DTC 10: 📦 Red sky at night, marketers delight
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

It’s been quite the week on the West Coast of North America, but like UPS, we soldier on, delivering goods rain, shine, or smoky haze.

We just turned 1️⃣0️⃣ issues old and we’re SO excited to welcome these formidable brands who’ve joined the DTC ranks in the last week: Adobe, Troubadour Goods, Kabo Dog Food, Wellness Mama, Forsake Leather Boots, and Drop.com.

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Here’s what you’re going to find jam-packed in this week’s UPS truck:

📦 How to build an e-commerce ads dashboard for total performance transparency

📦 A new way to use organic posting as a hedge in your media buying strategy

📦 Are you using this secret sales weapon? Get key insights and best practices on 2020’s most under-used tool

📦 How Afif Ghannoum built a publicity machine that has his brand approaching 7 figure monthly sales

📦 A subtle example of how Facebook’s machine learning is influencing ads in Instagram story placements. Can you spot the difference? 👀

📦 We have a question for you this week designed to help you think about a profit center in your brand’s marketing strategy

The sky might be a hazy shade of nuclear winter, but our hearts and minds are glowing with excitement for Q4 and the bright future of DTC.

Read to the end to learn the fallout from the Facebook Pixel wars and learn how S2S tracking might actually be superior to the crumbling cookie 🍪

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Is High-Volume Organic Content Key to Paid Ad Success?

As ad buyers, it’s easy to let organic media strategies fizzle on the back burner while we’re head-down in Ads Manager. But what if you could hedge your paid strategies by increasing the velocity and volume of your organic posting?

Chandler Welling helps DTC brands scale with content + activation, and organic posting is a cornerstone of his strategy.

Here’s why he recommends every brand post organically 3-6 times per day:

  • Engagement is every platform’s #1 metric for content quality -- this impacts your organic AND paid efficiency.
  • Copy, content, and the offer are the three pillars of an ecommerce brand’s success, and with a high-volume organic strategy, you can find what resonates with your audience for free.
  • If a post is performing well organically, it will perform well in ads. To find top performers on Instagram, for example, go to Insights, organize your content by engagement, and that’s where you’ll find your next best ad creative.
  • It gives you the ability to penetrate your existing audience more deeply: “If you’re only posting 2-3 times per week, only 5-10% of your audience is seeing your content. That means that the other 90% probably forgot they even follow you!”
  • While engagement may suffer at the beginning of a sustained high-volume strategy, it will begin to snowball as you reach more of your audience.
  • Remember the little things signal to Facebook that you’re a quality account -- from filling in your tax number in Business Manager to high-volume organic posting -- leading to lower CPMs 👌
  • Yields data from your true fans. Free from detailed targeting, lookalikes, custom audiences, geography, etc, we get a ‘truer’ sense of what our audience engages with. This helps inform paid media strategies.

Not convinced? Watch Chandler’s full presentation at Digital Startup on how he took one of his brands from $9M - $35M in 14 months with this organic posting strategy.

Are You Using This Secret Sales Weapon?

Do you know what can lead to a 24% increase in sales, 29% reduction in CPA, and 109% increase in ROAS?

Comment moderation, of course! 

We hit up Pilothouse’s Customer Engagement Specialist Maia Sampson to give us the brass tacks on spinning comments into sales.

A High-Performance Comment Moderator’s Process

First things, first: like and respond to every comment with a ‘thank you.’ After that, it’s about milking those comments for all they’re worth. 

Here’s how:

Customer Inquiries 

  • Answer the question to the best of your ability (this may involve some research)
  • Be open and transparent
  • If the answer involves directions, be as explicit as possible and include links whenever possible
  • Follow up whenever possible

Positive Feedback

  • Thank them for taking the time
  • Optional: ask a question to increase engagement, offer something back to them, or let them know how their comment has helped

Negative Feedback

  • Thank them for their comment
  • Apologize
  • Let them know what is being done to correct the situation
  • Correct the problem while following company policy
  • If needed, take the conversation out of the comments and respond through a direct message or ask them to email or call the company directly to resolve the issue.
  • Ask questions if more information is needed
  • Follow up if possible to ensure that the customer is satisfied

Think negative comments are bad? Think again. They’re actually a golden opportunity to bake authenticity into your brand:

  • 95% of online consumers are expecting to see some negative comments about your brand and by taking these away, customers tend to believe that you are untrustworthy and your positive comments are fake (Meyer 2020)
  • Seeing negative reviews lends the reader to perceive the company as being authentic and a brand’s authenticity is important to 86% of consumers (Meyer 2020) 
  • Consumers who receive a response to a negative comment within 5 minutes of posting their original comment are likely to spend up to $20 more on their purchases in the future (Meyer 2020)
  • Apologies are the most important part of responding to a negative comment. Of negative comments, 45% of people were looking for an apology whereas only 23% were looking for some form of compensation (Meyer 2020)

As you know, we like to let the data do the talking. Here are some additional goodies underscoring why customer engagement is more important than it’s ever been:

  • 44% of people believe that conversations with a brand via social media, phone, or email is more likely to persuade them to make a purchase than advertisements ("Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands And Social Media" 2018)
  • The average response rate from brands on facebook is only 9% 
  • 90% of social media messages to brands go ignored 
  • 91% of 18-34 year-olds trust online reviews and comments as much as personal recommendations

A.K.A. comment moderation could become a key differentiator for your brand

Want to chat about how a comment moderation strategy could help ‘blast off’ your media buying performance? Hit up our homeboi, Dan, for a chat.

