DTC 23: 📦 The Season’s Best Creative
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

Heyoo, and welcome to DTC number 23, a magic prime number favored by Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash. He believed that the number 23 has a unique role in human relationships and it held a special significance for his work.

We just like that it rhymes with DTC 🤷‍♂️

👋 Before we go more ‘Beautiful Mind’ on you, let’s welcome new members Hiya Health, Henry’s Skincare, Kion, Stable of Ireland, Asutra, Rudolph Foods, Uiltje Brewing Co, and many others joining us in the last week.

This PRIME edition is packed with topics that will bear special significance to your bottom line:

📦 Everything you need to know to profit with Pins on Pinterest 

📦 A CRO tool called a FOGG Analysis that will help clarify your landing page optimization process

📦 Hot tips from the Pilothouse creative ‘brain trust’ for simple tactics you can apply to creatives TODAY

📦 “Put a bow on it” -- Holiday creative highlights you should already be running

📦 A DTC brand gives a masterclass in positioning by creating a cookie dough that’s... healthy.

Stick around until the end and discover ONE formatting mistake on your Shopify store that instantly makes people think you’re a low-quality dropshipper 👀 

The Fogg Behavioural Approach To CRO

At Pilothouse, our team never stops. We’re always learning and growing. Last week, Jake from the Pilothouse team took a course on Landing Page CRO activation and motivating behaviour using the Fogg Behavioural Model. 

He was kind enough to summarize his learnings and provide the useful graphic below. Take a read, and think about how you could start applying this useful behavioural modelling tool to your marketing strategy! 

Ok, cool. But what does this mean for my marketing strategy? 

Bottom line: your strategy needs to include the three elements of motivation, ability, and trigger to persuade your audience to act. 

Start with an analysis of your offering and marketing strategy to determine in which of these categories you might be lacking. 

The goal is to put yourself in your user’s shoes then determine where they land on the curve by considering:  

  • How much am I asking them to do? How challenging is the task? (The cost of purchase, length of sign up, etc.) 
  • How motivated are they to complete the task? 

Once you know where your users land on the graph, you can start thinking about your angles to convert them through the entire funnel. 

Work with your prompts (copy, CTA’s, images, videos) so that they speak to users’ behavioural instincts and help them jump over any motivational or ability-based hurdles. 

If your users are already motivated by the reward, don’t drill down on the reward in your copy. Focus instead on how easy the task is - use your copy to convert them over any objections they might have to obtain the reward. 

For a product that doesn’t have highly motivated buyers, focus on different motivations they could adopt, such as why your product is the best in the market or how it will improve their life. 

There ya go! If you want a deeper dive into Fogg Behaviour modelling, check out BJ Fogg’s original paper and his website & newsletter.  

Next DTC+ Workshop

[Special Founders Offer + Great Gift Idea] Become a DTC+ Member today and get instant access to our previous workshops, the DTC Newsletter Vault, podcast Q&As, brainstorm mixers (with eggnog), and much more.

You’ll also get access to our upcoming Stand Out With Snapchat Workshop.

We only have about 50 spots remaining for our DTC Founders offer: 50% off the annual package. 

Join us today with coupon code ‘dtcfounders’. 

Even if you only take advantage of the workshops, that works out to less than $38 per workshop. 🤯

AKNF Insights

This week’s All Killer No Filler features the Pilothouse Creative Team sharing their top tips & tricks for creating scroll-stopping creative while balancing performance with polish. 

We brought together Creative Director Cam Wind, Creative Designer Robin Holdsworth, and Content Manager Evan O’Gorman to discuss the setup and strategy that goes into a high functioning creative team. 

Here are some top creative hacks from the pod, starting with a solid value rocket that came up towards the end of the cast: Look at these creatives 👀

🎨  Negative space for positive results

Negative space is often overlooked in ad creative. Cam suggests shrinking your image by 20% and using the negative space to make the image pop. This slight visual overhang will instantly set your creative apart from other ads in the newsfeed and give depth to your ad. 

Test this ASAP and let us know how it does. It won’t work forever, but for now, it’s an effective pattern disruptor. Bonus points for testing it as a video!

🎨  Behind-the-scenes creative works 

Consider using creative that features photos of your packaging, or a distribution centre, or your products in a pile - these behind the scenes images crusshh. Same for creative showcasing of the team behind the brand - audiences love to  sneak a peek behind the curtain. This type of content succeeds because audiences don’t immediately recognize that they’re looking at an ad. They’re also a great tool to push urgency at the BOF. Try an image of your remaining stock next to copy about having limited product remaining - let us know how it works for you! 

🎨  Let performance dictate creative 

Our creative team determined that this was likely their most significant learning in the industry. Performance is the biggest source of direction when it comes to creative planning and directing our creative energy. Go back to the data, and prioritize proven creative concepts that audiences respond to. Build from there. 

Relentlessly iterate until you’re confident you have a top performing creative (then keep polishing and try five more versions). 

🎨  Polish and design ≠ performance 

The job’s not easy. You only have a tiny box to work with and an extremely short window of time to 1. Stop people from scrolling, and 2. Display your product in a pleasing, polished, and professional way. 

