How to Boost DTC Marketing by Integrating Email and SMS: Insights from Colby Flood

How to Boost DTC Marketing by Integrating Email and SMS: Insights from Colby Flood
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Get top tips from Colby Flood on how email and SMS can boost your DTC marketing game. Discover the keys to effective cross-channel strategies in this insightful chat.

- The power of UGC and how to capture it cost-effectively.

- Developing and testing a 90-day creative strategy.

- Personalization tactics using post-purchase surveys.

- The importance of collaboration between different marketing teams.

- A blended approach for long-term growth and success in DTC brands.

Wiehan  Britz: Here we are once again, another episode of Inbox Invaders where we talk about everything related to retention marketing, email and sms marketing, and how other email or other marketing channels plug into this ecosystem to help D2C brands generate more money. So today I have a super special guest joining me for this conversation, Colby, a founder of Brighter Click. I will have him introduce himself and then we're going to have a chat around how email and sms can support other D2C marketing channels. So over to you, Colby. If you want to introduce yourself, tell the people who you are, your background, and then we'll get cracking with the conversation.

Colby Flood: Yeah, I appreciate you having me on today. Name is Colby Flood, founded Brighter Click, an agency that started out as a paid social agency for D2C brands. And we've evolved over the years. We still do what we're good at, which is paid media management, really focusing in on ad, creative strategy, creative production and things like UGC and influencer sourcing as well. Always great to have a conversation about areas that we don't directly touch, which is retention, email, sms, because that collaboration across departments or across teams is very important to make sure that brands succeed.

Wiehan  Britz: Love it and I love how you mentioned that. It's a critical piece to the puzzle. A lot of the times we do see isolation between different departments. So I'm glad that we're going to be unpacking that today. I also see that you guys, on your podcast, on webinars that you also attend, you guys cover a lot of topics around creating creative strategies, psychology around ads, meta ads, user generated content and a lot. So thank you so much for the content that you put out there in the world for us to consume.

Colby Flood: So appreciate you keeping up with it.

Wiehan  Britz: Absolutely. So, okay, so we'll start off with the just a general conversation around cross channel marketing strategies. The first thing that I want to unpack little more is what are some of the things from your point of view? I'm happy to also give my two cent around things that you've picked up over the years. When it comes down to cross marketing collaboration strategies between different departments within the D2C environment, any shortcomings that you've picked up to date?

Colby Flood: Yeah, that's a really good question. And as an agency, we've worked with various different other clients or other agencies on different projects and I think one thing that could definitely use some improvement in some areas is just alignment across the partners on what the core goals are that we're going after. I think it's very easy to put a target KPI, CPA, ROA goal for an individual channel.

And that is important, that every agency, every contractor lives up to the goal for their channel to bring performance. But there is also the need to look at things from a blended approach to understand that what happens with paid social is able to contribute to success with email marketing and vice versa. Because we have seen days where we know certain email campaigns are going live and Facebook loves to uh, sometimes take credit for everything and we see Lift and ROAS and stuff like that. So, you know, the, the brand owners, the CMOs, they're busy, right?

Things are very, very busy and full hats off to them for having the vision to launch the company that they do have. But I think that it could even be on the agencies to take it upon themselves to reach out to the other agencies that are working on the brand and create a somewhat of a collaborative experience so that the client can succeed.

Wiehan  Britz: You touch on some, some very key pointers. Yeah, we, when you talk about setting targets, KPI's, we, we very much fall into that trap of setting the, the KPI's for email and sms as a channel. Very seldomly do we align with other departments, which is, which is pretty, pretty sad because we want to email and SMS does of course support your channels, for instance, your paid ad channels.

If you want to drop CAC for a D2C brand, we can of course support that. So interesting that you, that you pointed out when you talk about communication and aligning different agencies, how, what in the past have you seen work in terms of getting that synergy I started and maintaining between different agencies? Because I feel like there is currently a bad stigma on agencies not being able to collaborate in a clear manner. How have you handled some of those parts in the past?

Colby Flood: Yeah, I think I'll answer that in two different ways. One is if able, I think it starts internally for the brand with a, a marketing calendar or a content calendar. So everybody understands month over month. What are the core product focuses that we're going after? Do we have a new product rollouts? Are there any special sales happening? How can we all come together and proactively know what is ahead so that we can plan out what we're going to do that way?

