Get ready for the next-gen of eCommerce savants – Girl Scouts have activated their trademark resourcefulness to continue selling their cookies despite the roadblocks of a global health crisis.
With the pandemic preventing the usual unleashing of uniformed thin-mint merchants going door to door, the Girl Scouts needed to pivot away from their standard in-person sales strategy.
Where did they look? DTC tactics. Arguably, the Guides have already been operating in the DTC space for more than half a century… but to survive the pandemic’s drastic limitation of contact they’ve set up virtual cookie booths on socials, drive-through pick up sites, a Cookie Finder app, SMS cookie ordering, and a cookie locator on their website. Plus, this year, they’ve partnered with GrubHub to offer contactless delivery.
We can’t wait to see what the eCommerce badge looks like.
New here? Welcome! You’re in good company with fellow DTC newcomers from Hello Fresh, Boots, Grace Loves Lace, Proper Good, Alder Apparel, and the NBA 🏀
Much like a Girl Guide cookie, this edition of the newsletter has layers, including:
📦 UGC is ad rocket fuel – dig in with Pilothouse’s UGC team lead and learn why it’s the ad content you need to focus most on in 2021
📦 A checklist from the Pilothouse team for creating killer copy
📦 A quiz commerce case study with Jebbit and Pour Moi
📦 A Valentine’s Day themed guide to selling gifts
Stick around until the end for All Killer insights including Nate’s UGC scaling campaign strategy for Facebook and Instagram Ads 📈
UGC or “user-generated content” is any form of content that’s created by the customers of a product or service. Examples range from unboxing videos and images to customer reviews and testimonials.
Brands heavily invest in UGC because it builds trust in the brand and its products. It provides social proof and allows the viewer to experience the product through the content creator. Social proof is established by those we follow and trust (influencers) and from the general public (current customers). A combination of the two creates a better and more authentic understanding of the product than if the brand were to promote it themselves.
1) Customer Activation: Brands utilize current customers and incentivize them to post a picture/video on a specific platform. In exchange, customers usually receive a discount towards a future purchase or a free product if the COGS is reasonable.
For example, if you purchase a pair of Allbirds, they might include a note saying “post a picture of your Allbirds on Instagram, tag us, and we’ll send you a code for $25 off your next pair.”
Remember, you’d be perfectly willing to pay your design agency hundreds of dollars for good ad content, why not pay that to your customers instead. Win-win
2) Influencers: Brands partner with influencers to activate an audience through a trusted source. The influencer creates UGC and usually provides a discount code to their audience, encouraging them to purchase. The most critical element is finding influencers who fit your brand and create authentic content.
The difference between number one and number two is retention vs. acquisition. Brands who’ve just launched rely heavily on influencers because of their need to acquire customers. Once a brand has established its customer base, the retention strategy can begin. Every brand will strike a different balance between each strategy depending on what stage they’re at.
“Most Brands know they need UGC, they send out a ton of free product, receive content back, but they don’t have a clear idea of how they’ll use it to drive sales,” says Pilothouse’s head of UGC, Angela Meadows. Brands need to slow down and create a thorough strategy to avoid wasting resources. This is the number one problem we see DTC brands commit when attempting UGC.
First, understand the type of content your target audience resonates with. Is it TikToks and Instagram Reels? Or maybe it’s unboxing videos on YouTube. Not sure? Ask them directly.
Once you’ve determined the platform and type of content, build a list of influencers that align with your brand. Matching your brand with an influencer who shares similar values is crucial.
The third and most important step is understanding where UGC is needed within your marketing funnel.
Top of funnel (TOF) content focuses on educating and answering common questions about your product/service. Unboxing or explanation content is a great example, as it helps introduce the brand to a cold audience.
Examples of TOF UGC:
Bottom of funnel (BOF) content focuses on convincing an audience to purchase. For example, an influencer may create content highlighting a current promotion or sale. This strategy works particularly well for an audience who’s already familiar with your brand and needs a push to purchase. Push it. Push it real good.
Understanding the type of content needed will allow you to provide better guidelines and instructions when contacting influencers.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be crafting a template for how to reach out to influencers. For now, check out these brands with killer UGC!
Brad Knell, one of Pilothouse’s killer copywriters, is back with a new resource to enhance your copy.
