manufactures and sells its product on an ongoing basis, American Apparel considers itself a “realtime” brand and needs a marketing platform that can be used to continually highlight and push new products. This is quite different from the more traditional retail schedule that pushes out products each season, and in limited amounts.

Holiday told Twitter: “We’re not waiting to concentrate everything into one big media moment. Twitter functions really well with our manufacturing system because it is always on like we are, making new things.”

Consistently Engaging

With over 467,000 followers on Twitter, American Apparel is well-established on the platform, thanks to the brand’s commitment to engage users. Numbers have grown largely from organic growth, but also from the regular purchase of Promoted Tweets to push limited-time offers on Twitter; Holiday told AdWeek that follower numbers increased 40% from two years ago.

American Apparel on Twitter

In addition to regular posts (many including images) and flash sales, American Apparel also uses Vine on fairly regular basis, posting a new six-second video every week or two. “We use Twitter for announcements, giveaways, sharing photos, having contests, customer service—basically anything you can think of,” Holiday told AdWeek.

Images are a huge component for American Apparel’s tweets, generally filled with what AdWeek refers to as “sexualized imagery.” Nearly all the brand’s tweet in January included an image of some variety.

 Email Vs. Twitter

As it turns out, the two can work together for American Apparel.  Holiday told Twitter that “The best thing about Twitter is that it’s a short, immediate way to communicate with and reward our fans. With an email, you’ve got to spend time getting it coded, designed and tested. But on Twitter, we can get a message out, do a short flash sale or share a promo code instantly.”

Flash sales have been enormously successful for the brand, allowing short promotions (even for just an hour) that let the brand test and improve while discovering what consumers respond to.  Sales teams at American Apparel often leverage Twitter to meet goals or benchmarks, offering up a quick sale or free shipping to move the needle.

However, Holiday also revealed a new emphasis on Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards, which allow the brand to collect consumer emails via promotions. He told AdWeek that “Email is always going to be best medium to talk to your fans because it’s direct” and now Twitter can provide that data for brands (Facebook already offered a similar option.)

The brand is creating one or two lead generation campaigns per week on Twitter. These produced particularly strong results around Halloween, the brand’s busiest time of year:

  • one tweet/promotion around Halloween costumes led to 100 leads and 2% engagement rate
  • 50% of leads from these campaigns led to new emails (not previously in the brand’s database)
  • these leads had an average order value of $90, about 15% higher than normal average order value

Creating promotions to meet sales goals, focusing on visuals, marketing in realtime for a constantly evolving product, but also getting (good, old-fashioned) emails for direct promotions: Twitter is a platform for all these efforts from American Apparel, and they’re working.

Some final words of advice from Ryan Holiday: “You can embrace the benefits of the medium but you need your strategy to be aligned with what you do elsewhere.”  Could Twitter work for your brand in this way?