Kohl's: Inbound Marketing Savvy

What is Inbound Marketing?

From the readings, I learned “inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention” (Hubspot). It focuses on creating content visitors want to read and slowly converting them to customers and, ultimately, promotors of the business. I’ve broken down my inbound marketing strategy for Kohl’s into four areas:

1. Attract

This stage involves four key areas: blogging, SEO, website, and social publishing. Kohl’s is performing fairly well in this category with their incredibly easy-to-navigate website and excellent customer service through online and over-the-phone representatives. As I have discussed in previous homework assignments, their website appears prominently when searching for notable keywords and all pages have been optimized to help customers quickly find what it is they’re looking for. However, Kohl’s is greatly lacking a company blog. They are missing the opportunity to create educational content for visitors that could differ them from their competition: Sears, Target, Walmart, etc. This type of content would attract visitors, especially if it were published to their social media channels. Currently, their socials are very heavily ad-based and feature product placement in all posts. Delivering this educational content would draw in visitors and convert them to customers. Kohl’s is on the right track for creating educational content based on the videos found on their YouTube channel, including “Swim Fit Solutions” and “How to Tie a Bow Tie,” along with their “Hometown Stories of Greatness” community outreach series. These videos are not blatantly promotional, and give added value by being educational to viewers. I would recommend for Kohl’s to expand on this type of content through a company blog to attract more customers to their website.

2. Convert

This stage involves converting the visitors we’ve attracted to Kohl’s website from the previous step to customers by gathering their contact information from forms, calls-to-action, landing pages, and contacts. Kohl’s currently has a newsletter for visitors where by leaving their email address, they’ll be notified of exclusive sales and discounts. This provides a channel for Kohl’s to push their products with the incentive for customers being the coupons. The viewer can sign-up for the newsletter via their call-to-action button “Sign-up for our Sale Alerts today” which then takes the viewer to a landing page to enter their email address. The visitor is offered a coupon for an extra 15% off their next purchase in store or online, email updates about their biggest sales, exclusive free shipping offers, promo codes, and online savings in exchange for leaving their email. In exchange for offering discounts, Kohl’s gains the invaluable list of customer emails to push their products to. When receiving these emails, visitors will be tempted by the sales to browse the website and place orders. My recommendation for Kohl’s is to create forms and calls-to-action besides for obvious promotional reasons. I would have on Kohl’s blog to offer educational white papers and webinars about their Kohl’s Cares program and how customers can become involved in their community outreach initiatives. This type of educational and community-minded content would put Kohl’s in a favorable light from a public relations perspective, and draw customers to the website to purchase products knowing it is a “good” company.

3. Close

Closing involves converting the leads Kohl’s has gathered through their call-to-action buttons and landing pages to customers through Customer Relationship Management, closed-loop reporting, email, and marketing automation. Kohl’s can track to see which customers have left their email addresses and how much time has passed before they have placed an order. Currently, they send out emails advertising an exclusive discount for customers they “haven’t heard from in a while” to try and draw them to the site to browse and purchase products. They also currently have marketing automation emails sent if products are left in your shopping cart and you haven’t purchased, reminding you to “take another look.” I feel Kohl’s could improve with their emails by sending ones that are not as promotional and more educational. They could send content from their company blog about “New Ways to Improve Your Outdoor Living This Summer” or “Father’s Day Gift Guide” to push their products in a more educational manner. Kohl’s can then track which customers read which articles, and personalize their emails to cater to their interests and increase sales.

4. Delight

The final stage involves interacting with customers after the sale through surveys, smart text, and social monitoring to continue a positive relationship withcustomers. Kohl’s currently sends out customer satisfaction surveys after customers have received their products to rate the quality of the product and their overall experience with the company. They often provide an incentive for completing the survey with a promise of an exclusive coupon. Kohl’s also encourages customers to leave reviews of their products on their website to help benefit other customers when ordering. Overall the company does a great job of responding to negative reviews on product pages and negative comments on their social media, always offering to fix any problems as best they can. I feel offering this superior customer service works to delight Kohl’s customers and keeps them coming back knowing they will have a positive experience.

