It's no secret that the direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing model is on the rise, despite some significant challenges.

There are many reasons for this shift, but one of the most important is the way that DTC brands can build relationships with their customers. Unlike traditional retail brands, which tend to focus on transactions, DTC brands can build long-term relationships with their customers.

This is made possible by the fact that DTC brands can collect data on their customers and use it to create personalized experiences. In other words, D2C brands can create a more intimate relationship with their customers because they have a better understanding of who they are and what they need.

If you're thinking about starting a DTC business or if you're already running one, it's crucial to understand how to build a DTC marketing strategy.

Let's start at the beginning.

The Basic Building Blocks of a Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Strategy

The different components of a DTC marketing strategy will vary depending on the business, but there are a few basics that all companies should consider. These building blocks usually include customer segmentation, lead generation, and email marketing.

1. Customer Segmentation

This is dividing your customers into groups based on shared characteristics. Segmentation allows you to target your marketing campaigns more effectively and ensure that your message resonates with your audience. For example, you might segment your customers by age, gender, location, or purchasing habits.

2. Lead Generation

This can be done through various means, such as content marketing, social media marketing, and paid advertising. One example of lead generation would be creating a blog post that ranks high in Google search results and drives traffic to your website.

3. Email Marketing

When you segment your customers, you can then create targeted email marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate with each group. This can be used to promote new products, special offers, or simply to keep in touch with your audience. You can use email marketing to generate leads, build relationships, and drive sales.

For example, you might create a segmented email campaign that targets first-time buyers with a special offer. This type of targeted marketing is more likely to result in a sale than a general email blast.

4. Automation

This can free up your time to concentrate on more important things, such as growing your business. For example, you can use automation to set email triggers, post to social media, or generate reports. Now, you’ll have more time to spend on creating new products, developing marketing campaigns, or interacting with customers.

5. Analytics

Tracking and analyzing your results is essential to understand what's working and what's not. This data lets you see how your marketing campaigns perform and make necessary adjustments to improve results. Doing this regularly will help you optimize your marketing strategy and ensure you get the most out of your efforts.

6. Testing

This can be done with various aspects of your marketing strategy, such as your website, email campaigns, and social media posts. This step is important because it allows you to find what works best for your business and audience.

For example, you might test different headlines for your email subject lines to see which one gets the most opens. Or, you might test different images on your website to see which one gets the most clicks.

7. Reporting

This step is often overlooked, but it's essential to understand how your marketing campaigns are performing. To have an effective reporting system, you need to track the right metrics. This will vary depending on your business goals, but some common metrics include website traffic, conversion rate, email open rate, and social media engagement.

Compiling this data into a report will help you understand your marketing performance and make necessary changes. Regular reporting allows you to see what's working and what's not so you can make required changes to improve your results

With these building blocks in place, you'll be well on your way to developing a successful direct-to-consumer marketing strategy and start scaling efforts.

Here's what you do next:

1. Build a data-driven marketing strategy

This means collecting customer data and using it to create personalized experiences. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to use marketing automation tools.

With the right software, you can trigger automated emails based on customer behavior. Did your customer abandon their cart? Send them a reminder email. Did they make a purchase? Send them a thank-you email.

This data-driven marketing approach is essential for any DTC brand that wants to succeed.

2. Personalize your marketing messages

Once you have a database of customer data, you can start sending messages that are relevant to each individual customer based on their interests, needs, and behaviors.

If you know what items your customers have purchased in the past, you can make recommendations for similar products they might be interested in. You can send targeted emails with related products if you see what pages they've visited on your website.

The more relevant your messages are, the more likely your customers will engage with them.

3. Use coupons and discounts to drive sales

This is a common tactic used by DTC brands, and it's an effective way to boost conversion rates.

To find the right coupons and discounts for your customers, you'll need to segment your list and offer different incentives to different groups. For example, you might provide a discount for first-time buyers or a coupon for customers who spend a certain amount.

4. Invest in marketing automation

With marketing automation, you can automate many of the tasks necessary for running a successful DTC business, including customer segmentation, email marketing, and lead generation.

Not only will this save you time, but it will also allow you to scale your business more effectively. If you're serious about growth hacking your DTC marketing strategy, then investing in marketing automation is a must.

How to choose the right marketing automation tools

There are several different marketing automation platforms out there, so how do you choose the right one?

Here are some things to consider when choosing a marketing automation platform:

  • Ease of use: You'll want to choose a platform that's easy to use. The last thing you want is to invest in a platform that's difficult to learn or takes too much time.
  • Functionality: Make sure the platform you choose has all the features you need. For example, if you plan on doing email marketing, then make sure the platform you select has email marketing capabilities.
  • Price: Don't overspend on a platform you don't need. There are some affordable options out there, so choose the one that fits your budget.
  • Customer support: Finally, ensure your chosen platform has good customer support. This way, if you have any questions or run into any problems, you can get help from a live person.

