Insights

DTC brands must leverage internet forums to win online

With online competition more intense than ever, the digital marketing playbook is changing. DTC brands must now actively seek out consumer queries posted online, and position their products as the solution to them.

Robi O'Cleirigh
Content Manager @ Blueprint

As a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brand, chances are you’ll use three main channels to build an audience - website, social and email. 

Which is great - problem is you’re not alone. 

DTC boomed in 2020, eCommerce as a whole saw 10 years’ growth in 3 months, and legacy retail aggressively expanded digital offerings. That means commercial competition online is now hotter than ever, as the rising cost of Facebook ads suggests: 

The cost per click of Facebook ads rose throughout 2020, and still sits way above pre-pandemic norms | Source: Reveal Bot 


To make themselves heard in this context, DTC brands require more than just noisy owned channels. Merchants must now actively seek out the internet forums where consumers go to ask questions, and position their products as the solution to them. 

These sites are widely known, but few think of them as platforms to build an audience with. Here’s a breakdown of the online forums DTC merchants can leverage to get ahead this year:

Twitter 

Twitter is where people go to complain, and is awash with problems to solve. You already use it, of course, but too few brands actively go to search.twitter.com and identity groups talking about the issues their product might fix.

Search for posts and comments featuring keywords related to your niche and simply reply with well informed, valuable answers. It’s a potentially viral method of advertising that doesn’t cost a dollar. 

If you’re a pillow brand, for example, you should be engaging with these posts made by people asking sleep related questions: 

Source: Twitter 

Reddit 

The front page of the internet is a “massive forum of millions and millions of problems” according to DTC expert Nik Sharma. On Reddit you’ll find 130k interest-based communities and 2.2 million subreddits, some of which will feature users asking questions around your niche.

Brand marketing is tough on reddit, and shameless plugs get mocked by the community and quickly shut down by admins. That said, content-led engagement in response to legitimate consumer queries can win big traction.

For a CPG food merchant say, the ‘Healthy_Recipes’ subreddit is a goldmine of questions and conversations you can freely engage with to get in front of the right audience:


Source: Reddit  

Quora

Quora has 300 million users and exists purely as a question and answer platform. Even better, 65% of its audience are higher income millennials with college degrees - the ideal buyer profile for many DTC brands.

63% of Quora’s site traffic arrives from Googled queries - if you’re providing valuable answers within your niche it’s your brand they’ll see as the solution. Numerous questions on how best to exercise at home are potentially free advertising for a merchant in the fitness space: 


Source: Quora 


Product Hunt   

This is where 5 million technophiles meet online to discuss problem solving products and startups. Posting on Product Hunt is essentially mass distribution for free, but pre-launch outreach to individuals verified on the platform is key for rankings. For innovative, unknown brands it’s a great place to find those all important early adopters. 

Strong SEO

Not a platform as such, and certainly not new, but the time investment required to leverage SEO effectively means most brands don’t fully exploit it to address issues people are Googling. 

Whichever niche you're in, there's probably 15-20 common queries that consumers will have about it. Creating detailed SEO optimized content that ranks high in Google’s SERP positions your product as the answer to the questions already being searched for online. 

Unlike with paid social ads, if you invest heavily in SEO for one year, you’ll see results for the next decade. 

More insight


This article is based on a Blueprint industry report produced in collaboration with Nik Sharma of Sharma Brands. The full report is freely available to read here 👇

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