3 | Know Better Skin with Colorescience’s Margaux Vallino Reese

Samir ElKamouny

3 | Know Better Skin with Colorescience’s Margaux Vallino Reese

Samir ElKamouny

Your host, Samir ElKamouny, talks with Margaux Vallino Reese of Colorescience. Colorescience is the fastest growing professional skincare brand in the US, leading innovation in sun protection. We expand that innovation into a broad line of skincare and color correction products in a way that consumers love to wear every day.

To learn more about Margaux’s work, visit https://www.colorescience.com/

If you’d like to be a guest on Ecom Growth Leaders, click HERE

Transcription 

– Thanks for tuning into the Ecom Growth Leaders Podcast. This show is intended to highlight marketing and conversion techniques taught by today’s leaders in the ecom world. I’ll be interviewing the top marketers that are influencing the market in making an impact, scaling faster than their competitors and doing good. I’m your host Samir ElKamouny, Founder and CEO of Fetch & Funnel, a performance marketing agency specializing in omnichannel media buying, creative production, and conversion optimization. If you enjoy anything from today’s episode, I highly recommend checking out fetcthfunnel.com and sign up for our email newsletter where I promise to only send you content you can learn from and apply directly into your business to improve results and scale. At the end of each episode, my goal is to have you feeling inspired and fired up by learning from today’s top innovators, marketers and entrepreneurs. Let’s dig into another amazing story about a unique brand, crushing it and learn from their success and learnings.

Hey everybody, welcome back to an awesome episode of Ecom Growth Leaders. Today I am super excited to bring you Margaux Reese, she is the Director of Digital Marketing and E-commerce at a very cool and innovative brand called Colorescience. Margaux, welcome to Ecom Growth Leaders, super excited to have you on the podcast.

– Thank you Samir, great to be here.

– So, would you love to start off by you telling our audience just more about Colorescience and what you sell and what the brand is all about.

– Of course, yeah. So, Colorescience is one of the fastest growing professional skincare brand in the United States. What is unique about us is that we started our partnership within dermatologists offices. So, we partner with dermatologists to develop our product and test them, and so we have this close partnership with those partners. And we sell our products through their offices, but also online on our own websites and on some online retailers such as Nordstrom’s Dermstore, and we’re also an Amazon beauty brand. We specialize in mineral sunscreen, so all of our sunscreens are iron oxide and titanium dioxide, so it’s all mineral not chemicals. So you’re not applying any chemicals on your skin that get absorbed into your system. And we also have a line of products, of treatment products in order to reverse the damages of the sun. So if you’re thinking about skin redness, or hyperpigmentation or dark circles, we have treatments that treat, but also immediately correct for these conditions.

– Awesome, yeah. I feel like it’s a very experiential type of brand. It’s something where like, seeing it on the website, reading a little bit about it, you still don’t fully understand it, I highly recommend everyone check out their youtube channel ’cause they’ve got great videos explaining some of the products and that was my aha moment, right? Where I saw sort of how some of the products work, what’s different about them versus sort of traditional or usually are buying off the shelf or brands that you’ve been using historically. And that was really where it hit me, I was like, whoa, okay, I need this SPF ’cause it’s so much better than what I’m using, doesn’t soak into my skin, so yeah, super, super cool. So would love to just kind of hear, oh, sorry, go for it.

– Sorry if I may add, where our flagship product is mineral sunscreen brush. So when you think about mineral sunscreen, you’re thinking about the lifeguards that have the white cast on their nose. And so we’ve managed to formulate it in a way that it is in a powder format, which is unique in the first place and which makes it very convenient for reapplication. It blends also into your skin tone, so you don’t end up with a white cast and you can apply it over makeup. Women love it for that reason, ’cause no one likes to apply all these sunscreen over makeup. So, really our goal is to educate customers on skincare prevention and sun safety for all and the importance of reapplying. So we remade our products in a format that’s easy to reapply. You can have one in your gym bag, in your car, in your handbag, anywhere is very convenient to use.

– Love that, yeah, love that. I’ve become a customer already, so yeah. Great, great brand, yeah. So I know you’ve been there a couple of years, your roles changed over the years, we’d love to just hear more about, the role that that you’re currently at and what that looks like right now.

– Yeah, so as the head of ecommerce, I handle everything related to the website and all sales that happens through the website, including our subscription program and the loyalty program. So when I say that we’re an omnichannel brand is that we sell through those different channels, including the dermatologist offices and met spas, which we call our professional channel. And then online retailers, like we’ve mentioned Nordstrom Dermstore or also on Amazon on our website. So my role is really handling everything that goes on through the website and making sure that we also develop our loyalty program to maintain the relationship of those customers that we’re acquiring.

– A lot of work it sounds like.

– What’s little better to you.

– Awesome, managing a lot of partnerships and yeah, that sounds awesome. So, I know you’ve had a lot of experience, you were even a consultant for a long time, I mean, I’m curious just for other marketers out there, looking for new gigs or looking for where to work or what their next move should be really curious just like how you got into it and what yeah, how you got to switch to Colorescience or what kind of made you make that switch.

