The Dollar Shave Club stands out in recent advertising history as one of the most successful cases of viral social media marketing. Not only was their first major effort of video marketing on YouTube a viral success, but they were able to create it on a substantially lower budget than the industry norm.
But this wasn’t a simple case of luck or serendipitous timing– this was a calculated social media campaign by the young company that was flawlessly executed. So how did they find success through social media marketing, when so many other companies fail to build audience traction? One key factor that contributed to the success of Dollar Shave Club’s marketing strategy was the central goal of the original campaign: Awareness.
Before the release of the Dollar Shave Club’s original viral video in 2016, there would be little chance that a passerby on the street would know the company by name. It would be even rarer for them to own a monthly subscription to the service. Today, nearly everyone who regularly uses social media has at least some idea of what the company does or had seen some part of their marketing. This is thanks to that focus on their core awareness campaign.
Their campaign was hyper-focused on generating awareness and top-of-funnel leads and the in-depth planning of achieving that goal shows in the video campaign’s production. The company’s achievement of this goal can be showcased by three key KPI’s: impressions, share of voice, and profile visits, (Knapp, 2018).
Video Virality and Generating Brand Impressions
One of the core goals of any company that focuses on awareness is to generate as many impressions as possible. But few companies execute this goal as perfectly as Dollar Shave Club. This is because they planned their video debut in a way that capitalized on virality and the Network Impact (Kirk, 2012) as much as possible.
First, they put immense research into identifying their core audience. When they eventually identified their target audience as North-American males aged 17–30 (QuickSprout, 2017), they began to identify not only what drove their buying decisions within the market, but where they could best reach this audience. They quickly discovered that YouTube would be the best channel to begin their campaign. This worked in their favor, as it allowed them to develop a marketing campaign from scratch from a budget that worked for their company size. And this campaign would reach more of their target audience than traditional video marketing practices.
“At last count, 65 percent of all time spent with digital media occurred on mobile devices, consumed primarily via social networks. As a result, companies that excel at storytelling can reach their target customers more effectively and at greater scale than traditional advertising ever offered — all at a fraction of the cost,” (Lazauskas, 2019).
Entering the Market and Dominating Share of Voice
Within the goal of awareness, share of voice is another core KPI that the brand needed to consider to achieve success with its marketing strategy. Being a small start-up in a world of much more established razor corporations, this presented a challenge. Founder Michael Dubin capitalized on his connections and education to help close the gap and create a brand that could not only compete with the industry as a thought leader but would ultimately become a major player.
He leveraged his contacts to bring on a director and connect with a production studio that kept production costs for the video campaign low. The original DSC launch video was only $4,500.
This is significantly lower than brands who would expect to spend closer to $60k for a similar campaign, (QuickSprout, 2017). This type of content production was in itself an innovation. And this marked the sign that the company had a strong vision to carry out its mission.
“Whatever the size or type of your organization, there is one thing every business has in common — the need to understand its core purpose and vision, its strategy for continued existence and growth,” (Atherton, 2019).
Then Doublin made sure this content could be easily shared by creating content that could be promoted through social media. This made it easy for prospective customers and consumers to share that content with their networks.
Driving Consumers to Their Social Profile
Finally, the company needed to make sure that consumers were interested in the brand enough to engage with the company itself. This required careful curation of their social profiles. Dollar Shave Club paid special attention to their brand voice and interactions on social and curated an experience that encouraged profile visits as well as engagement and sharability. They made their brand approachable, and customers responded to this, (Osman, 2016).
By focusing on impressions, share of voice, and profile visits within the goal of generating enough awareness to lift the company to viral success, the brand set itself up for a marketing strategy that they could reasonably act on. It’s no wonder that their original video social media strategy generated nearly five million views in its first 90 days, or that the company is now valued at over one billion dollars.