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Direct-to-Consumer Marketing 101: How to Get Started

June 10, 2022


Who’s not guilty of scrolling through their feed at 3 AM, finding an irresistible urge to purchase something on a shopping app, and waking up the next day like nothing happened?

That’s the result of immersive direct-to-consumer marketing.

What is direct-to-consumer marketing?

Earlier, companies would jump through hoops to get to the customer. Cut to 2022, and customers can literally summon products to their house within a few clicks. Brands have uninterrupted exclusive access to customers’ minds, provided they get there early. 

How did this shift in the buying journey take place? Why did cart checkouts replace long queues, and when did customer experience take center stage? When did bad reviews replace unhappy in-store customers? What created this transformative marketing method?

Effortless shopping. 

Customers are key to success, and when they have to hunt for their favorite brand they saw on TV, or wait in long lines to get your products, their patience and interest grow thin. Dependency on departmental stores and large retailers ultimately leads to poor customer experience

Direct-to-consumer marketing (D2C) is a marketing method where a company markets and sells products and services directly to end consumers, eliminating the need for middlemen. 

Benefits of direct-to-consumer marketing

There are many great benefits to direct-to-consumer marketing. The D2C marketing method helps online storefronts: 

  • Reduce dependency on middlemen. Far too often, brands rely on retailers and other intermediaries to relay their brand message and make an impact on consumers. But when retailers sell hundreds of products, brands have to pay a premium to stand out in front of consumers. In the direct-to-consumer marketing model, brands can cut to the chase, present their value propositions, and directly connect with consumers through online storefronts. 
  • Scale faster. Ensuring the stickiness of your brand is a recipe for growth; it’s a sure way to increase revenue. Brand stickiness helps your business turn prospects into advocates for your brand and transform them into repeat customers.
  • Improve brand recall. It’s easy to improve brand recall when you practice direct-to-consumer marketing because you occupy the mind-space of your customers either through text, email, or chat. And if you offer what they need, you get that much needed top-of-mind recall. Direct-to-consumer marketing also helps improve brand recall because there are no distractions or middlemen in the buyer journey. 
  • Personalize messages: With direct-to-consumer marketing, brands regain access over the entire customer experience which was previously in the hands of intermediaries. Interactive marketing, such as personalized communication and Q&A, can better your understanding of the target market, through increased customer data. With personalized communication, your business can convert faster. 

Now that we are familiar with the benefits of direct-to-consumer marketing, let’s get into the next important aspect: Who is your audience? 

Why do millennials love D2C marketing?

Direct-to-consumer marketing holds good stead in front of one cohort of customers: those born between the years 1981 and 1996, or the millennial generation. Why? Because they make more than 54% of their purchases online. 

millennials d2c marketing statistics

Source: Freshworks

Millennials love a hassle-free shopping experience because it’s a refreshing change from the brick-and-mortar stores they were used to in their childhood. Since they are tech-savvy, have purchasing power, and are also heavily reliant on online shopping, it’s easier for online storefronts to attract and engage them to their online store. 

If you can master how to market to the millennial audience, you'll see quick success as a D2C business. 

D2C marketing campaign examples

Now that you understand what D2C is, let's look at examples of how companies have successfully used this strategy.

Convenience in a box

Pet brand Chewy is known for its innovative direct-to-consumer marketing approach that taps into the millennial's attachment to pets. Chewy targets new pet parents and provides pet supplies in a box, delivering them straight to the customer’s home. Quite literally convenience in a package. They also gained a huge pet parent following on social media by sharing thoughtful content relevant to different types of pets. 

Packaging makes all the difference

Mattress shopping has never been an exciting event in a consumer’s life. It’s mostly viewed as a mundane task when you move into a new home. Casper caused a ripple in the sleep market by going directly to consumers through its online store.

Casper made mattress buying fun by introducing mattress-in-a-box which made moving way easier for customers. They didn’t just stop there. Casper also launched a lifestyle magazine called Woolly, which touches upon topics like health, comfort, and wellness. While it’s not related to mattresses, it kept its core audience engaged and helped spread the word to more prospective customers. 

Being honest can take you far

The skincare market is hard to tap into. But WOW Skin Science, a D2C brand, managed to crack the code by being honest in all their communication about what goes into their products. 

According to its co-founder, Manish Chowdhary, “We were open about the ingredients that go into our products. This has created a strong brand recall in our customers’ minds, and they have picked up our products knowing their skin and hair were getting the best of ingredients.” 

How to get started with a direct-to-consumer marketing strategy

If you have learned the D2C meaning and D2C sounds like the right strategy for your business, let's dive into how to get started. You'll want to build an online storefront, create a social presence, personalize your messaging, involve influencers, and more.

Build an easy-to-use online storefront

Every buying decision, every dropoff, every click on your call-to-action is made via your website. It is the central nervous system of your sales. And since your online storefront makes the first impression, having a clean and simple UI can help your prospects understand what you have to offer much quicker, and push them on to the next stage of the buying journey. 

