5 Effective Marketing Strategies Any DTC Brand Can Use

How to build lasting DTC customer love with these 5 strategies

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

March 8, 2024

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Forget about AI chatbots, viral marketing stunts, or complex marketing funnels. When it's time to boost your direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, what you really need are a few fundamental strategies that have been proven to work time and time again.

In this blog, we're getting to the heart of what really matters in marketing. We're not going to overload you with too many ideas—just the essential strategies that can truly make a difference for your brand.

🤳 Influencer marketing

There are folks on social media platforms that have an already built audience, and earned their trust — you can tap into that via influencer marketing.

For example, When Graza first launched their olive oils, they sent out free gifts to influencers. This strategy led to them selling out in the first 24 hours of launch. 

When Gymshark was first established, its founder, Ben Francis, would gift his products to YouTube fitness enthusiasts he respected, without expecting anything in return. As these athletes began to wear Gymshark's clothing in their online appearances, the brand started to gain attention.

The standard playbook is to partner with creators who have a following that matches your brand's target audience. 

You can adopt any of the 5 ways of collaborating with them:

  1. Gifting
  2. One-off Payment
  3. Performance-based payout
  4. Base + Bonus
  5. Equity

The first & most important part is to find the right influencers

To make this easy and efficient you can use tools like SARAL — an all-in-one influencer marketing platform built specially for DTC brands. 

In SARAL, you input what you're looking for, like "natural skincare" or "makeup artist," and with a few clicks, you have a list of influencers who match your criteria. Save them all in one easy-to-handle list without any copy-pasting. Try it for free here. 

This way, you can ditch the messy spreadsheets and adopt a tidy, easy-to-use system.

To vet the influencers — whether they have enough engagement and 'die-hard fans' who listen to them, try SARAL's free Chrome extension. It allows you to see influencer's stats, and even predict a fair fee to pay.

✨ Social media marketing

Some DTC brands believe that just showing up on social media, throwing up some product shots, sharing event photos, or broadcasting their latest press mention is all it takes. But that's old school thinking. 

Social media is way more than just a photo album now —it's where people go to catch up on what’s new, learn things, have a laugh, and even shop. The immediacy and transparency provided by social media also align well with the DTC ethos of cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the consumer.

Brands need to leverage social media by posting content that entertains, educates, sells — or all three at once, which is often referred to as "edutainment." The content on social media should be informative and engaging enough to be shared with friends. 

Here's an example of an Olipop post sharing a mocktail recipe. It's a smart way to inform their audience about the different ways to enjoy their drinks, and it positions their brand as both helpful and enjoyable.

Red Bull's content strategy hinges on high-octane entertainment.This content naturally attracts attention, encourages shares, and builds a brand image that's thrilling and dynamic which attracts the right type of audience for their brand. 

This post from Kolkata Chai Co. merges product display with the idea of gifting, and the added benefit of free shipping, the post encourages sales.

When it comes to strategizing for social media, it's crucial to consider which platforms and style of content align with your audience's preferences and behaviors. 

Here are some questions you can ask to create your strategy:

  • What platforms do our target customers use most frequently, and at what times are they most active?
  • How do our products or services fit into the everyday conversations or needs of our potential customers on these platforms?
  • What tone and voice resonate best with our audience—professional, casual, humorous, or inspirational?
  • Can we identify any gaps or opportunities in the content our competitors are sharing that we can capitalize on to stand out?

A small, focused team can be very effective in managing your social media efforts. Typically, a team of two or three is sufficient: one person to oversee the content, brand alignment, and engagement with creators, and another to assist and coordinate various tasks.

📩 Email Marketing

If you're investing in marketing to drive traffic to your store but not capturing visitors' email addresses, you're missing a vital opportunity to build a relationship with potential customers who may not be ready to purchase immediately.

With email, brands have a direct line of communication with their audience, which is not only more affordable than traditional advertising but also grants them ownership over their contact list—unlike social media platforms, where they don't own their audience.

The first step in email marketing is — building your email list. 

Start by adding a pop-up on your website that prompts visitors to provide their name, & email. You can offer something valuable in return for their information—be it a discount, a free gift, or free shipping. 

For example, here's a pop-up form on The Beard Struggle's website:

You can even offer a lead magnet relevant to your audience, like how Jolie, the shower head company, provided a personalized water report for users' specific areas, tapping into their curiosity and relevance.

If you produce exclusive, limited-edition items, leverage this uniqueness in your email sign-up prompt. Take a cue from Last Crumb. 

Once you've built your email list, the opportunities for engagement are vast. Here are ten impactful types of emails you can send to nurture and convert your audience:

  • Welcome Email: Greet new subscribers and introduce them to your brand ethos.
  • Social Proof: Share customer testimonials or case studies to build trust.
  • Exclusive Offers: Provide special promotions or discounts to your email list.
  • New Product Launches: Announce new products and offer early access or pre-orders.
  • Post-Purchase Thank You: Show appreciation after purchase and suggest related products.
  • Educational Content: Offer value through tips, guides, or industry insights.
  • Survey or Feedback Requests: Engage subscribers by asking for their opinions.
  • Seasonal Campaigns: Tailor your content to holidays, seasons, or special events.
  • Referral Programs: Encourage subscribers to refer friends in exchange for rewards.
  • Re-engagement Campaigns: Reconnect with subscribers who haven't interacted with your brand recently.

