DTC 31: 📦 DTC Touchdown
May 21, 2023
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Will Tom Brady ever retire? Has the Weeknd figured out iOS 14 yet? 

The world is desperate for answers, and while we don’t have them all, we do have a jam packed newsletter full of more touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs scored. 🏈


New here? Welcome! You’re in good company with fellow DTC newcomers from Loblaw, Citi, Danone, Bloomscape, Mastercard, Youth to the People, and Dyson.

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Ok, huddle up, team. Here’s today’s play:

📦 Hydrant’s Margaret Fortner offers up her playbook for Growth team-building

📦 A quick mobile video creative trick to hack A/R customer experiences

📦 SMS subscription tips with Super Coffee’s Ben Knox 

📦 How to increase conversions by celebrating your customers’ identities

📦 Improve your Amazon listing by maximizing your Amazon image

📦 Highlights from Attest’s 2000-person DTC Survey that answers “what do customers want?”

Stick around until the end for an All Killer Podcast breakdown to learn why Pilothouse markets with presell pages for top of funnel every. damn. time

Team Building for Growth with Hydrant’s Margaret Fortner 

This sounds simple but needs to be said upfront – no matter how good your product is, how excellent your branding is, or how strong your site and retention optimization are, your scalability as a business will be capped if your team is not built properly. While I’ll be focusing specifically on Growth team buildout here, the broader concept stays true, whether for Creative, Finance, or even Sales teams.

At Hydrant, we actually built out those more operationally-oriented teams before Growth. Hydrant has been around since late 2017, but our first Growth hire wasn’t made until January 2020. This allowed us to put a strong foundation in place to avoid the pitfalls of many high-

Growth startups, such as not tracking spend properly, not correctly attributing sources of Growth, and overinvesting in ineffective tactics.

As we stand in 2021, Hydrant’s Growth team encompasses Growth strategists and execution experts, eCommerce and CRO-focused managers, along with a uniquely Growth-focused creative team. 

Where other companies will partner with an external agency to produce one new acquisition-optimized asset every other week, we can turn out over 3-4 unique concepts with around five variants weekly to power our creative test and learn approach. 

We actually hired our Creative Strategist before we hired our Growth Manager.


We knew that at a certain point of scale, the ability to rapidly launch, test, and iterate on strong creative is more important than wonky Growth hacking.

For our Growth Manager hire, we focused on finding someone with a strong point of view on Growth strategy and a desire to expand as a full customer lifecycle strategist, not just the ability to execute “best practices” on accounts. 

Thought partnership is the lifeblood of a successful team and organization. 

One of the downsides of keeping a team small but mighty early on can be a lack of unique perspectives and new tactics being introduced, and you can get very far down a path based solely on your personal experience before you realize it. What’s that they say about the definition of insanity…

The final crucial piece to our Growth team’s success has been a dedication to data. 

This hasn’t taken the form of a Growth Analytics or Business Intelligence-focused hire to date (although we are looking for a Growth Strategy & Operations Manager!), but rather through the lens of

ensuring that everyone we bring on board has a strong grounding and belief in the power of data to drive efficient and effective results. Whenever we make a decision, it’s built on the foundation of data first, probabilistic strategy second, and always interspersed with creativity. Just like our broader company, we built our team in an inverse order and with a focus on ensuring a unified, synergistic process and data-driven mindset.

Above I’ve laid out the structure of the team that’s helped drive our success, as well as the mindsets that have unlocked our potential. 

Now that you’ve built your team, it’s time to ensure that you’re supporting their daily processes and development. 

For a full breakdown of Margaret’s ongoing operational growth strategy, including meeting strategy and a comms guide, check out DTC Blog.

🛑 Stop the scroll 🛑 with ad creative that stands out. Check out this idea for hacking the A/R experience from @karenxcheng.

To do: Put your product in a well lit space, put your hand in front of the camera and zoom in with the reverse pinch gesture.

Test it out and let us know how it performs! 

Supercharging Your Growth with Super Coffee’s Ben Knox

Recently we chatted with Ben Knox, VP of eCommerce and Growth at Super Coffee. Ben was a treat to listen to, offering insights on how to thrive in today’s omnichannel environment.

This podcast is PACKED with valuable info, so we recommend you give it a listen here. But to give you a taster here’s some of the most powerful Value Rockets from the guys’ chat with Ben. Enjoy!

