Eye-Opening Insights From 9 Women in DTC Marketing
Without a doubt, one of the best parts of my job is getting to talk to the all-star marketers and business owners behind high-growth direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands.
In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, I thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit some of the eye-opening insights and jaw-dropping performance metrics that women in ecommerce and DTC marketing have shared with me and my colleagues over the past year.
Here are just a few of the many lessons about email marketing they shared.
1 | Engagement is an individual metric
The team at Dana Rebecca Designs works hard to make fine jewelry an everyday luxury. Blair Peterson has spearheaded this mission as the brand’s vice president of strategy, a role which includes leading the brand’s ecommerce strategy and email marketing program.
One of the core components to Blair’s email marketing strategy is segmentation—in fact, Blair uses over 130 different segments and some of her peers even refer to her as the “Segment Queen.”
Blair told me one of the most important segments to have in your arsenal is engaged customers. For Dana Rebecca Designs, which has pieces ranging from $140 to over $3,000, their engaged customers segment includes users who have visited their website, opened an email, or made a purchase in the last 180 days.
“We use 180 days because the buyer’s journey is a bit longer with us as a luxury brand. If you’re more of a commodity, then look at 30, 60, or 90 days. For us, it takes about six months for someone to make a repeat purchase, so that’s why we’re using 180 days, but everyone should shift that based on their business turnover,” said Blair.
Blair emphasizes that an engaged customer segment will look different for different businesses. Consider your buyer’s journey and how long customers typically wait between purchases when determining what high engagement looks like for your brand.
“You also have to think about all the different ways that somebody could be active when you create an engaged segment. To us, being active doesn’t just mean buying something—it means someone’s interacting with the brand,” she added.
"You also have to think about all the different ways that somebody could be active when you create an engaged segment. To us, being active doesn’t just mean buying something—it means someone’s interacting with the brand."
Blair Peterson, vice president of strategy, Dana Rebecca Designs
Discover more ways Blair’s using segmentation to power Dana Rebecca Designs’ email marketing strategy.
2 | Spice up your segmentation with cross-selling
You can use segmentation to speak to your subscribers based on the products they’ve already shown an interest in—whether they’ve browsed products on your site or made previous purchases. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also try to introduce your customers to products they’ve yet to discover with your brand.
Cross-selling is especially impactful when you’re marketing a brand that has many SKUs, according to Alex Tenney, director of ecommerce for Skinny Mixes, who appeared in a recent Live From Your Laptop episode.
“We have over a hundred products, so segmentation is super important to us. There are some people who only buy pumpkin spice, for example. Then we also have cocktail mixes and sometimes our cocktail mix customers are very different from our coffee syrup customers,” said Alex.
But while Alex found that the customers often behave differently based on the products they buy, she also acknowledges that there can be some overlap in interest.
“We try to segment while also cross-selling in the right ways because sometimes our cocktail customers don’t even know that we offer coffee syrups and vice versa. We test and make sure we’re nurturing and feeding our customers with what they want,” said Alex.
"We try to segment while also cross-selling in the right ways because sometimes our cocktail customers don’t even know that we offer coffee syrups and vice versa. We test and make sure we’re nurturing and feeding our customers with what they want."
Alex Tenney, director of ecommerce, Skinny Mixes
Learn more about how Alex tripled SkinnyMixes’ online revenue.
3 | Educate your customers through your content
Most ecommerce marketers will tell you that content is core to their overall strategy. But how do you create content that truly resonates with your audience?
Lauren Haas, director of integrated marketing at Eight Sleep, will tell you it’s all about creating educational experiences that relate back to your brand.
“We focus on educating [our audience] on sleep as part of their overall health and wellness. Many people aren’t aware of how vital sleep is to their health and how it’s one of the key ways to boost immunity and fight viruses and bacteria. It’s also something everyone can control, to a degree,” said Lauren, who also appeared in a recent Live From Your laptop episode.
"We focus on educating [our audience] on sleep as part of their overall health and wellness. Many people aren’t aware of how vital sleep is to their health and how it’s one of the key ways to boost immunity and fight viruses and bacteria. It’s also something everyone can control, to a degree."
Lauren Haas, direct of integrated marketing, Eight Sleep
Since Eight Sleep mainly sells smart mattresses and preaches the importance of sleep fitness as part of their mission, it’s also natural for Lauren to integrate this idea into Eight Sleep’s content strategy.
“We leaned into that messaging for a while and we’ve also been talking about ways to optimize your living space for a peaceful and restorative night’s sleep. We’ve also been sharing a lot of sleep tips, sleep hygiene information, and ongoing communication about our sales,” she added.
