Direct to consumer advertising is evolving at an impressive rate. Facebook has long been the preferred choice of small businesses and marketers looking to reach their audiences right in their element. However, there’s been a growing desire for brands to deleverage their Facebook DTC efforts, leaving many to wonder where to go from here.
The good news is that Facebook is doing its part to keep up and work with marketers to keep the channel open for effective campaigns. As part of the upcoming iOS changes we’ll discuss, for example, they’re offering a new Aggregated Event Measurement tool that will support the ability to measure campaigns while maintaining user privacy. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t explore your other options for DTC marketing.
What other options do you have? Let’s talk more about the upcoming changes, and then we’ll discuss your alternatives and how they can change your D2C advertising for the better.
Table of contents
- Facebook Messenger Bots
- Updates are Looming
- What Are the Alternatives?
- How to Measure Campaigns with Less Data
The first thing on most people’s minds, of course, is why now is the time and why Facebook is no longer the focus. Well, it’s a great source of DTC traffic and it’s easy to set up effective targeted ad campaigns, thanks to data sharing. However, that’s all about to change. The update coming from iOS is just the first of many, and it is changing how users share data with various apps and publishers.
We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes, but for now, just know that Facebook is not going to be the best choice for DTC advertising and even if it is effective, it will probably be much harder to measure your efforts if people can opt-out of tracking for their shopping and other online histories. Although they’re doing their part to assist marketers, they may not be able to offer everything that brands need.
After all, no one can force users to accept data sharing, so there’s no longer a way to guarantee that your metrics tracking is accurate. While you can still invest some energy into Facebook, it’s a good time to explore other channels where you may get more accurate data tracking for better and more targeted advertising.
Of course, then there is the fact that while Facebook is trying to assist, they are doing so at a huge price to many small brands. Even startup brands are struggling to maintain, trying every new tool and release from Facebook. The problem is that even though the changes are small, it still requires a lot of effort to update and stay on track, so the costs are going to continue to rise, as well.
Some people are abandoning ship. Others are simply scaling back. Either way, the quick answer is that Facebook is no longer the champion that it used to be for direct-to-consumer advertising. It’s time to re-evaluate, at the very least.
There’s not a lot of information out there about the bots used by Messenger, but what has been discovered is quite interesting. Bots are the future and while many people say they’ll replace apps, marketing, agents, and so much more, it’s still early and we may not be able to tell just yet how effective they’ll be.
A chatbot, or bot, is an automated messaging tool that will converse with your users based on prompts. It works thanks to AI, or artificial intelligence, and is a great way to channel users in the right direction without investing human resources and providing an instant response.
Facebook Messenger is used by 68% of the people who use the Facebook platform, making it the third-most used messaging app in the world. It’s even the second most popular choice for interacting with businesses, with people sending more than 2 billion messages to businesses via Messenger each month.
In the rest of the app space, as many as 71% of all users delete new apps within 90 days. Facebook and its Messenger aren’t on that list in almost every instance. It stands to reason that building a bot could be a cheaper and more effective alternative than creating your own mobile app to interact with your audience.
Another reason to consider bots is that while Facebook has over 6 million different advertisers and brands, there are a mere 300,000 active chatbots. That means a lot less competition for you and a medium that users enjoy, appreciate, and know-how to engage with.
People are 3.5 times as likely to open a message on Facebook Messenger as they are to open a marketing email, even when it’s one they signed up for. Plus, there are even sponsored ads in Messenger that can reach out to people who have come to your page in the past, giving you an automatically-generated subscriber list that will allow you to target high-intent visitors.
So yes, bots could be a viable solution to your DTC marketing efforts. You will need to make sure that you implement them as part of your overall strategy and do it properly, of course. Just using the bot feature without thought could do more damage than good. Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to get started with Facebook Messenger bots.
Given the recent news about the iOS update that is coming down soon, it looks like Facebook D2C marketing is going to be the first target. Thus, your efforts are going to be much less effective. The idea isn’t to shut down marketing but to increase consumer privacy. When it comes to targeted advertising, privacy means fewer targets. It means hidden searches, less data tracking, and fewer opportunities to find out who your ideal customer is and what they need.
Starting with iOS 14, Apple will require that every app in their App Store shows a prompt that discourages users from data collection and sharing. This will follow their notorious AppTrackingTransparency framework, prohibiting the sharing and collection of certain information unless users specifically opt-in to allow tracking.
This means that for marketers, the personalization of DTC ads on platforms like Facebook will be much more limited, and the performance of your direct-to-consumer advertising will depend on whether or not iOS users agree to share their data. As more platforms and publishers err on the side of user privacy, we’re likely going to see this trend continue.
Another change is that apps can only be associated with a single ad account now, even though you can use that singular account to advertise across multiple apps. There are other limitations, such as the number of iOS campaigns, reset periods, and other elements to ensure that everyone has the best chance of reaching their audience under the new privacy guidelines.
