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May 21, 2023
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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

If you’re new to DTC, welcome! You’re in good company with fellow newcomers from Barstool Sports, Hip Pop, The Walt Disney Company, and Pair Eyewear. 👓

In this newsletter, you’ll find: 👇

📦 How to crush the final stretch of BFCM list building

📦 Access to the biggest Shopify returns report of the year

📦 VKTRY Gear, Drew Arciuolo: How to achieve saturation with your target market

📦 How to adapt your messaging with insights from industry leaders

📦 What to look for when choosing an Amazon partner

Read till the end to access exclusive DTC swag. 😎

👉 If a pal forwarded this to you, subscribe, so you never miss out.


Four Ways To Stack Your List Before BFCM

POV: You’ve been building your list all year (right?), but now BFCM is around the corner, and you’re ready to ramp up your efforts and crush those Q4 metrics. 👊

We got you, fam.

Here are four unique ways to stack your list for Black Friday success and beyond. 👇

🥇 Run a “VIP Black Friday” sale

VIP sales are becoming more popular, especially for brands that aren’t able to heavily discount through all of BFCM weekend. They’re also a great way to build your list before Black Friday sales actually start!

Entice shoppers to sign up for your Black Friday VIP list by offering them something super-duper-special, such as:

  • Early access to sales
  • Extra savings
  • Gift cards or store credit
  • Limited edition products
  • Special experiences
  • Free gifts, swag, etc.

It may seem obvious, but the most important point here is that your VIP offers are above and beyond your normal BFCM deals – otherwise, they’re not really VIP, are they?

Bonus: You can add extra appeal by creating a VIP program with benefits beyond BFCM weekend (ongoing discounts, free swag, early product drops, and more).

📝 VIP sale cliff notes:

  1. Create a dedicated landing page for your VIP offer to capture emails/SMS (highly recommend). Make sure the page clearly and succinctly states the offer.
  2. Direct organic and paid traffic to your page (share with your existing customers, too!) – ideally starting 2-4 weeks out from BFCM.
  3. Create an email/SMS drip to nurture VIP leads in the days leading up to the sale (“coming soon”, “get ready”, “start your wishlist”).
  4. Send out 1-2 emails/SMS each day of the VIP sale.
  5. Follow-up with new leads during BFCM.

🔥 Drop a hot new product

Announcing a new product launch before BFCM is another way to entice shoppers to jump on your list.

You can have them opt-in for a special discount or “first dibs” if it’s a limited edition and/or likely to go out of stock (and make sure to highlight that sense of urgency if it’s genuine!).

📝 Product drop cliff notes:

  1. Create a dedicated landing page for the new product to capture emails/SMS (highly recommend).
  2. We’d also recommend adding pop-ups and banners to your site that say something like, “Get first dibs on our new/limited edition product, coming Black Friday.”
  3. Direct organic and paid traffic to your LP (share with your existing customers, too!) – ideally starting 2-4 weeks out from BFCM.
  4. Develop an organic social campaign to promote the drop, and if possible, work with influencers. New product launches can be a great way to convert casual or tangential followers into customers.
  5. Create an email/SMS drip to nurture leads in the days leading up to the drop. This could include pictures and info on the new product to get shoppers really stoked. An extra tip? Don’t show people the full product, create curiosity! This could be blurred images or half a product in the distance.
  6. Create your email/SMS campaign announcing and promoting the new product.
  7. Follow-up with new leads during BFCM.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Refer-a-friend

Friends don’t let friends miss out on deals… which is why referral programs can crush it over Black Friday.

Offer your loyal customers extra savings or something special for referring a friend (with a discount or gift of their own). This can help pull in new customers before Black Friday AND show some love to your existing list.

📝 Refer-a-friend cliff notes:

  1. Send an email campaign to existing customers (best if highly engaged) informing them of the referral offer – ideally 2-4 weeks out from BFCM.
  2. Create an email/SMS drip to nurture new leads before and during BFCM. Messaging should promote popular and best-selling products to entice them to use their discount.
  3. Make sure to have a strong follow-up campaign for these new leads post-BFCM!

🎁 Give stuff away

Everyone loves to win free stuff, right?

Enter: BFCM giveaways.

Running a giveaway (especially before your BFCM sales hit) can be a great way to build your list. Promote the giveaway via paid ads, organic social, influencer campaigns, and other channels where your ideal audience might be hanging out.