🛍️ Facebook Ads ( but only conversions!)

It's no secret that Facebook ad costs are climbing. But if you're just launching your DTC brand and have no existing audience, Facebook ads are a great way to build awareness and attract your first customers. Facebook ads can also help gauge interest in new regions or among different audience segments. 

The beauty of Facebook lies in its ability to dissect audiences based on interests, behaviors, demographics, etc. You can use this to your advantage. 

Instead of talking about the tactics of running ads, I would like to talk about two main strategic mistakes that brands make when running Facebook ads — they often run awareness campaigns because of their low CPM (cost per million impressions), and they don't focus on testing new creatives constantly.  

While awareness campaigns might seem cost-effective at first glance, they often fail to attract the right audience, resulting in poor conversion rates and a high cost per lead.

The effectiveness of Facebook ads lies in optimizing for conversions. This means selecting the right 'Conversion Event' based on your specific goals. For instance, if your objective is to increase sales, you should optimize for Purchase events. Or if lead generation is your goal, you can set up a custom Conversion Event that tracks when visitors submit their contact information.

Talking about creatives now. 

When audiences see the same ad repeatedly, they become less responsive to it. This phenomenon, known as ad fatigue, leads to lower engagement rates, which in turn can increase the cost per acquisition.

That's why you need to constantly refresh your ad creatives.  

Creating high-quality ad content in-house can be expensive, especially for smaller brands. That's where partnering with influencers and repurposing their content can help. They understand the nuances of what makes content engaging and can do it at a much lower cost than producing content in-house.  

Tools like SARAL can make collaborating with influencers easier. It will help you: 

  • Manage communication with multiple influencers using automated and broadcast emails.
  • Keep track of various influencer collaborations, ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and that campaigns are executed smoothly.

Claim your free trial of SARAL, today. 

🎁 Referral programs

A referral program is when you incentivize existing customers or users to refer new customers to a business or service. The program typically rewards both the referrer and the new customer with some form of benefit, such as discounts, credits, or exclusive access.

Here's an example of a referral program from a clothing brand: 

If you want some ideas other than giving cash or discounts check these out: 

  • Swap out cash rewards for a points system. The idea is simple – the more pals someone brings on board, the more points they rack up. These points can then be exchanged for your products.
  • Treat your customers to something exclusive. Offer them unique products or early access to upcoming sales just for bringing a friend along.
  • For every new referral, make a donation to a charity. It’s a win-win – spread the word about your brand and contribute to a good cause.
  • Offer early access to new products or sales when customers refer a friend.

The Goop referral page includes different types of incentives. Check it our for inspiration 👇

When setting up your referral program, keep these 3 tips in mind:

  • Ensure the rewards are appealing to everyone involved. If the benefits seem lopsided, people might hesitate to participate.
  • Design a program that’s easy to grasp. No one wants to navigate through a maze of rules.
  • Use inviting but straightforward language like 'Invite Friends, Earn Exclusive Rewards' rather than a bland 'Refer Now.'

🏆 Loyalty programs for retaining customers  

In the craze of acquiring new customers, brands often forget to tap into existing customers to generate more sales, which is the ultimate aim of a marketing strategy.  

A simple way to run a loyalty program is to offer discounts, freebies, brand swag etc. to repeat customers. 

Many brands adopt a point-based system where customers earn points for specific actions, which they can later use to buy products. Here's an example showing this strategy — 

The only program with this approach is that if you go overboard with the discounts and freebies, it could start eating into your profits and might even make your brand look a bit less special.

To counteract this, brands can implement tiered programs that offer exclusive benefits to their most loyal customers. These programs require customers to reach certain levels of engagement or spending to access special rewards, ensuring that the incentives are both sustainable for the brand and meaningful for the customers.

Here's an example of loyalty program from Princess Polly, a clothing brand that uses this strategy — 

As customers collect more points, they move from 'General Admission' to 'Front Row', then 'VIP', and eventually 'Backstage Pass.' The perks intensify as a customer progresses to higher tiers, including larger discounts, birthday rewards, and exclusive sales, encouraging customers to continue engaging with the brand in order to unlock more valuable benefits.

This makes their most loyal customers feel appreciated while not discounting heavily. 

Wrap up

Take this opportunity to reflect on your current marketing strategies. Think about experimenting with the tactics highlighted in this blog, but always through the lens of your brand's identity and the needs of your target audience.

Here are some things to consider: 

  • Evaluate your influencer marketing approach. Are you ready to partner with influencers that truly reflect your brand?
  • Dive deeper into your social media strategy. Does your content engage, educate, and entertain your audience effectively?
  • Reassess your email marketing campaigns. Are they personalized, valuable, and engaging enough to foster loyalty?
  • Optimize your Facebook ad strategies, focusing on conversions and creative refreshment to combat ad fatigue.
  • Improve your referral and loyalty programs, ensuring they offer meaningful value that encourages engagement and advocacy.

Ultimately, the goal is to create marketing strategies that not only attract but also build lasting relationships with your customers.

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