💥 Don’t be afraid of Amazon

While Amazon isn’t always favored in the DTC world, Ben thinks it could be a mistake to overlook it. While Shopify is Super Coffee’s bread and butter in terms of eCom, Amazon adds a scale and reach that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to attain. 

While it would be ideal for all eCommerce consumers to land on their Shopify, Ben accepts that for a certain subset of consumers, if you’re not on Amazon, you don’t exist.

💥 Study your funnel

When asked what he would do at a new company, Ben says to “always audit what is.”

At Super Coffee, this meant studying the funnel and their financial and business model relative to their customer base. Ben looked at how many customers were at each stage of their relationship with the company (ex. trial, regular, lapses) and studied the flows from one state to another, using that to forecast acquisition and retention. 

💥 Master acquisition 

To improve acquisition, Super Coffee improved the conversion thru-point by launching a new website that was more friendly to curious consumers higher up in the funnel. This included product detail pages, category and collection destinations, and product education. Ben also stressed the importance of social proof and reviews, both from press and customers, which are a major draw for first time consumers. 

💥 Focus your acquisitions on subscription 

Ben also focussed heavily on retention, making sure they made the most of money spent on customer acquisition.

One way they do this is to always push people towards subscriptions. Knox says, “be careful if you’re on our website, you might slip and fall, and order a subscription.”

💥 Use SMS to make your subscribers feel like VIPS (and skyrocket your retention)

Their most potent tactic for subscription customers is SMS, where SuperCoffee treats their customers as VIPs, texting them a few days in advance of their renewal date to provide them with options, offering advanced notice on launches and promotions, and providing them with light, useful content. 

💥 Diversify demand, invest in podcasts

Would you want 80% of your business going through Amazon or Costco? Probably not. Same goes for socials. 

With CPM’s increasing and more people crowding the platform, Knox is looking to diversify in order to break out of the growing dependency of Facebook and generate a healthier mix. The more channels for distribution, the better. 

One avenue they are considering is podcasts which, despite generating less direct response than Facebook, can create lots of positive product association and hit consumers at a different level of attention. Podcasts work in conjunction with Facebook advertising as well by generating a higher level of intent when they are subsequently hit with a Facebook ad. Smart!

💥 eCommerce doesn’t exist in a vacuum

Super Coffee is sold primarily through conventional retailers like Wholefoods, Kroger, and Walmart, leaving eCommerce to account for only about a third of its sales.

As a result, Knox really focuses on how marketing and creative on the performance side can be additive to the brand as a whole.

Rather than focussing on “playing tricks and getting people to behave as they want,” Knox focuses on creating a rock-solid impression that will pay dividends regardless of where consumers interact with the brand. This is especially important considering that 30% of new consumers first learn about Super Coffee through retail, and that their online growth has been entirely tied in with their scaling of physical distribution.

For a CPG and beverage brand, there are many layers to the “omnichannel” reality. You can really maximize value when you're willing to look at the interplay between Amazon, Facebook, Podcasts, and a traditional retail presence. 

💥 Make sure you attract winning consumers

When it comes to offering strategy and product introduction, conventional wisdom suggests offering a cheap or free sampler pack, assuming that the CPA is so efficient that it will convert to enough customers to make it worthwhile. Knox thinks this idea should be thrown out the window.

Why? The lower price you offer, the lower the “quality” of the individual you attract. When you’re giving bottom of the barrel offers, you’re giving Facebook positive signals on a conversion for someone who is low quality, and incentivizing Facebook to give you low quality campaigns. In other words, training your pixel towards freebie-seekers. No good!

Instead, Super Coffee tries to create offers that are as expensive as possible within reason. Often, this comes through asking the customer for some level of performance relative to the discount. For instance, buying more than one case of coffee in order to get a deal. This offers brand protection and also gives the customer enough product to have a fair shot at liking it and recommending it to friends. 

💥  A Case for ROAS Agnosticism (!?)

Yes, really. While Knox keeps an eye on ROAS, he says there's a risk in focussing on it too much. Instead, he proposes to lead with the consumer. Start with empathy: “what offer is going to get them stoked?”

A key part of this system is what Knox calls his “guardrails” that focus on payback periods of a particular offer. Essentially, they divide offer recipients into cohorts based on their intro offer, and compare payback windows and true ROI of acquisition investments after a few months to gauge the quality of particular offers.