– Yeah, so I started my career in marketing on the agency side and I was working on display advertising as well as SEOs. So understanding the media buying process was really helpful in the foundations. Then I moved to the organic side, and understanding that environment was also really formative and educational on understanding the whole digital ecosystem. We can have paid media strategy, but making sure that the organic strategy is also so on par. So, I did start within the agency world, and that was a tremendous experience it’s very fast paced, everyone goes a million miles an hour with a million different clients and I feel that this really taught me a lot in a short amount of time. Because you work on so many different clients and can do so many different tasks. And then I moved to the brand side where I first worked at kiddo bar Mexican restaurant chain and then moved over to FTD, a flower delivery company before arriving at Colorescience. And it’s completely a different environment of course, being on the brand side versus the agency side, but if I could give anyone an advice is really to experience both and see which one fits better for that time in their career.

– Yeah, great tip. As an agency, that’s part of our interview process even. When people are coming from brand side, like, are you sure you wanna do a agency life? Are you yeah, are you prepared for it? And vice versa, sometimes we believe agency life to go brand side, both have their pros and cons for different challenges. Yeah, yeah, but that’s awesome. So yeah, I mean, so.

– Oh, sorry, if I may add, I feel that on the agency side, you’re really able to become a subject matter expert within that field that you’re in and on the brand side, you can play with a lot of different channels. So it’s owning all of acquisition marketing so you’re not only focusing on paid social or on paid search, you’re really overseeing the whole ecosystem. And on the agency side, you become an expert about what is the media buying process and understanding how all of this works helps in building an overall media strategy.

– Agreed, yeah, you’ve already become a growth hacker in terms and so then therefore now you can, know better how to measure those omnichannel approaches, you’ve seen the creative approach from so many brands and things like that, know how to blend that, and take that over to what you’re doing now, so yeah, couldn’t agree more, that’s awesome. So, you’re doing partnerships, you’re managing your own channels, you’re in charge of the website, all this stuff. I’m super curious just how you define success at the company, obviously sales and growth and all those things are super important, but yeah. Curious how you’re finding success and how you’re measuring that these days.

– Yeah, so at Colorescience, we measure success by the number of lives that we’ve protected through skin cancer prevention and sun safety for all. Our motto is to do good, have fun, and make a difference. And we really incorporate that into everything we do in our journey against skincare prevention. But in terms of eCommerce metrics, we look at, of course we look at revenue, average order value, but also our new customer rate. Are we really able to introduce our brand to new customers? Also looking at loyalty signups, we see in the data that our loyalty members are so valuable, they’re more engaged, they purchase more, they buy more often and they really trust the brand. So how can we acquire more into our loyalty program? We also look at our repurchase rates. So looking at our existing customers, are we also within that loyalty components as well? Are we able to reengage them to have them purchase again? And we also look at return rates, if something is not working, we keep a close eye on our returns and understanding what is the reason? Is it the product that didn’t fit this person and why? And then making sure that we can adapt then acquisition and look alike audiences according to that.

– A lot of levers in between each one of those steps.

– Yes, indeed. It’s finding the right balance and I think also within targeting is making sure that we don’t end up in the rabbit hole of targeting so much that then our targets become obsolete. So opening up the targets a little bit more where we’ve become a bit too narrow.

– Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Curious, as you mentioned, you are focusing on average order value, you are focusing on retention, and you know that these customers become a customer for a long time. Does that impact, sort of that initial growth of customer acquisition? Because we know that this average person will stay with us for X amount of months or X amount of years or spend a lot more with us than that initial cart?

– Well, we test everything. We just test our way into all the implementations and the optimizations that we implement. We really never feel like our gut feeling, we listen to our gut feeling but we wanna test everything. For example, we implemented a shipping threshold earlier this year. We used to offer free shipping, but now we offer it with a minimum purchase order because we found there were some. Being a smaller company, when I first arrived at the company, we didn’t even have a fraud solution. And so our website was used for a lot of car testing. So, not only did we implement a fraud solution, but also implementing this shipping threshold and ensure that some customers that were trying to cheat the system couldn’t, but we also could offer a faster shipping experience for our loyal customers. So, we test everything.

– Love that, so, listen to your gut, test, test, test, but pay attention to the data. Super curious on that note, because shipping is always sort of a hot topic and I’m sure that, maybe that impacted, I’m assuming, I would love to hear from you sort of what it ended up happening, but I’m assuming getting rid of free shipping probably negatively impacted conversion rate a little bit, but maybe helped increase average order value because you sort of put that new threshold on there, or how did that end up yeah, working and do you feel like making that switch was beneficial?

