DTC vs. Retail: How Brands Win with a Blended Approach

In a world of customized placement, your DTC brand needs to be omni-channel, which is why a proper DTC marketing plan is so critical.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are riding a sustained growth wave. It’s estimated there are more than 400 significant brands now in this category, while DTC web traffic is growing 100%  year over year. This growth is being supported by performance-based DTC marketing plans.

Don’t think top retailers haven’t noticed. Nordstrom, Sephora, and other industry heavyweights are working overtime to entice emerging DTC brands into the retail space by offering a range of incentives.

One example: Bloomingdale’s Carousel concept, which allows DTC sellers to set up rotating pop-up shops within the storied retailer’s brick and mortar environs.

Yet, as DTC brands would be the first to tell you, this kind of relationship doesn’t come without substantial tradeoffs.

Winning with a blended approach

Wholesale retailers, always eager for trendy, differentiated offerings, have been busy integrating DTC brands at a rapid clip. There’s no question that such relationships offer very real benefits for these brands. A DTC marketing plan that provides proper placement in Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s can expose DTC products to much wider audiences.

Partnering with an esteemed wholesale retailer also gives newer DTC brands instant cachet and credibility. For a largely unknown brand, an association with a retail heavyweight can be extraordinarily valuable.

Yet these benefits are also somewhat mitigated by the demands DTC brands are facing. Given their reach and capacity, it’s not surprising that large retailers want to get DTC brands in front of a sizable number of their customers. Yet these brands are often ill-prepared to scale up to accommodate placement at 50 stores.

Large retailers also exert a very high degree of control over product strategy and operations. DTC brands that are accustomed to exerting full control over how their products and services are presented and marketed may balk at relinquishing that control. Much of the storytelling, creative messaging or flair associated with DTC brands may be suppressed when these products are presented and marketed by a larger retailer with different sensibilities and prerogatives.

So how do DTC brands thread the needle?

Many of today’s most successful DTC brands have been squaring this circle by pursuing a blended approach. They make wholesale retailers a part of their omni-channel strategy, but only on their terms.

If retailers push DTC brands to scale too early, they resist. If DTC brands believe their messaging is being polluted by clumsy or irrelevant retail marketing, they speak up.

Most importantly, these DTC brands don’t cede control over their narrative. They may be hitching a ride on a larger, faster and more visible ship, but they remain the undisputed captain of their fate.

Looking for a DTC marketing boost?

Attractive and eye-catching product and packaging design is a virtual pre-requisite for successful DTC brands. Luckily for you we’re experts in this field. Whether you need assistance with product design, performance-based advertising and marketing strategies or branding services, we have the necessary expertise to deliver the goods.

Contact Bigeye today for more information about how we can help take your DTC marketing plan to the next level. 

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How to Find Success on Shopify

Shopify, one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce platforms, is growing at such a rapid rate that it’s projected to overtake eBay as the second-largest e-commerce platform in 2020, according to CNBC.

While that kind of growth offers massive opportunity for Shopify retailers, it’s also quickly becoming a much more competitive space. Shopify now has more than 1 million merchants active on its platform, all of whom are working to differentiate themselves and outsell the competition.

So what’s the secret to gaining more traction with your Shopify store? Let’s take a closer look at seven key tips for better Shopify store development.

1. Prioritize customer service — and outsource if necessary

E-commerce doesn’t have to mean minimal customer service. In fact, it was Jeff Bezos’ famous “customer obsession” that helped Amazon become a global heavyweight. Yet for most people operating Shopify businesses, dealing with customers is an enormous time suck. While keeping your clients happy is critical, most people simply lack the bandwidth for the task.

Instead, it makes sense to outsource customer service functions. The international call center business is booming, and you can find qualified customer service freelancers on just about any major Gig Economy marketplace. It’s important to ensure that the workers you contract with have first-class fluency in English. Adding live chat is another element that can really improve the customer experience.

2. Focus on the right design

Great design is crucial to the success of any Shopify site. This begins with choosing an appropriate theme. Find one that fits the look and feel of your brand or signature products. The right theme can have a dramatic impact on the visual atmosphere and overall user experience of your site.

