DTC 26: 📦 DTC Double Down
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

Welcome to the first DTC Newsletter of 2021. 🥳

We hope you all enjoyed a restful holiday and are refreshed, rejuvenated, and revved up for Q1! 

👋 First time here? You’re not alone. Welcome to some of the brands who’ve joined us for the new year: Ranch Rider Spirits, Stoop, Ricoh, Honest Grapes, Brooklyn Soap Company, Forage Kombucha, BEVVO, Fruits for Drinks, and The Great Frog London. 

Here’s what you can look forward to in the first issue of 2021: 

📦 Top 2020 insights from the DTC community on what to double down on in 2021

📦 Breaking down the IOS14 update and how to best mitigate its impact

📦 Explore the benefits of radical personalization with our most recent podcast guest Brennan Dunn 

📦 Interested in the wellness space? Take a read through predicted trends for 2021 to see if you’re on the right path.

Read until the end for a Facebook Ads link tactic that increased RoAS by 25%. Put it into effect and you might just be toasting DTC all year long :D

In the final days of 2020, I asked past DTC Podcast guests and my network to tell me the tactic, strategy, or mindset that helped them most in 2020, along with some specific action steps on how to double down on it in 2021. 

We curated a full smorgasbord of excellent insights, which we’ll release over the next few weeks. 

📦 Focus, but for real

Molly Borman - JustNips4All.com

This year, I'm doubling down on focus! 

If I’m working on a project, I will be working on that project. If I need to be deep in a spreadsheet for 5 hours, I will tragically put my head down and inhale the entire spreadsheet. 

Sure, I could multitask, and sure, I could answer emails while going through data dumps, but no. Not this year! 

I let shiny toy syndrome get the best of me last year, as the pandemic panic became the perfect breeding ground to grasp at every single straw, new idea and partnership that came my way. It was exhilarating but horribly exhausting and inefficient. 

So, with that, I hereby declare, no more shiny toys for me this year, or at least until February!

📦 Never stop copywriting

Stu Mason - Pilothouse Sr. Media Buyer

As an ad buyer, it’s easy to focus on Facebook Ads’ technical side and forget the power of copywriting. Copywriting is a huge lever you can pull to scale horizontally to unlock new audiences, refresh old creative, and try new angles. 

You should be feeding the machine as often as you can with new writing. To action on this: each morning, write three new ads before you do anything. If you've followed the Pilothouse way, you'll have a testing campaign that can have these new ads running in under five minutes.

📦 Be different, not better

Dave Huffman - Microbe Formulas

Brand differentiation is not about being better...it’s about being different. 

No one cares how much better you are. Communicate how you are different, and now you’ve got their attention. 

The best way to figure this out is to pick up the phone and talk to your customers. Yes, you can read reviews, etc...but going deep on this one will pay off exponentially. 

Open Shopify, go to Customers, sort by Amount Spent to get your highest LTV customers, then start emailing them to schedule 30 minute calls. Offer an Amazon gift card for their time. Record the calls via Zoom and disseminate to your team.

It’s old school as hell and it takes time, but the conversations you have will uncover nuances you can’t get by reading reviews alone. The nuances are where the 10x ideas are...they’ll help you uncover differentiators and customer avatars you never considered. 

I’ve spent 30 hours talking to customers in 2020 and I plan to triple that in 2021.

📦 Multivariate & A/B testing on landing pages, consistently

Tyler Garner - Standout Social

Many brands keep sending cold paid traffic to product pages and have the nerve to complain about poor ROI 😵

This year, landing page testing was our biggest area of impact. We managed to 4x our conversion rate from 2% up to 8%. 

It was the only thing that got us through Q4 Facebook Ads CPM’s 😅

To action today: Hook up Google Optimize with Hotjar and set up a heat map. Look at the biggest drop-off points on the landing page. Replace what’s currently there with a stronger section or  CTA / product offer. This tests whether it improves the scroll depth and/or conversion rate overall.

Testing product imagery used on the page surprisingly makes a big difference too.

Overall, the biggest takeaway is watch recordings (with Hotjar or other service) of customers and how they interact with your landing pages, watch where they click/tap, pay attention to what they’re reading and when/if they get confused and whether they leave or not.

Then, come up with a hypothesis on what the issue may/may not be and set it up in Optimize to test against!

📦 Returning customers + more products

Josh Elizetxe - Snow Oral Care

(that’s the tweet)

📦 Creative ABCs - Always be clever

Robin Holdsworth - Pilothouse Designer

Use imagery that conveys the message rather than using literal words. 

Emotion and sensation can be derived from a photograph far better than copy.

