Co-located with Technology for Marketing

18 - 19 September 2024
ExCeL London

18 - 19 September 2024
ExCeL London

Content Hub

01 May 2024

Biotiful's Rob Manning on Spearheading DTC in the rapidly growing gut health market

Biotiful's Rob Manning on Spearheading DTC in the rapidly growing gut health market

Can you tell us more about your career so far and the essential turning points that got you to where you are today?

Initially, I joined a digital marketing agency in 2000, when digital was still in its infancy. There, I focused on CRM systems and content management systems for clients like BT. After three years, I moved to Jacob Bailey, where I spent 17 years. I started as an account manager and later became a partner, overseeing marketing strategy and new business development. In 2005, I opened the London office and in 2015 the New York offices, and concentrated on Digital and web from user experience and customer acquisition through to CRO and CRM. Transitioning to the client side, I joined Reckitt, heading their direct-to-consumer eCommerce for over three years. While I enjoyed it, I missed the agility of agency life. Then, an opportunity came up at Biotiful, a gut health brand, which I’m passionate about. 

My role involves spearheading the launch of ambient products through our DTC channel in the rapidly growing gut health market. With eCommerce growth rates around 31-32% year on year in this sector, I was eager to join and contribute to its growth from the ground up. Since joining last September, I've been heavily involved in building its infrastructure, enhancing eCommerce operations, and also expanding our presence on Amazon and online grocery platforms. These experiences have been pivotal in shaping my career trajectory.

What advice would you give your 20-years-old self?

The advice I always give is just to keep failing. I would advise my younger self to embrace failure as a crucial part of the learning process. It may sound counterintuitive, but failure is often the pathway to growth and success. Throughout my career, I've experienced more failures than successes in driving growth, but each failure has been a valuable learning opportunity. So, my advice would be to keep pushing forward, not to be disheartened by failure, but to see it as a stepping stone to greater achievements.

What brand pillars does Biotiful rely on?

At Biotiful, we are on a mission to make every gut, naturally happy, everyday  and do this through the three key pillars to communicate our message effectively. Firstly, we're focused on educating the general population about the importance of gut health. We aim to raise awareness about why gut health matters, how it supports mental and physical wellness, and the symptoms of poor gut health. Studies have shown that around 74% of the UK population recognises the importance of gut health but only a small percentage know what actions to take, there's a significant educational task at hand.

Secondly, we emphasise the functional benefits of our products, particularly our live probiotic cultures. We provide information about the live culture count, different strains, and the vitamins and minerals present, highlighting how these elements contribute to overall health. This aspect underscores our commitment to providing products that deliver tangible health benefits.

Importantly, we are a food brand. We prioritise taste and ease of use, ensuring that our products are made with natural ingredients and without unnecessary additives like emulsifiers or preservatives. Our content often includes recipes and suggestions for incorporating our products into daily life, emphasising their versatility and appeal as food items.

By aligning our messaging with these three pillars, we aim to not only promote our products but also contribute to the broader gut health movement. As evidenced by increasing Google search trends, there's a growing interest in gut health, and we're excited to be part of this evolving conversation.

How have you navigated the challenges of expanding Biotiful's presence on Amazon and online grocery platforms?

Biotiful had a presence on Amazon, but it was not something that had been really focused on. Expanding Biotiful's presence on Amazon involved optimising product listings (titles, images, product description), launching Amazon ads, and increasing SKU offerings. This already resulted in significant improvements as we’ve just doubled our weekly run rate for Amazon and expanded our product range. Similarly, we've focused on enhancing our online grocery presence through improved product visibility and adding a lot more rigour in the reporting process, leading to a significant increase in online revenue share over the last three months.

What has been your main challenge in your current role at Biotiful?

The primary challenge in my role at Biotiful revolves around launching and rapidly scaling a gut health brand online. While the company invests in the channel, it's crucial that every expenditure demonstrates a clear return on investment. The second is the dual challenge of both educating consumers about gut health while simultaneously promoting our products. It's about striking a balance between providing valuable information and driving sales. Our approach goes beyond simple promotional tactics like sales or affiliate marketing. Instead, we aim to cultivate a deeper understanding among consumers of how our products can address their specific needs, whether it's alleviating gut health issues or supporting broader health and wellness goals. This requires a nuanced strategy that resonates with our target audience and underscores the unique value proposition of our products.

Your conference at eCommerce Expo

“Addictive Loyalty: Strategies for Retaining Customers in the Era of Instant Gratification”

I think one of the biggest challenges brands face is that people no longer believe what brands say about themselves; they trust what others say. Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of advertising. Social media, especially TikTok, with its addictive algorithms, has amplified this. These algorithms utilise principles like hook canvas and infinity loops, which I’ll be talking about at the Expo.

It’s not enough to simply rely on email marketing, with open rates of 15-20%. Engagement metrics are crucial, but linking social media engagement to ROI remains challenging. I'm exploring a shift from email workflows to Infinity journeys across multiple channels, leveraging AI for personalised content at scale. How do we leverage dynamic content personalisation to not only retain customers but also keep them coming back? This, to me, is the crucial area for discussion in the presentation.


Quick-fire questions

What is your biggest pet peeve as a customer?

Not getting personalised brand experiences. I opt-in through everything: cookies, browser notifications, marketing emails, so companies should know everything about me. Bulk standard, one-size-fits-all content annoys me because of that.

What is your favourite social media platform?

 From a personal perspective LinkedIn is where I spend most of my time on social media. But from a professional interest perspective, I’m fascinated by TikTok and the level of engagement it gets.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?

There have been several milestones I'm immensely proud of. Notable achievements include spearheading the establishment of Jacob Bailey's London and New York offices, orchestrating the rollout of 80 websites in 40 languages for Otis Elevator Company, and driving the development of innovative projects like Smart Finish, an automated subscription service. Currently, launching a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) site for Biotiful from scratch and ahead of schedule ranks high among my achievements.

What is the tool you use the most on your laptop?

I’m on Shopify every day and have been for probably the last seven or eight years.

What is something you still looking forward to achieving?

Professionally, my primary focus is on scaling the currency business I'm currently involved in. It’s still early days, but at that stage, we’re already seeing rapid growth rates with over 100% month-on-month growth. We’re aiming to establish a seven-figure density store within a short timeframe. It's a goal I'm eagerly anticipating achieving.

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