By Nik Sharma
I hope you’re having a relaxing weekend. By the time you open this newsletter, assuming you’re reading it once it arrives, I’ll be backstage somewhere at EDC in Las Vegas. More to come on how being in DTC led me there next weekend, but until then, I hope you’re sitting down comfortably, feet up, and you have an Olipop in your right hand.
Yesterday, Moiz and I went to Rumble in the morning, and then recorded our first podcast episode. Show us some love on this tweet! It’ll be coming out soon. We locked in an awesome sponsor that I’ve become obsessed with, and I was stoked to hear they wanted to partner up on the podcast with us. Once that drops, I’ll link it here. Almost every weekend, we go workout and then talk about all things DTC/CPG for about an hour. This podcast is just that… except it’s recorded.
For today’s email, I wanted to do something different. On the Sharma Brands side of my life, I get a fairly common proposition from brands that have grown to be quite large brands, without being direct-to-consumer (DTC). Sometimes, because of their category, they can’t be DTC, but there are always ways around it.
This past week when I was in Dallas, I got a call from a founder of a pretty massive brand that was looking to get more sophisticated in their eCommerce game. They want to build a website that went deeper, run ads, have a better understanding of their customer, and really see what’s possible with paid digital growth. So I spent about an hour going through everything they were doing and wrote him a long email as a reply. It was essentially my proposal to him, but I figured, why not just tell him everything I would do, and if he likes it, he can hire us to do it. So, here it is. Feel free to reply with any questions! For some context, this is a beverage brand with a couple of celebrity partners involved. Ok, here we go…
Hey! Great to speak today. Based on our conversation, I think we could help you in a few areas:
On our call I had about 45 different thoughts running through my head as you said you wanted the website to do a better job of telling the brand story, further than the brand equity that’s been built through the power of celebrity and social media.
I think the current site does great for anyone who already knows and loves the brand and has high intent to make a purchase. If someone’s mission is to buy a bottle, then most likely that’ll happen with your current site. However, between the layout of the website not being conversion-friendly, the CTAs not providing a clear customer journey, and not having a clear store locator, I think there’s a lot of potential revenue sitting on the table that you’re not grabbing.
My recommendation here would be to create a website that feels more mature in terms of what household brand websites include on their sites:
- Social proof (earned media quotes, showing alignment with your celebrity partners even, customer reviews, etc)
- Better story-telling on the homepage of a website — why should someone who’s never had your beverage before try it for the first time? What’s in it for them?
- Product visibility on the site and merchandising on the homepage, collections page and individual product page
- Event/moment-specific page template. For example, with the release of a new album from your partners, can there be a page that focuses on a product/bundle around that moment?
- Site speed and conversion optimization – if you plan to drive paid traffic, we need to have a site that gives us the best possible opportunity to convert someone.
- New PDPs – with instagram product tagging being a bigger function of the feed, we need to make sure that we have PDPs that have flushed out information of what the beverage is, why’s it different, how it compares to others, what makes it special, how can people get it, any other info around why someone should drink it.
- Subscription program – Given your margins in selling this beverage online are just what you make from selling to your distributor, we should do our best to optimize for subscription. Otherwise paying for individual orders for DTC will not be something you want to continue funding.
- Merchandise – I didn’t see any merch on your site available for purchase. Whether we make this on-demand merch or we make it and stock it, this can massively boost AOV for you, and offset the cost of paid advertising. Confidentially, about 50% of [another celebrity brand]’s orders ship with merch in their cart. There’s room to play here.
We can bring you a best-in-class technology stack for your site. I see you have Elevar on the site, which is awesome. Some more that we can go negotiate rates for and setup for you are:
- Digital ad attribution software – in order to make sure we are making informed decisions with our paid media levers.
- SMS – I didn’t see an SMS program on the site, but I believe you absolutely should have one.
- Reviews – I don’t see any reviews being collected on the site. This is huge for new customers, even with all the awareness marketing going on. We would want to get product reviews and site reviews going ASAP. In addition, when you google your beverage you see reviews popping up from Total Wine & Drizly, so there’s a good chance you’re losing that sale just because they have stars and your site doesn’t.
- Feed setup – Right now, you don’t show up properly in Google’s shopping feed, and my guess is that is likely true with Facebook and other channels, too.
- Heatmap / session recordings – We love to setup a heatmap software where we can see exactly what consumers are doing on the site, what made them scroll further, what made them not want to continue scrolling, etc. This helps us optimize the conversion rate of the website.
- Reorder – given that your consumer finishes this bottle in a single weekend, we should make sure they can reorder easily. In the past, we’ve worked with Batch (scan the QR code on this page to how it works) to make it easy for customers to place orders. These can be printed on bottles, shipped as a mailer card, run on a direct mail campaign, or put on your existing billboards.
- Cart / Upsell – We should have a website cart designed that encourages someone to get to 3 bottles vs 1, or a subscription, as they’re checking out. If the cart is empty, we should encourage someone to add something in their cart.
With all of these, we can put together a plan of why they’ll work, the pricing, and we can implement it all to the highest degree.
