There was a time when direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands were relatively niche.
While they existed, they often didn’t have a wide appeal beyond a core audience. At that time, it was hard to imagine that D2C marketing would become as powerful of a force in marketing as it has. The direct-to-consumer model has found great success among brands in recent years, due at least in part to the always-connected nature of modern life.
As a result of the ongoing popularity of the D2C model, marketing approaches are changing. The direct-to-consumer strategy is finding significant traction in the world of digital marketing especially.
Marketers are adapting classic direct-to-consumer tactics for the macro scale, reinventing the way that digital marketing and lead nurturing is handled to create a brand-new, consumer-driven marketing experience.
A Focus on Relationships
One of the primary reasons that D2C marketing is seeing such success in the modern marketing environment is that it is focused with building relationships between consumers and the brand.
We live in a highly connected world, giving modern consumers unparalleled access to both products and information. Traditional advertisements that simply show off a product or provide basic information can fall flat when any consumer can pull out a phone and discover everything there is to know about the product. There is information everywhere, so simply providing more of it isn’t enough to draw in many modern consumers.
This is where the idea of building a relationship comes into play. Developing a connection with the consumer, interacting with them and giving them a community of like-minded individuals provides an experience that old-school marketers can’t touch. D2C marketing excels at this, allowing brands to stand out from the crowd even when faced with legacy brands and product offerings from significantly larger companies.
Mastering Social Media
One of the big tools used by direct-to-consumer marketers is social media.
Though different social media platforms operate in different ways, the core concept that they share is connecting individuals for some shared purpose. Whether it is focused on friendship or professional interaction, every social media platform exists as a way of harboring some form of relationship between users.
Direct-to-consumer marketers should use this to their advantage. The primary goal should be fostering a connection between the consumer and the brand, getting them to follow, interact and build loyalty to the brand through ongoing interactions. As different users interact with each other, a community forms around the brand that helps to reinforce this brand loyalty without costing a single extra dime of the marketing budget. And, of course, we know that paid social media also offers great potential in terms of effectiveness and engagement.
Personalized User Experience
As the relationship between the brand and the consumer grows, the experience becomes much more personalized for that consumer.
Responses from brand representatives and other community members to the consumer’s comments help to shape the experience in a way that’s subtly different from the experience of any other user. This personal connection is one of the strengths of D2C marketing, building unique experiences that will appeal to modern consumers who have fully embraced the digital world.
When combined with more personalized forms of advertising targeted based on these interactions, the brand’s overall value in the consumer’s eyes will begin to rise. This attraction, in turn, creates a loyalty to the brand that can only grow from personal interaction, and so long as the products hold up to the consumer’s expectation this loyalty may be very long lasting. The consumer plays an active role in cultivating this personalized experience, making it much more effective over time than almost any other form of marketing.
Service as Marketing
A big part of the direct-to-consumer strategy is that it’s about more than just advertising a product or representing a brand.
The personal user experience and sense of community that consumers experience is a definite part of the value inherent in the D2C brand. Another part of that value is the level of service that is inherent in the direct-to-consumer model.
Because D2C marketing centers around building a relationship, some level of customer service should be included in that connection. Instead of having to sit on a phone or wait for an email response, consumers should feel comfortable reaching out over social media to try and find a solution to problems that they have.
The responsiveness of this service, and the willingness that it displays to listen to customer feedback, helps to nurture the personal relationship that consumers feel and creates a stronger feeling of brand loyalty that can express itself through word-of-mouth advertising and repeat customers.
D2C Lead Nurturing
At its core, direct-to-consumer marketing could be seen as a form of lead nurturing.
The goal of your D2C interactions is not necessarily to secure a sale upon first contact; while a shopper might seek out information on a product because they’re considering a purchase, there is a greater likelihood that the initial contact occurs simply because they want more information about a product of which they were not previously aware.
Compare this to the traditional sales funnel, where the initial contact would then trigger follow-ups designed to move the consumer closer to making a purchasing decision. With this sort of direct-to-consumer approach, the consumer is in much the same place.
The marketer’s goal is to build more of a relationship so that the consumer wants to buy, likely through a combination of techniques such as social media interaction, targeted advertising and yes, even traditional lead nurturing campaigns. D2C marketing isn’t meant to be a replacement for what came before, but instead should be viewed as another tool to help influence consumers and bring them closer to that purchase.