⚠️ Word of caution: (Poorly run) giveaways are notorious for bringing in lower-quality leads. One suggestion would be to make sure your offer aligns with your brand and product suite to help attract leads who are interested in what you’re selling – and not just out for freebies.

Consider giving away:

  • Store credit/gift cards (best option, as it entices winners to shop and attracts leads with higher purchasing intent – but you may get lower volume)
  • Free products (likely to get higher volume, but lower quality leads)
  • Experiences or access to exclusive events

📝 Giveaway cliff notes:

  1. Create a dedicated page on your website for the giveaway to capture emails/SMS (highly recommend). This will also boost your website traffic before Black Friday weekend!
  2. Consider partnering with influencers or other brands to collab on a giveaway and expand your potential audience.
  3. Direct organic and paid traffic to your page (share with your existing customers, too!) – ideally starting 2-4 weeks out from BFCM. Consider adding an opt-in field directly on ads.
  4. Send follow-up emails to giveaway entrees that weren’t selected. Inform them of Black Friday deals coming up, and consider adding a discount code or store credit to entice them to shop (ideally stackable with your general BFCM offer).

☝️ Last, but not least…

Building a strong list for Black Friday is important, but we all know the shopping doesn’t stop there. Make sure to create a solid foundation of follow-up flows and campaigns to continue to nurture your new leads and carry that momentum into the holiday season!


Are you prepared to make the most of every BFCM return?

You know BFCM is coming, and you know after that is return season!

Thankfully Loop has compiled the biggest Shopify returns report of the year...

🤯 1,500+ brands

💰 Nearly 10 million returns

All analyzed and wrapped up into the 2022 Ecommerce Returns Benchmark Report. Get the all the juicy data on:

  • 📈 The macro-level trends of e-commerce returns.
  • 🔂 The factors contributing to a superior return process.
  • 👏  What you can do to optimize returns for your brand.
  • ✅ Industry benchmarks for apparel, footwear, accessories, and more!

6.3B was spent on Shopify stores during BFCM last year and some of those products needed to be returned. A chance to retain or upsell even a fraction of those customers can’t be passed up!

👉 Click here to see how brands make the most of their returns.


🎧 Today on the DTC pod, we’re revealing the secret to running faster, jumping higher, and performing at your very best…

…Okay, maybe there’s no ~secret~ per se, but we’re sitting down with Drew Arciuolo, Director of Marketing for VKTRY Gear, to discuss how the company has paved a path towards DTC victory (pun intended 😏) with their performance insoles.  

VKTRY Gear is a DTC company specializing in aerospace-grade carbon fiber performance insoles that help both serious and casual athletes achieve faster times, more explosive movement, and fewer injuries.

‍The takeaways 👇

🤯 Making the unbelievable believable

More often than not, DTC brands that want to create a lasting first impression on a consumer have to claim bold and exciting statements that can, on the flip side, feel “unbelievable” or “too good to be true”. To combat this, Drew is putting a huge focus on authentic UGC efforts.

“We're not selling something that's been around for decades and is a consumer staple, we're selling something that is unbelievable, so… a lot of our content has to be not from us; it has to be from real people, and the best performing content we have is people’s reaction immediately after they try the product for the first time… Getting that reaction [and] that raw emotion is, I think, the key to having someone understand that this product is what it claims to be.”

💭 Triggered

Word-of-mouth is always a plus in DTC marketing, but generating that conversation between potential consumers has to come from somewhere. This is where Drew’s application of creating thought triggers comes in.

70% of dialogue still happens off the Internet, so how do you take advantage of that? What I’ve learned… is [with] triggers. One way that we’re creating triggers is we’re starting to review shoes… based on how high they flip with our insoles in them. So next time someone sees a pair of Crocs, [for example], I want them to say, ‘Did you see that company that flipped the pair of Crocs 70 inches in the air?’”

💰 What Drew would do with an extra $50K:

Above all else, Drew would hone in on content creation that would truly resonate with consumers on social.

“I would give it to the best creative agency I could find. I would hand them maybe 50 hours of raw footage from our video shoots these last four years, and I would tell them to go find the gold, go find the interactions and the juicy parts that are gonna go viral on organic TikTok [and] that people want to see on organic Reels. I would give it to someone who knows how to find those interactions that are special on social media [because] that right there is the magic.”

