DTC 33: 📦 SMS Recipes
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

At DTC we normally serve up recipes for mouth-watering performance marketing results. But to start this week off right, we have to call your attention to this simple, stunning recipe that went viral on TikTok and showcased the power of content marketing.

Finnish food blogger Jenni Häyrienen posted her baked feta pasta recipe “Uunifetapasta” on Instagram in 2019. An immediate hit, Finnish grocery stores reportedly ran out of feta. 

This month, the dish reemerged as a viral TikTok trend and the Uunifestapasta effect struck again. 

“Feta” is currently the number one trending search term on Instacart marketplace and there are reports of feta and basil shortages in American grocery stores.

We tried it, and it was worth every single bit of hype. Like many great recipes, its secret is simplicity:

Feta, tomatoes, basil, bake at 400 for 40 mins and add pasta.

Magnifique 👨‍🍳 (My kid even ate it). 

Now that you’re fed, and headed for a carb coma, we’ll get back to our regular diet of lean DTC protein. 

New here? Welcome! You’re in good company with fellow DTC newcomers from Tuft and Needle, Harper Collins, Jo Malone London, Earth Rated, Johnson and Johnson, The Breakfast People, Keep Cup, Bacardi, and Chomp.com.

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In this cheesy edition of the DTC Newsletter you’ll find:  

📦 Why you need an SMS strategy (and need it NOW!) 

📦 CrewFire’s Alan VanToai guide to building an unstoppable team of brand ambassadors

📦  How to “spend into the void” with confidence – Wicked Reports’ Scott Degrossier talks attribution and iOS14

Make sure you check out Attest’s FREE brand awareness survey and stick around until the end for another free treat from DTC+  

Editor’s Note: After popular demand for more DTC content, our team is upping the ante to deliver two doses of DTC to your inbox. Starting in March, our OG Wednesday offering will be supplemented by a Saturday newsletter featuring new original DTC content for your weekend reading pleasure!

SMS is a straightforward and powerful tool. It’s personalized, fast, and boasts impressively high engagement – so why aren’t more brands utilizing this platform?

Many celebrities were ahead of the curve and jumped on the SMS bandwagon (some since 2018). Jennifer Lopez, Megan Thee Stallion, and The Jonas Brothers all have “phone numbers” to keep in touch with fans via mass messaging. Recently, platforms like Community, Postscript, and Viacustomer have made it easy for celebrities, and brands, to text. 

📱 Why your brand needs an SMS Strategy 

Over 95% of Americans own a mobile phone, and over six million SMS messages are sent every day in the US (over 2.2 trillion sent annually!!!). 

Popular across demographics – you’ll reach gen-z, millennials, and boomers via SMS. 

SMS also boasts a remarkable 90% open rate. Think about it, when was the last time you didn’t check a text message?  

Plus, SMS isn’t hindered by ads, a social algorithm, or platform interference. 

As a relatively untapped market, SMS is a massive whitespace that will give you a competitive advantage. It’s a great way to circumnavigate inbox and social fatigue PLUS, like email, you own your audience. 

📱 What to consider with your SMS strategy 

Text is a more intimate method of communication – we receive texts from those closest to us. If a customer subscribes to your brand’s text list they’re INTO you! But it’s important that you’re careful with this list and don’t text them every day. Don’t become a stage-one clinger. 

The key to a solid SMS strategy is value add + timing + consistency. 

Value Add

  • Like all content, SMS needs to add value. Be clear that SMS subscribers will receive exclusive access to products and offers. 
  • The more personalized you get, the better. Try a conversational approach to foster a deeper relationship with consumers. 
  • Do like Ben Knox from Super Coffee does, and use SMS as a VIP concierge service for their most loyal customers
  • Segment your SMS list for increased personalization of copy and offers (message by age, location, interest). Emergency preparedness brand Judy executes this to perfection by sending emergency weather reports based on your location. 


  • SMS allows for immediate reach and is ideal for any time-sensitive activation. (Ex. it’s the last day of your sale) 
  • Be strategic about when you send your message. Think about when your customers are most likely to read your text and act on the CTA. This will require testing, especially when you’re starting out. 


  • SMS is volume sensitive; you have to be strategic in your messaging cadence to avoid burnout. As we said, don’t be a stage-one clinger. 

TIP:  When building your list, let your existing channels do the work. Include your number in your email campaigns, post about it on socials, and feature it on your website. Many brands are even attaching a spot for phone numbers on their pop-ups. Check out these examples from Olipop and Ugly. 


📱 SMS strategies that work 

  • Flash sale promotions – use the immediacy of text to your advantage! Your promo email could easily get lost in a spam folder or go unopened for a week. Use SMS to run micro flash sales that drive real urgency. 

  • Reminders – use text to check-in with customers at every step of the purchase experience: order placement, shipping, delivery, and reminding them when a refill is due. Also, think about value-add reminders. For example, Judy uses SMS to remind customers to change the battery on their carbon monoxide detector.  