You mentioned on the call today that customer acquisition is a focus for this year. My guess is you’re looking to get this going ASAP as the summer season is approaching. We can help across:
- Ad creative – we can brainstorm concepts, storyboards, edit and deploy multiple variations of ad creative.
- Landing pages – we can test a variety of merchandising opps through landing pages. This would allow us to test speaking to new audiences, testing new messaging in different regions (Texans drink your product differently than those in California), and also allow us to create web experiences around any retail initiatives.
- Media strategy – We don’t do media buying on digital ourselves because I believe those learnings should stay with you or your paid media agency long term. However, we help a lot with bringing new ideas to the table of how things could be run, in addition to new channels that can be tested.
- Whitelisting – We work with a company called 1180 which owns a network of publishers and has a set of creators who can create content for us to run for customer acquisition. They go deep into the benefits, the why, and the story. When people click through to your site, the conversion is much higher. The cost of a click to an article like that is significantly cheaper than going direct to site, and it also builds brand equity.
- Direct mail – I’m sure you have tons of customers who can be reactivated, or you have a lot of customer information you’ve collected over the years. We can run a direct mail campaign. We can also get the first test going at no cost from our direct mail partner.
- OOH – We can support with any OOH design work that’s needed.
I’ve worked on a ton of beverage and alcohol brands, and because of the weight of the product and rising acquisition costs, we’ve always focused on bundling versus selling lower quantities. In most cases it doesn’t lower the conversion rate because it’s actually a better way for someone to be welcomed into the brand for the first time. Across Hint water, 21 Seeds, Juneshine, Orgain and others, bundling has almost never increased the acquisition cost, but it always increases the ROAS and AOV. I’d like to try to get people to buying 3 bottles of your beverage out of the gate, which is possible. We can also build out a custom bundle builder as well, allowing people to customize what their bundle looks like. Similar to how we did it with Poo~Pourri here. (poopourri.com/byob)
I’m not 100% sure what your pre and post-purchase experience is like across email, but I think we can definitely help here as well. Email is a great opp for product education, brand education, and also even just diving into what your beverage is and why is it good. There’s so many similar brands popping up, and this would just help nail in people’s mind why they should be drinking yours.
We could also setup a mobile app. – you’re in a unique position to where you can probably create content or produce content much better/faster/efficiently than any other beverage brand. A mobile app could be a great place to host that, as well as give us the ability to send push notifications.
[ok, it’s back to me, Nik, writing this Sunday email, now]
The rest of the email just basically said, “If this is interesting, happy to talk through it!”. I hope this copy/paste gave you at least 1 or 2 ideas of things you could try doing for yourself, too.
On to some fun stuff…
Vendor of the Week:
ReBuy — The most founder-friendly priced must-have Shopify app
Alright, there aren’t many Shopify apps that you NEED to have installed, but ReBuy is one of them. I’ll tell you why. And before I do that, let me start by saying ReBuy is one of the first apps we install. OK, here’s why.
ReBuy does many things that would normally cost a good amount of development hours. They have 17 features that you can demo on their trial site, but here are the 3 things I love most:
This replaces your current slide-out cart. With ReBuy, your cart is now gamified to incentivize a higher UPT (units per transaction) and higher AOV. You can also feature complementary products to what someone has in their cart, using their AI.
In the cart, too, if you have an item like a bag of coffee, you can encourage someone to subscribe and get the savings from that.
Upsells are huge, and especially if your AOV is under $100, upsells can make or break your paid media traffic campaigns. I remember first seeing this feature when you went to Native deodorant and added a single deodorant, they prompt you to add more with a popup. That’s all doable through ReBuy.
Then in the checkout, if you’re on Shopify Plus, you can push discounted upsells. And post-purchase, you can also signal something like “Hey, want to add this to your order for 30% off?”. The conversion rate that we’ve seen for the post-purchase upsells is about 20% when it’s a strong brand.
This is something that I have always seen other vendors do and thought, “Why would I pay on a per-order basis?” Luckily, ReBuy just came out with this as a feature, included in their $4.49/month software. This allows you to send an LP to customers where they can replenish a product they went through. Great for personal care, consumables, foods, beverages, etc.
Ok so… all of this is just $4.49 per month + 9 cents per order. If you book a quick demo with them and tell them I sent you, they’ll give you a better price than that, too. Here is their dummy Shopify site so you can see all the features they have.
Jobs of the Week:
You can see other jobs listed on my jobs board by clicking here.
Question of the Week:
What deodorant do you use, and why?
The most creative “Why” gets a year supply of their deodorant shipped to them!
Brand of the Week:
CUTS Clothing — Menswear that’s insanely comfortable.
There are a few reasons I love CUTS. For starters, they’re a bootstrapped business. Steven, the founder, has been vocal on Twitter about the challenges that come with it, but also the rewards.
Secondly, their clothing is phenomenal. I’m wearing the joggers right now, and they’re some of the most comfortable pants I own. They feel like sweats, or something I’d sleep in, but they look good enough to wear out or to a meeting.
If you’re in the market for new shirts, joggers, or anything in between, check out CUTS!