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Audience Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Market Intelligence Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

As a leading consumer insights agency, we conducted research about what consumers look for when shopping in our latest study: Retail Disrupted: What US Shoppers Want From Brands Today. We’ve uncovered timely retail trends that can help you provide unforgettable shopping experiences for customers that will entice them back into physical stores.

As we noted before in previous articles, the coronavirus pandemic spiked growth in an already-existing trend towards the rise of digital sales. Consumers discovered the convenience and savings they could enjoy by ordering online and getting deliveries at their front doors. 

For example, digitally native DTC brands often replace traditional retailers by attracting and engaging customers with emerging technologies. Even as life slowly returns to a more normal state, digital sales keep increasing. Consider five retail trends that retailers can use to benefit their businesses. 

1. Social shopping 

Retailers encourage customers and influencers to share their experiences with products on social networking sites. These sellers engage new customers by creating a shared experience online. According to Bigeye’s research report Retail Disrupted, almost nine out of ten consumers admit to making purchases because of an introduction to the product by an influencer on social media. Even more, social commerce has emerged as a primary source of leads for DTC brands. 

Popular social networks for social shopping include Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok. At the same time, almost all sites with a social aspect, like YouTube and Reddit, support this kind of social sharing for products. 

2. Augmented Reality shopping apps 

AR shopping apps from Home Depot, Target, and IKEA can show consumers how a sofa will look in their living room. The Sephora and Amazon apps let customers see how various lipstick shades and eyeshadow colors will complement their skin tones. Customers can use these apps to make better at-home or in-store shopping choices. Most consumers believe that within 10 years, shopping will involve more interfacing with technology than human salespeople. 

3. DTC subscriptions 

Digital marketing opened up a direct pathway to consumers. By bypassing retailers and other intermediaries, DTC businesses can improve profits while keeping prices competitive. Retail Disrupted revealed that 72% of hispanic shoppers have purchased from a DTC brand in the past six months.

Subscriptions offer customers convenience and savings, and they help drive retention for brands. Also, brands don’t have to sacrifice other distribution modes to benefit from DTC sales. Some brands originated as digital natives and expanded to retailers. In contrast, legacy companies began focusing on direct selling after only working through distributors and retailers for years. 

4. Socially conscious consumerism 

Almost forty percent of shoppers engage in conscious consumerism. Socially conscious consumerism refers to purchase decisions with positive impacts upon the environment, society, or economy. Some common examples of conscious consumerism might include buying clothes and accessories at thrift stores, donating items to charities, and purchasing products from stores specializing in pre-owned and vintage clothing. 

In these cases, people choose sustainable purchases that may also offer a chance to save money. In other cases, shoppers might choose new products with more eco-friendly packaging and eco-safe ingredients. 

5. Physical retail stores of the future 

Digital technology will not just impact online shopping but also in-store experiences. Improvements in retail tech can help attract shoppers back to stores and make physical shops more efficient to run. For example: 

  • Over 30 percent of shoppers feel that entertainment or other in-store experiences would entice them to visit a local store. 
  • Almost as many people sit at the other end of the scale and prefer stores like Amazon Go or Apple store that let them choose items, pay with an app, and leave without needing to visit a checkout line at all. 

Many discount, drug, and grocery stores already rely on self-checkout lines that can speed up checkout time and reduce the number of cashiers needed. Some shoppers prefer these, but others find them awkward to use when they have bulky, awkward, or unusual purchases. Perhaps this represents a transitional phase with better solutions for automated checkout on the horizon. 

How a retail marketing agency benefits retail clients and consumers 

Now more than ever, retailers need to adopt a customer-focused marketing plan. Retailers can’t only focus on delivering the best products, but they also must provide these products in a way that customers prefer. The solutions involve adding effective enticements to get shoppers to visit their offline or online stores. 

Technology may help make purchases socially conscious, cheaper, convenient, or even more fun. At the same time, innovation can help businesses operate more efficiently. A consumer insights agency will spot the retail trends that help their customers achieve these goals for their unique businesses.

Download Retail Disrupted: What Shoppers Want from Brands Today for more insights.

Categories
Audience Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Market Intelligence Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

As a consumer insights agency, we employ a number of quantitative and qualitative research methods to help our clients make data-driven decisions. We find that DTC and CPG brands often fail to spend much time researching product pricing. These businesses generally fall into two camps: 

  • Some companies want to set prices very low to beat the competition. This strategy often backfires because consumers may think a too-low-to-be-true price signals poor quality. Sometimes, low prices may encourage lots of sales, but they might not generate enough revenue to offset costs and sustain business growth. 
  • Prices set too high may discourage consumers who don’t believe the product’s value justifies the cost. That’s particularly true if consumers can easily find the same or similar products elsewhere. 

How to use the Van Westendorp Index to find the right price 

For our work as a quantitative marketing research agency, we often organize surveys or focus groups to gather useful data for setting prices. One of the marketing research techniques we rely on, the Van Westendorp Index, narrows down the price customers would willingly pay to a range. 