– Yeah, so we did measure conversion rate, we measured AOV and also inquiries to our customer service team to see if we got any complaints from customer and monitoring our NPS score and reviews. So, we actually noticed that it didn’t impact conversion rate, but it did boost AOV by quite a bit. So that’s why we felt really confident in launching it, we tested it for several weeks to make sure that we were sure of the data, and thankfully it was really all positive. It wasn’t a leap of faith when we implemented this threshold.

– That’s awesome, that’s a very, very great point. So, paying very close attention to NPS scores, paying attention to customers, really good one, ’cause yeah, that’s who’s the most important at the end of the day, but yeah. Unbelievable it didn’t impact conversion rates that’s awesome, but only had the positive impact of increasing average order value win, win there. That’s awesome. So, would love to know just what you would consider to be your biggest success so far, could be more than one, and just if you’ve had any specific breakthroughs could be in the last year, couple years, yeah. I would love to hear more about that.

– Yeah, so, we’ve had a few, just earlier this week we launched a new product, the expansion of our total eye collection, which is one of our best selling products. We launched an eye cream for the nighttime, which helps fight dark circles, puffiness and also fine lines, and it’s quite revolutionary. I love this product, it’s one of my favorite and we launched it on Monday, so that was a big launch for us. And earlier this year also, this summer just before the summer, we launched a new version of our liquid mineral sunscreen of the facial collection called FLEX. What’s magical about this product is that, it’s the way that it’s formulated with, so, it comes out white. When you think about mineral sunscreen, it comes out white. But there’s encapsulated iron oxides with color in it, that blooms as you apply it and then matches your skin tone. So it comes in four different shades and this product really took off and has been our best seller since launch, so, that was a big success that we’re very happy with. And then in terms of an e-comm success that we’ve had is doing a migration to Shopify. We used to be on a custom platform and we decided that we needed a platform that was able to scale further. We’re a growth brand, we have really aggressive growth goal year over year, and we needed a platform that could also scale with us without requiring such heavy development resources and just time consuming of on the management of the site. So, we started this project at the beginning of 2020, and it was a very quick six months project where, so, we did everything expedited, migrated the platform and we launched in July last year and we’ve seen tremendous growth since moving to Shopify. Like I’ve mentioned we’re a growth brand, so, we continue to increase our traffic to our site every year. And we were also able to increase our conversion rate by over 20%. Which was really significant, especially when you think about getting an increased traffic to your site, not all the traffic has qualified so, you would expect conversion rate to decline and that wouldn’t necessarily be concerning. But seeing those traffic and conversion rate gains, especially on mobile was incredible. And since the migration we’ve also been able to implement a lot of enhancements, for example, adding other payment methods, letting customers save products as their favorites or adding a product recommendation quiz or also in adding package insurance. So all those plugins were very, I would say much quicker to implement on Shopify, thanks to all the plugins. Those are just for as a frame of reference, to implement payment option in installments with after pay. We worked on this for I think eight months on our custom site and we’re still not able to have it quite right, and on Shopify was the click of a button.

– Sounds about right. Yep, sounds about right, that’s yeah. That’s amazing that you have the increase in conversion rate, unbelievable. That’s very encouraging for I’m sure, anyone thinking about switching because it’s a very daunting task. And then yeah, like you said, even if the switching cost is high through development work and all sorts of things like that, the amount that you save, if all we’re talking about is dollars, forget all the other benefits is massive because any change you wanna make any, yeah. Anything like any customization takes hours and hours and hours, thousands and thousands of dollars, and to your point, speed is, right? Money loves speed, and so if it’s gonna take us eight months to put Afterpay and it still doesn’t work that doesn’t help the brand at all.

– Exactly, exactly. So we’ve been really happy with the flexibility that the platform provided. We’re able to manage the site, we don’t have to rely on our agency partner in order to update the content of a page. We can do everything ourselves and it’s made us a lot more efficient and allowed our agency partner to really focus on what’s gonna drive growth on enhancements that are really gonna drive growth.

– I love that, and so when you made the switch, ’cause I’m curious, ’cause I think a lot of brands are thinking about this or are nervous to do this, I’m curious, especially ’cause you said you had that positive impact on conversion rate. I’m curious on two things, one, when you made that switch was the website completely kept the same? Did you keep the same look and feel in all of those kinds of things or did you update that? ‘Cause I feel like that’s something a lot of people feel like, oh I’ve gotta make this new website, and sometimes that can negatively impact conversion rates. If that new look and feel or navigation hasn’t been tested. And then two, I’m also curious just what you feel like was the thing that allowed you to positively impact your conversion rate with the switch?

