Elyse Collat

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Founder & Director at Wild Thing Co. Former Head of Ecommerce at frank green. Named #11 in the Top 50 People in eCommerce for 2022.

Elyse Collat on the Changing Performance Marketing Landscape

Here we ask Elyse key questions on the changing Performance Marketing landscape, with a focus in DTC brands.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your eCommerce marketing journey that’s led you to Wild Thing Co. 

I’m originally from Hawaii but I moved to Australia fresh out of uni. I started working at a technology startup where I supported 180 Melbourne CBD small businesses with their digital marketing strategies and then built a brand new arm of the business for the startup. All of this really supercharged both my interest in entrepreneurship and my marketing expertise.

As a side hustle, I started my first e-commerce business (selling adventure gear like backpacks and booties for dogs) with less than $1000 in my bank account, no experience, no help, and no clue what I was doing!

Fast forward a year and I sold that business and landed a job at my dream company, the social enterprise Thankyou. I eventually became the eCommerce Manager for Thankyou and then the Head of eCommerce at frank green where I managed the global online sales portfolio for the sustainability-focused company and was named #11 in the Top 50 People in eCommerce for 2022.

After building several online businesses and working at some much-loved Australian brands I decided to start Wild Thing Co. to give small, purpose-driven businesses the eCommerce and digital marketing support that I wish I had all those years ago! 

Now I work with 1:1 clients, do group coaching and run eCommerce courses to help people launch and grow their dream eCommerce businesses!

What types of clients do you work with, and what have you seen been the biggest focus for brands in 2023?

I’ve worked with all types of eCommerce clients from FMCG to fashion to skin care to health and more. Literally everything from luxury linen sleepwear to curry pastes! 

The biggest focus for brands I’m seeing in 2023 is nailing their brand awareness and conversion – really finding new ways to reach their target customers and connect with them.

The eCommerce and digital marketing environment is always evolving but shifts in performance marketing (ie. iOs 14 update), social media (emergence of Tik Tok, Instagram algorithm updates, reels, low reach, paid verifications), technology (Web3, Chat GPT) and new economic environments (recessions, reduced consumer spending) are making it hard to reach and sell to people.

However, just because what’s worked in the past might not be working as well anymore, doesn’t mean there aren't incredible opportunities out there for brands. 

Brands that are embracing new technology, staying agile and innovative, testing and learning, getting super clear on their positioning and messaging and not being afraid to do things differently (and authentically!) are winning for sure.

How are brands and companies in your view dealing with the various changes in performance marketing? What strategies or initiatives are they focusing on to bring down cost of acquisition?

I think the changes in performance marketing have been a shock to brands and companies who were relying on them too heavily. Performance marketing is a fantastic way to scale but it should always be a piece of a diverse strategy, not an entire strategy itself. 

Since cost of acquisition through performance marketing has gone up in many cases, it’s important to look at CoA in conjunction with the Marketing Efficiency Ratio and also Customer Lifetime Value. 

These are some of the key strategies and initiatives that I focus bring down Cost of Acquisition and make performance marketing a part of a profitable business: 

  • Constantly test, refine and optimize ad messaging and creative
  • Create a rock solid funnel including cold audiences and retargeting 
  • Use ads to collect email addresses (giveaways, lead magnets, quizzes, etc.)  and use email marketing to convert 
  • Enhance the customer experience to build that lifetime value 
  • Using organic strategies like email marketing affiliates, referrals, loyalty programs, etc. to incentivize word of mouth marketing and extend customer lifetime value

When it comes to unique DTC brands, what’s your thoughts on peer-to-peer customer acquisition, in particular influencer marketing and customer referrals?

This is super important and powerful! As we’ve seen with the emergence of “user-generated content” customers love seeing real, authentic content and word of mouth recommendations from friends and family will always be a potent, high-converting (yet untrackable and uncontrollable) form of marketing! 

Having said this, word of mouth marketing is incredibly hard to control/execute as a strategy and influencer/UGC marketing can be heavy on administration and is getting more and more expensive. 

I always recommend brands make a super solid product that clearly solves a very specific problem with a passionate group of people who love the product, create an incredible customer experience that leaves people feeling amazing, and then incentivizing people to talk about it either with value-adds, loyalty programs, or community building initiatives.

What are your top growth marketing strategies and recommendations, for a DTC brand wanting to scale their social media strategy?

1. Don’t be afraid to test out new platforms - have fun with it and embrace the opportunity to test, learn, and connect on these new platforms. You don’t have to be on EVERY platform. Pick the ones where your target audience is and show up consistently. But don’t be afraid to try new platforms that emerge.

2. Use UGC and video content - engage your customers or reach out to creators to get real, authentic, user-generated content. If you haven’t started using video - get an intern, UGC creator, or invest in help to start creating video content as this is just the way of the future!

3. Use Chat GPT to help you stay consistent, ideate, and generate ideas or captions when you’re feeling stuck (Chat GPT isn’t a whole strategy but a tool that can help save time!)

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