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DTC NEWSLETTER


👋🏽 Hey hey! Welcome to our last letter of August. Back to school or not, class is in session. Don’t forget an Apple for teacher. 📲👩🏻‍💻


Have some good friends you’d like to send this to? We made it easy for you. Just click here to share.


(Kids growing up on tablets are going to have all of the internet addiction without any of the computer skills. Consider sending this to future DTCers to help avoid that 😂)


Here’s what you’ll find in this week’s issue:


📦 Surprisingly scrappy ‘Q5’ tactics shared by Facebook

📦 A scalable way to dial in your customer support to prepare for Black Friday

📦 Are Vessi’s socially-conscious funnel tactics still working? We catch up with their newest product launch to find out.

📦 How Mid-Day Squares created a category of one while rising to $1.7 million in sales in their first year

📦 Learn how to counteract the drop in performance from iOS’ new privacy features

📦 Our take on Tai Lopez’ Silicon Valley spicy appearance on My First Million podcast


Read to the end to learn “the best casualty of Covid” and check out an animated case study that shows you how to notify users appropriately and systematically without being a spammy weirdo.


Last week, Facebook dropped some (surprisingly ninja) value bombs. These are our favourites.


The New Q5. Do you ever wish you could create more time? That’s kinda what Facebook is suggesting when they tell us to invent Q5 from December 26th to December 31st! 


And they make a pretty good case for why it makes sense:


  • Greatest number of new devices come online 
  • Purchase intent is still high
  • Less competition in the auction as big brands have left and shipping deadlines have passed 
  • Historically the cheapest time of the auction


Here’s how they suggest shifting your messaging for Q5:



Prospecting / Retargeting Budget Allocation in December:


For each week in December, Facebook recommends you allocate your budget in this way (according to what they’ve seen perform best in the past):


Facebook’s Suggested Week-Over-Week Budget Allocation

Capitalize On Urgency


The holiday season bears a rare gift: REAL URGENCY. Facebook reminds us that December 18th is the Last Shipping Day, and encourages advertisers to include shipping timelines in their messaging to drive the point home. This is even more important for international orders where the Last Shipping Day is December 13th.


What To Do During Last Day Shipping Period: 


Here are the tactics they recommend immediately leading up to Last Day Shipping:


  • Heavy retargeting for black friday cart abandoners
  • Messaging related to Last Day Shipping
  • Include free shipping in ad copy
  • Creative with text overlays and motion of promotions  


What To Do After Last Day Shipping: 


Focus on gift cards or downloads to extend the season further.


They also shared best practices around sound and motion:


  • Add lightweight motion to static campaigns. Static ads that feature some lightweight motion see conversion rates 17% higher than those that don’t. Adding motion to stories is also a proven method to boost engagement. So go get your lightweight motion on!
  • Using Sound Improves Engagement + Conversions. Yes, your audience should be able to consume your ads without sound -- but simply adding a voice-over and/or some music will boost engagement and conversions (80% confidence).
  • Be informal. This won’t surprise anyone who’s consistently worked with user-generated content (UGC), but story ads shot on mobile see consistently better results than those shot in a traditional studio setting.


Preparing for BFCM: Customer Support


How do you scale customer support in a post-COVID era when traffic is overwhelming your support team & operations? 


If you’re unprepared with how Ecommerce is evolving, here’s some tips you can use:


👉 Respond quickly to incoming tickets. Even if you can’t handle it right away, let the customer know you’ve gotten their request and are looking after it.

👉 Automation. Find a Helpdesk that can resolve repetitive questions so that support agents can focus on complex issues.

👉 Personalized responses. Let your customers know there’s a human touch at the other end. They want to feel that they’re being looked after by a real person.


If you’re afraid of what’s to come, our partners at Gorgias may be able to help you with Customer Support issues. 


Get 2 months free by booking some time here




Catching Up With Vessi - Product Reserve Launches and Tik Tok Integrations


Vessi is one of our favorite DTC brands. Not just because we love their stylish, waterproof shoes here on the wet coast, but because Tony Yu and team are so damn innovative with their customer acquisition strategies.


What’s more, Vessi consistently creates examples of socially conscious capitalism that work as well for their conversion rates, as they do for their local communities. 


Today we’re highlighting their new “feel good” product reserve launch strategy as well as a cool TikTok Integration we spotted this week.


Socially Conscious Funnel Tactics


When Tony Yu came on the DTC Podcast back in May we talked about Vessi’s newly minted “pay what you want” strategy where they lowered their cost of acquisition by 90% by introducing a widget that allowed users to save up 30%, 15% or pay full price, with the difference in savings going to a worthy charity (in this case it was PPE for local hospitals). 