Also called the Price Sensitivity Model, the Van Westendorp Index starts with a set of four survey questions

  • Which low price might make you question the product’s quality?
  • Which price would make you consider the product a bargain?
  • Which higher price might make it begin to appear expensive?
  • Which higher price would discourage you from buying because of the cost?

Conjoint.ly develops analysis tools for marketing research. According to the Conjoint.ly blog, samples should include a minimum of 200 survey takers. That helps ensure statistically significant results. Ideally, marketers should either survey current customers or members of the likely target market. Consumers who would actually consider buying the product can offer better answers than random people. 

To analyze the data: 

  • Plot the answers for each question on a graph. 
  • Marketing research analysts refer to the intersection of the “question quality” and “too expensive” lines as the optimum price point, or OPP. 
  • Test the OPP and values around it to derive the real-world optimum price. 

Example of employing the Van Westendorp Model for Luma & Leaf 

luma and leaf products

We served as a consumer marketing agency for Luma & Leaf, a DTC natural skincare brand. We employed qualitative and quantitative research techniques to find answers to a range of questions, including packaging, brand messaging, and introductory price points. 

Luma & Leaf manufactures products with high-quality, clean, and sustainably sourced ingredients. After completing the surveys and analysis, the company successfully positioned itself as a mid-level skincare brand. Their product’s quality and prices appeal to consumers who would pay somewhat more for quality but still would not budget for the most expensive brands. 

The company could differentiate its products from cheap drugstore brands because of the sustainability, purity, and quality of ingredients, so consumers would pay somewhat more. At the same time, they set prices much lower than luxury brands to ensure they didn’t price themselves out of their target market. 

Benefits of the Van Westendorp Pricing Model

Rebecca Sadwick works as a consultant for businesses about growth strategies. According to Ms. Sadwick, marketers used to introduce a product and ask customers how much they would pay for it. This method never worked well because: 

  • Studies found that survey takers tended to offer low-ball answers as if they wanted to bargain with the business for a better deal. 
  • Also, many people taking surveys can’t answer the question well because they don’t actually have skin in the game—emotion factors into most buying decisions. 

The indirect series of questions about prices tend to produce better answers. Nobody can say exactly how much they will pay for a product at some point in the future. In fact, most shoppers would probably have a range of prices in mind and not one specific price. Survey takers can do a better job of estimating which price points they would find too-good-to-be-true, great deals, and prohibitively expensive.

How should companies use the Van Westendorp Model to set prices?

Even when a consumer insights agency offers a better way to estimate optimum price points by using the Van Westendorp Model, businesses should still test prices to find the real-world optimum. As with the example of Luma & Leaf, marketers should also understand the reasons for specific prices, such as the advantages the product offers over cheaper competitors. 

Mostly, eCommerce businesses need to set prices high enough to earn revenues that will cover costs and return a decent profit but not so high that they discourage their target market. Marketers can use this kind of quantitative analysis when it’s time to set prices. Ideally, they will also conduct surveys while they’re still planning the product to ensure their sales will support business goals.

Categories
Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Website Development

As a Shopify development agency, we develop and enhance Shopify eCommerce stores for our DTC clients. Plugins give us an efficient way to customize our clients’ experiences and those of their customers. This customization translates into increased revenue and efficiency, equaling greater profits.

Shopify plugins make it easy for us to fully customize eCommerce websites for our clients, depending on their specific needs. They also give us the tools we need to easily implement new features that keep customers engaged with the brands. No matter what solution we’re searching for, we can typically find an app that does exactly what we need it to, which in turn cuts down the development time.”

Jenna Radomsky, Bigeye Digital Project Manager

Five essential Shopify plugins for eCommerce stores

Thousands of plugins can integrate with Shopify. That offers store owners plenty of choices. On the other hand, new eCommerce store builders may feel somewhat overwhelmed by all of the options.

Our eCommerce marketing agency gained experience with dozens of Shopify plugins to serve the unique needs of an array of clients. While our clients offer a variety of products and business models, they all have common goals of increasing profits, improving efficiency, and earning more profit.

We find ourselves frequently returning to many of the same trusted plugins to help clients meet their goals. That’s why we commonly suggest a handful of plugins to almost everybody.

Enjoy a brief introduction to our top five eCommerce plugins for DTC Shopify sites:

Klayvio

This email-collection plugin helps build subscription lists. In turn, eCommerce sites can send messages with order updates, upcoming sales, and new product announcements.

Klayvio allows audience segmentation and works with text messaging and email. For instance, it could send out a message through text or email about a sale on end tables to customers who have recently purchased a sofa.

Sales Motivator

What shopper doesn’t love free gifts? What marketing manager wouldn’t appreciate increasing customer order value?

With this plugin, eCommerce sites can encourage larger sales by offering free gifts based upon the total value of purchases in a shopping cart. Users can also select free gifts to enhance specific product purchases. For example, a shoe store might offer a free package of socks or upgraded shoelaces with the purchase of new running shoes.

