How to plan your growth strategy as a D2C brand in 2023

How to plan your growth strategy as a D2C brand in 2023

Salima Nadira

Salima Nadira

Growth Strategies

Jan 6, 2023

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At the beginning of the year, it's essential to plan your growth and marketing strategies. Three actionable tips include conducting a business health check to assess key metrics such as customer spend, LTV, product performance etc., developing an effective SEO strategy for long-term sales, and using tailored keywords in paid search to grow revenues in the medium term. Adapt your strategy quarterly to respond to market changes and seek assistance for data-driven decisions when needed.

The beginning of the year is the time to plan your growth and marketing strategies for the year, and we're here to help. So here are three actionable tips for you to kickstart your business planning, with real examples from companies. Read through these for a summary of what you can work on for your own business, or as a checklist against what you’ve already started planning.

Do a business health check so you can make informed plans.

Before setting out your plans, you have to get a lay of the land - by doing a business health check. How is your business performing at the moment?

To answer the above question, ask yourself: What are the key metrics you need to get a good sense of the direction the business is heading towards? While there are many metrics available, most founders and growth experts look at a handful of specific ones.

Julian Hearn, founder of direct to consumer meal replacement company Huel, shares in an interview which are the key metrics he keeps a close eye on. They are:

  • Customer spend

  • Customer acquisition costs

  • Customer lifetime value

  • Which channels customers come from

  • Product performance

Since inception in 2015, the company has achieved astonishing growth rates of 45-50% annually. Read more.

Keep track of your Shopify store growth metrics.

Keep track of your Shopify store growth metrics.

Keep track of your Shopify store growth metrics.

Create a powerful SEO strategy to drive long term sales.

Start laying the foundations of organic acquisition early on. This is very much the philosophy of a solid SEO strategy - it doesn’t work unless you start early.

Why is that so? With SEO, you put out the content needed to gain site visitors from free, organic, or editorial sources, or otherwise natural search results from search engines. In order to do SEO well, there is a lot of preparation and groundwork which needs to be done. However, these efforts can have lasting long term effects as it can fuel free discovery of your website, and earn you new customers at absolutely no additional cost, for years to come.

Beauty brand ColourPop, founded in 2014, has an SEO strategy that brings in over 5 million visitors to the website a month. They make an estimated $100-500 million in web sales. Their strategy includes:

  • Building domain authority using backlinks

  • Driving traffic through partnerships

  • Using multiple tactics to keep site visitors engaged and on their web pages

Their efforts are supported by a consistent production schedule which fuels new product releases, as well as a large number of partnerships. Read more.

For smaller companies with less resources to drive growth at the scale of ColourPop, have a look at how Tortuga Backpacks built a multi-million business with 100% organic search traffic. Founded in 2009, the co-founders wanted to bootstrap a business that fit their nomadic travel lifestyle. With their limited resources, they leveraged on these methods instead:

  • Using popular platforms to raise early brand awareness

  • Using content, not discounts, to drive traffic to their products

  • Constantly updating and refreshing their best performing posts

  • Repurposing content for various stages along the funnel

Tortuga Backpacks’ founders Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Michael Cohen did not find that paid ads worked for them early on, so they leaned fully into SEO and budgeted their resources towards research and development of their products instead. While their growth has been relatively slower and smaller scale compared to ColourPop’s, they have certainly reached their goals of building a sustainable, remote business. Read more.

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Use tailored keywords in paid search to grow revenues in the medium term.

While long term growth is important, businesses need to balance out future profits with medium term revenues as well, so as to remain sustainable. Hence it is necessary to simultaneously work on a more focused, paid ads strategy to see a more immediate return on investment.

The problem is, there are many ways in which ad spend can be budgeted. For example, you can bid on keywords for your web pages to show up top in search engine results, but you may not know which pages exactly you should be bidding for, or which keywords make the most sense and are the cheapest or most cost effective for your business.

What matters most is finding an effective strategy to optimize your budget. This may take some trial and error before you can find what works for you. However, we can look at some learnings from other companies who have seen success in the past.

E-commerce marketplace and manufacturer FactoryPure has a wide range of products available, from wood stoves to electric skateboards, which gives them the opportunity to find which types of products sell better than others. After some experimentation from 2013, the co-founders Michael and Eugene Ravitsky finally found the strategy that worked for them, and saw phenomenal revenue gains of 100% year-over-year from 2017 to 2021. This is what they did:

  • Allocate more ad spend budget to their bestsellers

  • Invest in long-tail keywords tailored to users that are ready to buy

  • Coordinate paid keywords with product launches to increase organic traffic

As the website sells not only their own products but other brands as well, FactoryPure relies mainly on paid ads, with 74% of all their traffic coming from paid search. However, they do not need to invest money on branding and education of new products. Currently, their revenues average around $3 million a month, or $36 million a year. Read more.

For companies building their own brand, Rothy’s would be a better example of how paid search can help grow the business. Founded in 2012, the company took four years to get off the ground as they focused on product development. Their efforts paid off, however - today, the company is worth $1 billion. This is what they did:

  • Spurred growth through specific, long tail keywords

  • Let customer feedback direct the product roadmap

  • Promoted their mission of being an eco-friendly, sustainable brand

  • Used on-site behavior data to remarket the right products to the right audiences

As seen above, their paid ads strategy went hand in hand with several other efforts to bring the company to impressive levels of growth. Read more.

With these tips, we hope you're ready to build your annual marketing strategy. Remember to review your strategy every quarter to respond to changing market realities. If you're struggling with finding the right data to help you make those strategy decisions, don't hesitate to reach out.

Salima Nadira

About the Author

Salima is Head of Product Marketing at Airboxr. She works with leading DTC brands to help them make sense of their data for better decision-making. She is also a professional musician with an avid following on Spotify.

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