Facebook does offer a full guide on how to handle the upcoming changes, but that doesn’t tell you where else you can look or how to improve your DTC efforts elsewhere so that you’re less reliant on the social media giant in the first place. Let’s take a look at that now.
So, if not Facebook, then where should you focus your direct-to-consumer advertising efforts? Well, Pinterest and Snapchat have started to reach out more to DTC brands in a way that makes it easier for them to get started with advertising on the platforms. Of course, many professionals and industry insiders will tell you that there’s no good alternative to Facebook just yet, which is leaving a lot of people in a lurch.
Many CEOs and marketing managers have opted not to abandon Facebook entirely, but to reduce their spend and their dependence, allowing themselves to seek out other channels like Instagram where there may be more accessibility and a better chance to target their audience, even with new privacy regulations.
Ultimately, brands should experiment with various marketing channels and tools to see what combination of marketing resources will get the best results. And, of course, the best way that you can make any DTC channel work better is to continually improve your product and brand image, because when you make a good impression it doesn’t matter where your audience finds you.
Social media can still be an effective choice for direct-to-consumer marketing, but it shouldn’t be your only focus or the bulk of your ad spend. You should take the time to investigate other social platforms and online destinations, where you can target your audience as you have on Facebook without the huge financial investment. If you’re willing to invest a little time on strategy, you can create an affordable, and still impressively effective, marketing and branding campaign.
As a marketer or business owner, you’ve been hearing for years about the value of analytics in your marketing efforts. Now you’re being told to look toward efforts that don’t have as much measurable data– you’re probably wondering why this is and how you’re supposed to monitor your efforts without those invaluable insights.
First and foremost, consumer privacy is becoming paramount, which may impact the types of metrics that you can collect. You may be able to take advantage of tools like the new metrics resources being provided by Facebook to attempt to keep tabs on the success of your campaigns. However, given that no one has seen this tool in action, we can’t really know that it will be effective.
You will want to make sure that your website’s domain has been verified and that you have all of the latest security features in place. This will assure Facebook and users that you are offering the most privacy possible and keeping up with all regulations. Facebook will initially configure its new regulations for monitoring your web conversion events, but you can adapt those to your own needs and adjust them over time.
If you know what you are doing, you can create your own metrics and gather information, even if your reporting options are limited or if Facebook doesn’t give you the wealth of consumer data that you used to use to create your marketing campaigns. You’ll want to think about the type of data that you’re trying to gather, what your benchmarks are, or starting points, and how you can find that information when it isn’t just handed to you.
Ultimately, it’s going to be in your best interest to work with a DTC advertising specialist that can ensure that your campaigns are on point, no matter what changes come down the pipe.
Although the future of direct-to-consumer advertising on Facebook and other social channels is questionable, at best, brands will easily find new opportunities to reach their audience in different arenas in the online world. As long as you take the time to consider your options and set realistic goals for growth, you will find that your DTC advertising dollars will go further and be better spent.
Facebook may have been the greatest gift to D2C brands over the past five years, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best for the future. With iOS and other platforms looking to increase consumer privacy, measuring campaigns and creating effective DTC advertising programs is going to prove to be an ongoing challenge. Fortunately, with the help of Messenger bots and other solutions, you won’t be left empty-handed, no matter where Facebook goes with its D2C marketing.
To learn more about the future of DTC advertising make sure to follow my blog and catch up with me on Twitter and Linkedin. I regularly answer view questions about Direct to Consumer (DTC) topics and I’m happy to answer yours. I have years of expertise in digital marketing and direct-to-consumer advertising, including keeping up with changing trends in the industry and more. I’ll help you ensure that your D2C efforts are on track, no matter what business you’re in.
About the Author
For over 25 years, Jay Sung has been a passionate leader in driving sustainable growth through direct-to-consumer, e-commerce, and customer acquisition strategies. Mr. Sung oversees corporate branding and growth initiatives utilizing a continuously evolving toolkit of digital marketing strategies and technologies to drive innovative direct marketing programs for portfolio companies – from startups to Fortune 500 organizations.
Previously, Mr. Sung served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Guthy-Renker, a $1.3 billion industry leader in the direct-to-consumer health and beauty market. He is best known for developing consumer acquisition and marketing strategies for leading brands such as Meaningful Beauty® with Cindy Crawford, Wen® Haircare by Chaz Dean, IT Cosmetics™, and many others. In addition, he served as the CEO of such well-known brands as The Proactiv Company and Lot18.
Mr. Sung lives in Los Angeles, enjoying all Southern California has to offer. You’ll frequently find him reading the latest business journal, cooking, or practicing the piano to relax. Mr. Sung earned his Bachelor of Science degree in economics with a double concentration in marketing and accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.