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Survey: Brands see ROI as greatest Twitter challenge

BY Dan Berthiaume

Alpharetta, Ga. – Almost half (45%) of brands see measuring ROI as a challenge in using Twitter as a marketing tool, followed by building an audience (42%) and engagement (37%). In addition, a new survey of brand marketers from Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) shows that 40% of brands agree that Twitter is an effective marketing tool and 25% strongly agree, but 31% are undecided, 1% agree and 3% strongly agree.

The most popular use of Twitter as a marketing tool is increasing brand awareness (79%), with driving traffic (58%), engaging existing customers (55%) and finding new leads and customers (52%) other common uses. Almost nine-in-10 (89%) brands use Twitter hashtags but only 2% use Vines, despite the rise in popularity of video marketing.

A majority of brands tweet once a day (46%) or one to five times a day (42%). Four percent tweet more than 10 times a day. Twitter has been around for eight years, but only 11% of brands have been on Twitter for five-plus years. Most have been on Twitter for two to three years (39%).

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Golden Gate buys 9.5% stake in Ann Inc.

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – Private equity firm Golden Gate Capital Corp. disclosed in a regulatory filing that it has purchased a 9.5% ownership stake in Ann Inc., parent of Ann Taylor.

In a letter to the Ann Inc. board of directors, Golden Gate said it looks forward to working collaboratively with Ann Inc. The company said that it did not plan to seek changes to the retailer’s board or executive team, or to push for a sale

Golden Gate emphasized that it had faith in Ann Inc.’s management, pointing out its investment in Ann Taylor stores and efforts to refresh its brand. The firm added that it supports the company’s strategy to bolster new store growth and productivity at existing stores, and is willing to lend its expertise.

“Ann is a great business, with a thoughtful strategy, led by an extremely competent management team who has a long track record of success,” Golden Gate said in the letter. “We also believe that the company’s stock is significantly undervalued, especially in light of today’s robust equity environment.”

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Wet Seal shrinks net loss in Q4

BY Dan Berthiaume

Foothill Ranch, Calif. – The Wet Seal Inc. shrank its net loss to $27.5 million during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 from $85.8 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Net sales slipped 23% to $124.8 million from $161.6 million and same-store sales dropped 16%.

The Wet Seal cited the extra week in fiscal 2012 as negatively impacting its fiscal 2013 results. In addition, CEO John D. Goodman said the company will focus on social, digital and e-commerce, as well as on product, merchandising and customer engagement initiatives, and on the plus-size segment.

“Although we concluded fiscal 2013 with a difficult fourth quarter, we made substantial progress during the year against our turnaround strategies, which provides a strong foundation for the business,” said Goodman.

During the full fiscal year, The Wet Seal reported a net loss of $38.4 million, compared to $113.2 million in the prior fiscal year. Net sales dropped 9% to $530.1 million from $580.4 million and same-store sales declined 4.1%.

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