Taking an educational approach to content has not only helped Lauren nurture and engage existing customers to increase their lifetime value (LTV), but it’s also allowed Eight Sleep to build a community of raving fans and sleep fitness enthusiasts.
Learn more about how Lauren drove a 500 percent increase in revenue for Eight Sleep.
4 | Make your post-purchase experience more personalized
Customer retention is just as important to consider in your email marketing strategy as customer acquisition. That’s exactly why Ashely Rouse, CEO and founder of Trade Street Jam Co., and Brigette Salley, Trade Street Jam Co.’s ecommerce specialist, send post-purchase emails based on the flavor jam the customer just bought.
“I think when you have a product that you have to explain, you should definitely be sending out a post purchase email. We want you to buy, but we also want to make sure that you get your product, that you’re using it, and that you love it,” said Bridgette in a recent Live From Your Laptop episode.
"When you have a product that you have to explain, you should send out a post purchase email. We want you to buy, but we also want to make sure that you get your product, that you're using it, and that you love it."
Bridgette Sally, ecommerce specialist, Trade Street Jam Co.
But the Trade Street Jam Co. team doesn’t just send the same post-purchase email to every customer—they segment their automations by the flavor jam someone bought.
“After you buy the peach jam, for example, you’re going to get an email that asks how it was. Then, you’re going to get another email with a recipe you can make with your peach jam. And then, of course, you’re going to get an email after a couple months if you haven’t made another purchase asking if you want to try it again,” said Ashley.
This post-purchase email is a great way to engage customers with relevant content while they wait for their order and get them excited about their purchase. Plus, it ensures your brand stays top-of-mind when it comes time for your customer to make their next purchase.
Learn more about how Ashley went from $1,300 to $75,000 a month in revenue with Trade Street Jam Co.
4 | Get to know your shoppers
The more data you can collect about your customers’ likes, dislikes, behaviors, and preferences, the better you can personalize your messaging to each individual.
One of the best ways to do this is through an online quiz, according to Mary Callaghan, email marketing manager at Hunt A Killer.
Mary implemented a Typeform survey on Hunt A Killer’s DTC website where people can apply to become a detective in their interactive murder mystery game.
“Once someone has taken the ‘application’ quiz and doesn’t purchase right away, they’re automatically put into an email flow that then triggers a series of personalized messages based on what the person is telling us,” said Mary.
"Once someone has taken the ‘application’ quiz and doesn’t purchase right away, they’re automatically put into an email flow that then triggers a series of personalized messages based on what the person is telling us."
Mary Callaghan, email marketing manager, Hunt A Killer
Mary shared that the data from this survey has been instrumental in her ability to increase new customer conversions by allowing her to target different types of players with different content.
“One of the most important questions we ask is, ‘How do you intend to play?’ We want to understand if this is for a date night or a family game night and if they’re playing alone or with friends. We’re able to then use that survey data in Klaviyo and create segments. From there, we can provide people with the right imagery and messaging,” she added.
This strategy is clearly a success—Mary attributed 27 percent of Hunt a Killer’s monthly revenue to email and 22 percent of that came from this single automation.
Learn more about how Mary used quizzes and segmentation to grow 547 percent more email revenue for Hunt A Killer.
5 | Don’t be afraid to follow up
With popular marketing automations like abandoned cart emails, many marketers have a one-and-done approach—they create one email that triggers to go out after the shopper abandons their cart, and, hopefully, the shopper converts.
But Vivian Kaye, founder and CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, believes that sometimes you need to be more persistent in order to earn the sale.
“Our average order value is $185. We realize that for some women, this can be a significant investment, so I want whoever’s buying from us to feel assured that what they’re buying is what they get,” said Vivian.
Vivian shared that brands with a higher average order value (AOV) should consider creating multiple email touch points in their abandoned cart series as a way to earn shoppers’ trust.
“I want to reassure our customers that not only are you trusting me with your money, but you’re trusting me with your confidence. I want to reassure them that what they’re buying is legit, that we’re legit, and that we appreciate their business. That’s the reason we have multiple touchpoints. At $185, you need to seduce people a little,” she said.
"I want to reassure our customers that not only are you trusting me with your money, but you’re trusting me with your confidence. I want to reassure them that what they’re buying is legit, that we’re legit, and that we appreciate their business. That’s the reason we have multiple touchpoints. At $185, you need to seduce people a little."
