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Why Maturing DTC and Direct Response Brands Need Brand Lift

A focus on return is fundamental for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, but there comes a time in every brand’s life when marketers must take a step back and ask some questions about how audiences respond to their efforts. Do they remember our brand? Which messages are resonating, and which fall flat? What do consumers think about our advertising?

Though often thought to be of concern primarily to big-“B” brands, these questions are important for DTC brands to consider, especially as they mature.

In a brand’s early stages, an attractive offer to those ready to buy  works wonders. Assuming you’ve got a good product that serves consumers’ needs, just getting in front of them with those benefits can drive remarkable growth right off the bat. Arguably, there are no platforms where this is more true than podcasting and digital audio.

Successful DTC brands relentlessly analyze their results, interrogating variables like the shows, hosts, placements, networks and ad formats to determine which are driving sales. They reinvest where they see return on investment, and pursue new opportunities to reach audiences that are responding. Though every brand and marketer has their own formula, the overall strategy is proven, and is one reason why so many big DTC brands are nearly synonymous with podcasting.

Much of the time you can predict ongoing growth, as long as you can identify and reach new audiences you believe match your target consumer profile. And this works, until it starts to soften.

Getting More from the Audience You’re Already Reaching

This point often happens when you’ve saturated a lot of your current audience, and face headwinds on growing reach. Successful optimization efforts tend to focus on what works – what show, what network, what audience targets, and so on. What’s missing is, why – why do these tactics work?

This all begs even bigger questions: why can’t you derive more return from the reach you’re already getting? Why aren’t you converting some segments of the audience you’re already reaching?

The potency of brand lift studies lies in answering the why. 

Answering Why with Brand Lift

Brand lift studies get to why because we ask consumers what they think about your brand and your ads. We don’t have to infer – they tell us directly.

Brand lift’s top- and mid-funnel metrics tell us if a campaign is making audiences more aware of your brand, more favorable, and more likely to consider or purchase your product. If ads are working well for awareness but not moving the needle on consideration, then you’ve got a strong indicator that your creatives aren’t sealing the deal. Analyzing brand metrics helps isolate where the roadblock is. But we can get more detail than that.

The superpower of brand lift is testing messages and creative directly. We’ll ask respondents to indicate how much they associate specific statements – often right out of the ad copy or creative brief – with your brand. This tells us what’s sinking in, and what’s not.

Maybe a message targeted at the upper funnel shows strong association, while one aimed at clinching the sale isn’t resonating. This might mean examining if the message is clear or repeated enough.

Sometimes we see that a message is clearly remembered, but we also see anegative response, with respondents saying they’re less favorable towards the brand. That’s a clear indicator they don’t like the ad or messaging, even if it’s memorable.

It’s rare that all audiences respond to a campaign equally. Another brand lift superpower is segmenting the audience response by demographics (gender, age, income, etc.), consumer behavior (do they buy in your product category, or from your competitors?) or other qualifiers (are they sports fans, hardcore gamers or fitness enthusiasts?).

This takes message optimization from being a blunt instrument to a sharp surgical tool, uncovering which messages are best for specific audiences.

Brand lift is the key to unlock purchases with audiences you’re already reaching, but haven’t yet moved to buy.

This is an integral part of branding, and what DTC brands need to embrace when they’re getting big, and want to get bigger.

We’d love to help you understand where brand lift fits into your brand’s marketing strategy. Book a call and we’ll share how we can take your planning  to the next level with our holistic approach.

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