– Yeah, that’s a great question. So, to answer your first one about keeping the design on the website the same versus redesigning it with the migration, we decided to keep it exactly the same to do really a copy of our custom website on the website on the custom platform, not to introduce another variant that could impact the KPI lift or decline. If we’re seeing that the conversion rate was increasing, we wouldn’t have known if it was the new platform or if it was the design. So we decided to really take it one step at a time, just switch platform with the exact same design and then making enhancements, once we were sure that the new platform was stable and already performing better than the old one. And your second question about what drove the increase in conversion rate? I think it’s truly, I mean, Shopify excels on mobile, the mobile experience, especially the mobile checkout. I think that the mobile checkout had a big part in this lift. We had mirrored our custom checkout on Shopify, but of course the speed is not always there and you’re trying your best, but it’s difficult to replicate what Shopify is doing. And so, we get 80% percent of traffic from mobile. So, when you think about it, that’s 8/10 people visiting your site from a mobile device. So, our goal was really to increase our conversion rate on mobile, even by a couple of percentage points that would help us drive a tremendous amount of growth, given the traffic clips that we got.

– Love that, so, very important point conversion rate optimization tip 101, right? Just to introduce as least as variables as you can, to make sure that you know that it’s measurable and that change yeah, whether it had a positive or negative effect either way, you know it and then also pay attention to mobile. I would say 90% of our listener base, 90% of brands out there, majority of traffic is on mobile. If you’re paying for advertising, mobile traffic is sort of king there. And so yeah, very important to pay attention to that. Feel like a lot of us forget, right? And lose that point, right? ‘Cause we’re on our computers, we’re testing everything on our computers, we’re working on our computers. That’s what we look at our website and we forget. We had a client recently switch platforms, and when they made that switch, they didn’t even realize their checkout process on an autofill. If you autofilled anything, it didn’t work. it wouldn’t allow people to go to the next stage. and so that was like this big bug that didn’t even get noticed ’cause everyone was focused on the front end, not even going into the checkout process, so yeah. Very good point and things that everyone should be paying attention to and thinking about.

– And I think it also to your point, it takes a village to maintain a website. We tend to have our entire team really involved also in the website process and having them test on their own devices, we tell them don’t test from your desktop, we have this covered already, just really test from your tablet or from your mobile. And making sure that there’s no typos across the site, that all the content is accurate, but also the functionalities are working. So anytime that there’s an update to be made, I’m notified and we make the changes and at least it really feels like it’s an entire team effort.

– I love that, yep. I recently got the new Samsung Fold and both dimensions of the front and the inside are not traditional mobile at all. And so I’m obsessively checking all these websites all the time. So I’m like, do you have a responsive website that’s just gonna work, or is it just gonna get all jacked up? Because I have the weirdest dimension screen now. So, very good point to have multiple, as many people as you can test it out, ’cause everyone’s got a different phone or ear phone or operating system, you name it so yeah, love that. So we’d love to hear just what are maybe two or three of the biggest growth levers that you’ve pulled for the business. I know we talked about Shopify and the switch there and I know that’s a massive one, if there’s other things on that, feel free to touch on it, but yeah, would love to know just some of the biggest growth levers you’re pulling. I know you’re talking about a lot of things that you’re doing between the partnerships with retailers, subscription services, all those kinds of things, yeah. I’m curious and just kind of the results and why you think maybe they were so successful.

– Yeah, so a focus that we had earlier this year was really improve our loyalty program and encourage the engagement of our loyalty members. Drive the value of the program and making sure that they remain engaged throughout the year with our brand. So, we are in the process of redesigning the pages, it’s almost ready, the pages to manage customers accounts. So, that should be launching in the next month or so hopefully. And so, the goal here is we had redesigned it after launching on Shopify actually, no, sorry, just before launching on Shopify, we had redesigned the pages with information that we thought was helpful, that was a brainstorm within the marketing team and that’s it. But then few months later, we did working sessions with different team members that were not in marketing and seeing if they could navigate the account pages and realized that a lot of the intentions that we had did not translate in the design. Where our team members did not even know how to redeem points or how to look for coupons. And so we redesigned it in a way that would help them understand the program, how everything works. And so, we did some usability testing with the new design which seems to be translating our goals a lot better than the previous design, so, we have high hopes for this. It’s not a growth lever that we’ve already pulled, but that’s something that we have that’s coming in the next month. And then in terms of another growth factor is really product innovation. We have our research and development team and our product marketing team are really working hard to make sure that we understand what is out there in the market? And what are the gaps that we can fill given our uniqueness. Given the uniqueness of our products, and our expertise in sun prevention. So, we are also overall high quality premium skincare. So, we have some really exciting products coming next year that I can’t reveal any secret, but it’s gonna be really exciting.

– That sounds very exciting. So, I’m curious in the new product launch, and I know you did a recent product launch this month and are continuously innovating. Where do you make those decisions? How do you decide on sort of that next product or next line to be working on? I know you said some things are maybe clearer than others, ’cause it’s like, hey, we already have this line, it’s doing well, maybe we see some product advancement or some innovation we can make here, maybe that’s a little clearer, you know, are you a listening to customers? Are you looking at gaps in the marketplace? really curious. ‘Cause I think a lot of brands are always trying to figure out maybe the next product, but sometimes struggle with that. And I know you guys are launching lots of products innovating very fast, so yeah, would love to learn from that.

