Positive Outing: Review of ModCloth

There is a big hooplah in this industry about outing companies for things they are doing wrong. No matter where you are on that spectrum, I ask: Why not stop being negative overall? Stop telling people what they are doing wrong and start “outing” the companies that are doing things right. I challenge all of you reading this today to think of a site that “gets it” and tell the world. Send some link equity their way and set the bar for other websites. But more importantly, we can learn from what others do well, not just from what others do wrong. 


*Note: ModCloth is not a Distilled client

My entry is ModCloth, a online vintage and retro clothing retailer started by high school sweethearts. It’s not their clothing that keeps me coming back, it’s the whole business from start to finish. They have great products, even better customer service, and their community really is what makes their business. Here is what I think sets them apart.

Transforming Reviews

Reviews have become the cornerstone to most eCommerce websites. They are a multifunctional part of any product page. They add unique content to the page and give shoppers insights to the products they are considering. I’ve written about this before, but Modcloth does a fantastic job with their reviews on a few levels.

Gamified Reviews

Every time I buy something at ModCloth, I get an email a week or two later asking how I liked it, etc. It reminds me to leave a review after I’ve had some time to wear, try on, and maybe return an item.

The email looks like this (click the screenshot to enlarge):

Followed by the gamification of reviews the reviews area:

ModCloth Reviews Area

Reviews: Tell Me More!

Now the actual reviews are really what make them stand apart from the rest. They ask for but do not require the sizes of product purchased, the measurements of the buyer and any images they might want to share. This makes for amazingly unique reviews. If you shop online and have bought clothes based on reviews before you know that a piece of clothing fits differently depending on the person. If someone leaves the comment that the dress is short but they are 6’ 1“ (tall for a girl), then you take that into account. Small on top? How big is she?

ModCloth Review

This is how you make a difference online. NOT by copying what ModCloth is doing, but by asking what your users need, want and desire to make their purchase process better. How does this translate to better search results? Popularity, links, and all of that, but you also have people that are enthusiastically leaving comments on your items. You aren’t paying for that content. It just happens. I can only imagine what ModCloth’s long tail traffic looks like. 

Reactions to Reviews

This is rather common today with Twitter, but something else I do love about ModCloth is their personal responses to reviews. I don’t know the whole process here as I have never had a bad experience, but just the fact that someone with a name (Katie in this case) responded with a next step is more than most companies do. I’ll talk a little more about their community later, but this was specific to reviews.  

ModCloth Community Replies

Product Descriptions

ModCloth’s product descriptions are fun, not overly SEO friendly (I bolded terms I think are important and there are many) but that’s not the point. They are fun to read and make buying fun. Yes, I read these things. How many people do that on your site? This is the definition of what it means to write for the user, not the bot. From the dress below:

This 1950s-inspired dress is perfect for an after-school date at the ice cream parlor! Wearing this classic ice-blue hue, you’ll be spotted right away by your companion. And, as you share an ice cream float, you’ll both admire the fabric-covered buttons down the front and the dainty cap sleeves. The fitted bodice is the perfect accompaniment to the slightly flared skirt and cinched waist with a matching sash. As you lean in for a sip, the slight stretch of this cotton-blend dress will keep you comfortable. Wear this piece with a knit cardi and T-straps for thirst-quenching style! Love this fetching frock? Check out this dashing design in a host of other haute hues!

Soda Fountain Dress in Ice

Community Interaction

The best part of it all? Their dedication to their community. I mentioned their responses to reviews but they do so much more. Their social interaction is above and beyond, but more than that, they talk to their customers. I have proof of at least three times where they have interacted with me, didn’t bother me, and taken the feedback into action.

Facebook Request

I posted on my own blog a year or so ago a request that ModCloth change their Facebook advertising to go to the product page of the dress they were advertising rather than the dresses page. Even today, I click on those ads because of the pretty dresses. Works every time. And now ... the ads take me to the product page. Perfecto. I assume they tested this and sold more by doing this. (Pssst if the fine people at ModCloth want to let me know the results of their change, I’ll add them here!)



The other thing I have caught them doing is surveys, and there have been two types. Unobtrusive quick surveys like the one below are placed in the site, not through a pop up and just asks a few questions before a thank you and return to the shopping process. 

and the actual survey ...

That’s it! A simple question and then I moved on with my shopping process. No 10 questions about the store, or my shopping process (even though I wasn’t done). Just a question about ”would you buy this?“ 

Though my favorite was a one-on-one focus interview. I responded, naturally as a marketer, to the request for an interview (the ask was made on Facebook if I remember right) and the process was fantastic. I was contacted via email and we set up the interview. It was explained to me that it would take an hour and in return I’d get a $40 gift certificate. I won’t divulge what it was about, but they have implemented the changes I was asked about and all my feedback was taken into account from what I can tell. 


Notice I didn’t add anything in here about title tags, percentage of keywords used on the page, or link building. Those are all just singular tactics. A colleague recently wrote a post over at SEOmoz called ”Guest Blogging - Enough is Enough“ and it gets to the point that one tactic like guest posting (while an effective tactic) is not going to grow your traffic or rankings. It’s the combination of all marketing facets that will grow your brand, domain authority, traffic and in the end, SALES.