5. Create a referral program

With a referral program, you can offer customers discounts or other incentives for referring new customers to your business.

Referral programs are an excellent way for word-of-mouth marketing, and they can be an effective way to drive sales. If you're not already using referral programs, then now is the time to start.

6. Use social media to your advantage

You can connect with your customers, build relationships, and drive sales all through social media.

To be successful with social media, you need to have a strategy. This means knowing which platforms to use, what kind of content to post, and how to interact with your customers. If you're not sure where to start, then check out our guide to social media marketing for DTC brands.

7. Focus on customer retention

This means keeping your customers happy and engaged so they continue to do business with you.

There are a number of ways to retain customers, but one of the most important is to provide excellent customer service. If your customers are happy with your product and your service, then they're much more likely to stick around.

Our favorite direct-to-consumer marketing examples

Now that you know how to build a DTC marketing strategy, we wanted to share some of our favorite examples. We've chatted about these before, but we'll go over them quickly.

1. Bonobos

Bonobos is a men's clothing company that's known for its great customer service and innovative marketing campaigns. What we liked about their marketing is that they decided to build a brand rather than just selling clothes. For example, they created a video series called "How to Be a Gentleman" which provided helpful tips on style and etiquette.

This is a great example of content marketing that's both informative and entertaining. They are implementing a few of the strategies we talked about above, including social media marketing and a bit of customer segmentation, to ensure the messaging is correct.

2. Everlane

Everlane is a women's clothing company that focuses on transparency and sustainability. One of their most successful marketing campaigns was their "Choose what you pay" sale where customers could choose how much they wanted to pay for certain items. This was a great way to engage customers and get them interested in their products.

Here, the Everlane team strategizes around customer experience and giving their customers a say in what they paid. This type of marketing creates loyalty and builds trust, which are two essential elements for any DTC business.

3. Harry's

Harry's is a men's grooming company that sells high-quality razors and other personal care products. What we like about their marketing is that they build an emotional connection with their customers. For example, they created a series of videos called "The Stories We Tell" which featured customers sharing personal stories about their relationships with their fathers.

In terms of a strong DTC marketing strategy, Harry's has nailed it. They create content that appeals to their target audience and builds an emotional connection. This is the type of marketing that will help you build a strong brand and loyal customer base.

4. Warby Parker

Warby Parker is a glasses company that sells stylish and affordable eyewear. What we like about their marketing is that they create a fun and engaging experience for their customers. For example, they have a "Home Try-On" program where customers can try on glasses from the comfort of their own homes.

This approach to DTC marketing is all about convenience and making the customer's life easier. By removing barriers and making it easy for customers to try their products. They get to look at their customer data to see what's working and what's not, so they can continue to improve their marketing.

5. Casper

Casper is a mattress company that sells high-quality mattresses at an affordable price. What we like about their marketing is that they make the purchase process easy and convenient for their customers. For example, they offer free shipping and returns on all of their products.

From a marketing perspective, the Casper team has done a great job of making the purchase process easy and convenient for their customers. It can even be taken up a notch with automation. For example, they could send an automated message to customers after their purchase to thank them and ask for feedback. This would help them improve their products and services and build a stronger relationship with their customers.

6. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a men's grooming company that sells razors and other personal care products. What we like about their marketing is that they make the purchase process easy and convenient for their customers. For example, they offer a subscription service where customers can choose how often they want to receive new razors.

They can easily determine which razors are the most popular and adjust their marketing accordingly. For example, they could send out an automated message to customers after they've used a specific razor to suggest other products that they might like. This would help them upsell their products and boost their bottom line.

7. Birchbox

Birchbox is a beauty subscription service that sends its members monthly boxes of beauty samples. What we like about their marketing is that they provide a personalized experience for their customers. For example, each member has a profile that is used to customize the monthly boxes.

The team is able to drive sales by using targeted marketing to promote the right products to the right people. After reporting on the success of a certain product, they could send out an automated message to customers who have purchased that product to thank them and offer a discount on a related product.

Each of these examples uses elements of direct-to-consumer marketing strategy to great effect. By focusing on building a brand, creating innovative marketing campaigns, and providing an excellent customer experience, these companies have been able to build a loyal following of customers.

The bottom line

By following the tips in this guide, you'll be well on your way to success. And don't forget to invest in marketing automation - it's one of the best ways to grow your DTC business. If you're looking for a marketing automation platform that's easy to use and has all the features you need, it might be time to try Automizely.