And if the brand is not able to do that, just doesn't have the resources, having some sort of agency partner that offers a fractional growth consulting or some type of additional role that can come in and do that planning and coordinate that communication, because that's where generally, you know, the CMO role or something would come in and coordinate that communication across and then email team, website team, paid ads team, all of those can talk and understand where going to run these ads. These are the type of landing pages we need, etc. Have you seen any sort of similar thing with creative or content calendars?

Wiehan  Britz: We have, we have. And you pretty much nail it. There needs to be some central point driving it. And we have seen on the most successful accounts where there is cross collaboration. It does in fact come from the brand, from the D2C team. You are on the money when you say that. If there's no, you know, anchoring point coming from the particular brand, things are always siloed. So I think you've kind of summarized it to a t there.

Wiehan  Britz: I don't. I think a lot of D2C brands are understaffed and they are also overwhelmed themselves, hence why there's most likely the silo disconnected approach. But I think you nail it. There needs to be some central anchoring point bringing everything together. Yeah.

Colby Flood: And I think, you know, I agree. I think, you know, it definitely starts internally. I think too. It even comes down to the sales process for agencies. Right. Because sometimes promises on ROA or on target KPI's can happen and then oversight on what's it really going to take to get there? What is it going to take? Input from the client. Because ultimately during the sales process, more often than not, you're looking at how you can remove a lot of things from the client's plate and ideally you can. And that's where if an agency does have like a growth consulting package or something like that, or can at least lead communication through slack or through email with the other agencies, it is very helpful that way.

Colby Flood: But yeah, it's CPMs keep rising, D2C marketing keeps getting more. I don't use the term difficult, but more crowded. So having that collaboration, definitely important.

Wiehan Britz: Yep. Super agreed with you on that point. Let's really get into the practical side of the conversation. Do you have a particular case where you've seen cross collaboration happening in a very well fashion or very well oiled type of way? And what has been the effect of that versus the other side of the coin where it's been fragmented? Have you seen cases of it working? Do you feel like it's being oversold by people trying to do cross collaboration? What has been your experience to date in terms of, you know, seeing what that could bring forward or does bring forward if everything is in collaboration with one another?

Colby Flood: Yeah. Two broader examples come to mind when it comes to success. And then I will give a very specific example or case study of one that had collaboration led to bad results, but it was a good learning for everyone that way.

So generally, the most collaborative time we see across agencies, even if there is not that central force driving things forward across all agencies, is going to be around prepping for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and seeing how we can start building out lists or start building out opportunities, because we all know that CPMs rise very much on the new user acquisition during Q four.

So focusing on how brands can shift their budget allocation more towards the email SMS side so that they can have success there. And then new product rollouts. So if there's new product rollouts happening, there's that planning ahead of what type of ads are we going to drive to, what type of landing page, and then what type of follow up emails or things like that are going to happen. Those are two kind of high level times that we generally see the most collaboration, and that's because there's the most central force driving that.

Now, a specific case study, that's kind of the inverse of what you asked for, but there was still good collaboration, good planning, good meaning, and good learnings. But bad long term results was we're working with a jewelry brand that had a high aov, and sometimes purchases could be $700, sometimes purchases could be $7,000. So they had a store with, you know, high value products that way. And TikTok shops, everybody talks about Facebook shops have been out for a while, and we were looking at testing Facebook Instagram shops to see how we could ideally improve conversions.

Now, as you know, there is not a lot of data you get from that purchase. Facebook gates, all that kind of like Amazon Gates, all of their information, or, uh, in the past has gated all their information and we were seeing some sales.

But what we noticed from the long term vision was that they weren't getting the email opt in rate that they were previously when we were running out to their website. And a good portion of their sales because their higher aov come in from the continued email nurture, because that's what's put setting them up to be more profitable instead of continuing to hit people with ads that way.

So ultimately, while we were seeing performance and seeing ROA, we ended up cutting it because it was going to have a long term negative effect for the brand, which was a very interesting perspective to be able to be a part of and to see. And like I said, it had ultimately negative results long term, but it was a good learning and that collaboration across the email department or the email agency and media buying was able to come to that consensus together so that the client could succeed.

