Each DTC brand is part of a unique ecosystem. They ship straight to customers, remove third parties to potentially achieve significantly higher profits, and develop a more memorable brand in the process. Lately, DTC brands have been emerging more and more.
However, to successfully scale a DTC brand, there are 8 key steps founders must follow. Sticking to this hierarchy in establishing and scaling a DTC brand will lay the foundation for successful, sustainable, long-term growth.
1. Developing Your DTC Product or Service
This should go without saying, but before thinking of scaling, take the time to fine-tune products or services. All the best marketing in the world won’t help a brand grow if it doesn’t deliver a product or service with a strong value proposition.
In fact, research from CBInsights found that “no market need” for a product was the biggest contributor to startup failures, accounting for 42 percent of failed startups. Products that were difficult to use or had mistimed launches also fell into the top ten reasons for failure.
2. DTC Branding
After clearly defining a product or service offering and understanding the value proposition, you’re ready to move into the branding phase. Brands should be clearly established before attempting any other marketing actions. A brand defines a company and everything else it does stems from that — from its website to its social media campaigns.
Coffee scrub brand Frank Body is a strong example of how branding can help a DTC company succeed. The brand has a sassy persona that is often attributed as part of what has enabled it to reach $20 million in annual sales. This persona infuses all of its content, creating a consistent and memorable experience with each interaction.
3. Photo & Video Content
Once detailing all of the pieces of a brand, it’s time to start producing photo and video content that will serve as the baseline for promotional materials. Naturally, this includes capturing high-quality imagery of products. For service providers, an alternative to product photography is to take action shots of a brand’s team at work.
This is one area where brands get what they pay for. Quality lighting, photography equipment, and editing software can completely transform the way customers perceive a brand. When customers can’t physically handle a product in a store, attractive imagery will go a long way in making a positive first impression.
4. Website Development
Next comes another crucial component of any successful DTC brand: the website. Naturally, upload photo content and write copy that reflects the brand. However, also consider the overall design, user interface, and user experience of the website.
Because a website is the “storefront” of a brand, the checkout process should get a lot of care and attention. Make the buying process as simple and streamlined as possible. Implementing obvious CTAs, clear site navigation, fast load times, attractive creative and design, secure checkout, and eliminating the need to create an account to make a purchase can greatly reduce your cart abandonment rate.
5. Retention Campaigns
The first people who visit a website are the foundation of a business. As such, have an effective strategy to keep them drawn to your brand. Email and SMS are effective mediums to send customized messaging to customers and keep them engaged and excited about your brand. Collect users’ information while they are on your site through a newsletter, giveaway, purchase, or other promotional initiative and use it for future email and SMS conversion and retention funnels.
One example of a common retention campaign is a welcome series after someone signs up for an account. This retention funnel can be used to inform customers of new products and promotions to get them to return to a store. Abandoned cart emails can also serve as a helpful reminder for people who didn’t finish a purchase while on a site. Research has found that abandoned cart emails earn an average of $5.81 per recipient — earnings that can add up quicker than expected, especially if consistently growing an email list.
6. Social Media
No DTC brand should launch without a strong social media presence. Social media platforms provide a powerful tool for building a community around your brand and sparking meaningful engagement with a target audience.
Of course, social media is only successful if it’s consistent. Use a content calendar to help regularly push out relevant content to each social media platform being used. Remember to follow the voice and image guidelines that were established when the brand persona was created. A distinct, relatable social media presence will help grow brand loyalty and sales.
7. Paid Advertising for DTC Brands
Even if ad spend is relatively small, paid advertising is going to play an important role in a DTC brand’s growth, especially in its early stages. With a website and social media profile set up, begin running campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Google — as well as any other place an audience might be, like Snapchat or TikTok.
Remember to adapt paid advertising content to better fit each platform, while still remaining true to brand persona. A Google PPC ad will need to look very different from a TikTok campaign, but both can drive revenue if they’re targeted properly and use strong copy and imagery.
8. Social Proof & Influencer Marketing
Even online, word of mouth is one of the most effective methods for getting new customers. Social proof that comes from actual people — rather than the brand itself or impersonal mediums like PR — is viewed as far more trustworthy.
Influencer marketing can be a powerful way to reach a wide, highly engaged audience. Look for influencers in a niche that are open to doing promotional posts to help your product reach a wider group than owned content could.
Additionally, social proof from regular customers can be just as powerful. Look for ways to incentivize customers to share your brand or product. Whether offering discounts for customer referrals or running social media contests with prizes for users who post with brand hashtags, these personal recommendations have the most powerful effect on a target audience.
Time to Scale Your DTC Brand
There is a lot of work that goes into successfully scaling a DTC brand. Follow these steps and lay a successful foundation for your brand that consistently acquires and retains customers.
Remember, don’t take a “set it and forget it” approach to building a company. Even after finding some initial success, continually reviewing these tactics will help you identify when to make needed adjustments so you can continue to dominate your niche.