Determine where you want the eye to go by using visual hierarchy in your creative. Visual weight and rational gravity can manipulate the eye, and lead it to CTAs or products.

📦 Just do it - test DIY product photos

Evan O’Gorman - Pilothouse Content Manager

2021 is the year of testing mass content. 

Whether you're experiencing creative burnout, or don’t have the resources to get clean, polished, creative on demand, do the following: 

Take a ton of photos and videos of your product in its packaging. No need to stage them, just throw ‘em onto a table. The more you can get into the image the better. Ideally, take some in your warehouse, where there are stacks of products. This is particularly effective with urgency/low stock angles and promos.

📦 Pre-orders for the win

Grayson Rudzki - Pilothouse Sr. Media Buyer

If you're upfront and honest about shipping times, pre-orders are an amazing way to increase runway and gain momentum. 

What’s amazing is that you’ll often get similar CPAs to regular orders. 

We love it because it allows us to seamlessly navigate inventory issues. 

Brands love it because it helps them avoid markdowns and dead stock. 

We will be doubling down on this with more clients in 2021.

📦 Perfect… is fucking stupid

Charley Tichenor - Pilothouse Sr. Buyer

All you can ever achieve is directional information -- binary choices of “yes” or “no.” You’ll never get the perfect answer, the perfect flow, the perfect offer, the perfect ad. 

In the pursuit of perfection, you’ll miss opportunity and waste valuable time and money.

The solution for 2021? Choose better goalposts! 

  • Is this month better than last?
  • Are you better this week than expected?

These are the only qualitative questions of real value.

We’ll double down again with Part 2 next week!

Facebook vs IOS 14 - A Rundown

The basics: 

Apple’s iOS 14 will require all apps to display an App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt that will require users to opt-in or out to allow advertisers access to their data. The more users who opt-out, the less data Facebook advertisers will have - not good. 

While 72% of iOS users have already updated to iOS14, Apple hasn’t yet publicly released the update prompting users with their ad ultimatum, specifying that it will happen “early in 2021.”

Facebook is furious with the update and placed ads in the NYT, WSJ, and Financial Times writing “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”  

What this means for advertisers:  

  • Less data = sad algo: Facebook is going to have less data in its arsonal to make decisions (although we’re still unsure as to how much less and how it will impact things overall). iOS users are a huge subset of the online purchasers group -- if they don’t feed data back to FB, this will, no doubt, affect the algo’s ability to make decisions. 
  • Incomplete data: This will affect the number of conversions that Facebook can track and the audiences they can target. Zuck won’t be able to share all the data he used to with all of us advertisers. 
  • Fewer events: You’ll have the ability to use only 8 conversion events per domain and you’ll have to rank them based on priority. 
  • Less attribution: Attribution and reporting windows will be moving from 28 days to 7 days (back end performance may be exactly the same, but it will look different). Bye-bye 28 day click, 7 day view. 
  • Reporting is going to get muddier: Beyond just shorter attribution windows, FB is going to be using more statistical modelling (best guess) instead of actual data for opted out iOS users. Some of these guesses may be delayed by up to 3 days. That means that your reporting accuracy is probably not going to be quite as good as it used to.

Inhale. Now exhale. We all need a deep breath after reading that. We’re not gonna sugar coat it, these are big changes that will likely impact your campaigns. This also isn't the first time we’ve seen these data gaps. Think GDPR, Calafornia, etc.

It’s a bit scary but it’s not the end of the world. These are big changes for FB advertisers, but DTC’s got your back. We’re continuing to gather as much information as possible and we’ll keep you updated across the newsletter, Twitter and Instagram. For now, check out the action items. 

Key action items to do today:  

  • Install/update the conversion API (CAPI) - super important 🚨
  • Verify your domain(s). Here are the outlined steps via Facebook.  
  • Determine your top 8 conversion events. Rank these based on your businesses’ goals.
  • Focus on angles and go HEAVY on creative testing. It’s the biggest lever you have to connect with customers without relying on Facebook’s targeting. (If you’re looking for more info on how to do this effectively, look through your inbox for our newsie on gold coin testing or join DTC+ for all of our content on demand 😀)

Our take:

Embrace the change. The jury is still out on how this is actually going to affect things (we won’t really know until we understand the rate at which iOS users are opting in or out). It will have an impact, but keep in mind that everyone is in this together -- every brand, every agency, every marketer AND Facebook (and it’s stock price). Staying informed is the best approach. Change is inevitable. We will all adapt. 

Dig deeper below 👇 

An Interview with Privy CMO, Dave Gerhardt

On the latest episode of the DTC Growth Show podcast, we talk to Dave Gerhardt, the CMO of Privy, and the host of the “Ecommerce Marketing" show.

