Nik Sharma, AKA the DTC guy, is the CEO of Sharma Brands, a strategic initiatives firm working with a wide range of brands to help grow and scale revenue across digital platforms. Nik is one of AdWeek’s Young & Influential, Forbes 30 under 30, Business Insider's up and coming Investors to Watch, and an investor and advisor to some of the fastest-growing brands in commerce. In this article of our guest-post series, Tapping In, Nik shares with us words to help brands scale.
I hope if you're reading this, you're sitting comfortably in an ergonomic chair, with the cool AC breeze brushing your face, and an Olipop Banana Cream on your desk.
Over the last few weeks I've been thinking more about levers in eCommerce. As pieces of the puzzle begin to get "commoditized" with AI, or rather what we think will come from AI, what and where are the levers to focus on? Candidly, it depends on the size and stage of your business, as well as where you're investing to "water the plant" or drive new revenue.
If you are on the smaller side (less than $5M per year), then your levers are bigger.
They're more the size of baseball bats, and they're labeled things like:
- Cart experience on the website
- Landing pages and offers
- Interest-audiences and messaging
- Selecting the right ad channel
- Types of creative (UGC, lifestyle, static, etc)
If you're on the larger side (say $35M+ per year), then your levers are much smaller.
Consider them like hand wrenches that you can dial up and down, or add and remove. They include things like:
- Only running promotion communication through an unpaid channel (push notifications > remarketing ads)
- Adjusting website headline copy
- Adjusting email capture CTAs
- Adding additional benefits to subscription programs
- Testing new channels that drive an incremental 1-5% of revenue
At Sharma Brands, one of the most important metrics that we look at, when it comes to larger brands, is their profitable return on investment. Whether that's across acquiring the initial customer, or later in a customer's journey when a brand is running a sale, we want to try to ensure that we're getting an order at the highest level of profitability possible.
When running a sale for example, most companies rely on 2 main channels to drive traffic and orders: retargeting ads and email. The ads link to the brand's website or landing page, present the offer, and hopefully someone checks out. In that case, you're spending money on the ad traffic, and reliant on the performance of your site's mobile web experience to decide UPT (units per transaction), AOV, and CVR (conversion rate).
Beyond the levers that everyone knows about, there’s a new kid on the block that’s been helping brands drive growth without the use of email, sms, or digital ads.
That lever is called mobile apps.
Mobile apps unlock a new set of tools that can help drive additional brand affinity, higher re-engagement, higher repurchase rates, and higher profitability overall due to the increased sales and profit per customer from your brand’s biggest fans. For example, Kaged, a brand that I know which makes one of the world’s best pre-workouts, saw a 353% higher CVR in their mobile app vs their mobile web shopping experience. Basically, that would be the same as a brand who’s web experience had a 2% CVR, compared to their mobile app having an 8%+ CVR. In case you didn’t already realize, those results are bananas!
In 2023, building an app with a company like Tapcart takes just a few weeks. The fastest I’ve seen a new app created for a client was probably about ~5 days.
Here are a few more massive value props that get unlocked as soon as you start using mobile apps.
As is probably obvious, getting your app onto your customers phone is similar to parking a billboard inside your customer’s house or apartment.
According to this research, Americans check their phones roughly 344 times per day (that’s once every 4 minutes!) which means that there are basically endless opportunities to get your app users to think about or engage with your brand throughout the week.
The data is reflective in Tapcart’s collective analytics too — Over a 14-month period, a Tapcart app’s revenue per session (RPS) is 172% higher than mobile/desktop website RPS. Of course, not everyone is going to be using your app, but your best customer cohorts will.
It gets even better when you realize that with apps, you can send free push notifications.
Now you don’t need email, SMS, or digital ads to prompt an action for your brand. Once you get customers to install your app, you quickly unlock a new tool in your toolbox that’s been hidden in plain sight: free branded push notifications (that can include images and gifs). These are a game changer for re-engagement each week, when you have new content to share, or have a new promotion you’re running.
According to Tapcart, brands doing $10M+ (i.e. brands with an established audience and a healthy user base) see up to 14+% of their total revenue coming from their apps after 6 months.
Exclusive drops for your super-fans
As we all know, power laws exist everywhere. Your top 20% of customers typically drive the majority of total revenue for your brand. According to Tydo’s data, on average, the top 10% of your customers account for nearly 37% of your store's revenue.
Having an app that caters to your super-fans (typically only the most engaged consumers will download your app) is a great way to keep building brand loyalty and LTV over time.
One way to do this is by having exclusive “drops” that are only available on your app.
These could be new variants, colorways, collabs, etc. Apps make it super easy to launch these exclusive drops and increase your profit per customer without altering your website or LP.
Here’s the deal…
If you’re searching for new levers, have an established audience (i.e your brand is doing $5M+ per year) then you should really give mobile apps a try.
They are low-cost to test, quick to stand up, and have amazing features that you can’t get anywhere else. Tapcart, the main provider of mobile apps has helped thousands of DTC brands including True Classic Tees, Brandy Mellville, Mud/WTR, Orgain, and many more scale their revenue by adding apps to their overall retention strategy.
I even asked Kevin, the founder of Glamnetic and INH Hair, about his opinion on mobile apps, and here’s what he had to say. Sorry Kevin, please don’t hate me for screenshotting our convo ❤ BTW both brands have apps, so if you haven't already, download the Glamnetic and INH Hair App!
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