Direct-to-Consumer Spotlight: How One Wellness Brand Uses Email Automations to Educate its Community Through Courses That Drive Sales

Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Stories | Innermost

Education is important—especially when you’re helping people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. One wellness brand that knows this all too well is Innermost, who’s blending nutritional supplements with scientific research while educating consumers using their data-backed approach.

I recently had the chance to talk to the Innermost team to find out more about the brand, what their experiences were when rebalancing from business-to-business (B2B) to direct-to-consumer (DTC), and the creative ways in which they’re educating consumers about their products and brand mission. 

Before launching Innermost’s range of smart nutrition products, their founder and CEO, Shivraj Bassi, used both consumer research and science to guide his decisions.

“We asked real people, ‘How do you think about your health and fitness? What are you looking to achieve? What are you looking to improve? What kinds of issues and problems are you stuck with?’,” said Shivraj.

“The feedback was varied and ranged from the typical, ‘I want to gain muscle and lose weight,’ to things like, ‘I’m anxious. I feel stressed out. I’d like more energy,’ or simply, ‘I want to feel healthier,’” he explained.

Innermost then took this feedback and worked with leading nutritionists to create a range of supplements that would solve a myriad of health concerns and problems people were facing in their everyday lives.

“We imagined the future of nutritional supplements and then set about creating them—smarter products, built from the ground up, combining research-based ingredients that work together to help achieve different goals. In 2017, we launched a range of products with names like Focus, Relax, Health, Lean, Power, Energy, and Strong. Our products give people the ability to personalize their nutrition based on their individual needs,” said Shivraj.

Based out of the UK, Innermost now sells their targeted nutrition products across the world through Shopify, in leading fitness studios, and through world-renowned retailers like NET-A-PORTER, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Selfridges, Liberty London, and most recently, Boots.

Although the business is now a mix of B2B and DTC sales, this wasn’t always the case.

How Innermost successfully shifted its focus from B2B to DTC ahead of the pandemic

Shivraj told me that health and fitness have undergone a renaissance over the last few years, with more consumer interest in the field than ever before.

While that means more opportunities for wellness brands that operate in the DTC space, it’s also a challenge for brands to cut through the noise and connect with today’s modern consumer in authentic ways. 

Fortunately, this allowed Innermost to see a gap in the market that would help differentiate them from more traditional nutrition brands.

“We want to challenge industry norms, be more inclusive, and offer customers something different. That’s reflected across everything we do, including our products and positioning,” said Shivraj.

“People want help with sleeping, cognitive performance, maintaining energy, all these kinds of things. It’s about understanding that your customer is complex and has different needs and requirements, which can change over time,” he said.

Innermost tested their concept and saw that there was traction in the market through huge interest from boutique fitness studios, which focus more on experiences—whether that’s a live DJ, light show, or smoothie bars—than on having the best equipment or heaviest weights.

“The rise of the boutique fitness studio was very interesting to us. Through our products, studios were able to align their fitness programs with their nutritional offerings and personalize recommendations to members. Rather than recommending a one-size-fits-all product to everyone, our products allow them to tailor combinations of products based on what each member needs,” Shivraj explained.

“Within a year of launch, we were stocked at more boutique fitness studios in the UK than any other nutrition brand. The uptake from these early adopters and the amazing feedback from their members gave us a huge amount of confidence in what we were building,” he said.

"Within a year of launch, we were stocked at more boutique fitness studios in the UK than any other nutrition brand. The uptake from these early adopters and the amazing feedback from their members gave us a huge amount of confidence in what we were building."

Shivraj Bassi, founder & CEO, Innermost

Once this side of the business had taken off, Shivraj and the team at Innermost faced the challenge of building a strong online business model—ultimately allowing Innermost to become both a B2B and DTC wellness brand.

“It was a tough decision, but I had to ask myself, ‘If we want to scale, our ecommerce needs to be able to scale with us.’ So we re-platformed to Shopify and moved from another email provider to Klaviyo,” said Shivraj.

