The following article first appeared on Retail Online Integration and was contributed by Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate. You can find the original article here.

Most marketers in the fashion or retail space know how critical it is to tie social efforts to quantitative results. Yet many still develop initiatives around products, concepts or messages they’re trying to promote, as opposed to needs their customers want to fulfill. Don’t be fooled. Creativity may win industry awards, but marketers need to ask themselves how that translates to sales.

Then there’s the other approach — the one that focuses on what the customer wants, as opposed to what the business thinks they need. Lilly Pulitzer, a household name in the resort-wear category, is the quintessential customer-centric brand, building a playbook filled not only with innovative ideas, but also insight to support them. The brand says it stands by its original print designs above everything else, and it underscores this by reinforcing its iconic aesthetic across every department.

social media marketing

Lilly Pulitzer’s 5×5 campaign is a great example of this undertaking. The initiative itself revolves around a series of original prints produced by a team of in-house artists. Each one is inspired by fashion, seasons, holidays, and so on. Lending to their charm, the images are published to the brand’s social channels at 5 p.m., five days a week. This gives Lilly Pulitzer’s fans something to look forward to every day.

On Instagram, images tagged with #Lilly5x5 have generated 4.4 million engagements since they were introduced, which accounts for 33% of Lilly Pulitzer’s total Instagram engagement. They consistently rank among the retailer’s top pins on Pinterest, too.

What sets Lilly Pulitzer’s campaign above the rest, however, is how the brand has delved into this visual data to engage both social and nonsocial audiences. I’ve listed three of the company’s most notable initiatives here:

1. Enriching the eCommerce Experience

ecommerce and pinterest

Lilly Pulitzer uses a custom-built gallery to feature five-by-five images on its homepage. Each image drives to the brand’s Pinterest page, where consumers can engage with more than 500 prints. Since images on Pinterest link to product pages, Lilly Pulitzer can easily tie Pinterest content to referral revenue.

2. Design Intelligence

Lilly Pulitzer’s design team identifies trends and learns which patterns, colors and themes are resonating with its audience. If a five-by-five print is a hit on social, the retailer can anticipate the pattern will be popular in its stores too.

3. Product Development


Lilly Pulitzer launched a coffee table-style book on Thanksgiving dedicated to the five-by-five. The brand’s Instagram fans were the first to get word. Curalate’s Like2Buy solution enabled Lilly Pulitzer to drive fans from Instagram to a landing page on its website, where the book could be purchased. Within 24 hours of the announcement, Lilly Pulitzer measured more than a 400% increase in referral traffic from Instagram, compared to its daily average. Over the course of Thanksgiving weekend, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Instagram referral traffic topped Facebook by more than 50%.

While there’s ultimately no definitive way to predict whether a campaign will thrive, Lilly Pulitzer demonstrates that, in practice, a customer-centric philosophy can mean the difference between a fleeting engagement and a lasting impression. With the right tools, you too can use social insights across dominant visual platforms to facilitate customer loyalty and revenue.