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Mobile engagement in DTC marketing: Digital + physical

Modern brands are increasingly cutting out distributors and big-box retailers and taking up the reigns of direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing.

And the thing is — it’s working across industries, from mattress and sneaker companies like Casper and Allbirds, to personal finance services and even sports teams.

In just the last two years, we’ve seen retailers start from word-of-mouth pop-ups and become brick and mortar locations in downtown Manhattan.

Is this trend here to stay?

If those brands continue to adapt to evolving marketing technology and consumer trends, then yes.

What can we expect for DTC marketing in 2019?

In this article, we’ll go over three main insights for the DTC marketing space this year, each of which opens the door for brands both new and established.

DTC has proven to be a power business model for modern brands trying to break in to retail. But it is just the start. These brands will bridge the digital and the physical. And mobile will be the driving force.

Mobile engagement paving the way for brands like Domino’s and Chipotle

When Domino’s started their pizza emoji order system via Twitter in 2015, they opened the door for a new way of connecting with customers.

Other major chains followed suit, attempting to reach consumers where they actually are: their phones.

With the rise of sharing economy services like Postmates and Uber Eats, consumer accessibility to restaurants large and small has skyrocketed. Broadening the funnel or not, though, these delivery services are still middle-men and partnership comes at a cost.

How will this be combatted? The functionality of DTC marketing revolves around personalization tools like SMS, Mobile Wallet and RCS messaging, that allow brands like Chipotle to send offers and menus right to consumers’ phones. With these tools, brands can provide stellar customer experiences from end to end.

DTC goes well beyond the app

While I agree that mobile apps are a good entry point for brands in the DTC marketing race, they shouldn’t make it the hill they die on.

I’m a firm believer in an multichannel approach. But brands need to think critically about how they’re reaching their user-base and what action the consumer has to take to engage.

If a shopper wants to see content from their favorite outdoor apparel brand using the app route, they must dig through the pages of other competing applications, find yours and then locate the specific content they want to see.

In a perfect world, this would go smoothly. But we know that shoppers simply don’t want to do that much work to interact with even their favorite brands.

So let’s do that work for them: leverage new channels like RCS messaging and ubiquitous channels like MMS.

Brick & mortar as the final frontier

Look at what brands like Bonobos, Warby Parker and Allbirds have done: they’ve built a sustainable empire by going right to consumers and cutting out big box retailers and Amazon altogether.

The success of these brands didn’t come out of thin air, though — they all went through the survival-testing gauntlet of establishing a thriving online marketplace in an Amazon-dominated ecosystem.

Only now that they’ve proven themselves as masters of the online retail space are they beginning to dip a toe into brick & mortar.

This phenomenon suggests a trend shift in how retailers will go to market: opening a storefront is the last thing modern consumers brands will jump for in their marketplace strategy.

Brands that bridge the gap between their digital and physical footprint are using mobile engagement as the glue – if a thoughtful strategy is put into place, the storefront and digital presence will complement one another.

What’s the red thread in DTC companies’ successful marketing? Personalization. There’s really no substitute for it today – consumers are hungry for thoughtful, targeted messages that are tailored to their shopping history and lifestyle preferences. Leverage consumer data to create a 3D image of your various key shopper personas and craft messages bespoke to each of them.

DTC marketing is an exploding phenomenon that allows brands in myriad industries to meaningfully connect with — and expand — their user-base. Expect to see a deeper confluence of these brands in the near future. Companies of all sizes not only save money by cutting out long-standing middlemen, but also benefit from direct feedback about their efforts, making them much easier to improve upon.

Sophie Vu is CMO at Vibes. She can be found on twitter @SophieVu415.

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