Also read: 5 Ways to build your SMS List

Wiehan Britz: It's funny you mentioned that. We have seen this in the past where the different channel managers do want to take the credit for the sale, which I think is wrong because you've just proven that if everybody goes into their own lane they want to win the credit, it will affect channels in other ways. I'm very, very happy that you do bring that forward.

We something that email and sms marketers definitely need to start agreeing to and admitting to is we are super reliant on paid ad people, traffic people, acquisition people, if it's not for the ads bringing in traffic. And your case study here is a true testament of that. Of course our opt in rates will suffer based off of that. Not saying that, you know, we should steal away from, you know, the acquisition channels, because that's also not right.

But I think it's exactly like you mentioned is how can paid ads be engineered in such a way that we can still capture, you know, those people in a database so email can focus on retention, marketing later down the line, repeat purchases.

Wiehan Britz: Because I think paid ads acquisition is very strong when it comes down to that first purchase, making that first purchase profitable. And this is most likely what this, this case study has proven is you guys did make the first purchase profitable. What happens after that, repeat purchase wise, gets affected by some of these things. So very good pointers that you bring forward here. Another thing on the note of ad traffic, would you say there is merit in still keeping it on the paid side of things? If there's other benefits? I'll show you. I'll give you an example.

So we've had a case where, so of course, email wants all sales to happen on the store because then we can re-target to them, we can collect data about them. Client mentioned to us that it's more profitable for them to sell on Amazon because Amazon handles some of the fulfillment and the Amazon handles a lot of the advertising because, you know, products are more visible on the Amazon feeds.

Wiehan Britz: Have you seen cases where it's okay to separate channels from other channels so you can benefit the business? Or do you feel like in most cases, if cross collaboration doesn't happen, it is actually a negative for a business?

Colby Flood: Yeah, you know, there's, there's always times where I say there are exceptions to things and there, there might be exceptions, you know, but generally it's most beneficial if they have that, you know, kind of omni channel vision or that kind of omni-channel focus with things. Now, ultimately, I have seen instances where brands could grow on one channel, give it Amazon or even brick and mortar, and that's a great opportunity for them.

But there's a lot of more, there's a lot more pieces of the pie to cut to be able to grow as well. Right. So I guess it ultimately, you know, kind of depends also on like what the growth path that the, the client would want that way. But even as you were saying earlier, where email marketers need to agree that, you know, paid ads is important, and I think the same goes for eight ad agencies as well, is that we are very dependent on making sure that there is good email, SMS happening so that there can be long term profitability for the brand because paid ads is a great new user acquisition channel, but it's not a retention channel to keep paying high CPMs to get people in.

So for, for businesses to succeed long term, they do need to focus on other opportunities. And I was talking with my head of paid media earlier this morning and we were actually mentioning that, that, you know, sometimes the hardest brands or the hardest businesses, I'll just say, to work with is when the only thing they are relying on is paid media, because it requires additional things for us to be able to succeed.

Colby Flood: Right. And I'm not saying that it's impossible, but it's always very beneficial when brands have other marketing initiatives that are going on so that there can be continued growth and lift from a blended approach that way.

Wiehan Britz: Yeah, absolutely. Spot on. We have, and also we know paid ads is great. You push traffic to your store, but there's a lot of cases where there's lost leads. People just don't make a sale at that point. So you want to capture them, you know, by some way, shape or form. I think you nailed that point in the sense that there is definitely a mutual benefit or dependency that is present. Yeah.

Wiehan Britz: Talking about paid ads, if we can just quickly stand still on that point, talk to me a little bit about how you feel an email and SMS channel. If you've got very specific examples or cases how you feel, we can still ensure that the two benefit one another. Think about ad creatives, for instance, is there a way that we could support ad creatives? Better messaging, brand messaging, consistency, customer journeys, re-targeting? Because a lot of the times, even in SMS marketers are pretty much removed from that, from that space. Can we support with retargeting? Can we support with capturing very specific paid traffic? If we can just quickly stand still on personalization, for instance, is there anything around personalization that we can also support with? So the brand messaging is consistent between the ads and the email channels?