ModCloth puts together a number of things but the defining part of every aspect I covered was that it was built for the community. The ultimate takeaway should be to think not of metrics like ranking and traffic, but conversions and engagement. Talk to your customers more and test their feedback. As online marketers, we are not the perfect customers, but I am sure you have some willing to give you feedback on your site and products. All you have to do is ask.

  • To other internet marketers, who are you going to ”out“ next? 
  • To webmasters, what do you want to learn from your customers? How do you plan to ask?

Kate Morris

Kate Morris

Kate joined us after a year running her own search marketing consultancy in Austin, Texas. She brings with her a wealth of experience having worked in-house and agency-side in SEO and PPC. Kateh264 // A native Texan by birth, Kate got her BBA...   read more

Get blog posts via email


  1. I am surprisingly a big fan of Modcloth....A lady friend turned me on to them recently. :)

    Just out of curiosity though.....is Modcloth a distilled client?

    reply >
  2. From an SEO perspective, another cool thing about Modcloth is their unique product line. E-com sites with really unique and engaging products build links organically. Sorta like "product link bait". :)

    reply >
  3. Great Post Katie! I am a huge fan of the reassurance added right below the "Add to Bag" button. On top of that I was blown away when you could even talk to their staff and let them help you pick out the best outfit!

    On the other hand what is your thoughts on social sharing on the product page? I think with ModCloth in particular it is a good fit, but does it take away from the sort of sales attitude? I know as a designer I want my consumers focused on the add to cart button. In my opinion it would be better suited on a page where the customer is already sharing their thoughts (... like say next to the "submit review" button on the review form).

    reply >
    • This is something I actually love about them, the sharing function and that it is optional. There are times I want to share things with friends and ask opinions. With fashion especially, being able to ask other's opinions is so important ... maybe just to girls. :P I'm not sure if all guys want to ask "will this work for a wedding?" but girls do.

  4. Greg

    I initially thought Will's openly shared fascination with vintage dresses was a little "odd", but only afterwards realised this was written by Kate ;-)

    Email to promote this post came from Will hence my easily made mistake.

    reply >
  5. I can't believe you wrote an article about Modcloth! I'm a huge fan (buyer) and everytime I go on that website I'm amazed with their strategies, the interactions they have with their customers. I don't know if you've ever noticed but customers can make sure a style will be sold on Modcloth by voting for it! It's just genius!

    I really enjoyed reading your article! It's true that this website is refreshing and so User-friendly!

    reply >
  6. I'm just pleased with the concept you're putting forward, you're right for ages there's been so much negative spin on the web, especially around the dreadful world of SEO.

    I will now go to my Blog and positively out a website I've been impressed with for years.

    reply >
  7. I love those product descriptions, and just look how many links they've got.

    I have a few ideas of sites I could out, I shall get my retro thinking cap on and put something together.

    reply >
  8. Alex H

    The only thing I don't like about their website is the excessive use of exclamation marks in places. They lose any meaning when they're used so profusely... Charlotte...do you work for Modcloth? ;)

    reply >
  9. Kate, I love this concept of highlighting a site that's doing things RIGHT. And Modcloth is one of my faves. I also love their emails. Somehow they're just frequent enough and I always, always click on them. I don't even mind being retargeted by them, and that's saying something!

    reply >
  10. I love the idea of a 'positive outing' and i really like your mix of genuine buyer + marketing aspect of your review. Just to clarify here, I am keen marketer of my own site but not a professional SEO. I have to say I have bought a few gifts off modcloth over the last little while and didn't give a second thought to their SEO process. Which in my opinion is a big win for them, I love that it works but not in an overt "shouty" kind of way. I often trip over sites that you can tell are as you put it "built for bots" and its nothing like the shopping experience of Modcloth. Big thumbs up for the "outing" and a big thumbs up for the store.

    reply >
  11. I hadn't heard of ModCloth - I'll spread the word :)

    reply >
  12. Katie - Great post! Im very impressed by modcloth and never knew they do all these features. Responding and following up with your clients is so important and the product descriptions on their site are great. Are there other companies you have seen the same thing? Thank you for sharing!

    reply >
  13. I agree 100% that it is more productive to applaud a site that is easy to use, whether the visitor to a website enjoys the experience. Whether it is because of the great products, the outstanding customer service, whatever it might be. banishing a site for its issues is counter productive and unnecessary.

    reply >
  14. Agreed. They do a fabulous job at making a great customer experience that just keeps you clicking. Their retargeting ads have figured out that I'm a geeky who likes dresses, and they target me exactly how I should be targeted.

    reply >
  15. Kate, I really enjoyed this article and your idea of pointing out websites that "get it." Brilliant. You could have the best optimized site, but if it's not user-friendly, doesn't have social integration, a focus on the consumer, etc... it really doesn't matter. Everything needs to work together- which you pointed out.

    Would love to see more posts like this in the future. Not only do they shed light on effective ecommerce websites, but it provides ideas and areas to improve within our own websites.

    reply >
  16. Hey

    Nice article. Thanks for such an informative article.

    Thank you.


    reply >

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>