– Yeah, so I would say it’s all of the above. We look at what are the gaps in the marketplace? Places where we can insert our brand, but also listening to our customers, what do they want? If we have a winning line of skincare products that we see that some customers would like a product a little bit different. We take that into account and then make the decisions this way. We listen to what they have to say, not only developing new products, but also in addressing existing ones. We discovered that one of our products had a pump issue not a pump, but the brush activation issue where the powder was not coming out of the brush. So we’ve reworked that component to ensure that our customers feel heard that this was a concern they had, that was preventing them from purchasing again. So we are fixing the gaps, the roadblocks that they’re encountering.

– Love that, and how are you, I guess, paying attention to that information from customers? I know you mentioned NPS scores, but I feel like this sometimes is a hard one for brands as well, they’re not sure like, how do I find out a survey to my customers? Do I, yeah, I’m really curious just how you’re coming up with that.

– Yeah, so, we do look at our NPS score, but also the product reviews. Some customers are very helpful in actually describing what the problem is that they have with the product as well as the inquiries to our customer service team and on social as well. So we reason across all the platform where we have interaction with customers and when something is related to a product, we aggregate everything into one place and then review this as a team on a regular basis.

– I love that.

– And we also do some surveys. We send surveys to our tough customers, especially our loyalty members and asking them, what do they want? What would they like to see from our brand? A specific product line extension, or brand new product? We wanna hear what they would want that would make them shop with us even more, and really remain loyal to our brand and we act on that.

– That makes a lot of sense. And I love that you’re sharing it with the team. I feel like that can harness just a lot, right? A lot of ideas from other team members and someone who’s maybe not even a part of the marketing team or a part of the sales sorry, the product team or something like that, right? And maybe they have a great idea or some suggestion, I love that. I think that’s really important that maybe we probably keep those things hidden sometimes. Oh no, we gotta some bad reviews, I don’t wanna to tell anybody, but sometimes those reviews can be the very fruitful information that you needed to make a few adjustments, like you said, maybe adjustment to the brush or have you to really just make the product that much better or launch a new product or etcetera.

– Exactly, and it’s especially important I think, to have that team collaboration, particularly in this remote environment that we’re in. Where it’s very easy to work in silo and just stay in your lane. Like I mentioned at the start, small, but mighty team and everyone wears many different hats. So it’s really important to make sure that we have this same collaboration and get everyone’s input.

– Love that, yep, and it’s probably, more companies are going more and more remote and not going back, so yeah. Great tip to just, be covering that stuff, talking about that stuff as many interesting ways as we can collaborate together, very important.

– Exactly.

– So I’d love to know, I know we’re talking a lot about success and a lot of growth levers would love to also just hear about maybe some of the mistakes you’ve made along the way, maybe any missteps that have happened, maybe hard lessons learned, or landmines that you’ve had to step on, or yeah, just in general maybe. What kind of mistakes have been made and that our audience could benefit from hearing about?

– Yeah, I guess I can tell you the most recent one that was a couple weeks ago, where we launched an enhancements on the website and the mistake was not communicating clearly with all the stakeholders involved. We had worked on this project for several months, it was almost ready to go and we launched it without necessarily notifying all the teams, which left some of the teams scrambling in order to fix the last minute issue that they noticed. And we could have prevented that by just making sure everyone is aligned. Of course, when everyone is in an office, it’s easier to just pop in and say, are we good to go? And while being remote, like I’ve mentioned, it’s easier to be in silo and forget about those other team members that the project could impact. So, we’ve definitely learned from that built a new process around launching enhancements and making sure everyone is on board and aware when we have a clear ETA for launch, to prevent just having, creating some more stress for a team that is not necessary that we could prevent. And I think in terms of other mistakes, it’s not as silly mistakes, but more where something we tried that we didn’t really quite realize was not always going to work, was for one of our past sales last year, we noticed that some customers, a high volume of inquiries to our customer service team mentioning that the promo code was not applying for their order, and we had built it in a way that the promo code was applied automatically. So, in order so that they didn’t have to think about a promo code to copy, paste it, we really wanted to make it easy, and we noticed that some, of course, sometimes there’s one or 2% of customers for which something is not working. It’s either device or a browser, most of the time an issue. And so we really learned from that and in order to mitigate the complaints or the inquiries to our customer service team, we’ve then decided to communicate the promo code through the entire site experience even if they didn’t have to apply it, at least they saw it, and once they reached checkout, they confirmed that the promo code was applied and they got the discount that they were promised. So, that is something that we’ve then applied to our ongoing strategy and something that we continue to do for our future sales.

– Love that, great. Both of those are great suggestions. I think sometimes we lose sight of the the coupon code thing offering too many or only trying to offer it in one place, so we can track conversions from that, but then yeah. If it’s not easy or if it’s a complicated code for someone to remember to your point, a lot of customer service and queens are gonna come flying in, and yeah, I love that. That’s a great solution.

