Over a decade ago, Google began supplementing organic search results with paid ads. Their new PPC platform, AdWords, quickly became a favorite for a new breed of ad men: the digital marketers.
And back then, it was pretty easy to score clicks. If you dig up old blog posts written from the early 2010’s, you’ll see insane cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition numbers. For a lot of marketers, filling the funnel was simply a question of how much money they could afford to throw at Google’s new ad platform.
That’s no longer the case.
Why the bottom of your funnel is more important than ever.
Today, spending the majority of your budget on top-of-funnel, third-party platforms like AdWords or Facebook Ads is becoming less effective (and less lucrative).
This is partly due to new privacy initiatives being rolled out by Apple and Google—your ability to offer highly-targeted ads is gradually being demolished. Less personalization means your ads will be shown to people who may not be within your target demographic. Less relevant ads, less effective marketing.
Additionally, digital marketers today face an overwhelming level of competition. Anyone launching a new product is likely going to consider paid PPC or Facebook Ads first, before considering a full-page magazine ad or direct mail campaign. It’s become the standard. Which means you’re paying for ad placement in an extremely crowded marketplace.
So how do you keep ahead of these changes? How do you continue to run effective ad campaigns that consistently deliver high-ROI? Our recommendation—look at future-proofing your brand by focusing on the bottom of your funnel versus casting a wide (and expensive) top-of-funnel net.
How to begin building first-party data.
We first bumped into the phrase, “flip your funnel” in this phenomenal guide from Klaviyo. Essentially, the author argues that the best way to navigate changing privacy requirements is to begin collecting first-party data, target customers who are already excited about your brand/products, and do everything you can to improve your overall customer experience.
We couldn’t agree more.
First-party data is huge. Instead of relying on the personal info collected by Facebook, Google, and other tech giants; we encourage you to start building your own detailed picture of who your customers are. After all, these new changes to privacy standards are likely just the beginning—it’s only going to get more difficult for us from here.
A great way to get started: use direct communication like Email, SMS, or Chatbots to target specific customers. Ask questions, reach out during abandoned cart scenarios, experiment with different offers, or start a conversation about your products.
Any time a customer responds to marketing campaigns in these channels, collect the data and add it to their profile. This is an easy way to understand the pain points you need to overcome and the specific preferences held by your customers. From there, you can build your own customer cohorts and turn everything you’ve learned into better marketing messages.
What’s more, with rich customer data at your disposal, you’ll be able to offer a more personalized experience—helping to drive word of mouth and referrals.
Referrals and word-of-mouth — drive ROAS with evangelism.
Remember Guy Kawasaki? He seems to be a little bit quieter these days, but around 2015 or so it was impossible to open up LinkedIn or Facebook without bumping into him. At the time, he was pumping out tons of great content around his take on brand loyalty, what he calls, “brand evangelism”.
Essentially, it boils down to building a brand that’s so ridiculously outstanding your customers can’t stop talking about it. And, when it comes to building out a better bottom-of-funnel marketing strategy, this kind of approach to brand positioning makes it easier to:
Attract those coveted word of mouth referrals – Customers who are in love with your brand are customers who will try and get their friends to try it. According to the number-crunchers, 92% of people trust these recommendations.
You’ll also find it easier to build out your influencer marketing strategy. Influencers love talking about products that are undeniably amazing and this key for building long-term partnerships.
Finally, you’ll find that by focusing on offering an incredible brand experience (instead of focusing solely on the product) you’ll be more likely to generate glowing product reviews from your legion of brand evangelists. Product reviews are gold—they add social proof, feel authentic, and can help push bottom-of-funnel customers to click that shiny Add to Cart button.
Essentially, by spending time creating a brand people love, you’re able to maximize customer lifetime value. You’re going beyond the click, beyond the conversion, and opening yourself up to all kinds of opportunities to delight your customers.
Go beyond the click by getting serious about CX.
If you’ve read any of our other blog posts, you know Parkfield is an agency that can’t seem to stop talking about Customer Experience (CX). As a D2C brand, your CX is critical for making the most of every dollar spent on everything from advertising, to product development, to the look/feel of your eCommerce store.
Once a customer has “exited” the bottom of your funnel by making their first purchase, there’s still plenty of work to be done. In order to drive customer retention, you’ll want to look for opportunities to cross-sell or upsell, add them to re-engagement campaigns, or build out a loyalty program that helps them remember you in the future.
A great example? JOI is a company that sells plant-based milk. At least, that’s what it looks like on the surface. Dig deeper, and you’ll find they’re a brand that offers an end-to-end experience for people who want to feel great about the products they consume.
Their loyalty program is easily one of the best D2C rewards programs we’ve ever seen. There’s a point system, multiple tiers for people to unlock, and incentives for doing things like:
Leaving a review;
Signing up for auto-renewals; or
Talking about the brand on social media.
They’re a brand who’s managed to “flip the funnel” in a very powerful way.
Check out their brand, and then have a reread of this article. You’ll notice they’re doing almost everything we’ve mentioned—they have customer accounts to collect first-party data, they’ve built a brand that’s easy to fall in love with, and they spend a lot of time working on post-purchase marketing.
They even have a quiz that builds a detailed customer profile and attaches all that data to an email address. You better believe they’re using that data to run targeted campaigns across multiple channels.
Getting started with your new funnel.
As you start retooling your marketing for this new age of privacy, look for ways to do exactly what JOI and so many other D2C brands are doing: deliver a great brand experience, get to know your customers, collect first-party data, and use it to create personalized offers & campaigns.
Remember to start with as much user research as possible, and continue to audit your brand’s efforts as you go. If you need help, we’d be happy to jump on a call and talk about some of the ways you can do more with your eCommerce store.