Direct-to-Consumer Spotlight: How This Innovative Luxury Skincare Brand is Adapting Their Email Strategies to Drive 53% of Their Revenue From Email

Direct-to-Consumer Spotlight: 111SKIN

When Eva Alexandridis helped her husband to create healing products for patients at his plastic surgery clinic on London’s infamous Harley Street, the couple had no idea that their remedies would later become an internet sensation and global skincare brand called 111SKIN.

“My husband was always on a quest to find something to speed up the healing for his patients. He’s a practicing plastic surgeon, but he also believes in non-surgical treatments, and most of his patients are concerned about how quickly they can recover,” said Eva.

“One day he said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had some sort of treatment to help people recover faster?’ And that’s all I needed—a little challenge. So I started traveling around the world, talking to different scientists. I was fortunate to meet some chemical engineers who had a few patents on products for speeding up recovery. I started working with them on creating some specific products that could be applied to wounds,” she continued.

For a couple of years, Eva and her husband gave these products to his patients to help them recover from their plastic surgery quicker. But because of how revolutionary and beneficial these new products were, their patients had started substituting them for their normal skincare creams.

“Our patients kept coming to us and saying, ‘After we’ve recovered, we feel noticeable differences on our skin, and we love the feeling!’—and that’s what threw me into the skincare business!” said Eva.

Eva explained that this discovery happened when the skincare industry was also going through a revolution. More and more people were looking for cosmetic products developed by doctors and leading medical professionals.

This led to a launch deal for 111SKIN in London’s world-renowned luxury department store, Harrods.

“We had to learn very quickly and develop our packaging, marketing concept, and ideas because we were given this incredible opportunity!” Eva recalled.

Fast forward just a few short years, and 111SKIN is now a global brand and is stocked in multiple prestigious stores including Barneys, Harvey Nichols, Neiman Marcus, and NET-A-PORTER, among others.

The brand also has a larger collection of products since those early days in Harrods—from coconut membrane sheet masks and hydrogel eye masks to various luxury moisturizers, serums, cleansers, and oils.

111SKIN's product range

And thanks to celebrities like Margot Robbie, Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, Olivia Palermo, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and various Victoria’s Secret supermodels showing their Instagram followers how they get such glowing skin, one of 111SKIN’s products is now a viral sensation with 18 million sales and counting.

During a Live From Your Laptop virtual talk show earlier this year, Eva, along with Celia Marinaro, 111SKIN’s digital marketing manager, discussed the brand’s journey and how they’ve since launched a successful direct-to-consumer (DTC) business model.

Keep reading to find out how the team at 111SKIN have adapted their marketing strategies to grow their business—even in the face of a pandemic and the challenges that it brought.

A renewed focus on direct-to-consumer sales

Within a few years of launching in Harrods, Eva and her team decided to focus more on direct-to-consumer sales, so they could become both a business-to-business (B2B) and DTC brand. 

The reason? Their clients wanted a more personal service and a direct relationship with the brand. But it also meant that 111SKIN would gain more control over how to launch and promote their products. 

“In the beginning, the brick-and-mortar shops were crucial for us because we were a new brand and we had to educate people face-to-face. But as we started gaining a bit more of a following, and people were excited about us and talking about the brand, we started going where our clients were. Our clients wanted us to have an online presence. They wanted to have a personal service and to talk to us,” explained Eva.

“From the beginning, it wasn’t about the revenue, it was really about listening to our clients. So we started opening up the dialogue, having a conversation with them, and offering more personalized experiences. That’s been my strategy, and I always wanted to have the ability to have one-to-one communication with our clients,” she continued.

"As we started gaining a bit more of a following, and people were excited about us and talking about the brand, we started going where our clients were. Our clients wanted us to have an online presence and to talk to us. So we started opening up the dialogue, having a conversation with them, and offering more personalized experiences."

Eva Alexandridis, founder, 111SKIN

Ahead of their move to DTC and online sales, 111SKIN chose Shopify as their ecommerce platform and they’re now running three different regional websites on it for the UK, EU, and the US.

“Shopify is such an easy platform when you’re a start-up. It’s easy to install with lots of templates and is really user friendly. We have no developers in-house, so we needed something that anybody in the company can use,” said Celia.

“Plus, we’re not a fashion company, so it’s not like we have 100 products changing every season. We have six ranges and they are here to stay with us, so Shopify works for this,” she added.

Celia also said that 111SKIN initially chose Mailchimp as their email marketing provider. But once the brand’s email list started to grow, they found that the business’s scalability and growth were hindered by Mailchimp’s lack of intricate automations and ecommerce features.

“Mailchimp was limiting in what we could send out. That’s when I started trying to find a new platform. Klaviyo was recommended to us by LoyaltyLion. We wanted to have a loyalty program, and they said to us, ‘A lot of companies with your kind of scale and market use Klaviyo.’ Klaviyo was absolutely everything we were requesting, and the flows and automations were just what we were trying to find!” said Celia.

