As new DTC brand born in the Asia-Pacific market now looking to enter the US, ZENB faced the challenge of launching state-side with a memorable digital brand experience that was true to it's roots while also driving immediate trial in order to quickly gain a repeat audience and a sustainable footprint in the category.
Having to effectively start from zero awareness, our collective team rapidly worked build a comprehensive brand & content strategy with a series of measurable, cross-channel digital tactics that would drive both sales and community growth — with new customers continuously increasing daily, setting the stage for continuous new product & flavor releases for years to come.
With a product ready to launch in only a few months, the ZENB team sought out Digital Surgeons to help quickly and effectively craft their go-to-market strategy in the crowded snack category. While on-the-go snacks were certainly not uncommon, ZENB’s ingredients set the stage for true differentiation. Being made with veggies, the message became one of a unique, premium, culinary lifestyle full of inspiration for healthier living, not mere convenience other snacks provided.
With a defined direction built on differentiation and plant-based purpose, the brand began to take shape. Even though we understood ZENB and their intentions, we needed to know our consumers.
To prepare for launch, we began growing and evolving their brand to not only differentiate it in market with our target consumers but also to create conventions that allowed for both fast-paced content development and line expansion into new product and flavor innovations.
Then, as we crafted the design, copy, and UX of the Shopify Plus ecomm site, we developed a custom photo stylebook that would visually tell the right story. Originally, a clean, stylistically organized look was provided — almost geometric — but we quickly realized it could mislead people to think the product was lab-made, as opposed to embracing all that nature provides, so we pivoted from the original brand direction to a more nature-made look — something styled in organic flowing patterns and lit strictly in natural light.
As you know, even before COVID, traditional brick & mortar was on the decline and DTC disruptors were on the rise. ZENB was right there with them, carving out their own path through an ecosystem of branded experiences that curated an engaged community through valued lifestyle content, like email newsletters, blog articles, organic social, community management, and custom recipes, while introducing new friends to the brand daily through direct-response advertisement. That’s because DTC winners don’t win in stores, they win in experiences.
Uniting these points of the funnel was a modular content system of custom photography, video, design, and animations, built to translate across media & channels while also creating a component library of assets that allows for quick-turn custom imagery as needed so we could more effectively design demand for the brand by better connecting audiences and providing realtime value.
Going beyond digital and literally bringing the brand experience home — in a custom-designed recyclable box! — were personalized seed cards, which could actually be planted to grow herbs. These handwritten notes solidified the brand lifestyle experience that began earlier with purposeful & personable organic content. With each note came a message from the actually ZENB team that was just for you — whether sharing a timely holiday, referencing some fun current events, or celebrating anniversaries since you first joined the community.
Accompanying the handwritten notes was a monthly series of seasonal recipe cards, furthering engagement with the community by featuring custom recipes curated, cooked, created, & photographed in the Digital Surgeons Content Studio along with culinary influencers to celebrate the flavors of ZENB and the plant-based lifestyle. Each new recipe allowed the community to enter a monthly UGC recipe promotion, with participants eligible to win prizes and be featured on ZENB’s Instagram.
While organic content creation & community management engaged and inspired our existing audience, the acquisition of new customers was a consistent and necessary process. Though always evolving to best utilize trends, tactics, and opportunity, the core media strategy evolved into an unconventional approach. Aimed at growing their brand through a “free trial” promoted across multiple platforms and media channels, we found that targeting new audiences with a trial offer was equally if not more effective than traditional site traffic and retargeting campaigns. While conversion rates for retargeting audiences was always higher, new users were less expensive to target, unlocking lower CPAs and redefining our awareness and conversion funnel.
Capturing the right data for a pixel for a fresh brand is a delicate, slow process and will establish the foundation of marketing efforts. We began by targeting a broad spectrum of interests to generate as many conversions as possible. Once we began generating trial orders, we had the data needed to unlock the power of the platforms. Once we established a baseline consumer, we were able to produce look-alike audiences, update creative immediately, and saw the number of trial box orders from paid media campaigns skyrocket.
Additionally, to help the brand understand and activate the content, media, & digital strategies to reach new customers, we ran the full marketing tech stack. Setting up a series of data models and predictive data models, we built an entire cloud-based data lake using a combination of Google BigQuery, Google Data Studio, and Google Analytics.
Python scripts ran every 4 hours, pulling data from Klaviyo and Shopify, running through an ETL (extract, transform, load) so we could build real-time reports and data visualizations using Google Data Studio. This allowed us to closely monitor KPIs in realtime and experiment or adjust strategy accordingly.
Supermetrics were also used to pull in Facebook, Instagram, and Google ad data to closely monitor ad performance, spend, and ROI. Then, Mixpanel allowed us to closely track UI usage and metrics to further optimize conversion.
With this collection and usage of data, we were able to make strategic decisions that would leverage consumer behavior to inspire and direct content and creative. As an example, we built cohorts of users that had interacted with the community recipes, who were shown to be twice as likely to convert AND twice as likely to repeat purchase. So, content creation, including photoshoots, organic social, native ads, and blog articles, was optimized to leverage the data to better support recipe-seekers on their journeys and acquire more like-minded consumers.
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