Yotpo

Today’s customers look for user reviews to help with purchasing decisions. Yotpo can collect and display user reviews with images. Shopify recommends adding reviews to product pages because almost 95 percent of their own customers read them before buying.

Both buyers and search engines appreciate this kind of high-quality content. Plus, Yotpo lets website managers organize the reviews into attractive galleries that can add a social media experience to an eCommerce site.

PayWhirl

Paywhirl gives eCommerce sites the ability to offer more purchasing options. Some examples include payment plans, subscriptions, and pre-orders. Offering customers more flexibility provides a competitive edge over competitors that neglect to give customers options.

For instance, BusinessWire recently reported that subscription revenues have increased over 400 percent in the past decade. According to surveys, customers like subscriptions that help them save money and provide them with convenience.

ShipStation

If customers only sell on Shopify or also accept orders from other channels, ShipStation keeps shipping organized and ensures customers and customer service can view their tracking codes. Some highlights of ShipStation features include:

  • The plugin can import orders from multiple channels, like Shopify, Amazon, or even a CRM.
  • Automation and scan-based workflows manage orders to ensure timely fulfillment.
  • The software can compare rates from various carriers and then print labels one at a time or in batches.
  • After the order ships, ShipStation sends tracking info to sales channels and customers.

Why consider these five Shopify plugins for a DTC eCommerce site?

As a DTC marketing agency, we do more than consult with our clients about external advertising and marketing. While site promotion matters, it can only bring people to the eCommerce site. The experience an eCommerce site offers visitors will close sales.

Besides making business sites more useful for customers, these plugins also make sales management more efficient. As sales increase, a more efficient website will help widen profit margins even more.

As a Shopify development agency, we work hard to design eCommerce sites that generate more revenue and lower operating costs. That’s how we bring value to clients and why they return to us as often as we return to these trusted plugins.

Categories
Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Influencer Marketing Podcast

Bigeye’s forthcoming national study reveals that among those who follow infuencers, 9-in-10 purchase a product after seeing it used or recommended by an influencer. Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President at RVD Communications in New York, explains how influencer marketing is reshaping retail and why it redefines the shopper’s path to purchase. Paige also shares which tactics yield the most positive ROI and predicts where influencer marketing is headed in the coming years. 

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

​​Paige Garrett: The fluff content is gone. Influencers are really doubling down on brands that give back or initiatives that, you know, they align with personally. They’re saying no to deals with brands that they don’t admire who aren’t doing well by society.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Alongside the growth of social media over the past decade, influencer marketing has gained popularity with audiences and brands. Direct-to-consumer brands were among the first to use influencers to drive sales, particularly among new customers. A survey conducted by Inmar and Social Media Today recently found that four in every five respondents had made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation. And that over two-thirds of them had spent $150 or more. Influencers have loyal followings across several social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and most recently TikTok, creating new opportunities for brands to appear in paid and earned campaigns that leverage influencers’ connections with their followers. Today’s guest is an expert in influencer marketing. Paige Garrett is the assistant vice president of marketing at RVD communications, based in New York City. She has over seven years of marketing experience across various industries, including fashion, fitness, hospitality, and lifestyle. Having worked at companies like Shopbop, an Amazon subsidiary, Obé Fitness, and more. In her spare time, Paige is a fitness trainer and integrative health coach. To discuss all things influencer marketing, Paige is joining us today from Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Paige, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Paige Garrett: Thank you so much. I’m so thrilled to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Could you tell us about RVD and the kinds of clients you serve?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So RVD is a progressive PR, social media, and brand-building agency. We’re based in New York City and work across the hospitality and lifestyle industry. So we’re working primarily with bars and restaurants in the New York area, but also across the country, as well as some bigger national lifestyle brands. We also have a really strong women’s health vertical, so working with a lot of leaders in that space as well. And in terms of our, you know, core capabilities, I would say editorial PR is actually our bread and butter. So that’s where, as an agency, we got our start, that said, we understand, of course, that PR and sort of no marketing channel happens in a vacuum, so over the past few years, we’ve expanded our capabilities and services to include other marketing verticals as well. So social media management, email marketing, and then, of course, influencer marketing, which we’re here to chat about today.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, you’re the assistant vice president of marketing at RVD. What does your role entail?

Paige Garrett: I oversee our influencer marketing division, which is actually our fastest-growing division, which is really exciting. I also help oversee email marketing, I worked very closely with the social media management team and our publicists of course because for a lot of our clients, we’re working on the same projects, just on different channels. And I also help oversee new business with our founder, Rachel Van Dolson. So putting together proposals and strategies for potential clients based on their needs or what they’re looking for, which is also a lot of fun.

