DTC Q4 Top Focus

Ho-ho-hold your horses, this one is worth the read. 🎅

Welcome back to another Saturday edition of DTC. This week, we’re shifting focus to help you and your brand get the most out of Q4 and the holiday season.

We reached out to some of everyone’s favorite podcast guests and friends of DTC for more than just a merry holiday catch-up.

We asked them, “What's your top focus for Q4 this year?

Here’s what they said: 👇

🔥 Cody Plofker.  CMO at Jones Road Beauty. A cool, clean DTC makeup brand.

“Nothing else matters if you don't have an amazing offer.

We don't want to discount, so we are focusing on creating exclusive kits for which we know there will be tons of demand.

Then we just look to hit it as hard as we can, but with a focus on as much owned revenue as possible.”

🧼 David Gaylord.  Co-founder and CEO at Bushbalm. A daily skincare and ingrown hair prevention brand.

“With rising CPMs and marketing costs, we are focused heavily on a strategic product launch.

Organic reach is something we've focused much more on, which this product is all about. By gaining organic reach for a truly unique product, we expect this to help our overall funnel leading into Black Friday and the holiday season.”

💭 Lauren Kleinman.  Founder at Dreamday. Performance PR consultancy for category-defining brands.

“On behalf of Dreamday and The Quality Edit, we’re extremely excited for our highly giftable DTC clients to hit their most lucrative season of the year for Affiliate Marketing, PR, and paid social advertising.

Q4 makes up 50%+ of many of our client's overall annual revenue. Many editors and affiliate managers are requesting products to test for gift guides at the moment (the holiday season is very much already underway editorially), and many gift guides are already going live, including The Quality Edit's Gift Guide, which launched today.

Much of this early action is first and foremost so that early shoppers have the most relevant gift guides to shop from, but more interestingly, so the editorial has time to build up SEO domain value by the time BFCM rolls around.

Gift guides are highly competitive to rank for across top-tier publishers, but early posting and clicks help them gain relevancy ahead of the prime shopping season.”

🧦 Rob Fraser.  CEO at Outway. Performance socks designed to inspire personal bests.

“This Q4, we're putting a lot of focus on our BFCM campaign.

Black Friday is like the Superbowl for online product businesses, especially clothing. We spend Q1-3 acquiring new customers, and during Q4 we focus heavily on increasing customer LTV.

Something new for us this year will be launching an app, so we can send push notifications during the sale. Follow our Instagram or visit our website to download our app when it launches next week.”

🕺 Benjamin Smith.  Founder at Disco.  A clean, science-backed skincare brand for men that creates new opportunities, ideas, conversations, and progress for all.

“We have two focuses during Q4 at Disco.

The obvious initiative is to drive meaningful e-commerce volume in Q4 via BFCM and the busy holiday period.

Our secondary focus is building our organic content strategy and executing this plan. We are investing heavily in content creation on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn, intending to build a robust content flywheel that drives more organic brand awareness and feeds + supports our paid efforts.

Ultimately, we are investing in building the Disco community, which we historically neglected.”

🥣 Emily Miller.  CEO and founder at OffLimits.  An offensively delicious cereal and band of mascots are here to help shake up the cereal aisle.

“My top focus for Q4 is a hospitality mindset. D2C is dramatically shifting, and our team has adopted the detail-oriented awareness of a fine dining server. It's not enough to only deliver a quality product.

We always think about the brand experience as a whole. Customers deserve the same playful, defiant energy from OffLimits whether they're in the cereal aisle, on our website, or beyond.”

🌸 Sarah Vilenskiy.  Founder and CEO at Blossom. Clean Hydration

for Dry, Irritated Skin.

“We are undergoing a massive rebrand right now, launching this December. The most difficult aspect (aside from recreating your entire brand identity while still holding onto the values you've spent so long building!) is finding a way to present the new look without "shocking" our audience.

We've needed to find a very delicate balance that showcases everything our customers love about Blossom is still there, but we’re moving to the next chapter of our brand's journey.

We’re also trying to break into new demographics with the rebrand without alienating our current customers. And while that might seem simple to do, as we've begun the process of building it all out, it's actually been quite difficult to master.

Timing is everything. We strategically planned the launch so that we don't interfere with BFCM or force ourselves to associate the rebrand with sales, undervaluing the new branding (meaning if we launch at the same time as a sale, people will associate Blossom with cheaper products).