👉 Listen to the full episode with Drew Arciuolo here!


When was the last time you got paid for your opinion?

💰 Get paid to shape customer insights and stay on top of your industry by participating in marketing research for leading B2B brands as a member of the Wynter panel.

  • Become a better marketer by seeing what others are doing
  • See new products before they launch
  • Get paid for your feedback
  • Stay on top of the industry by seeing the messaging other marketers are using

⏰ In 15 minutes or less per survey, learn how to adapt your own messaging with insights from industry leaders who want to communicate more effectively with you and your specific audience.

"I like to be a tester because it stimulates my brain to think about the things I have to do for my own businesses."

- Matej, Head of Marketing

👉 Join Wynter’s marketing panel, and become a better marketer while making some extra cash!


Welcome to the Jungle!

POV: You’ve got a few bucks trickling in on Amazon, but can’t seem to crack the code to owning Bezos’ empire. 🤨

If the dream is to own the empire, there comes a time when enlisting help is key. But, finding the right help can be tough.

Here are some red 🚩 flags 🚩 to look out for when choosing the right partner for your brand:

⏩ Velocity

If there’s one thing we advertisers know, it’s that things move fast. And the key to scaling with speed, is data. If your partner dynamic doesn’t involve bucket loads of information being dumped on you, be weary. You shouldn’t have to be clicking around to find the info you need – you shouldn’t be pulling the team, they should be pushing you.

🛠 Optimizations and changes

It’s never to early to optimize. It’s easy for partners to hide behind the curtain of “we need more data,” and to a point you could always use more data. However, optimizing and changes to your campaign should always be on the table even if you’re just getting started.

💰 Spread of spend

Is 90% of your campaign budget dumped into auto campaigns? If so, run. Having such a large portion of your campaigns on auto means your agency partner doesn’t want to spend the time to do keyword research.

Auto-campaigns can be great with small budgets for prospecting, but it definitely shouldn’t be a large percentage of your campaign suite.

Tip: although there is no golden rule, we suggest spending less than 10% on auto campaigns (and ideally less than 5%). Anything higher than that means there is likely room to graduate winning keywords to manual.

📊 Data transparency

You should know what campaigns and spend are working for your brand. Your Amazon data should’t be bundled into one overall view – you should be able to see branded vs non-branded ad spend on a granular level.

The team should be fully invested in providing a bespoke set of tools to accelerate your growth as a brand and stand out amongst your competitors. Here’s what the Pilothouse Amazon team suggests for your  30-60-90 plan that sets the foundation for increased sales and optimization.

🍽️ Month 1: Digest the product and the market

📈 Month 2: Gather data, test ads, test new creative

🤑 Month 3: Double down on successes

This is just the beginning! For more details on what you can expect from the Amazon squad at Pilothouse, check out the full podcast here.

Quick Hits

📸 To celebrate the launch of Pilothouse Studios, they are are offering free content for your Shopify site, Amazon store, and/or Meta ads. Claim your spot! *

🐦 Musk tasks Twitter staff with creating a new $19.99 Twitter Blue offering which includes verification.

🛏 Bed, Bath & Beyond confirms data breach following employee phishing attack.

🎁 TikTok publishes a new holiday marketing guide to assist in your planning.

🔗 Google: You'd be lucky to end up in the same place after changing URLs.


🔊 Have you heard our latest podcasts?

🏆 VKTRY Gear, Drew Arciuolo: How to Achieve Saturation With Your Target Market.

💧 Bryan Alston, Greater Than - How Greater Than Became Inc’s #198th Fastest Growing Company In the US.

❌ Attribution is a Dead and What To Do Instead with SegmentStream’s Constantine Yurevich.

🖋 Nathan Thompson & Stu Jolley, Stories and Ink: Growing with SEO and Artist Collab Content.

🥦 High Performance, Nutritionally Complete Marketing to $150M with Huel's Ben Bokaie.

⭕️ Turn Your Returns Into Exchanges With Aaron Schwartz from Loop.

Don’t forget to rate the DTC Podcast on Apple (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

DTC Newsletter is written by Rebecca Knight, Kelsey Hess, Kate Gullett, and Michael Venditti. Edited by Claire Beveridge and Eric Dyck.

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