Adrian Tennant: RVD has clients in the lifestyle, health, and hospitality industries. Are these verticals especially well-suited to influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So I would say, really any industry at this stage, is fitting for influencer marketing, but where we sit across lifestyle, health, and hospitality, there’s so much opportunity because there are so many influencers who are leaning into, more of just that like snapshot into their everyday life. So I think that those industries and categories, in particular, touch every one of us at some stage in our day. So it’s a lot of fun putting together strategies and, you know, specific campaigns for our clients within those industries, but, definitely a lot of room across any industry for influencer marketing.

Adrian Tennant: Is that true of business-to-business brands, as well as business-to-consumer brands?

Paige Garrett: I do think that there are still a lot of opportunities because from a B2B perspective, the people who you’re still operating with, a lot of them are also still on Instagram or on Facebook, or, you know, are using those channels to find potential partnerships. So I think, obviously from a consumer perspective, there’s a lot more opportunity in terms of just driving direct purchase and conversion  and bigger brand awareness campaigns as well. But I do think B2B, when you think about who is the consumer on social at this point, it’s really everybody.

Adrian Tennant: Are there any categories at all that you found don’t tend to be as good a fit for influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: At this point in time, really every industry can win from some form of influencer marketing. That said, it’s obviously more challenging for certain industries than others. So you know, there’s a lot of red tape or regulations for certain industries. For instance, the liquor industry, even with our women’s health clients or supplements, there is a lot that you can and can’t do when it comes to having influencers endorse your brands or products. So, as long as you’re really reading the fine print and staying up to date with those regulations, and they do vary from platform to platform, I think that there is a way to go about influencer marketing. It really just comes down to finding the right strategy, finding the right partners, really getting clear upfront on the goals of your program and what you’re looking for. And then obviously matching that back to what you are, and aren’t allowed to do from an endorsement perspective.

Adrian Tennant: Could you explain the differences between paid and earned influencer management?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So at RVD, we run three different types of influencer marketing programs. So the first you mentioned is earned influencer marketing and what that means it’s basically a fancy way of saying, trade influencer marketing. So trading a free product or experience or service to an influencer in exchange for set content. And that’s probably the type of campaign that we’re all most familiar with, in the sense that we’re driving trials with our influencers and getting their real-time feedback via content. So with those engagements, obviously there’s no agreement in place, there’s no flat fee compensation. So while we do our very best to confirm via email, we don’t have control over what that final piece of content might look like. So, it’s really making sure that, within those campaigns that you either have established relationships with those influencers, you’ve worked with them before and I think that’s where an agency comes into play in the sense that when we’re working with influencers on behalf of our clients in an earned capacity, we have that trust established. They trust us in the brands that we’re working with. We trust them that they’ll follow through with the content that they’re promising in exchange for that again, complimentary product or experience. And it’s a great way to also establish relationships early on with influencers and also just learn a lot because it’s not, from a budget perspective, you’re not spending a ton of money. You’re really just trading again, that experience or free product for content. But then from there, there’s bigger paid campaigns. So that’s when, in addition to those complimentary services or products, you are also giving an influencer a flat fee payment for their content creation. So this is where you might be working with a bigger macro influencer who requires compensation, or you have a very specific campaign brief that you want to make sure that you get exactly the type of content that you’re looking for. So with the bigger paid campaigns, there’s an agreement in place. You have more control over exactly when that content is going to go live. A lot of times we’ll include reviews within our agreements or that we’re getting to see the content before it goes live and providing our influencers with a round of content edits. So there’s just a little bit more control, compared to the earned engagement. That said, I don’t think smaller brands need to have these bigger paid budgets so early on as mentioned, I think an earned or trade relationship is a great way to learn and then carry those learnings into a bigger paid engagement. But we also do a lot of affiliate influencer marketing as well, which is more of an ambassador program, which also works nicely because you’re incentivizing influencers just based on the number of conversions they drive. So that typically looks like a set commission of sales that they drive, whether that’s tracked through a discount code or a unique link. So those are the three main campaigns that we run for our clients at RVD.

Adrian Tennant: How does RVD categorize influencers by the size of their following?

Paige Garrett: So this is a great question and I think the answer evolves every week, in the world of influencer marketing. But for now, we typically equate a nano influencer to anybody who has zero to 10,000 followers. So those are smaller influencers, but they usually have hyper-engaged communities. So in those earned engagements or the trade engagements, that’s where we’ll be working mostly with nano influencers. Micro influencers we typically categorize as having 10K to 100K followers. There’s a new branch of influencer, which is the mid-level, which is a hundred to 500K. Macro influencers would be 500K to a million followers. And then there would be the mega macros, which have over a million followers snd those are typically more of the celebrity status of influencers. So we, of course, are very mindful of these different tiers. And as mentioned a paid campaign versus an earned campaign will kind of stipulate who we’re working with from a tier perspective. but we do also keep a very close eye on engagement rate. No matter if we’re working with a nano influencer or a macro influencer, because at the end of the day, you want to make sure that your content is being seen. So there are a lot of platforms that can equate engagement rate for you but the way you would basically go about finding that engagement rate is likes and comments divided by the total number of followers. So again, making sure that in addition to a lot of followers, all of those followers are hyper-engaged with that specific influencer’s content.

