Conversion Tactics Are Boring Your Audience

We are living in the future. The promise of tech has manifested and proliferated throughout every aspect of our lives. And it is all… quite tiresome.

Our Director of Strategy, Ethan Martin, explores the tiresome tactics and boundless opportunity for DTC.

With mass disruption, we’ve seen mass commoditization. There are now “disruptor” or “challenger” brands in nearly every product category imaginable, neatly packaged into social media ad units, sending all the right trend signals – wavy type, bright colors, stylized photos, etc, etc. And of course, 10% off your first order, 5 more if you refer a friend, and don’t forget free shipping if you spend at least $50! And please, please, don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, aka: these same ads to your inbox.

Have I just described 40% of your Instagram feed? Or have you already quit Instagram because of this?

This is all fine. These are all tactics that can boost sales. That’s why every single brand out there uses them. They’re just not very interesting. Certainly not unique. And if they’re all your digital team has to hang its hat on, you might be in trouble.

One of the most compelling signs that consumers are bored:

There hasn’t been an “it” product that has captured the zeitgeist in years, at least not something that a brand produced. Sure, everyone made sourdough bread at the start of the pandemic, and it’s real tough to get a bicycle these days, but those are artifacts of escapism, just like Squid Games or Succession. It’s arguable that even NFTs are mostly a thing because “old” tech is now boring and sour, so industry folk are grasping for anything that seems remotely interesting.

There’s been no iPhone, no Instant Pot, no mattress-in-a-box, in years. When was the last time that people were excited about products like they were about those? In an era where there’s a DTC startup, disruptor, signaler brand for everything under the sun, how come none of these things are becoming universal must-haves in the eyes of consumers?

Everyone is using the same bait.

It’s possible that there’s an over-reliance on standardized, best-practice conversion tactics, while underemphasizing why a person should care about these brands and products in the first place. Why would consumers be captivated by yet another 10% off something they don’t know they need?

So what can brands do?

Don’t forget the basics – why do you exist in the first place? What actual value does your product offer? Typically, if you’ve found a foothold in the market, you can summarize your value in one of these ways:

Your product is (objectively) better than the competition.

You’re in a crowded product category, but you are able to tell an evidence-based story about why yours is superior to others – you deliver benefits that your competitors can not. But beware! If you fall into this category, it’s likely because you’ve invested a tremendous amount of energy and resources into details that add up to an outstanding product. You’re rightfully proud of your work, but remember that your audience is less likely to be impressed by the details and features, and more interested in the tangible benefits that you’re offering.

You have a competitive advantage that allows you to pass on the benefits.

You have found a unique operational advantage that allows you to deliver your products in a way that is beneficial to the consumer, planet, or community. (Selling direct and cutting out the middle-person doesn’t qualify, everyone’s doing that now!) Be transparent about how and why you were able to accomplish this, and why you think your audience will care. Remember that exaggerated or fraudulent claims will come back to haunt you.

You’ve got something the world has never seen before.

If you are truly pioneering a category – you’re in blue ocean territory and that’s wonderful, but you’ve also got your work cut out for you to not only explain your brand, but the category itself. Keep in mind that consumers are jaded by brands that have overpromised and underdelivered, and even more by “solutions” looking for problems. If you fall into this category, it’s important that people can actually envision how their world will be better if they invite you into it.

In Summary

While the acceleration of technology and the DTC boom has changed the market landscape, remember that people and culture are changing just as quickly. The luster of technology is wearing thin, and marketing tactics loose their novelty quickly. What remains true, is that there is a wide spectrum of human problems, and successful brands solve them, large and small. Above all else, make sure your audience clearly sees how your product helps them, and will make their lives better.

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