DTC Marketing: A Detailed Guide to Maximize Profits in 2022 [Examples & Strategies]

The Direct to Consumer marketing landscape is becoming more competitive by the second. If your brand hasn’t adopted this yet, you’ll fall behind! In just one year, DTC marketing shot up by an incredible 24.3%, because this marketing approach allows businesses to directly sell their products to consumers, without third parties.  

Once Covid-19 hit, 84% of consumers started shopping online, decreasing in-store foot traffic and showing less value in middlemen to promote and sell your brand.

Mega brands like Tesla and Adidas have started using the DTC marketing model, and in 5 years, over 80% of consumers will have bought from this model.

Countless brands rely on DTC marketing to create more personal relationships with their buyers, control the promotion and marketing of their products and they have greater opportunities to turn consumers into brand advocates. 

Successful businesses, like Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker, have based their entire approach on DTC marketing and profited generously from doing so!

While this sounds amazing, it’s not easy getting into and advancing in the DTC space because it’s a highly competitive one. But this doesn’t mean you have to settle with giving third-parties a cut of your profits or not connecting directly with your buyers like you should.

If that sounds challenging, don’t worry. We have everything you need to know about DTC marketing and how to make it work for your business!

This guide covers what DTC marketing is, some of the top DTC marketing examples, DTC sales funnel models, and the best DTC marketing strategies, so your business can get started right away.

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Let’s dive into it!

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    What is DTC Marketing?

    DTC marketing stands for Direct to Consumer Marketing. Usually, a company will manufacture products and sell those products to retail stores. Retail stores will then add a markup and resell the products to consumers. On the other hand, DTC marketing is when the manufacturer sells products directly to consumers, cutting the middleman out.

    Because DTC marketing means more profit for manufacturers, more brands are starting to prefer this tactic. 77% of apparel brands use DTC marketing, and 55% of consumers prefer to buy from the manufacturer directly. 

    Top 4 DTC Marketing Examples

    You’ll be surprised at how many brands prefer DTC marketing. Many of these brands are startups and not multi-million empires. So, a business owner like yourself may understand how powerful DTC marketing can be for small companies. Let’s take a look at the best DTC marketing examples. 

    1. Dollar Shave Club

    Dollar Shave Club is known for its innovative marketing tactics, so it’s no surprise they use DTC marketing. This startup offers a wide range of men’s razors and similar grooming kits. Rather than buying their products at retail stores, Dollar Shave Club’s consumers can subscribe for products and determine an ordering schedule that best suits them.

     

    DollarShaveClub_DTC strategy
    Source: dollarshaveclub.com

    This tactic is highly convenient for consumers, as they get their products at their doorstep. Grooming kits are something men need consistently, so it makes sense to subscribe. For Dollar Shave Club, this is also extremely profitable. There’s no middleman to take a cut, and they have complete control over how and when consumers get their products.

    Since its start, Dollar Shave Club has only exhausted viral marketing tactics. Their first-ever attempt at DTC video marketing generated almost 5 million views in three months. 

    Takeaway: 

    You don’t have to invest money into creating a viral video. But think about the convenience Dollar Shave Club provides through D2C marketing. By understanding your audience well enough, and what would be ideal for them, you can deploy a similar DTC strategy. 

    2. Glossier

    Glossier is a makeup brand that takes an impressively personalized approach to D2C marketing. Consumers can buy Glossier products through their eCommerce store or at any one of their many popup shops. But here’s the thing, even though Glossier uses D2C marketing that offers accessibility to their products, how do they create awareness without a middleman?

    Glossier_DTC examples
    Source: glossier.com

    The answer is simple: Glossier relies on its consumers to create user-generated content. To motivate this, this makeup brand awarded 500 free products to consumers who have purchased from or engaged with them the most. 

    This strategy took out the cost of hiring social influencers, and instead, they got their fans to promote their products. Think about it. Consumers will create user-generated content if you show that kind of appreciation! 

    Glossier also has its employees doing video tutorials and reviews on their products. Not only does this prove no need for exposure from retail stores, but these marketing tactics come off less “salesly” and more personal to the brand.  

    Takeaway: 

    For successful DTC marketing, personalize your brand experience to engage your customers and keep them happy. Doing this and building customer appreciation will motivate your consumers to do the heavy lifting of marketing for you. 

    3. BarkBox

    Personalizing each customer’s experience is generally better. But sometimes you know your audience well enough to go against traditional marketing ideas.

     

    BarkBox_DTC examples
    Source: barkbox.com

    Like BarkBox, for example, a subscription company that sends their customers a box of dog treats and goodies monthly. But here’s what’s different about them: They don’t allow customers to customize what they receive like their competitor Chewy does. 