– Can you really add on that about the promo codes it’s really thinking about, again, the mobile experience. someone on mobile is not necessarily going to remember a promo code they saw on the homepage and they’re already five or six pages deep in your collection or product pages. And then they just wanted to start their checkout they don’t want to go back to the homepage to try to see how to copy the promo code from mobile, which is never easy. So, just thinking about making the user experience as easy and seamless as possible, maybe it’s a tap to copy your promo code, to then paste it on checkout, or just have applying the promo code right away, just making it easier and requiring less steps from users to ease the path to conversion.

– I love that, that is a common issue that we have on the advertising side, right? Especially coming from like a Facebook ad or an Instagram ad or something like that. There’s no way to copy and paste a coupon code from there, and you’re sort of reliant on them remembering and summer 10, sure, maybe that’s easy to remember, but if it’s a little bit more specific or maybe product specific, no one’s gonna remember. So probably another win for Shopify as well, easier implementation of applying coupon codes automatically and all those kinds of things, you can automatically add them to your URL and all sorts of things that may or may not have had that ability before on the custom site or had to have paid a lot of money in order to build that.

– Exactly.

– So I’m curious, so we know that, you made the switch to Shopify, it positively impacted your conversion rate, which is incredible. And it sounds like you’re paying very close attention to your store conversion rate, I’m curious. So, how high of a priority is CRO for your business? Are you AB testing things on the website? And I’m curious sort of what was maybe one thing that you’ve done, to lift up your conversion rate? Maybe more recently or since the Shopify migration?

– Yeah, so like I’ve mentioned, we’re always testing, so we always have some tests going on, whether it is the color of a button or do we show a product image versus a model image, do we feature our loyalty program on the homepage? Where on the homepage, is it the most impactful? So, we always test all of these enhancements and assumptions. We kind of make assumptions on the site and then build test around it and hypothesis. In terms of something that we’ve implemented that works really well was the product recommendation quiz. We launched it this summer and we had, I mean, first building those quizzes is already a giant undertaking on its own, just the whole mapping is a whole, whole beast. But we really noticed that customers that go through the quiz have a much higher AOV, much higher conversion rate, and some of that is self-selected. Because someone who’s going to go through your product recommender is already interested in buying and curious about what is right for them, but the lift that we saw is significant. The one challenge that we have with this quiz is having people go through the flow. So, we only saw that only a fraction of the traffic is going through it, so now we’re testing different techniques to see if we can have more increase the percentage of traffic that goes through the quiz in order to see if we can live the overall conversion rate.

– Love that, that’s one of the ultimate tools that you can have in your tool belt, right? You’re not only personalization for the individual, and product recommendation, which is super important, helping me make my decision and relieving me of any barriers or any confusion I may have on which product I should purchase, but then you’re also getting that first party data, right? That understanding of who is my audience? What is the age range? What are they looking for? What are the unique selling points or the barriers to entry that I should be focusing on? Very important and relevant data that you can utilize, across society, across advertising, across your creative, etc, to really just bring those points home, right? I think that’s super important data. That you can act on very quickly, maybe even adding those benefits to the product pages, if they weren’t already there, ’cause you’re realizing, oh wow, lots of people are worried about whatever it is. Bags under their eyes a very easy example, but anything like that, right? I feel like that’s really awesome.

– Yeah and absolutely. This has been really instrumental for our brand because our products are a little bit more complex. It’s, you’re not thinking about skincare that you can buy in a grocery store. It’s really professional skincare which is, it’s a premium skincare brand. It’s higher price point, but you also, you get what you pay for. So translating all the technology and the science that we put into our product is sometimes difficult to communicate on a product page or on a static banner. So, having this quiz really helps customer understand what are the true benefits of the product? What am I paying for essentially?

– Yep, and sometimes putting them through a few extra steps actually saves them a lot of time.

– As an end result, yeah. And I think a lot of us forget that sometimes as we just wanna navigate quickly and find the answer quickly, but actually this personalization tool can help me make my decision a lot easier. Alleviate any frustration of being overwhelmed by too many things that I don’t know if it’s the right fit for me or my age or my skin, etc.

– Exactly.

– So I’m curious, what excites you the most in the year ahead? 2022 is right around the corner, Q4s is here, so I’m really curious, just what excites you the most of the year ahead, either e-comm industry, or within your own marketing, or even within the brand.

– Yeah, so I think it’s this depreciation of the cookie is I don’t know that, I would call it exciting, but it’s something we’re getting ready for. Thankfully, Google gave us the gracious gift of delaying the depreciation of the cookie, so we have a little bit more time, but really, and we know that there’s no solution right now in order to ensure that we’ll have a great customer experience. So, I will say it’s adapting to those privacy updates and the depreciation of the cookie is what we’re gonna be focusing on next year and really capitalizing on retention. We have a lot of customer data making this data actionable and capitalizing on our existing customer that we’ve worked hard to acquire, making sure we continue to engage them. And that is through a loyalty program, a subscription program, and making sure that they continue coming back and are continuing to be happy with the experience they have with our brand.

