One of the most recognizable traits of the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) experience is a captivating brand story that strongly resonates with customers. In D2C, your “brand” is part of your product. It’s not an afterthought or a secondary conversation.
For instance, brands that drive social and environmental change are championed by Millennial and Gen Z shoppers who share those values. They see value not just in your products or services, but in your brand’s ethos as well.
Successful D2C eCommerce merchants recognize the value of their brand and create as many opportunities as possible to share their story to resonate with shoppers. To do it well is a refined skill, folding your customers into your storyline with two-way communication and relationship building. When consumers see themselves synonymously with your brand, and as part of your story, fierce brand loyalty is soon to follow.
So how do profitable D2C brands do it, especially those on the brink of enterprise status who still employ a relatively small team?
The answer lies in an expertly curated tech stack. This stack may be lean—as there’s no room for tools not serving you well—but the tools you do have should deploy expert-level accuracy to meet your needs and help you tell your brand story.
Today’s blog will explore some of the tools and strategies that merchants often use for improved customer communication and enhanced D2C site performance. These strategies support brand storytelling while keeping profit as the main goal.
Tools for D2C Customer Communication
Customer communication—both inbound and outbound—is a necessary part of D2C storytelling. To be effective, eCommerce brands need to maximize their communication efforts in non-traditional points of the buyer’s journey, such as the supply chain. They also need flawless communication where it’s expected, such as social media.
Give Customers “Access” to Your Behind-the-Scenes Process
Transparency is a non-negotiable theme in 2020 eCommerce shopping. It’s been brought to the forefront because of the pandemic and conversations around social issues. The demand for such open and honest conversations will likely become a mandatory aspect of D2C strategy across all departments.
For example, shipping delays plagued eCommerce stores during pandemic-fueled online spending. Brands that pushed omnichannel communication to manage expectations about order arrival dates were met with understanding. Brands that did not, were held to shipping expectations of the past, now almost impossible to execute with the same fervor.
And as the world rose up against injustice, people demanded that brands respond with action and insights into their employee makeup. Countless brands shared demographic data and pledged to do better and be leaders in change.
Some brands were able to move their brand identity forward by being open. They cultivated loyalty in these scenarios by recognizing and responding to their customers’ expectations. Brands that were sluggish or out of touch were not well received.
Technology Spotlight: Malomo
Malomo is a shipment tracking platform that helps eCommerce brands communicate information to customers about their order shipping status. But what makes it special, is that it goes a step further to help merchants take advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities during those communication touchpoints. Customers check tracking 4.6 times per order on average. Retailers should see that as 4.6 opportunities to tell your brand story and connect with your shoppers in a meaningful way.
Leverage Customer Service to be More Profitable
When a shopper has a negative customer experience with your brand, going above and beyond to fix it can pay dividends. Between the holidays and changes in online shopping behavior, there’s been more pressure to produce excellent customer service in recent months.
Ninety percent of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company, according to American Express research. And 73% of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly customer service reps.
You get it. It’s important. But it can be challenging for smaller operations to keep up, especially for teams who were spread thin already before these new pressures.
Technology Spotlight: Gorgias
Gorgias is a tool that acts as an eCommerce help desk for merchants. It helps with organization, centralizing support tickets in one place and creating an intuitive display while customer service reps talk to consumers. It also has the ability to help merchants automate repetitive tasks such as commonly asked questions.
Prioritize Social Media to Meet Customers Where They Are
Every merchant has social media, but not every merchant uses it well. Social media is a great tool for two way communication and pulling the curtain back on your operation to give your customers behind-the-scenes insight.
Accessory brand Sassy Jones, for instance, uses social media in creative ways that speak to their clientele. The team consistently goes “live” on social media to encourage engagement and the company’s CEO hosts virtual styling “parties” showcasing how customers can wear Sassy Jones accessories. The team says they’re selling an experience, not just a product, and they use social media to deliver.
Ballsy, a men’s skincare brand, uses social media to show their supply chain in motion, sharing informal videos from the warehouse. It helps show customers that there are real people hard at work behind the scenes, humanizing the brand. Ballsy is also a master of its persona online, using social media to express its signature humor and playful energy.
Use the Best Communication Tools for Your Target Audience
Who is your target audience, and what’s the best way to reach them? Between the web, email, social media, and more it’s important to be strategic about how to best reach your ideal customers.