"Mailchimp was limiting in what we could send out. Klaviyo was recommended to us by LoyaltyLion and was absolutely everything we were requesting. The flows and automations were just what we were trying to find!"

Celia Marinaro, digital marketing manager, 111SKIN

Today, 111SKIN’s DTC sales are worth 17 percent—and growing—of the brand’s total revenue. But Eva and her team have plans to more than double this to 30 percent—especially given that the total addressable market of customers shopping online has now grown since the pandemic and lockdown restrictions were put in place.

Driving brand awareness through celebrities and influencers

Part of the brand’s DTC growth and renowned fame also comes from brand awareness driven by popular celebrities and influencers. But Eva was keen to stress that they don’t pay influencers to promote their products.

111SKIN x Olivia Palermo

“Instagram and influencers have been crucial for our development, but not in the sense of us having a strategy—rather that they’re discovering and showcasing us,” said Eva.

“We are very firm about not paying anyone because we believe that there are always people out there who love your products and are willing to share. We’ve seen so many celebrities, even Victoria’s Secret models, doing that for us for free, so we don’t feel that we need to be paying anybody else,” she continued.

Eva also mentioned how it’s important to appreciate everyone within the beauty industry as celebrities are often given products from makeup artists and other professionals, which can lead to these kinds of social media endorsements and brand advocacy.

“We’re starting a program for makeup artists where they can come to us and show their identification and who they work with. They go to our program, we qualify them, and we give them certain products for free, or they can have products at a discount,” said Eva.

While influencer and celebrity shout-outs have helped with brand awareness—rather than focus on paid programs—111SKIN has adopted an owned marketing approach, which has allowed them to adapt their marketing strategies as they see fit and test what works best for them.

Today, 111SKIN’s revenue from email marketing alone is now worth a whopping 53 percent of their total revenue. Here’s how they’ve done it.

Doubling average order value with A/B testing

111SKIN has seen vast success from their email marketing experiments—one of which has resulted in a 50 percent conversion rate for their welcome series and double the amount of average order value (AOV).

“I came from another company where there was a big focus on the welcome series, so I wanted to give this to 111SKIN when I arrived. I created the welcome series to be the first step with the company. We’re a skincare brand, so it’s something you should touch and smell. But we’re totally digital, so we need to make people understand our products with our words,” said Celia.

The first email in their welcome flow contains a 10 percent discount code and it was the first email that Celia A/B tested.

“I was thinking, ‘Should we begin by speaking about the philosophy of the brand alongside the products in the first newsletter? Or can we wait a little bit for this and just show the products?’ The product version was a big winner! So we decided to wait and include the philosophy of the brand in a second email that’s sent two days later,” said Celia.

“After this, my question was, ‘Should we show Eva’s husband, Dr. Yannis?’ In the UK, everybody knows that Harley Street is a proof of quality, so we decided to A/B test with one picture of Dr. Yannis at the top against one with a picture of a bestselling peel, which is pink, glowy, and shiny,” she continued.

“The results were so interesting! The peel was generating more orders, but Dr. Yannis had doubled the average order value—£240 against £120!” said Celia.

111SKIN's Welcome Email

"We decided to A/B test with one picture of Dr. Yannis at the top, and one with a picture of a bestselling peel. The results were so interesting! The peel was generating more orders, but Dr. Yannis had doubled the average order value—£240 against £120!"

Celia Marinaro, digital marketing manager, 111SKIN

“By showing Dr. Yannis, we were showing people that we’re not one of these new random brands created in the moment. We’re a scientific brand. We didn’t want to sell a product, we wanted to sell the science behind it. I think that’s what the welcome flow is showing,” she explained.

Another of Celia’s tests involved the Smart Send Time feature, which had yet more surprising results for this skincare brand.

“A couple of years ago, we had only one website, and then it was divided into three different regions. What that meant was that we had a database that wasn’t divided from scratch, so we were sending emails at one time and just crossing our fingers that it would work well,” recalled Celia.

“At the beginning, I thought, ‘I’m sure I know my customers, I can choose the time by myself.’ After a while, we tried it and it was giving me weird answers, so I didn’t think it was working. It was telling me that 11:00 p.m. was the best time to send emails!” she said.

“I thought, ‘People buy at 11:00 p.m.? It can’t be!’ But it’s true! It raised our open rate by at least two percent in some markets and our conversion was better at this time, too! Clearly, we have night owl customers who like to shop between 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.!” concluded Celia.

"It was telling me that 11:00 p.m., was the best time to send emails! It raised our open rate by at least two percent and our conversion was better at this time, too! Clearly, we have night owl customers who like to shop between 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.!"

Celia Marinaro, digital marketing manager, 111SKIN

Using surveys to double down on advanced segmentation

As a luxury skincare brand, 111SKIN has always believed in knowing their customers well and providing them with a personalized experience.

One of the ways they do this today is through highly segmented emails, some of which are based on a Typeform survey that the brand had tremendous success with.