 Dave—previously the VP of Marketing at Drift—is setting out to help e-commerce entrepreneurs build their businesses and wants Privy to become a leader in e-commerce marketing and education for small businesses.

Health & Wellness Trends for 2021

With the start of a new year, conversations inevitably pivot to resolutions and plans for self-improvement. 

Eat healthier foods, be more active, find balance - you know the drill. 

With the onslaught of “new year new me” content, we thought now was a good time to dive into some predicted wellness trends for 2021. 

Whether you’re planning a new product, adding to a line, or just looking for a hot New Year’s angle, this piece is packed with good ideas about the future of the $4.5 TRILLION global wellness market. 

For many, wellness is a market saturated with highly alienating, often condescending, and frequently inaccessible products just asking to be mocked (I KNOW some readers have 🔥hot takes🔥 on THAT Goop candle). 

Despite accusations of “McMindfulness” and supporting a Wellness Industrial Complex - this industry isn’t going away.  

After a challenging year that saw an increase in ice cream sales and a decrease in deodorant sales, accompanied by an upswing in stress, anxiety, and depression due to *gestures wildly at all of this,* wellness is increasingly on the minds of consumers who had a less than ideal 2020. 

The overarching themes for health and wellness in 2021 are approachable, manageable, and seamless solutions that transition the wellness space from exclusive to inclusive with an increased awareness of mindfulness. 

Let’s dive into some specifics: 

😴  Sleepcare

There’s a $432 billion sleep market - and we still aren’t sleeping.

In a year where 60% of us have experienced worse than usual sleeping patterns, sleep is a renewed priority for many. A good night’s sleep is increasingly viewed as the foundation of self-care and healthy living.

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) predicts a shift in focus from generic sleep solutions to circadian health optimization. The TIMING of biology, of our sleep, and of all brain and body systems controlled by the circadian clock, will be our new focus. Priority will move away from sleep and towards a more fulsome “circadian rhythm optimization focus.”

Look for: 

  • Biodynamic lighting solutions
  • Circadian eating 
  • Audio stimuli ASMR & soothing soundtracks 
  • Sleep-inducing diffuser blends & other luxurious bedtime routines 
  • Sleep yoga & before sleep workouts
  • Natural sleep aids

💪  At-home fitness 

No surprises here. Fitness has become increasingly important as more of us are sitting all day.

In 2019, a mere 7% of consumers used live-streamed workouts; during COVID-19, this increased to over 80%. 

💻 Rise of telehealth 

Remember WAITING ROOMS!? 2020’s move to telehealth is a major disruptor for the medical industry. 

No doubt, 2020 was a year of heightened mental health awareness accompanied by an expanding category of mental health tech. We’ll likely see increased virtual therapy and support groups, alongside mindfulness apps, wearables, chatbots and other resources that help manage our anxieties and emotions and embrace both convenient treatment and a focus on self-care. 

You can also expect to see a rise in direct to consumer home testing services alongside a fertility tech boom, as reproductive health and assistance increasingly moves to the mainstream leveraging tech to provide new solutions.

🥗 Fuelling immunity

We’ve all got illness on the brain and are doing everything we can to ensure our wellness. Glamour predicts an increased emphasis on nutrient-rich foods that build the body’s immunity in the new year. 

Covid has seen a major jump in liquor sales and consumption. We get it, it’s been tough. But consumers are starting to look for that feeling of indulgence - minus the hangover. There’s an opportunity for healthier alcohol substitutes and mood-enhancing beverages. 

Look for: 

  • Emphasis on healthy, nutrient-rich foods that build the body’s immunity 
  • Clean eating, superfoods, and foods that prompt healthy gut bacteria
  • Vitamins and supplements industry becoming more approachable and playful
  • Increased awareness and acceptance of mood enhancers: both supplements and infused into food, beverage, and personal care products
  • Sustainable packaging 
  • Community-focused food supply chains 

❤️ Focus on intimacy 

The pandemic has initiated a reassessment of intimacy with website traffic for sex-focused businesses and sex toy sales surging during lockdown. In April 2020, BuzzFeed reported that sex toy sales were up nearly 600% compared to April 2019. According to Digiday, publishers like BuzzFeed and The Strategist are capitalizing on that trend after seeing their own conversions on this product category increase during the pandemic.

✨ Manifestation Techniques 

According to Pinterest, “Manifesting is the new nesting,” as searches for "manifestation techniques" exploded by 105% on their platform in 2020. 

