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Lessons Learned: Marketing Strategies for DTC Brands with Brian Roisentul
During the last few years, things have changed a lot. Businesses have to change too. There are higher customer acquisition costs, meaning that we need to level up the marketing and retention game, increasing the average order value, and lifetime value.
In this episode of the GrowthMentor Podcast, we speak with Brian Roisentul, Founder and CEO of BSR Digital, about marketing strategies for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Brian offers valuable insights into the evolving e-commerce landscape and its impact on DTC marketing.
In this episode, you’ll hear about:
- What e-commerce brands are doing wrong
- The importance of building a brand and having a solid identity
- The need to know your numbers (customer acquisition cost, return on investment, etc.)
- The role of paid ads and the importance of focusing on the creative side
- Tips on utilizing remarketing strategies and the role of email and SMS
- Experify: Customer review outreach tool
- KnoCommerce: Post-purchase survey platform
- Skio: Subscription management solution
- Okendo: Shopify reviews and more
- FreshRelevance: Personalized user experience
- Twik: AI-powered catalog sorting tool
- Malomo/Aftership: Improved post-purchase experience
- Klaviyo: Email marketing platform
- Attentive: SMS marketing solution
- Checkout Promos: Upsell platform
- Recharge: Subscription management software
- JudgeMe: Review collection platform
- Replo (YC S21): Landing page builder
- Triple Whale: Data analysis tool
- Peel: Business insight platform
- Gorgias: Customer support software
- FlexReturn: Returns management software
And all these in less than 16 min.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Hi everyone. Welcome to another Growth Mentor episode. I’m excited to have Brian Roisentul today with us. Brian is experienced in the e-commerce space with over 10 years. He is the founder and CEO of BSR Digital a performance marketing agency, and I’m excited to talk with him about Marketing Strategies for DTC brands. Welcome, Brian.
Brian Roisentul: Hey, thanks for having me.
Spyros Tsoukalas: So, let’s go straight to the interesting stuff. Could you tell us something we don’t know about marketing and marketing strategies for DTC brands?
Brian Roisentul: Okay, so I’ll give that a shot. If we go back to 2020, I’ll do a quick recap on what happened, you know, the last few years 2020 COVID, heat and there was a big booming e-commerce space, we all know that the 2021 iOS 13 update was there, you know, I use 14 was released, and brands are starting to struggle, we started to see less traction from the ad side of things, we started to see less tracking. It created a lot of issues for many brands. In 2020 choose supply chain issues, due to the war, due to many aspects, due to COVID as well, which caused a recession or wipe recession as well. That made many brands go out of business and many others rethink their unit economics and their numbers, right? And 2022, we need to understand with that movie already, let’s say completed 2020, 2021, or 22, we need to understand that things have changed, right? And businesses have to change to there are higher customer acquisition costs, meaning that we need to level up the marketing and retention game, increasing the average order value, and lifetime value. And many things we will discuss later in the interview, I believe. And then there was an interesting report that Shopify recently released. You know, they analyzed a lot of e-commerce brands and a lot of data from their partners. And they sent three interesting things. People are willing to switch brands based on price more than before. So you need to work on your customer loyalty game, and you need to improve it really fast because they are living more than before. Buyers want to support more ethical businesses with more sustainable supply chains. brands need to overcome third-party data woes through collaboration, meaning that brands need to collaborate with other brands with other influencers and content creators, but they need to overcome that issue with third-party data, that lack of tracking through the collaborations.
Spyros Tsoukalas: So, what types of brands have you worked with in recent years?
Brian Roisentul: That’s a great question. So we work with a variety of industries. We mainly work with apparel and fashion brands, and we also work within the luxury industry. We are here in there with the fitness industry as well, low ticket items, as well as high ticket items.
Spyros Tsoukalas: What mistakes have you seen taking place within those industries and those industries and from those brands?