Adrian Tennant: For those listening, who haven’t yet worked with influencers, what are some of the issues marketers need to consider when planning a sponsored campaign for the very first time?

Paige Garrett: A lot of the clients we’re working with are brands that are just launching or who have never done influencer marketing before. So what we like to lead with is lead time. So it does take a little bit of time to nail down your strategy, align on the goals of the program. Is it brand awareness? Are you looking just for content to repurpose across your owned channels? Are you looking, of course, to drive sales, sort of like, what are the main goals of this initial campaign that you’re putting together? And then from there, really working backwards to find the right partners. I think really making sure that you’re doing your due diligence and researching to find the right type of influencer. For instance, we would never recommend a cheese brand to an influencer who is obviously dairy-free. So while it takes a little bit of time to do that manual research, of course, there are resources and platforms that help, it is really important to take that extra time to do so. And then from there, it’s also vetting those partners. Obviously, in the world that we live in, everything on social and everything online, it lives there indefinitely, so make sure that you’re doing a deep dive before reaching out to a potential partner to make sure that they’re fully brand aligned with your brand or your client’s brand. I think influencer marketing works very similarly to public relations or PR in the sense that you still need to proactively pitch your brand or your product or service to the influencer and get them to be interested. So, you know, just like how journalists are inundated with pitches every day, so are influencers. So what can you do to really insert your brand or product or service into that influencer’s day-to-day life? How can you personalize your outreach and make them see the value of what it is you’re offering to them? So really taking the time to craft that messaging, in the right way. And then from there, it can take a little bit of time to get that interest. So again, I think the overarching theme of my replies is time and research. Typically, once we have that initial interest, we’ll provide a creative brief, but also leaving ample room for that creator to use their creative expertise, because that’s why, you know, you’re approaching them in the first place. So, just making sure you have all those various aspects buttoned up before you even begin your outreach so that once the interest is there, once you start the process of collaborating with an influencer, you know exactly what you’re looking for and the value that they can provide to you and your brand.

Adrian Tennant: Thinking specifically about direct-to-consumer brands or retailers selling online, what types of influencer marketing campaigns does RVD typically run?

Paige Garrett: A lot of the clients that we’re working with are either new brands that are just launching or brands that are smaller and may have never done influencer marketing before. So for a DTC client, specifically, we typically start with more of an earned or trade engagement. So providing that product, just getting the product into as many influencers’ hands as we possibly can. Of course, again, doing our due diligence to make sure that they’re the right type of partners, the right influencers, who would genuinely as consumers value from that client’s product or service. So, within that sort of initial earned or trade campaign, it’s a great way for us to learn a lot, candidly. So before our clients have to put, you know, larger budgets behind campaigns, we can use more of this earned engagement to find out what type of influencers are really resonating with the brand or product? What type of content is working really well? What content might not be working as well? Who do we love, who loves us? Just really establishing relationships and learning in this initial earned phase so that when it does come time to do a bigger paid initiative or campaign, or even just build a brand ambassador program, we have all of those learnings in place. The beauty of DTC, as well as that obviously via stories, or even just via link in bio, if you’re working with a smaller nano influencer, you can link directly to your client’s website or the specific products that the influencer is recommending. So from a conversion perspective, it’s really helpful specifically for those DTC clients.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Lane Martin: I’m Lane Martin, graphic designer on Bigeye’s, creative team. Every week IN CLEAR FOCUS examines trending topics through the lens of consumer behavior. At Bigeye, for every engagement, we commit to really understanding our client’s target customers, using research to learn about their attitudes and motivations. As a graphic designer, I use these insights to guide my approach to crafting visually engaging solutions and inspiring effective campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the right people, at the right place, at the right time.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender.

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at RVD communications. Paige, how do you calculate the return on investment for clients from an influencer marketing campaign?