While Shopify offers some free design templates, you can also choose to pay for some of the premium designs the company offers. Unsurprisingly, the premium templates tend to be more eye-catching, which can help your site stand out with a fresh look. In addition to the look and feel of your site, you’ll also need to consider how design impacts functionality. Do you want larger images? A wider Instagram feed? These small decisions can have a significant impact on how your products are browsed and purchased, so weigh these decisions carefully.

Generally speaking, it’s also a smart idea to design with certain principles in mind. Your site should feel clean and uncluttered. An overabundance of design elements or products can confuse or irritate visitors and encourage them to depart without buying.

3. Incorporate and optimize elements stressing your originality

Templatized websites run the risk of appearing a bit cookie-cutter, but there are a few steps you can take to make your site appear fresh and original. First, commission striking, original photography and avoid over-reliance on stock imagery. This can go a long way toward giving your site some visual panache that makes it stand out from other e-commerce offerings.

Second, create copy that is truly creative and that engages the reader. Too often Shopify copy is bland and boilerplate. By coming up with lively product descriptions and other copy, you can help convert buyers and differentiate your approach. You’ll also want to choose headlines that stand out from the crowd and that are calibrated to resonate with your target demographics. Figure out why people would be interested in your products and use that as a guide for creating catchy headlines. Humor — in the appropriate contexts — is also a big plus.

4. Check out the competition and test your approach

Auditing other e-commerce sites is a smart way to evaluate your own approach. You can take what they are doing well and adapt it for your own purposes, while also identifying any deficiencies in their approach and capitalizing on them.

Incorporating some simple A/B testing into your site can also help you learn what people are really responding to. These tests allow you to take two versions of a screen, headline or some other element and evaluate how visitors interact with each version. This can be an invaluable tool for learning what converts and what causes people to disengage.

5. Build your social proof

There’s no debating it: Reviews are the lifeblood of any e-commerce store. This means it is critical to monitor your reviews and respond in a timely fashion. If there was a legitimate issue, be transparent and forthcoming rather than defensive, and offer to make it right. This will often disarm even the most dissatisfied customers and help turn negative interactions into positive ones.

Encourage your customers to leave photo reviews whenever possible. Visitors enjoy these and they often seem more credible than text reviews. The more smiling and happy customers you can showcase on Shopify the stronger your business will be.

6. Tread carefully with shipping costs

Excessive shipping costs are one of the most common reasons why customers do not follow through with e-commerce orders. For online retailers, nothing is more frustrating than getting a customer all the way to the checkout page…only to have the product deleted from the cart because of elevated shipping charges.

E-commerce consumers have been conditioned to expect low or no-cost shipping by Amazon Prime, so it’s a wise idea to either build the cost of shipping into your products or figure out an alternative method for defraying costs.

7. Use a well-designed SEO and programmatic ad strategy

An up to date Search optimization strategy plays an essential role in helping people locate you. Most site owners aren’t experts at search, so it often makes sense to bring a marketing agency or SEO expert into the mix. The rules governing SEO are always evolving, so working with an expert can save you the hassle of trying to master search and remain perennially current on the latest changes to Google’s ranking algorithm. It also makes sense to work with a Shopify agency that specializes in this kind of overall site development.

Pay-per-click ad strategies are easier to learn, as you can get a lot of traction by researching keywords and slowly refining your approach over time. Taken together, both strategies can go a long way toward jumpstarting your Shopify revenue.

The takeaway

Shopify is second only to Amazon in terms of the opportunity it offers e-commerce retailers. By following these seven tips and practicing smart Shopify development, you can get faster traction, differentiate your site and generate more revenue.

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Starter Children, Fur Babies, and a DTC Success Story

If your fur baby could help lead you to a $250 million DTC subscription service, wouldn’t you want to be set for success?

Millennials are delaying child-rearing. Millennials love dogs. Millennials are receptive to DTC subscription services and advertising.

What do these three things have in common?

They’re a recipe for a $250 million business.