Here’s his eight-step copy checklist to make sure your content soars. You’ll want to print this baby up (wait... do people still have printers?)
This week we’ve got a combo-platter pod! We’re chatting with Tom Coburn, the cofounder and CEO of Jebbit, a software tool that creates delightful and data-rich customer experiences that encourage consumers to provide information about themselves. Also joining us is Ulli Haslacher, the President of Pour Moi Skincare, a DTC challenger brand that utilizes unique climate-smart technology recently named one of the best inventions of 2020 by Time Magazine.
The Problem: Surveys are boring and customers rarely ever complete them.
The Solution: Jebbit
Jebbit builds presale experiences ranging from quizzes to interactive articles to trivia that all incentivize customers to answer questions about themselves, learn about product offerings, and get matched with the right product. It takes the burden off the customer to self-educate, and saves time by directing them to a product page that fits their needs.
It’s a win-win. The customer learns more about your brand and discovers the perfect product while you access valuable first-party data – or to use Jebbit’s terminology, declared data.
Well, that’s up to you! Once you have the declared data you can do what you want with it. Activation could look like a personalized email, a personalized site experience, a retargeting of custom audiences on Facebook, or the running of lookalike campaigns.
Pour Moi knows that climate plays a big role in the health of your skin. Their disruptive climate-based skincare technology matches customer to product based on the climate they live in – a disruptive premise for the skincare vertical.
CEO of Pour Moi, Ulli, faced a four-pronged challenge. She needed to educate customers about their groundbreaking climate-based technology, pair customers with deeply personalized products, stand out in a competitive market, and accomplish all of this exclusively online due to COVID-19.
Jebbit stepped in to save the day and explain Pour Moi’s product and new skincare technology in a 15-second quiz that entertained, educated, and provided recommendations to consumers.
The quiz replicated an in-store experience, curating recommendations to fit the customer’s exact needs. This personalization is especially valuable for beauty and skincare products reliant on in-store product testing.
The Jebbit x Pour Moi climate smart skincare quiz led to an 81% completion rate, 60% of purchasers buying multiple products and a 163% increase in AOV. The quiz has been so effective that Pour Moi has had zero returns. Crazy stuff.
As Ulli says, “the best customer service is when your customer doesn’t have to call you.”
In case you haven’t already started Googling, here’s the link to Jebbit’s free quiz software.
Tips from Jebbit to get you started:
The ideas below are from my experience in creating gift products and corresponding ad strategies that have generated over $70 million in sales.
95% of people have families, and 70% of adults are in a relationship with another human. That's why at ShineOn, we are in the gifting space; it’s a massive addressable audience!
There are micro-holidays year-round, like anniversaries and birthdays, where you can capitalize on the relationships between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, parents and children, grandparents and grandkids, etc.
When we get to an event like Valentine's day, you are basically hitting the jackpot if you already have a product that is selling well on a non-holiday as a gift. Now is your time to scale that sucker up.
Capitalizing on the holidays often comes down to groundwork before the holiday, and finding a product that will sell as a gift year round. This is important because you can't really test a lot of products for a specific holiday like Valentine's day until the holiday is actually here – unless you have a mass appeal product in the gifting space. Sure there are outliers but having a system is better than getting lucky.
We have generated over one million designs through our network of sellers and keep tabs on all of the ads and products that are working best.
Time and time again the best setup seems to be a UGC-style photo of the gift for the Facebook ad. This means taking an image with your phone in a non-professional lighting environment. For example, our best ad ever was taken in a low-light garage as the sun had already set. Other ad images that have worked well use sunlight, with the rays coming towards the side of the jewelry and creating a contrasting shadow effect on a card behind the box.
Since you've already established trust with the UGC style ad, now buyers want to see your most professional photos of the item in high res. So really go for the nice professional lighting and photos here.
With print on demand, we start with an audience in mind before creating the product (design).
After establishing a target audience, our focus is on creating a phrase (in ShineOn's case, this would be the message card behind the piece of jewelry), that triggers an emotional response for that specific audience.
This is why we say CRYING = BUYING
Successful jewelry creators on our platform focus on highly personal sentiments that can be expressed with our products. Think of a father buying a necklace for his daughter, wanting to express his pride and love for her upon her graduation – you’re beginning to see the level of emotional expression we facilitate with our products.
