How This French Beauty Brand Drives 62% Repeat Business With Its Sustainable Mission
“In 2021, it’s hard to ignore the state of the Earth. The brands of tomorrow aren’t big groups that destroy the planet, but brands that work with the planet.”
This powerful statement comes from Eloïse Drapeaud-Drew, head of marketing and communications at oOlution, an all-natural, cruelty-free beauty brand headquartered in Paris, France.
I recently had the chance to sit down with her virtually to find out more about the oOlution brand, why sustainability is so important to them, and how they’re using email and digital marketing to educate their customers about all things skincare, self-care, and planet-care.
But just before I dive into Eloïse’s insights, I’d like you to join me in wishing oOlution “Happy Birthday!”
May 13, 2021 marks the brand’s eighth birthday, and to celebrate, they’re foregoing birthday cake and candles in favor of raising awareness about their brand and sustainability mission through month-long promotions, dedicated emails, social media posts, and blogs to help make it a special time for their customers as well as themselves.
Let’s join in with the celebrations and find out:
- Why sustainability is so important to oOlution
- How the oOlution team educates their customers about the importance of caring for the environment
- How oOlution keeps their customers coming back for more
Good for the environment, good for people, good for business
Just as many businesses and brand stories start with their founder’s experiences, oOlution’s products, mission, and brand values were initially driven by their founder, Anne-Marie Gabelica.
“Anne-Marie started oOlution after working for a big cosmetic company for many years. She was shocked by what we put in cosmetics—a lot of what we call ‘empty formulas,’ which are full of palm oil and have only a tiny amount of active ingredients. That’s why she decided to quit and build her own company—a company she believed in,” Eloïse explained.
“We use over 150 natural, active ingredients in our formulas. We believe skincare products should be full of healthy food. Healthy food is not only what you eat, it’s also what your skin eats. When you apply a cream to your skin, it actually kind of eats it, so the cream should be well-balanced, organic, safe, etc.,” Eloïse continued.
Today, oOlution’s products reach customers all over the world via their own website, major online retailers including Nocibé and Blissim (previously known as Birchbox France), and dozens of stores across France and in neighboring countries.
But it’s their sustainability mission that truly sets this brand apart from others.
“We don’t want to take part in mass production or planet destruction. That makes little sense to us. We can’t be doing good to our skin by destroying the planet,” said Eloïse.
While there are many initiatives that oOlution uses to stay sustainable—from their actual product ingredients to their manufacturing and sourcing processes—something that especially caught my attention is their “Send Back Program” where every customer receives a prepaid envelope with their order.
Once customers have used up their beauty products, they can mail their empty bottles, tubes, and containers back to oOlution who recycle anything they can’t reuse for new products, or clean and disinfect bottles they can reuse.
How oOlution educates customers about their sustainable beauty products
While many of oOlution’s customers are already aware of environmental issues and how natural cosmetics can help, the brand wants to make sure that all new customers understand the full impact of sustainable beauty products.
To combat this, oOlution educates their customers in a variety of ways—from their skin diagnosis quiz and blog to their weekly email newsletter and automated emails.
“If consumers search online for natural cosmetics, then they’re obviously a bit more engaged about the planet. But we also talk to people who have less knowledge than that. Our blog is full of information about why people should avoid palm oil or mineral oils in their skincare, and the impact they have on your skin and the planet. We try to educate as much as we can,” said Eloïse.
Skin diagnosis quiz
oOlution’s skin diagnosis quiz is fundamental in helping the brand educate people and drive revenue. The quiz asks people questions about their current skin conditions and what concerns them most about it before prompting them to fill in their name, email address, and date of birth.
Afterward, consumers see their “skin card,” which summarizes their answers, explains what’s causing their issues, and how to resolve them with oOlution’s products and other more general lifestyle changes.
“When they shop online, people still want advice that they would get in a face-to-face business where the salesperson would say, ‘This is the right cream for you.’ Our skin diagnosis quiz is a proper guide that says, ‘This is what would work for you and with your specific needs.’ The quiz helps people understand their skin and how to take care of it—and how oOlution can help,” shared Eloïse.
“The quiz also embodies our brand values, which are generosity, being helpful, and doing good. Even if the person doesn’t buy oOlution in the end, they’ll still have tips about what food they should eat and things like that,” Eloïse continued.