    Going against the traditional marketing route panned out well for BarkBox. Now, their audience feels more connected as they receive the same goodies. BarkBox’s community shares different experiences with the treats they receive, how much their furbabies enjoy their toys, and much more. In turn, over 300 000 customers took to Instagram, creating a boatload of user-generated content. 

    Another step BarkBox takes to give back to the dog community is by donating to animal foundations. They have also developed an outdoor dog community and an eCommerce store offering BarkBox favorites. 

    Takeaway: 

    The key takeaway here is how well BarkBox understood its audience. So much that ditching traditional marketing techniques worked out well for them. Practicing DTC marketing isn’t just about knowing who you’re selling to. You need to understand how you can connect your buyers to form a community. 

    4. Warby Parker

    Warby Parker specializes in eyewear, like prescription lenses, sunglasses, and blue light glasses. Consumers can buy products directly from the Warby Parker app or eCommerce store. But what makes them unique is Warby Parker makes it possible to buy the perfect glasses without visiting a physical store. 

    Warby Parker_DTC strategies
    Source: warbyparker.com

    The iOS app for Warby Parker offers a feature allowing customers to virtually try on glasses. This feature is highly convenient for people who can’t or don’t want to try several pairs of glasses in the store. Plus, customers can book an eye examination online in a few clicks. 

    Adding extra value, Warby Parker has the “get a pair, give a pair” foundation. This initiative is an excellent way to help those in need and have your audience feel like they are contributing to something bigger. 

    Takeaway: 

    What you should learn from Warby Parker are the elements of convenience and credibility. Warby Parker offers an easy solution to find the perfect pair of glasses, leaving no need for a retail store. And this brand validates itself by giving back to those who need it. 

    Top 3 DTC Marketing Funnel Models

    If you’re looking for an effective DTC marketing funnel, we have three. These funnels range in business stages, so be sure to note which one is best for you before deploying one of these funnels. Here are the top three DTC marketing funnels. 

    1. The Traditional Model

    This sales funnel works like a typical sales funnel, but without the retail store. The point of this funnel is to use content to reward user actions. Here’s how it looks on paper:

    Sales funnel for DTC marketing_1
    Source: linkedin.com

    Notice how many times users you reward users for taking actions? This simple funnel certainly works, but you need to be wary of the rewards you offer. Your incentives should also be easily accessible and valuable to your buyer. 

    There’s also a lot of referral marketing in this funnel, which is a big plus. Referral marketing not only brings in new customers, but you can get user-generated content. 

    2. The Content First Model

    You want to use this model as your brand matures because of its components. Let’s look at it:

    Sales funnel for DTC marketing_2
    Source: linkedin.com

    The landing pages are essentially the door that leads customers to conversion. Guiding them through those doors we have live chat support for landing pages. Live chat support wasn’t such a significant element in the previous funnel. 

    There’s a lot of referral marketing strategy relevant here. But there’s also much more content usage than the previous funnel. This is because customers may need more information and validation before purchasing from your business. 

    You’ll also notice gamification. Now, gamification in this funnel has two main benefits. The first is that it keeps customers on-page for longer, meaning more data. And the second is that it gives customers a personalized experience because you’re directing consumers to products based on what they need. 

    3. The Complex But Growth-driven Model

    Before you look at all the lines and boxes for this model and think, “What the heck is going on?”, this model is for mature brands. So, when you’re using this model, you’d have already exhausted the previous two and have enough resources to pull this off. 

    Sales funnel for DTC marketing_3
    Source: linkedin.com

    Your game engine is quite comprehensive, and this model has countless routes for users to get to your brand. But it’s not just about building awareness. Components of the game engine, like virtual community meet-ups, strengthen your customer base. You want your buyers to interact with each other, as this solidifies your credibility and produces brand advocates not just customers.

    Now that your game engine is powering comradery, engagement, and interest in your customers, they’re most likely going to support your business. And even if these customers don’t buy your product, your game engine will continue to nurture those leads. 

    Best 7 DTC Marketing Strategies

    If we’ve convinced you about the perks of DTC marketing, it’s time we look at some of the best strategies for you to finesse this marketing tactic. 

    1.Develop an Unforgettable Brand Identity

    Your business needs to have a memorable style and personality for customers to get hooked. Because you’re not relying on third-party branding, it’s vital to have your signature. Doing this also makes your business much more credible to potential customers. You can’t expect your social media, eCommerce store, or products to sell themselves.

    When developing a brand identity, make it easy for customers to recognize you when they’re browsing the internet. The second a customer sees a style, color, or image, they should remember your brand. 

    2.Promote User-Generated Content on Social Media

    As our DTC marketing examples have proven, user-generated content is essential for DTC content marketing. Your brand isn’t wrapped up by a well-known establishment that customers automatically trust, so testimonials and reviews will solve this.