Brian Roisentul: Right, everything I’m going to say now has a common thread, which is that we can look at things. Or we can take a look at what happened in the platforms, let’s say Facebook ads or Google ads, or we can take a look at the real thing. And I’m saying the real thing because what happened in the platform is only probably a quarter. But way less than half of the situation of the movie, let’s say. So I agreed to take a step back. We’re out of the account and talk about the other aspects of the business that everyone is missing. You know underestimated the first e-commerce brands are underestimated their customers are underestimating their customers and what they want. So, with these, I mean no disrespect to any commerce brand. What I mean in a good way is that brands can know way more about their customers and their needs, wants, desires pain points than they think they do. Whenever we onboard a brand or we talk to brands here on my podcast as well. We actually see a lot of them that they think and assume many. But they haven’t actually talked to them and asked them the right questions to know what they really want, right? So if you don’t do something about it, that’s actually half of the game lost because you’re not triggering them with your messaging, you’re not targeting the right audiences, and you’re not going to have any impact. The second thing is that e-commerce brands are not actually building a brand. Again, I did do a quick recap at the beginning of that conversation, because of a very important reason. You do go with many brands, you know, game to be you know, they many brands were founded since 2020, since pandemic, but many of them have had things easier than today, they created an ad and a website, and that was all they needed to succeed. Now it’s not. If you don’t build a brand, that real brand, and interact with your customers, it’s really unlikely that you can succeed. And last but not least, many brands don’t know their numbers. They don’t know how much they can spend to acquire a customer when they can expect them to come back how much they expect them to spend on average on the brand over time. They don’t know their gross margins or net margins, they don’t know that many brands don’t. That’s why many of them are having cashflow problems and economic problems.
Spyros Tsoukalas: And what’s your approach?
Brian Roisentul: Okay, so for those three items, I’ll do my best to summarize, in the shortest time possible, the first one, they need to understand who their customers are. And for that, they need to define their avatars. So, us, if you’re listening or watching and you have an e-commerce brand, and you think you know who your customers are, put them together in groups, based on different factors. Those are called buyer personas or avatars. And you should define who they are because all of them have different reasons, you don’t need to go crazy and find 1000 avatars, but at least the top three to five avatars. So one client, one type of customer might buy your stuff because of reason A, different from the other one, which is reason B and they value different things. So don’t assume that everyone buys your stuff. Because the same reason because it’s not. What you need to do based on that is to go and talk to them, first try to build them with the knowledge that you have on them, they need to validate that through surveys, I mean, post-purchase surveys, even quizzes, or you can do many things you can do one on one calls, with different excuses, hey, this is me from the customer success department, I just want to know, if you’re happy with your product, blah, blah, blah, and you ask them a few questions to quickly understand what they want. You can read the reviews, they leave on your website, or even on a competitor’s website to see what they provide to you about the product or the industry, or the category right as well. Once you build them, you need to level up your marketing, you need to say, Okay, this is going to be present on my website on my ads. It needs to make sense, right? So we need to talk about the communication. The other one is that you need to have a building a brand. A brand is built in many, many ways. But first, you need to have an identity, right? What do you stand for something? What are you solving? Do you have any colors? Are you fun? Are you serious? Do you have a community? Could be a Facebook group could be a Slack group, it could be an email list. It could be many, many different things. But you need to talk to your customers in any way. Because that’s what it’s going to keep your brand alive over time. But you need to build that brand and know your numbers. It’s easier to say than to do it, right? But in EA to work your numbers you need to actually understand what your customer acquisition costs are and what your expectations for our return value and lifetime value are. So for example, if you are expecting to make your money back from the first purchase, with many exceptions, of course, there are many industries in which this happens probably on higher ticket items, but in apparel and fashion and many other industries that we mentioned in this episode so far. This doesn’t happen in the beauty industry. For example, many people will buy something and you probably as a brand will lose money on the first order and that’s okay. What’s not okay is to not have a follow-up process or a back-end offer to actually make them back. So you should be thinking and designing your business to make the cost per acquisition work versus your lifetime value, and not your customer acquisition costs versus your average order value. Those are different things. So you might not make your money back or get your money back in the first order. But in the following, you will, but you don’t need to leave that up to chance. If you didn’t have ad campaigns, you need to have email flows or SMS or anything else that allow you to make that happen. You need to increase your average order value through bundles for different offers that make sense for your customers. You need to do many things. But if you don’t level up your retention game. I mean, what happens after the first purchase? It’s going to be horrible for your brand. Again, there. There are exceptions, but it’s going to be hard. That’s kind of a summary of those items that haven’t been mentioned.