There’s no point in having ads perfected from a design perspective if they’re just going to be scrolled by. 

The team has seen success with content that could be perceived as ugly. The strategy is an intentional (and performance-backed) break with design norms to disrupt scroll patterns. These less than cute visuals stop audiences in their tracks - “wait...what am I looking at!?” - and are particularly impactful at the top of the funnel. 

You need to be clever to grab attention and convey value, but it’s not always pretty. 

📦 Listen to the full pod for a breakdown of how we structure our creative team, creative resource suggestions, a sweet Se7en reference, a Carrot Top reference, and behind-the-scenes intel on Pilothouse’s 4000 push up day. 

Interested in learning more about the Pilothouse creative offerings? Fill out this quick survey.

Pattern Brands—An Interview with General Manager, Katy Marshall

On the latest episode of the DTC Growth Show podcast, where we talk to Katy Marshall, the General Manager of Pattern Brands. We speak with her about the importance of impact versus complexity so that she can not just execute something for one brand but execute across the family of Pattern Brands.

Check it out here.

Podcast Insights

Lindsay Shearer is a renowned Pinterest SEO specialist and the owner of Pinterest-focused digital marketing agencies Pins 4 Profit and Launch Mastery Marketing. She has 16 years of digital marketing experience and has helped multiple brands grow and scale their 7, 8 and 9 figure brands. 

Here are some Pinterest-y pro-tips from the pod: 

📌 Why you should consider Pinterest 

  • Pinterest has crazy cheap CPM’s (especially when compared to Facebook) and drives good, high-quality traffic. 
  • Delving into Pinterest is a great move when you already have a brand and product that works and are considering scale, growth, and filling your funnels. It’s a great diversification move, as it avoids reliance on one source of traffic. 
  • Pinterest’s audience is 83% female. If you’re a beauty brand, hair brand, makeup brand, in home decor, or fashion - this is an excellent spot for you. 

📌  What to consider when starting paid ads on Pinterest 

  • Patience is key when it comes to paid traffic on Pinterest. If you aren’t willing to flesh out a process and be patient - this isn’t the platform for you!
  • You also require a healthy budget to start things up on Pinterest - so this strategy likely isn’t for you if you’re just starting. Lindsay recommends a $3-5k monthly budget with a 4-6 month commitment. Go all in and take the time to make it work. 
  • Their metrics are more challenging to track than on other platforms - so brace yourself. 
  • Pinterest fosters a different, more discovery-focused kind of consumption than other platforms. Pinterest-ers are there to plan their purchase and look for inspiration. They often save, then return later to purchase. Again, patience is key here. 

📌 What to consider with your organic Pinterest content 

  • The lifespan of an image on Pinterest is way longer than on other platforms. Lindsay has 5-year old pins that are still generating traffic. Make sure you’re going back and checking your old links work!

📌  Guide to Pinterest creatives 

  • It’s all about volume and consistency with your pinned content - you’ll want to be pinning a few times a week. 
  • Focus on high-quality images and content customized for Pinterest that look native to the platform (for example, longer image sizes and super short videos perform well)
  • Think inspirational! Pinterest is a DIY centred platform with a blogging atmosphere: Think about how to remodel your living room, how to plan a wedding, how to throw a party. 
  • Tip: Lindsay finds that lifestyle images perform 90% better on the platform. 

Hack: Yes, you need consistent content, but that doesn’t mean you need to be continually outputting new blog posts and new products. Focus instead on creating new pins for your evergreen content, and link out from there. For example, you can have multiple pins using different creative linking to the same blog content. 

📦 Listen to the full pod for the most overlooked step when starting a brand, optimizing keywords for the holidays, and a handy list of events you should be attending!

Holiday Creative Corner

We asked Alex Ortega, Content Manager at Pilothouse, to geek out about his favorite creative client Wüfers, cookie boxes for dogs and to share some strategies that we’ve used to stand out this holiday season.

What makes Wüfers creative such a win?

Wüfers is unique in that the product itself is so aesthetically pleasing. With beautiful designs and strong creative content from their team, often it’s static imagery showcasing the cookies in a bright setting that performs best. 

We also love Wüfers because they have such a high end internal content team. They have very high brand standards for their content and they pump new stuff out for us to test every week. It’s a pleasure to take their pristine images and make it stand out in the newsfeed, like this example where the social proof logos pop in the centre of the grid.

What creative is working this holiday season?

This holiday season, we set out to build a variety of simplified, minimally-designed, creatives that showcased the product’s design and variety.

We found that grid-based creative layouts performed best. For example, 4-panel layouts that showcased a variety of SKU’s or featured one SKU with multiple images - whether lifestyle or product - was our fundamental creative layout in Q4. 

Why I think these performed well as ads is because of their simplicity and ability to showcase variety. When someone is scrolling through their feeds, they are presented with an ad that gives them a literal visual feast (but for dogs). The ad gives them options and gives them a better understanding of what Wüfers is at any stage in the funnel. Variety also instantly builds an element of trust, as it shows you’re not a one-trick-pony. 🐴

Keep the hands in the picture 🖐

When we started with Wüfers, we focused on standalone product shots, but we’ve quickly discovered how important it is to also feature shots of the cookies being held.

