Marketing Case Study – Keen Shoes

 Stay calm I am a professional.fw
In keeping with our decision to analyze and give credit to some of our favorite companies and their brilliant marketing strategies, we here at Fringe Digital Marketing Agency decided to focus this week on the retail industry. Since I am currently in the market for some new hiking boots, I decided to type that wonderful keyword (hiking boots) into Google. Once I did this, one of the first sites to pop up is one of my favorite shoe manufacturers of all time: Keen Shoes. As I looked through Keen’s site, I found myself drawn into the Keen world, and I ended up spending far too much time browsing through their social outlets. I decided to put all this extra time I spent to some good use, so I hopped on my computer and started writing. Keen is a very professional, yet laid-back company, and their marketing strategy reflects that. In no way during my journey through their sites did I feel pressured to buy anything. Their site was more along the lines of “Hey, look at all these awesome things we’re doing. Don’t you want to be a part of this?” I think many companies should take this mantra to heart and learn a thing or two from Keen’s marketing team. So, here it goes: my marketing case study of Keen Shoes…


WebsiteKeen’s website provides a nice, clean user interface that is easy to navigate and includes a slow-scanning slideshow display of people happy in natural environments. There is a main-focus shoe advertisement that rotates every short while, and there is a gender-specific link icon touting Keen’s latest deals. There is a clearly defined search tool along the header section, and an excellent social media icon link bar along the bottom section. My favorite part of Keen’s website is their “Find the perfect shoe” icon at the bottom of their page. When you click on this icon a simple interface pops up with three icons: Who is the shoe for (Man, Woman, or Kids), What kind of weather will the shoe primarily be used in, and What activity will the shoe primarily be used for. By quickly clicking through this process, I was instantly able to locate a pair of shoes that would best suit my needs, and it was very difficult for me to restrain myself from hitting the “Buy Now” button.


Blogs – Keen’s blog is an offshoot of their homepage and contains all the main header elements that appear on every page of their site. They try to maintain a rate of 3-4 blog posts per month, and every blog post centers around something healthy and/or nature related. They write a lot about community gardening and organic farming which, though not related to shoes directly, caters to the type of nature-conscious, health-focused consumer that would be attracted to Keen’s style of shoe. Every blog post is unified by a social media share/like bar at the bottom of each article, and though it is not the nicest looking bar I’ve seen, it certainly serves its purpose. This makes it very easy to promote their content in the social realm, and their comment section is easy to add to as long as you are willing to submit your E-mail address. Customers can go one step further and submit a guest blog post about a recent adventure they have gone on. This is one of the best content marketing strategies that any online retailer can engage in. Not only are the customers creating content for you and raving about your product, they are also sharing real-world experiences with your product which is guaranteed to attract other customers of the same mindset.


Social Media:

                Facebook – Keen’s Facebook page is dedicated more to photography with short text than anything else. There are links to a few videos and some longer articles, but overall they post easy to ingest snippets of visual information that shows happy customers out in nature with their product. Keen remains very consistent with their Facebook posts, typically posting new content every 2-3 days. Their main bar is very simple with just a photo link, a like counter, a link to their most-current promotion/contest, and an event box to keep up with current Keen happenings. One thing to take note of is that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the quality of a business, and how many link boxes they keep on the top bar of their Facebook page. The companies with the strongest online campaigns seem to carry the fewest link boxes on their Facebook pages, while smaller, less-successful companies seem to bombard their Facebook bars with as many link boxes as possible. One very good strategy that Keen employs is a best pic of the day customer contest. Customers are encouraged to share their best pictures with Keen shoes, and Keen chooses the best ones and posts them on their Facebook page. This ensures a constant flooding of usable content, and it fosters continued user engagement. You could spend days just searching through their photos section as that seems to be their main focus/purpose for Facebook. It is a smart tactic; no one wants to read long articles on Facebook, but people love funny or interesting material that can be taken in quickly and without much thought.


                Twitter – Keen uses its twitter page primarily to post shoe reviews and short articles as well as using tactics to create continuous user returns. They accomplish this by utilizing a trivia contest where they will post specific questions (usually relating to Keen’s history) and users will comment and answer. This serves to keep a constant influx of engaged visitors to their page. Keen also utilizes a variety of charity contests, the most recent of which was one where customers could post pictures of their gardens, and as long as they tagged Keen in the post, Keen will donate one dollar in support of community gardens. Not only is this a great marketing tactic, but it is something that benefits the Earth on a grand scale which is keeping in line with Keen’s overall mission statement. These are great tactics that keep patrons coming back on a regular basis and will definitely drive up rankings. In terms of consistency, Keen posts on almost a daily basis, so customers can check back daily and there will always be fresh content.

                Google+ – Google+ does not appear to be a large part of Keen’s marketing strategy. They do have a page, but it looks like they posted a couple videos in early 2012 and haven’t touched the page since. This would be a terrible idea for a smaller business, but since Keen has built up such a stellar reputation using other avenues, they do not need to worry about this outlet as much (or at all it seems).

                Instagram – Keen keeps true to their mission of showing consumers utilizing their products out in nature with their Instagram page. Keen has dedicated this page to hosting contests such as “upload a photo of your best sandal tan” and “share your best photo of fall exploration.” Because of this, Keen does not have to put much work into maintaining this site. They simply post a photo with a caption explaining the new contest, and the users are free to do the rest of the work. I am a big fan of this type of contest, because it seems less “salesy” and more fun to participate in.

                Youtube – Keen’s Youtube channel is well laid out and easy to navigate. They have an excess of videos showing commercials for their products as well as behind the scenes looks at the company and the process of making their commercials. These videos do a great job of humanizing the company which was most certainly their goal for this outlet. I found myself clicking through more videos than I thought I would and thinking “man, this looks like a great place to work!”

                Pinterest – This seems to be a major outlet for Keen’s marketing strategy as well. They have an excess of pins that are all laid out in a clean, visually pleasing manner. Though they do have some pins for their product reviews, the majority of their page content is dealing with nature-related pins. Things relating to biking, hiking, and chasing waterfalls are all featured heavily on this page which once again goes along perfectly with their brand’s mission.


SUMMARY – Twitter and the Keen blog seem to be the best complement to Keen’s website in terms of traffic generation and ranking potential. The use of a food truck in conjunction with Twitter listings is a wonderful tactic, and the overall colorful and campy vibe of the content makes it a place that seems really fun to check out. Voodoo Doughnuts is blessed with a wealth of diverse eye-catching products in their arsenal, but many of their tactics can be taken and applied to any section of the restaurant/bar scene. The biggest thing to take away from Keen’s strategy is to make your content fun and relevant to your company’s philosophy (especially your Facebook and twitter). People in these social spheres are not looking for heavy-handed or overly-informational content. They want elements that are simple, fun, and interesting without requiring too much thought or focus.


 Have you seen any companies lately that had a particularly intriguing Marketing strategy? If so, let us know about them in the comments section, and we will make sure to include them in our next marketing case study. Thanks!


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