    User generated content for DTC marketing
    Source: tintup.com

    Having user-generated content also takes a load off your shoulders as customers are pretty much marketing for you. To drive user-generated content, encourage customers to leave reviews (you can email them), incentivize reviews, or gift your most loyal buyers.

    3.Partner with Social Influencers to Boost Credibility

    Besides user-generated content, social influencers validate your brand too. Influencer marketing is a buzz topic and that’s because over 60% of customers trust influencer recommendations. You’ve seen this in your personal life too. You’re more likely to trust a product you see someone of status use.

    You need to be strategic with your social influencer marketing efforts and pick the perfect influencers for you. Use a tool like BuzzSumo or Social Sprout to find influencers in your niche. Also, don’t aim for the big fish only. Many industry experts bet brands will find more value in micro-influencers than mega influencers. 

    4.Don’t Be Afraid of Offline Marketing Tactics

    While DTC marketing is primarily online, you can boost your sales with offline techniques too. Consider billboards, banners, and posters to raise brand awareness. The trick with these tactics is to advertise your brand in locations your target audience visits. For example, you may put a billboard promoting milk for infants in an area with schools. 

    Also consider the content you use for billboards, banners, and posters. Keep your advertising concise, catchy, and branded. Another tip you can consider is that sex sells. An insurance company in South Africa, named Naked placed a billboard close to airports. What had almost every person look at this billboard were the words, “Get Naked on Your Car”. See, it’s concise, catchy and of course, branded. 

    5.Use Personalized Emails

    When we think of DTC marketing, we want to think personalized all the time. This doesn’t mean allowing customers personalization in what you offer but rather making customers feel unique. Customers want brands to make them feel special, so use personalized emails to do this. 

    When starting any email marketing strategy, always segment your customers. For example, you might offer a promotion for old users who haven’t interacted with your brand in a while. And for new users, you could promote a loyalty or referral program. 

    6.Consider Customized Products for Consumers

    A scary 58% of customers say that businesses send them products they don’t want. Just avoid this and give your customers a chance to personalize some of the products you offer. People like having that option because what they buy seems unique to them. 

    Although personalization gives your customers freedom, it also tells you what your customers like and don’t like. But beware, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand your buyer personas and kind of figure it out from what they choose. Before you offer anybody any product, you should know all the details of who you’re selling to. 

    7.Give Going Viral a Shot

    This headline makes going viral sound a lot easier than it is. Well, it’s really not. Most brands produce viral content because they already have a well-known name. Or businesses invest a lot of money into marketing their content. 

    Of course, you can create a video, think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread, unleash it to the internet, and see what happens. If you’re looking for inspiration to create viral content, Dollar Shave Club’s 90-second video is the best place to start. 

    Source: Dollar Shave Club

    Conclusion

    DTC marketing is an excellent way for brands to sell their products. You don’t have to pay third-party establishments money so consumers can purchase your offerings, and you can directly communicate with your buyers. There are loads of DTC marketing examples to gain inspiration and learn from. 

    If you want to put your brand in the forefront of customers and develop a large community of happy buyers, consider DTC marketing. You’ll have complete control of how customers view and receive your product, and you can give your buyers a more personalized experience with your brand. Plus, there are many great of DTC marketing strategies to get started. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What does DTC mean for marketing?

    In marketing, DTC means Direct to Consumer. This is when businesses cut out middlemen like retail stores and sell their products to consumers directly. Many startup brands have reached success using DTC marketing. Read this article to find out more about how DTC marketing works, the top DTC marketing examples, and strategies for DTC marketing.

    What are DTC marketing examples?

    The top examples of businesses that use DTC marketing include Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, BarkerBox, and Glossier. These brands benefit from DTC marketing in different ways, and it's worth noting how DTC marketing has made it possible for them to develop loyal and happy customers. This article breaks down the basics of DTC marketing, the key takeaways from businesses that use this marketing strategy, and the top strategies for DTC marketing in 2022.

    Is DTC marketing profitable?

    Yes, DTC marketing is profitable. Brands don't have to buy third parties like retail stores money for promoting and selling their products. And you can engage with your customers directly, allowing you to develop loyal customers. If you want to find out more about how DTC marketing can help your business, the top DTC marketing strategies and examples, read this article.

    References

    Shopify: DTC-First: Why More Brands are Using the Direct-to-Consumer Model 

    Shopify: 30+ Influencer Marketing Statistics to Have on Your Radar (2021)

    ProfitWell: Direct To Consumer Statistics & Trends to Grow Your DTC Business

    SmarterHQ: 26 Essential Personalization Stats for B2C Marketers

    Invespcro: The Rise Of Direct To Consumer (D2C) Brands – Statistics and Trends

    Entrepreneur: How a Dollar Shave Club’s Ad Went Viral