Barking up the money tree

It’s hardly surprising that younger people are delaying home-purchasing, parenting and other traditional milestones. Student loan debt is at historic levels and wage growth has been flat.

While you can’t eliminate the paternal/maternal impulse, you can reroute it. Priced out of parenthood, millennials are turning their thwarted parental impulses toward pets. 

Call them starter children, fur babies, or absurdly over-indulged animals, the numbers don’t lie: 44% of millennials see their pets as proxy children.

Brands in the flourishing pet care space have been quick to capitalize on this sentiment. Yet none are quite so well-positioned as DTC brands, who are firmly in the millennial sweet spot. They offer boutique, cleverly marketed products to a narrow yet hardcore audience; they deliver to your door and they are price competitive.

That’s more or less the millennial trifecta, and one of the brands that have been most successful at deploying this strategy is BarkBox. 

BarkBox is a DTC subscription service that delivers a box of dog treats to your door. Not revolutionary, sure. Yet the idea plays beautifully on several consumer preferences.

  • You don’t have to leave the house and visit a pet store full of poorly-differentiated toys and treats
  • You don’t have to spend time choosing what to buy
  • Your dog treats arrive in a box, curated for your pet’s enjoyment
  • The contents of each box are a mystery, making the process a bit like opening a gift
  • BarkBoxes are sold direct-to-consumer, with the parent company (Bark) largely relying on Facebook for marketing during its early growth phase

That’s a winning formula, and not just for pets. Another popular DTC subscription service, Universal Yums, curates boxes of candy and snacks from across the globe and sends a new box from a different country to subscribers each month. 

BarkBox, which handles its creative in-house, recently tested its first direct response TV ad, then measured the number of new subscriptions gained in the immediate wake of the ad. It’s a strategy that many DTC businesses are following, as they try to do more with less outside the confines of the traditional large agency model.

Direct to consumer marketing strategies have a variety of powerful benefits for brands such as Bark: They allow more control over brand messaging, they reduce costs, and they enhance flexibility.

Partnering with the right DTC marketing agency can help small businesses unlock these benefits and drive real, tangible results.

The takeaway

Small DTC businesses often lack the resources to partner with the largest agencies – yet that doesn’t mean they can’t have access to world-class campaigns. At Bigeye, we understand the DTC subscription service and advertising market on a deep level, and we’re nimble enough to help you create compelling direct to consumer marketing campaigns on demand. 

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Direct to Consumer Marketing: Ignore it at Your Peril

Don’t let your business hit rock bottom before considering a DTC marketing agency who can help you achieve your marketing and advertising goals.

Direct to consumer advertising and marketing is drawing a wealth of buzz — and for good reason. The DTC model is now a priority for enterprises across the spectrum. And a DTC marketing agency is more of a need. 

Legacy retailers are selling and marketing directly to consumers to reduce their footprints and expand their digital strategies. Digitally native brands (Warby Parker, Harry’s, etc.) used the DTC model to disrupt the prevailing retail paradigm and ramp up their businesses with impressive speed.

All of this maneuvering, of course, is supported by DTC-specific advertising and marketing. Some DTC brands handle it internally; others partner with legacy agencies or more specialized boutique firms. Still more employ a combination of these approaches. 

One thing, however, remains constant: Brands that get DTC marketing right – regardless of whom they partner with – are in the strongest possible competitive position.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some smart digital strategies that brands can implement with minimal difficulty.

Offering personalized content

One of the most attractive aspects of DTC is the removal of middlemen. Brands can connect directly with their buyers, with no third party to mediate or filter the experience.

DTC brands can use this proximity to gather valuable first-party data that offers thorough, actionable insights into consumer preferences. Brands can use this data to create personalized content presented in the consumer’s preferred medium.

When it comes to leveraging data and designing content strategies, smaller DTC brands often need assistance – and the easiest way to get help is by partnering with a nimble DTC marketing agency with a full suite of digital offerings.