Paige Garrett: I love this question. Of course, measuring success is extremely important and, you know, for our earned, our trade relationships, where we don’t have an agreement in place, we still typically like to use UTM links. So, essentially it’s first establishing, what is the goal of this program or campaign that we’re running? Is it capturing content? Is it driving sales? Which is usually the goal. Is it just driving bigger brand awareness for a specific initiative or partnerships? Sort of aligning on what the goal is upfront so that we can measure against that. But what we can use UTM links for is essentially, once our influencers are including that swipe up or the link in bio, we get to see what’s happening once a consumer leaves the world of Instagram or leaves the world of that influencer, and enters the world of our client or brand. So while again, these aren’t paid, we do have a lot of success with asking our influencer partners to use their UTM links, because the way we position it to them is that we, as a brand, want to create a longstanding relationship with you. And what this unique link will allow us to see is everything that you’re driving for us as a brand. And I think influencers are really active and receptive to that, which is wonderful because they also want to do right and do well by the brand. So basically what a UTM link does is codes all of that information into our clients’ Google analytics backend, so that we can see, obviously, who’s purchasing, if anybody’s purchasing or if they’re not purchasing, you know, when that customer is leaving the site, how long are they on the site for? It kind of helps from a UX perspective as well, especially for our brands that might have just launched. That’s typically how we will measure success in an earned capacity. From a paid capacity, there’s a lot more we can ask our partners for because we’re paying them and have that agreement in place. So we’ll always ask for their Instagram metrics. So there’s a lot that’s public in terms of likes and comments, but we also like to look at things like sends and saves. So, from an engagement perspective, how else are potential customers engaging with the content? I think saves is a great way to see that there’s obviously some sort of intent to come back to that content or learn more about it, read more about it, or purchase. The same goes with sends, in the sense that somebody is clearly sending that to a friend or to somebody else who they want to see that content. We also ask our paid partners: did anybody DM you about this brand? We look at the sentiment of their comments. So overall, just making sure that we’re capturing the full picture in the sense of what did this partnership drive from a website or conversion perspective, but also just from a bigger brand awareness and sentiment perspective as well.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, thinking about the types of clients you work with at RVD and obviously without giving away any trade secrets, what are some of the tactics or types of content that you find work consistently well?

Paige Garrett: Yeah. So we have a fun phrase that we like to say at RVD, which has gone are the days of fluff content. I think that, when influencer marketing first started a few years ago, especially on Instagram, there was a lot of posing with specific products or very curated content. And I think that while there are a lot of content creators who do create beautiful content that is very editorial and stylized, I do think that more real, authentic content is what is performing really well. And it makes sense because at the end of the day, a follower or a community that an influencer has, they’re looking to that influencer just for day to day inspiration. And they have that established relationship with that influencer. They know what their typical day is like because the influencer shares it every day. So when an influencer is promoting something that is so far from what they typically would share, or that clearly goes against something that a follower already knows about them, I think it’s really obvious to the consumer and it’s very unlikely that they’ll take action when it comes to that content. So for instance, we have an influencer who we work with quite frequently, who we had a paid engagement with recently. And her content was already pre-shot, we’ve, you know, approved the content. We were ready to go. And she actually, unfortunately, got COVID and it was during this time that she really used her channel to open up about her mental health, about the way that it was affecting her, obviously, physically, but mentally as well. It was such a beautiful thing to see in such a real and honest depiction of who she is as an influencer and the way that she wants to try to help others who are likely going through similar situations. And the content we had prerecorded just felt so wrong in that instance, because of this phase that she was coming out of personally. So instead, we decided to collaborate on, you saw value in the product previously. How do you see value in the products now that you’re coming out of such a difficult two weeks, a difficult time where you obviously spoke to your mental health, and how this has all affected you? And we kind of worked with her as a creator to reshoot the content in a way that felt really real and honest with where she was in her life. And I think that is a great example of the type of content that is resonating most, because it’s very authentic in a way that, followers and consumers are picking up on now more than ever.

Adrian Tennant: E-marketer estimates that influencer marketing sponsorships totaled around $10 billion in 2020. Given its popularity, are you seeing clients using influencer marketing in addition to ad campaigns or does that $10 billion reflect a shift in spending away from traditional and digital advertising and toward influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: Yeah. I would say that the two definitely go hand in hand. I think it was about two years ago that it took 8 touchpoints to convert a customer. So I could only imagine it’s more like 12 now. Whereas as a society we are very distracted, we’re doing too much at once. It takes a lot to get somebody to finally decide to purchase something or to go to a restaurant or whatever that action is. So I do think that there is a reason to have both traditional and digital advertising in addition to influencer marketing. So I would say that, you know, bigger brands, they have that bigger advertising budget, but they’re also setting up a separate budget for influencer marketing. That said, I also think that for smaller brands or newer brands who don’t have as big of budgets, I think that the value of influencer marketing, especially early on in a business is so important. And I do think that a lot of our clients and a lot of the clients that we’re working with, do tend to allocate their dollars there first, because I think working with influencers, it’s almost like you have a group of beta testers to collect feedback from. Using our UTM links, we can see, is there anything broken in terms of our UX website flow that we should consider before you’re putting larger dollars behind advertising? And I do think also with influencer marketing, there’s a lot of content you can capture that you can then leverage for your owned or paid channels eventually. So, I do think again, the two work hand in hand, there’s a reason to be doing both, but as a smaller brand, while you’re just starting out using an influencer marketing campaign and more of that trade or earned capacity to start, is a great way to find your core audience demo, find what’s working from a content perspective. Use your influencers like beta testers, just like use that influencer campaign to collect a lot of data and information that you can then carry over when you’re ready to do more of a traditional or digital advertising run.

Adrian Tennant: Well, we can’t talk about social media and not discuss TikTok, the breakout network of the pandemic. Paige, what kinds of brands do you see performing best in this channel?

