Can’t-miss DTC strategies to build strong customer relationships.
The Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) business model has evolved to be so much more than selling straight to the customer. Today’s strategies are about building genuine relationships and offering customers more opportunities to connect to their favorite brands.
The DTC model is reshaping the channel with an increased focus on customer gathering, generating helpful content and building a community. And it’s easier than ever with today’s online platforms. “Today’s customers want to connect with brands in a variety of ways,” says an article by eCommerce company Skubana. “If a brand isn’t exactly where customers expect to find them, they’re going to miss out on establishing meaningful relationships.”
Here are a few effective DTC strategies that translate perfectly to the direct selling model.
Give, Give, Give
The DTC channel is so much more than selling, it’s also about communicating directly to customers by educating, offering value, entertaining and problem solving. Building an audience that truly wants to interact with the brand and purchase products is the goal. Customers love to feel as if they are part of building the brand, a core component of the direct selling industry.
This can take place on social media channels, your website, through branded swag, educational emails and live workshops. It’s about giving your customers more than you ask from them and more than they expect. It’s also the underlying theme for the following strategies.
Dynamic Knowledge Hubs
Building a customer base without traditional distribution channels or retail fronts means more efforts toward solving your customers’ problems and answering their questions. Robust online knowledge hubs create a better user experience and make customers feel special. We aren’t talking about a wordy FAQ section—knowledge hubs feature blogs, how-to articles or videos, product tips, recipes, customer-generated content, message boards, searchable help content and more. It’s an interactive place where customers can learn and communicate.
Knowledge hubs also help reduce customer support traffic. On-page targeted content such as blogs and articles boost SEO rankings and increase relevancy for inquiring potential customers. Don’t think of your website as just an online storefront. Think of it as a community-building hub.
Customized Shopping Experience
Customers want to feel catered to, so providing an overall customized experience can set you apart. DTC companies incorporate strategies such as letting customers build their own product packs and combinations, product match quizzes, branded swag, showing photos of products used in different contexts and the ability to filter online shopping experiences by flavor, color, price, seasonal trends, personal goals and more.
Online product quizzes help reduce drop-off rates, capture visitor contact info and offer product suggestions with a “this can be yours” message. Black Rifle Coffee’s coffee match quiz asks visitors about their type of coffee maker; what they put in their coffee; how they like their coffee to taste; if they like light or dark roasts; and how much caffeine they prefer. Specific roasts are suggested based on their preferences, and many product images are paired with the company’s popular branded swag.
Similarly, Spongelle’s fragrance quiz helps visitors decide the types of fragrances they prefer; the level of exfoliation they need; and how they will use the company’s buffer sponge for their skin. During the quiz, visitors have the option of entering their email for a 25 percent off code.
Flexible payment options are another hot trend to combat customers abandoning their online shopping cart. According to eCommerce company Skubana, roughly 70 percent of online shoppers do not complete their transaction. Buy now/pay later options, installment payments, cryptocurrency options, services such as PayPal and subscription options are popular strategies. According to a study by PipeCandy, by 2023, 75 percent of DTC businesses will offer subscriptions for their customers.
Building on a customized shopping experience, overall personalization is sharply on the rise. In fact, customers are coming to expect it. A 2022 Salesforce survey found that 73 percent of shoppers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations. According to McKinsey & Company, 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Personalization can range from personalized products, packaging, messaging, loyalty programs, customers surveys, member communities and more.
Customized packaging can include personal messages, customer names, unique designs or special offer inserts such as birthday discounts. “Customized packaging helps you add a personalized touch which enables you to make an emotional connection with your customer. This leads to brand loyalty and eventually higher revenues,” explained Katana ERP.
Evolving loyalty programs allow customers to track progress and achieve rewards in a gamified experience. Members often have exclusive access to online events, discounts or new product launches. This also helps build a strong brand community customers want to be part of. An Insider Intelligence survey revealed that 88 percent of shoppers feel the experience a brand provides is just as important as its product.
Online live selling has become an increasingly popular way for DTC brands to create a more intimate selling experience with customers. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, live shopping sales may make up 20 percent of all eCommerce sales by 2026, and the livestream eCommerce market is predicted to reach $35 billion in 2024 (three times greater than in 2021). A Statista study found that the average number of people who purchased through live stream commerce rose by 76 percent (compared to pre-pandemic levels).
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube all have popular live formats, and chat apps such as WhatsApp are rolling out large group formats that feature video calls. Platforms such as NTWRK and TalkShopLive are specifically designed for video shopping. Live selling allows brands to reach more people at once and meet customer needs. Tommy Hilfiger broadcasted a live selling event in China to 14 million viewers, and it sold out 1,300 hoodies in less than three minutes.
Planned campaigns are important for successful live selling events. The key components include: a relatable influencer, entertainment components, flash sales, product demonstrations and helpful DIY tips. “Fill your calendar with content ideas for each live stream, focusing on themes, products and conversations you’ll have with your audience,” Influencer Marketing Hub recommends. “The more entertaining and engaging your shopping experience, the more likely people will watch.”
From the January/February 2023 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.