Direct-to-consumer marketing has exploded over the last few years, and that spike in popularity shows no signs of stopping. Even brands that have traditionally worked almost exclusively with retail giants (think PepsiCo or Nike) are also trying their hand at DTC models, and startups are opting directly for DTC strategies more than ever before.
This trend had already begun pre-pandemic, but COVID-19 added fuel to the fire that has become this huge shift in consumer behavior. Whereas shopping at physical stores was previously the norm, with customers placing high value on the ability to shop for a wide variety of product types in a single store, the results of the pandemic have since pushed a lot of that shopping online. And to no surprise, consumers are finding that making purposeful purchases directly from an engaging manufacturer can be a wonderfully personalized and more satisfying experience than just hitting up the nearest department store.
What it boils down to is that selling directly to your customer—without a middleman and with direct access to customer feedback—creates space to cultivate a relationship with them in ways that big retailers simply can’t offer.
There is a plethora of DTC tactics to discover and tap into. Let’s check out just a few:
Farmers market vendors send boxes brimming with seasonal fruits and vegetables straight to your doorstep. Personal hygiene companies send you organic toilet paper, razors, and toothbrushes in shipments that are perfectly timed to arrive before you run out. Clothing manufacturers send you customized boxes of outfits specifically chosen to fit your style and measurements, thus saving you a trip to the store, unpleasant fitting room experiences, and time spent deliberating over options—plus, you’re guaranteed fresh updates for your wardrobe with every new season.
Offering the customer not only simplicity and reliability, subscription models also practically guarantee manufacturers that their customers will make repeat purchases. Studies have shown that the likelihood of selling to a new prospective customer is only 5-20%, whereas if we take a look at repeat customers, that number jumps to 60-70% probability of purchase. What’s more, you create a solid base of fans that are more likely to spread the word about your product among friends and family.
Consumers value having options, which may make you think that big retailers have an impossible advantage. Not so fast—it has actually been proven that buyers tend to be more satisfied with their choices when presented with fewer options. Although unlike a department store, you may not be able to offer your customer an entire aisle full of different types of perfume, you can, for example, invite your customer to choose between three different scents made from locally grown ingredients, as well as decide the shape of the bottle, the color of the lid, when and where to have it delivered, and whether or not to include a little note if it’s a gift for a friend.
This may look like engraving names or initials on a product, personalizing packaging, or offering different color options or convenient-as-can-be customized delivery. Mass retail can’t offer that personalized touch, but DTC can, so put a little love in it.
It’s been shown time and again that when it comes to purchasing new products, buyers trust personal recommendations more than just ads. Sometimes those recommendations come from friends and family, but an endorsement from an admired social media personality has far more power than any in-app ad that consumers are likely to scroll right past. Approach influencers who fit with your brand image and share your same values, and don’t be afraid to look local. Offer their followers discounts or even host a product giveaway—tactics that will work wonders for your visibility.
Having an engaging social media presence is crucial in and of itself (make sure you’re on all the platforms!), and teaming up with those who already have a strong social following can really help you get your foot in the door. Influencer collabs not only have the power to exponentially multiply the number of potential consumers you reach, but also, a high-visibility individual saying “I LOVE this product” will give people that extra little nudge they need to try it out. Once you’ve hooked the first-time customer, that’s where you slide them right into their exciting new journey and you can begin to nurture a long-term repeat-purchase relationship.
Now that you’ve got that first purchase in the bag, it’s time to take that customer on a long, beautiful, rewarding customer journey that begins with a welcome and continues on to cultivating their brand loyalty. This is where purchase follow-up emails and regular newsletters come into play.
Newsletters can look like a variety of things, from an exclusive peek behind the scenes (linking to video on IGTV, TikTok, or YouTube) and blog posts to online events, product tutorials and more. You name it, it likely will work. The idea is to continue creating content that will engage the customer in ways that go beyond that first purchase. There are different strategies as to how regular, how long, and how text- or image-heavy your newsletters may be.
Well-timed newsletters and email campaigns are some of the most powerful keys to developing brand loyalty and customer retention.
These are just a few ideas to kickstart your DTC marketing strategies, but the creative possibilities that DTC offers are endless. Manufacturers are finding that DTC facilitates connecting with customers in personalized, CX-enhancing ways—ways in which big retailers can’t quite measure up. In terms of engaging with customers, eliminating the middleman makes the market feel like a friendlier place.
If you’re considering switching to DTC and want to know more about how to build a successful strategy, don’t miss out on our DTC vs Retail eBook. You can access it here