Guest Post: Top 8 Direct to Consumer Marketing Strategies
When your product ends up on a supermarket shelf, it’s likely to be placed next to dozens of other similar products — your competitors.
This means you have to find creative ways to stand out among your products — either by using a strong value proposition or through lowering price. No matter if you succeed in persuading people to buy your products or not, in the end, you will still have to pay the price to get your products to those shelves or share sales margins with a retailer.
Breaking away from retailers with DTC
Traditional distribution channels of goods don't work well for most brands, especially new ones as it’s difficult to break through competition. This makes young businesses look for the ways that would help market and sell their products online avoiding middlemen.
Thanks to using smart direct to consumer (DTC) marketing techniques, brands manage to increase their margins, get more control over their customer data, and more flexibility in shaping their products. So how can you do the same? We are going to walk you through the process in this article.
What is DTC marketing?
DTC marketing is a tool that helps you reach consumers directly, avoiding middlemen, while quitting traditional distribution channels in favor of digital ones.
Thanks to DTC, you have full control over your customer journey, the way you position your brand and develop your products. Having no one to dictate rules, you also gain more flexibility in your sales process.
While DTC might sound new to you if you have previously relied mostly on selling through traditional channels, there are already a lot of success stories that can serve as inspiration. Let’s have a quick look at the few!
Examples of DTC marketing
Some brands have managed to break one of the main consumer objections related to online shopping — the fear of buying the wrong thing without physically trying it on. These success stories have proved that you no longer need to have your showroom to get people to buy your products.
Casper is an e-commerce brand selling mattresses and sleep accessories exclusively online.
When buying mattresses, you would normally head to a brick-and-mortar shop with beds set in rows, lie down on each to test out the options, and pick the most comfortable one before buying. However, there is still a chance you wouldn’t like it after the first night.
But what if you could avoid the hassle, order it online, and have a full 3 months to test out your selected mattress? Casper is offering exactly that and a free return as a bonus.
Warby Parker is an online store selling glasses — the product you would normally want to try on before buying. To eliminate the fear of purchasing the wrong model, Warby Parker lets consumers order 5 pairs of glasses and try them on at home before buying.
When consumers feel that there is nothing to lose — even if they don’t like the glasses, they can return them without paying for a product, the friction to buy glasses online disappears.
There is a reason why Casper and Warby Parker are the brands a lot would cite as successful examples of DTC strategy. Not only do they have a good product, but their marketing tactics and positioning have helped win the hearts of their customers.
So what are the tactics and how can you implement DTC marketing for your brand? Let’s uncover them!
The Best DTC Marketing Strategies
There is no secret recipe to implementing a successful DTC marketing strategy as the devil’s in the details. However, you should know where to start and make the first step. Here are some DTC marketing strategies you can start experimenting with today.
1. Build your brand
There are a lot of small businesses trying to sell products online — they buy them cheap from distributors and aim to sell at a higher price directly to consumers. Most of them use marketplaces to reach clients, but they often have to compete with thousands of other businesses doing the same.
“By working on creating your brand and making it memorable for consumers you stand out from the competitors and start charging more for products. Remember that when attracted by a brand, consumers are willing to pay more to belong to something bigger,” says Brian Lim, CEO of iHeartRaves & INTO THE AM.
2. Segment your audience lists
People receive many more marketing emails from e-commerce brands these days than they used to in the past. Email marketing has become one of the top strategies for companies selling online and it has resulted in inboxes bursting from promotional emails. Just think about yourself — how many eCommerce newsletters have you signed up for and are now ignoring?
Ignoring some newsletters in your inbox doesn’t change the fact that email marketing remains an effective marketing channel (also for DTC strategies) helping brands yield high ROI from each dollar invested in newsletters.
To stand out with your emails, work on segmenting your audience starting with the following criteria:
For example, by sending triggered emails to customers who have bought hats, you can effectively cross sell or upsell related products such as sunbathing creams or swimming trunks.
3. Use Instagram marketing
Selling a new product and building a brand is not a piece of cake — no one knows about you and your products and, obviously, the level of trust to your shop will usually be low in the beginning.
When aiming to make social media such as Instagram a money-generating channel to reach your target audience you can either build your audience from scratch (it can take even a few years) or acquire a nurtured Instagram account on social media marketplace such as Socialtradia or related.
You can also decide to work with someone who has an audience you want to sell to and have previously acquired their trust. By working closely with influencers, you can show your products to their followers in an attractive way.
When starting small with your eCommerce business, you usually have a small marketing budget. “Even with a small budget, you can still work with micro-influencers who don’t charge much or who you can cooperate with on barter terms,” says Helga Dosa, Head of Marketing at Brand Rated.
4. Create a viral marketing campaign
Who wouldn’t remember a YouTube’s video of Dollar Shave Club that went viral in the past?
It was relatively easy to create, but production is not what made it a success. That was a good idea, communicating the value of the product, and integrating humor.
Your video can follow the same pattern — invest in a good idea for a video, not an expensive crew, and you will get more clients faster than you’d do when signing a contract with a retailer.
You might be asking — where should I start? While there is no definite answer, you can always use your customer insights to understand what matters to them, why they choose your products, and what message could resonate with them.
5. Use paid channels
Using paid ads is another effective way to reach your customer directly. You can start advertising your products on Google, Facebook, or YouTube, depending where most of your customers are.
There are at least two important elements that will lead you to success — the right targeting and good ad content. With the former, you have to know exactly who you want to reach and set up the right criteria when launching a campaign.
With the former, it’s worth investing in high-quality visuals and writing conversion-focussed ad text.
“By using paid ads, you can build awareness about your products in no time at a relatively low cost,” notes Ty Wilson, Co-Founder of CustomMade.
6. Analyze data
Put the analysis of your consumer behavior at the forefront of your marketing decisions. Don’t rely excessively on your gut feeling, but analyze and crunch numbers, and look into charts that most advertisement platforms offer.
“By becoming more data-driven, you can start creating campaigns that contain the right message that appeals to your customers,” says Boris Jabes, CEO and Co-Founder of Census. Once you make it a habit to rely on data, you will notice how analyzing charts and graphs will become your routine and how well it supports you in your new marketing campaigns.
7. Use retargeting campaigns
By choosing to do DTC from A to Z, you should make sure you dedicate the same attention to all stages of your customer journey. Don’t pull all your resources in the top of your funnel, but rearrange them, so you can still keep attention of those users who have abandoned their carts.
Retargeting ads are a great tool to achieve it. Make sure you create an audience segment on your Facebook or Google advertiser profile and launch dynamic ads that relate to the products that your leads have viewed, but haven’t purchased.
8. Introduce loyalty programs
Once you have got a customer to finish their first purchase, don’t lose the potential for return purchases. This is because the cost of acquiring a new customer can be high and it can quickly eat out your margins if you are not investing in retaining customers.
By introducing loyalty programs and some incentives for customers to come back for more, you can see a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.
There are various ways how you can approach creating your loyalty program. For example, you could offer a 5% discount for the orders over $1000 or create tiers that give users access to exclusive offers.
Direct to consumer marketing can make you more independent and resilient to changing market situations. Instead of competing with dozens of other similar products from your category on a shop shelf, you can build a memorable brand that your customers won’t change for anything else.
Relying more on direct to consumer strategies will help preserve your margins and gain full control over your product production and promotion. With these advantages in place, it’s worth trying it out!
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