How Brilliant Earth Uses Data to Grow its Fine Jewelry Sales
Chelsea: Hi Kim, it is so great to be here with you today. Thank you for joining us.
Kim: Of course. Thank you so much for having me.
Chelsea: Yeah, would love to know if you could just explain a little bit more about your role at Brilliant Earth.
Kim: Of course. So I am the email marketing manager at Brilliant Earth and Brilliant Earth is an innovative digital first fine jewelry company and we're really a global leader in the ethical fine jewelry market. We focus on millennial and Gen Z audience. Really just love targeting to those people. We know that they're shopping digital first, but online channel is super important. So that's where my role comes into play and getting people into that newsletter flow and really just starting to drive them to site.
Chelsea: Great. So you touched on this a little bit with what you just said, but as the email marketing manager, how do you use email, of course to drive revenue in sales, but what else has it achieved for your business?
Kim: So for our business in particular, we've found that email is really a first way in for so many of our users. So it's really that next step if they've been following us on social media and then they opt into our newsletter program. That's them specifically saying, hey, I'm interested you in welcoming you into my inbox and trusting you to tell me what you think I'm going to be most interested in. So we take that job really seriously and really want to make sure that we're targeting those people with the messages that we think will be most relevant to them. So whether that is a weekly blast about our new fine jewelry arrivals or targeting them with create your own engagement ring content, we really want to be telling that brand story. So of course, the pieces are really important, but also our mission in giving back is super important to the Brilliant Earth brand.
Chelsea: That's fantastic. And you mention everything from customer acquisition to making sure that you are messaging properly to those customers that you've acquired. That's all a huge part of relationship marketing. And so when we talk about customer acquisition, how does Brilliant Earth approach that?
Kim: Yeah, we approach it in a couple of different ways. Omnichannel is obviously super important to us and especially because our target market is that Gen Z and millennial audience. So we know that they're really living their lives online. So if they're following us on social media, we want to make sure that we're giving them an easy pathway to join that newsletter audience. So creating links to add to our Linkedin bios, they can click through and find us. If they are visiting us in a showroom, we create QR codes that they can scan in that showroom and automatically be added to our list. Simple as that. And then our biggest acquisition strategy is our popup on our site. So people when they're visiting brilliantearth. com for the first time get that popup and are able to enter their email address and a couple of first party data pieces for us, and then we can start targeting them with relevant content.
Chelsea: That's great. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about this popup strategy and what kinds of data are you collecting. And then once you've collected it, how are you using it?
Kim: Absolutely. So for Brilliant Earth, the three categories that our business focuses most on are engagement rings, wedding rings, and fine jewelry. And those audiences can be pretty diverse in what they're looking for. If you have already purchased an engagement ring, chances are you're not coming back and looking to get more engagement ring content. So straight out of the gate we are asking those questions of our audience. When you get that popup, we're saying, " Hey, are you interested in engagement rings, wedding rings, fine jewelry." And once they select one or multiple of those answers on the back end on the Sailthru side can append a custom variable to their profile that marks what they're most interested in. And then immediately we can start sending them down customized journeys that are relevant to that piece of content so that we know that we're hitting them with that message that makes the most sense to them in their life cycle moment.
Chelsea: That's all a big part of relationship marketing. Can you talk a little bit more specifically about how Sailthru is helping you to keep your customers engaged?
Kim: Absolutely. So as I mentioned before, those custom variables on user's profiles are really, really important to us. Not only do we use them for the content that they're most interested in, but we can also mark variables on their profile as to when they last engaged with us. And we use those in a lot of different ways, but mostly we use them for lifecycle optimizer flows. So we're hitting those people with a welcome flow as soon as they sign up. We also have browse abandonment flows, card abandonment flows, really making sure that we're touching all of those key lifecycle moments and Sailthru really just makes that so easy with their visual editors. It's such a great tool and easy to use.
Chelsea: That's great to hear. Now in addition to Sailthru, you've done some experimenting with Liveclicker as well. How are you using Liveclicker to really create that active and engaging experience?
Kim: Absolutely. Liveclicker is such a fun tool. We've really been using it to get our audience to engage with us more in our newsletters. So one of my favorite ways that we have been using it lately is we introduced a live poll in newsletters. So we did sort of this or that sort of piggybacking off of our Instagram content and we did a this or that earrings story. So users could go into the email. They could click whether they liked a hoop or a huggy, a stud or a halo style and the poll updated in real time. So not only are users seeing, hey, this is really fun and engaging, I can see the way that the pull numbers change when I click my answer, but it's also giving us really great information on the back end. And again, we can use those custom variables to say, okay, this user is specifically interested in huggy earrings. Now we can send them a content based on that huggy earring style.
Chelsea: That's awesome. Especially as a woman who loves to shop for jewelry. And I think your jewelry is beautiful.
Kim: Thank you so much. Yes.