For the uninitiated, manifesting is the technique of identifying what it is you really want and putting it out into the universe by saying it out loud. Planting the seed, then backing it up with action. The idea is that by curating your thoughts, you'll overcome obstacles like fear, self-doubt and procrastination. 

Other more woo woo mystically focused trends saw a rise in Pinterest searches, such as protection crystals, which saw a 100% search increase. Keep an eye out for more alternative spiritual methods entering the mainstream. 

🏠 “Wellterior” Design 

When your home is also your office, gym, restaurant, spa, and social hub - odds are you’re going to want to invest in the space. With the likely trend of more flexible at-home work on the horizon, customers will only be more focused on cultivating an at-home oasis. 

2020 saw an uptick in home tech like air purifiers, thermostats and fragrance diffusers, and the ball should keep rolling into the new year. 

Pinterest noticed a particular focus on the at-home bath experience with searches for "bath tea recipe" up 60% and "deep soaking bath" increased by 145%. People are looking for an upgraded at-home spa experience for self-care and escapism.

🧘‍♀️  Mindfulness 

Meditation and mindfulness are the fastest growing health trends in the US, with nearly 40% of people reporting weekly meditation and breathwork sessions. The US meditation industry is now worth $1B, according to IBISWorld.

Consumers are looking for simple solutions for stress, anxiety, burnout or exhaustion.

Pinterest saw a 3x increase in searches for mindfulness activities for children on their platform. 

Pinterest suggests that tech brands or app services can promote morally-minded streaming content for children. Consumer goods can use creative assets to encourage parents to add a positive note in a kid’s lunch box, or add mindfulness reminders on their school supplies or at-home study space.

👵🏻 Ageing, but like, cool

According to GWI today’s 60+ generation is ageing radically different from those in the past. They’re starting businesses, running marathons and (were) travelling wildly *looks longingly at suitcase.* They’re a powerful demographic that, in countries like the US, hold the highest percentage of disposable income. Yet the “silver economy” attracts only 10 percent of marketing budgets. That could change in 2021, as The World Health Organization projects the 60+ population will nearly double from 12 to 22 percent by 2050.  

DTC Podcast: Radical Personalization 

Brennan Dunn is the co-founder of RightMessage, a tool that helps make automated segmentation and website personalization easy for any business. He’s also the founder of Double Your Freelancing, providing resources and training for over 50,000 firms and freelancers. 

We know that niched offerings outperform generic ones, but Brennan takes personalization to the next level. Brennan’s area of expertise is dynamic niching -- on the fly, data-informed curation of messaging to appeal to each individual customer. 

If you care about simple ways to increase conversions, and your customer personalization is limited to *|FNAME|*, THIS is the pod for you. 

Listen for value bombs on: 

💣 Personalizing CTA’s based on where someone is in your offer funnel

💣 Using data to personalize your opt-in forms and increase conversions

💣 Low hanging fruit: are you missing an opportunity to convert returning visitors to your site? 

You can take a listen to the full pod here, or head to YouTube for the video experience. 

Starting out on Snapchat? Here are a few pointers that will make your Snapchat Ads shine:

👻 Showcase your product with captivating visuals

  • Use full-screen, vertical images/video that aim to inspire and educate
  • Feature the product front and centre to drive purchase intent 

👻  Audio is in 

  • While 85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute, 60% of Snap Ads are watched with audio on. Sound is an integral part of the experience with users expecting sound while on the app
  • When you use sound on Snapchat Ads, make sure it’s integral to the ad rather than an add-on to grab attention 

👻  Create ads that entertain 

  • Snapchat’s ad success relies on entertainment, if your ad doesn’t immediately captivate the users, they’ll skip past it
  • Keep ads quick and colorful
  • It’s better to leave them wanting more, than to have audiences swipe away from your story 

👻  Drive urgency with compelling language 

  • To drive sales, add any relevant message to the opening frame 
  • Your copy should be easy to understand, displayed from the beginning of your ad, and be localized for your audience
  • Include any relevant offers or specials to help drive consideration 

👻  Link directly to your product or category page 

  • Don’t let your audience drop off because they can’t find your product -- link to the exact product page you’re promoting 
  • Direct linking is critical for impressions and conversions

👻  Make your ads feel native to Snapchat 

  • Bite-sized linear storytelling is key (think 5-6 seconds) 
  • Sticking to the Snapchat standard will allow your brand to engage with potential customers in a way that feels organic and non-intrusive
  • According to Snapchat, ads that feature UGC and/or Snapchat-inspired features typically get viewed in full compared to more polished ads

👻 Make sure you're running campaigns on both Story and Single Ad placements.