Plus, the information people give to oOlution in the quiz helps the brand understand their unique needs and motivations, which provides oOlution with plenty of opportunities to personalize their content to be more valuable.
Once someone completes the quiz, oOlution puts them through a segmented email series, which reminds them of their diagnosis and “prescribed” products. They also receive helpful tips and advice through content-rich emails and related blogs.
oOlution uses both email campaigns and automated emails to keep the conversation going with their customers, as well as using email to drive more brand awareness and revenue.
“We use email to educate our customers about natural cosmetics, our sustainability commitments, and we share beauty tips. Email also helps us improve brand awareness—especially with our welcome series. Some people don’t know what oOlution is when they sign up to the newsletter, so we tell them, ‘Hey, it’s actually good for you and this is who we are,’” Eloïse concluded.
Clearly, their strategy’s working—oOlution’s welcome series sees average open rates of nearly 60 percent and click rates of over four percent.
While email marketing gives oOlution the perfect platform to educate their customers, it’s also a strategic revenue driver for this innovative beauty brand.
“Email drives revenue and is a way to get people back on the website, looking at new products or what they’ve already bought. We want to bring in a minimum of 20 percent of our revenue from email. We’re currently bringing in over 35 percent of our revenue via email, so we’ve smashed our target,” shared Eloïse.
"Email drives revenue and is a way to get people back on the website, looking at new products or what they’ve already bought."
Eloïse Drapeaud-Drew, head of marketing and communications, oOlution
But it’s not just their welcome series driving revenue and bringing customers back to their website. Read on for a brief look at oOlution’s various customer retention strategies.
oOlution’s customer retention strategies
Since oOlution’s customers use their products regularly, sometimes as part of their daily skincare routines, it makes sense for oOlution to send an automated replenishment email series.
Replenishment emails can sometimes feel a little like the children’s story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” You don’t want to send the emails too late when your customers have already run out of their product and potentially bought it from someone else, and you don’t want to send the emails too early since your customers may forget all about the email by the time they have run out of their product.
Instead, oOlution uses data to power their replenishment emails, enabling them to remind their customers to reorder their products at just the right time.
Alongside their replenishment email automation, oOlution send a birthday email to their customers offering them a ten percent discount, as well as a weekly email newsletter, which features recommended products and beauty tips.
But perhaps their most powerful customer retention strategy of all is their beauty subscription service where customers can purchase their favorite products as often as they need to.
“Our beauty subscription service is good for our customers because it’s cheaper and they can cancel if they feel it’s not appropriate anymore. For us, it helps us guarantee revenue each month and we can plan for future products, or what we’re going to buy or invest in,” said Eloïse.
"Our beauty subscription service helps us guarantee revenue each month and we can plan for future products, or what we’re going to buy or invest in."
Eloïse Drapeaud-Drew, head of marketing and communications, oOlution
With 62 percent of their customers returning to make a second or additional purchase, oOlution is clearly not only onto a winning organic beauty formula but also a winning customer retention formula, as well.
3 tips for ecommerce marketers
Eloïse also shared three tips for other ecommerce marketers:
1 | Treat online customers like you would in-store
“It’s really important to help customers in their choices, just as you would in a shop. Try to give your customers some advice online through your website, email, and social media,” she shared.
2 | Build your credibility
“Work on your credibility. For people to believe in your advice, you need to gain their trust and show them you know what you’re talking about and why you’re an expert in your field,” Eloïse said.
3 | Segment your email list
“Segment your email list. It’s really important to say the right thing to the right person. You want your subscribers to be interested in what you say, so target your messages according to what they want to hear or know about,” she said.
The brands of tomorrow work with the planet
It’s clear that oOlution cares deeply for the planet and how they and their customers impact it.
The team says they have plenty more ideas, though, on how to make their practices even more sustainable—like making it possible for customers to drop their empty containers off at brick and mortar shops and designing 100 percent biodegradable packaging.
But that’s not all.
Happy to offer a little sneak peek, Eloïse also told me that oOlution is working on some new products: everyday essentials like toothpaste and shampoo.
Could we see the world’s first all-natural and palm oil-free shampoo come from this responsible beauty brand based in France? Quite possibly, so watch this space.
Looking for more marketing insights from beauty brands? Check out this spotlight on 111SKIN, a London-based luxury skincare brand.
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