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Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing

Millions of buyers search Amazon for new products and brands. See examples of the best Amazon eCommerce marketing in order to find ways to beat competition.

When it comes to Amazon, lots of sellers say that if you can’t beat them, you should join them. That doesn’t refer to copying either the products or tactics of other sellers. At the same time, the platform offers so much information about best-selling products that successful eCommerce marketing often depends upon researching top products and sellers in order to come up with a profit- and growth-driving strategy for their own business.

Learn what kinds of products to look for, examples of top sellers, and why Amazon eCommerce marketing offers the perfect platform to launch or grow a business.

Finding Amazon top sellers to research

StartupBros, one Amazon marketing agency, has their own simple formula they use to find likely products. While other sellers may use different criteria and not every box needs checking for all products, these look like sensible gauges for new sellers who want to find products to help generate new ideas:

  • They tend to favor products with prices between about $20 and $200.
  • For obvious reasons, it’s beneficial to have easy-to-ship items that can qualify for express shipping.
  • Reasonable prices for the item should allow for a profit margin of at least 50 percent.
  • Current product listings should have less than 150 reviews, indicating the market isn’t totally saturated.
  • The product should generate at least 10 sales a day to demonstrate it has already attracted buyers.

Evaluating Amazon top sellers

Using the requirements listed above, it’s fairly easy to find some briskly selling products and figure out how another seller could improve upon them for their own business.

Pet grooming gloves

Pet grooming gloves make grooming and de-shedding a pleasant, comfortable experience for both long-haired pets and pet parents. This listing on Amazon ranks at the top for both cat hair removal products and the pet category for Amazon Launchpad, a platform for innovative startups. It also has an Amazon’s Choice badge, which is a designation for products with generally favorable reviews, immediate shipping, and reasonable pricing.

Is there an opportunity to do better? Obviously, the seller does well with this product. They’ve also effectively used images in the heading and description. However, they have very little text in the description area. Not only could these sellers have used text to provide more information, they might have sprinkled in a few more key words or phrases to help with ranking on Amazon and other search engines. 

Vegetable Spiralizers

Spiralizers slice vegetables for salads, stir-fry dishes, or pasta replacements. According to the reviews, the Mueller product performs pretty well out of the box for some tasks. Unlike the pet glove listing, this product page appears to contain both clear photos and plenty of text. In fact, the description even provides tips for setting up and using the device, probably cutting down calls and emails for customer service.

Is there room for improvement? For one thing, even many positive reviews mention that this wasn’t the first such device people have had. Mostly, this product has steel blades but otherwise relies upon a fairly cheap plastic body. Less favorable reviews pointed out some problems with the product. These issues include: 

  • The bin to catch vegetables was too small.
  • The plastic body felt cheap.
  • The product sliced zucchini well but didn’t perform to expectations with softer yellow squash.

A competitor should not have a tough time either sourcing or manufacturing an alternative product that resolves these design flaws. Even if the product would cost a little more, plenty of people appeared willing to pay for quality.

Why Amazon offers a great eCommerce marketing opportunity

According to the eCommerce platform’s own Amazon Advertising page, customers don’t just use the site to shop for things they already want. In fact, 80 percent of Amazon shoppers also visit to browse around and find new products and brands. Also, because so many sellers have already found success, it’s easy to find top sellers and improve upon their product development and marketing.

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Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Marketing/Business

Podcast advertising gives DTC brands a chance to connect with a wide, engaged, and growing audience. See five DTC advertising success stories.

PPC, blogging, and social media advertising tend to dominate discussions about DTC marketing. These kind of conversations totally ignore the rapid growth of podcast advertising as an effective and increasingly popular promotional medium for DTC brands. Even last year, The Drum reported that DTC ads had increased overall podcast revenue by over 50 percent in 2018. This comes at a time when podcasts have replaced radio shows for a hands- and eyes-free way to consume entertainment and information.

Which DTC brands have enjoyed success with podcast advertising?

Look at some examples of DTC companies that have found an audience with podcasts.

TakeMeUndies

As the name implies, TakeMeUndies sells underwear. As a podcast advertiser, they shifted some of their social media advertising money to podcast advertising a few years ago. As early experimenters, they managed to cut deals with some fairly notable celebs. Their bet paid off. According to Ad Exchanger, they have already sold nine million products and expect to generate $75 million in revenue for the year.

In this case, the company used host-read ads. The CEO, Jonathan Shokrian, said that he credited his company’s success to having the advertisements sound more like person-to-person referrals than typical advertising.

FabFitFun

FabFitFun offers a unique and fun subscription service. Subscribers pay $49.99 each season. In return, they get a box filled with eight to ten products with a guaranteed value of at least $200. Members can also choose some of the products they want included in their basic box, or they can pick add-in products for an additional fee.

According to Magellan, FabFitFun first started advertising on podcasts in 2017 and by 2019, they made the list of the highest spending podcast advertisers. They’re featured on such popular shows as The Goal Digger Podcast and Chatty Broads.

Blue Apron

Like TakeMeUndies, Blue Apron has grown up with sponsored podcast ads. In fact, they have even launched their own branded podcast called “Why We Eat What We Eat.” During the show, a food historian named Cathy Erway discusses a variety of interesting topics related to food. Some examples have ranged from the origins of duck sauce to dealing with picky eaters.

Whatever their content marketing agency comes up with, it’s working. The company’s sales have increased 500 percent.

ZipRecruiter

Similar to Blue Apron, ZipRecruiter sponsors a podcast. In this case, it’s called Rise and Grind, a podcast that caters to their likely audience of job seekers, hiring managers, and entrepreneurs. Rise and Grind, the sponsored podcast, has even launched other businesses, like a Shark Tank investor named Daymond John.

By producing the right type of content and sharing their platform with entrepreneurs, ZipRecruiter has earned a large, targeted audience and some great publicity. As an example, Daymon John praised ZipRecruiter as a company that focused upon finding good people and good jobs, according to FastCompany.

Podcast Superstar

According to the Podcast Superstar page on Airbnb, $195 gives guests an interview in a Manhattan studio for a podcast called mürmur. video. The page promises guests a chance to promote themselves, their business, or their idea directly to the world.