Colby Flood: Yeah, that's a lot of, that's a lot of good questions there and a couple of things to unpack, I think, from. I'll start with what benefits us, which is paid media is from the email side, you ask, you know, getting creative or what creative, you know, assistance could you provide? UGC is a great tool for brands influencer and UGC content. But UGC in specific, and there's a cost to it, and there's an additional cost outside of what you would normally pay for an ad creative or like a static ad, because you're having to pay for talent that way.

And brands that have a funnel or a system, either through capturing with their post purchase review, or they have a specific software they're using to get UGC from their customers is always a great benefit. And I know we've talked on a previous session on my podcast about things that you all have done to gain UGC for customers that way. And that's always a huge benefit for us because then that's a pipeline of fresh creative that we can test out. There's no additional cost to the brand, really, other than the time to set up that flow, and we can continue to have good purchases coming through that way. So that's always been a good one.

Colby Flood: Now, in terms of messaging across the channels, one thing that we do for our creative strategy is we'll create a 90 day creative strategy testing plan where we do research, voice a customer, competitors, that brand, and then we come up with high level messaging themes. And generally what we try to push for is we're gonna, our goal, of course, is, you know, target, KPI, ROas, decrease in CPA, whatever it may be. But there's additional learnings that come from that.

The messaging that we're testing can then feed into the website or maybe even feed into the email efforts as well. And I think that that kind of central force pushing things forward, understanding if we're doing a certain product focus or a certain collection focus and we're driving to a certain landing page, there can be certain email efforts. Right. That would happen. I'm kind of being a little general because it is case by case that way.

Colby Flood: But yeah, the last thing that I would say about personalization, and this one's kind of left field because it involves a third party tool. But I've heard instances where people use post purchase surveys, things like no commerce, to better understand their purchaser and then Taylor follow up flows for emails. I heard someone from Hexclad at a conference last year mentioning that they were using post purchase survey to understand somebody's dietary style. Vegan, vegetarian people that eat meat can't think of the term right now and then guiding the recipes and things like that they send because it would be off to send a vegan person how to cook a steak in hexcloud that way. So just a couple of different things. But yeah, all great points, I think, to be able to help align the two efforts there.

Wiehan Britz: Solid. And I can absolutely also add to this conversation in the sense that we have done it a few times where we do generate UCG for brands like you say, post purchase, get people to submit video content, videos, videos, images, product reviews. We've even had cases where people contribute to blog articles so they would write blog articles for us.

You get tools like grin, social, snowball. They all kind of plug into that ecosystem. So I do 100% align with you on that particular one. You mentioned something interesting around. You know, if there's a particular ad that gets that, that pushes people to a specific landing page, can we tailor made that customer experience? And that is very, very interesting because sometimes a thing that nobody does well is if there's a particular landing page receiving a lot of traffic from paid channels, why don't we tailor made the opt in form to kind of match the ad copy or the ad messaging, if you're pushing, let's say, female winter boots and the pop up is a very generic pop up trying to capture that traffic, why is that happening? I mean, you guys are sending very relevant, you know, personalized, tailored messaging.

Wiehan Britz: So emails should kind of tap into that as well. So you do highlight all the key points to it, to a t. The other thing that I also want to ask you is, have you ever had cases where. So of course, you know, it's, it's, it's great trying to lean on, you know, the email, SMS channel owners. Have you ever had cases where you fed something through to the email and SMS team that helped them to become better instead of the other way around?

Colby Flood: Yeah, that's a great question. I will say brainstorming from the call out that you just did, that's a really good one. On tailoring email pop ups or email capture pop ups on the landing page there, that's something that we have not executed on that I think would definitely be good to test out there. Now, when it comes to us feeding information, there are times where we will look to share certain demographic or user behavior type things. It's less about things that we're targeting now because targeting is a little bit broader on Facebook ads.

I would say the main thing that we do try to feed because it's very much more so about creative and messaging on Facebook now is what I was mentioning earlier, which was messaging angles that we're testing, rational and emotional motivators that we're testing what are the reasons behind the purchase. And then even with our initial onboarding for a client, we'll do research. So we scrape customer reviews and competitor reviews and understand what are the things rational and emotional people are talking about.

Colby Flood: So we can share that learning with them as well for their copywriter to do any adjustments or any focuses on flows that way.