– I love that, and that’s a lot easier when you know that you’re making a great product and you have something that people need, I mean, that retention piece is super important and that’s great. I mean, that’s a great place to focus and exciting difficult problem, but exciting problem to solve.

– Yeah, I would like that, that’s also why, I mean, I love digital marketing because it’s such a fluid environment. You always have to challenge the status quo, seeing what you can do better, it’s always moving. And even if we have those challenges, whether it be an algorithm update or a privacy update or no more cookies, it really keeps you on your toes and making sure that you stay on top of your game no matter what.

– That’s right, we internally sort of always say, we’re reinventing our entire business model every six months, even though we’re not, we’re not making that drastic of a change, but it feels that way sometimes. So I mean, you brought it up, the cookies are gonna disappear, right? And this is something is top of mind for all of us marketers, I’m curious. What challenges sort of will this pose for the business, and how are you thinking about overcoming these challenges, going into next year, like you said, trying to tackle these challenges?

– Yeah, so, well, the privacy update was already quite a hit that we saw that rolled out in May from Apple’s privacy update and the effect from that was gradual. So, we’re really starting to see it in our new customer rate acquisition that has been on a downward trend since May unfortunately. So, with that, we’ve been implementing some, what Facebook recommended, for example, the Facebook conversion API, or we also started testing Pinterest. so we’re diversifying our medium mix, making sure that the tagging process is really optimized that we don’t rely so much on cookies. And then, in terms of the cookie depreciation, I think no one has the answer, we don’t know how we’ll make sure that the advertising experience is optimized. How can we control frequency? How can we control that? We deliver duplicated reach. These are all questions that don’t have an answer yet, and I think it’s up to all marketers to test and learn our way into it, and certainly leverage the first party data that we own making it actionable and really capitalizing retention.

– Love that first party data, very important looks like you’re using attentive for even grabbing SMS now. So I’m sure that’s a big part of the strategy, just like you said, having the customer data and first party data so that you can, yeah. So we can at least try to own as much information and data as we can and measure as much as we can, yeah, love that.

– The reality is, that seeing those updates can be scary and it can be discouraging that when you were on a growth pass, that your growth is being slowed down or even starting to go downwards, but the reality is that we knew these updates were coming. I’m personally from France, so there’s GDPR. so privacy is really at the forefront and we knew that those updates were coming. I think we were lucky that it lasted as long as it did. We’re lucky that the IUS update did not hit us when our in-store sales were zero last year during the pandemic. So, we really capitalized on the opportunity to reach a large audience at a really efficient cost. And now this is the new normal that we have to adapt to and just shift the strategy accordingly.

– Great attitude to life as well, just be appreciative of what we’ve had we knew it was coming, like you said, we’ve had it longer than most so just be thankful for what we’ve had and all we can do is move on from here.

– Amen.

– So I’m curious what role is creative and content production gonna play for the business, for Q4 and also kind of going into 2022?

– Yeah, so I mean, creative is very important to us of course, I think that we’re leveraging a lot of partners to create different iteration of the creative that we want to test. I think this is something that we have a lot of opportunities to scale within Colorescience because our creative team serves a lot of different channels. And so being able to have channel specific content, we tried several months ago to test our Facebook and interest creative into TikTok and did not resonate at all, did not work at all. So, it doesn’t mean that the channel doesn’t work for us, it means that the creative strategy that we had was not adequate for that channel. And I think that people now navigate so much between channels. You don’t necessarily want to repeat the same message with the same creative so many times. There’s a point where you’re gonna get creative fatigue and your message is not gonna come across, so, having channel specific creative is very important, but with that also comes a significant investment. So, its seeing, does it make sense for your brand to invest in additional creative, really drive the growth that you’re expecting? But unfortunately it’s a fine line to balance. It’s do you want to invest with better creative, but taking a risk or a leap of faith? Or continuing this way would just one size fits all which we know, doesn’t necessarily work anymore.

– I love that, that makes a lot of sense. And I think few things that we’ve talked about sort of blend itself into that. Because as you’re talking about, it’s a great point. I think a lot of us lose site, or very easily say, hey, I’ve already created this Instagram story content so it’s very easy for me to upload into Snapchat or TikTok because it’s the same format. But to your point, what I wanna watch on Instagram stories may not be what I want, or expect to consume on TikTok or Snapchat. And so you can’t just say, oh, TikTok, doesn’t work for us because we tried the same ads that are working for us on Instagram stories and it’s not working, and that’s a great point. But then to your other point, now, I’m trying to make the decision of where to diversify, I’m trying to figure out, if I should go to Pinterest, or if I should go to Snapchat. I think that’s another really great point where if you’re able to get any of that, first party data, if you’re able to find out any of that information about your current customer, where you do have that quiz and you are pulling some of that data, or you are running customer surveys, you can find out. Hey, a large part of our audience is younger, and so, Snapchat and TikTok is where they are. And we could actually get better results there than Instagram stories potentially because lower CPMs. We just need to test enough creative to find out what is the winning creative to have success here. But not avoid it like you’re saying, maybe not stretch yourself too thin if it doesn’t make sense because we all know creating creative is always difficult and coming up with that takes time and resources. So, yeah, that’s a great tip to make sure that you’re leveraging what you have in your tool belt, but also making decisions appropriately based off of data. And as you said before, your gut. I feel like a lot of times we’re also not trusting our gut. We need to go with our gut at the same time.

