As a business, you want to be selling your product or service directly to your consumers. It's a great way to get the most out of your marketing budget and avoid spending on middlemen. But what exactly is a direct-to-consumer channel?
A direct-to-consumer channel is any method used to sell products or services directly to consumers without going through a middleman. The most popular channels include:
- eCommerce: This is the most common type of direct-to-consumer channel. You sell your products or services on your own website or through a third-party such as Amazon or Shopify.
- Social media: You can use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to reach consumers directly.
- Email marketing: You can send marketing emails directly to consumers who have signed up for your email list.
- Content marketing: You create and distribute content (such as blog posts, videos, and podcasts) that educates consumers about your product or service.
- Referral programs: You incentivize customers to refer new customers to your business.
As a direct-to-consumer business, you need to be using all of these channels to reach and convert your target audience. Let's take a closer look at each one.
eCommerce is the most popular direct-to-consumer channel because it's the easiest way to reach consumers online.
The benefits of selling through your own website are that you have complete control over the customer experience and you keep all of the profits. The downside is that it can be more expensive to set up and maintain a website than to sell through a third-party platform.
If you're selling through Shopify, you'll benefit from the fact that it's a turnkey solution that takes care of all the technical aspects of setting up and maintaining an online store.
You can also connect to Shopify's network of over 1,200 apps and services to add additional features to your store. The downside is that Shopify takes a cut of every sale you make, so you'll need to factor that into your pricing.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are increasingly being used by businesses to reach consumers directly. The benefit of using social media is that it's a great way to build relationships with potential and current customers.
You can use social media to share photos and videos, educate consumers about your product or service, and answer any questions they might have. It's also a great way to drive traffic to your website or online store.
For example, if you have a new product that you want to promote, you can run a social media campaign that directs people to your website or online store. This can be in the form of a contest, a giveaway, or simply by sharing photos and videos that show off your product.
The downside of social media is that it can be time-consuming to produce high-quality content, and you'll need to be active on multiple platforms to reach the widest audience possible.
Email marketing is a great way to reach consumers directly without having to spend a lot of money. The benefit of email marketing is that you can build a relationship with your subscribers by sending them regular emails.
Building a list of subscribers can be done by offering a freebie in exchange for an email address, or by running a contest where people can enter their email address to win.
Once you have a list of subscribers, you can start sending them regular emails with updates about your product or service, special offers, and other information that would be of interest to them. Or, you could simply keep your subscribers up-to-date on what's going on with your business.
The downside of email marketing is that it can be time-consuming to create and send emails, and you'll need a large email list to reach a wide audience. And if you do it manually, there's a lot of room for mistakes and missed opportunities.
Content marketing is a form of marketing that involves creating and distributing content (such as blog posts, videos, and podcasts) that educates consumers about your product or service. The benefit of using content marketing is that it's an effective way to build trust and credibility with potential and current customers.
It can also be used to drive traffic to your website or online store, and it's a great way to build relationships with potential and current customers. For example, if you have a blog, you can use it to share helpful tips and advice related to your product or service.
The downside of content marketing is that it can be time-consuming to produce high-quality content, and you'll need to be active on multiple platforms to reach the widest audience possible.
Referral programs are a great way to incentivize customers to refer new customers to your business. The benefit of using referral programs is that they're a cost-effective way to acquire new customers.
You can also use referral programs to build relationships with potential and current customers. For example, if you have a referral program, you can use it to thank customers for referring new business to you. The basics of a referral program are simple: offer an incentive (such as a discount or free product) for customers who refer new customers to your business.
The downside of referral programs is that they can be time-consuming to set up and manage, and you'll need to have a good understanding of your target market in order to create an effective program.
Why do I need to use each channel?
The answer is simple: each channel has its own strengths and weaknesses.
For example, eCommerce is great for reach and conversion, but it's not so great for building relationships. Social media is great for building relationships, but it's not so great for reach and conversion. And content marketing is great for reaching and building relationships, but it's not so great for conversion.
The key is to use each channel in a way that leverages its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. This is where having a robust D2C marketing strategy comes in.
By using all of the channels mentioned above, you'll be able to reach more consumers, build better relationships with them, and ultimately convert more of them into customers.
Using marketing automation to get the most out of each channel
Now that you know the different types of direct-to-consumer channels, it's time to start using them to reach and convert your target audience. The best way to do this is with marketing automation.
Marketing automation software allows you to automate your marketing tasks, so you can focus on other parts of your business. It also allows you to track the results of your marketing campaigns, so you can see what's working and what's not.
Let's walk through some concrete examples of how marketing automation can help you with each channel mentioned above.
If you're selling through your own website, you can use marketing automation to:
- send abandoned cart emails to customers who add items to their cart but don't complete the purchase
- upsell and cross-sell products and services to customers based on their purchase history
- create discount codes and coupons to incentivize customers to make a purchase
- track the results of your eCommerce campaigns
Doing any of these tasks manually would be time-consuming and tedious. But with marketing automation, you can set up these campaigns once and let the software do the work for you.
If you're using social media to reach consumers, you can use marketing automation to:
- schedule and publish content on multiple platforms
- monitor social media for mentions of your brand or product
- engage with potential and current customers on social media
- track the results of your social media campaigns
You may need to hire someone to help you with social media if you're not already doing it yourself. But even if you are, marketing automation can still save you time by automating tasks like scheduling and publishing content.
Email marketing is a great way to reach consumers and build relationships with them. With marketing automation, you can:
- segment your email list so you can send targeted messages
- personalize your emails for each recipient
- schedule and send email campaigns
- track the results of your email campaigns
- manage unsubscribes and bounced emails
Marketing automation makes it easy to segment your email list and personalize your emails. This allows you to send targeted messages that are more likely to convert into sales.
If you're using content marketing to reach consumers, you can use marketing automation to:
- publish blog posts and articles on your website
- promote new content on social media and other channels
- track the results of your content marketing campaigns
These are some of the more basic ways you can use marketing automation for content marketing. But there are many other possibilities, such as using marketing automation to generate leads from your content or creating a content hub on your website.
If you're using referral programs to reach consumers, you can use marketing automation to:
- create unique referral links for each customer
- track referrals and rewards
- track the results of your referral programs
While you can certainly run a referral program without marketing automation, it can make the process much easier and helps to remove a lot of the human error that can occur.
As you can see, marketing automation is a powerful tool that can help you with each of the direct-to-consumer channels mentioned above. If you're not using marketing automation yet, now is the time to start.
Ready to start using marketing automation to get the most out of your direct-to-consumer channels? Sign up for a free trial of Automizely Marketing today.