Only a handful of Aussies have ever really cracked America — such as Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee and Tame Impala (you know it’s just one guy?) — but The Thoughtful Agency and its founder and chief growth officer Prav de Silva want to help brands make the leap.
The performance agency launched its new series of Thoughtful Minds Connect lunch and learn sessions last week, kicking off at Sydney’s Ace Hotel in partnership with ecommerce firm Global-e, where marketers had a very tasty feed before getting some insights with panel discussions and keynotes.
In particular, de Silva explained that there was a particularly big opportunity for Australian clothing and apparel.
“[They] have always been desired in the US marketplace from a wholesale perspective due to their brand aesthetic so we knew the brand demand was there in market.
“Our focus very early on at Thoughtful from 2019 was aimed at curating an e-commerce revenue growth / digital agency product for our Australian designer brands to help them scale their e-commerce businesses in the US marketplace.”
Also speaking at the event were Sam de Kauwe, JAG’s head of brand, Morgan Tait, art director of PE Nation and co-founder of Cee Clear and Elle Ferguson, social media influencer and founder of Eleffect.
The trio explained how they managed to grow the respective brands they worked on and how they managed to expand into foreign markets and why branding is particularly important to expand overseas.
“The most powerful asset of JAG is its brand awareness and recall,” said de Kauwe.
“It’s crazy to be working on a brand that everyone knows what it is and in such a saturated and fragmented market, it’s 50 years of history that money can’t buy. It’s a unique asset, and I’m not saying that every brand needs to have it, but I think from my position when you have an asset like that it’s foolish not to use it.”
The internet and social media, in particular, have made it far easier for brands to gain exposure and awareness overseas.
Ferguson explained that her brand of self-tanning lotions went social-first as it grew in Australia and plans to do the same in the US.
“We went social first and we seeded a lot, we watched what it did, watched which girl liked it, learnt the age demographic and we didn’t get into the digital ad space, everything was organic for us in the first eight to 10 months,” she explained.
“We’ve just had our trademarks passed through the US, the UK and the UAE. It’s really exciting.”
Of course, while influencers are great for driving awareness, driving performance is slightly different — especially once you have started to expand overseas. de Silva explained that Thoughtful has a range of tools to help brands continue to grow in foreign waters.
“We start the process via revenue growth planning and building the forecasting to understand what volume of traffic is needed to achieve growth. When looking at global ecommerce growth, approximately 85 per cent of our clients’ revenues come from the US,” he said.
When it comes to specific channels for growing conversations, de Silva explained that paid social with Meta, Pinterest and TikTok, Google Ads, affiliate marketing and personalised and segmented email and CRM were best at driving growth.
However, brands should still ring-fence budgets for testing and experimentation.
“To embrace digital innovation and solutions released across advertising channels, it’s vital to have a budget allocated towards testing. We are allocating these budgets for testing as part of our media planning and building a business case about the way to educate our clients,” he explained.
“We also have a deep understanding of AI data tools and provide our clients with free trials to these platforms so they can understand the business benefit to be had through telling data stories about their customer segments.
“Via these free trials, we can ascertain key metrics such as LTV, Most frequent purchasers, lapsed customers and also identifying their sale customers so a personalisation strategy can be utilised to complement their performance marketing strategy.”
Of course, businesses might wonder whether now is the time to expand, with cost of living pressures hitting consumers globally.
“Consumers in the ecommerce space have more brands to choose from than ever before and cross-border ecommerce is becoming fast and easier now so we are operating in a very competitive industry,” said de Silva.
“Consolidation in the Australian market is certainly something several brands are looking at though driving growth from the USA and other international markets can tend to be the focus. However it is not a one-size-fits-all strategy, each brand in our client roster has its own hemisphere-specific strategy.
“If ecommerce businesses are looking to scale revenues, a USA-specific digital road map is key to success. We have great relationships with our platform partners such as Meta, Rakuten and also present a tech stack that focuses on the customer journey and improving the conversion rate.”
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