The direct-to-consumer (DTC) universe has all but exploded in recent years. From toothbrushes to mattresses and beyond, these brands are now enjoying a stronger connection with consumers, and in turn offering company values that people can identify with and a better overall customer experience.

This message was amplified at MediaPost’s D2C Brand Insider Summit that I recently attended in Austin, TX. The summit was filled with digitally native DTC brands, many of which have built incredible businesses from the ground up. These companies have something many legacy brands desperately covet (and that most are now trying to replicate): a direct relationship with their end customer.

On the flip side, legacy brands, too, have something to teach these up-and-coming companies. In a growing and crowded space, awareness becomes a huge challenge when they look to scale. One hallmark of DTC brands is that they are extremely performance-driven, especially with regard to media. The challenge, one brand attendee said, is low brand awareness, which requires an investment.

In order to balance this concept of media performance versus brand advertising, Trang Dao, VP of Performance Marketing at Hungryroot, noted that brand and performance “are two roles in two departments, but not two different things.”  

As old and new names co-mingled, it became clear that there was a lot to learn from one another.

Discovering Personas & the Customer Journey

First, let’s look at Quip, one of the summit attendees and a DTC brand built from the ground up. Quip started as a simple electric toothbrush on a subscription model. Now, the company has grown to support national distribution in Target stores. Quip even bought an insurance company to create full alignment between home dental care and the care received from a professional.

They began to scale by uncovering new audiences. Through user research, Quip found small segments that would become part of their loyal audience. For instance, locating the “Techie Dads” who geek out over new technologies. How can Quip zero-in on this persona that would buy tech-forward toothbrushes for the whole family? By taking a closer look at the customer journey. In this case, the consideration phase is pretty short. But other journeys may take different forms.

For example, a user who is watching a news show might see a one-minute ad which speaks to product capabilities and benefits. Someone else watching a crime show might see a 15-second ad which highlights lifestyle. Since the brand has data at the user level, they can create different customer journeys based on different user personas – and deliver each of these potential customers the optimal types and number of touchpoints to convert.

Refocusing on Customer Experience With Data

For Ancestry, a long-time TV advertiser, more recent growth has been focused on humanizing the customer experience. Kathryn Davidson, Director of Marketing Operations at Ancestry, said she no longer thinks of the funnel as a chance to acquire and retain customers, but rather a constant education process that unlocks more value with deeper engagement.

By creating a unified data strategy, she and her team are now able to personalize “hints” that help maximize the customer experience. Now, people become more interested and invested in discovering their family tree.

In creating a more engaging experience for the customer, enriched by data, Ancestry realized other marketing and monetization strategies needed to change. Where the company once used each interaction as a chance to ask for money, it now never forces payment and extends timely offers to convince folks to upgrade their experience. Their marketing plan spurred curiosity, making their paid services more enticing.

For DTC and legacy brands alike, it’s vital to focus on the customer experience and, in the end, provide a value exchange. If a brand can deliver that exceptional experience, it increases trust and brand perception in a customer’s mind.

The sight, sound and motion of television remains a critical platform for brands. It provides the opportunity to reach audiences at scale and educate them by telling your story. Plus, it lends the ability to close the loop and track all the way from first watch to final conversion.

Most importantly, perhaps, for these DTC companies, TV advertising legitimizes a brand. With the overwhelming onslaught of digital ads, a tried and true TV commercial is a way to stand out, connect with consumers, and ultimately fuel the next level of growth.

The bottom line: by understanding what resonates with each of your personas and the steps within their individual customer journeys, both DTC and legacy brands can drive continued success by delivering relevant messaging to the right audiences within the trusted TV medium.

Read more about TV’s role in the customer journey.

Brett Sanderson

Posted by Brett Sanderson

Sr. Director, Product Marketing