Many D2C eCommerce stores are exploring avenues such as SMS messaging and live chats online in order to get past the noise and competition found in other more traditional channels such as email.
It pays off—SMS messages have a 98% open rate, 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes, and texts have a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook. Live chat is also statistically proven, with 51% of consumers being more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they offer live chat support.
Technology Spotlight: Attentive
If you’re looking to add a best-of-breed SMS tool to your tech stack, check out Attentive. Its text message marketing tool drives an average of 18.5% of total online revenue for its customers. It helps you leverage personalization techniques for the mobile-first audience you want to reach, while taking advantage of analytics and reporting capabilities.
Let Your Best Customers Speak for You
Two-way communication with your brand, doesn’t always have to come directly from your team. You’ve likely cultivated some diehard fans who feel so intertwined with your story and success that they’re itching to spread the word. Give them an easy avenue to do it.
User-generated content (UGC) is particularly valuable because it’s authentic and trustworthy. Worldwide, 92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth more than any kind of advertising. And 70% of consumers place reviews by other customers above professionally written marketing content.
Your loyal shoppers are an extension of your brand’s identity. One effective way to harness their delight is by giving them an easy, highly-visible way to review your brand and products.
Technology Spotlight: Yotpo
Yotpo is an eCommerce marketing platform that offers several solutions for merchants including reviews and ratings, loyalty and referral programs, and visual UGC. The platform offers customization and analytical insights to maximize its power. Plus, the easy-to-use interface integrates nicely with the rest of your best-of-breed stack.
Tools for D2C Website Performance
Tools for customer engagement are only half of the equation when it comes to technology for brand storytelling. You may have a great persona on social media, and excellent marketing tactics to drive traffic to your site, but if shoppers are met with a sub-par webstore, eCommerce KPIs will suffer.
Transition From Other Channels to Your Website Seamlessly
Return on ad spend (ROAS) and conversions from channels such as SMS messaging or social media will be a telling sign as to whether or not your website is working well for you.
Privacy Pop, an eCommerce store in the sleep space, was a textbook example of having a disconnect between driving traffic from social media to a deterring site. Because of Privacy Pop’s extensive catalogue, page loads were slow and discouraged exploration and an opportunity to genuinely connect with the brand on its site.
The solution was a partnership with headless commerce platform, Nacelle, and System Integrator, Coldsmoke Creative. The two teams worked together to rebuild Privacy Pop’s site pixel-to-pixel on a headless PWA using Nacelle + Contentful (headless CMS) + their existing eCommerce Platform, Shopify Plus.
Privacy Pop’s new headless PWA was live in 30 business days seeing sub second page-to-page load speeds. With this, the brand has experienced a 21% increase in conversion rates, 8.7% increase in AOV and 190% uptick in pages per session.
With faster page load speeds and an improved mobile-first shopping experience, Privacy Pop is now able to share their unique story and their extensive catalogue for all customers.
Build Your Webstore for More Conversions
An underperforming site results in more bounces and discourages shoppers from connecting with your brand. Just because someone makes it to checkout doesn’t mean their journey wasn’t riddled with missed opportunities to tell your story and sell more products.
When a site has fast page load speeds and mobile-first functionality, it becomes a delight to leisurely peruse your catalogue. When customers are in no hurry to escape a poor user experience, they’ll get to know you better, spend more money and perhaps be on their way to lifetime customer status.
Page load speed directly impacts conversion rates, average order value (AOV), ROAS, and more. It can also impact opportunities such as cross-selling and upselling products at checkout and throughout the session.
Technology Spotlight: Nacelle
Making webstores lighting fast in order to improve shopping experiences is what we do here at Nacelle. Our headless commerce platform enables eCommerce merchants to use headless PWAs for faster page load speeds and mobile-first functionality, resulting in improved KPIs. Additionally, merchants don’t have to overhaul their tech stack—including their existing eCommerce platform—and it can be implemented without risky or lengthy data migrations.
In today’s D2C landscape, your brand’s story and personality need to be a top-tier focus in your marketing strategy. Shoppers are not only looking for products to serve their needs but also for brands that are aligned with their values. As you tell your story, and bring your customers into the storyline, technology tools will help you be successful in execution and reach. And as you get customers to your webstore, technology again can help you ensure a seamless onsite experience that expresses your brand and creates lifetime customers.
For more on building the best tech stack for your business, read our guide.