Is Direct-to-consumer the New Rule For Marketing?

What do brands like Harry’s, Casper and Allbirds all have in common? They’re all building a one-to-one connection with their customers in real-time that drives the basis of their business and their success.

That was the theme of Mike Sands’, CEO & Co-Founder of Signal, talk, “Identity: The Future Of Real-Time Engagement In The Age Of Going Direct” at AdExchnager’s Industry Preview He said identity is a strategic layer and that DTC brands have one leg up on legacy brands in the fragmented marketplace because their playbook is focused on delivering individually-tailored messages instead of speaking to the masses and hopefuls (or breathers as he terms them).

It’s all about knowing who your customer is vs. who you think they are and moving past simple demographics and notions of a funnel, he added.”You should move beyond your list and start with your customer first.” The model that Sands refers to is one where customer identity takes precedence over cookies and first-party data over third-party data.

A lot of what Sands talked about sounds right in line with the growing need to align privacy regulation compliance with customer experience. Especially in terms of permission-based marketing actually fostering the creation of a better experience for consumers. If acquisition, activation, and reactivation are important, then suppression should be equally as important, said Sands. “If you don’t know the customer, you don’t know when to turn the conversation off.” Think about every time you get an email that you don’t want and then you got it again, and again, and again. According to Sands, following the DTC playbook can help with that. It’s about putting the customer front and center.

What’s particularly interesting about the DTC model for advertisers and marketers, and maybe even for publishers, is flipping the model to better enable reevaluation of KPIs and messaging in real-time according to what you really know and not what you think you know about your audience. And that all starts with the quality of your data. Third-party data isn’t going away any time soon, it’s a necessary component in modeling your audience, but the more reliable that data is and more connected it is to real people, than the better suited it is for helping to deliver on your marketing strategy effectively.