Why Direct-to-Customer (DTC) Is Here to Stay

Why go direct-to-customer? In 2020, 10 years of e-commerce growth occurred in just 90 days. Consumer behaviour as we know it has shifted for good especially when it comes to the perception of convenience and the experience of shopping online. While shopping on the Internet is no longer such a big leap of faith even for the most senior amongst us, this comes with new expectations in the realms of communication, customer experiences and brand connection.

Image Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/five-fifty-the-quickening

What we’re experiencing now is a upwards acceleration of trends that existed before the pandemic – industries that did well are doing even better, whilst ones with poor performance, plummeted. Consumer brands equipped with resilient, future-ready business models with their customers at front of mind have pulled further away from their industry peers, and those with legacy business models maybe left in the lurch. 

Exploring a mix of business models has emerged, and while many companies are positioned to sell on ever growing marketplace platforms, something about the direct-to-consumer model is taking hold. What’s even more interesting, is that direct-to-customer (DTC) businesses that are hitting maturity at this point, have become some of the fastest growing eCommerce business successes – turning over billions.

Riding the D2C Success Wave

Take Dagne Dover, for example, a feedback based luxury bag brand that pre-sold nearly $40,000 worth of their high-end totes (their products range from $125 – $500). Recently, they have had over $1 million dollars worth of sales since launch and received $1.25 million from angel investors related to brands like Coach and Warby Parker.

Another DTC success story comes in the form of the Dollar Shave Club, a name now synonymous to the subscription model. They have just been snapped up by Unilever for $1bn. Just this week, Amazon-backed Indian D2C beauty brand MyGlamm has just raised $71 million in investment.

Even legacy companies are acknowledging the D2C appeal. FMCG company Emami Ltd has just increased its stake by 15% to 45.96% in Helios Lifestyle, a male-grooming products seller under The Man Company brand. Hindsutan Unilever Ltd, India’s largest packaged good maker, is also set to make product lines available direct-to-customer via mono brand sites. Even Nike aims to grow the share of its DTC sales from 30 percent today to 50 percent in the near future.

It’s clear that things are looking promising for DTC. While there are some added details and logistical costs to consider  such as warehouses, customer service and order fulfilment  there are still many benefits of going the D2C route for eCommerce businesses. Here are a few:

Reasons to Go Direct-To-Customer

  • Fuels innovation: With direct access to customer feedback, D2C provides the insight that closes the gap between R&D and product innovation. Having that immediacy to evaluate and test brings the brand closer to their customer’s needs, creating even more specific solutions.
  • Drive sales: Brands may need ways to resolve middlemen conflicts especially if they are already selling through retailers, outlets and distributors. An option would be to create e-Commerce exclusive product lines while being on the forefront to proactively share customer feedback and insights with its channel partners.
  • Customer-insight generation and community building: We’ve seen the impact of fan bases and follower-ships through the lens of celebrity for years. Creating that kind of loyalty and advocacy for brands isn’t that farfetched, especially when customer insight is evidently being used to benefit customers themselves. Free samples, involving them in test phases and feedback-based changes invites a sense of equity and provides direct learning for brands to stay in touch with their customers.
  • Brand building and differentiation: Having an in-depth understanding of the ‘direct’ part of DTC can set a brand miles ahead of the competition. As many options as there can be for customers, there will be just as many opportunities that DTC channels have to reinvigorate that customer relationship and to do what the brand has set out to in the first place – making life easier for its chosen audiences.

Conclusion

At the rate things are going, competition is growing dramatically and it seems as though everyone is jumping on board the eCommerce train. While it’s never been easier to start a business, scaling it is where the hard part lies. Though there can be longevity and many benefits to the D2C business model, sustainable growth calls for more: a knowledge of evergreen performance optimization implementations, an urgency to connect and adapt with customers, and a persistent desire to better customer experience overall.

Need an eCommerce marketing agency that has your company’s back? Find out how we can help boost your business. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Finding the Right eCommerce Agency Partner For You [ Updated 2021 ]

So, you’re ready to take things to the next level and outsource your digital marketing activities. The next step would be to hire an eCommerce marketing agency. But what goes into hiring the right one for you? How do you ensure that you’re both looking at the same goals? How do you know if they’ll work with your budget?