Gut Instincts For Growth with BIOHM Health’s CEO Afif Ghannoum 

Our most recent podcast features BIOHM Health CEO Afif Ghannoum, who provided actionable insights on developing content to support your marketing initiatives, the benefits of ambassador programs, and the necessity of expertise in your field.  

A biotechnology attorney, and FDA regulatory expert, in addition to his role as CEO of BIOHM Health, Afif has launched three biotechnology companies with over $15 million in private equity financing, launched products in over 25,000 retail stores, and licenced technology to a global pharmaceutical company for a product sold in over 100,000 stores. 🤩

Watch the full podcast here, or read on for a summary of the key insights Afif brought to our table. 

His father is renowned scientist Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum, who made the breakthrough digestive health discovery that bacteria and fungi work together to dissolve digestive plaque in the gut. Recognizing an opportunity, Affif teamed with his father, leveraging his father’s expertise and landmark discovery to launch gut health company, BIOHM Health. BIOHM is currently seeing monthly sales approaching seven figures through tactics outlined here:  

🔑 Rapid Fire Mobilization

When you have the gut feeling (forgive me) that you have a hit on your hands - activate fast!  Knowing he had a clear differentiator in the flooded probiotic market, Afif saw potential and mobilized fast. BIOHM Heath was propelled from concept to execution in a mere six months. The hustle!

🔑 Expertise as Market Differentiator 

Build a product around expertise. Science is fundamental and non-negotiable when it comes to BIOHM. His father’s credentials in the niche field of gut fungi are BIOHM’s market differentiator.

Don’t have an expert? A lot of folks have expertise but don’t know how to market themselves. Approach experts with a following and partner to build and support your product. 

Universities can be amazing partners, just like our friends at Mid-Day Squares who developed their chocolate health confectionary in partnership with McGill over 5 years. 

🔑 Pink Ocean Innovation 

Wait. What? Enter a field where previous businesses have paved the way explaining to consumers what your product does and why they need it. Use that reserved bandwidth to focus your time, money, and energy on highlighting your product’s market differentiator. Listen to the pod or read Afif’s Forbes article on the subject for a full concept breakdown. 

🔑 Build a Content Echochamber 

A significant player in Afif’s BIOHM Health launch strategy was the creation of a content echo-chamber. Afif pursued high-profile publications, including Forbes, NPR, and GOOP, who published profiles on the burgeoning business, building momentum for a product launch that earned BIOHM $28,000 on their first day of sales. 

This credibility bolstering content is a prime advertising opportunity. Ad spends on high profile pieces that link to your site will ultimately drive traffic back to you. 

Here’s a breakdown of Afif’s strategy for pursuing reputable publications: 

1. Research - look at your industry and publications your audience relies on 

2. Pursue - reach out to your target publications, and be consistent and unrelenting in your follow-ups

3. Add Value - when pitching your story, explain how your story will drive traffic to their publication, how you are adding value for them 

4. Don’t be a d*ck - if you are kind and earnest, people will want to deal with you! Ultimately, you’re trying to provide compelling content to their audience - it’s a mutually beneficial dynamic.

🔑 Methodical Content Strategy 

To make high-level wellness topics accessible to consumers and promote BIOHM, Afif and team have created a content web that includes a podcast, weekly emails, and a high-traffic blog that all strategically connect to bolster marketing goals. 

Cultivating an audience and platform can be leveraged when seeking representation on other influential media. Use your platform as a bargaining chip offering coverage on your blog/podcast/e-blast in exchange for content on another party’s platform.

🔑 Ambassador Programs 

Like his approach to reputable publications, Afif is all about that cold-call outreach when it comes to influencers. Then, after a successful initial campaign, BIOHM offers influencers a spot in their ambassador program to earn 10-15% of their sales. While 90% of the ambassadors generate between 10-100 bucks a month, a few “whales” have generated shocking sales, including one super ambassador reaching a consistent $200,000 a month. 

Even those ambassadors that aren’t making the (!!!) $200,000 a month sales are highly valuable assets as they are the source of highly effective customer testimonials.

Want more? Join us on YouTube for your sneak preview of this week’s full DTC podcast. You’ll learn about Afif’s compelling start to his business, his approaches to maintaining your EBIDTA, and the benefits of hyper authenticity in influencers, catch the full conversation here. You’ll leave with top-notch DTC tips and some handy article recommendations for maintaining your gut health! What can we say -  we care! 

