Real Time Banter: The dos and don’ts of driving D2C growth, with Nik Sharma

It’s hard out there for a D2C brand.

With many new retailers jumping on the direct-to-consumer bandwagon, the market has experienced a double-digit growth rate over the last few years. And it’s expected to increase another 19.2% in 2021.

So, competition is heating up.

To help shed some light on the evolving D2C landscape, Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands, shared his insights about underrated D2C growth strategies, life beyond Facebook and Google, and low-hanging fruit for new and experienced D2C brands alike.

What makes email advertising different from other channels?

Email is a safe and focused space for both consumers on brands. In a newsletter, readers aren’t constantly bombarded with ads and noise. They’re there to read a specific type of messaging from a specific sender. So it’s easier for brands to make those direct connections with their audiences in an email environment.

Meanwhile on social networks, the screen is filled with different types of content, enticing readers to keep scrolling. That’s why lower-funnel Twitter ads don’t work as well and TikTok ads have such a low CPM. Because people want to stay on those platforms instead of click out to a different page.

“If you go to read a newsletter, you’re more content, you’re more calm,” Sharma said. “You get the placement at a much cheaper price, programmatically, too. So you’re not wasting money on people who are probably never going to click or come to your brand in the first place.”

What’s some of the lowest-hanging fruit for D2C marketers?

There are two ripe pieces of low-hanging fruit for D2C marketers right now: informative landing pages and engaging video creative.

Landing pages should provide a full-funnel experience in a single scroll, answering every question a prospective customer might ask on their path to purchase. So by the time they reach the bottom of the page, they’re ready to buy.

Those landing pages should also include an acquisition offer to help the customer take that last step. Beyond the standard $5 discount, a retailer could offer six products for the price of five, for example. This way, more product gets in the customer’s hand.

In terms of video, D2C marketers should create video that’s native to each platform, fitting the right formatting specs and aspect ratio. That tends to drive higher CTRs and lower CPCs. Videos should also communicate the value proposition within the first 5-10 seconds and show the product within the first 3-4 seconds, resulting in thumb-stopping creative.

What’s overrated and underrated in D2C marketing today?

Facebook, Google, and Twitter may be overrated channels, especially when their feeds are inundated with ads. But within those channels, marketers are missing a major, underrated opportunity: Launching contextual ads that are native to each platform.

As Sharma said, “When [ads are] a lot more focused on the last page you visited and creating messaging around that – maybe including some kind of testimonial about that specific product – that might take an extra day’s worth of work, but your clickthrough rate and lift are going to end up higher.”

What’s beyond Facebook and Google from an advertising perspective?

Yes, there is life beyond the walled gardens of Facebook and Google!

If you have a small budget, Sharma recommends testing on self-service platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. He also advises D2C marketers to diversify their marketing mix. So they might combine Facebook and LiveIntent, for example, to increase distribution and lower CPAs. If you can mix channels together cohesively – with contextual messaging – you can be better positioned to drive conversions and lift.

What’s next in D2C advertising?

Personalization will continue to play a vital role in D2C advertising, especially in the pre-purchase funnel. For instance, brands can use customer data to deliver more personalized landing page experiences for each audience segment or demographic.

Sharma also hopes brands will harness the ability to show content based on each individual visitor’s network. For instance, a landing page might show a testimonial from a friend, colleague, or family member instead of just a random stranger.

Also up next? The bursting of the D2C bubble, inevitably.

“There are a ton of brands that are raising money to compete to be that one brand in the kitchen or that one brand in the living room,” Sharma said. “So I think we’re going to see either a roll-up, a consolidation, or some kind of fire sale of a lot of these brands.”

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