Like every partnership, the getting-to-know-you phase can feel treacherous and nerve-wracking, and there’s just so much at stake. A lot of things can only be revealed in time, and it does feel like this leaves a lot up to chance. But this process doesn’t have to cost the earth (or your sanity!).

  1. Demystify your needs: Ask yourself some specific questions about your business – what do you need help with right now, how do you envision growth in the next 6 months and what’s needed to get you there? No one knows your business or the ethnographic of your industry better than you do. So first, analyse the kind of assistance you need, whether it’s a one-off or an ongoing need, the pace that suits your business growth, your forecasted budget, and narrow down your list from there.
  2. Clarify your short-term and long-term goals: In a nutshell, you need to make sales to make money to invest this back into your business (it’s a whole chain!). Therefore, your ecommerce marketing agency’s approach should be geared toward sending customers a relevant message that’s designed to incite an action — to learn, subscribe, follow, or buy. If you have an idea of the big picture – great! But every little step counts. Your agency should take into account the very specific incremental actions that get you to the point you want. Like getting people to spend more time on the website, increasing average order value, building your email subscriber list, improving the customer retention cycle, etc.
  3. Focus on metrics and desired outcomes: Getting on the right side of your priorities is key and having a clear idea of what success looks like to you gives agencies the idea of accountability. For example, things like increasing return on ad spend by 13 percent, boosting website traffic by 30 percent, increasing YOY sales by 40 percent, 2x product upsells, add 110K more subscribers in 18 months

The Benefits of Having An eCommerce Agency Partner

  • having help saves you time so you can focus on the day-to-day
  • allows you to manage other issues like staff management, logistics, etc.
  • your agency partner will have industry insight you might not be privy to and keep you up to date
  • acts as an extended arm of your business to help you profit on a different level

Hiring An Agency vs. Hiring An Employee

Would hiring someone in-house trump hiring an agency? Depends on your situation and requirements. Let’s have a quick look at the benefits of hiring an employee to work in-house:

  • Your staff works exclusively for you, so (in theory) you should have their undivided attention.
  • Budgeting is sometimes more straightforward.
  • They’ll get an intimate understanding of your brand, values, and objectives.

However, when it comes to eCommerce stores, especially in the areas of SEO, design, web development, and marketing, agencies might provide more benefits. Plus, agencies offer a competitive edge due to their specialist skills and technical expertise, along with the following benefits:

  • On-demand services are more cost-effective
  • Helps to build custom experiences that makes you stand out against the competition
  • Optimised performance
  • Quality Assurance

Conclusion

Selecting the right eCommerce agency can be complicated. There are thousands of agencies everywhere. However, knowing the basics of what each does and how they work can help make the process easier. Experience is key. Your agency list should consist of companies who have a proven track record in marketing and growth. This helps you to find companies who are reliable and can deliver the results you’re after. Getting started with an eCommerce marketing agency can be intimidating but there are tips you can follow which can make the process easier.

To reach your desired goal, you need to seek out the right combination of skills, experience and resources. Although there is no set formula, it is essential to work closely with an agency partner who can help you accelerate your growth and proactively spot opportunities. At the same time, look for consistency in treatment, progression and an overall sense of confidence that the job will get done.

Finding these things in an eCommerce marketing agency isn’t easy; but worth the effort. Especially if it leads to not just an uptick in dollars, but increased self-awareness in a wider business sense, a more adaptive approach to failure (especially in these changing times) and challenged cognitive biases that lie outside of your periphery.

Looking for an eCommerce marketing agency that has your back? Find out how we can help boost your online business. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

The Effect of Visual Content on Online Shopping Decisions

The saying ‘we eat with our eyes’ couldn’t be more true when it comes to e-Commerce. Satiate your customer’s visual appetite, and you’ll be able to 

  • Earn their trust
  • Prove your value and 
  • Make it as easy as possible to help them make their purchasing decisions.

Presenting your product in a variety of ways gives customers a stronger idea of what they will be buying. Plus, this shows that you’ve gone the extra mile to capture the details and unabashedly highlight your key differentiation points.