– Absolutely, yes. Once your brain starts kicking in, don’t listen to that anymore. It’s really the gut feeling that happens within the first five seconds.

– Yeah, no, exactly. We trust our lungs to breathe for us and we trust our heart to beat for us, but sometimes we don’t trust our own mind, to tell us where to go, the next thing, so love that.

– And I would say to make sure that you leave enough time for testing. The examples that we have with TikTok, we only tried it for a month or two and then stopped it just because we were really focused on return on ad spend which when you’re testing a new channel, it’s not necessarily the right approach to have just because when you launch a new channel, efficiency is not quite there, the campaigns and the algorithm having that time to scale and to learn the performance. And maybe it is also that the product mix you’re pushing on one channel versus another needs to be different. Maybe the audience in Facebook is older and it will be more geared towards treatments that give really a youthful skin. Whereas a Snapchat or a TikTok, we could push lower price products where the consumer is younger and more price sensitive. So it’s making sure that you adapt your product to the right channel also and to the right audience.

– Very, very good suggestion absolutely, spot on. So, I know we’re in Q4, I’ve already appreciated all the time and wonderful things you’ve provided our audience maybe in just kind of a last ending, we’d love to just hear maybe any advice you’d give other marketers out there and other brands out there, sort of trying to break a ceiling that they’ve maybe, struggled to get through. Whether that’s, 1 million, 5 million, 10 million really curious as you’ve been able to grow and scale as you have. Yeah, would just love to, as an ending tip here, any advice you’d give them?

– I will say, test, test, test, test your way into everything. Not only leveraging the marketing team, but also people across the organization that don’t necessarily have this marketing eye because their input can be so valuable. And so making sure that you look at also, what are other brands doing? Not necessarily to copy, but to take what’s good and then apply it to your brand if applicable. And testing it of course, to see if it works for your brand. But I think testing is the best way. Whether it’s channel, whether it’s within CRO, making sure that everything is tested and that you also have the right measurements in place to be able to measure the effectiveness of it. If you have a KPI that you end up not being able to gather the data for, that’s not something that’s gonna be actionable. So making sure that your testing plan is really well laid out with what is the hypothesis? what is the test design and what are the KPIs that you’re going to measure? Making sure that all those measurements are actually coming through accurately.

– Very, very valuable insight. Testing, super important, but don’t just test for the sake of testing, pay attention, have those KPIs in line, Don’t be afraid to fail, and listen to your gut.

– Yes, there’s some tests that we’ve run that we were sure convinced that we even to bets that the one version was gonna win and it didn’t. And no matter how long I left it running, it just never won. So that just proves that, what we think will work, doesn’t always work. So, make sure you test it first.

– We’ve all been there, the prettier design does not always win.

– Yes, exactly.

– Well Margaux, I really appreciate the time, if anyone wants to reach out to you, or get in touch with you, is there a good channel or a good way for them to connect with you?

– Yeah, on LinkedIn, you can find me on LinkedIn, under Margaux Vallino Reese.

– Awesome, and I appreciate the time everyone check out Colorescience, it’s colorescience.com Awesome, awesome brand, doing super innovative things. Margaux again, I super appreciate the time and the valuable tips and tricks and hacks that you’ve given our audience. Good luck in the rest of Q4, and I wish you the most success going into 2022, and thank you so much for being on the podcast.

– Thank you so much, Samir, and take good care.

– You as well. Samir ElKamouny here, thank you so much for listening to eCom Growth Leaders Podcast. If you are a successful brand that is crushing it and would like to be on this program, please visit go.ecomgrowthleaders.com/podcast-guest. If you got something out of this interview, please share this episode on social media. Let’s do a quick screenshot with your phone and text it to a friend or post it on social. E-com growth leaders is sponsored by Fetch and Funnel, a performance marketing agency, specializing in omnichannel media buying, creative production and conversion optimization. We’ve partnered with 100 plus brands and generated over 500 million for clients using our trademarked Fetch and Funnel method. We have tons of content at our blog fetchfunnel.com/blog, and also some amazing eBooks like “How to Crush Your Competitors” and “How to Produce High Converting Creative”. Thanks again for listening to e-comm growth leaders, we are regularly putting out new episodes and content. So to make sure you don’t miss any episodes, go ahead and subscribe. Your thumbs up ratings and reviews go a long way to help promote the show, and it means a lot to me and my team. Wanna know more? Go to our website, fetchfunnel.com or follow us on social. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

 

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