Standing in line at a local retail shop used to be part and parcel of the shopping experience. So was trying to get to the store before it closed at 5 pm and managing your tone of voice when the closest shoe store to your house lacked your shoe size. Such were the limitations and woes of shopping before eCommerce exploded and DTC (Direct to Consumer) brands took center stage.
And while retail is still alive and kicking, the global population has become accustomed to purchasing products through the digital natives that market their wares directly to their email inbox, on their Facebook page and their Instagram accounts. In fact, the numbers speak for themselves. In 2014, $1.32 billion shoppers worldwide purchased goods online. That number increased to $2.14 billion by 2021. Somehow eCommerce seeped into our lives over the years, became a lifeline during the height of COVID, and ultimately changed the habits of shoppers worldwide.
And there’s no turning back.
But while DTC businesses continue to proliferate online and grab more market share, their continued growth is hindered by significant challenges and industry disruptions.
From Apple’s new privacy rules and Facebook’s resulting decrease in ROAS to supply chain issues and shipping price increases, success is not a given for DTC brands.
Nevertheless, with strategic know-how and a proactive growth model, DTC brands can overcome these challenges and reach their potential in 2022 and beyond.
A significant new challenge for direct to consumer (DTC) brands
One of the biggest factors distinguishing a DTC brand from a traditional retail outlet is its ability to target and track its customers to obtain data. Data includes customer browsing behavior, purchase history and demographics. This data enables brands to customize their products and create new ones based on their customers’ interests, enabling them to build relationships with their customers and retain them for the future.
However, with Apple’s iOS updates over the last year, tracking customers online to obtain data and retargeting them has become much harder for brands. Their iPhone customers must now opt into tracking. But a large percentage has chosen not to. Apple’s more recent iOS update added even more privacy settings, affecting email marketing as well.
So how can eCommerce businesses reach their customers and gain new customers without this essential marketing data?
6 DTC brand strategies: back to the basics in 2022
- Website SEO
Now more than ever, DTC brands need to focus on standing out from their competitors by optimizing for SEO to increase organic traffic to their websites. By analyzing their competition on page one of Google, brands can see how to better capture their customers’ attention. To draw more leads to their websites, DTC brands should focus on improving their content and implementing SEO techniques like creating internal links, updating their website often with new content and adding backlinks.
Once leads land on a website, it’s easy to quickly lose them with a poorly designed website. DTC companies must also optimize their websites for speed and user experience.
High-performing websites enable DTC brands to engage with their customers 24/7 and are more successful at retaining and converting site visitors.
- Optimize for mobile
According to a study conducted by LiveIntent, the advertising click-through rate for DTC brands is three times higher on mobile than on desktop. While a desktop website is also critical, making an eCommerce site mobile-friendly is essential for future ROI.
- Engage with your leads and customers
eCommerce SMBs must pay attention to how their leads and customers behave on their websites. By following up on abandon cart metrics with customer emails to address potential issues among customers, DTC brands can effectively motivate their customers to return to their abandoned carts.
In addition, by responding immediately to customer queries, brands establish a level of trust with their customers. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty results in more conversions. With those paying customers, a brand can gain important data through post-purchase customer survey pop-ups.
- Referral and affiliate marketing
Social proof is more powerful to a brand’s leads and customers than social media and advertising. Companies can motivate their audience to provide referrals by offering them gift certificates and exclusive promotions.
Brands can also focus on building an affiliate marketing program to spread awareness about their product(s) to a new audience.
Perhaps most importantly, by properly nurturing and retaining their current base of customers, brands will be more successful at obtaining reviews and testimonials, which will undoubtedly attract new leads to their eCommerce sites.
With shipping price increases and other expenses rising, outsourcing essential tasks like accounting, marketing and IT services has become a cost-effective strategy for managing the backend. By hiring third-party companies to handle back-end tasks, DTC brands can save money on hiring permanent staff.
- Diversify sales channels
More and more DTC brands are expanding to online marketplaces to reach a larger audience and become more visible. Some brands are also setting up pop-up stores and selling in retail brick and mortar establishments. By exploiting other sales channels, brands can gain more recognition, resulting in more online leads.
One step at a time
The possibilities are endless for DTC brands.
The global digital transformation continues to grow resulting in an increasing number of online shoppers. By refocusing their business strategies, one step at a time, brands can stop spinning their wheels and race ahead of the competition into the next frontier of DTC business.