Even when it comes to customer reviews and how much credibility it has for e-Commerce, a survey conducted in December 2020 stated that 62% of consumers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US said that they were more likely to buy something if they were able to view customer photos and videos of the item. This goes to show that when optimising content in a manner that appeals to your customers, the closer you get to helping them make faster purchasing decisions.

What Should My Business Focus On Visually?

It’s found that 80% of online shoppers tend to toggle between online search and video whilst deciding to purchase (Think With Google). More recently, it seems that viewers have deemed the traditional markers of high production quality, celebrity features and platform or network based preferences as less of an importance. Consumers in 2021 would prefer video content relevant to their personal interests, hobbies and passions. In fact, content that featured a famous actor or celebrity was held as the least important element across the 9 countries surveyed. But most interestingly, content that related the most to viewer passions was the most watched amongst Australians.

Clearly, the shift towards user-generated and short-form content does tell us one clear thing. When you find a way to speak to your audience’s passions and pain points, this will quickly override any not-so-premium aspects of how you present your point.

8 Tips For Starting An Online Business

8 Tips For Starting An Online Business

If you want to start an online business then you certainly have a lot to think about. You need to plan out your entire business; that includes investment, budgets, marketing plan, picking an online platform to name a few. Then you need to think about what areas to focus on, build your database, find leads and most importantly – work with the right people to help you along the way. This can be difficult when the market is flooded with so many options. Below we hope to set out 8 tips to starting an online business to make your life a whole lot easier!

  1. Do Your Research

Make sure that you do your research and understand your market and your competitors (if any). Learn from them and work harder to give your customers a better experience, better customer service, better pricing and better shipping options for example. Plan out your customer journey according to their needs. How will they shop on your site? What is the quickest method to converting your website traffic into buying customers? You also need to make sure that you don’t under price your products as well. This may be tempting because it is a great way to get in the market, but this could hinder you later on. Offer great value and customer service and you won’t have to lower your prices/rates.

  1. Make Your Website User Friendly

You need to make sure that your website is user friendly, beautiful and converts you’re audience into buyers. If your site is not user friendly than your users will leave and go to your competition. It’s that simple. Knowing what to add to your website, and what not to add can often be a challenge when starting out but working with User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) experts, can certainly make or break an online business in most cases.

  1. Understand Your Audience

Understanding your audience and offering them true value and giving them what they want will set you apart from your competition. So listen to your audience, ask them what they love and what they don’t love. This will help shape your business profoundly and hopefully make your business much more profitable along the way. Start by creating customer personas. Personas are your target audience, the people who will use your website the most. Start with 2 or 3 personas and start marketing to those types of customers.

  1. Sell International

If you plan to advertise your products to your international buyers, consider having multiple currencies for your customers to choose from so they can view your site easier. Use Translation Tools to translate your website copy to other languages. Create website pop-ups or banners that are specially designed and targeted to overseas IP addresses to welcome them and give them special offers to incentivise them to buy with your online store.

  1. Consider Shipping and Logistics

Shipping costs and logistics is often an overlooked area of online retailing, when starting out. Think … can you and your site handle large orders? Can it handle 100 orders a day or 1000 orders a day? Consider placing a product limitation on your site so you only advertise the stock you have available. Customers love free shipping. So calculate the costs to offer this service and create promotions to suit your business. For example – ‘Free Shipping On Orders Over $99’. This will often increase your average cart size and average order value!

  1. Offer The Right Payment Options

How are you going to let your customers pay? Card? PayPal? Cheque? BPay? Cash? Try to offer as many options as possible, if it suits your business but beware that there are some added costs, like special Payment Gateways. PayPal is definitely recommended and is an easy method to setup. If you’re shipping or trading internationally then look at other options, like the Chinese AliPay for example. Talk to us if you’re unsure of which method to choose.

