February 17th, 2022 | 5 min
While the retail marketing model is still alive and booming, there’s no denying that direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing is becoming a more and more attractive option for eCommerce brands looking to stand out.
DTC marketing is advertising, branding and selling efforts that are aimed toward consumers when access to a product may require an intermediary. Direct-to-consumer brands have the unique opportunity to directly engage with their audience. By cutting out third-party retailers, external stakeholders and marketplaces, DTC brands are able to have more control over prices since they don’t have to sell their products to retailers at a deeply discounted rate.
But that still leaves the question: What is DTC marketing? How can we market a DTC brand and which brands are doing it the best? How can an eCommerce agency help us build a DTC brand? In this article, we’ll outline what direct-to-consumer marketing is, what some of the most effective DTC marketing efforts look like and take a look at a few brands that have made a name for themselves in the DTC space.
What is Direct-to-consumer marketing?
The direct to consumer market is booming and more brands are joining the DTC business model every year. But, inevitably, the increase in the volume of direct-to-consumer brands means marketers need to work harder than ever to cut through the noise and reach their intended audiences.
Direct-to-consumer, also known as business-to-consumer, is the sale of products or services directly to consumers, surpassing any 3rd party retailers or intermediaries. DTC brands are typically born from eCommerce businesses and only sell online, although some direct-to-consumer brands have created pop-up shops or other physical locations to complement the omnichannel journey that consumers expect in modern brands today.
By taking advantage of DTC marketing, and utilising an eCommerce agency, a brand controls the consumer’s complete path, from awareness to purchase and further to loyalty. When the middleman is absent, the consumer’s journey down the sales funnel is often faster and more personalised. Meanwhile, the data gathered along this journey has tremendous value for future retention tactics.
D2C marketing is constantly evolving and adapting to consumer buying habits. It’s imperative to stay on top of the latest trends to outrun the competition.
What does DTC marketing look like?
Consumer marketing is huge. To truly conquer this marketplace you need to find your audience and tailor your services and experiences to them. Every DTC brand has a different personality and targets a different audience, so it’s impossible to come up with one marketing strategy to match every situation. However, there are certain marketing efforts that most DTC marketers adopt, although they may execute them differently. The best way to find the right tactics for you is to work with an experienced eCommerce marketing agency or marketing specialists.
#1 Personalised emails
As an opt-in marketing channel, email is especially important for direct-to-consumer businesses. Not only can you use user-journey data to improve your CRO but it helps you personalise the marketing assets that you send to your customers.
Creating personalised offers and targeted content is the key to successful email marketing in the DTC sector. By segmenting your audience, you can design a highly personalised email message that addresses a particular segment’s needs, interests and pain-points. To grow their marketing lists, DTC brands often rely on digital channels and online engagement. Growing your email list is one of the best ways to generate more sales and connect with your audience. While it might take some time to turn a new email subscriber into a customer, a well-maintained email list will generate the long-term results you’re looking for.
#2 Social media marketing
Social media is a powerful tool, especially when it comes to growing and spreading awareness of your brand. With a strong social media presence, you’ll also be able to pull user-generated content from your followers which is one of the most effective forms of promotion. For example, you might ask users to post pictures of themselves using your products with a hashtag related to your brand.
Consistently publishing unique, valuable content will help you interest more social media users and keep them engaged with your brand. Your social media page is your own curated space that works as the face of your brand. These spaces are there for you to share compelling information about your products while also putting yourself in front of a large audience.
Besides sharing high-quality content and building a following, you can take advantage of influencers and even generate leads through promotional content. Studies show that consumers believe influencer content to be more authentic than content generated directly by brands. Also running a contest that encourages entrants to share the information with their own friends or followers so that you can collect the data and grow your marketing lists.
The DTC movement accounts for 40% of the sales growth in the retail sector – Shopify Share Industry Insights and Trends
#3 Brand personality
Brand personalities are one of the most valuable resources for direct-to-consumer businesses. In today’s modern retail sector, consumers don’t trust products that can only be found online unless the product is backed by a strong brand. The thing you want is your brand to be seen as a “fly-by-night internet seller”.
To avoid this, it’s essential to build a strong identity and noticeable personality that allows customers to instantly associate your products with something positive. Your unique brand image and brand personality are what will stick in a lead’s head and make them think of you the next time they need one of your products. To begin the process of building your brand’s personality, you can work alongside an experienced marketer or eCommerce marketing agency to take the best aspects of your brand and grow them into profitable branding tools.
Top DTC Brands
While it can take a lot of effort and testing to really master the DTC environment, it can be immensely beneficial to your brands. While following the latest DTC trends is imperative to building a successful strategy, learning from winning DTC brands can provide much-needed inspiration.
Here are some of the most noteworthy examples.
Dollar Shave Club launched in 2011 with a simple idea – offer a monthly subscription service for men’s razors. The company went viral with its irreverent YouTube video, in which Michael Dublin, founder and CEO, heralded the affordable, no-frills razors. Michael Dubin decided to cut out the middleman to save money and that has resulted in the brand growing into a billion-dollar business.
Despite only launching his business in 2012, when he was 19 years old, Ben Francis has managed to grow startup company Gymshark into one of the fastest-growing global fitness and apparel brands. Contributing to Gymshark’s impressive growth is its fun and personable marketing strategy. It’s built a community around its gym wear, partnering with influencers and hosting live events on its Facebook page.
You’ll only find Gymshark products available to buy on its website. Because there’s no need to pay a cut toward retailers and stockists, Gymshark made a profit of £18.6 million on sales of £176.2 million in 2019.
This NYC-based cosmetics company, now worth $1.8 billion, began in 2010 as a beauty blog called Into the Gloss, which racked up millions of monthly pageviews and cultivated a large and loyal community. In 2014, Emily Weiss, the founder and CEO, grew her blogging operation into an online shop called Glossier, selling its own line of skincare and makeup products.
Glossier founders did an immensely powerful job making the consumers love their brand by capitalising on influencer marketing to sell products at lower prices than their competitors.
How can an agency improve DTC Marketing?
Becoming a successful DTC brand requires a strong command over marketing data and an adaptable marketing strategy. Since the majority of your business will be conducted online, you need a marketing performance measurement and reporting solution that can be analysed and tracked. If you aren’t an expert on understanding marketing data then this could seem like a daunting task.
The Brave team can DTC eCommerce brands build a reliable customer base, build a profitable eCommerce strategy and connect with their target audience on a deeper level from start to finish. As an eCommerce agency, our integrated approach involves E-commerce, SEO, Google Ads/PPC, social media marketing and a highly talented development team. Contact one of our eCommerce marketing experts today to begin your DTC brand journey.