Sophie Watson is the Head of Growth at DR. VEGAN, a UK-based vegan supplement brand for people who want to improve their health without sacrificing their ethics and values.
Sophie oversees the brand's marketing strategy. From managing acquisition and retention strategies to executing paid media campaigns, she ensures that the DR.VEGAN brand is consistently growing. 📈
On our podcast, Ecommerce Marketing 101: How to Scale Your DTC Brand, I spoke to Sophie about how she uses paid media to grow the company. From awareness campaigns to affiliate marketing, you’ll find tips you can implement into your strategy right away.
🎥Watch Sophie’s full interview on YouTube.
Sophie’s key takeaways from the podcast
To get a flavour of Sophie’s tips for scaling your brand with paid media, here are some key takeaways:
- Retention vs acquisition: Make sure you’ve got a good balance of retention and acquisition activity.
- Best-performing products: To drive down CPA, consider focusing on your best-performing products in your ad campaigns.
- Educate your audience: Don’t just sell—make sure you’re really educating your audience about the problems your product solves. This will increase brand awareness.
- Be clever with affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing can be super-rewarding, but it takes some time to convince your boss. Focus on a specific niche and send sample products to publishers you want to work with to increase your chance of getting advertised.
- UGC is a gold mine: Use simple tactics to get UGC from your customers and bake them into your campaigns.
- Get inspo from others: Use tools like the Meta ad library to see what other brands are up to.
- Test everything: Test all your ideas to see what works. Once you’ve found strategies that work, you can double down on them.
7 ways to scale your brand with paid media
Let's dive into the ways Sophie uses paid media to drive growth with DR.VEGAN. 🚀
1. Drive down CPA by focusing on best performing products
When Sophie first joined DR.VEGAN, the Meta account was organised by product. This was fine when the brand first launched because they only had a handful of SKUs. But as they’d grown, they’d increased to 25 SKUs and there was an attempt to promote every product. This just wasn’t feasible. When the message is diluted across too many products, it doesn't resonate as effectively.
Sophie decided it was time to restructure the paid media account. She wanted to concentrate their ad spend on products that demonstrated strong performance. This included one-time-purchase best-sellers, as well as products that people continually buy (like their Menopause product).
By focusing on best sellers, they managed to eliminate the scattered messaging across their ads. This also meant a decrease in cost per acquisition (CPA), so they could allocate resources to test and enhance other products. As Sophie says:
“When your CPA is so high you just need it to come down in whatever way. So that was my main approach: to really focus on what we could see was working rather than spreading ourselves too thin.”
💡Key takeaway: Focus on your best-selling products. Bring down their CPAs, and you can focus on enhancing the rest of your product catalogue.
2. Use paid campaigns to drive newsletter subscriptions
Newsletter subscriptions are a great way to get new prospects into your marketing funnel. DR.VEGAN does this by using their website as a hub of education. Sophie says:
“We are a real hub of education for a lot of consumers. We have over 200 blogs on our website about different health needs. If someone just comes to us for that content, that's great. Our brand’s goal is to educate and inspire people about nutrition and health.”
They use paid awareness campaigns to direct visitors to these blog posts with the aim of converting them into newsletter subscribers. From there, they enter the marketing funnel and get served retargeting ads that aim to drive conversions.
💡Key takeaway: Don’t just sell—make sure you’re really educating your audience about the problems your product solves. Over time, this will lead to better brand awareness and people will be more likely to sign up to your newsletters.
3. Use affiliate marketing to increase subscription revenue
Another channel DR.VEGAN uses is affiliate marketing. Sophie says this has been strong for encouraging subscription purchases, which is important for increasing lifetime value. However it does require a lot of time and resources. Here are Sophie’s tips for running an affiliate program:
- Look for blogs in your niche: DR.VEGAN uses Awin, a tool for helping find relevant publishers to advertise with. Sophie also Google searches to find blogs that might be interested in partnering with them. For example, blogs that talk about vegan living and lifestyles would align with DR.VEGAN’s products.
- Offer an exclusive discount code: Many affiliates work on commission, so offering an exclusive discount that affiliates can give to their readers might give them more reason to work with you. DR VEGAN have found this works best for subscriptions, as you can offer a small percentage discount whilst securing a new retaining customer.