“Klaviyo offers powerful abilities to engage with the data and make email marketing flows and general decision-making easier using that data. Klaviyo is a really smart piece of software that allows you to do some incredible things, but at the same time, it’s very intuitive. What we’ve been able to build on these platforms has been amazing,” he said.

"Klaviyo offers powerful abilities to engage with the data and make email marketing flows and general decision-making easier using that data. Klaviyo is a really smart piece of software that allows you to do some incredible things, but at the same time, it’s very intuitive."

Shivraj Bassi, founder & CEO, Innermost

“You can be the smartest person in the room and have the most amazing product, but your marketing efforts, technology stack, and logistics infrastructure can make or break your business,” continued Shivraj.

But being a B2B and DTC hybrid business in 2020 also brought unprecedented challenges as the boutique fitness studios that Innermost partner with were forced to close temporarily. Thankfully, Innermost’s shift to DTC in 2019 helped them to weather the pandemic.

“Our revenues have grown by around 500 percent this year despite everything that’s been happening in the world. Klaviyo has been a key part of that growth story,” said Shivraj.

"Our revenues have grown by around 500 percent this year despite everything that’s been happening in the world. Klaviyo has been a key part of that growth story."

Shivraj Bassi, founder & CEO, Innermost

How Innermost use education and email courses to drive customer engagement and sales

Innermost offers customers a wealth of information online to help them decide which nutritional products to buy. This is done in a valuable and highly engaging way thanks to informative email courses and an interactive quiz on their website. 

“When people come to our website, we don’t want them to be confused about which products to buy—even if they’ve never used nutritional supplements before. For those customers, we need to educate them on how nutritional supplements can benefit their day-to-day lives, and lead them through the process of understanding which products are right for them and why,” said Shivraj.

“For customers who have used nutritional products in the past, we talk about the benefits of our targeted products, and dig deeper into the ingredients to show how they’re smarter, and so much more effective than what they may have been using before,” he continued.

For both types of customers, Innermost uses content, such as their blog called Insight, webinars, and their podcast series, alongside highly segmented emails to walk customers through their journeys. This includes offering free email courses on topics like getting better sleep, intermittent fasting, the keto diet, dealing with back pain, and managing stress.

Innermost's 'Better Sleep' Email Course

When people sign up for a course, they receive a series of emails, which are each written or edited by experts in that field. The courses are rooted in science but explained in a clear and understandable way.

Each course typically starts by setting the scene for the topic and, over the course of five days, readers learn about the topic, the science behind it, and practical steps they can take to improve or implement changes in their lives. This information is then followed up with product recommendations and articles that Innermost thinks are going to be most relevant and helpful.

“Ultimately, we want someone to take one of our courses and gain a better understanding of the practical steps they can take to implement positive changes to the way they think, feel, and perform,” explained Shivraj.

Alongside informative email courses, Innermost has also launched a quiz on their website, which helps customers decide which products are right for them. Naturally, Innermost can then use this information to send targeted emails.

“To be able to serve content that we think our customers are going to be interested in, we need to understand what is important to them. What our quiz does is ask a series of questions related to health and fitness topics,” explained Shivraj. 

“We try to understand where a consumer sits in their journey, what’s important to them, what their goals are, and what kinds of problems they’re having. Once we understand that, we’re in a position where we can serve them with relevant content through campaigns and automations,” he said.

"To be able to serve information that we think our customers are going to be interested in, we need to understand what’s important to them. Once we understand that, we're in a position where we can serve them with relevant content through campaigns and automations."

Shivraj Bassi, founder & CEO, Innermost

“Customers can unsubscribe anytime they want, but we hope that the chances of anyone unsubscribing will be much lower because they’re getting relevant information. To really make your email marketing work for you, you need to understand your consumer. If you don’t, you’re not going to be able to cut through or serve them with relevant information. But if you can do that successfully over time, that’s how you can really help people, grow your business, and build a strong community,” continued Shivraj.