Wiehan Britz: Can we please scream out to the heavens that we need people to tap into that resource? Damn, we used to run, and I'm so, it's such a key point that people do not take into account. We've had a around that, just around that topic. So we had, we serviced a florist in Los Angeles a couple of months ago, and we did exactly that. We relied on the pay team to tell us the messaging that converts the best, the imagery that's the best.

And they told us that any bright, bold, big flower bouquets convert a lot higher. And when we actually looked at our email visuals, we selected something smaller, very budget conscious, because in our minds we were thinking, wow, these bouquets are most likely a little bit overpriced. So we're going to go for something small, very gifty, and it was the complete opposite. We should have gone for bright, big, massive, because it gives a different view.

Wiehan Britz: Exactly. Like you and Sarah, you know, discussed recently around psychology of the buyer. And without that knowledge, we only know half of what's working. So I'm so glad that you kind of bring that forward because we need to shout about it a lot more frequently.

Colby Flood: Yeah, that, that is very important, too. And that's a good call out there of like, focusing on what about the product or what type of product is performing well. And, uh, there's a book I just started reading, so I can only half, uh, recommend it because I just started, um, so I haven't finished it, but it just came out recently. It's called made you look. And it's a book that focuses on the psychology of what draws people attention, what draws people attention to certain things, and then how to keep their attention that way. So for anyone listening, that's looking for resources like that might be a good one. To check out as well.

Wiehan Britz: Oh, excellent. I love that, that call out. Appreciate it. Last question for me before we wrap up and we link you out to all your socials, is when we talk about meta ads, is retargeting still something that we need to give attention to in something like Klaviyo, for instance, we can, of course, group different audience members into different segments, different lists, and we could push it out to the page channels. I haven't had any cases. I haven't seen anything where it has worked wonders in the past. Have you had cases where you've seen data being pulled out of an ESP CRM, being fed back into the paid ad systems to be better at retargeting? Or is that a bit of a waste of time nowadays?

Colby Flood: You know, that's a great question. We generally try to focus on new customer acquisition as much as we can with budget for clients that way, with the, the hope and the understanding that the email, SMS, those types of, even direct mail, those types of tools can continue purchases and retargeting that way. Now, if we're talking retargeting pre first purchase, there is still opportunity with Facebook things.

I will say there are no, quote unquote, best practices for Facebook. Every account is different, but best practices now generally is to go a little bit more broad. So used to, you would have, you know, circle emoji color coding, green, yellow, red, like top of funnel green, middle funnel yellow, bottom of funnel red. And you would have all these different ad sets with one to three day and three to five. And it's very much about combining or consolidating a lot of that as much as you can.

Colby Flood: So with the email, SMS lists and things like that, I would say it could be part of an audience. I wouldn't necessarily say unless it's a very, very large, you know, tens and tens of hundreds of thousands of people, that it would be its own audience. Audience. But every account's different. I'm sure there's going to be a media buyer out there listening that could show me a case study where it did work. But generally we're going a little bit broader and including things together now.

Wiehan Britz: Got it, got it. That's good info. And it's exactly like you say is pay is very much acquisition, email is very much capturing that pertaining it, hence why very dependent on each other. Absolutely love those pointers. Anyways, I see time is pretty much up. Before we go, I want you to absolutely plug yourself here. How can people stay connected to you if they want to reach out for your services. If they want to be featured on your podcast, let us know.

Colby Flood: Yeah, that would be great. So most active these days on LinkedIn and Twitter. So just look up Colby flood on LinkedIn or Twitter. I feel old saying I'm most active on LinkedIn these days, but. And if you want to hear more about what we do or just our perspective on things, feel free to check out the marketing mindset podcast on Spotify, iTunes, any major platform. YouTube as well.

Wiehan  Britz: Stunning. Do it. Go follow him. He's super active. He gives out amazing golden nuggets. You will love it. Thanks so much for your time. I know today's conversation has been a good debate, a topic you know to cover endlessly so we can ensure that there's better syncing between departments. I appreciate your time and say hello to the little Frenchie. I love Frenchie.

Colby Flood: New Frenchie puppy. I will. Thanks for having me on. This was a great chat.

Wiehan Britz: Cheers, Colby. All the best. Keep well.


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