The results were AMAZING, with a reported 3x lift in sales and a 7 roas during the first week of that launch (while maintaining backend metrics). The Vessi podcast was filled with amazing insights on kickstarter, YouTube integrations and more. I walked away really impressed with this approach as a great example of socially conscious capitalism that actually works for performance marketing. 


Tony mentioned that over 90% of people take the full discount and don’t giveback, but that what they raised was significant enough to make massive donations of ppe to frontline hospital workers in Vancouver, their home city.


How well did it work in the long run? 


We can report that three months later, they’re still running this promotion, although the discounts are smaller (max 15%). That tells you that the mechanic is still going strong, even if the underlying numbers have been tweaked.




We can also see that Vessi is using a similar socially conscious mechanic in their Weekend Sneaker Product Reserve Launch Strategy.



You can reserve a pair for a non-refundable $5 that goes directly to local worthy causes. When the shoes ship in September, your card will automatically be billed the rest of the purchase price. 



The idea of practical, high performance “giveback” marketing is in its infancy, but we love seeing examples working out in the wild. 


Vessi’s “Feel Good” Launch strategy looks like a great way to bring positive attention to your company, increase your conversion percentage, and give back to your community all at the same time. Just makes us feel warm and fuzzy all over. 🤗


Vessi’s New TikTok Integration


Speaking of fuzzy, the lines between reality and fiction seem to be getting blurrier all the time. One TikTok personality taking advantage of that is Pete Heron. Shout out to Nick Shackelford for posting the below Vessi Ad on Twitter.


With Pete’s eye-catching approach to shoe promotion, Vessi seems to have found a quality partnership with this spacetime bending TikTok-er. 

We love the style, which combines normal looking UGC with hyper-real levitations and impactful costume changes (and a banging soundtrack).


At press time, Vessi could not be reached for comment, but we hope to have Tony back on the podcast soon, and will follow up.


Until then, we’ll just keep stanning for our west coast homies and advising you all to grab a pair and hack their funnel to write it off. 


Dry feet can’t be overvalued, and neither can the evolution towards a socially responsible form of capitalism that also accelerates your growth. 



7 Figure First Year: Building a Category-Busting Bar in Public



This week’s DTC podcast with Mid-Day Squares Co-founder and COO, Nick Saltarelli is dedicated to wives and partners everywhere!


My wife and I love quality chocolate, and she’s a huge fan of protein bars. When she came across Mid-Day Squares, which, according to their ads are “Everything a chocolate bar isn’t, everything a protein bar wishes it was,” she knew she had to pull out her credit card. 


She told me about the company and I promptly booked a podcast with Nick Saltarelli, the COO and co-founder of Mid-Day Squares out of Montreal. 


Nick’s wife has been a true partner in business since they met, and the recipe for their category blending confectionary functional bars was her original idea. Multiple failed business attempts (plus one big winning exit), and a multi-year partnership with McGill University Food Science Lab and Mid-Day Squares was born. 


With product names like “Fudge Yeah,” and “Bust a Peanut” (coined by a female staff member, he’s quick to point out), Mid-Day Squares shot to $1.6 Million in sales in their first full year (in Canada alone). Now with US retail and DTC expansion in sight, they’re aiming for 8 figures in 2021.


This podcast was an amazing deep dive on:


🍫 How to find and combine two niches ready to pop (quality chocolate + functional bars)

🍫 Breakfast is clogged, but the afternoon snacking market is a blue ocean

🍫 Name your company with how to consume your product

🍫 How to “build in public” and create content that drives unstoppable momentum with only your personal network

🍫 Why their first employee was a videographer

🍫 How to measure the true impact of your marketing, and determine retail lift from ad spend

🍫 How to leverage University partnerships to tackle high barrier product development

🍫 How Mid-Day went from 15% DTC to 50/50 when Covid hit.

🍫 The real job of a COO (moving sidewalks)

🍫 Centralized vs Decentralized decision making in your organization


Nick challenged all DTC marketers to embrace a truly omnichannel pricing strategy that makes it so your product costs the same, no matter where it’s listed. The days of DTC companies passing savings on to customers for “going direct” are over, he says. 


The goal of building longevity in the space is to make as many people as much money as possible, while still being profitable. This is the reason he’d never undercut a retail partner by offering Mid-Day Squares cheaper online. 


For your DTC exclusive sneak peek at this week’s full podcast go here and make sure to subscribe, like and comment on the video to help feed the algo and spread the good word about DTC podcast. 



iOS Is Shitting The Bed For Advertisers 👉 Time To Learn About Postback URLs / Server-to-Server Tracking


You heard it from us (and our reps) first... FB is aggressively trying to get advertisers using server-to-server tracking and we expect it to replace the existing Javascript (pixel) tracking we have all come to love in short order.


