Inside Kimberly-Clark’s Digital Strategy

Kimberly-Clark is a classic consumer-goods company that hasn’t been slow to adopt the Web. The maker of Kleenex, Huggies, Scott and Cottonelle has been involved with online marketing and digital outreach for a number of years and has continued evolving the effective use of these channels to reach consumers.

Kimberly-Clark set up online communities for its Scott, Huggies and Kleenex websites years ago (well ahead of the social media boom) and gathered thousands of consumers in to share information and tips, send product samples to friends, etc. Today, the company relies heavily on social media, online ad retargeting, video and mobile as part of its digital strategy.

The 140-year-old company is investing in all aspects of digital, understanding that this is where its target customers connect with peers and with their favorite brands. Digiday interviewed Jeff Jarrett, vp of global digital marketing at Kimberly-Clark, asking him to spill the beans about his company’s approach to the various digital channels. Here’s what he had to say:

Does Kimberly-Clark do much in terms of online ad retargeting?
We do retargeting because it is clearly an opportunity to target an interested consumer. We use ad retargeting and search retargeting across the variety of Kimberly-Clark brands. If a consumer visits our property and expresses an interest, there is an opportunity to take advantage of that interest. We have seen some good results. Consumers who visit the brand site are 20 percent more likely to act on a message than a consumer who has not expressed this interest. Furthermore, we are seeing stronger conversion rates among these consumers: 50-60 percent conversion rates.

What’s Kimberly-Clark’s approach to social media?
We take a multidimensional approach, and social is core to our digital marketing strategy. For many of our brands, it is a cornerstone. We use it as a means to communicate to fans but also as a platform to build relationships and drive participation. We facilitate conversations between consumers and give them interesting content to share with each other. This is especially true among our baby-care brands like Huggies. We see high engagement from moms. They are very willing to share ideas and help each other. With our other brands, especially the adult brands (Depends, GoodNites), we have different strategies because social in these areas requires a lot more discretion. We use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube.

What’s your take on Google Plus?
We’ve got a presence there for all the Kimberly-Clark brands. Right now we are watching and monitoring it. The question comes down to how many social networks will survive. From a search perspective, Google Plus is a real advantage. If you get the circles correct and successfully recruit for the circles, you get an opportunity to speak to the right people with the right message. As of now we are not seeing a ton of engagement on Google Plus. The audience there skews male, which is not our key target.

As a CPG brand, it can be difficult to have a direct relationship with the consumer, since it’s the retailers that consumers are buying from. How does mobile help Kimberly-Clark connect directly with consumers?
Mobile is huge for us, primarily as a tool for influencing the path to purchase. We are seeing a high level of engagement on mobile devices when people are shopping and using their devices to view reviews and ratings, check prices and such. Mobile is a strong platform for us for shopper marketing. We are beginning to do more on mobile with regards to partnering with retailers, and we are seeing some nice results in that respect. We launched the Huggies mobile site last year and continue to evolve the features and functionality. Mobile is going to be a core platform for us, especially for targeting moms. We see strong spikes in mobile usage when women become pregnant. We know we need to play there in a big way, and we will continue to increase our mobile investment.

How is Kimberly-Clark using online videos to evoke a reaction — hopefully a purchase — from consumers?
We take a multifaceted approach, which relies heavily on the objective. We do a lot of preroll, and on social, a lot of long-form video and also provide some specialized video for our e-commerce retail partners, placing videos on what we call the digital shelf. These videos — online video product recommendations — are key for driving commerce sales. We’ve even done some testing on this and found it leads to much stronger conversion rates. Our YouTube channels are really important to us. For example, we ran a program for our slip on diapers, around squirmy babies, which resulted in almost 2 million video views. Video works really well in our categories.

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