This example doesn’t exactly fit with the more conventional approaches to using sponsored podcasts to attract an audience and promote a specific business. Instead, the podcast promotes itself as a way for people with a modest budget to get featured in a podcast.

The reviews suggest that the host does a good job with the interview, even if his Airbnb page doesn’t mention the audience size. Still, the deal includes a professional recording, so at least, it can give startups and small companies a way to get content produced for a budget-friendly fee. To make this opportunity truly effective, they may need to invest more to distribute and promote the recording.

How DTC brands can benefit from podcast promotions

Podcast advertising shares certain features with both digital and radio promotions. Still, it has its own character. To make the most of this rapidly growing medium, keep these tips in mind:

  • Typically, podcasts work very well to increase brand awareness, though they can directly push leads and sales.
  • Since many listeners may listen to archived or downloaded programs long after the original date, they may work better for offers that aren’t time sensitive.
  • As with radio, it’s usually not possible to finely tune audience demographics as tightly as on PPC platforms.
  • When developing content for sponsored podcasts, keep the audience in mind. They probably don’t want to listen to 30-minute advertisements, so find relevant topics that would lend themselves well to mentions of specific products and services.

As with any other kind of marketing, expect to test and tune a bit before finding the perfect podcast advertising solution. Still, many DTC brands have found receptive audiences and growth opportunities by investing in various kinds of podcast promotions.

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Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing

Most people still associate consumer packaged goods, or CPG, with items sold on the shelves of grocery, drug, and discount stores – but the category is actually much broader. 

CPG refers to the kinds of packaged products that people consume and need to replenish, like coffee, dog food, and soap. Historically, limited space on store shelves drove much of the competitiveness in the market. More recently, CPG digital marketing has offered companies the chance to grow beyond the limitations of physical space and sometimes, even to capture a larger share of that. Find out more about e-commerce digital marketing trends for CPGs and how this information can help inform your marketing.

Most people still buy their packaged products in local stores. At the same time, online demand has been growing every year, as demonstrated by these consumer products marketing trends from IRI, an online sales insight service:

  • Online CGP sales grew by over 34 percent in 2018 alone.
  • Online revenue accounted for 11 percent of total consumer packed goods sales.
  • Even more interesting, internet sales of consumer packaged goods made up 64 percent to the total market growth for both offline and online revenue.

Which Platforms Sell the Most Consumer Packaged Goods?

Besides sales numbers, it’s also informative to see what sorts of platforms most of these sales came from. According to IRI, over half of the sales came from internet-only retailers. Some of the largest examples include such online grocery stores as FreshDirect and Peapod. CGP digital marketing from the websites of mostly brick-and-mortar stores produced about one-quarter of the sales. Companies that directly sell their own products have a smaller but rapidly growing share.

How is DTC Marketing Impacting Sales and Growth?

Because of the loss of many retail outlets, manufacturers have recently struggled even more for a share of physical store space. To make up for this loss, they have increasingly bypassed traditional retailers in order to connect directly with consumers. According to the Shopify blog, direct-to-consumer, or DTC marketing, has accounted for 40 percent of sales growth in the market.

Direct marketing has done more than help established CPG manufacturers offset slowdowns in their traditional selling channels. It’s also launched such purely DTC marketing brands as Dollar Shave Club and The Honest Company. In some cases, new brands have begun their lives online, found success, and then made their way into retail stores. For example, Deliciou is an Australian company that markets their packaged seasoning blends online but has also recently found shelf space inside such large U.S. retailers as Whole Foods.

What CPGs Do Shoppers Buy the Most?

What kinds of packaged products do people buy online the most? In general, people most commonly turn to the internet to order non-food items. More specifically, vitamin supplements, pet supplies and food, and skin care products, and coffee have enjoyed brisk online sales. Also, shoppers have increasingly begun to turn to online retailers for more sensitive purchases. As an example, the demand for adult incontinence products boomed by 84 percent in the past year. Consumers turn to internet ordering and delivery options for convenience in sometimes, for privacy.

What Drives Consumers to Choose Online CPG Retailers?

An IRI consumer survey asked online shoppers what options they looked for in e-ecommerce stores. They survey takers could select more than one option. The survey found:

  • Free delivery motivated over half of respondents to purchase online.
  • Almost half said that if the delivery isn’t free, it should be reasonably fast.
  • Four out of ten of these online shoppers also liked in-store pickup options.
  • About one-third of the survey takers would consider subscription services that automatically sent supplies periodically, typically at a discount over just ordering one time.
  • According to the survey, online shoppers also want to find online retailers who will offer them good deals. Over half plan to search for discounts and coupons and use various sites to compare prices.

Right now, online sales of CGP make up a relatively small but rapidly growing share of the overall market. They can help producers offset increased competition for retail store space through online sales. In some cases, e-commerce marketing can even help new brands get established by making online sales and even getting enough brand recognition to earn coveted slots at brick-and-mortar stores. Now that you understand the benefits of selling CPG online, you can explore ways to get consumers to buy products online that they still may be used to picking up at the grocery store.

SEM Marketing for Consumer Packaged Products

Just as it’s important to leverage good product placement in stores, you can use search engine marketing to put your brands directly in front of customers. Both for paid and organic SEM marketing for consumer goods, you need to make certain that you rise to the top for the sorts of terms that searchers are likely to use for products like yours.

For instance, shoppers might not know to look for your brand of hypoallergenic soap or organic, fair-trade coffee, but instead, they may search for those terms or specific problems your product might solve. To optimize your web pages, make certain you research the kinds of search terms consumers might try. Use those terms to optimize your headings, descriptions, and content. In addition, you should try to build your e-commerce shop’s authority by encouraging high-quality incoming links from other relevant websites. For example, you might seek reviews on blogs, issue press releases, or get listed in high-quality directories.

Besides organic search, CPG manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on paid search marketing, according to Search Engine Land. One standard tactic consists of promoting useful content related to their brands. For instance, a packaged food manufacturer might create simple recipes that feature their products. Colgate found success by producing oral health information that related to diabetes. If you find that the direct keywords for your product are too difficult to ranks for in either paid or organic search, you might consider researching some relevant topics that are still interesting to people who might buy your products.

