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DTC lessons from a paid advertising expert (2022)

At Relo, we're all about helping DTC brands to grow and scale, but we don't confess to know it all. We're lucky enough to work with an incredible pool of agency and tech partners working on every Ecommerce specialism in the book and love to hear their tried and trusted insights.

One of those partners is Will Tickle of Manchester-based paid advertising agency, Social Nucleus. Will has a stack of experience in helping Ecommerce brands grow with paid advertising techniques that cut through the noise and get results.

We caught up with Will to find out how DTC brands should approach paid advertising in the current climate to survive and thrive. Over to Will!

What's your role and what do you do on a daily basis?

CEO of paid advertising agency, Social Nucleus. As an agile company my role is to make sure we live by our culture and drive immense partner success.

2022 has been a tough year for Ecommerce. Which areas should DTC brands be focusing their time towards?

The brands we work with that are seeing the most success in this market are concentrating on 5 ‘north star’ metrics. 

  • CAC (customer acquisition cost) - CAC allows you to measure how much it’s costing your brand to drive new business. 
  • Lifetime Value - LTV allows you to measure how many times your current customers return to buy again, something Relo is great at increasing through email, SMS and lifecycle marketing. Your returning CAC should be way lower than your new CAC. 
  • CAC to LTV - This will allow you to judge your marketing efficiency with a lot more precision. Working out how much it costs for your first time purchase vs how much your customers spend over a 6-12 month cohort. 
  • AOV (average order value) - The higher your AOV booster the more flexibility you’ll have on your CAC when driving new business. 
  • MER - Percentage of sales spent on marketing your brand.

Concentrating on the above metrics will allow you to get a complete gauge on what part of your funnel you need to concentrate your efforts. 

Can you share recent DTC brand success stories?

1. Imagine X Furniture

We brought on Imagine X furniture as a partner towards the end of 2020. They had an amazing product, a great offer but struggled to scale their marketing efforts without reducing their marketing efficiency.

We plugged them into one of our SCRUM teams that consists of a Copywriter, Graphic Designer, Paid Specialist and Content Creator, essentially a plug-in Marketing department.

We increased their content efforts by over 135% and started to scale horizontally. Focussing not just on driving new customers but also increasing returning customers.

We managed to help them grow by 517% within an 18-month period and also increased their marketing efficiency ratio by 15% in the process.

2. AJ Voyage

AJ Voyage is a female footwear brand in the UK. When they came to Social Nucleus they wanted to find a partner with a more ‘hands on’ approach that could help them scale, and quickly.

We worked on their returning customers by driving the LTV on the bottom of the funnel. Concentrating a healthy split on New business to loyalty purchases we managed to profitably scale their purchases YoY by 329%.

What advice would you give to DTC brands who want to improve their paid channels?

Treat all your marketing channels as one, the omnichannel approach is the only way to work in 2022. Your paid channels won’t work as well if your email & sms marketing are underperforming. Your email & SMS marketing won’t perform if your paid channels are underperforming.

Work on your five ‘north star’ metrics from above, identify where your brand is struggling to drive sales and go to work on that part of your funnel.

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing right now in paid advertising?

TikTok is the trend that all brands need to jump on and fast. CPMs are rock bottom in comparison to other paid channels. While tracking is still pretty dodgy on TikTok, using a post-purchase survey can easily help you navigate where your sales are coming from. Post purchase surveys are as close a source of truth you’re likely to find in a post iOS14 world.

If you could tell DTC brands to stop doing one thing when it comes to paid channels, what would it be?

A long-standing trend that we need to move away from in the marketing arena… Judging your marketing efficiency by your in platform ROAS (return on ad spend). IOS14 has put a stop to this metric being the ‘northstar’ metric. Eg.

Audience A gets 100 sales but only 20 allow tracking = 20 sales
Audience B gets 50 sales but 30 allow tracking = 30 sales

If you’re still judging by in platform ROAS you’ll be losing out given the above example. Whilst you still need to use in-platform metrics when judging your performance within the auction, you still need to always be keeping an eye on your MER.

Stop judging your campaigns using in-platform ROAS. That metric has gone and will never be coming back.

DTC brands that survive and thrive this year will…

Have a great product, great offer and concentrate on providing value to their community.

Who are some essential agencies to follow right now?

Social Nucleus - I couldn’t resist :D

Indigo Create - Social-first creative agency

About Relo

At Relo we get your customers to buy again, try a subscription and stay on subscription. Discover how we’re helping the world’s best Ecommerce brands generate 17 x more repeat revenue.

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