DTC Marketing in Tough Times: Scaling Beyond Social Media

By TechNext Archives
Cover image for  article: DTC Marketing in Tough Times: Scaling Beyond Social Media

In tighter market conditions like the one we currently face, brands cannot be soley performance focused. To consider long term viability and health of the brand, there must be a heightened focus on both performance marketing and brand building. While a very important channel, relying solely on the social media as a lifeline has shown its limitations in scalability and sustainability for DTC brands.

Why Social Media Alone Doesn’t Scale:

1. Privacy and tracking changes - as cookies go away and other identifiers are removed due to different state laws and GDPR, it is becoming harder and harder to target and track performance at scale.

2. Ad Space Saturation: Despite the above limitations, many brands are still very heavily invested and as more brands lean on social media, there’s increased competition for ad space, pushing costs upward -- and the costs are magnified in inflationary periods.

3. Changing Algorithms: Social platforms frequently tweak their algorithms, which can dramatically reduce organic reach and disrupt ad performance.

4. Evolving User Behavior: The surge in ‘ad blindness’ and the increased use of ad blockers, in addition to privacy changes has diluted the efficacy of social media ads.

The Power of Diverse Channels:

1. Audio: The rise of podcasts and audio streaming platforms offers a unique, intimate avenue to connect with audiences. These auditory experiences can craft a brand story that resonates, creating both awareness and loyalty like traditional radio did. Streaming audio allows brands to reach the modern listener on their platform of choice, blending traditional radio's impact with digital’s precision, optimization and attribution.

2. Search: Despite the social media boom, search engines remain a pivotal touchpoint for consumers. By optimizing for organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC/SEM), brands ensure visibility at crucial moments of the buying journey. Search can also be used as an effective tool for conquesting at different times of the year (while others it may be cost prohibitive).

3. Connected TV (CTV)/Over The Top Television (OTT): With traditional TV viewership waning, CTV SVOD platforms like Peacock and Hulu or FAST (Free Ad Supported) platforms like Pluto and Tubi present a golden opportunity. CTV allows brands to reach the modern consumer in their leisure space, blending traditional TV’s impact with digital’s precision, optimization and attribution.

4. Retargeting: It’s a fact that most first-time visitors don’t convert. Retargeting using all digital tactics keeps the brand top-of-mind, nurturing potential customers until they’re ready to make the purchase decision.

5. Email: Often underrated, email marketing allows for personalized, direct communication. For DTC brands, it’s a tool to foster relationships, provide value and drive conversions.

Mass Media (Broadcast) vs. Targeted (Laser) Approach:

• Mass Media Approach: This is the broad, one-size-fits-all strategy -- casting a wide net hoping to capture as many leads as possible. While it provides extensive reach, it’s often less precise and can lead to wasted ad spend, especially detrimental in inflationary periods. With DTC brands where you have the return path (or purchase data and insights) there is little reason to turn to mass-media today, despite many saying otherwise.

• Targeted Approach: In contrast, the laser approach is all about precision. Since many DTC brands, by their very nature, control the consumer experience and purchase funnel, utilizing the precision and targeting, as well as attribution and optimization tools at your fingertips, you can more quickly use all of the above channels, understanding the audience intricately and crafting tailored messages for specific segments and optimizing along the way to your desired business outcomes. This strategy, although possibly reaching fewer people, often yields higher conversion rates and better ROI. It does not however need to reach fewer people - and this is where your targeted brand strategy will come into play.

Balancing Performance Marketing and Brand Building:

During inflationary periods, there’s an obvious appeal to focus on performance marketing due to its emphasis on measurable ROI. However, brand building’s intangible benefits -- loyalty, brand equity and emotional connections as well as establishing connection to create performance opportunities later -- create a cushion against economic volatility. Together, they form a holistic strategy: driving immediate sales while ensuring long-term growth.

In other words, In the dynamic DTC landscape, especially amidst economic challenges, it’s imperative for brands to look beyond the social media lifeline and take advantage of all of the other media options that offer the precision and scale - with measurability and action they need. By diversifying marketing channels and balancing the immediate results of performance marketing with the long-term vision of brand building, DTC brands set themselves up not just to survive, but to thrive and scale in any economic climate.

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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