  • Automatic refill service – When customers sign up for your SMS service, ask them to submit their billing and shipping information. That way, when you text them with promotions or to remind them they’re due for a refill, all they have to do is respond with the number of units they’d like to order, facilitating ease of purchase. 

  • Product matching – Gary Vee’s Empathy Wines matches Club Empathy members with an on-demand text-based “sommelier” to offer wine recommendations.

  • Build a community Use text to add value for your customers. Great Jones’s SMS service “Potline” provides recipe ideas, cooking advice, and clean-up tips. Similarly, women’s apparel brand Summersault created a quarantine SMS service where customers could text “joycast” to receive an uplifting meme and a covid-friendly activity suggestion. 

  • Cart recovery – Avoid cart abandonment by reminding the customer to complete their purchase via SMS. 

  • Customer service - Text is a great platform to answer complicated customer questions that require a human response. Skincare line Versed has a twenty-person text team who compiled a master glossary of questions to manually handle customer inquiries. 

Bottom line: SMS is essential to a holistic marketing strategy and a white space channel that you should be activating to scale. It’s another opportunity to OWN YOUR AUDIENCE. 

Need more SMS inspiration? Here’s a breakdown of Van Oake’s Snapchat x SMS strategy from our DTC+ Snapchat course. 

FREE DTC+ Gift: Build a Presell Page Challenge (STARTS TODAY)

One of the flagship features of the DTC+ Membership is a monthly workshop designed to help you take action in an area of your business that will move the needle.

This month’s workshop will show you how to engineer a single page that will elevate the performance of your entire marketing funnel: the presell page.

Pilothouse’s expert practitioners will reveal the presell page secrets they know…

  • The psychology behind why presell pages work
  • The building blocks you need for a bullet-proof presell page
  • The copywriting framework that hooks readers in and drives them to buy
  • How to test and troubleshoot low conversion rates
  • Simple conversion maximizers that will help you iterate toward higher performance
  • And much more

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have the know-how to launch and optimize high-converting presell pages (again and again).

This Month Only: We’d like you to join us for the DTC+ Build a Presell Page Challenge for free.

Register For The Build a Presell Page Challenge FOR FREE Now.

Fun Fact: We asked participants of DTC+ Workshops to put a dollar value on their experience. The average response was $735.00 🤯

Register Now For Free.

How to Turn Customers into Brand Ambassadors, with CrewFire’s Alan VanToai

With 15-years of direct experience in the marketing industry, and my time working with DTC brands, I have noticed some rather large shifts to this space over the past few years.

While organic reach for brands is plummeting and bids for paid ads are spiralling upwards, word-of-mouth has consistently reigned the supreme method of promoting products to consumers. Although social media has skyrocketed the power of marketing, it has also saturated the ad space like never before.

While it might seem daunting to try and grow in this space, there is one highly-effective strategy that can help DTC eCommerce brands flourish and reach their target growth goals.

That strategy is brand ambassadors.

Brand ambassador marketing has become the quiet killer, so to speak, in the ever-changing digital marketing realm, and we have seen this strategy provide a powerful and effective boost to traditional advertising methods for brands looking to beat out the competition and reach more people online.

However, for brand ambassador programs to be effective, you need the right framework and strategy to succeed.

And we're here to help guide you to structure that framework. So today, we are going to show you how to turn your customers into your team of brand ambassadors.

Let's hop into it!

What is a brand ambassador?

A brand ambassador can be defined as any individual within your existing customer base that acts as an authentic voice for your brand. ‍

These are the people that already know and love your product. They buy it consistently, they use it, they always talk it up to their friends and family. They are the type of customers that are generally passionate about your brand and support your company.

Brand ambassadors are your number one fans! They are eager to help grow your brand and genuinely care about your success.

What brands should use brand ambassadors?

There are a few things we recommend any brand to examine before preparing to launch. Analyze that your brand has the following characteristics:

  • A product or service that has proven traction (ideally a minimum of $500,000 in annual revenue)
  • An existing audience from whom you can recruit and build your program, or at least 10,000 email subscribers or 30,000 Instagram followers
  • A dedicated marketing manager
  • Bandwidth to dedicate 1-2 hours a day to program management
  • A fanbase that is already raving about your product online and/or to friends, family, and followers! Think of those brands that have a cult-like following

If you can check off each of those items, you are in a good place to start building out your ambassador program.

How to recruit brand ambassadors

Now, you might be wondering how to find brand ambassadors, and this is where creating a recruitment strategy comes in.

Recruiting is the moment where you will be able to watch your already passionate fanbase turn into your team of brand ambassadors.

For a detailed breakdown of strategies for reaching out to your customer/fanbase to spread the word about your ambassador program, head to the DTC Blog.

Are you tracking brand awareness? If not, you’re flying blind.


Brands like Klarna and TransferWise use Attest to track brand awareness and measure the effectiveness of their brand campaigns.


