Guide to DTC Digital Agencies: What to Look for in a Digital Partner
DTC brands have been all the rage for the last few years. If you haven’t yet seen, the DTC business model that’s cut out middlemen third-party retailers and sells products or services directly to consumers has given rise to the industry’s biggest players like Warby Parker, Casper, Harry’s, Away, and Outdoor Voices.
Disruptive brands like those mentioned above have been the focus of breakthrough marketing in the last few years. But what’s behind their success, and how exactly does it work? If we’ve learned anything from these brands, it’s that established names and startups can take a note or two from the DTC playbook. And as a DTC digital agency, we’d like to let you know about the 5 most valuable marketing lessons there are to tell from DTC brands.
Focus on brand awareness first
With DTC brands, the very first thing we focus on as a DTC digital agency is building brand awareness. Because we’re facing enormous competition and deficits in recognition, it’s important that DTC brands capture people’s attention right from the start.
The way most DTC brands have garnered the needed attention is by running compelling and engaging ads. In fact, DTC ad spending is frequently one of the most prevalent forms of raising awareness today and continues to be on the rise—in 2019, DTC ad spending was up 50%. DTC digital agencies push brands to do this because it is a way to build trust with their target audience and establish familiarity with them. Of course, the more familiar a brand is to consumers, the more trustworthy they’ll appear to them.
As important as this is at the start of any DTC digital strategy, brand awareness is not something only done at the early stages of a DTC brand. It isn’t something that once built, you don’t do any more of. There are always new customers to bring into your brand and build customer loyalty, and DTC brands must stay at the top of their game if they want to grow and succeed. It doesn’t matter whether the DTC brand is a startup or an established, large-scale corporate player—brand awareness will always remain crucial to a DTC strategy.
Utilize social media to your advantage
It’s well-known that the majority of today’s consumers are online. With more than 230 million people projected to shop online, it’s more important than ever to be visible online. And through social media, DTC brands have incredibly useful channels to build loyal followings, engage with their target audience, and attract consumers’ attention.
DTC digital agencies’ need to adopt social media as part of their DTC clients’ strategy is only backed by the fact that more than half of consumers today make purchases through social media links. Seeing how the biggest DTC brands have taken to platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube to create the kind of content that can mesh with their target audience, emerging names today must do the same.
Make the most of flexibility to innovate
It’s a given that the biggest DTC digital agencies and DTC brands have a solid understanding of who their customers are and how to communicate with and engage them. And it’s partly due to the flexibility that DTC brands have that traditional retail-based brands don’t have that’s allowed them to take measured risks and innovate.
Without having to get the approval of a third-party retailer or controlling interest, DTC brands can have far more freedom to think about bringing new products to market quickly and expanding in a way that the more traditional brands can’t.
And it’s this fast-paced business structure that also requires DTC brands to stay on top of industry developments. As we mentioned before, DTC brands’ ability to build brand awareness is critical to their success. And by having the flexibility to adjust to what the consumer need is, DTC brands can successfully pivot in faster and more effective ways than traditionally thought of before.
With a DTC digital agency, this effect can be multiplied by implementing consumer-centric, data-driven, performance marketing strategies. These types of strategies are the bedrock of DTC brands’ successes, as their bottom line is directly affected by the strength of their digital presence.
Of course, not every agency is inclined or able to help emerging DTC brands. The best way to foster the growth and success of direct-to-consumer brands is through a digital agency that is consumer-oriented and digitally savvy whose initiatives are all pointed towards connecting with the target audience, says Juan Gonzalez, founder of UI/UX web design and DTC digital agency G & Co.
He says the thing brands are looking for the most is making the best use of the flexibility when it comes to being incredibly close to the consumer. “They are optimizing their approach where needed for faster results and a better user experience.” How that user experience is modified to best fit the targeted DTC brand consumer is what follows in the next point.
Making it personal
The biggest differentiator for brands now and in the coming years is not that they have adopted a digital approach (although that’s very much an important part of a brand’s success) is how the consumer experience is designed. No matter how people interact with a brand, they will want to have a stellar experience. And a stellar experience is marked by how people are being communicated to and engaged with in a relevant manner.
It’s no secret that consumers often see sponsored posts that are connected to their lifestyles. And with more DTC brands recognizing the power in individualizing their approach to consumers, the DTC digital agency marketing edge will be defined by how strategies target their audience in a more personalized way.
Given that far more brands are taking to the social media realm to get in front of consumers, the way for DTC brands to break through the noise will have to be through igniting an emotional response and connection through personalized content; that’s how brands can turn sentiments into customer loyalty.
How DTC brands do this can come in the form of embodying who they are through storytelling or tying their offers through a lifestyle that their target audience seeks. One such example of a well-executed DTC digital strategy is that of Chubbies, the DTC shorts brand whose fun-loving approach has garnered a massive audience.
One other aspect that should not be ignored is the consumer’s ability to engage with a brand regardless of where they are. Whether it’s online, with social media or through a website, in-person, people should be able to interact with a brand to its fullest potential. For example, take the convenience of Warby Parker’s AR feature that lets users see how they’d look with a digital frame. It was an addition to their already-innovative try-at-home feature that took the utility one step further to personalize the experience.
Embrace consumer-generated content
For many brands and DTC digital agencies, there’s no more powerful advocate for brands than the people who boast about you for the world to see. Thanks to social media’s far-reaching capabilities, brands can utilize user-generated content to encourage consumers to buy and share their products. DTC brands like Chubbies and Outdoor Voices have done an incredible job of encouraging users to post their apparel on social media by sharing personally-made user content on their official channels. These posts are the kind of promotion DTC brands welcome people to share because it shows that their brand is more than just the product they sell.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for every DTC brand. In fact, it’s the unique traits that a brand brings to the table that a DTC digital agency can then amplify through a well-implemented approach. With so many extensive ways to engage and target consumers during a time of shifts and advancements, it can be challenging to choose which route is the best for you to focus on. Fortunately, DTC brands can partner with an experienced firm to help them start making the rounds for the future ahead.
As a full-service DTC digital agency and UI/UX design and development eCommerce shop, G & Co. helps DTC brands like Outdoor Voices, Burrow, and Burberry cut through the noise and find their voice with consumers. We’re confident we can help make your direct-to-consumer strategy a success with our reach and level of experience with emerging and disruptive DTC names.
Ready to move forward? Shoot us an email to help you get started.