Spyros Tsoukalas: What about paid ads?
Brian Roisentul: Okay, so paid ads? It’s a great question. First, you need to, again, things have changed, you need to do two things. You need to create a structure in a different way than you did it before. And I’m going to address that in a sec. And you need to track results in a different way than he did it before. Those two things are the creation and the tracking of the creation and optimization. It’s no anymore the divide and conquers, like let’s create 1000 campaigns 1000 audiences, let’s find the laser-targeted audiences. The audiences are a commodity right now. Two reasons. Or three, I would say first, from January 2020 to last year, there was Facebook removed many, many audiences. The second reason, after the iOS 13 update, many people need an update to be tracked. So the audience sizes are really smaller right now. And third, Facebook doesn’t have the data and doesn’t have enough audience. So not enough events will happen for Facebook to be able to give you quality data and results. So if you create 1000 campaigns with 1000 audiences in the palace the ads each patient won’t be able to understand what’s going on, and your campaigns won’t be able to optimize. And the fourth reason, let’s say a bonus track reason is that if you create a conversions campaign on Facebook, for example, the audience expansion is on anyways, you kind of changed that for the conversions campaign type. So even if you’re targeting an interest or a lookalike audience, Facebook is still leveraging everyone else. So many brands, what they are doing is creating fewer campaigns. And I will give you a formula right now but lets campaigns and broad audiences, bra this broad gender or not even gender if it doesn’t make sense for your brand to live with that. And the age range or the country, the age range could be like a bra to like 18 to 65 plus or whatever the gender depends on your brand new period, so only two women probably will be women make sense. But then everything else brought no interest, no look-alike audience and that audience will work really well. But that’s the key. Another tip is to not over-optimize the account. We don’t need to do that anymore. The ad campaign structure of the audiences is a commodity right now. What we need to work on, and many brands are not doing it is on the creative side of things on the ads. That’s overlooked by most media buyers, and that’s overlooked by most brands. They try to find a laser-targeted audience that doesn’t exist anymore or doesn’t work anymore. But then their ads are generic or they don’t address their audience’s problems. So, keep it small, keep it simple, and level up your messaging a lot. Remarketing is not working as it used to. So when before it we used to allocate 70% to cold audiences or prospective audiences and then 3% or 22 remarketing probably now is closer to 95. Five or 9010. Right? Because remarketing could be better than a more in a more intrusive and cheaper way through email or SMS or any other way but not through ads. These depend on your brand industry and many other things. But that’s more or less what we see on our end.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Last question of the day, any tools that you love or you recommend?
Brian Roisentul: So in line with what I’ve been saying, You need to gather data, third-party data, in case anyone listening doesn’t notice your body data is data provided by your customers explicitly. So if you put together a survey, and they explicitly tell you something about them that you don’t know, not only the gender or age, that will be great. So in line with, with that, A and O commerce, KnoCommerce, it’s for post-purchase surveys, it’s a great tool for getting to know more about your, I mean, the reasons why your buyers, you know, chose you as a brand, you have a tool called Xverify for reaching out to customers who left a review on your website. So basically, it’s like taking reviews to the next level. Now, if you go to a website, and you want to buy something that’s let’s say expensive. And you go to the website, you read the three, the four reviews, and that’s great, but you don’t know if they left a review, and that they had a problem with the product or anything else. So through these tools, you can reach out to those people and chat with them, and actually assess their real experience with the product. And that’s great because it actually improves conversion rate and many other things. Then after Shape, or Malama, those two, either one helps you improve the order tracking experience. And it helps you increase the AV in the process as well. I can keep going forever, I have a lot of triple wells for attribution tracking. If you have if you’re active on Google ads, Facebook ads, or Tik Tok ads and two or three platforms at the same time, and you don’t know what comes from where don’t trust Shopify, don’t trust Google Analytics, those you won’t get, like leading in the right direction, you should use a serious conversion tool to actually tell you what comes from where, and understand many things. So Triple Whale is the one that we use, mainly the agency but there are others as well.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Brian, thanks for taking the time to share these amazing insights. I’m not very familiar with the e-commerce space, but I learned a lot today.
Brian Roisentul: Okay, I’m happy to hear that. Thanks for having me. It was my pleasure.
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