Crucial to understanding the ROI of brand-building is being able to measure it. That’s where Attest comes in, they’ve allowed us to quantify our long-term brand efforts.” - Creative Lead, TransferWise


Attest is offering DTC readers a free, three-question brand awareness survey to see how your brand is faring against the competition. You’ll find out:

  • How recognisable your brand is within your target audience
  • How your brand ranks among your competitors
  • If people would choose your brand over your competitors


Claim your free survey and get ahead.


Or, contact Attest to learn more about how modern marketers make great decisions with our fast, accurate and actionable data.

We want your insight! Which of these headlines do you think will work the best? 

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We’ll audit the results in next week’s newsletter - stay tuned!  

Looking Around the Corner of iOS14 With Scott Desgrosseilliers

Need some help figuring out attribution?

This is a topic every high-level marketer loves to “geek out” on, but very few have it dialled to their complete satisfaction. With that in mind, we sat down with Scott Desgrosseilliers, founder of Wicked Reports, an old-school attribution wizard who built his first database at ten and has put over 20,000 hours in on this topic. 

Check out the full conversation here.

In the meantime, here are some key takeaways from the pod!

📦 The brand with the best data wins

Some marketers use Facebook Ads as their source of truth, and some use Google Analytics. For years, this was enough to get by, but with iOS14 around the corner, relying on platform data alone won’t give you the quality of data you need to scale. 

Affiliates and hard-core performance marketers have been using external trackers like Wicked Reports (or Rubix, the Pilothouse platform).

Those who’ve invested in this external data infrastructure are going to find themselves much less impacted by iOS14, and more confidently able to spend top-of-funnel dollars with the expectation of a return. 

The fact is, you need better data than what iOS14 allows, which is a seven-day attribution window that only values the last conversion event. A customer can have 200 touch points over months before they take a significant action, such as a purchase.

You need to know how people entered into the funnel and which content caused them to move down it in order to really scale. For Scott, good marketing attribution should always be able to answer these questions.

Some brands have gotten by so far without the best data, but with auction competition increasing and brands having to get smarter (or get a smarter agency 😉), those days are coming to an end.

📦 Understand long buying cycles and spend with confidence

An initial investment in the top of your funnel can feel like throwing money into a void. But your ability to scale depends on understanding that the top-of-funnel ads consumers are seeing today might take weeks or months to turn into sales.

The first thing Scott does when he looks at an account is a new-lead cohort analysis, without any attribution. This allows him to see how many leads the client got in a month, and then month over month, how much they are worth. 

By starting with sales and working backwards, he knows exactly when the client broke even on the cost of the lead, and when they doubled their money. This analysis provides the true price they could have paid for a lead while still being profitable. 

When your purchase price goes above $100, the fact is that leads take time to convert to a purchase. When you see how long it takes some customers to make buying decisions, in many cases you realize that you could have spent much more to acquire that top-of-funnel attention (or bought a lot more of it).

📦 Diversify your traffic and OWN your audience

A surefire response to iOS 14 is to not have all your eggs in one basket. 

Here are some of Scott’s recommendations

  • Retargeting Platforms: Perfect Audience, Rocket 10
  • SMS Text: “Seeing Crazy Numbers” (see above)
  • Upping Email Game: “Don’t be afraid to tell personal stories. Humanize yourself with regular emails and you’ll sell more.”
  • Lead Capture: Take your best offer and gate it with an email address. Get the data upfront and remarket on owned channels.

That’s it for this week's recap! To hear more about how Scott got into the database business (spoiler: it involves lobsters), his detailed takes on Facebook and iOS14, and his favorite Saas product, check out the pod here!

Calling all writers!

As you may have heard in the header, DTC Newsletter is expanding to TWO issues a week starting in March. To bolster our formidable editorial team, we’re looking for a freelance technical writer! 

If you love marketing, chatting with marketers, analyzing their funnels, and synthesizing their wins into highly actionable content… then we should chat.

If you’re interested in this role, or have story ideas you’d like to pitch, give us a shout

🚀 iOS 14 Update: How to prepare for future attribution setting changes.

📈 Target, Walmart and all big box retailers are learning a lot from the power of including DTC brands on their shelves.  

⚠️ Facebook released its state of the small business report.

🎙 Is Clubhouse the next social media platform for marketers

🥴 Maryland passed a tax on digital advertising. 

📸 David Dobrik’s new social app, Dispo, launched in TestFlight last week. Like all things David Dobrik, it broke the internet immediately. 

🧐 What’s the biggest misconception of Facebook ads? Our followers had some interesting responses. 👀

💻 TikTok is testing an in-app marketplace as it continues to push into eCommerce.

📪 New start-up Olive aggregates your weekly eCommerce purchases into one reusable package. 

😑 Facebook has blocked news sharing in Australia. 

📱The spontaneous internet. What the next generation of social apps all have in common.

🍝 The newest trend on TikTok: #fetapasta 

🎧 Spotify is launching a new high-end subscription called Spotify HiFi, not to be confused with WiFi

📺 Klarna joins Amazon, TikTok and several other companies making a push into livestream shopping.  

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