The D2C (direct-to-consumer) market has been growing rapidly at double-digit rates for several years. It is projected to maintain further growth in 2021, up to 19.2%.
These movements result from shifting consumer preferences and the strengthening of eCommerce behavior as more brands find interesting ways to capitalize on the chance of creating meaningful relations with consumers. Digital advertising, and the various tactics available within it, have given some D2C brands the ability to reach consumers in a new way.
Nevertheless, having a deliberate strategy to reach their target consumer and execution to effectively convert customers at a reasonable cost, D2C brands can see positive results using digital marketing.
To better understand the strategies for targeting locally for a D2C wellness brand, we chatted with Phil Wocken, Strategist at Adventure Creative. Adventure Creative specializes in offering full-service capabilities for active-lifestyle brands.
Q: Let’s start with an explanation of what Adventure Creative does and the type of clients you work with.
Phil Wocken: We take a different approach from most marketing agencies. We center our model around end-to-end strategy, which means that while we offer a full range of brand strategy, creative, and media services, we also look at the entirety of the business, similar to a business consultancy. So, we’ll also help our clients with product development, distribution strategies, and go-to-market plans. This truly holistic approach ensures that marketing priorities are entirely in line with business priorities. We’ve developed this model in direct response to the needs of our clients in the active lifestyle, outdoors, and travel/tourism industries where buying journeys, customer lifecycles, product development cycles, and distribution models are increasingly complex.
Q: What kind of strategies and tactics do you use for your clients?
Because we work with a lot of clients early on in the brand development process, there’s often a heavy focus on helping their target audiences rediscover the brand. So, that means we certainly heavy-up around top-funnel brand awareness strategies. And because we take that full-circle approach, we’re also heavily involved in consideration, conversion, and retention strategies that boost the lifetime value of each customer. Tactics-wise, that means a lot of hyper-targeted niche advertising (programmatic, OTT, social, traditional, OOH) to darken the skies of our target audiences. Then we’re using programmatic advertising, social retargeting, and content marketing/email series to bring them along in the journey of conversion and ultimately retention.
Q: How have these strategies and tactics changed over the last year?
The pandemic has certainly shifted some of our strategies into more digital approaches for many of our clients as target audiences spend more time on screens than ever before. Another big change over the past year has been shifting how we (and consumers as a whole) consider data privacy. As marketers, we have a responsibility to our audiences to treat them not as data points, but as humans. So, we’ve really prioritized helping our clients understand the importance of strong first- and zero-party data, while also stressing transparency. Not only is it the responsible thing to do, but it also helps the brand be more efficient with their spend.
Q: How has Choozle helped you execute your campaigns and strategies for your clients?
Choozle has fundamentally changed how our clients approach their media strategies. Especially for those clients who normally wouldn’t have access to the massive trading desks due to more moderate budgets, Choozle allows them to access that previously elusive programmatic inventory. What’s more, the ongoing roll-out of new tactics (like podcast advertising) has allowed us to expand the media plan to incorporate additional tactics under a unified media strategy.
Q: What are some of the benefits of being able to target specific audiences?
At the end of the day, our clients are ultimately responsible for the performance of their advertising dollars, and so we have a lot of conversations with them about how to maximize their investment. Being able to finitely target each campaign and reach very specific niche audiences while maximizing the efficiency of the client’s budget is paramount.
Q: How have these strategies improved your campaigns and performance?
Rather than casting a wide net and prioritizing general awareness (as is typically the necessary evil of traditional media), our niche targeting strategies allow us to focus on driving awareness only with the target audiences that matter most to our clients. Not only does this preserve budget, because we’re only reaching the people most interested in hearing from our clients, but it also allows us to hyper-target the creative for these niche audiences, further improving campaign performance.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face when implementing digital advertising?
The digital advertising space evolves so quickly that education will always be a part of any media plan we present to clients. Not only do we have to stay on top of the latest technologies, tools, and trends, but we also have to make sure that our clients fully understand the strategies we’re presenting. Otherwise, even if we create the absolute optimal media plan, clients will be hesitant to invest in something they don’t fully understand.
Q: Any final thoughts?
Right now there’s so much focus on the cookie-less future and figuring out what’s the next targeting technology to replace it, it’s important to think about the broader implications. Consumers (and regulators) are increasingly worried about data privacy, and targeting methods that rely on first-, second-, and third-party data will continue to be under fire for years to come. Instead, we need to plan for the zero-party data future, in which consumers explicitly share data with brands. This two-way street requires that brands prioritize building trust, offering transparency, and adding value to their consumers’ lives. When done right, this should bring media and content teams together in meaningful ways to prioritize adding value in our target audiences’ lives, not just advertising to them.