It’s important to realize the power of emotional communication – whether you’re customizing print on demand products, product inserts, or building out your ad copy.
Often with emotionally-charged purchases, there is no logical “problem” to “solve” for the buyer. If you can nail this, you will earn riches beyond your dreams. Get them to feel, make sales – simple as that.
There is no better recipe for massive profits than finding a winning product for a broad audience.
We often reference sites like 1-800-Flowers to see what they are offering and at what prices. Simple no-brainer things like gift wrapping, chocolates, cleaning kits, etc, all make great upsells.
Good luck this Valentine's Day!
If you have any questions about gifting or ShineOn, please visit our ShineOn Profits on Demand Facebook group.
All the best, Eric Toz
We’re about a month out from our next challenge – Build a Presell Page Challenge 👀
Presell page strategy is a fundamental aspect of DTC marketing and something that Pilothouse has built a lot of expertise around.
Suitable for all audiences who buy traffic and would like to increase their conversions.
Join DTC+ for a dollar and check out our past courses, join our group, and stick around for this challenge, because it’s going to be a doozie.
Start your $1 DTC+ trial for access to all our previous course content.
The Influencer Flywheel Challenge, Sleep Better With Facebook’s Automated Rules, and the Stand Out with Snapchat Challenge are all up and available.
Start learning today!
Want to hear more from Angela? Take a listen to her debut on All Killer No Filler!
She joined Pilothouse’s Senior Media Buyers Nate Vankoughnet and Liam Robinson to talk about Pilothouse’s newest department and why we’re prioritizing UGC.
Here are some key takeaways from the pod:
Correctly matching content creator/influencer and content type with your brand is essential.
How to find the right pairing? Iteration.
Cast a wide net of creators to establish what content appeals to your consumers, then drill down on the ones that hit with your audience.
Continue to iterate from there, find similar creators whose content resonates with your brand and consumers.
When assessing creators, your goal is to find a collaborator who generates quality creative that your customer relates to. Their follower count doesn’t matter as much, even when running dark posts and whitelisting. It all comes down to the content the customer relates to.
Discovery Tip: People who like to create content are openly projecting that they want to create content – they’re easy to spot. Search hashtags related to your brand (Ex. #cleaning) to find creators already creating content in your niche.
Before you reach out to a creator, test content first. That way, you’ll know what style of content to ask for.
Get your team to make different UGC content types internally, then run this DIY UGC content as test ads. Whatever content wins – that’s what you ask your creator for.
Nate recommends utilizing a mix of traditional and UGC ad content, run from separate ad accounts. To build scale campaigns, Nate will first run test campaigns using a bunch of different UGC ad content on both prospecting and retargeting ad sets. To build the actual scale campaign, he’ll then take the best performing creative from the respective prospecting and retargeting test campaigns and put them into the scale campaigns’ matching ad sets.
⭐️ Nate estimates that UGC represents 75-80% of the winners from test campaigns, both for prospecting and retargeting.
👊 Nik Sharma shares his blueprint for building a DTC brand in 2021.
📱More DTC brands are continuing to diversify their ad spend with affiliate marketing, programmatic display, and podcasts.
🚨12 must-read Tweets from marketers last week.
🚀 Pinterest launches new “Dynamic creative” automated ad targeting. Read more.
🛒 Turns out baby boomers are dominating online shopping. “Consumers 65 and older, on average, spent a total of $1,615 online from January through October, a 49% increase from a year earlier.”
🐦Twitter shares tips on improving ads on its platform.
🔢 YouTube adds “24-hour metric” allowing creators great access to how their video performs within yes, you guessed it, the first 24 hours.
🏃♀️DTC underwear brand Thinx has expanded into the activewear space with leggings, cycling shorts, leotards, and training shorts all made with their signature absorbent technology (another blow to non stretchy pants!)
💡Pinterest continues to add eCommerce features with its latest augmented reality launch.
🆕 This week we’re featuring a new DTC brand called SugarDo, an at-home hair removal product using compostable sugar paste instead of wax. The brand is part of a new wave of DTC companies heavily utilizing TikTok to its fullest ability. Since launching in May, the brand has accumulated over 3.5 million likes.
🎵New to TikTok? The platform recently released a tutorial for its ad manager. Watch here.