  1. Find The Right Marketing Channels

Marketing your products or business is possibly the biggest challenge any small business will face when starting an online business or E-commerce store. Thankfully there are lots of options that you can choose from that won’t cost you a fortune. Start by focusing on Social Media, focus on two channels to begin with and work hard to build out your posts, feed, images and content. Find out what channels your customers are using, then simply get involved in their conversations, forums, comments sections and offer your input and create value. Try not to over sell, but simply give advice and share ideas. Be seen as a thought leader in your space. Creating a blog is always another great option, which will help with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This will help your business climb the Google Rankings and help your customers find you online.

  1. Choose An E-commerce Expert To Help You

Having the right team who can help to build your online business and e-commerce store is critical to your success. Pick a team who has experience and understands what it takes to succeed in the online space. There are many components to a successful E-commerce business, and often you can’t take on every single task yourself.

So there you have it, 8 tips to starting an online business! Your business may take some time to get going, but when you have these 8 tips in place, you will start to see great results!

It has never actually been easier to start an online store and Web Design Market can help you with anything to do with your online business. We have plenty of hassle free solutions available for you to choose from so give us a call today on 03 8400 4600 to discuss your next big project!

Sales BOOM: How E-commerce Is Transforming Small Businesses

Sales BOOM!
Sales Boom: How E-commerce Is Transforming Small Businesses

A growing number of small businesses are cashing in on the popularity of online shopping by turning to the Internet to sell their products and services. With online spending in Australia increasing by 12 per cent to $16.2 billion last year, according to NAB figures, there’s never been a more opportune time. While a company website certainly helps attract more customers, embracing e-commerce widens the net even further, offering multiple advantages.

A major benefit is that it helps small businesses remain competitive, particularly against larger corporations. An impressive website can go a long way to attract customers, no matter how small your store is. In fact, many people prefer to purchase products from a ’boutique’ business, therefore whether your business has five or 500 employees is irrelevant.

Selling online also provides small businesses with extra revenue by generating sales 24/7. Customers can place orders at any time of day or night without you having to work extra hours. This is especially appealing to small business owners who are time-poor and want to achieve a healthier work-life balance.

Web Design Market - E-commerce Experts

Another bonus of e-commerce is the ability to sell unlimited products. A broad range of items draws a large variety of customers and those who browse for a specific item often end up buying more when something catches their eye. To expand on that, social media users can post images and details about new products with links to their website, encouraging even more sales.

When it comes to Internet marketing, it’s especially important for small businesses to remain prominent. An online store allows customers searching online to find your business by using the correct keywords. It also improves your company’s visibility in Google search listings, places it on online maps and provides a platform for online reviews.

Another incentive to sell online is the crucial market research it provides. Essentially, it allows business operators to understand what customers are thinking. You can determine which items are regularly viewed, which pages are popular and those that users leave most frequently. You can also accurately ascertain how many products are needed.

With these benefits and more, it’s not surprising to see why e-commerce has become an integral part of business today. Those interested in selling online should know that creating an e-commerce website can be both hassle-free and affordable with the right help. Web Design Market Melbourne are a team of digital experts who specialise in quality e-commerce development for small to medium businesses. They use Magento, BigCommerce, WordPress and WIX platforms just to name a few. For a free quote, call (03) 8400 4600.

27 Quick Online Tricks to Get More Customers

Whether you are starting a business, company, or contracting work, you want to be found online. More than 90% of Australians online, this means 9 of 10 of your future customers will be looking for your website, Facebook Page or online business listing. Heck, they might be “Googling” you right now!

If you play the game right, you WILL find success in the online space.

We have been in the field for a while, so let us give you a few pointers.

Below is a collection of Quick Tips to Supercharge Your Online Marketing Efforts. These tips are easy to do, don’t take much time AND deliver big results.

Happy Marketing!

WDM Team

27 Quick Online Tricks to Get More Customers

1. Add a Call To Action (“Request a Quote”, “Call Now”, Call “03 12 34 567 Now”) at the top of every page of your website

2. Get feedback on your site design using Usability Hub: https://usabilityhub.com

You can either step back from your computer monitor while looking at your website and squint your eyes to partially distort your vision and then you will most likely only see basic blocks of your website design and sales copy.

