LAS VEGAS: Zappos, the online shoe retailer, believes that clearly articulating and effectively activating a corporate culture can yield a tangible return on investment for brands.

Jon Wolske, a culture evangelist at Zappos, discussed this subject during the Marketers First Virtual Event, a conference run by marketing-technology company Marketo.

"We use the word 'investment' when we talk about our experience: free shipping, free returns, 24-hour staff," he said. (For more, including details of how the firm activates it culture, read Warc's exclusive report: Zappos puts service first, and reaps the rewards.)

"The return for us, really, is creating loyal customers, not simply selling a lot more shoes. In the end, the result will be selling more shoes, but the focus is: 'Let's live our brand – a brand that's focused on service'."

More specifically, he reported that the firm's in-house ethos has been broken down into ten core principles, ranging from "deliver 'wow' through service" and "be humble" to "create fun and a little weirdness".

"Nothing in the culture or the core values of Zappos mentions 'shoes' or being an online retailer," Wolske said. "We do talk about service, because we are a service company."

As with any other item of expenditure, however, this investment in best-in-class service must be shown to provide a measurable payoff.

One metric which helps the firm prove this fact is the knowledge that on the typical day, at least 75% of Zappos' customers are repeat buyers. "So we haven't had to work to get them back on the website with marketing," said Wolske.

"We know that when people are shopping with Zappos, they are getting a great experience, and they want that experience again."

Satmetrix, the customer-experience software provider, has also stated that Zappos' Net Promoter Score – a reading that takes the number of brand advocates and subtracts the amount of "detractors" – stands at 60 points.

This indicates that a majority of customers are spreading positive buzz about the firm. In the retail category, Zappos only falls behind parent-company Amazon (64 points) on this metric.

Such statistics, Wolske suggested, show that superior service can help reach new customers. "Those experiences drive word-of-mouth marketing," he said.

Data sourced from Warc