To hear more about how Ben views his role as VP of Growth, his tricks for attribution, and his plans for marketing diversification (hint: there’s more to SEO and Content Marketing than meets the eye), check out the pod. 

👀 Watch
🎧 Listen

The Customer Recognition Strategy Used by Nike and Target

Retailers now have a tremendous opportunity to reach and directly acquire new customers from all walks of life.

The more you can personalize your customers’ experiences and meet them where they are, the higher your conversion rates will be upfront, as well as over the customer’s lifetime.

There are many ways to personalize a customer’s experience with your brand, but few are as powerful as recognizing and rewarding their status, or affiliation with certain groups such as nurses, military, students, first responders, seniors, and more. 

When you can recognize a consumer’s status or affiliations, you can create personalized, exclusive offers that speak to their situation, and even rewards them for their service. 

This is what we do at SheerID, where we have proven over and over again that this type of customer experience drives increased conversion rates, increased web store traffic, reduced promotion fraud, and more. 

Customers appreciate being recognized, and that recognition leads to accelerated brand traction and lays the foundation for a long-term brand relationship that’s built on trust.

So, how does it work? 

A brand makes a special offer (like a percentage off) to one or multiple consumer tribes. These can be groups like students, teachers, seniors, medical workers, military, or any other group that your brand might appeal to. The brand will embed SheerID’s verification form right into the checkout flow. It’s white-label, so it slides into the checkout process, making a seamless and frictionless user experience.

In that short form, customers are asked for a few pieces of simple information, like their name, date of birth, and email. That’s it.

Then, SheerID instantly verifies if they are a member of that group. Upon successful verification, they’ll receive the exclusive offer, and they’ll be on their way to checking out. The customer feels good about redeeming an offer that is personalized to them, and the brand feels good knowing it’s the start of a loyal relationship that they can nurture.

And it really works. All kinds of leading retailers have found massive success running personalized marketing campaigns with SheerID.

🎯 Target made it happen with a 15% discount on school supplies just for teachers.

👟 Nike does it with exclusive offers to students and first responders.

🥿 Rothy’s made an extraordinary and timely offer to the teachers, first responders, and medical workers that have long been avid Rothy’s fans. (Rothy’s received some incredibly positive press with this one.)

The benefits of running personalized checkout campaigns with SheerID go on… 

  1. It increases purchase intent of those prospective customers.
  2. The members of the consumer tribe spread the word about the offer to other members of their community. 
  3. That organic sharing of information via word of mouth also lowers your acquisition costs. 
  4. The greatest benefit, though, may be that you can re-engage those shoppers again. That means that you own that high-quality, opt-in data you just collected. It’s yours to utilize in future email campaigns and communication to nurture the relationship so it lasts a lifetime. 

So, what about a personalized marketing program appeals to you? 

Maybe you’re looking to drive customer acquisition. Or you’re interested in developing long-term relationships with loyal customers. Or you want to make a strong offer to a deserving group that could go viral (while remaining protected)? 

Whatever the reason, SheerID is the world-leader in creating results-driven, personalized offers. We’ve got the experience, too. We work with retailers like Amazon, Lowe’s, J.Crew, and so many others. 

If you’re interested in learning more, have a look at our website.

Or, reach out to us directly. We’re happy to show you how our platform works.

Maximizing your Amazon Image

By Amazon Rob

The challenge with Amazon is that impressions are limited to the search volume of your keywords (unlike Facebook where you can scale to your heart’s content.)

With paid Amazon, you can increase your bids and ensure you're top of search, but if your listing is garbage, or you have a bad star rating and you're sitting next to competitors with 1000 five star reviews, you're not going to get clicks and you're not going to get sales.

One option is targeting smaller, less competitive keywords. Another is to go off Amazon and get creative running Facebook to Amazon campaigns. 

The one source of leverage you do have is your product image. Amazon guidelines say it has to be your product on a white background. However, unless your product is square it’s not going to take up much real estate and there'll be a lot of dead space. One option is to create product packaging around the actual product that takes up the entire image to get eyeballs on listings using the extra space to showcase some top product benefits.

More clicks, more spend, more sales (providing your listing CVR is dialed)

All Killer No Filler: Presell Pages Every Damn Time 🚀

In our latest installment of All Killer No Filler, we have Tim Peacock, Cam Wind, and Raven Dixon from the Pilothouse team on the pod to talk presell pages, providing a sneak peek into our upcoming DTC+ course!