4. Set Up Google Analytics (it’s free!) and see where your site visitors come from and what they are doing on your website (http://www.google.com.au/analytics/)

6.Install Google Web Master Tools. This ensures Google knows about your website and allow you to start appearing in Google quicker.

8.Offer a strong money-back or return guarantee. Get customers over the line by making them a promise. If you are offering your services in market, you should be delivering them anyway.

9.Use Pingler to let Search Engines know about your website. Takes 30 seconds, just plug in your website URL and categories you want to appear for, and Pingler will send alert major search engines. https://pingler.com

10. Add your website to your e-mail signature. Simple.

12. List Your Business on Google & Yellow Pages. You can post on hundreds of online directories, but most will refer to Google and YP anyway.

13.Use Topsy to find out what people are saying about your brand, product, or service on social media such as Twitter and Instagram, for free! http://topsy.com

14. Generate Content Title Ideas with this tool. For when you are stuck for ideas for writing articles that could be of interest to your customers. http://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker

15. Google Your Competitors. Are they doing anything successfully that you can do for yourself?

16. Google Yourself. What sites are linking to you? Are your competitors appearing?

17. Join Industry Associations. The Queensland Government site for businesses has a directory of associations by industry:
http://www.business.qld.gov.au/business/support-tools-grants/support/business-industry-associations/a-z-business-industry-associations

18. Add Social Share Buttons and Track their usage with Add This. See what content is popular with your customers. http://www.addthis.com

19.Run an online only promotion and post on Bargain sites (eg. Ozbargain)

20.Complete your social media account profiles and link to website.

21.Use the Google Keyword Tool to find out how many people are searching for your brand, product or service online. https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner

22.Take a picture of your office and add to the contact page

23.Free to Use Images http://www.freeimages.com/

24.Get the most web un-savvy person you know to test your site.

25. Ask 3 customers/clients for feedback on your site.

26. Ask a question at the end of your blog post, to encourage comments.

27. Share/retweet your older but popular content again.

Reviving the PPC vs. SEO Debate: What Works Better for eCommerce?

The PPC vs. SEO debate is an old one, but has become more interesting of late with the increasing complexity of Google’s search algorithms and the powerful targeting options of the evolving Adwords platform. Irrespective of which method you prefer, you cannot deny the importance of both online marketing channels in driving more leads and sales to businesses. According to a report by Jupiter Research, 81 percent of users find what they are looking for via a search engine.

Many believe that PPC is leading the way in this battle of search engine marketing, especially when it comes to eCommerce. It does in fact have an edge in terms of conversion rates as paid search results have a 1.5x higher chance to convert click-throughs from search engine result pages. However, there are 8.5x more chances for organic results to be clicked compared to paid search results.

THE ONGOING DEBATE

Both PPC and SEO are popular methods to drive traffic. So why this debate between them? While SEO brings in the organic traffic via organic search results, PPC allows you to place a highly targeted ad on Google using specific keywords. Users too don’t mind clicking these ads as Google ensures that these advertisements are predominantly relevant to what they are looking for (based on the keywords in the search term).

There are a few issues with SEO. For example, it involves a set of time-taking activities to get your website ranked higher on SERP (search engine result page). Secondly, there is no guarantee with SEO. That being said, positive ROI is likely with right optimisation efforts. In fact, if done properly SEO can outperform PPC in terms of ROI. But it takes a lot of time and practice apart from skills, resources, financing and a proper strategy to get it right. You will need at least 6 months to generate positive ROI with SEO.

PPC, in contrast, ensures that your brand shows up for specific keyword search right on top position of the SERPs. It’s quick to set up and even faster in generating results, although PPC is a little slower to optimize. In most cases, PPC campaigns help you receive instantaneous results. Besides, they are not affected by algorithm changes. On the downside PPC campaigns can be expensive as you need to pay for every click, whether or not they convert. This means you will end up losing a significant amount of money if your PPC campaign fails.

PPC FOR ECOMMERCE

There is no denying that eCommerce has always relied on PPC. And after the latest additions in AdWords in the form of aggregated Store Reviews (for Google Trusted Stores), Shopping Ads, and Ad Customisers (Sale Countdown), businesses are seeing an increasing return of investment from the effectiveness of these ads.