Why do they work? It’s easier for people to imagine themselves in the ad when they see the human features. I also think it’s because it showcases the product in a more direct way, focusing on the details, and because it offers negative space that is attractive to the eye and allows for room to add messaging. 

With Wüfers, we’re pretty dialed in with what’s going to work but try to keep a healthy amount of room open for creative testing of videos, GIFs, UGC, etc. We’ve had some success, but these pieces of content are our go-to for scaling. 

If you’ve got a pet who deserves an amazing treat this holiday season, check out Wüfers 🐶

Last Minute Holiday Creative Inspiration

Your holiday creatives are already dialed, but here are a few of our favorite performers this year. 

And here’s a little Tik Tok holiday inspo: 


Plus, for your copywriting needs, the essential emojipedia is at your service with its list of Christmas related emojis. 🎅 🎄 🤶 ❄🎁 ☃

Things We Loved This Week

📈 Rising Facebook CPM’s: In recent months, we’ve seen Facebook’s CPM’s rise to between $14-$17, causing media buyers to look more heavily into Snapchat, Tik Tok, Pinterest, and even Hulu ads. On top of increased CPMs, Facebook has struggled with its Ad Manager platform breaking down on multiple occasions this year. Shopify’s integration with Snapchat, Pinterest, and Tik Tok makes diversifying even harder for media buyers to resist. As always, testing is crucial before making any type of leap away from FB. 

🛍 Shopping Reels: Instagram announced that businesses and creators will now have the ability to tag products in reels. This update allows users to shop throughout every nook and cranny of Instagram (Feed, Stories, IGTV, Live, and Reels). The e-commerce battle between Tik Tok and Reels is about to get toasty. 

😬 Nostalgia & DTC:  Nostalgia reminds us of happier times, and for many brands, it’s a perfect entryway into consumers’ minds. We see it used in advertisements mainly, but recently DTC brands are taking it a step further. “While ads that remind consumers of their youth are able to help move products, actual products that are better versions of the things consumers bought in their youth are even more appealing.” Behave, NUGGS, and OffLimits are three brands placing heavy nostalgia in both brand and product. While effective upfront, nostalgia begins to wear off as consumers demand products that not only remind them of happier times but also contribute towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A difficult balancing act. 

🐦 Tweet: @irishecom is back with a great tweet outlining the biggest giveaway that your store is low quality -- a one-sided product description page. Newbies take note!

🧵2020's Top DTC Moments: From the FTC denying Edgewell’s acquisition of Harry’s to the “e-commerce gold rush,” where 10 years of ecom growth happened in 8 weeks, direct-to-consumer had a wild 2020. @digitallynative sums it up in this killer thread. 

🥩DTC Trends: DTC Meat is a big pandemic winner according to this report by Progressive Grocer: “in March, Omaha Steaks experienced almost 300% year-over-year growth, compared to 138% for Butcherbox and 134% for Crowd Cow. By April, Omaha Steaks’s growth reached nearly 800%.

🆕 Tinned Fish: We’re sharks when discovering new DTC brands and this week was no different. Sustainably sourced seafood company Fishwife offers albacore tuna, smoked salmon, and olive oil-soaked Sardines delivered to your home from oceans around the world. Based in L.A, the female-founded company was created and launched during the pandemic and has had early success selling out their smoked salmon. The brand's European-inspired design elements and sustainability priorities help it stand out amongst category leaders. 

🏋🏻‍♀️ Athletic Brands: Forbes breaks down why athletic brands have been market and innovation leaders in the DTC space, saying “these brands embrace individuality and customer feedback in design and are driven by a young, digitally savvy audience. It’s the passion of the athletic wear consumer that has spawned so many new entrants in recent years, with newcomers like Allbirds and Outdoor Voices gaining almost cult-like followings in seemingly no time.” 

🎵 2020 Tik Tok Trends: It’s the month of “Best Of’s” and Tik Tok hopped aboard, highlighting brands and campaigns that inspired us this year. Our favorite snippet from the report: “43% of heavy Tik Tok users feel that the advertising on TikTok seamlessly blends in with the organic content enjoyed on the “For You” feed. The brand prides itself on their “Don’t make ads, make Tik Toks” ethos, and it’s clearly paying off as the platform is one of the best at ad integration. 

💁‍♀️ Negotiating Influencers: Working with influencers can be overwhelming. Negotiating price and deliverables is tricky especially with agents trying to squeeze every dollar. Influencer marketer @cody_wittick shares excellent tips for negotiations and walks through a case study between Dale Earnhardt Jr and Qalo rings. Check it out.

🍪 Healthy Cookie Dough: Vegan and Gluten-Free cookie dough used to be all the hype, but a new DTC brand Duex is taking things a step further. They’ve introduced cookie dough with vitamins, protein, and even collagens. While it may seem like an odd combination, it perfectly aligns with the values of Gen Z and Millenials who demand products that not only taste great but support your health. As a result, we have “Cookie dough that’s actually good for you.” We’ll be conducting a taste test ASAP! 

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