Developing a mobile app

Speaking of DTC marketing agencies with digital expertise, such agencies are the perfect partner for mobile app development. Small to mid-sized brands may believe that a mobile app is solely the province of big players. While that may have been true years ago, that’s not the case today.

Mobile apps give brands a direct channel to consumers.  They also provide an excellent opportunity to deepen engagement and stay fresh in the minds of consumers.  And while mobile apps are being adopted by smaller brands, they are still uncommon enough to serve as a competitive differentiator.

Using third parties to sell and market

Amazon and other large marketplaces have spawned a massive new opportunity for direct to consumer selling and marketing. By leveraging the vast buyer networks of these third parties, brands can disintermediate retailers and still theoretically reach millions of consumers.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that brands can simply list their products and watch sales accumulate. Third party sites have their criteria for how products are marketed to visitors, and these rules govern how products are shown and to whom they are shown.

Brands can determine which strategies work best for their products by pursuing continuous testing and making occasional adjustments.

The takeaway

With our team of media & analytics experts, Bigeye has the strategic savvy and digital chops to help DTC brands achieve their advertising and marketing goals. If you’re not satisfied with the traction your current campaigns are generating, we urge you to visit our website today.

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How to Effectively Market Your Nutraceutical Product

The nutraceutical market is booming. Here’s what you need to know in order to make your product stand out in the crowd.

With the US population aging and rates of many chronic diseases continuing to soar, consumers are in need of new products that promote health and wellness. Nutraceuticals, with their emphasis on natural health benefits, are one popular option.

Nutraceuticals, which have been positioned as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical treatments of physiological problems, have seen substantial growth in recent years. The global market is worth roughly $241 billion and is projected to reach $373 billion by 2025. 

Nutraceutical marketing, however, can present something of a challenge for people without true domain expertise. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at a few key tips for optimizing your nutraceutical marketing.

Understanding What Motivates Buyers in the Nutraceutical Market

Nutraceutical development is often targeted at physiological conditions that have a nutritional component. Certain diseases have dietary risks that are related to disease progression; other diseases simply do not have a long list of viable medical treatments. Patients that fall within these groups, naturally, are highly motivated to seek impactful medicines or supplements.

Smart nutraceutical marketing is aware of these distinctions, and should make an effort to target and activate consumers and patients who are being poorly served by traditional healthcare approaches. Brands should also be cognizant of buyer preferences within this niche; for example, nutraceutical buyers want green and sustainable product packaging.

Finding Where Nutraceutical Prospects Live Online

Buyers of nutraceuticals blur the line between patients and conventional consumers and this is reflected in their online behavior. When developing a nutraceutical marketing strategy, brands should focus on health and wellness websites, patient support groups and any channel where large numbers of people with medical issues congregate. That said, brands should also focus their marketing efforts on the segment of the nutraceutical audience that is motivated more by wellness, fitness and preventive medicine.

Differentiate Your Offering

The nutraceutical market is highly fragmented, with a few large multinationals at the top and thousands of small players operating in the industry. In order to stand out in this landscape, companies need to differentiate.

The problem is, most companies are selling variations on the same products. This means that branding is a critically important differentiator. The brands that do the best job of developing a valuable brand and building awareness will be in the strongest competitive position.

Leverage the Latest Technological Tools

If your nutraceutical brand isn’t devoting significant resources to cutting-edge digital marketing, you’re putting your organization at a significant disadvantage. Digital outreach, whether it’s via programmatic ads or social media campaigning, is critical. Without it, you can’t properly segment and target your audience and gather important insight into the efficacy of your marketing efforts.

Savvy brands go one step beyond traditional approaches and employ more sophisticated digital tools, including geo-targeting and search-based targeting, then support these efforts with advanced analytics that offer deeper insight into campaign performance. 

Partner with a Third Party When Necessary

Let’s face it: Many nutraceutical brands don’t have the in-house expertise to develop the kind of tech-centric campaigns that move the needle. In cases such as these, it makes sense to work with an outside marketing agency.

Choosing the right agency is imperative, however, as few have true nutraceutical domain expertise. Without that key element, you simply can’t create informed and authoritative advertising and marketing content. If you choose to opt for an external agency, make sure that your partner has experience with the nutraceutical niche.