- Send samples to your publishers: Sophie wants their affiliate partners to advertise DR.VEGAN because they genuinely love their products. So often she’ll send samples to the affiliate so they can make their own mind up.
💡Key takeaway: Affiliate marketing can be super rewarding, but it may take some time to convince your boss. Focus on a specific niche and send sample products to publishers you want to work with to increase your chance of getting advertised.
4. Encourage user-generated content
For DR. VEGAN, user-generated content (UGC) is super important. They use videos of actual, loyal customers discussing what their products have done for them. And these have driven conversions time and time again. Here are two ways Sophie gathers UGC:
- Finding brand advocates: Sophie gets in touch with the people actively commenting on DR.VEGAN’s social posts. These people are often talking positively about a product they’ve tried, so it makes sense to ask if they’d be up for creating a short video review. This approach works particularly well with customers who are eager to help others dealing with health issues like IBS, menopause, or anxiety.
- Using a UGC tool: Not all customers feel comfortable appearing on camera, so Sophie also uses a tool called Twirl. This platform connects her with UGC content creators who can produce videos based on specific briefs. Before creating their video reviews, content creators are asked to use a DR.VEGAN product for a month to make sure they actually like the product. If they don't notice any health differences, however, Sophie won’t proceed with the collaboration. She says this process isn’t always straightforward, but it’s been effective in increasing the number of UGC videos.
💡Key takeaway: There are lots of budget-friendly ways to gather content from your customers. Read our full guide on user-generated content and discover how other brands are using it in their marketing campaigns.
5. Get a good balance of retention and acquisition
Sophie says it's really important that you have visibility on both retention and acquisition across all your channels. You might be great at acquiring customers, but if those customers aren’t staying for more than a month, then you'll need to work doubly hard to keep that revenue.
Whilst acquisition is a lot more full on in terms of optimisation on a daily basis, retention strategies can be built up and kept ‘always-on’ in the background. Here are two ways DR. VEGAN ensure their customers stay engaged:
- Emails: They send two emails every week to their customers. They also have a variety of different email workflows for the post-purchase journey.
- Monitoring: They continuously monitor how they can improve the post-purchase journeys. If a group is falling out of a customer profile, they’ll find ways to get them back in.
💡Key takeaway: Make sure you’ve got a balance of retention and acquisition activity. The better your retention rates, the more valuable your acquisitions will be.
6. Get inspiration from other brands
Finding inspiration from successful brands can help generate fresh ideas and improve your own campaigns. You can find inspiration on the Meta ad library. We asked Sophie if there were any that stood to her. Here’s her recommendations:
Estrid is an ecommerce razor brand. Their approach includes a well-balanced mix of UGC, influencer collaborations, and simple static visuals that highlight their key unique selling points (USPs). One notable aspect of Estrid's ads is their clear brand identity, which remains consistent across all their marketing channels. This helps consumers easily recognise and connect with the brand.
Mella is a sunglasses brand. Sophie has noticed their h significant growth in the past six months—she’s seen loads of people wearing them. She thinks this growth is through their Meta Ads campaigns.
What sets Mella apart is their use of static visuals. This goes against the current trend of video UGC content. The brand's ads usually feature professionally shot visuals alongside a clear and compelling message and a 241 deal.
7. Don’t be afraid to test everything
Sophie’s final and most important piece of advice for Growth Marketers is to test everything. In her own words:
“When I say ‘test everything’, I mean don't just test what everyone else says works. UGC might work for you, but it might not work for someone else. Don't limit yourself to testing only the things that people suggest. Test any idea you have.”
When you know something is working, double down on it. Don't spread yourself too thin. In startups, there's always a temptation to try every channel, but Sophie’s preferred approach is to focus on one channel and excel at it.
“Once you have a channel that's working really well, then you can consider expanding your message.”
💡Key takeaway: Test all your ideas. If something isn’t working, bin it. If it is working, you know where you should be doubling down.
If you’d like to listen to Sophie's full episode, make sure to subscribe to our podcast: Ecommerce Marketing 101: How to Grow Your DTC Brand.
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