Paige Garrett: We love to talk about TikTok. It’s definitely a labor and time-intensive platform in the sense that if you’re going to be on TikTok, you really need to double down, and to be on TikTok. So what we typically recommend for our clients is making sure that you’re really ready and that you have enough content to fill in that channel. So, it’s obviously very video-heavy. There’s a lot of cutting and it’s also what we like to say as well as whereas with Instagram, there’s a lot of curation. It’s a very editorialized vision of your brand or product or service, and the same goes for influencers. I think that there are a lot of influencers who still take a lot of pride, artistically in their Instagram feeds and the type of content they’re producing on Instagram. Whereas with TikTok, it’s kind of like what Snapchat was like when it first came out, only it lives forever. It doesn’t go away after 24 hours, but it is a little bit quicker, a little bit more real, authentic, kind of like a BTS or behind the scenes look at, a real, authentic version of that influencer or of your brand. So, I do think that, you know, when it comes to influencer marketing on TikTok, we typically recommend not going too heavy until you have a presence as a brand on TikTok. That said, I do think it’s also a great way to test via influencers, what type of content is resonating on TikTok. almost using your influencers like a beta test to see what they’re producing on behalf of your brand on TikTok. So that, that can kind of get your creative wheels turning from your owned content perspective. Also leveraging that influencer’s TikTok content on your TikTok eventually. But when it comes to, let’s say, an influencer campaign that we’re running on TikTok for a brand that doesn’t have a TikTok presence just yet, we’ll also make sure that our influencer partners are repurposing that content via Instagram Reel so that they’re able to tag our brand of course, and drive direct conversion that way as well.

Adrian Tennant: For any brand that’s considering engaging with an influencer marketing agency or a communications firm to manage a campaign, what are some good questions to evaluate whether that firm will be a good fit?

Paige Garrett: I think that it’s getting very clear upfront regarding what you’re looking for with that influencer campaign. So, obviously, I think every brand is interested in sales, but depending on where you are in your business, do you just need content? You know, maybe you don’t have a budget for a big photoshoot or, you’re just a founder and you don’t have access to a full team. Is there a campaign you’re looking to mount just so that you can capture content for your own channels? Are you looking to drive sales? Are you looking for, you know, bigger paid campaigns? Just making sure that your goals align with the agency and the agency services and capabilities. I also think definitely asking about previous projects that they’ve done, case studies, making sure again, that the types of brands that agency may have worked with fits with what you’re looking for, what your brand vision may be, that they’re brands that you know and respect and admire in the space. And I also think it’s just making sure that you’re also set up to have a successful influencer program. So for instance, if you’re looking for a bigger brand ambassador program, do you have some sort of DTC component, do you feel equipped and ready to have enough product to seed out to influencers? If you’re doing a trade or earned program if you want a bigger paid campaign, do you have healthy budgets, making sure that, you’re aligned on all of those key components, in addition to, the goals of your campaign, so that that agency can give their strategic recommendation on what is or isn’t doable.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, looking at the next two to three years, how do you see the influencer marketing landscape evolving?

Paige Garrett: The fluff content is gone. I think that when an influencer is choosing to share content, whether it be sponsored or not, I think that influencers are really looking to add value and to open up bigger conversations, and use their platforms for the greater good. Whereas, you know, I do think there was a lot of curated interest in stylized content previously. So I’m excited to continue to see this where influencers are really doubling down on brands that give back or initiatives that they align with personally, they’re saying no to deals with brands that they don’t admire who aren’t doing well by society. Really just leaning into authentic, real content that feels good to them as a consumer, but also that they know that their community will resonate with. So I, for instance, would always rather an influencer say no, and we have had some, some no’s, because if it’s a dietary restriction or, a personal decision that they want to lean into a different industry, I would always rather hear, “No”, that “this is not brand-aligned”, then an influencer produce content that they don’t feel good about and that they don’t think their community will resonate with. So continuing to move in that direction, I definitely think video will continue to be huge. And I do think that video allows for that more authentic and real connection. Whereas, you can’t just hide behind a stylized photo. A movement towards the real is really what I think we’re all experiencing and especially after such a challenging few years, with everything going on, I do think that influencers want to leverage their platforms to do more than just share brands or content, to share resources. You know, I think that educational content will continue to be huge and just moving towards using social media for the greater good, rather than perpetuating unrealistic norms of a perfect lifestyle, which we all now know does not exist.

Adrian Tennant: So Paige, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about influencer marketing with RVD, where can they find resources?

Paige Garrett: Yeah, so you can visit our website at www.rachelvandolson.com. You can email us at info@rachelvandolson.com or find us on Instagram: @RVDCommunications.

Adrian Tennant: And if people would like to know more about your coaching services for fitness and integrative health, where can they find you?

