Not long time ago I landed on rolex.org, a brand-new website signed by the homonymous brand. Welcomed by an emotional documentary about the brand’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, I quickly found myself facing an infinite universe of content. From long articles to dynamic video interviews, I soon realized that no actual products were featured on-site.
Indeed, launched on December 10th 2018, this website showcases philanthropic brand storytelling as a complement to the commercial website (rolex.com). Users are immersed in an inspirational and educational world, which goes way beyond watchmaking and the famous timepieces featuring the golden crown. The keyword “Perpetual” is regularly repeated throughout the website, underlying the brand’s commitment to preserve humanitarian domains such as Arts and Science.
Working in marketing, I may tend to immediately think that this is a pure strategic move to further nurture the brand’s desirability and to compete against other industry players such as Vacheron Constantin with its rich heritage website subdomain, or Audemars Piguet recently communicating the opening of its new Museum in Le Brassus by 2020. However, from a watch aficionado standpoint, it is also true that the Rolex founding and legacy have always remained quite mysterious to the public, and this new channel is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the company’s mindset.
Now, should we go for a subdomain or a separate, dedicated site as Rolex did?
Benedicte Soteras, SEO Manager at DLG (Digital Luxury Group) shares her opinion: “If we consider creativity, brand image and technical complexity, having a separate website is a good idea. From a Search Engine Optimization point of view, on the other hand, it would have brought in a lot more advantages to Rolex to have all this insightful and beautiful content on its flagship site. If we take a look at the number of backlinks generated over a short period of time (over 200K in the span of a few months), we can immediately observe the potential impact it could have on domain authority and ranking”. Long story short; it depends on your objectives and priorities.
On the same day of the launch of rolex.org, Rolex also tweeted for the first time! Although possessing its official account since 2012, the brand had not communicated through this platform until now, favouring other channels such as Instagram and Facebook.
Historically, Rolex has always had a very product and PR-oriented social media strategy, especially through the promotion of its Ambassadors: who has not seen a post of Roger Federer kissing a cup while featuring an Oyster Perpetual Datejust II on his wrist? However, by promoting the content of rolex.org and using #Perpetual on all its posts, it seemed that the brand wanted to use Twitter to reposition its digital message towards the company’s heritage and values.
However, from post 7 on, Rolex also started to promote events, Ambassadors and news; content that was also shared on its other social media platforms. Was the philanthropic communication angle abandoned because it did not cultivate enough success, or was it planned ahead? Maybe Twitter is just not the right platform to communicate around the brand’s universe.
According to Pauline Ventura, Social Media Project Manager at DLG, “Twitter users are public information seekers looking for entertaining content and trendy topics. Twitter positions itself as THE platform that shares news first and promotes events such as sports competitions and talk shows, which would strongly be in line with the PR activations that Rolex does with its Ambassadors.”
Moreover, the lifespan of a tweet is known to be the shortest (around 18 minutes) when compared to content posted on other social media platforms…users see years of history disappear in less than half an hour!
“I believe the best fit in terms of content would have been LinkedIn” Pauline continues, “it is one of the most trusted platforms and is strongly linked to one’s value as your network is professional. Brands should put their heritage, history and values forward on this channel, where users are interacting to reflect their best selves.”
Rolex.com, the legendary website showcasing the brand’s masterpieces has also gone through a great digital revamp offering a brand-new design and structure.
At first sight, we land on a very pure and modern website where everything seems very “millennial-style”. To name a few: big Instagram-like pictures, round-shaped filters reminiscent of social media story bubbles, a very mobile-friendly navigation, and a watch configurator option where users can customize their favourite timepiece.
On the customer journey side, the website architecture is somewhat unusual as products are first divided into “Classic watches” or “Professional watches” instead of directly being listed under a specific collection. Many thematic pages have also been created categorizing watches based on gender and materials.
This is an SEO best practice that many luxury brands still fail to implement.
For instance, having a dedicated “Gold watches” page containing strategic keywords such as “rose gold” or “white gold”- terms that are searched thousands of times per month globally - will enable rolex.com to better rank on SERPs (search engines result pages) when users type these keywords. Benefits are multiple: on one hand, search engines reward qualitative content-rich websites, on the other, UX is also improved as users land on a dedicated page that directly answers their query.
Like a museum complementing a boutique, Rolex created an innovative experience around its own universe, completing the renovated commercial site.
Reaching the right audiences, educating them and delivering them the right experience on the right platform are today’s key factors of success for your marketing strategy. Like Rolex, many luxury watch brands carry exceptional stories and beliefs. However, there is often a gap when it comes to translating them to digital and communicating about them online.
The floor is now yours…show us how you leveraged digital channels to showcase your brand’s uniqueness!