One PPC strategy for online stores is to bid for revenue, which means you could earn five dollars back for every dollar spent on AdWords. But to do so you need to bid for an expected revenue instead of bidding for clicks and conversions. Here is how selling with PPC works:

  • Bid on a competitive keyword
  • A user search with your keyword and AdWords displays an ad
  • The user clicks the ad and it takes him/her to your landing page
  • The user browses the site and may/may not purchase your product(s)
  • He/she checks out and you need to attribute the sub-total to the keyword

While you cannot control people’ purchase decision with your PPC campaigns, you can certainly influence their decisions. And the good news is that it almost always works for eCommerce sites as the AdWords reporting allows online retailers to identify the top performing products (i.e. keywords) to improve their sales. PPC therefore provides the knowledge, and provides insights which you need to approach SEO for your eCommerce site.

APPROACHING SEO FOR ECOMMERCE

Although eCommerce websites tend to rely on PPC, this alone cannot help you rank higher than your competitors on Google’s search engine result pages. According to a study by Gabe Donnini, “the share of impressions coming from the first position is almost double that for the second position, truly illustrating the value the first spot holds.”

Another study by Optify back in 2011 found that the average CTR (click-through rate) for websites ranking number one was 36.4 percent, whereas those in the second positions had 12.5 percent click-through rate and the third positioned had just 9.5 percent CTR.

Having a strong SEO strategy is therefore essential for your clicks and sales as well as for your brand impressions. To approach SEO for your eCommerce website, begin with in depth research, including both keyword and competitor research. When it comes to keyword research you need to focus on three primary areas:

  • Identify popular keywords for homepage and individual homepage and product pages
  • Find keywords for blog topics, including long-tail keywords
  • Avoid keyword cannibalisation i.e. trying to rank multiple pages of your website for the same keyword

In addition, conduct a thorough competitor research including identifying the keywords your competitors are using, the sources from where they are getting their links (especially for content marketing), and their site architecture. Study their SEO strategy and see what you can do differently to yield better results.

One thing you must remember that “content is key” in SEO; therefore, focus on your content. This has become even more important after Panda and Penguin updates. In addition, the Pigeon update, which was rolled out on July 24, requires you to give more importance to local search as it is now tied more closely to traditional Web ranking signals than ever.

Last but on the least, your SEO efforts should also consider the new mobile-friendly updateMobilegeddon to make your eCommerce website more mobile-friendly. After all, mobile commerce is one of the Big Bets of the eCommerce world at present. According to a 2015 comScore study, smartphones account for almost 20 percent of search activities whereas 9 percent online searchers use tablets from the same purpose.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

What you need is a cohesive strategy that combines the two distinct disciplines to help you achieve the best of both worlds. For example, by using both PPC and SEO together you can understand the new keyword opportunities, identify organic keywords with a few impressions but high CTR and vice versa and target them all for your SEO efforts. In other words, test your organic keywords through PPC campaigns and fine tune your strategy accordingly. Similarly, you can use site search data (which is a part of your SEO efforts) to discover better performing PPC keywords.

The benefits of such a cohesive strategy are many. One such benefit is that it helps you combat negative PR. eCommerce brands are often subjected to negative PR; someone out there always has something bad to say about you. It is often inevitable but combining PPC and SEO efforts is a great damage control. Since it helps you dominate both organic and paid search results, you can effectively guide the conversation by controlling the PPC and SEO results for a particular term.

One great example we have seen till date was during the Gulf oil spill. After some time of this unfortunate incident, BP conducted a PPC ad campaign, linked to the term “oil spill,” which took visitors to a page that discussed BP’s cleanup efforts in details. BP ensured that whenever a user searched about oil spill, their PPC ad topped the list to tell people their side of the story.

CONCLUSION

Is there a clear winner?

Perhaps no. Combining PPC and SEO efforts is rather the way to create a winning digital marketing strategy as they are rightly called a match made in heaven. By integrating your organic and paidsearch activity you create a synergy that generates better results in dominating the search space. The secret to do so, however, lies in how you are informing your SEO/PPC strategy based on data derived from the other channel.