Paige Garrett: They can find me at www.PaigeGarrett.com or on Instagram @PaigeAConnelly.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, thank you very much for being our guest this week on, IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Paige Garrett: Thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at RVD Communications. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Branding Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Messaging

Why Would a D2C Agency Suggest Building a Brand Community?

The idea of building an internet community around a company might have first gained traction with software and technology developers. Tech companies often establish user communities to provide information and assistance to users and prospects. Company employees might have provided some of this support, but over time, other members started to contribute too. DTC marketing agencies can a learn a thing or two from them.

Perhaps DTC marketing companies took a lesson from successful tech businesses. Today, communities support businesses that range from fashion, health, and beauty to automotive, entertainment, and travel. The communities help brands develop stronger connections, gather feedback, and analyze a goldmine of consumer information.

Where to Start a DTC Brand Community?

The best place to start a community may depend upon customer demographics, the location of competitors’ communities, or business goals. Consider some pros and cons of common options for community building:

Social Media Sites

Social media sites offer an easy solution. Customers probably already use these platforms and nobody needs to install and maintain extra software. Also, a social platform should make it easier to reach out and engage new members. Depending upon the typical customer base, popular suggestions for social networking sites include Facebook, Slack, LinkedIn, and Reddit.

Forums on Business Sites

Installing forum software on a business site should not require a lot of effort or a large investment. Downsides may include needing to keep the forum app updated and secure.

On the other hand, with this approach: 

  • A self-hosted forum allows businesses to maintain a lot more control over the way the community works, how it’s moderated, and who can see specific content.
  • Also, community members will navigate to the business site, so they should remember the domain and the brand.
  • The addition of user-generated content may help improve the website’s SEO and search rankings.
  • Best of all, the community and the company won’t need to compete for attention with social media ads from other businesses.

Online Community Software Platforms

An experienced DTC marketing agency might say that a community platform could offer a compromise between social sites and self-hosted communities.  For instance:

  • Some of these platforms charge fees. In exchange, the provider should take responsibility for maintenance, upgrades, backups and security.
  • Unlike social networking sites, businesses can choose plans that do not show ads from other organizations. The best community platforms also make social sharing easy for members.
  • Also, these platforms offer lots of user-friendly tools that can help make the group more effective and engaging. Some examples include support for discussions, Q&A pages, and more.

According to blogging consultant Adam Enfroy, the user-generated content in a community can help optimize these platforms for search. That’s not as beneficial as optimizing the business site. Still, both search engines and group members should find navigating to the business site relatively easy.

Some popular examples of these community platforms include Tribe and Mighty Networks.

How to Grow Communities for DTC Marketing

Some communities take off on their own because of the value they provide users. No matter how much value most businesses can offer, they still need to invest some effort to invite group members to join and participate. Customers and prospects need to know the platform exists, where to find it, and most of all, how they might benefit.

As an example, Apple, Google, and plenty of other tech companies grew their group membership by offering a convenient way to obtain first-line support. Company representatives and other users could provide answers and solutions. At first, people might have visited because they needed specific assistance or information. Very often, these members would return to contribute their own feedback and knowledge.

Some suggestions to spread the word about a new business community include:

  • Sending invites after a purchase or delivery
  • Promoting the community on social pages or ads
  • Encouraging membership and participation with discounts or loyalty reward points

It helps to add some engaging content to the community before sending invitations. Some good examples might include FAQ pages, surveys, and posts to answer common questions, share good news about the brand, and solicit feedback.

Examples of successful D2C marketing groups

A brief look at some successful examples of online brand communities should offer inspiration to help choose platforms, topics, and even specific content for other businesses.

Hims

This health and wellness company sells wellness products and provides a telehealth platform. As part of this initiative, Hims offers free, anonymous support groups that focus on a number of topics that relate to the company’s products and services. Examples of group topics include insomnia, mental health, meditation and mindfulness, and relationships.

Luma & Leaf Clean Skin Crew

Luma & Leaf sells natural skincare products. They chose to host a community for Luma & Leaf as a private group on Facebook. According to the company’s website, they strive to use this group as a safe space for people to connect, express themselves, and find opportunities for kindness.

Ceremonia

Ceremonia focuses on clean hair products with ingredients sourced from Latin America. According to the Ceremonia About Us page, the company invites customers to participate in a community that supports younger generations and promotes collaboration through forums, content projects, and feedback sessions.

Waeve

Waeve offers a variety of attractive, affordable wigs, with a focus upon Black women. They launched the WaeveWorld.com community even before the eCommerce site at Waeve.com. This gave the startup a way to introduce their brand. This community features stories from customers all over the world, quizzes, tips, and most of all, invitations to reach out to the company and subscribe to the newsletter.

Is It Time to Start an Online Brand Community?

Brand communities can enhance brand recognition, establish connections, offer insights, and provide value to customers and prospects. For just a few examples, businesses use groups for everything from providing advice about using a product to soliciting feedback about a new CPG packaging design. With a little effort, a business community can provide excellent returns on a modest investment.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

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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.