NutraClick, a Boston, MA-based nutritional products company, has found success building its business model on a targeted online advertising strategy. The company was so successful, in fact, that a major chain came to them to request they place their products on the shelf.
The company’s approach to its online presence is unusual in that it doesn’t place much emphasis on social media, that is, being active on Facebook or Twitter. Rather, the company has sought to tailor its strategy to find the best places to put its online display ads. Making that decsion is done with the aid of the company’s proprietary technology that measures audience metrics.
“We cover our bases in the basic social media functions,” Daniel Wallace, CEO and co-founder, told FoodNavigator-USA. “But we are more interested in putting paid media to work on our behalf.”
“We launched our first brand—Force Factor (a sports nutrition product)—in April 2009 and started just in the direct to consumer digital advertising space,” Wallace said. “We targeted consumers via display advertising, and as a result we reached a more mainstream consumer.”
Many observers have noted that this is an era when mainstream brick and mortar store operators expect startup brands to bring a marketing strategy to the table. Not only do new brands have to fight for shelf space, but they have to help drive demand for their product, too. Store operators are saying in effect that it’s our job to give you a place to sell your product; it’s your job to make sure it gets sold.
Wallace said NutraClick followed a different strategy, in effect bringing the mountain to Mohammed. After several months of building the Force Factor brand via its targeted advertising strategy and direct sales, the company got a call from vitamin retailing giant GNC.
“GNC told us our product was the no. 1 product searched for but not found on their website,” Wallace said. “They said they were interested in putting the product in their stores.”
That online demand build up carried over to the brick-and-mortar launch, Wallace said, and have provided an engine for retail growth. The company’s products are now sold in more than 40,000 retail outlets, he said.
“We had good sales right from the start even though we had average shelf placement at best,” he said.
Data drives decisions
NutraClick’s proprietry technology is driven by data collection, Wallace said. Ever aspect of the ad is scrutinized, from image selection, to copy, to placement. And the platform allows the company to test ad placement before fully committing to a given placement and campaign, and to quickly analyze performance and identify trends to make sure the campaigns are reaching the right, high-value customers. And the company’s platform easily integrates with third-party ad networks to ease workflow. It all adds up to billions of impressions a month and a highly agile platform and decision-making process, Wallace said. The company can calculate return on investment almost in real time, he said.
“We make all of those choices in a super-dynamic way. What would take weeks or months or maybe even longer in a traditional format like direct mail we can optimize within minutes,” he said. “We’ve shown this online-to-offline model has legs.”