It’s funny, given the industry is all about sales, that so many artists and labels have truly terrible e-commerce strategies. One of the things we are often brought in to do at Deviate, for artists, labels, and events of all sizes, is direct to consumer (D2C) marketing, along with e-commerce strategy and implementation.
Some of the disconnection at the heart of the issues widely lies, as always, in the inability of various partners to work together properly right from the beginning. Some of this is, sadly, a deep trust issue. We’ve seen many occasions where artists won’t allow labels to implement anything properly. Which is so counter-productive in my opinion. If you don’t trust your label to access your digital world you are working with the wrong partner and damaging your own career by restricting them.
Likewise, we’ve seen labels refuse to implement correctly with artists, especially for tours, which again is an absolute madness. It’s so important to work together properly! If you’re ever unsure and untrusting, seek out professional agencies like Deviate to act as a bridge to ensure everyone is acting appropriately and getting the most out of every opportunity.
When we are brought in, the first thing we do post-evaluation is connect the dots. Sometimes the silliest of missed pixel placements or access issues mean that even the easiest low-hanging fruit is left on the table, and that will cost you both significant revenue and chart positions. We’ve worked on hundreds of releases where D2C sales played a key part in charting and revenue generation.
One of the most notable developments brought about by the pandemic has been the boom in all things online, including sales and data collection. All of that engagement you have built up, globally, over the numerous lockdowns, is worth its weight in gold for merch, tickets and D2C sales. But many of you are not fully realising its potential, and many key data collection points have an expiry date.
One of the biggest mistakes the industry makes widely – with some notable exceptions – in e-commerce is not planning properly for events and seasons outside of releases. There are so many touchpoints throughout the year in the UK to make an impact with sales. These have always been used traditionally for bricks and mortar retail stores and DSP events but so many of you are completely missing this for the digital age.
One of the biggest mistakes the industry makes widely in e-commerce is not planning properly for events and seasons outside of releases
Outside of evergreen sales, things like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Boxing Day, Easter, International Women’s Day, back to school, key festivals, key media moments, anniversaries, Black Friday, Cyber Monday... All of these should feature in your key retail and e-commerce plans for the year, every year.
For example: since 2017, there has been a 400% increase in searches for ‘clothing gifts’ for Father’s Day in the UK and Ireland alone. That’s the perfect time to shift some sales if you deploy the right advertising strategy. According to Google trends data pre-pandemic, in 2019, shopping queries for ‘unique Mother’s Day gifts’ increased 56% year-on-year, and begin as early as the second week in January! Imagine what that statistic looks like post-pandemic.
These retail moments are also the perfect chance to form brand partnerships outside of your existing reach and revenue streams, and they’re also the perfect chance to expand your merch range. Sure, T-shirts are great, but they’re not the only things your fans buy! You’re missing a world of opportunity if you’re only offering the basics. I’ve sold all kinds of merch items over the years: condoms, knickers, bras, baby grows, jewellery, wine, make-up, tea cups, baubles, experiences, personalised performances... No matter how bonkers the item, if it’s based on genuine audience analysis data it will always sell.
Outside of music, my partner has an award-winning hot sauce range (born out of his restaurant during the pandemic). We just provided a white label hot sauce for BMG/Wildlife for Miles Kane and it sold out instantly. Don’t feel constricted by the usual merch products. Exploit your brand and you can make it work for you and your audience.
And it is not just your merch range you need to look to broaden. The digital age has brought with it a plethora of market places. I’m sure many of you list on Amazon, and we run ads for you there to ensure sales, but loads of you are missing out on sites like Etsy, eBay, ASOS, Not On The High Street, and Pinterest.
Some of you are restricted in terms of where you can sell, which in itself is an issue if you want to fully embrace all that e-commerce can offer. If you’re reading this and thinking you need to up your game, first speak with your partners about how you can work with them, and if you still need help getting up to speed speak to some specialists.