Catherine Hargreaves, from the Business Insights team at Innermost, chipped in to explain how they’ve been using segmentation for their email marketing strategy. 

“We use custom property tags to create more granular segments within Klaviyo. These help us to target customers with relevant content based on their specific interests, goals, or current relationship with the brand,” said Catherine. 

“For example, we can identify customers who are new to supplements, which is great for sending super accessible, introductory information about our products, and health and wellness more generally. Alternatively, we can tag ‘Vegan,’ so vegan customers will only be shown vegan products in emails, which is done through dynamic blocks that filter out non-vegan products,” she explained.

"We use custom property tags to create more granular segments within Klaviyo. These help us to target customers with relevant content based on their specific interests, goals, or current relationship with the brand."

Catherine Hargreaves, brand analyst, Innermost

This highly targeted approach to email marketing has meant the brand can celebrate open rates of around 35 percent—with some email automations seeing open rates as high as 90 percent (typically by day five of each email course)—and click rates between 35 and 40 percent.

How Innermost keep their customers engaged long-term

For a DTC nutritional supplements business like Innermost, repeat purchases and retention strategies are key to their success. One way this modern wellness brand does that is through an attractive rewards program.

Innermost Rewards Program

Customers receive points for making a purchase, following Innermost’s social channels, referring friends, and leaving reviews, among other activities. They can then use those points to get money off future purchases. 

“It’s a great way to keep people engaged. With acquisition costs continuing to rise as more brands shift to a DTC-focused approach, retention is becoming the new acquisition!” said Shivraj. 

“One of the reasons why we moved to Shopify was because there’s a whole ecosystem of apps that are available to use out-of-the-box. We chose LoyaltyLion to implement our rewards program. Once customers buy from us, we need to keep them engaged. We do that through content, but we also use a rewards program to be able to give our customers—especially our most loyal customers—benefits to keep them engaged with the brand and to repay the faith that they’ve shown in us,” he said.

"Once customers have bought from us, we need to keep them engaged. We do that through content, but we also use a rewards program to be able to give our customers—especially our most loyal customers—benefits to keep them engaged with the brand and to repay the faith that they've shown in us."

Shivraj Bassi, founder & CEO, Innermost

Alongside an attractive rewards program, Innermost uses a variety of email automations, social ads, and predictive analytics to encourage customers to come back.

“We have a dozen or so automations—each of them for different reasons. We’ve got win-backs, abandoned carts, browse abandons, and nurture flows, among others. We’re seeing a 40 percent conversion rate from our welcome series alone,” added Shivraj.

"We’ve got win-backs, abandoned carts, browse abandons, and nurture flows, among others. We’re seeing a 40 percent conversion rate from our welcome series alone."

Shivraj Bassi, founder & CEO, Innermost

“When we first started building our win-backs, we thought to ourselves, ‘Okay, people are going to buy roughly every 30 days.’ But at the same time, we knew that people consume products at different rates and buy different numbers of products. We were delighted when Klaviyo launched the expected date of next order and now all our win-backs are built around that. It makes our win-backs and the timing of them based on more intelligent data rather than using arbitrary numbers,” concluded Shivraj.

Final thoughts

While the pandemic could have spelled disaster for Innermost as many retailers and fitness studios across the world had to close temporarily, the brand’s shift in focus to a DTC business model has been pivotal to their success in 2020.

Innermost’s multichannel approach marrying B2B and DTC, combined with a unique email marketing and content strategy, mean the business will be in a strong position to weather future storms. 

And with opportunities in America, Asia, and the Middle East bearing fruit, alongside talks of fundraising, this is one wellness brand to keep a close eye on.

Want more insights, inspiration, and resources to help you grow your business? Check out the Entrepreneur Growth Guide.

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