Founded in 2015, Simba is one of a group of brands shaking up an industry that has seen little innovation in decades. The company was one of the first to offer mattresses on a 100-day trial – promising a full refund to customers who aren’t satisfied after three months – and its products arrive packaged in a small box, a revelation for anyone who has ever had to endure trying to transport a new double or king-sized mattress up multiple flights of stairs.
The brand has positioned itself as an expert in sleep. Its ‘Hybrid’ mattress, which has both a memory foam and a pocket-sprung layer, was created using data from The Sleep to Live Institute and Simba claims it is engineered to mould to users’ bodies and support them while keeping them cool.
The brand’s adverts promise “cutting-edge technology” and a “perfect night’s sleep” – a promise that forms the basis of its marketing strategy. “We want to make sure every single thing we do is anchored around our innovation approach, which is based on human insights around sleep,” says Charles Tourny, CMO at Simba.
Simba has raised its profile in the UK through a mix of TV and digital advertising, celebrity endorsements, content marketing and search advertising as well as PR. “We have a multichannel approach. Essentially, what we’re trying to do is engage with customers based on who they are and what they’re interested in within the bandwidth of what Simba does,” explains Tourny.
Facebook and Instagram are a key focus for Simba’s marketing team. While search advertising is focused on driving people to Simba’s website, Facebook and Instagram are used to raise awareness of the brand and educate people about its products. This is done in a way that feels native to each platform and reflects the kind of content people want to see in their feed. “We’re not necessarily going to put our TV ad [on Facebook or Instagram] because it’s just not the right place for it,” he adds.
Andrea Ursini, Paid Social Lead at Simba, says: “Instead of replicating the same things and putting them on people’s feeds, we try to adapt [paid social posts] to fit within the environment in which they’re going to be consumed.”
This means either adjusting video content to better fit mobile screens or creating content with mobile feeds in mind: “We take a mobile first approach when designing creative [for Facebook and Instagram] or adapting existing creative. Similarly, we take into account not only the aspect ratio but the full environment on the newsfeed. We know most people will view creative without the sound enabled, so that makes it essential to have captions on a video,” explains Ursini.
Simba’s search advertising is primarily aimed at people who are actively searching for a mattress while Facebook ads target both active and passive shoppers. “It really helps complement our above-the-line activity and adds that interactive element where we can show a range of formats, for example video, and also direct people to our website,” explains Ursini. “Traditional digital advertising channels like Google and PPC mostly serve the purpose of ‘collecting’ demand – for example when people who have heard of Simba search for it on the search engine – so for us Facebook is more about reaching out to people and ‘creating’ demand,” he says.
Simba recently created a short video for Facebook that explains the unique features of its products in a 12-second computer-generated animation. Instead of going into detail on individual features, the video shows each of the individual layers in the Hybrid mattress in a simple visual. There is no voiceover – just a brief caption that reads “Combining five layers of cutting-edge mattress technology” – while accompanying copy encourages people to visit Simba’s website to find out more.
“Each [of the layers in a Simba mattress] is made up of a different material and each one has a different purpose – it works well because of all the layers and that’s the real concept of the ‘Hybrid’ mattress. The CGI videos manage to convey that technological element but in a snappy way that people can easily engage with on their feeds,” adds Ursini.
The brand uses clever targeting and engaging visuals to catch the attention of both passive shoppers and consumers who have expressed an interest in the brand. Using Facebook’s targeting features, Simba is able to serve different content to people depending on how much they have engaged with the brand. Someone who has visited the homepage might be served content that highlights the unique features of Simba’s products while someone who has added products to their cart but not completed their purchase might be served a reminder of the brand’s 100-day trial guarantee. This content is selected automatically based on people’s browsing habits.
“Being able to split out audiences based on their behaviour allows us to address all the different concerns they might have that might be stopping them from purchasing – whether that is reducing the risk [by] making sure people know we have a 100-night trial. We can also point them in the direction of reading great customer reviews or the technology we’ve put into developing what we think is the best mattress [on the market],” says Ursini.
Other campaigns focus on the novelty of a mattress in a box. “That concept of it being flat-packed is still quite new so some of our videos [are aimed at] getting people used to the idea that a mattress that comes in a box is a good thing – that it’s still a high-quality product but it is much easier to transport,” adds Ursini.
The brand adopts an iterative approach to creating content for Facebook and Instagram, testing multiple versions of ads on small audiences before serving them to a wider audience. These insights are then used to inform future creative. “Whether it’s varying the copy or the image, we test it and make sure the results are statistically relevant and not random,” he explains.
Instagram Stories is another important tool for Simba. The brand has created bespoke content for Stories and adapted videos to suit the vertical format (see above).
As Ursini points out, people often consume Instagram Stories content ‘on the go’, meaning it is consumed at an even faster rate than it is in newsfeeds. “You can’t just take a TV ad and put it on Stories. The content has to be short [15 seconds or less] and you have to keep in mind that people are in a different mindset,” he says.
All of Simba’s Facebook and Instagram creative is designed with the visual noise of mobile newsfeeds in mind. A recent campaign aimed at couples who struggle to sleep in the same bed featured graphic patterns and a split-screen device to show partners enjoying an undisturbed night’s sleep on a Simba mattress.
“Having that bright colour element through the feed is really important,” says Ursini. “It’s about getting out of that marketing bias. When we look at these videos, it’s [in isolation] on a huge hi-res screen, but the reality is that they’re being consumed on a small screen with low luminosity, no sound and in between other pieces of content. It’s a real challenge to create something that stands out and breaks the pattern of the newsfeed, so colour and patterns can be really effective.” From a branding perspective, the use of graphic patterns and Simba’s signature shade of blue also helps ensure creative is distinctive from other retailers’.
Organic posts on Facebook and Instagram are a mix of sleep-related insights and user-generated content. “One of our best marketing strategies is ensuring customers become our advocates. Our customers tend to give us very good reviews so we will often go to customers and ask if they would like to become Simba brand ambassadors,” says Tourny.
Simba often partners with media brands to create editorial and sponsored content around sleep and insomnia and shares articles via its Facebook page. Tourny says the aim is to create content that is genuinely useful – such as articles that provide people with scientific evidence or expert advice on how to get a good night’s sleep. “There’s no point in creating content just for the sake of content. It must be relevant and entertaining,” he explains.
As Ursini points out, Simba’s potential customer base is vast. Everyone needs a mattress and as a result, targeting shoppers who weren’t actively looking for a mattress is a priority for the brand. Simba’s approach shows how this can be done through a mix of careful targeting, relevant organic posts and ads that will capture people’s attention and put the brand front of people’s minds.
Offering advice for other brands, Ursini says: “On a creative level … I think you have to show people [the benefits of a product] once you’ve got their attention and I feel a lot of brands rely on doing things the other way around: they try to talk about themselves and the benefits of their products before they’ve managed to stop [people] scrolling through their feed. I think this is because their decisions are informed by more traditional marketing channels like TV, where there is less competition [for viewers’ attention], but you need a different approach [on social media].”
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