Content, new categories, out-of-home advertising, events and authentic influencers are the leading tools in Net-a-Porter’s (NAP) customer acquisition toolbox, according to Heather Kaminetsky, vice president of marketing for the Americas at the global online luxury brand.

Heather discussed these strategies while speaking on a panel titled Innovative Acquisition Strategies for the Modern Retailer at the Women in Retail Leadership Summit in Miami last month.

Since the marriage of content and commerce is the foundation of NAP — the company was founded by former journalist Natalie Massenet, whose goal was to create a shoppabale version of Vogue magazine — it makes sense that content would be a key acquisition channel for the brand.

“We’ve learned that when we syndicate our content and push it through all of the channels that our prospects are looking at, we can acquire them,” Heather said.

Another tactic NAP relies on for customer acquisition is expanding into new product categories. For example, last year the retailer launched a new — and unproven — luxury sportswear category called NET-A-SPORTER in response to customer demand and a desire to harness revenue from a fast-growing market segment.

“We engage with our customers one to one, we survey them, we have questionnaires that go out every week,” said Heather. “From all the data that came back, we knew that sport was a category that we were going into, and in six months we did it. We were the first online luxury retailer to find, group together and market this type of merchandise.”

The sportswear category has brought new customers to NAP — customers who didn’t normally shop at NAP for sports-oriented merchandise.

“We had a lot of Fendi ski wear when we launched, and customers found us and started coming to us to buy the ski wear and then leave,” Heather said. “But we started targeting them and getting them more info our fold. Now, when they look for that Valentino bag that I sell and our competitors sell, they’ll shop with us.”

In addition, six months prior to launching NET-A-SPORTER, Heather said NAP launched a beauty category on its site, a first for the company.

“[The beauty customer] is a different type of customer,” Heather said. “But she’s buying at a higher frequency now as she’s come into our world. We now have segments around the way she shops.”

While Heather said that not every brand can launch new product categories, “it’s been a really great acquisition channel for us.”

Out-of-home advertising is also an important acquisition channel for NAP. While the company just started experimenting with it recently via billboards and phone kiosks that promoted NET-A-SPORTER, it learned that this type of advertising increased direct traffic to its site.

“It’s hard to track out-of-home advertising, but we looked at our direct traffic after posting these ads and those numbers started spiking, which was different from what we were seeing prior,” Heather said. “It led me to believe that new people were coming directly to our site as a result of those ads.”

Another way NAP finds new customers is by reaching out to its best customers — or Extremely Important People (EIP) as the company calls them — and hosting them and their friends for dinners and gatherings. “We started these intimate gatherings about eight months ago and they’re very unique and interesting,” Heather said. “If you’re a customer of ours, we want to meet your friends, and you want to meet other [NAP] customers.”

Online influencers, bloggers and affiliates are also great acquisition sources for NAP. In fact, the retailer has an employee who is solely responsible for all of the relationships it has with these individuals, and regularly meets with them, Heather said.

When it comes to these kinds of one-to-one relationships, it’s important to remain authentic. “As more people are coming online, the more they know what’s authentic and what’s not,” Heather said, “so it’s important to be as authentic as you can possibly be.”

In the future, Heather said that “programmatic advertising will likely be the best way to acquire customers.” As an FYI, programmatic advertising allows retailers to pinpoint where their brand affinity resonates strongest across all digital media channels. It organizes a retailer’s data, as well as second- and third-party data, and layers that data on top of digital media buys for increased targeting capabilities. Programmatic is also helpful from an attribution standpoint; it provides a full breakout of every dollar spent in the system. Advertisers only pay what the impression is worth to them specifically.

How do you acquire new customers? And what do you think of programmatic advertising? Please let us know by offering a comment below!