It’s no revelation that technology has changed how we interact with brands: I can get prescriptions immediately delivered to my office, custom-built furniture sent to my home, and order-in dinner from my daughters’ favorite restaurant — all with a few taps on my phone.
Technology has given us personalized experiences, curated to our liking in an always-on, on-demand world. As a result, our expectations as customers have undergone tremendous change.
With seemingly hundreds of new brands entering the market each week, consumers are more likely to purchase from those that create the personalized, on-demand experiences to which we have grown accustomed…making loyalty more difficult to build and more crucial than ever to long-term success.
No group has better embraced and adapted to these changes than the Direct to Consumer (D2C) brands — implementing systems and a culture that embrace this rapid rate of change. Whether your own operation is B2B, brick-and-mortar, or an online business, you must also adopt the growth-driven, technology-first mindset of a D2C marketer in order to rise above the competition and stay relevant.
Here Are Three Reasons Why:
1. We Are All Consumers
Imagine yourself shopping at home. What kinds of brands are you personally drawn to? Data shows that consumers are more and more attracted to niche and online-only brands that make them feel understood, as though they are being spoken to directly.
Even if you’re Marketing B2B, your customers are consumers in their daily lives – that’s where they establish their shopping habits and expectations. People don’t just turn off their buying preferences because they’re at work.
Thinking like a D2C marketer requires not drinking your company’s own Kool-aid. Read your Marketing materials and Advertisements as if you’re the customer, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Would this messaging resonate with me if I knew nothing about this company?
- Am I addressing real pain points?
- Is this message showing up where/when I need it most?
- Does this message feel organic and relevant?
Skipping the jargon and showing your customers you understand them is the key to successful Marketing, regardless of industry.
2. Competition Is Literally Ubiquitous
The ability to operate entirely online makes it easier for entrepreneurs everywhere to not only to open a new business, but also to compete across the globe. Any business owner knows that competition is only growing more fierce, with global businesses facing more than 15 direct competitors, many of whom exist in different countries. We’re at an inflection point where technology is leveling the playing field for legacy brands and scrappy new players alike, meaning marketers across the board are on high alert for potential disruption.
To add another layer of competitive dynamics, brands are also competing for mindshare across a multitude of channels. Your buyers ingest an incredible amount of information rapidly across countless forms of media and spend less time than ever to decide if they want to pay attention or scroll on. To get a customer’s attention in the first place, let alone keep them captive, you must establish a meaningful relationship with them.
Think about the connection you feel when the barista at your go-to coffee shop remembers your order as soon as you walk in the door. Successful marketers are essentially re-creating this experience online: instead of running spray-and-pray email campaigns that blow up your customer’s inbox, create connected customer experiences that leverage the convenience of online shopping with the personalization of a local store. Earn their trust by keeping a consistent message across channels and by showcasing your brand’s unique values in a genuine way. Customers are even willing to pay more for this type of experience, but make sure it’s authentic, not creepy.
Create a narrative that speaks to the mission and vision of the company. Make sure your customers know who you are and what you stand for, and inject these themes in your campaigns, your communications, your content – everything. This narrative should flow with your customer throughout their entire journey.
3. Walled Gardens Are a Double-Edged Sword
Before you can even think about earning a customer’s trust, they have to know who you are.
Companies like Instagram and Amazon are great resources for customers to find products and services online. Their ease of use and massive network makes exposure to customers easier than ever before – but there’s a catch. When you go all-in on a walled-garden strategy, the gardens actually own your customer data and relationships. What a customer experiences on these platforms is rarely – if ever – associated with the brand itself. Just think about the amount of times you’ve heard: “I got it on Amazon.” Amazon becomes synonymous with the purchase and the product, not your brand.
The immediate sales boost that can come via advertising and selling through walled gardens might make it seem like people know about your brand, but relying too heavily on this strategy will ultimately drive a wedge between you and your customer. When these platforms have jurisdiction over your customer data and insights, your view of their journey is incomplete, meaning your customer is left with a disjointed experience and making it unlikely they’ll repurchase from you in the future.
The Path Is Yours to Own
Trends that gave way and spurred on the rise of D2C aren’t going away – this movement is just ramping up. Marketers, it’s time to get on board before your customers move on without you.
Once you’ve piqued a customer’s interest, give them an experience which shows you understand their pain points. Nurture the customer journey by investing in engaging content that makes a person want to visit your website rather than make a one-and-done purchase on Amazon or Instagram Checkout.
Many successful D2C brands position their products as parts of a lifestyle — you first buy the Away suitcase, subscribe to their travel blog, and end up buying the Tote bag for work and the Weekender for an upcoming trip. These repeat purchase actions stem from a seamless, integrated experience that’s built off a fundamental understanding of customers’ journey.
By taking back control of your own data with technology platforms that allow you to manage the relationship lifecycle all in one place, you can better understand your buyers’ path to purchase and ultimately create better experiences.