But then we also wanted to launch it a month before our busy season starts, so we can gauge how it is resonating with our community during a slower time and then optimize accordingly without being detrimental to our revenue goals for Q1 (our busy season).”

🧠 Troy Petrunoff.  Retention Marketer at Every Man Jack. Naturally derived and outdoor-inspired men's body care products.

“My top focus for Q4 is branching out gift shoppers (likely with low intent of repeating) and our normal shoppers and crafting our automated email and text copy to speak directly to those segments.

A big learning from last year was that we kept content too general. These are very different segments with different LTVs. So we're currently asking who they're shopping for via email and SMS, segmenting them, and working on branching our post-purchase, abandon, browse, and welcome flows accordingly.

We'll also be experimenting with Rise.ai for digital gift cards post-purchase. The goal here is (1) to surprise and delight our holiday shoppers, and (2) the hypothesis is that a e-gift card may have more impact than a standard win-back promo code.”

🚀 Pilothouse Digital.  Digital marketing agency with a partner dynamic that aligns client, agency, and team members toward shared goals.

“Accelerating brands and helping them crush Q4 is central to what we do. We’ve broken down our Q4 goals into four buckets to help strategize for the holiday season.

1️⃣ Know your key dates

This helps you be prepared and have data to back your decisions.

Make sure you mark down key dates that could impact your brand in countries you sell/operate in. This could include a last call for standard and two-day shipping, Boxing Day, and Halloween.

2️⃣ Review performance and build your strategy

Part of your Q4 plan should review past performance across all channels.

Know what you should repeat and what mistakes you should avoid.

Define your 2022 Q4 strategy by understanding the following:

  • Timing. When building your promo calendar, make sure you’re spacing out offers in a way that doesn't fatigue audiences or decrease urgency.
  • Offer testing and scaling. Test and find proven winners by the end of October. You don't want to be testing what will work come Nov 15th.
  • Customer service team. Expect your customer support requests and social media engagement to increase during Q4. Ensure you have a plan in place to handle this.
  • Business mechanics. Know your most profitable products and LTV, factor into your targets, and budget planning to ensure maximum profitability.
  • Creative. Given the increase in competition, look for creative with low CPCs and high link CTRs.

Take the time to understand your content strategy to build briefs and organize assets. Know your creative direction and make sure your team is aligned and has the resources they need to succeed.

3️⃣ Communicate your plan

Your plan has to be clear, and your team needs to work in the same direction! Understand capacities and get organized to ensure you can iterate on winning creatives.

4️⃣ Have a contingency plan

It wouldn’t be performance marketing if everything went to plan 100% of the time. You and your team should be brainstorming possible challenges and thinking of their solutions.

As you plan to scale, make sure your traffic account reps are in the know, and your limits are high enough to scale through Q4.

Be prepared for things to go sideways; if they don’t, you’re already three steps ahead!”

🦷 Josh Elizetxe. CEO at SNOW. A DTC leader in oral care and oral cosmetics.

“The SNOW brands are focused on driving engagement from repeat customers, merchandising gift bundles, and supporting our affiliate who generate the majority of their sales with us during Q4.”

🛍 Juliana Casale.  Head of Brand and Community at Wonderment.  A post-purchase platform for Shopify brands who love their customers.

“When we looked at shipping data from 80+ carriers on the Wonderment platform during Sept-Dec of last year, we found that 23% of shipments were flagged as stalled.

So one of our top Q4 areas of focus is helping the Shopify brands we work with reduce the negative impact of shipping delays on their customers by setting them up with automated order status email/sms flows (including stalled shipment notifications) and customized order tracking pages ahead of BFCM.

Historically, retailers have put the responsibility on shoppers to notice delays and contact customer support, but this “strategy” of ignoring the problem until it reaches a boiling point is bad for brands and bad for consumers — especially during the holidays when stress and delivery deadlines are at an all-time high.

Strange as it may sound, we’ve found that brands who proactively communicate delivery delays earn customer trust, get positive feedback, and even make additional sales.

To quote Purdy & Figg Founder Jack Rubin on Twitter, “Wonderment stalled shipment flow is genius. A great customer experience and amazingly customers with delayed orders are ordering more product.”

We’ve also found that online retailers who over-communicate on order status reduce their customer support tickets by as much as 30% and often receive higher CSAT scores.

It’s our hope that more brands adopt a proactive and transparent approach to delivery notifications this holiday shopping season (and well into the new year).”

That’s a wrap! We’ll see you next week with a shiny new brand breakdown. 👋

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