Why Bigeye is the Ideal Partner for Nutraceutical Marketing

At Bigeye, we are domain experts in the realm of nutraceutical advertising and marketing. This allows us to create campaigns that are highly targeted, strategically sound and easily scalable without breaking the bank.

Contact us today for more information about what Bigeye can do for you.

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Tips for Starting a Skincare Company

As the skincare market continues to expand, the time is right for starting your own company. You’ll never reach the level of success you desire, however, without establishing a disruptive brand that stands out from the completion.

A 2019 study by the independent market research company the NPD Group singles out the prestige beauty market as one of the fastest-growing sectors in United States retail sales with an annual growth of 6 percent. And, with an annual growth of 13 percent, the skincare category stands out as a particular achiever, comprising a full 60 percent of the prestige beauty market’s total industry gains.

“If I had to use one word to characterize the state of the U.S. beauty industry today, it would be disruption,” says NPD Group executive director and beauty industry analyst Larissa Jensen. “Whether we look at categories, brands, or retailers, there are sweeping changes taking place in the market landscape.”

Jensen proceeds with a warning to skincare entrepreneurs everywhere, stressing the fact that “brands and retailers must not only be cognizant of these transformations and act upon them, but identify new white space opportunities to captivate consumers and further differentiate themselves from the crowd.”

Leveraging Areas of Disruption in Skincare Industry

Prospective skincare company owners and chief executive officers should pay close attention to the specific growth areas within the skincare industry if they want to capitalize on areas of disruption and establish a distinct, unique, and valuable brand.

The booming popularity of natural beauty products, for example, represents a dramatic sea change in terms of the qualities and characteristics that customers have come to expect. Reflecting this change, the top contributor to the $5.6-billion skincare industry are natural skincare brands. The NPD Group reports that natural skincare products accounted for more than one-quarter of annual skincare sales, up 23 percent from the previous year.

The NPD Group report goes on to identify lip treatments, toners/clarifiers, facial sprays, and alphabet creams as the fastest-growing skincare product classifications. Customers are also increasingly purchasing skincare for the body, protective sunscreens, and self-tanning products.

Legal Requirements to Operate a Skincare Business

Before starting a skincare company, it is absolutely imperative that you understand all the licensing and regulatory issues that you will face. In general, the legal requirements that you must meet to operate a handmade cosmetics business are similar to the legal requirements that other small business must meet. However, as part of the cosmetic/beauty industry, you must ensure that your skincare product(s) pass muster with the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

Regulated by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, all skincare products must be deemed safe for consumers for indicated conditions of use prior to their release. They also have to be labeled properly.

It isn’t against the law to make cosmetics in your home, but it is your responsibility to ensure that this is accomplished safely. In his article “How to Start Your Own Line of Skin Care,” Houston Chronicle contributor Michael Flanagan suggests accessing the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice Guidelines/Inspection Checklist before designing your manufacturing space. This is the best way to prepare this space for its required FDA on-site inspection.

Manufacturing Your Skincare Products

The Houston Chronicle article goes on to offer a number of skincare product manufacturing tips including cutting down on overhead costs by looking for bulk suppliers to secure all necessary raw ingredients. It recommends accessing online distribution networks such as MakingCosmetics and Admix to meet both your supply and equipment needs.

If you choose to start your business with a manufacturing space on your residential property, you can often use your kitchen as your main hub of activity. The equipment that you will need depends entirely on the type(s) of skincare product(s) that you want to make. Skincare companies that plan to make clay facials, for example, can probably begin by using existing household mixing bowls and spoons. Those who want to make soap, however, must first buy soap molds and a few other essential pieces of equipment.

Skincare Company Marketing

No matter how great your skincare products happen to be, you won’t get far in the skincare sector without a comprehensive and outstanding marketing campaign. Here are just a few elements that you’ll want to include in your unified skincare company marketing efforts.