📦 Why presell pages? 

They work. Presells convert 3% higher than websites and have a track record of increasing AOV.

The other key benefit is the ability to test and iterate more quickly than with a Shopify environment. 

You should always be iterating, testing variations, and letting the data rule next steps. 

📦 Types of presell pages, how to optimize them, and when to use them 

Here are three types of presell pages

  • Long-form 
  • Short-form 
  • Heavy sales pitch 

It’s important to test out each type of presell page with your different angles/testimonials/copy. 

Once you establish which style (long-form, short-form, heavy sales pitch) is your winner through contrast testing, you’re just getting started. 

From there, you test all elements within your winning style, optimizing your header, hero image, CTA, testimonials, and copy (prioritizing in that order). 

What content will perform best is totally dependent on the promotion that you’re running. 

On the pod, Raven outlines two presell page angles: 

  • Evergreen presells, that lean into a specific feature or angle that you run year-round
  • Time-sensitive presells, that are based around discounts. For example, you’d use a discount presell with a heavy sales pitch for Valentine’s Day, which has a time crunch.

When prospecting, always use presells. Your website won’t have every single piece of vital information pertaining to every customer coming through. With presells, you can have a page that matches perfectly with your target audience. 

When retargeting, you most likely want to redirect directly to the product page or pre-loaded checkout and avoid the extra clicks for the user. However, you might want to experiment with short-form flyer pages (listen to the pod for more on that). 

📦 Sample format

  1. Hero image of product paired with simple copy (headline + sub headline + CTA to drive scrolls down the page) 
  2. Build credibility with an “as seen in” banner 
  3. Build value around product (why it’s good, why they should buy) using strong visuals and copy
  4. Present with offer 
  5. Social proof 

*If you’re doing a long-form page, make sure a shop now button, shipping, and promo code are all visible throughout the page. 

📦 Presell pages + iOS14 

With upcoming changes imposing a reduced attribution window, it has never been more important to incentivize customers to purchase quickly. 

Presell pages are a great lever to pull to tell the story of the product and educate people as to why they should be buying the product and increase urgency. 

Tips for encouraging first-time click purchase: use “last chance” and “final say” in the copy, and include a countdown timer 

Take a listen to the pod for copywriting tips and how to test bundles, then sign up for DTC+ and join our Build a Presell Page Challenge, February 24-26.

🎧 Listen (remember to rate, review, and SHARE SHARE SHARE)

👀 Watch

What Consumers Want 

Ever wish you could just jump into the minds of your consumers? Have a little market research Freaky Friday moment?

With Attest’s 2021 Guide to Direct-to-Consumer Trends, you get the insight without the elaborate plot device. 

Attest surveyed 2000 working-age US consumers to assess the opportunity for DTC sales in 2021. Save the guesswork and take a read of the report to get to the bottom of exactly what shoppers are looking for from DTC brands.

Here’s a sneak peek to whet your appetite:

You can download the full report here, or start your own consumer research today.


Quick Hits 🥊

📱 Facebook is developing a tool to help advertisers avoid being placed next to news topics that brand doesn’t want to be associated with. 

😎 Pinterest’s U.S revenue grew 67% YOY due to heavy increases in advertising revenue. Curious about advertising on Pinterest? Listen to our podcast with Pinterest expert Lindsay Shearer. 

🏈 Dr. Squatch’s Super Bowl ad was very similar to Dollar Shave Club’s famous 2012 video. 🤨

🕺 As expected, TikTok is continuing to invest heavily in eCommerce. The most impressive feature: a tool that lets popular users share links to products and automatically earn commission on any sales. 

👀 Why Amazon brands are choosing to go public

⚠️ Waitwhile raises $12 million to eliminate lines. “Our technology helps businesses delight their guests by letting them join a line remotely and then wait from anywhere.”

🌿 New DTC brand Forti Goods is creating safe and stylish cannabis storage. “TLC for your THC.” 

🧐 Would you rather have 1 million Twitter followers or 100,000 email subscribers? Which is more valuable? Andrew Wilkinson has the answer.

🚀 How to build a DTC brand with Nik Sharma and Gary Tan. 

💰 Hubspot acquired media company The Hustle. A breakdown of the deal.  

📈 The rise of audience first products with David Perrell. 

🎯 Target’s activewear brand, All in Motion, generated $1B in sales after launching just a year ago.

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