SMM Marketing for Consumer Products

Today’s consumers often learn about products from social media. Social sites can also help you express your brand personality and connect with consumers in a way that helps them identify with your brand. Gartner found that almost nine out of ten companies focus upon delivering a memorable customer service. In a market like consumer packaged goods, when products may seem like interchangeable commodities at first glance, your social presence can provide the key to helping your brand stand out.

SMM marketing also lets you target specific demographics that reflect your buyer persona. For instance, mothers drive a good share of consumer packaged good spending. Moms also login to Facebook about 10 times a day and make up a large part of the audience for Instagram, Pinterest, and other social sites. If you want to target mothers or many other groups, social media marketing can offer you the right audience. If you use the social site’s advertising platform, it will give you the ability to tune your e-commerce digital targeting very well.

For social sites, experiment with a variety of advertising formats and posts. Videos and graphics tend to capture attention, but you may also want to use text sometimes for testimonials, ingredients, or other useful content. Try to showcase your brand’s personality, and certainly, respond to customers when they post questions or comments about your products, ads, or posts.

Even though you should focus heavily on your call to action, you should try to provide plenty of content that will interest customers in a way that doesn’t always seem like selling. Social sites provide a good platform to spotlight your company’s commitment to worthy causes, how your products solve problems, and even your customers. If you’re selling ketchup, dishwashing soap, or lotion, you need to make certain people remember your brand positively, and your social media can help you do that.

Consider Multiple Channels

Customers tend to research online, if they eventually purchase at an e-commerce site or at a local store. Some manufacturers worried about cannibalizing offline sales when they first considered online sales. Many have found that instead of hurting brick-and-mortar revenue, the additional exposure has actually improved demand and even helped them leverage better visibility on physical shelves, besides providing additional revenue through internet purchases. Some companies began purely online and eventually made their way into stores because of their brand recognition.

A recent BrandShop survey found that today’s over 80 percent of consumers expect to have the option to shop when they visit a brand’s website. About the same percentage of survey takers said they’d shop at their favorite brand’s site if they could. For many products, they also like to take advantage of convenient options to have consumables delivered on a monthly schedule.

If you’re going to promote your company and your business website, you might as well give customers the option to purchase there instead of forcing them to find a retailer or distributor. This also lets you take more control over your customer’s experience and also, gather more data on their shopping behavior.

Why Embrace eCommerce for Consumer Packaged Goods?

With consumer packaged goods, e-commerce is where the growth lies. The exposure, brand differentiation, and extra sales you make online can even help you compete for better placement offline. You’re also not at the mercy of retailers for shelf space and perhaps as important, control of the customer experience and consumer information.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing

How successful DTC marketing companies use flexible plans, content, and pricing to attract and retain their valued customers.

To improve returns on direct to consumer advertising, why not consider a subscription model? After all, it can help improve your company’s typical customer experience by offering convenience and discounts. At the same time, it’s likely to dramatically increase retention. Find out how to add recurring revenue to your D2C marketing plan in order to enjoy faster and more sustainable growth.

How to maximize subscriptions to your DTC marketing plan

Look at a popular example of a company using direct to consumer advertising for a subscription service. According to Core DNA, a D2C marketing agency, Dollar Shave Club enjoys an incredible 50 percent retention rate after 12 months. Even after two years, that figure only drops to 25 percent.

Combining an outstanding retention rate and recurring revenue fueled their rapid growth. Look at the example of Dollar Shave Club and some other successful DTC companies to gain some inspiration.

Flexible subscription options can overcome objections

Since Dollar Shave Club engaged in DTC marketing, they could offer some flexible options that may have contributed to their retention rate. For instance, they have a “Not-So-Hairy” option that lets customers skip months. It’s interesting to note that they tend to take in more transactions on the second month than the first one. Customers might already have blades for the current month, and this option can overcome that objection.

In any case, it’s always a good idea to figure out the market’s possible objections and pain points. Adding in some flexibility to help maximize benefits and prompt quick purchases can help attract more reluctant shoppers.

Subscription pricing tactics to reduce competition

Because Zuora provides subscription apps to online retailers, they’ve paid attention to the effectiveness of various pricing strategies. In Zuora’s view, competing on the price of a basic subscription may be inevitable for some products. Their best advice to a product marketing agency with stiff competition may be to keep prices as low as possible for the first subscription. Then try to maximize revenues with possible upsells.

Of course, they also offered the example of T-Mobile. Instead of solely competing by price, the mobile carrier was one of the first to sell their services without requiring a contract, which helped them double their subscriber base within three years.

They still have subscribers who pay monthly fees for services, and often, for extra insurance and to pay off their phones. After getting a phone, many customers also decide to add a tablet or accessories. Their strategy provides an example of a company that offered more flexibility in order to maximize customers and the potential for upsells.

Consider using content for marketing DTC subscriptions

A more traditional consumer marketing agency may suggest using mostly paid ads to gain brand recognition and attention. In particular, a startup marketing agency could advise very new brands that they need to sell products as quickly as possible to start driving revenue. That can work; however, a lot of companies have enjoyed success by using an inbound, content-driven marketing scheme to attract their audience.

Some companies even start with content before they ever offer their products by subscription. As an example, Glossier sells beauty products directly to consumers. The founder, Emily Weiss, started with a beauty blog and strong social media and video presence that offered insights about celebrity beauty rituals. Her content strategy also allowed her to connect with plenty of online influencers.

Only after the blog attracted 15 million views each month, Ms. Weiss decided to develop her beauty company. By that time, she already had a huge, loyal audience. Even better, she had gotten to know her market very well.

Other brands do it the other way. They begin their product brand and then develop online and in some cases, offline content. Popular kinds of online content include blogs, videos, and even webinars. For offline content, businesses might sponsor such relevant events as demos, classes, tables at festivals, or booths at trade shows.

Benefit from loyal customers and brand ambassadors

Word-of-mouth marketing still performs very well. By offering a referral program, a DTC subscription business can recruit an army of brand ambassadors from its own satisfied customers. Also, the nature of recurring revenue can make it easier to entice customers to spread the word by offering them recurring discounts or rewards every time their recruit’s subscription charges them.