Here’s what you need to know:


Advertisers are feeling the impact as more devices adopt iOS 14 (and its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) feature that holds cookie data for a maximum of 7 days 😬).


If you’ve noticed wonky inconsistencies in your tracking, or otherwise inexplicable drops in performance, the ITP chickens could be coming home to roost.  


As smart DTC marketers, we’re not just going to duck, cover, and wait to see what’s going to happen -- we’re going to do something about it.


So let’s start learning (or re-learning) server-to-server tracking and postback URLs.


What are pixels (aka client-side, cookie-based, browser-tracking), anyway?


Pixels are little snippets of code that ad networks give you to communicate with the cookies on your site. 


The cookies hold a user’s session values, and when a conversion event happens, the pixel eats up that cookie, registering the conversion. 


The pixel then tells the ad network, “hey, send us more people like this.”


Pretty cool, right? It is, buuutt, it’s susceptible to external factors (ahem, ITP) which can make it inaccurate and unreliable.


Enter Postback Tracking (aka server-to-server, server-side, server call)


Postback tracking is a way to track conversions using the advertiser’s server, and not the user’s browser. Postback URLs aren’t new, but they’re far less popular because they require a bit more tech-savvy. 


In a nutshell, when someone clicks an ad, an ID is generated and included in the URL. That ID is carried from the advertising platform, to the landing page, to the conversion event. When a conversion is recorded, the ID fires a signal to the server, and it KEEPS FIRING until the server acknowledges it.


What’s cool about postback URLs is they’re more secure and reliable -- technically making them the better option (though less user-friendly).


Ultimately, learning how to better wield server-to-server tracking will improve your marketing.


Here are some resources to help you continue learning and get ahead of a cookie-less future:


  • This video by AdSkills 👉 A great explanation of the differences between pixels and postback URLs from John Belcher
  • Learn about Facebook’s Conversion API 👉 Go straight to the horse’s mouth about how to implement server-to-server tracking
  • Measurement Marketing 👉 The ability to accurately measure all marketing is a most valuable skill. Measurement Marketing courses and weekly workshops will help you continuously improve



Things We Loved This Week


🐦 Tweet Thread: Understanding how to assess the performance of influencer campaigns, not to mention how to compensate them, can be tricky business. Taylor Legace offers sensible solutions to building deals with influencers that make sense to all parties.


🎙 Podcast: This week’s MFM podcast with Tai Lopez was a bit of a lightning rod. Hosts Sam Par and Shaan Puri took quite a tongue lashing from their Silicon Valley fan base for giving the famous “in my garage” guru a platform. What ensues is an hour of him undressing his critics, juxtaposing their “culture of virtue signalling” that puts him on their shitlist, against the net benefit he’s had in the areas of agency entrepreneurship, teen literacy, and organic farming. Spicy! 🌶 Tai’s done some scammy things, but compared to many programs at traditional universities, a $1K course that teaches you how to get started with a digital agency doesn’t seem so bad.


📁 Case Study: Growth.Design dropped this animated case study about “How to notify users without being spammy.” It’s gold, teaching you how to unsilo your users, build simple segments or “anti-stalker” lists to avoid messaging people too much about too many different things. 


💚 Social Media Post: Cat Howell is a successful agency building guru and a friend of the DTC Newsletter. She takes the idea of living in public very seriously, and this weekly she wrote an inspiring and raw post about her struggle with depression. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy for anyone, and struggles with mental health are very real, and very common even among the most successful among us. 


📺 TV Show:  We always knew our lives as DTC entrepreneurs could be a TV Show! Shopify agrees and is co-producing a Discovery Channel series called “I Quit,” that follows business owners who give up their 9-to-5s to pursue entrepreneurial goals, turning passion projects into profit.


🦇 Movie:  This week saw the release of the first trailer for “The Batman,” the ...sixth (?) reboot of the Batman franchise. We’re excited for Matt Reeves (from the underrated Planet of the Apes flicks) takes over the directing chair and the trailer’s noir detective vibes are giving me faith that the guy from Twilight can play the world’s greatest detective. It’s almost enough to make me care about movies again.


🤡 Article: TV is dead, long live the vMVPD! (virtual multichannel video programming distributors like Disney, Hulu, Netflix) “The top six pay-TV operators lost a combined 1.6 million subscribers last quarter.” Motley Fool outlines the ways that DTC content and the cord cutting trend are accelerating. According to Rich Greenfield of BTIG, paid vMVPD subscribers hit a high of 7.7 million last year. 👀Watch this space.

👅 Best Casualty of Covid-19: KFC Announces it will no longer use the slogan “Finger Licking Good,” saying it doesn’t quite fit during a pandemic. We see a missed opportunity for a censored version and BBC seems to agree based on their image. 


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