  • An official website – In virtually any industry, a high-quality website is absolutely essential. Your website should reflect your company’s core values and commitment to excellence. Even if you don’t plan to sell your skincare products online, customers will inevitably turn to your website for answers to important questions as well as information about your company and what it does best.
  • A strong social media presence – Reach your target consumer base on the social media platforms that they already frequent. Depending on your target demographic this might mean maintaining compelling, informative, and up-to-date company pages on multiple platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Social media outreach is a great idea for a wide range of reasons, but its ability to engender both consumer-to-company and consumer-to-consumer interactions is simply unparalleled.
  • Email newsletters – As a skincare company, you’ll want to turn each buyer into a repeat customer. Email newsletters are a great way to drive consumer loyalty. Although you don’t want to bombard customers with constant messages of little value, occasional newsletters can be a great way to make customers feel valued. Share content that will command attention, announce the release of new products, and motivate consumer action with various sales and promotions.
  • Non-digital marketing efforts – Don’t forget that the majority of people still buy their skincare products in brick-and-mortar stores. Consider visiting regional beauty salons, spas, and health/beauty stores to offer free samples. If these establishments express an interest in buying your products, you should provide them with attractive wholesale pricing. Other traditional sales techniques that continue to work well include the staging of at-home skincare parties.

Skincare Branding

While all of the techniques outlined above can effectively reach your target demographic of existing and prospective customers, you simply won’t get far with a bunch of disorganized and unconnected advertising efforts. In order to be truly successful, your company must unify all of its marketing activities under the banner of an overarching brand that is both captivating and exceptional.

Your branding efforts must begin with the creation of an effective company name and logo. Don’t take these steps lightly! Both your name and your logo must be carefully designed to resonate with your audience.

Keep your name simple, catchy, and easy to spell, Pay close attention both to how your name looks when read and to how your name sounds when spoken. If possible, choose a name that conveys some sort of strategic meaning.

The uniqueness of your name is also a paramount concern. To see whether or not a favored name is already in use, check online with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Your name and logo should lead the way when developing a brand that projects a distinct and desirable set of characteristics and values. These specific characteristics and values will depend entirely on your target demographic.

For example, a “macho” brand is perfect for companies in the fast-growing men’s skincare product sector. Other skincare companies have found success with socially conscious branding messages and company affiliations, offering products that are responsibly sourced and supporting a broad spectrum of charitable causes.

Best Skincare Packaging

A recent report by the leading corrugated packaging company WestRock shows that more than four in five American have tried a new product due to its packaging. And packaging is particularly important in an overcrowded skincare sector that has products desperately competing for attention on store shelves everywhere.

Like all other facets of your marketing operations, your unique product packaging must align with the characteristics and values of your brand as a whole. This is absolutely essential if you want to connect with your chosen consumer demographic.

Although no two skincare companies should wrap their products in similar packaging, there are a few universal guidelines that companies must generally keep in mind. For example, a highly important part of presenting a professional image is ensuring that all your brand-name products follow a constant design style.

Skincare Video Production

In today’s marketplace, a business that fails to use video as part of its comprehensive branding and advertising efforts is bound to fall behind. The 2020 State of Video Marketing Survey by Wyzowl reports that 85 percent of companies use video as a marketing tool and that 92 percent of marketers who use video rely upon it as “an important part of their marketing strategy.”

When you stop to consider the fact that beauty product videos are the most searched-for video type on YouTube, the tremendous potential of video marketing in the skincare sector should be immediately obvious. In addition to producing and releasing traditional video ad spots, your skincare company can benefit from motion graphics infomercial content, instructional how-tos, and recorded customer testimonials.

Get Professional Guidance

Unless you happen to be a seasoned marketing professional, you will want to secure the assistance of a professional skincare marketing agency well before establishing your company and beginning to distribute your products. At Bigeye, we know the supreme importance of founding your skincare company with an extremely powerful, unified organizational image and a highly compelling, targeted marketing message.

Let us help you launch your brand right the first time, so you don’t have to contend with the significant cost, hassle, and wasted time that go hand in hand with subsequent company rebranding efforts.

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