DTC 99: 📦 I got 99 problems
May 21, 2023
Content Tag

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The frustration 🤦‍♀️

In this newsletter you’ll find: 👇

📧 How to use email to gather UGC.

✅ How to prepare for Q4 – customer engagement edition.

🔑 Key tips on improving your SEO strategy – part 2.

Read till the end to access exclusive DTC swag. 😎

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Yeah, yeah. You know you need UGC…

But maybe the usual UGC-gathering advice just doesn’t jive with your biz (social media, hashtags, influencers, oh my! 🙈).

Whether you’re just getting started on social, have somehow avoided TikTok, or don’t have the budget for influencers…

As long as you have an email list and people that love your brand, you too can have killer UGC.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to gathering amazing UGC with one simple email campaign. 👇

1️⃣ Identify your most engaged buyers.

We’d highly recommend segmenting out your most engaged, loving customers for this campaign (think VIPs: repeat buyers, high LTV, reviewers, etc).

  1. They’ll be more likely to open your email.
  2. They’ll be more likely to say "yes."
  3. They know your brand and products well enough to talk about them authentically.
  4. They’ll probably be super stoked to see themselves in your creative!

2️⃣ Send them an email and ask for authentic content.

Don’t overthink it: A simple, personalized message from an actual person at your company is perfect. You can even send the request in video form!

Let them know you value them as a loyal customer, and ask if they’d be willing to take a few photos with one of your products – or record a video of them using it/talking about it.

Here’s an example of what your initial email could look like.

Ideally, they’d be highlighting a product they already use and love – but you can also try this with new products (for example, sending early releases for VIPs to try and give an honest testimonial).

PS: Make sure to let the customer know how you’ll be using this content, and ask them for their permission. Some companies will even send waivers for customers to sign.

3️⃣ Offer them something in return.

While some people might send you UGC out of the goodness of their hearts… Most won’t (can you blame ’em?).

So make sure you offer the customer something valuable in return! This could be:

  • Gift card.
  • Steep discount.
  • Exclusive merch.
  • Early access to a new product.
  • Free product (you’ll likely have to send them the product they’ll be highlighting anyways).

4️⃣ Provide talking points for videos (but maybe not a script).

If you're asking for a video, provide talking points to make sure you’ll get useful content (and to make it easier for the customer).

While some brands will provide a verbatim script for UGC videos, there are a few things to consider before taking this approach:

  • Scripted content can come across as inauthentic and stale.
  • It doesn’t allow the customer to express their own opinions.
  • It removes the opportunity for a customer to surprise and delight you with the words they choose (which could later become copy inspo).

This isn’t to say scripted UGC doesn’t work, but in general consumers tend to prefer more authentic content.

5️⃣ Provide content quality guidelines.

Depending on how tech-savvy your customers are, the quality of UGC you receive could be… interesting. 😬

While the point of UGC is to look more "real" than high-production content, there’s not much you can do with a poorly lit photo or a video with crummy audio.

So set your expectations up-front:

Consider providing your customers with brief guidelines on creating quality photo and video content. Additionally, you can specify whether you prefer content in a specific environment (ex. outdoors or a kitchen).

💥 That’s it! No hashtags, influencers, or big budgets required.

If you’ve struggled with gathering UGC, but have at least a few loyal fans, give this a shot and let us know how it goes.

If it works well, you can even consider adding UGC requests to your post-purchase flows!

You might be surprised how many customers are happy to create authentic content for you. 😁


Launching in the US was a long-held dream for Canadian subscription brand Evive Nutrition, maker of frozen smoothie cubes.

When the time came to expand, rather than use an agency, the brand turned to consumer research platform Attest to gain an understanding of the new market.

👀 The research highlighted some eye-opening differences between Canadian and American consumers.

"The surveys we’ve conducted through Attest have really helped us in many ways," says Brand Manager Amaël Proulx.

"We have a clearer understanding of how Americans may perceive our concept and so we’ve adapted our approach when it comes to explaining the how-to process."

Find out exactly how Evive used consumer research to win stateside subscribers – and get the latest insights on how brands can nail the subscription model in 2022 – with Attest's latest D2C Digest.

👉 Get the full scoop from Attest here.


We’re back with our final Q4 tips from the Pilothouse team. This time we’re covering User Generated Content.

🔥 Let’s jump in:

Create a guide: Put together a Q4-specific guide for your customer support team that addresses any questions or comments you know they may encounter during these crazy months.

Look back on last year: Revisit comments and messages you received in Q4 2020 and include them in your guide. History repeats itself!

Test your site: Have someone who’s never been on your site navigate it and make a purchase.

Have them provide feedback on how easy or confusing the experience is. It sounds basic, but you might be missing something obvious that’s taking a lot of time from the support team.  