And since recurring customers can offer businesses a high lifetime value, it’s worth an investment to keep them. Loyalty programs can motivate customers to stay subscribed by providing them a way to earn discounts, reward points, or free gifts every time they get an order.

Work to create the best customer experience with subscription plans 

Of course, customers enroll in subscription plans to enjoy convenience and discounts. Businesses should learn about their customers to deliver the best possible experience and overcome potential objections. Some succeed by offering very simple options to maximize efficiency and avoid overwhelming people. Others provide a variety of plans to try to satisfy different kinds of customers. Finding the perfect balance may require some testing and surveys.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing

According to the paradox of choice idea, offering too many choices can stress out customers, reduce conversions, and detract from business.

The “paradox of choice” phrase comes from a marketing book and a Ted Talk by Barry Schwartz, a well-known psychology professor. On the surface, having plenty of choices seems like a very positive thing. Dr. Schwartz thinks this idea often backfires because people get so overwhelmed by having a great number of choices that they may fail to make any decisions at all.

Online shopping offers consumers an almost unlimited range of choices. Recently, businesses have taken a look at eCommerce marketing to find out if having so many options benefits buyers and sellers as much as they might have thought. As with most marketing questions, it can depend upon the business, market conditions, and unique marketing strategies.

Can offering fewer choices make eCommerce marketing more profitable?

The recent experience of many restaurants can illustrate the idea that offering fewer choices might provide businesses with benefits. Though they’re not typically thought of as traditional eCommerce businesses, a lot of dine-in restaurants had to publish online menus and offer to-go orders because of social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

To simplify ordering and eCommerce web development, they considered the fact that a few items generally generated most of their profits and sales. Thus, they often trimmed menus and featured only their most popular meals.  More than a few restaurants decided to maintain their limited menus even after they reopened because they found smaller menus move improved efficiency more than it turned away customers.

During the outbreak, restaurants needed to run as efficiently as possible for a number of reasons, including restrictions on capacity and problems with supply chains. As time passes and things return to normal, some of these places may add back more items to their menus. However, while they need to remain very lean and agile to cope with the outbreak, many have decided that reducing frills and choices solves a lot of problems. Particularly for businesses that need to trim budgets and run as lean as possible, the notion of offering fewer items has obvious merit.

How fewer choices might increase conversions

To see why limiting options won’t always reduce sales, consider one study from a Columbia University psychology professor. Dr. Iyengar set out a tasting table in a grocery store with 24 different jam flavors. That table attracted 60 percent of the shoppers who passed by. Later, she reduced the selection to to only six flavors and attracted only 40 percent of the customers.

At the same time, she enjoyed conversion rates of only three percent when she offered 24 flavors and thirty percent when she only offered six. Even though she attracted fewer tasters to the table, she sold a lot more jam when she limited choices. In response, Dr. Iyengar agreed with Dr. Schwartz’ idea that offering too many options might lead to information overload. She believed more customers turned away because so many choices made them feel fatigue or even stress.

How does the paradox of choice impact online sales?

An Amazon marketing agency might also keep this in mind when deciding on how many products to offer or even if Amazon will provide the best platform to focus on. Who hasn’t started shopping on Amazon at one time or another and found so many options that nothing ever got ordered at all?

According to BigCommerce:

  • Amazon already sells more than 12 million products.
  • Amazon lists over a million products in the home improvement category alone.

At the same time, some channels enjoy fairly low conversion rates. For instance, only two percent of Echo owners have used their device to order products. Maybe this audio-only device doesn’t lend itself so well to an eCommerce platform with so many choices.

DTC companies and distributors may want to also consult with a Shopify agency to see if they would have a better opportunity marketing with their own distinct shop. Most third-party sellers also use other platforms, so testing more than one option appears prudent. Even then, new sellers should probably consider starting with only a few products. As they grow, they might slowly and carefully expand their offerings and even remove some low-performing products.

Finally, trying to become all things to all people can make it difficult to remain efficient. Meanwhile, offering a few, well-chosen options makes it easy to deal with inventory, customer service, and sometimes even eCommerce web development. Businesses with fewer products might not attract as many prospects. Still, if they can balance a lower number of visitors with high conversion rates, lower operating costs, and fewer hassles, maybe they can use this tactic to increase profits.

What can the paradox of choice tell you about your customers?

Of course, some companies thrive by offering lots of interesting choices. For instance, having lots of creatively named ice cream flavors has appeared to serve Ben & Jerry’s very well. Lots of fans of this company can’t wait to taste the latest creation.

Still, Dr. Schwartz cautioned that providing too many choices might lead people to take shortcuts that will prompt them to pick something that they believe is good enough instead of taking more time to find the best solution. He also said people with too much freedom of choice may have extremely high expectations and that increases the risk of disappointment.

Perhaps offering lots of flavors works for Ben & Jerry’s because selecting ice cream doesn’t require a big investment. Also, the company’s been very creative about their release strategy and devoted themselves to building customer trust. With the jam experiment, customers were first introduced to an unfamiliar brand. A more expensive and durable kind of product may also take a bigger risk.

Is less more for eCommerce marketing?

The choice of how many products to offer and which online platform to use can depend upon many factors. These might include the type of product, overall marketing goals, and the company’s market audience. Still, any business that’s struggled while trying to appeal to as many people as possible might consider narrowing its focus to see if they can gain more attention from a smaller market.

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Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Pet Pet Food Pet Health & Wellness Pet Supplies

DTC brands are known for their clever, original, and on-trend ads. Read what we can learn from the pet product marketing tactics Chewy.com uses to connect with audiences.

In a few short years, DTC (or D2C) brands have gone from a novelty to an essential part of the lives of most consumers. Emarketer forecasts that DTC sales will account for $17.75 billion of total ecommerce sales in 2020, up 24.3% from the previous year.

Many of the newer DTC brands who have become household names have used highly memorable and creative direct to consumer marketing approaches to gain traction. One such example is Chewy.com, a DTC pet brand. Let’s take a closer look at how Chewy.com advertises, and what we can learn from their pet product marketing approach.

Using a Savvy DTC Ad Strategy to Build Market Share

This Chewy.com ad cleverly targets the new parent demographic. One of the primary benefits of Chewy’s direct to consumer marketing model is convenience — it delivers toys, chews, food, and treats directly to a consumer’s home, in a box.