But Vivian Kaye, founder and CEO, KinkyCurlyYaki
Read more about which three email automations have been most impactful in Vivian’s growth of KinkyCurlyYaki.
7 | Be authentically yourself
Your emails don’t need to have bright graphics, flashy animations, and top-tier designs to catch your subscribers’ eyes—just ask Erin Baumgartner, CEO at Family Dinner.
In fact, Erin and her partner Tim Fu focus on building relationships by being 100 percent themselves and letting their personalities shine through while staying true to their brand voice.
Their email marketing strategy revolves around their newsletter, which they use to highlight what food will be included in the weekly shares and where it came from.
“We’re trying to consistently explain our mission, explain who we are, and reinforce why local food matters, so email is really like the beating heart of the connection between us and the customer,” said Erin.
It also doesn’t hurt that Erin has the copywriting skills of a seasoned professional—just check out this recent plain-text email detailing Family Dinner’s partnership with Boston-based restaurant Fox & the Knife.
“Our emails sometimes might seem flippant. There might be curse words, there might be bad jokes or references to eighties movies, but that’s who we are. And I think because we’re trying to constantly be as authentically our weird selves as we can, it’s something that people appreciate,” said Erin.
"Our emails sometimes might seem flippant. There might be curse words, there might be bad jokes or references to eighties movies, but that’s who we are. And I think because we’re trying to constantly be as authentically our weird selves as we can, it’s something that people appreciate."
Erin Baumgartner, CEO, Family Dinner
Read more about the email marketing tactics Erin uses to build relationships with Family Dinner’s customers.
8 | Make time for A/B testing
No matter how long you’ve been running your business or how well you think you know your customers, sometimes the only way to be sure is by running an A/B test to see what people respond to.
111SKIN has seen immense success from their A/B tests—one of which has resulted in a 50 percent conversion rate for their welcome series and double the AOV.
For 111SKIN’s welcome series, Celia Marinaro, the brand’s marketing manager, wanted to know whether they should speak to the philosophy of the brand in the first email or focus on the products. After finding that the product version performed better, she decided to include the philosophy of the brand in the second email of the welcome series.
“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,” said Celia in a recent episode of Live From Your Laptop.
"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."
Celia Marinaro, marketing manager, 111Skin
While Celia had a hypothesis of what she thought might happen, she never predicted the actual outcome.
“The results were so interesting! The peel was generating more orders, but Dr. Yannis had doubled the average order value—£240 against £120!” she added.
Celia’s experimentation just goes to show that A/B testing can help you discover new insights about your customers and tailor your messages to better resonate with them based on the goals of each automation.
Learn more about how Celia’s driving 53 percent of 111Skin’s revenue from email.
9 | Prioritize your owned channels
When it comes to deciding which channels you want to market your brand and sell your products through, there’s an endless array of options.
Should you go the wholesale path and try to get in major retailers, or should you open your own brick-and-mortar storefront? Should you sell online through Amazon or focus on your DTC website?
If you ask 100 different marketers, you’ll get 100 different responses. But Lizzie Carter, founder of Only Curls, will tell you the importance of developing a DTC brand and prioritizing your owned marketing channels, such as email, your website, and SMS.
Lizzie has focused a significant amount of time and effort on ensuring her email communications are helpful to her audience by providing customer support and educational content in order to build stronger relationships with prospects and customers. And this has certainly paid off—Only Curls sees a 30 percent average open rate across all of their email campaigns.
This focus on the DTC experience has resulted in more sales for the brand, but has also impacted other invaluable outcomes such as customer, feedback, reviews and user-generated content (UGC).
“Because we have that direct communication via email with our customers, it really allows us to understand what’s working and what the customer’s liking or not liking about the products. That direct communication usually results in great reviews, which have also been instrumental in helping our business grow,” said Lizzie.
"Because we have that direct communication via email with our customers, it really allows us to understand what's working and what the customer's liking or not liking about the products. That direct communication usually results in great reviews, which have also been instrumental in helping our business grow."
Lizzie Carter, founder, Only Curls
Learn more about how Lizzie’s driving 43 percent of Only Curls’ revenue from their email marketing program.
Brand-building lessons from women in DTC marketing
These are just a few of the eye-opening insights from some of the many incredible women in DTC marketing who are leading their online businesses toward amazing growth.
Whether you’ve seen their names before or you’re learning about them for the first time, keep an eye on these brand builders for more impactful insights and strategies you can implement into your own ecommerce marketing strategy.
Looking for more insights from women in ecommerce? Check out the latest episodes of Live From Your Laptop.
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