  • With Single Ads, you intend to disrupt
  • For Story Ads, you intend to provide value and learnings, followed by a call to action
  • Your creative should be specific to the ad type and goal

Have you registered for our upcoming Snapchat Workshop yet? 

Learn how Van Oakes and Pilothouse activate Snapchat Ads in just 2 days and get insights you can action on right away.

It’s $129 standalone, or $99/m as part of DTC+

📦 👻 Snap Up Your Spot! 📦 👻

(or an even better deal if you sign up for DTC+ Annual and use “dtcfounders” as the promo code to get 50% OFF) 

Facebook Tactics : Should you add multiple links to your Facebook Ads?


✅YES! ✅


Check out this great find from Pilothouse media buyers James Duerkson and Stu Mason. 

“We split tested ads with the one primary link vs ads with several links at the bottom of the copy. Ads with multiple links had a 25% higher RoAS


“Theory: multiple links increased the perceived legitimacy of the company and therefore the ones who clicked through came in warmer.”


What’s crazy is that the CTR with multiple links is actually 40% lower. Stu explains, “I think that's part of the magic...customers get a sense of the offer just through the links we're sharing. So in a way it's a qualifying filter -- only people who are interested click through. As opposed to a more click-baity ad with an unknown link where you click through just to see what's up.


Example of multiple links at bottom of ad:


Create Your Own: https://artco.com/products/custom-dog-portraits

Browse Collections: https://artco.com

See Customer Reviews: https://artco.com/pages/reviews


Things We Loved This Week

🏠 Clubhouse Rules: Quick. Scan your Facebook feed. How many posts are about Clubhouse? The invite-only audio app is taking the DTC world by storm. Described as the lovechild of podcasts and masterminds, Clubhouse offers a chance for deep, raw conversation in real-time, on any topic imaginable. Want to hear Grant Cardone book a starring role in a movie for himself? Want to know what Virgil Abloh thinks of Bitcoin? Want to hear gurus get called out in real-time? One thing is clear: Clubhouse might be the greatest networking tool ever created. Check out Dennis Yu’s post on his top learnings getting 600 followers and 2 high-end deals in his first day on the app, and why he’s clearing calendar space to hang out down at the clubhouse. 

📦 What CPG Can Learn from DTC: Not all CPG brands have the ability (for various reasons) to launch a DTC channel. Instead, CPG brands are borrowing DTC tactics like better storytelling, community management, and brand collaborations as a way to spark growth. For any brand, testing different ways to capture customer attention and eliminate friction is key. DTC brands in particular have developed an excellent playbook - one that CPG brands are wanting to replicate. Continue Reading

🚨FB Engagement Alerts: Facebook groups are a vital part of the platform’s user experience, but as the number of members increases, managing a group can be a difficult task. To make things easier, FB is allowing group admins the ability to create engagement alerts. This allows the admin team to stay on top of discussions, reactions, comments, and replies. Check out more here.

🚀Walmart & Growing DTC Brands: In the past, DTC and Walmart are two words you’d never hear in the same sentence. Things change, COVID shows up, and DTC brands look to Walmart as a sustainable route to acquiring new customers. As an essential business, Walmart had the luxury of staying open during the height of the pandemic. Brands like Quip, Modern Fertility, Big Fig, and Lola relied heavily on the retailer through the shutdowns. We expect more brands to test out big-box retailers in 2021. 


🙌 2020’s Best Marketing Tweets: @Dmurr68 put together a mega-thread of the best Tweets from Twitter’s marketing community in 2020. Check’em out.

📝 Creating Content: “The trick to good content is identifying the 1 person you’re writing for, and writing for them. If you don’t think they will benefit from what you put out, scrap it. When you don’t focus on one person(a), your content has no focal point and can’t scale” - @mrsharma. 

🚀 Influencer Impact: 2020 saw influencer collaborations increase their reach and engagement by 57%. One reason behind the growth is a shift from full posts to short-form content such as Tik Tok and Instagram stories. IG stories saw a 32% increase in sponsors while Tik Tok’s sponsorship activity exploded with a 130% increase. Check out the full report here. 

💥 2020’s E-commerce Brands: From head-to-toe rompers and eco-friendly toilet paper, which e-commerce brands perfectly summed up 2020? ThingTesting created a list of 19 brands and one of our favorite new companies, Loftie, made the list. Check out the brands here. 

🐦 Twitter Update: Users now have the ability to share Tweets directly to Instagram and Snap stories. The update, while small, allows Twitter to control how tweets look and includes the brand’s logo in the top right. A subtle, but necessary move as most people were screenshotting in order to share Tweets. 

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