For new parents, saving a trip to the local brick and mortar pet store is a significant draw. Chewy’s ad shows how its service can ease the burden of new parenthood, often one of life’s most overwhelming experiences.

Chewy’s ad is smart for another reason: It targets a large and growing demographic. Pets are often regarded as “training babies” by millennials, who are delaying the rituals and milestones of adulthood longer than earlier generations. Because younger people humanize their pets and treat them as family members, they are more willing to pay for premium products and services. Focusing on the “new parents with a dog” market is a smart move for Chewy.com, given their passion and willingness to spend.

Chewy’s ads also make an economic case familiar to DTC or D2C brands. This ad stresses that all the products offered by Chewy are not only cheaper than those found in a brick and mortar retailer, they also come with free shipping.

It’s a powerful ad because today’s “pet parents” want to do more for their animals, but they may be constrained by lack of income (a particular problem for younger pet parents). Chewy’s ad maintains that it’s possible to buy the best for your animal by opting for their low overhead DTC model.

Chewy.com also released ads focusing on the ease of the delivery and exciting experience of “unboxing” a collection of dog food, treats and toys; an ad showing how Chewy.com customer service reps can assist with helping find food for dogs and cats who are “picky eaters”; and ads that feature specific owners and their dogs, all enjoying Chewy.com boxes.  

All of the ads are upbeat, brief and colorful and feature lots of testimonials and images of happy pets. Additionally, all of the company’s pet product marketing messages highlight at least one aspect of Chewy.com DTC value proposition: Cheaper products, easy delivery, the boxing experience, etc.

Experience-based Advertising and Pet Product Marketing, Chewy-style

Chewy operates on the premise that consumers only share two types of experiences online: Great ones and terrible ones. So Chewy, obviously, strives to generate the former.

The company has drawn notice for sending flowers and condolences to a customer who called to cancel an order after a pet’s unexpected death. The customer was stunned and appreciative and later shared the story on social media.

Chewy is also known for sending handwritten notes addressed directly to its customers’ pets — a whimsical touch that plays extremely well in an era when most of us humanize our animals.

The Takeaway for Pet Product Marketing

DTC brands seeking to build awareness, attract new audiences, and engage with their existing customers would do well to consider Chewy’s direct to consumer marketing, DTC advertising, and customer service model.

Chewy’s ads are not high concept; instead, they hammer home the core value proposition of the company’s DTC model and show plenty of happy and excited pets.

At Bigeye, we have the experience and expertise to create top drawer DTC ad campaigns such as those created by Chewy.com. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you reach your goals.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing

Improving customer service means improving eCommerce marketing in order to retain and attract customers. Learn to improve customer service with these tips.

In recent months, eCommerce has enjoyed an incredible boom. At the same time, consumers also have plenty of choices and the means to research them. While online shoppers tend to demonstrate loyalty to brands they love, a poor experience will encourage them to try another internet shop. That’s why you need to prioritize customer service as a key part of your eCommerce Marketing strategy.

Consider these key stats from HubSpot that illustrate why you need to invest in high-quality customer service:

  • American shoppers who say customer service factors into their shopping choices: 90 percent
  • American consumers who say they’ve switched companies in the past year because of poor customer service: 49 percent

Mostly, it can cost between five and 25 times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Even if you’ve hired a high-quality consumer marketing agency, worked hard to develop your brands and packaging, and done everything else right, poor customer service experiences can keep prospects from making their first purchase and just as bad, prevent a first-time buyer from making a second purchase. 

Ten eCommerce Marketing Suggestions to Improve Customer Service

You can benefit by investing in some fairly simple and affordable enhancements to your customer service. This is true if you market other company’s brands or rely upon direct to consumer advertising.

Consider these tested tips to help show prospects and customers that you care about their experience both before and after you make a sale.

  1. Create a knowledge Base: You can find plenty of software and plugins that will make it simple to add an online knowledge base to your eCommerce site. You might start by answering the types of topics that customers frequently ask you or your existing customer service people.
  2. Show transaction history online: Giving customers the ability to login and see their ordering, billing, and shipping history online will help eliminate a lot of questions and misunderstandings.
  3. Create how-to videos: Posting videos that explain how your website or even some of your products work will help answer questions, increase customer satisfaction, and probably even drive sales.
  4. Create a scalable team: While a lot of these steps can help reduce the number of customer service reps you need, make sure you can handle peak demand.
  5. Offer live chat: According to Forrester, typical live chat sessions can cost up to 30 percent less than comparable phone calls. Some software allows you to use pre-written macros to answer frequent questions, and often, agents can handle more than one chat session at a time.
  6. Develop a multi-channel customer service strategy: Besides offering support on your website, you can also consider it on social media channels. This way, you meet customers where they spend a lot of time. Also, by giving an irritated or anxious customer a place to send a message you may prevent them from venting in a public post.
  7. Use help desk software: Not only can this software help track touch-points, it can also keep different service channels integrated. For instance, you can keep a record of interactions from social media and your website stored in one place.
  8. Offer a 24-7 voice system: Even if you can’t possibly keep somebody online 24 hours a day, you can still take messages that get routed to your held desk software for responses during the next business day. Even in this age of social media messaging and live chat, some folks still like to speak with a live person.
  9. Keep your FAQ updated: Once you get your customer service rolling, you should find that some questions occur more frequently than others. Having those clearly addressed in a simple FAQ should head off a lot of contacts and customer frustration.
  10. Track and measure customer service: If you want to keep improving, you need a way to measure your progress. In addition to tracking the number and types of request, you may want to send out surveys after a contact to give customers a chance to provide feedback.

Even if you initially only provide limited options for customer to get in touch, it’s important to ensure that confused or dissatisfied people have a way to get their concerns addressed. Any growing eCommerce business must attract and retain customers. Poor customer service experiences will turn away customers, even for companies who do a lot of other things right.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing

Use eCommerce marketing to take advantage of the growing population of regular online shoppers, while avoiding the pitfalls of this digital transformation.

