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DTC Tactics that Helped Brands Grow in 2022

Despite the challenges faced by the world in 2022, including the cost of living crisis and soaring inflation, ecommerce shows no sign of going anywhere. Instead, direct to consumer (DTC) brands are continuing to build on decisions made during the pandemic to remain profitable in their spaces. It’s clear that just like in 2020, where there is economic uncertainty, there is ecommerce opportunity.

Shopify’s Black Friday Cyber Monday spending data gives the clearest picture of how 2022 has in fact exceeded expectations in customer engagement. A record $7.5billion was spent worldwide through independent Shopify sites alone, a 19% increase from the same weekend in 2021.

However, how have brands managed to mitigate the challenges presented this year, while continuing to grow? Let’s have a look at some of the proven success tactics from 2022 which could help your brand succeed as we move into a potentially challenging 2023.

A shift from acquisition to a focus on retention

More than 52 million customers purchased online through Shopify sites during the Black Friday weekend this year, an increase of 12% from 2021. This has been fueled by the fact more brands are entering the DTC space. However, with this influx naturally comes more competition, and as a result advertising costs will skyrocket without a carefully considered strategy in place, as all these new ecommerce brands compete for customer attention. 

Regardless of how many customers you’re able to acquire, a shift of focus towards brand building and improving customer retention rates will help to future-proof things. If your site is able to increase the lifetime value of your customers, the pressure can be taken off relying solely on acquisition marketing, with a more balanced approach in place. 

Having a strong retention marketing strategy is therefore a key trend to come out of 2022, prioritising great customer experiences and building strong customer relationships through personalisation, loyalty campaigns and email marketing, for example.

The power of subscription

With a realisation that it’s significantly more cost effective to retain your customers rather than only work on acquisition, brands in 2022 have continued their trend in recent years to launch subscription models for their DTC products. 

The DTC subscription market size was predicted to grow to around $120billion globally in 2022, up from $73billion in 2021. As we await the official figures to see whether these projections were met, we have certainly experienced more clients coming to us this year with a desire to either launch or strengthen their subscription offering. 

This has been key for both brands and consumers in 2022, as regular subscriptions allow people to better budget their monthly expenditure in a turbulent economic climate, and the reliable cash flow helps brands with their forecasting leading into 2023.

The value of evaluating site performance

If you’re aiming for a more balanced approach that doesn’t rely solely on customer acquisition, you need to ensure your website is working as hard as possible to convert your users once they land there.

As 2022 has progressed, our clients have begun to invest more strategically in how their websites are performing, and this often involves Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). Typically brands invest heavily in creating an enjoyable, intuitive user experience for their site, with the hope that it’ll ensure their brand stands out amongst all the competition, and that users return time and again. However, the digital space is extremely fluid and as user trends and behaviour evolves rapidly, so must your site in order to stay relevant and interesting. This can be seen vividly with the ever growing trend towards mobile usage for shopping online.

A surge in the demand for CRO audits, investing time and thought into how well your site is performing, and being open to make incremental improvements to both the user experience and user interface is therefore another key trend to emerge from 2022.

The rise of social search

Consumer demographics evolve constantly. Those who were too young only a few years ago to shop online now have the means to do so, and in 2022 we have seen that they wield the power to shift the wider approach to ecommerce marketing. 

Nearly 40% of GenZers begin their ecommerce journey on social media, preferring to search via TikTok and Instagram rather than more traditional methods such as Google and even Maps. With over a billion active users, brands have realised that in 2022 it is impossible to ignore platforms such as TikTok when it comes to getting your message across to consumers.  

The “always-on” strategy, where digital storefronts have been curated to engage with and build relationships with potential customers, has brought the importance of social search to the forefront of brand acquisition models in 2022.

Internationalisation and Cross-border sales

Finally, 2022 has again proven that consumers are comfortable with buying from ecommerce sites across borders. eMarketer has predicted that the worldwide opportunity for ecommerce will exceed $6trillion by the end of next year, and this has been fuelled by the growth of cross-border sales. 

The year has seen the growth of buying from online stores abroad up 45% compared to pre-pandemic levels, and this is particularly robust amongst UK consumers, where 87% say they shop cross-border. Therefore, being able and willing to tap into this market, particularly with countries in the EU should your brand be based in the UK, is another key takeaway from a positive year in DTC. 

If any of these points have sparked your interest, or you’d like to learn more about how to implement these strategies for your brand, let’s have a chat. We specialise in helping DTC brands maximise their potential online, through design, build and growth marketing strategies.


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