Also, if you’re keen on “rethinking your gut” and are interested in BioHm’s total Microbiome approach to health, use DTC10 for 10% off your first order. 

Machine Learning In the Wild

Sometimes when you creep up on it just right, you can see the Facebook algorithm at work…

Pilothouse media buyer, Sam Postuk slacked this Burger King ad featuring 1x1 inventory with the background blown up. “The middle bit is clickable and shows the copy and if you tap the image it brings you to the landing page.“ Looks sweet to us. 

Grayson Rudzki points out his 1x1 ads have been this way since Sept 14, though slightly different in terms of headline and framing.

You can see the split tests happening in real time as Zucks magnificent machine keeps on learning. 🤖 

Another reason why you should always be testing new ad units! You never know when the algo will be working it’s magic. 

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The big opportunity for DTC readers is getting access to world-class meetings. In the first three weeks of our partnership with Vested Interest and Gorgias, 10 DTC subscribers have landed meetings that are sure to change the game for their business.

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How’s Your Influencer Game? We Want To Know!

There’s a simple truth in advertising that we don’t like to admit: most people hate ads. But when you collaborate with influencers to get your message out, it’s like a flip switches in our prospect’s mind, and they become far more receptive. 

Then when you can create an echo chamber of different voices supporting your brand that funnels your prospect to purchase you can see results like these:

Ask Purelei’s John Hagan how he was able to the following in ONE year: 

  • Lift ROAS by 82.01%...
  • Decrease cost per add to cart by 33.63%... 
  • Decrease CPM by 19.26…

...And he’ll tell you that it was through a powerful influencer marketing system!

At the same time, DTC brands tell us their greatest pain point is building influencer marketing into their strategy.

So we want to help. When it comes to influencers in your marketing strategy, where are you at and what would you like to learn more about?

Send us a note eric@directtoconsumer.co

Things We Loved This Week


🔮 Tik Tok News: Mad Money’s Jim Cramer reports that on Tuesday, Trump will approve Oracle’s deal to become a “trusted technology provider” for ByteDance’s TikTok. Trump threatened to ban the app by Sept 20th if anything short of an outright purchase of the Chinese asset, but has spoken “tremendously” of Oracle’s founder Larry Ellison, so we’ll see just how much the US gov trusts the data tech giant. For an excellent deep dive on what this move means about “the real power of Tik Tok users,” check out Glossy.

🐦 Tweet Thread: @timesnewrohan asks #DTC twitter: Where should new brands without big followings or sizable budgets focus in order to grow? The best answers in the thread focus on getting scrappy, starting with your personal networks and Facebook groups, finding people who like your product and going deep with them about why. Building your story and developing some earned media gives you great inertia which will help make other connections as well as sales. 

🎥 Movie: I braved the wasteland to sit in a plexiglass encased recliner that smelled of Clorox to see Christopher Nolan’s newest mindf%^! of a movie, TENET. Basically James Bond on acid, TENET asks the question: What if the future wanted to erase the past? Early on, the protagonist is told “Don’t try to understand it, feel it.” If you go see it, take that advice to heart and be blown away by the spectacle, the scale, the technology, and the palindromic story (same forwards and backwards) that you’ll only have a high level understanding of at best.

🦉Twitter Research: Twitter is an absolute trove of data for understanding cultural sentiments so you can better “message the moment,” with your DTC brand. This Twitter report focuses on Back to School sentiment, and reports that “now’s a good time for brands to be supportive — be it via comfy clothes, self-care recs, or a simple shoutout. People want to know you have their backs.” Nothing revolutionary here, but worth considering!

📚 Article: We couldn’t peel our eyes from this sneak-attack on influencer’s bookshelves. Jason Miller points out the books on shelves of several keynote speakers at ActiveCampaign’s This Just Works ‘anti-conference.’ Read up to speed up!

🐦 Tweet: David Perell shares a sentiment we’re familiar with: 3 hours of creative work can take an entire day. If you’re looking for reassurance that you’re not the slowest creative in the world, just go check out the comments.

S2S Bright Future: @CoryDobbin tweeted a solid scoop about server to server tracking’s (S2S) bright future as the Facebook pixel’s main targeting tether, even in the face of degraded cookie data from iOS and Google. Cory states S2S will “allow us to gather data even if the user is running an ad blocker. Also, it will be integrated with Shopify by month's end as a simple toggle on their pixel page instead of having to be coded.” It’s going to be rocky losing cookies, but ultimately developments like these show DTC marketers a bright future of even higher data fidelity.  

📰 Facebook Update: Facebook will soon limit the number of active ads an account can run. “We discovered that four in ten running ads fail to exit the learning phase, and many of these ads come from advertisers running too many ads at the same time.” It seems Facebook wants advertisers to continue to simplify and let the platform do the work. We’re in favor. 

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