Today’s customers also expect quick and effortless customer experience when they visit your website due to modern digital procurement. So how do you engage with them while they are on your website? By nudging them with the help of chatbots that can be set up on your website. With chatbots you can: 

  • Understand intent of every visitor 
  • Share helpful resources that will strengthen their buying decision
  • Narrow down their choices and tailor your recommendations

It’s also an opportunity for you to customize your messages for customers and get direct with them. When you use a marketing automation tool, you have all the information you need on customers, and you can engage via chatbot based on their behavior on your site. 

Create a strong social presence

The essence of direct-to-consumer marketing is rooted in social platforms. In fact, 75% of millennials use social media to engage with businesses. So you have ample opportunity to reach out to your key demographic and be where they are, whether it's WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Facebook, or SMS. 

Be active on social platforms, create business accounts on these channels, and share relevant content that will resonate with your audience and that’s relevant to your industry. 

Personalize your messaging

You can only directly reach out to consumers if they can resonate with your brand identity and are willing to listen to you. To establish that, you have to offer personalized messaging and build a relationship with them.

Observe how they interact with your brand - your website, your emails, your SMS, your events, and every channel you use to reach out to them. A marketing automation tool can help D2C storefronts like yours save time by capturing visitors, tracking their journey on your website, and engaging with them more contextually.

Adopt a multichannel marketing approach

Suppose there are two e-commerce companies in the same vertical. Both companies employ direct-to-consumer marketing and engage via Instagram ads and email newsletters. But one of them also runs a Youtube channel, grows subscribers, and regularly shares special deals with their customers via SMS and Whatsapp. 

Which company would reach its goals faster? The answer depends on your audience. 

Pick the right multichannel marketing approach that work for your audience and don’t restrict yourself to just one channel. Whether you pick two or ten channels, keep your messaging consistent across all channels. If customers notice a messaging disconnect, they don’t feel encouraged to come back for more. 

Tie up with influencers

Influencers are a boon to direct-to-consumer marketing because they have direct access to customers, customers follow their recommendations, and they have a huge reach. 

They are important to your direct-to-consumer marketing strategy because their recommendations have a huge impact on their followers, who are also your potential customers. 

They also don’t sound sales-y, so customers trust them more than any single brand. 

To kickstart your direct-to-consumer marketing strategy with influencers, begin by: 

  • Establishing a relationship with influencers
  • Start by introducing yourself and follow the influencer’s updates regularly
  • See where your product can fit in seamlessly 
  • Once you both are familiar, send your products for trial
  • Provide their followers an exclusive discount to understand the impact of the association
  • Expand relationships with more influencers 
  • Engage with them periodically to increase your reach

Implement conversational marketing

An online shopfront without live chat is like a store without a shop assistant. Just like how your sales rep guides prospects, a chatbot can help visitors shop seamlessly. Adding live chat to your online storefront helps identify what visitors are looking for, helps them with their queries, segments them into different buckets, and personalizes outreach. 

With many options in the live chat software market, you may find it hard to identify the right tool for your online store. For a fair evaluation, here are a couple of questions you should ask before you make the purchase. If you find that multiple tools fit the bracket, opt for their free trial and get a feel of the product before you choose one. 

  • How quickly can you get started?
  • Will it scale with your business as you grow?
  • Is it affordable?
  • How accessible is the customer service team?

A chatbot is one of the most important channels for all communication between a customer and a growing D2C business. 

Invest in the right tools

For direct-to-consumer marketing, there are multiple tasks you have to juggle, like: 

  • Tracking your website visitors
  • Segment them based on their behavior
  • Engage in a personalized way
  • Track campaign performance 

And this can get overwhelming for marketers who have to toggle between tabs. While you can deploy many tools for the same, you may lose crucial time that may be put to better use. 

An all-in-one marketing automation tool can help you attract, engage and convert your visitors within a single platform. With this, you can track the right metrics, engage with customers 24/7 and offer a seamless customer experience.

Don't wait, get started!

In any marketing approach, keeping customers happy always comes first. 

In D2C, you have the power to control messaging, understand the customer and reach out to them directly. 

If you get your messaging right, your customers are your brand ambassadors for life and through word of mouth, you can easily go viral. So get started with D2C marketing today with a marketing automation tool and attract and engage more visitors.

Learn more about marketing automation basics, how to do it right, and how to pick the best software for your business.

digital-customer-service-software Be there for your customers

Use a digital customer service platform to ensure your customers are happy and have the best experience possible.

digital-customer-service-software Be there for your customers

Use a digital customer service platform to ensure your customers are happy and have the best experience possible.

Direct-to-Consumer Marketing 101: How to Get Started Direct-to-consumer marketing is a wave that’s taken over the e-commerce industry; if you're an online store, you need to understand it. Check out these D2C tips, strategies and examples.
Manasa Kumar Manasa leads integrated marketing for Freshsales at Freshworks. When she is not writing or planning content, you can find her exploring new countries, writing poetry, or dabbling in art.

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