To understand which approach works best, we must first ask the question: What is a direct to consumer marketing campaign? A direct to consumer (DTC) campaign involves promoting a product or service directly from the seller to consumer, cutting out any middleman along the way, allowing the brand to build a direct relationship with their customers.
For many large and small companies, direct to consumer marketing strategy has become much more of a necessity rather than a luxury. Massive research and development costs coupled with an increasingly competitive marketplace have forced companies to spend enormous sums of money on promotion to quickly gain market shares before patents expire or competitors arise. However, large commercial campaigns shouting to a broad demographic are no longer effective. Direct to consumer marketing campaigns need to align within the boundaries of today’s consumer-run marketplace by developing compelling brand experiences across all touchpoints.
Here are 3 tips for a more effective direct to consumer (DTC) marketing campaign strategy.
For good or for bad, the Internet and its massive wealth of information have shifted the balance of powers between brands and consumers. Consumers are no longer willing to be passive recipients of marketed advertisements. Recent market research shows a clear trend that customers are not only trusting traditional advertising less, but they’re also actually putting more importance on information from other consumers, be it a family member or a customer review from a stranger on the Internet. According to a Forbes article, influencer marketing is one of the top digital marketing trends in 2019.
As outdated advertising tactics bow to the modern consumer’s buying habits, brands are being forced to become transparent with their products and advertising initiatives to the point where they are even empowering consumers to impact marketing decisions. Crowdsourcing, co-creation, and brand communities are increasingly becoming the most powerful tools marketers are using in their arsenal to strengthen the bond between consumers and the brand.
How to empower your consumer engagement:
- Involve current customers in product development and testing.
- Engage customers to create something for the brand. Such for example, creating an advertising slogan or new product.
- Set up a platform for consumers to voice their opinions about changes and/or additions they might have for your product.
- Give your customers a few marketing options and let them select an option to be used by the brand.
Empowering customers to impact marketing initiatives creates a direct connection from your brand to the consumer. Not only do they end up spending more time thinking about your brand, but they also build a relationship to it, single-handedly creating brand ambassadors and word of mouth diplomats.
Native Ads Work Better
The growing use of ad blockers across every digital platform has posed an increasing challenge for brands seeking to reach online audiences. However, a recent study by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) has proven that native ads on premium content websites are a powerful format, as they are more accepted and trusted by consumers when compared to traditional ads.
What exactly are native ads? In-stream ads, branded content and paid search can be considered variations of native ads. However, the term is more closely associated with brand-funded content, which is advertised by third-party publishers. BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post are both good examples of websites showcasing native ads efficiently. Their posts look identical to the native ads they are publishing, minus a small note indicating that it is sponsored by the brand and not endorsed by BuzzFeed or Huffington Post.
While native advertising is a good way to keep readers attention, it’s important to match content with context, maximize engagement, and ultimately to create a mutually beneficial value exchange between the advertiser and consumer.
How to ensure your native ads reach their full potential:
- Select the right platforms to ensure you’re reaching your consumers where they hang out.
- Personalize the content to the viewer.
- Optimize for multiple devices, especially mobile.
- Authentic brands prevail. Be overly transparent. Make sure your viewer knows this ad is sponsored content. Transparency will always lead to better results.
- Context and content must always be aligned for the ad and ensuing landing page.
The average individual is exposed to over 10,000 messages a day. The modern consumer has become savvier at tuning your brand’s message out. Native ads are a direct response to this clutter, and when done right, allows your messages to go from pushing content onto your consumers to pulling them in.
Building Brand Awareness
For any company, the single key element of success besides efficacy, cost, and accessibility is effective brand building. Building a brand is much like building a relationship with new acquaintances. It is not about becoming best friends overnight, or in the brand’s case, securing the sale immediately. Rather, it’s about building a meaningful relationship with those individuals through many light interactions over time. Unique experiences and interactions founded on human understanding and empathy are how you build trust. It’s how you turn acquaintances into friends, and its how modern brands build emotional relationships with their consumers.
The only way to become unique in today’s competitive landscape is through a brand strategy that builds your brand into a living breathing entity – one with personality, values, and traits, in addition to being recognizable and memorable. It should be known that brand building is a long-term process, if you think that loyalty and brand affinity can be built quickly, you are already drifting into sales promotion tactics, not the strategy.
Ideas to help aid in brand growth:
- Build inspiring stories and deliver compelling experiences to match. (The age of personalization should not alter the focus of marketers to grow the brand)
- Make sure your brand is consistent across all digital and non-digital touchpoints. (Your consumers should be able to remove the logo and still be able to tell whose product they are looking at)
- Brands must focus less on personalized messaging and more on truly understanding personal patterns and context.
- Transform your product from being a commodity into something that has a life of its own.
- Whatever your customer journey might be, the path to purchase should be a branded experience. (Be it learning about the history and craftsmanship, or engaging with the brand through play, humor or interrogation)
- Engage with customers as often as they desire, offering opportunities other than financial transactions to interact and engage with the brand.
Ultimately brands must become masters in the language of seduction. They must understand that creating desire is the single key element to being successful. The best brand building tactics create an urge deep within the minds of their consumers; the worst tactics instead, simply urge their consumers to buy from them.
Check out our DTC awareness campaign case study, to see how we designed a strategy to increase sales by empowering consumers to take charge. Need help with your direct to consumer marketing strategy? Check out ParkerWhite’s San Diego marketing services.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.