As news of the COVID-19 pandemic spread almost as fast as the coronavirus itself, governments started encouraging people and businesses to take social distancing measures. Soon after, even the brick-and-mortar businesses that didn’t have to close their doors, often cut hours to reduce the risks to staff and customers. Both businesses and customers have experienced dramatic changes in a very short time. Still, this sudden shift in shopping behavior has allowed eCommerce to boom.

How does the COVID-19 crisis impact eCommerce marketing?

As with all crises, some dramatic changes are likely to remain permanent. For instance, business reliance upon eCommerce marketing had already grown at a steady pace. During the pandemic, buying and selling online suddenly spiked. These growth figures come from the Salesforce Global Shopping Index for the first quarter of 2020:

  • Traffic growth: 16%
  • Digital commerce growth: 20%
  • Individual shopper growth: 4%

Certainly, marketers expect eCommerce growth over time. Still, these figures from the first quarter of 2020 surpassed the 2019 holiday season, which was considered a productive one. When compared to last year, home goods increased by 51 percent. Active apparel grew by 34% and toys by 31%. Such essential goods as food and personal care items spiked up 200 percent.

Is the rise of eCommerce marketing permanent?

Each holiday season attracts new eCommerce business. As new shoppers get introduced to online shopping or at least, shopping at new sites, the first quarter has always surpassed the first quarter for the previous year. However, analysts don’t necessarily expect as much activity in the first quarter as occurred during the holiday season.

According to CIO Magazine’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and eCommerce marketing, none of this is temporary. They believe that the current crisis will create the sort of emotional bookmark that 911 and Pearl Harbor did. Some of these rapidly upset routines will cause people to revaluate and change behaviors long after the crisis has passed.

To support this assertion, consider new research from the Capgemini Research Institute:

  • Before the coronavirus pandemic, 59 percent of consumers reported a lot of interaction with brick-and-mortar stores. Just about a quarter of consumers said they expected to frequent stores as much afterwards.
  • Within the next six or nine months, less than 40 percent of consumers said that they expected to return to previous levels of visiting physical outlets.
  • Before the pandemic, about 30 percent of consumers reported a high level of engagement with online stores; however, 37 percent now report this behavior.

In other words, consumers anticipate shopping online more and in physical stores less.

Will the eCommerce boom end physical stores?

Because of these survey results, Capgemini analysts agreed with CIO’s assessment that this bump in online spending would continue even after the crisis ends. At the same time, even the Amazon marketing agency doesn’t want to see local, physical stores vanish.

For instance, Amazon purchased Whole Foods and opened outlets to give their customers a better experience. Prime subscriptions offer customers the choice to either save money online or inside a store. People can see, touch, and even smell products. Customers also can choose in-store pickup for deliveries, an option that has proven increasingly popular with other omnichannel outlets.

Capgemini also doesn’t expect physical stores to vanish; however, shoppers may have higher expectations in the future. It’s intuitive to predict that survey respondents said they would pay more attention to sanitization issues in stores. They also said that they would be more likely to patronize physical or online businesses that communicated a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to sustainability. Customers will return to stores. At the same time, they may visit stores less and be much pickier about which ones they choose to frequent.

Vital eCommerce marketing tips

Ecommerce marketing may enjoy a boom because of the coronavirus. At the same time, even businesses with existing eCommerce platforms have to overcome some obstacles:

  • Pre-coronavirus, many businesses focused mostly or solely upon foot traffic and have had to abruptly change their strategy to include eCommerce marketing. This increases competition for keywords, consumer attention, and of course, online revenue. While an established eCommerce brand will enjoy some advantages, they may not entirely overcome the budgets of large companies that need to rev up online marketing fast.
  • As CIO Magazine ironically phrased it, the digital transformation wasn’t entirely prepared for the digital transformation. Some platforms could not handle the sudden and unexpected surge to “Black Friday” traffic levels. Very commonly, retailers suffered because of supply chain disruptions and inefficiencies. Many simply didn’t have the processes and manpower in place to handle the extra business. Even Amazon had to slow down delivery of non-essential items to ensure essential products moved to their destinations quickly.

With these obstacles in mind, these essential eCommerce marketing tips can help companies survive and thrive through the current crisis and beyond:

  • Shore up supply chains: You can’t make good inventory decisions without good information. Contact manufacturers or distributors to understand how they’re coping and what you can expect from them. Hedge your bets by finding alternative suppliers.
  • Communicate with customers: Just as you want your suppliers to keep you in the loop, your customers want to know if they can rely upon you to provide them with excellent service and reliable deliveries. These days, people also want to feel good about doing business with you by knowing that you’re striving to improve safety for them and employees. Let people know how well you’re doing through emails, your website, and social media.
  • Revisit your understanding of customer needs: You may believe your business understood your customer very well before the crisis; however, your customers’ situations and needs have changed as abruptly as your company’s have. For example, many beauty products companies started adding hand sanitizer to their product line to help meet customer demand.
  • Understand that customers may spend more time at home: If your customers are suddenly forced to spend more time alone and at home, you may profit by freshening up your products to appeal to them. For example, Son of a Sailor used to concentrate on selling jewelry and other fashion accessories. They’ve added a new “Boredom Busters” section to their site to appeal to the stay-at-home crowd.
  • Make smart advertising choices: Choices you make about PPC bids and other advertising can always make the difference between great returns and poor ones. It’s more important than ever to make certain you’re tracking the right metrics and planning advertising campaigns that support your business goals. On the other hand, some kinds of eCommerce businesses have found advertising costs have dropped somewhat because their competitors have reduced budgets.
  • Address technical and security concerns with your site: Of course, a better time to address any technical or security issues with your site would have been before the crisis. Still, these things don’t tend to fix themselves. The investment you make in faster loading times and solid security features will put your business in a better position to attract customers now and keep them in the future.

Additional eCommerce tips to help your online business thrive during coronavirus

You may have more concerns about simple survival right now than about rapidly expanding in the future. Still, these actions that you can take to give customers a better impression of your brand will increase revenues in ways that will benefit you now and later.

Let your customers know you value their business

These days, eCommerce sites have enjoyed plenty of success attracting new customers and waking up old ones with generous promotional offers. This can work especially well if you believe your typical customers may have cut back on spending because of their own economic uncertainty. More than ever, consumers want to find good value.