Clean the comments: Address any unanswered comments, hide anything you don’t want to appear, and pin key comments to the top of the feed.

Tracking: Key areas to keep an eye on during the madness. Make adjustments if needed.

  1. Current volume of tickets.
  2. Sentiment analysis.
  3. Trends in tickets.
  4. Average response time.
  5. Engagement rate.

Ask your team: Talk to your team and understand where the inefficiencies lie BEFORE things start to get crazy.  

Thanks to the Pilothouse team for the tips!


Did you know?

According to Facebook, consumers prefer ads with influencers over traditional brand ads – resulting in anaverage increase in campaign performance of 2x. 🤯

It's obvious you need to be running influencer content – but how do you safely and easily get a creator to run an ad for you?

Enter: Influencer whitelisting. ✨

With influencer whitelisting you get all the benefits of influencer content, but you don't even need the creator to run an ad for you – it's all done right in Ads Manager.

Since this strategy is increasing conversion rates for tons of DTC brands, leading creator marketing platform Insense has put together the ultimate guide to influencer whitelisting.

It's a must-read for leveling up your campaigns in Q4 and will help you implement a whitelisting strategy across multiple platforms.

👉 Get started by downloading Insense's step-by-step guide here


We’re back with part two of our Instagram SEO tips.

If you missed it, here’s what we’re talking about:

Instagram SEO is the strategic placement of keywords in your captions, handle, name, and bio to get your posts to rank higher in Instagram’s search engine.

Like any search algorithm, the purpose is to show content that reflects what your audience is searching for.

While it’s a more long-term strategy than paid ads, Instagram SEO is a worthy investment. In fact, 81% of users use the platform to research products and services.

Okay, onto the magic – how to actually do IG SEO.

Step 5: Use keyword hashtags in your posts

Users can still search by keywords, so treat hashtags like keywords by using a mix of exact-match, broad-match, short-tail, and long-tail terms to describe your products.

Keywords can also help you:

  • Build community.
  • Source user-generated content.
  • Run campaigns, like contests and giveaways.

All of these will increase the number of views and tags your brand gets, which in turn will increase your authority in Instagram’s search engine.

Here’s an example from Skin Juice, which shows up in the results for "#skincareforoilyskin."

Step 6: Encourage customers to tag your brand

Just like how high-quality, natural backlinks from published articles can boost the authority of an article in Google, getting tagged on Instagram tells the algorithm that you’re a credible business.

Unfortunately, getting tagged isn’t within your control.

But there are ways to encourage your customers to do it for you – like these three examples:

  • Host a contest or giveaway and ask customers to tag your brand to be entered.
  • Send free products to influencers to start a relationship. Don’t ask them to post – sending free products can lead to organic posting.
  • Share a referral link with loyal customers. Some may share it on their Instagram profile to refer friends and family (and to get those referral points).

Step 7: Start writing alternative text

Certain keywords in your alt. text can help your posts be discovered.

However, keep in mind the main purpose of alt. text is for people with visual impairments to experience your posts through assistive technology.

In the alt. text section of each post, describe the main object in the image (whether that be a person or a product) and the objects around them.

Step 8 (FINAL STEP!): Track your metrics in Instagram Analytics

Your metrics will tell you what’s working, not working, and help you identify areas of opportunity.

Remember, Instagram SEO is a long-term strategy. Once you have a few months of metrics to look at, a few key areas to keep an eye on include

  • Impressions: The number of people who saw your post.
  • Engagement rate: Likes, comments, shares, and saves on individuals posts or your account as a whole (between 1% and 3.5% is average).
  • Profile visits: The number of people who visit your profile (by searching it, or after viewing a post).
  • Website visits: The number of people who click the link in your bio.

Follower growth: How much are you growing week-over-week, based on how many people are discovering you?


💰 Italic announced a $37M Series B.

🤖 Writing helper Copy.ai closes on its second funding round this year.

🩲 Parade looks to physical retail as it raises $20M in Series B funding round.

💪 Mindbody acquires ClassPass in all-stock deal and secures $500M investment.

🏋️‍♀️ Vuori receives $400M investment and $4B valuation from SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

👕 100 Thieves acquires peripherals brand Higround.

🔊 Have you heard our latest podcasts?

🧵 Cornering the $4.2B Quilting Market, with David Mifsud from Missouri Star Quilt Co.

🚽 Why YouTube is the secret behind this DTC bidet brand’s success, with Thomas Lotrecchiano from Omigo.

👨‍🎓 Retention for Consumables, with Troy Petrunoff from Every Man Jack.

🌎 Omsom’s Emily Chan shares the secret behind 90% of their growth, and it’s NOT paid ads.

Don’t forget to rate the DTC Podcast on Apple (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

DTC Newsletter is written by Thomas Schreiber, Kelsey Hess, Tina Donati, and Rebecca Knight.

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