When Michael Dubin launched Dollar Shave Club in early 2012, the idea that the small, independent shaving company would be able to compete with a massive multinational brand like Gillette, seemed patently absurd.
I was in that boat myself. Frankly speaking, I looked at Dollar Shave Club as one of those fly-by-night companies.
At the time, Gillette was 7-years into an enormously lucrative buyout from Procter & Gamble. Under the corporation’s stewardship, Gillette had seen its market share rise to a staggering 72%, with no clear rivals on the horizon.
Yet Dubin was confident that with his strategy he could undercut the big boys, and carve out a lucrative audience for his subscription-based grooming brand. Within a couple of months the 33-year old entrepreneur had put out a hilarious, personality-filled launch video that poked fun at other brands in the market. The video has received 25 million views on Youtube.
Adding fun-filled, entertaining content to already an existing, lucrative, mature industry coupled with smart campaigning was a unique twist that audience seemed to respond to favorably.
The effect was almost instantaneous, within 48 hours the company had brought in 12,000 new customers. At the end of 2013, Dollar Shave Club boasted 330,000 active customers. By the start of 2016, the market for online shaving brands had grown to $263 million, and Dollar Shave Club was the undisputed ruler of the roost with 51% of customers subscribing to the brand.
In second place was Gillette with a measly 21.2%. Later on, the same year Dubin cashed in on his rapidly expanding brand by selling Dollar Shave Club to multinational conglomerate Unilever for a cool $1 billion.
How Dollar Shave Club Used Digital Marketing
While Dubin employed several incisive strategies to drive his small start-up to overnight success, the largest part of Dollar Shave Club’s overnight success was definitely based on his excellent digital marketing strategies.
- Website as Customer Conversion Tool- Dollar Shave Club’s website was engineered to serve as a perfect marketing funnel. The online storefront consisted of only 6 main pages in total, and each individual page linked clearly to the first step of the online order process. For interested visitors, every step of their journey took them one step closer to a buying proposition.
- Power of Videos- They leveraged a variety of fresh video content, including stop-motion animation to spread their brand to interested audiences.
- Leveraging Social Media Ecosystem- They created several opportunities to share content, and provide feedback on social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They also maintained strong connections by engaging with their followers at every turn. For example, customers who posted their Dollar Shave Club products on Instagram were rewarded with a repost from the company itself and a free t-shirt alongside their next batch of razors.
- Creating Timely Buzz- They timed content posting to coincide with product releases and other announcements. This added a buzz that paid-off through real-life conversions.
Can Your Small Business Adopt Similar Strategies?
You might be wondering whether your own business can benefit from these strategies?
The answer is an unequivocally, Yes.
Any small business can replicate these strategies to capture new customers and improve revenue growth. But, bear in mind that the online business environment that greets you today, is very different from the one that Dubin entered into in 2012.
Today, 96% of small businesses are already investing in social media.
Another 50% are plowing revenues back into the design of their websites.
In addition, other digital marketing strategies like SEO, email and video are also starting to catch up.
If you want to stay ahead of the pack in an increasingly competitive digital marketing sphere, then you need to use your limited resources in the most effective way.
Here’s what you need to do to get started:
Optimize Your Online Storefront
According to most recent studies, customers make a snap decision on the value of your online offerings within just 50 milliseconds!
For most online visitors, their first impression will be developed based on the quality of your website.
This piece of online real estate serves as a central hub, connecting prospects and customers to every branch of your digital presence, from your blogs and videos to your social media feeds and Yelp profile. With this in mind, each page of your website must be optimized for design, accessibility, speed, and functionality across all devices.
Try integrating some of these ideas into your website design:
1. Start With Video
Many websites make the mistake of throwing lots of text and images at their audience with the ultimate result being, that a lot of potential customer simply click away without ever interacting with the website. A short, engaging video explaining your business, what you do and the products you offer, can deliver all the information you were trying to convey, in a simple sound bite.
2. Allow Scrolling
With the introduction of mobile browsing and social media feeds, modern Internet users are more than comfortable with scrolling down to find more content, to the extent that they will often scroll down before checking out any of the content on your page. Incorporate scrolling into your web design with a longer leaner design that makes use of the increased space to draw attention to specific areas of your website
3. Make it Snappy
When you only have 50 milliseconds to make an impression, how fast your website loads can make a staggering difference. So make sure your website is hosted by a good company and that the design is optimized to be responsive.
4. Test for Mobile
86% of internet users own a smartphone or tablet. These devices provide an easy browsing experience on the go. Often an online search from a mall or car seat can impel an immediate purchase decision, so you need to ensure your website provides the same design and functionality across these platforms.
That means checking the text and fonts to make sure they’re legible on smaller screens, testing all the links to make sure they’re clickable, and ensuring that layout and branding is consistent.
Adopt Easy-to-Use yet Powerful Social Media Strategies
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram serve as a frontline tool for content marketing, market research, and customer engagement. But managing and maintaining multiple accounts can be a drain on resources. So before you start posting it’s important that you understand your goals for social media.
Start off by performing a thorough analysis of your target audience. Use Google analytics information from your website, customer feedback forms and online surveys to help gain a complete understanding of your customer demographics, buying preferences and interests.
Develop a couple of buyer profiles that ascribe to these characteristics. Ask yourself, which social media channels these individuals are most likely to show up on and target your efforts in that direction.
Next, define quantifiable targets to align your efforts on these platforms with your business’s overall objectives.
Are you looking to reach certain number of followers within a certain period of time?
Do you want to see a percentage improvement in conversions?
The more specific your targets are, the easier it will be to measure your performance.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your social media pages.
Last 20-years of Internet demonstrate to us how comfortable customers have become in conducting online activities whether it is online shopping, dining, making reservations or managing finances. They look at it as a natural extension of their daily activities whether they are business-related or involve routine or pleasure activities.
No wonder customers want your business to be on social media. Social media has given a new meaning to the term- “Customer Service.”
When someone posts a query on social media, or makes a complaint and includes your twitter handle or Facebook page in the post, don’t ignore it. They are trying to reach out to you. Make sure you’re responding to their concerns, feedback and complaints in a responsible and professional manner.
When creating a profile make sure the username you choose is easily identifiable with your brand and that the profile picture you use includes your company’s logo.
Make use of the bio summary box, and include a short description of the business in non-technical terms that even a 4th grader can understand. It should be easy to search.
Include a link back to your company website and add tracking to this so that you can trace traffic back to your website.
If the social media page allows you to customize the header image, make sure this also reflects your company’s branding with a logo front and center
Modern audiences expect regular content from their businesses, so it’s important that you keep your social updates on a consistent schedule.
A social media calendar is a great idea, you can mark off key events and business dates here, along with regular posting dates this way you can gear your strategy towards big announcements that will grab the attention of followers.
Your social media page is the perfect tool for creating a story that customers can really connect to.
There are a few different methods you can use when selling your brand’s narrative:
- Brand Story- Focus on the founding principles of your business, from the founder’s story to your mission and values. Communicate the impact you want to make with your brand, and products.
- Creativity- If you want to position your brand as a lifestyle choice, then include informative updates that are relevant to people within the community. Don’t limit your posts to your products and services either, a health food brand might provide blog posts on diet and exercise as well.
- Humor- Humor is always a great tool. People love to get entertained. That’s basic yet powerful human emotion. If you have good content creators in-house then develop a unique brand voice which you can apply consistently across all your posts and videos.
- Human Face- Another strategy to consider is to put a literal human face to your videos, by introducing your staff by name and posting behind the scenes videos.