Also, with the understanding that it’s almost always cheaper to retain a loyal customer than to find a new one, consider creating or revamping loyalty programs. Some examples of suggestions for improving a loyalty program to respond to the current crisis came from Antavo, a loyalty management platform:

  • Consider extending the dates on expired points. As an example, CVS, just did this with their CVS Bucks program. Of course, they also sent out an email to let customers know about their generosity.
  • Consider making rewards a little easier to redeem, and in particular, offer good rewards to incentivize customers to join your program and to help you meet other sales goals.

Show customers you care about their communities

Even before this current crisis, savvy marketers understood how giving back to communities helped them improve brand recognition, reputation, and even revenue. For instance, plenty of distilleries have begun producing hand sanitizer to give away. Patagonia, the clothing retailer, sends a percentage of profits to environmental causes.

Some businesses may believe the pandemic has strained their budgets too much to consider adding charitable donations. Maybe it’s time to consider the buy-to-give or other incentive models. For example:

  • TOMS built its shoe and eyewear business by giving away a product for every product purchased.
  • AmazonSmile donates a percentage of qualified sales to charities designated by the customer.
  • You could also select some charities and allow customers to add an extra dollar or two at checkout.
  • Instead of sending excess inventory to the virtual bargain basement or even discarding it, consider donating it.

The long-term outlook for post-coronavirus eCommerce

Social distancing measures have abruptly reduced or even eliminated revenue for many physical businesses. In response, both retailers and consumers have turned to the internet for buying and selling. While the pandemic may have generated an abrupt surge in online shopping, eCommerce marketing analysts expect the trend to continue after the crisis has passed. More people will grow accustomed to the convenience and value, plus some will remain reluctant to spend much time in local shops after they open. While eCommerce stores can expect more opportunities, they also need to overcome a number of challenges. Some sensible improvements to marketing, technology, and business processes can also help to overcome these.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Marketing/Business

Read why eCommerce is booming during the coronavirus, and how businesses can retain those customers after the crisis passes.

During these days of the coronavirus outbreak, you might have a hard time picturing a return to normal business conditions. Still, you can already see signs that preventative measures have begun to flatten the curve and even turn it around. Doctors and scientists have remained optimistic that they can devise better treatments and effective vaccines rapidly. Hopefully soon, people can start to resume normal activities and companies can reopen their doors.

Still, most marketers expect at least some of the dramatic changes to consumer behavior to last. More specifically, one sector of the economy, eCommerce, has boomed. With that in mind, it’s important to address eCommerce management and marketing strategies that will ensure that you can retain the gains you may have made for a long time after the coronavirus crisis passes.

How has eCommerce marketing fared during the coronavirus outbreak?

To understand how rapidly eCommerce has grown, take a look at one particular segment, food and beverages. According to eMarketer, they had previously forecasted eCommerce sales for food and beverages would increase during 2020. The pre-coronavirus forecasts predicted growth of over 23 percent and over $32 billion in revenues for the year. While eCommerce had only accounted for 3.2 percent of all receipts in this market,  they had suggested food and beverage as an example of a segment of eCommerce niche without much current penetration and plenty of room for growth. 

Before the crisis, retailers marketing on Amazon may have also enjoyed brisk growth because of the way the largest online retailer had improved logistics to provide quick deliveries. Even though Amazon ranks first in overall eCommerce, it is not the only source of food and beverage. In fact, a large segment of that market also goes to grocers and independent direct-to-consumer companies.

In any case, you should inform yourself by looking at the surge during the first months of coronavirus stay-at-home orders:

  • Just within the three days between March 12 and March 15, a comparison of that same time period from last year showed that orders in that sector boomed by over 200 percent.
  • Another survey sampled the time period between March 1 and March 25, and found 183-percent growth.
  • A poll of consumer behavior between March 1 and March 25 found that American adults reported increasing their online grocery shopping from about 11 percent to 37 percent. Even more, eMarketer reported that shopping online grew steadily more common each week by the middle of March.

Will marketing my product online continue to grow after the coronavirus?

Obviously, people have increasingly turned to eCommerce because they want to avoid crowded grocery stores during the crisis. Also, some retailers have limited hours or even temporarily closed, so consumers need a convenient alternative. Still, you can look at past consumer behavior to predict that many of these consumers will continue to shop online after the outbreak.

Predictably, eCommerce spending has surged during the last quarter of each year. Still, it doesn’t die down after the holiday season ends to the the previous first-quarter levels. Multiple-year charts look more like an ascending staircase than like a series of peaks and valleys. During successive years, sales will surge again the next fourth quarter to even higher levels than the year before. This suggests that once consumers get used to shopping online, they tend to keep the habit.

Which eCommerce website management and marketing strategies will help you retain customers after the coronavirus?

Certainly, shoppers will still return to retail outlets after the crisis passes. At the same time, it’s fair to predict that they will also continue to spend more money online than they did before the pandemic. Even if consumers just switched out the equivalent of one out of ten of their normal shopping trips for an online order, it would have a tremendous impact on eCommerce growth.

Of course, you may have plenty of online competition in your niche and cannot guarantee that all of the customers you attracted during the outbreak will return to your business. These eCommerce marketing suggestions can help you retain more of your customers now and in the future:

Subscription orders

If you’ve done any consumable marketing on Amazon, Shopify, or even your own eCommerce site, you’ve probably run into subscription orders. You often see them for such consumer goods as coffee and dog food, and they let customers create a recurring order every month, typically at a discount. Such DTC companies as Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron also rely upon the subscription model. They tend to work particularly well in such categories as food, pet food, and beauty.

According to McKinsey Research, the overall subscription market has increased by 100 percent a year, and about 15 percent of all consumers say they have used subscriptions for convenient, repeat ordering at least one time. The model particularly appears to appeal to younger adults who live in urban areas and earn at least $50,000 a year.

Consumers who take advantage of subscription purchases say they enjoy the convenience and value; however, they also say they’re quick to cancel if they don’t receive high-quality service and products. If you decide to offer subscription ordering, you need to make certain that you have the good products and services in place to sustain it.