111SKIN decided to give three complimentary product samples to their first 1,000 survey respondents and promoted this offer across social media and through website popups. 

They’d been expecting around 2,000 responses, but within just three days, they had over 20,000.

“Our customers used to be 35- to 45-year old women who shopped in Harrods, but when Kim Kardashian started using us, we had a feeling our customers were changing. They were younger and more international, and we’d arrived at a point where we thought, ‘Who are our new customers? What are their skin concerns? What kinds of products are they using?’ explained Celia.

111SKIN used this new customer data to help them promote their summer sale by A/B testing their product selection in emails using dynamic content blocks, which helped them to display different products to different people based on their individual survey responses.

“This was the first time that we had direct data about our customers. I created the first version of our newsletter with this data, and I A/B tested between product selections according to peoples’ skin concerns. It was nice to know our customers again and to have this type of contact with them,” said Celia.

“This sale was really important for us because the brand was growing and it was a good opportunity to test. Around 50 percent of the revenue from this sale in the UK came from email,” she explained.

"This sale was really important for us because the brand was growing and it was a good opportunity to test. Around 50 percent of the revenue from this sale in the UK came from email."

Celia Marinaro, digital marketing manager, 111SKIN

Analyzing success and keeping customers for life

For a brand like 111SKIN, Eva explained that customer lifetime value (CLV) is a crucial metric for them to keep a close eye on. 

They sell different products for different age ranges, so their customers can move from product to product with age, and ultimately, stay with the brand for life.

“We want to have a long-term relationship with our customers. It’s never just about one quick sell or one fast-selling product. It’s about growing with us,” Eva said.

“You might start with our Rose Gold mask if you’re in your 20s when you just need radiance and then progress to the Black Diamond when you’re in your 40s. We’re starting to see these kinds of patients who are converting from the clinic and becoming lifetime clients with us. That’s why we want to keep innovating and communicating with them,” she explained.

"We’re starting to see patients who are converting from the clinic and becoming lifetime clients with us. That's why we want to keep innovating and communicating with them."

Eva Alexandridis, founder, 111SKIN

111SKIN’s shift to a DTC business model means their customer relationships are stronger than ever. And with a 48 percent open rate and an incredible 50 percent conversion rate attributed to their win-back flows, the brand’s email marketing efforts and excellent approach to customer care are clearly resonating well with their clients.

“After the survey, we had all these new customers and we wanted them to come back naturally. That’s where our win-back flow comes in. To people who haven’t converted in 100 days, we say, ‘Hey, we’re still here!’ and give them 15 percent off their next order,” explained Celia.

“I’m seeing it working in our cohort metrics on Klaviyo, which shows us that most people come back in the fourth month,” she concluded.

Key learnings from the pandemic to future-proof against a second wave

During the height of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, 111SKIN’s practice on Harley Street had to close temporarily, alongside the hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores their products are stocked in.

“There was a moment when everybody panicked because we’re a retail brand and a style brand. We’re used to having real contact with our customers, and from one day to another, it was over,” recalled Celia.

Thankfully, this initial shock and panic didn’t last—and it wasn’t long before 111SKIN had adapted their business model to take their consultations online while quadrupling their AOV in the process!

“We thought, ‘How do we keep having this kind of relationship with our customers?’ and ‘How can we keep giving them this luxury service and recommend products according to their skincare needs?’ That’s how our online consultations began,” said Celia.

Celia explained how they tasked their store employees with working in this new digital way, and within just three days, they’d gone live with a patented website to help them conduct 10-minute consultations via Zoom video calls as an experiment. 

“People were so excited about it, and after one week, we’d increased it to 20-minute consultations!” raved Celia.

“Our consultations are still open and I think it’s something we want to keep even after the pandemic. We discovered that our normal average order value on the website is around £190. However, with online consultation, we were at £800!” she continued.

"We discovered that our normal average order value on the website is around £190. However, with online consultation, we were at £800!"

Celia Marinaro, digital marketing manager, 111SKIN

111SKIN’s customers loved that the sales reps were able to explain the products’ benefits to them in detail while showing them on camera what their skin looked like immediately after applying the products.

“We were giving discount codes out at the end of each consultation to attract more customers, but they said they were totally convinced and didn’t need more incentives!” said Celia.

Final thoughts

111SKIN has seen tremendous growth since Eva and her husband first launched their products in Harrods in 2012. They’re now at the head of a strong team of 80 employees.

The brand’s renewed focus on DTC sales, and their willingness to experiment and try new things, mean 111SKIN is fully poised to capitalize on that growth and stay in control of their business and marketing strategies. 

The team behind this innovative luxury skincare brand has not only made their customers happier by giving them the personalized experiences they crave, but they’ve also doubled—and in the case of their online consultations, quadrupled—their AOV.

Want to hear more from Eva and the 111SKIN team? Watch the replay of their Live From Your Laptop episode and Master Masking event here.

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