Audience Persona

From research, I gathered that a “marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience” (Buffer). I created the following image characterizing the deal-seeking mother for Kohl’s:

Content Offers

To motivate mothers like Heather to purchase from Kohl’s, Kohl’s has to create enticing content offers.  For example, Kohl’s could write an article about the “Top 10 Industry Trends” in women’s spring fashion for this season and then link to their products that follow these trends. This article would appeal to frugal, fashionable moms because they could be on trend at reasonable prices. Another idea is to offer a product demonstration video for redecorating a certain area of the home. For example, Kohl’s could create a video on “How to Get Your Patio Ready for Summer” and feature the home of a customer that could use updating. The viewers would see the space come to life with Kohl’s products, and then be interested to check out the products for themselves on the website after seeing them in the design. Kohl’s could send videos out like these to their viewers via their email lists, post on their company blog, and share on social media to help draw in customers in both an educational and less obviously promotional manner. (HubSpot)


As stated earlier, Kohl’s currently does not have a company blog and I highly recommend them starting one to facilitate a more educational conversation about their products. For blog ideas, they could do the following:

Title: “How to Throw a Summer Dinner Party in 7 Easy Steps”

Learn how simple it can be to throw a festive and fashionable dinner party for your family and friends this summer with our step-by-step video! The article would go on to feature Kohl’s products in a tutorial-style article and appeal to the audience persona of fashionable moms looking to create an inviting home on a budget.

Title: “Get to Know Lauren Conrad and What Inspired Her Latest Kohl’s Clothing Line”

Learn about Lauren Conrad, accomplished designer and New York Times best-selling author, known for her time on “The Hills” and her widely popular self-titled blog. See what inspired her latest Kohl’s line and how you can channel her Cali-girl vibe! This article would appeal to younger mothers looking to stay fashionable on a budget.

Email Marketing

Kohl’s is very active with their email marketing on a promotional basis and sends out emails regularly promoting new discounts, free shipping, and exclusive offers for the Kohl’s Charge customers. The subject lines reflect their promotional nature with “30% and Free Shipping Now Through Sunday” and “Our Biggest Sale of the Season.” Their emails are designed well with eye-catching graphics and call-to-action buttons including “Shop Now” and “Browse.” I would recommend for Kohl’s to make a greater effort to personalize their emails by adding the recipient’s name to the subject line. They currently tailor their emails to their customers by sending them notifications if items are still left in their shopping cart and discount codes if they haven’t shopped with the retailer in a while. All their emails are mobile friendly and lead to a mobile-friendly version of their website, making it more accessible and increasing the odds of customers placing an order. I feel Kohl’s sends out the appropriate amount of emails, but would benefit from changing some of their promotional emails to more educational content, as I recommended earlier for their blog. Sending out this type of content would change the opinion of subscribers from Kohl’s being purely a retailer pushing products to a trusted store for fashion and home advice. Having this change in opinion for viewers of Kohl’s will give them an advantage over their competition and increase consumer trust and subsequently, sales.

Metrics & Reporting

Inbound marketing for Kohl’s would humanize the brand as more than a website by building and nurturing relationships with customers, and subsequently position themselves as an industry leader amongst home and apparel retailers. The efforts above must be measured for effectiveness in order to make the most of their inbound marketing efforts. Methods include: (Inbound Marketing Agents)

  1. Referral traffic to the Kohl’s website from the company blog, emails, and social media. Kohl’s should put more effort into the channels that are funneling less traffic to harness more sales.
  2. Track how many emails are collected as part of subscriptions to the company blog and subscriptions to the sales alert newsletter.
  3. Track coupon redemptions for the unique codes that are given out as part of the sales alerts, part of the company blog, etc. to see where traffic is coming.
  4. Monitor the number of returning visitors and see if inbound marketing increases the return rate.
  5. Monitor the bounce rate of people who click on the “call-to-action” buttons to the website from the blog and newsletter but do not place an order. Customize emails to draw these customers back to the site.

These metrics and reporting can be summarized using software such as Google Analytics, Parse.ly, SumAll and Raven Tools. (Entrepreneur)