Loyalty programs

Adding a loyalty program to your eCommerce marketing plan provides you with another way to entice customers to return. Typically, these programs offer such rewards as points to accumulate for free products, discounts, or notification of special promotions. Some companies even give their customers extra points for mentioning their products on their social networks or for providing reviews. If you add a referral program to your loyalty program, you can even encourage your current customers to mention your business to their friends.

Provide flexible customer service options

Recently, a lot of businesses have made their return or cancellation policies more flexible to help their customers out during the current crisis. This adjustment can also give your business a way to make certain that you keep consumers delighted, and even when they’re not, you will have a way to learn about issues and try to correct them. Even though you may adjust your return or cancellation policies now to accommodate uncertain customers, you may decide that your flexibility will also help you retain them in the future. 

You have probably noted that large eCommerce sites like Amazon usually offer a variety of shipping options. For instance, patient shoppers may even get free shipping if they choose a slower option. Customers with urgent needs can opt to spend more for expedited shipping. You might also consider adding promotions that offer more free shipping options for orders over a certain amount, or you can even make that a perk of your loyalty program.

Build a high-quality subscriber messaging list

In the old days, eCommerce marketing companies would have simply called this an email list. These days, you might also consider giving customers the option to choose text messages over emails. Even though most people already receive a lot of messages from businesses and probably don’t read most of them, that’s not true for some companies.

Plenty of businesses can boast that their customers look forward to receiving their communications because they work hard to offer value in exchange for attention. The more you can personalize these lists, the better chance you will have of having customers who perceive your communication as valuable too. For example, you might send special promotions for coffee grinders to customers who have already ordered or at least browsed your unground coffee bean selection. You could direct the offers for tea infusers to customers who have purchased your leaf tea.

Since a subscriber list can prove such a valuable way to retain customers, you may consider offering some perks to entice people to join. For example, you could offer a one-time coupon that entitles your new subscriber to a discounted purchase or upgraded shipping.

Why develop better plans for eCommerce marketing?

Steps you take today to improve your eCommerce website management and marketing can help you enjoy your share of the current eCommerce boom. Once this crisis has passed, your improvements should also help you retain and attract more online shoppers in the future.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Media & Analytics

DTC retailers have been affected by COVID-19. Pivoting your 2020 marketing plan using e-commerce, data, and direct sales platforms will help you recover.

By the Middle of March, AdWeek published the sobering news that DTC stores had been among some of the first retailers to close because of the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, these companies’ rationale for closing may point to strengths — and not weaknesses — with many of the brands. To develop an effective media plan for DTC brands, you might consider some of the strongest examples in the industry and how they coped even when retailers had to close. 

Rethinking the media plan for DTC brands for post-crisis 2020

Adweek’s take on early closings by such DTC retailers as Glossier, Warby Parker, and Allbirds contained some encouraging insights. These companies did not necessarily lock their physical stores because they struggled more than typical retailers. Instead, many of them believed they could ride out the storm without brick-and-mortar outlets because they had already developed a strong online presence. In fact, some DTC retailers only sell online or at least, began with e-commerce marketing before establishing brick-and-mortar stores. In this time of crisis, they could simply return to their roots.

Pivoting e-commerce marketing strategies after the coronavirus crisis

To develop your plan for DTC marketing after coronavirus, it could help to consider the example of one very young company and then, consider some advice for the industry as a whole.

Success through infrastructure, data, and innovative direct sales platforms

Zak Normandin founded Iris Nova, a soft drink company that sold offline through its own retail stores and the hospitality industry. Normandin spoke about remaining unafraid to pivot his marketing strategy, and how this alleviated sales losses during the past couple of weeks after many of his offline channels lost business or closed.

Now backed by Coca-Cola, Normandin first gained attention with the novel tactic of marketing more through text messaging than web platforms. ‘In fact, customers can directly order crates of beverages through SMS. With more people staying home, demand for home delivery has increased and this ordering method appears increasingly popular with the company’s customer base.

The company does have financial challenges because of the loss of retail business, but Normandid says that he’s thankful that they had already invested heavily in brand awareness, marketing intelligence, and technology for their mobile direct ordering system. As an example, they’ve also developed retail technology they used for their own cashless store. Even though they needed to shutter the store during the coronavirus crisis, they can use this tech to generate additional revenue in partnership with other companies.

Digital DTC marketing trends for during and after the coronavirus crisis

Jerome Shimizu co-founded DoGood Media and serves as its chief data and analytics officer. He observed that stay-at-home measures have made consumers increasingly dependent upon direct orders. At the same time, lots of legacy companies have failed to keep up with this model. He mentioned that more old-fashioned businesses could benefit by looking at the ways newer players, like Iris Nova, have developed their online customer base.

It’s also a good time to make certain brand messaging expresses sympathy to the stress many customers have experienced during the crisis. As an example, McDonald’s had a chance to procure at least an extra million masks to donate to healthcare workers when it ordered protective supplies for its own employees. This act of enlightened self-interest helped the company improve their brand image as a good employer and community member.

For a DTC example, look at Brands X Better. A couple of dozen DTC brands, including Clean Simple Eats, Boll and Branch, and Harrow Sports, have teamed up together to commit a percentage of sales to a charity effort. These individual brands all cooperate to donate money and promote the effort. In turn, the website also helps promote the companies. The message on the Brands X Better site tells visitors that by buying from these brands, they can help support worthy causes and of course, keep the companies in business and employees at their jobs. 

It’s already time to develop e-commerce marketing for after the coronavirus

As demonstrated by these examples, your ability to weather the current crisis and bounce back stronger afterwards depends upon the actions you can take now to respond. You might also need to remain flexible in the way you meet consumer demand, even though you have to make drastic changes to your original marketing and advertising plans for the year.

A strong e-commerce platform and online audience can help carry you through times of weaker offline, retail sales. During the crisis, lots of consumers have turned to online ordering, so you just need to let them know you’ve made that available for them. You may even find sales boosted by consumers who are more likely to order for home delivery than to travel to a retail outlet right now. To build your brand imagine, consider actions and marketing that can demonstrate how well you adjusted and strove to help protect your employees and your community. In some cases, you may even find it easier to stretch limited resources if you can find other like-minded companies to partner with.