How to Master Direct to Consumer Marketing

Carrie H. Ritchie
June 10, 2020
With third-party retailers and wholesalers compromised, read our tips for efficiently shifting to a “direct to consumer” marketing model.

You may have noticed that the future is a little unclear. What we know, essentially, is that we don’t know much—about outcomes, about timelines, about how things will look after COVID-19. ( after even a thing?) Given that uncertainty, one thing has become crystal clear: This is a moment that requires brands and businesses to take a close look at their business models and ensure that they are flexible enough to meet this moment. While third-party retailers and wholesalers are essential pieces of the equation, they can’t make up 100% of your business any longer. 

Indeed, the greater proportion of your overall revenue that comes from e-commerce, the better position you will be in to ride out this uncertain time, as long as it lasts. Our research suggests that businesses should aim for e-commerce to account for at least 20-40% of total revenue. 

With that in mind, marketing directly to your customers, driving traffic to your website, and effectively converting sales is paramount. Over the last few months, we’ve been working with brands to make this shift, and we’ve gathered helpful insights and important information along the way.

First, Some Important Facts

  • Social media engagement has surged during the pandemic, with Facebook’s overall traffic up 27% and Instagram’s campaign impressions up 22%
  • Email engagement is also on the rise, with open rates up 4.1 percentage points YOY, and click-through rates up 0.63 percentage points
  • Overall e-commerce sales in the U.S. jumped 49% in April, compared to a baseline period in March, according to Adobe Analytics
  • Consumers self-report that they are paying more attention to marketing messages, including email, SMS, and social ads. Over 32% say they’re browsing online more, with 25.35% making more purchases.

How to Effectively Market to your Customers

Optimize Your Website

If your website is not currently set up for e-commerce, now is the time to address it. Likewise, if your website has user experience (UX) issues that may be suppressing conversions, it’s time to make those fixes a priority. While the future is uncertain for brick and mortar retail, your website needs to stand in as a reliable alternative, offering a user-friendly, well-designed interface that clearly communicates the value of your product or service and the mission of your work. While online shoppers are engaged, and they have expanded to include new demographics, they are also discerning. It is essential that your website builds trust and puts new customers at ease with simple, intuitive experiences. 

How we can help: To meet this moment, we’ve developed a “rapid build” website package that allows clients to migrate to Shopify quickly and inexpensively. Whether you are launching e-commerce for the first time or your current platform isn’t working for you, we can help. 


Sharpen Your Email Marketing

Email is the perfect way to harness the increased engagement and browsing we’re seeing lately. Now is the time to capture email addresses from potential customers and nurture them with special offers and details about your brand. Industrywide, open rates and click rates are soaring—and with our own clients, we’re seeing numbers like we’ve never seen before. Start from the beginning and make sure you’ve got all phases of the user journey covered:

  • Ensure that you have proper email signups on your website, including an effective pop-up.
  • Welcome new subscribers with an engaging welcome email, including a discount or special offer.
  • Send abandoned cart emails to recapture all forgotten carts.
  • Send post-purchase emails to thank customers and let them know how much you appreciate their business.
  • Send re-engagement campaigns to disengaged customers, inviting them back with a compelling offer.

Overall, this unique situation requires rich, timely content to keep new and existing customers excited about your brand, your products, and your mission.

How we can help: Whether you need a month-long engagement to get your customer segments and automations dialed in, or you need ongoing campaign management to continually drive revenue growth through direct sales, we can help. 


Reframe Your SEO

Of course, it’s always important to publish relevant and helpful content on your website—but right now, that’s more important than ever for a couple reasons:

  1. We’re seeing an influx of users making purchases online who did not previously.
  2. Customers are purchasing types of items online that they previously purchased in-store.

With this in mind, it’s important to keep a close eye on your website’s search traffic via Google Search Console. Are users still searching for your brand, or are queries shifting to non-branded terms? Which of your products or services are experiencing the largest changes in search volume and traffic? Based on these details, it’s important to proactively answer any potential questions new website users may have within primary content areas and put them at ease as they explore your offerings. Likewise, and as always with SEO, it’s important to ensure that the information you’re providing is timely, accurate, authoritative, and contextual. 

Remember that your website is a welcome mat to new customers, and right now, those customers may not be accustomed to shopping online. In order to establish trust in your website, which is important not just to consumers, but also to Google as it indexes your website, be sure that the following elements are in place:

  • Clear contact information
  • Terms and conditions
  • A privacy policy
  • A return/refunds policy
  • A secure (https) website address
  • Online reviews, if possible

How we can help: We offer multiple tiers of SEO management, from monitoring and maintenance all the way up to a comprehensive approach that includes keyword strategy, copywriting, metadata optimization, and more.


Adjust Your Paid Media Strategy

First and foremost, it’s important to build campaigns that align with the current state of things. Don’t show ads of people in crowds or traveling—show images and content that customers can relate to in this moment. 

In terms of campaign strategy, we recommend taking advantage of the surges we’ve seen in social media engagement and overall screen time by running strong retargeting campaigns. These campaigns, geared toward capturing conversions from potential customers who have already visited your website, have been extremely effective for our clients.

Remember that although many customers might be hesitant to complete purchases right now, they are more likely to engage with your brand, which will help you to build retargeting lists and create lasting relationships. For this reason, we recommend running campaigns geared around “engagement” (likes, shares, reactions), and then following up with retargeting ads starting to push those users toward a purchase. This sort of incremental strategy will not only expand brand awareness and recognition, but will ensure higher success and lower cost per acquisition with your retargeting efforts. 

How we can help: Whether you need to run a single campaign to achieve a narrow objective or need our help developing a robust, cross-channel strategy, we can tailor a paid media approach to fit your business goals.


Finally: Business Operations & Brand Positioning

People are expecting deals right now, so don’t fight it. If you have any older or limited inventory to push out, now is the time. With many apparel brands working with China on manufacturing and experiencing supply-chain issues, now is a great time to source locally; not only does this support your local economy, but your customers will appreciate the shift in strategy.

In terms of your overall brand, be sure to reflect this moment with content. Show your costumers that you’re with them, give them ideas for what to do, and show how you can help them right now: Fashion tips for working at home, skin-care regimens, family entertainment, rekindling romance with partners, dealing with stress, tips for home cooking, drinking, gardening, gaming, and the rest.

In short, don’t try to rise above this moment; be a part of it.

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