Direct-to-Consumer brands have been shaking up the marketing space for the past few years to great fanfare.
Consumers like these brands for the personalized attention they receive, the ease of transacting, and often low prices. If a consumer thinks they can reach out to a company directly, they feel connected to the brand.
DTC brands also find the one-to-one relationships they’re building to be fruitful, because these relationships lead to loyal, engaged customers.
And as more incumbent DTC brands become household names, a flood of new hopefuls pop up hoping to take their place. Some are finding that it isn’t as easy to connect with customers as the Warby Parkers of the world are making it look.
A recent Wall Street Journal article showcased some successes and failures among DTC startups, highlighting the difficulties in finding and engaging an audience in a way that builds lasting connections.
So how can DTC companies navigate the challenges of this space and create those critical one-to-one relationships?
Step 1: Really, Really Hone in On Your Audience
It’s 2019, and modern marketers know the importance of understanding their audience.
But how well do you know your target market? And how well can you know your market?
The answer to that second question is very well.
Predictive Analytics can help you identify very specific characteristics about the consumers most likely to become your customers, so you can create extremely targeted brand messaging that will increase engagement and really foster that one-to-one relationship that creates high lifetime value customers.
For example, consider a media streaming startup aiming to disrupt cable and satellite TV by catering to cord cutters. They might want to know that people who are moving or have recently relocated are four times more likely to purchase Cable TV services—so targeting the 20% of Americans who move each year might be a good step to finding people in market for a streaming service.
Because of this company’s niche channel offering, they might want to target an audience that enjoys HGTV but doesn’t care so much about sports. They can further segment their audience by interests, age, and a variety of lifestyle, ethnographic or demographic attributes.
If you know recently single women between the ages of 32-45 in urban areas of the Midwest who have pets and enjoy HGTV, wine, crafting, and literature are 29% more likely to buy your product—why not divert a significant portion of your budget to finding those women and crafting messages you know will resonate with them?
Step 2: Meet Your Audience Where They Want to Be
With the explosive growth of digital marketing, many brands assume that they can succeed with nothing but an Instagram account and some artfully-lit photographs with a creative filter or two.
If only it were that easy.
For one thing, not every prospective customer is using Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook, or the digital channel du jour. Those channels might be a great place to meet some of your audience, but that might not be enough.
And how do you know which messages to tailor to those channels?
The better you know your audience, the better you’ll know which message to send along which channel, and when to send those messages to get conversions.
A great tool for identifying when to market to your customers is a life event histogram. This histogram enables you to understand when customers are purchasing goods or services, or initiating other important transactions relative to a corresponding life event. By mapping historical purchase or other transaction dates to life events, you can identify the "sweet spot" of time in which to market to consumers.
Once you know what the sweet spot is, you can find the right mix of channels and messages. For some audiences, digital will be a big winner. For others, direct mail might be a perfect supplement for a marketing campaign. (Hey, it worked for Parachute!)
Whatever your media mix, be sure to personalize your message to your target audience in order to cultivate that one-to-one relationship feeling.
Step 3: Measure & Adjust
As the old saying goes: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. As a marketer, you have no way of managing your strategy—or your brand’s overall success—if you aren’t measuring your programs.
If you have targeted your audience based on very specific demographic or lifestyle details, and have also met them on their preferred platforms at the right times with a mix of personalized marketing messages, chances are you’ll have a lot of data about how your programs are performing.
One great way to optimize future programs is to include some sort of tracking mechanism, like a promo code or coupon. Tracking your marketing in this way allows for matchback, which is a type of attribution model that can provide a rich source of data that beyond the total response of each audience segment reached.
This level of detailed response information will allow you to refine future campaigns and make them more profitable, maximizing marketing spend and proving the value of your marketing.
Maybe those 30-something Midwestern single women responded really well to your direct mail campaign, but a similar group of 30-something men on the west coast who are more interested in travel than they are pets and wine responded better to your Instagram ads.
Matchback is a great tool to drill into your campaigns, find what worked or what didn’t, and help you adjust or replicate into the future.