How Audience Development Can Transform Brick-and Mortar-Businesses Into Ecommerce Powerhouses | Coronavirus Series


Editor’s Note: This article is a contribution from Cameron Matthews, director of digital marketing at DBNY. It’s part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Explore daily insights surrounding the coronavirus crisis or check out these additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time. 

Our world has changed virtually overnight. Most businesses have been faced with a critical decision to pivot and increase efforts online as a means of survival. That transition is undeniably challenging. This includes businesses like Porto’s Bakery, a beloved institution in Southern California that specializes in Cuban sweet and savory dishes. 

As the coronavirus pandemic broke, Porto’s was faced with a reality it had never encountered in its 44-years as a primarily brick-and-mortar establishment. 

Subsequent quarantine measures caused closures of their five physical locations and ecommerce became their immediate focus for consistent revenue. Their defense: Leaning into their Bake At Home division, which ships and delivers frozen pastries across the country.

While Porto’s took necessary measures to evolve quickly enough to see enormous returns online, it wasn’t an easy ride.

“Two weeks before this all went down, I would have never imagined that we’d need to scale Bake At Home this quickly or with this much velocity,” says Luis Lluis, director of ecommerce, Porto’s Bakery.

"Two weeks before this all went down, I would have never imagined that we'd need to scale Bake At Home this quickly or with this much velocity."

Luis Lluis, director of ecommerce, Porto's Bakery

In order to embrace a future online, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses need to invest in building and refining a digital audience as quickly as possible. Building a website is a great accomplishment, but the work doesn’t stop there. If there was ever a time to cut your digital marketing budget… now is not the time. 

With the right digital marketing tactics, brands new to ecommerce can build a conversion machine to help them weather the economic effects of coronavirus. How? By leveraging custom audiences and well-timed email automation to build targeted advertising campaigns. 

3 Tactics to Introduce Your Brick-and-Mortar Customers to Your New Online Business

Let’s take a closer look at how you can introduce your customers to your new ecommerce store through the example of Porto’s Bakery.

To scale its growth marketing strategy across paid advertising and email automation, Porto’s enlisted the studio DBNY and email marketing automation via Klaviyo. In a matter of weeks, these specific strategies helped to transform Porto’s Bake At Home line into the brand’s main revenue driver for the brand.

“In order to keep developing Porto’s rapidly growing online audience, the DBNY team dissected and tested data daily in order to expand their online target market. Essentially, we took Porto’s best customer and duplicated them by the millions,” said Cameron Matthews, DBNY’s Director of Marketing.

Here are a few of the tactics Porto’s and DBNY used that can help you develop your existing online audiences and introduce your valued brick-and-mortar clientele to your new online presence.


Tactic One: The Power of the Popup

One of the best ways to start an online marketing funnel is by installing a popup on the homepage of your website. This seemingly simple tactic is an important key to accessing a plethora of value from online customers.

The purpose of a popup is to invite browsers to gain access to valuable content and offers. This kind of attention from prospects is worth any kind of platform investment. 


You’ll likely have to entice folks with a first-time offer such as a purchase discount code. Based on their average order value (AOV), Porto’s decided to offer a monetary value as a gift for signing up for their email marketing.

Their secret to ensuring customers actually open their first email? Include the discount code in the email itself instead of directly on the popup window. 

During the week of March 17, 2020, Porto’s saw a 69 percent increase in email subscribers thanks to their initial order popup. That investment not only delighted customers who appreciated a deal in a time of crisis, but it also built a foundation of data for the brand. 


Tactic Two: A Warm and Intentional Introduction

Once you’ve captured new email addresses, a great way to help your new customers get to know your brand is by using an intentional and authentic tone of voice, and by creating a welcome series that introduces your business to these new prospects. 

It’s often best if this flow isn’t too long or complicated. Keeping it simple helps you avoid scaring folks off by possibly serving up too much information. It also helps ensure your open rates start out strong. Consider using brief emails that have initial offers and letters from your founder.


Beyond the welcome series, other email flows can produce conversion-inducing results, as well. A prime example is an abandoned cart series, which helps you stay in touch with customers who have added products to their cart but didn’t checkout. 

Marketing automation like the welcome series helped Porto’s increase email generated revenue by 563 percent and increase email-driven orders by 61 percent in the first weeks of March 2020 when coronavirus quarantine measures were causing their initial drops in retail sales. Not only were these emails creating sales, but the customer data Porto’s collected is something they can use to inform their longer-term online marketing strategy.

Marketing automation helped Porto’s increase email generated revenue by 563% and increase email-driven orders by 61% in the first weeks of March 2020 when coronavirus quarantine measures were causing their initial drops in retail sales.

Tactic Three: Multiplying Customers by the Millions

Having useful data about your customers may have previously been something brick-and-mortar business could only dream of, but it’s critical for online businesses to take data about your buyers and segment them by behaviors and time horizons. 

Buyer behavior segments can be used to build hyper-targeted audiences. Why is this important? Because then you can communicate with much more precision. Prospects will feel like you’re speaking right to their unique needs. 

There are many behaviors that you can use to build many audiences. For example, an audience of customers who have purchased in the past 30 days can not only represent an engaged group of people who are primed to buy again (Direct Audiences), but they can also help you create a similar group of prospective customers who may be ready to purchase (Modeled Audiences). 

Many businesses will use the segments they’ve built in their marketing automation platform to build the foundation of useful audiences. With a solid integration to Facebook Business Manager, you can create lookalike audiences and serve them ad campaigns across Facebook and Instagram. A Facebook integration is a huge advantage here so businesses can rely largely on the technology to refresh the data for them, which should be done daily or weekly depending on performance.


DBNY used Klaviyo’s integration with Facebook to match groups of purchasers based on different time horizons. From there they modeled new audiences off of these direct subscribers, building large lookalike cohorts that had a lot of promise. The Klaviyo audiences they built went from a very admirable 7X return on ad spend (ROAS) to 25X by the first week of April 2020. 



Key takeaway

In order to navigate this new ecommerce-driven world, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses must evolve as the world adapts to a new normal. There are many ways to adapt to the changes that the coronavirus pandemic is exacting on our society. Leaning into digital marketing is essential to staying relevant and ensuring your business continues to operate successfully.  

“All of this requires a lot of trust between partners,” says DBNY’s managing director Amlan Das. “This is a trying time for a lot of people right now, which means that we need to be decisive, swift, and compassionate when it comes to helping our clients lean into this new reality.”

Porto’s was able to simultaneously ride a drastic change in consumer behavior (a surge in direct delivery orders) and build an audience that needed their product during a difficult time. They did this by collecting information, communicating intentionally, and leveraging their owned data to sell online while they tackled the many challenges these times have presented. 

Looking for more information to help you adjust your marketing strategies as a result of the global pandemic? Explore these resources.

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