Chelsea: So when you're talking about following up, based on these preferences, what role does your daily newsletter play in that customer engagement strategy?
Kim: Yeah, absolutely. Our daily newsletter is hugely important for us in our customer retention. So obviously we have all of those life cycle moments and that's great, but the daily newsletter is the place that we can really get creative and start finding moments to really key into what the user is interested in. So we can build daily newsletters that introduce a new collection or highlight specific pieces of jewelry. And then when those users start to engage with those pieces, again, they're just giving us little breadcrumbs of what they're interested in. And ultimately that all leads to just more data that we can build their profiles on and know what they're actually interested in so that we can become more targeted and more specific to that user.
Chelsea: When we're talking about your newsletter, what's the scale here? I mean, how many people do you have? How many subscribers? Who are we talking to?
Kim: Right now, our newsletter database is about 1. 8 million users total. We see about 600K of that really being actively engaged with us on a monthly basis. And that's super exciting. We're seeing those numbers just continue to tick up and we love that people are getting so excited about the brand.
Chelsea: And what I think is really cool about this story is that you are engaging them in these very customized ways. And yet, because you're such a high end brand, as I understand it, you don't really even send promotional emails and yet you're still seeing these increases in engagement.
Kim: Exactly. Yeah. I think it really speaks to the value that our customers find in our brand and how beautiful and authentic our pieces are. We really pride ourselves on using mostly recycled metals in our jewelry and beyond conflict free diamonds. So those are diamonds that are specifically selected for their unique beauty as well as their ethical origins.
Chelsea: Now this is really important for everyone who's listening, I want to call this out. Remember, personalization is the key to reaching your customers and you don't have to rely on these promotional campaigns to be able to draw people in.
Chelsea: Brilliant Earth is a perfect example of this. So let's keep going. Now I'm aware that you have this really cool campaign called Drop a Hint.
Chelsea: Now I'm very single, wink wink. So I haven't been dropping any hints recently. However, I'd love to know more about this campaign and how it's impacted your business.
Kim: So one thing that we've seen with our millennial and Gen Z audience when it comes to shopping, they're doing it as a couple. So it's not just one person or the other. We really see whether that's in store or on our site, they're making those buying decisions together. So what's really great about the Drop a Hint campaign is it's one more way that these users can come together and make that decision together. So for example, if I am shopping on our site and I find my perfect engagement ring, I can then send a soft nudge to my partner and say, " Hey, I love this ring. Here's the diamond I like." Maybe even include my ring size. And it's a little less heavy handed than actually just emailing them the link to the specific ring that I want. But it still feels collaborative and it takes a little bit of pressure off of that huge life altering decision. And we've seen that this campaign is really important to us and one of our highest converting campaigns.
Chelsea: Coupled with all the engagement you're doing on Sailthru's platform, we are so excited to be a partner in all of this. Now in addition to that, I understand that whether you are the suggester or you are the purchaser, then you're going and you are taking those users and kind of sending them different streams. Is that correct? And what does that look like?
Kim: Yeah, absolutely. So they're very different users. The person who is looking at the engagement ring and getting inspiration is probably different than the person who's actually making that purchase. So the way we think about that content is two different ways. The person who is sending the hint and looking at that engagement ring, we're probably going to target them with more inspirational sort of Pinterest style content. Whereas the person who is receiving the hint and probably ultimately buying the ring, we're going to target them with more tactical information. So have you thought about ring insurance? Do you know your partner's ring size? All of this stuff that goes into the buying decision that you might not think about right away.
Chelsea: And so far we've talked about three stages of relationship marketing. We talked about the first stage, acquisition with the popup on your website. Then we talked about the second stage, engagement, which Sailthru is very happy to be a partner in. And then we talked about the third stage, which is personalization. Now we're going to talk about the fourth stage of relationship marketing, which is retention. What are some of your strategies for retention?
Kim: Yeah, one of my favorite retention strategies that we are doing actually just launched this year. So we have started doing a birthday campaign so users can give us their birthday. And then during the month of their birthday, we send them a little special surprise from Brilliant Earth. And when we started sending out this campaign, we were thinking about it as a true retention strategy. So it would be going to users who already existed in our database. But what we've found also is that it's a really great acquisition tool for us. We tested this in our popup, so we tested asking for birthday information versus just a free shipping message. And what we found was that users are 16% more likely to sign up for email when we ask that birthday question. So I think it really just goes back to people are willing to give you their data when they find value in it. And we're so excited to be continuing to leverage this birthday campaign. We're seeing exponential growth in users in our base who have that birthday appended to their profile. And it's really just been a hugely successful campaign to us. We can't wait to keep scaling it. The next step for that is we are going to be launching an anniversary campaign so much in the same vein. People have anniversaries every year, especially when they're purchasing that engagement ring from us. We know that they're going to have that wedding date. Excited to keep retaining people with those custom journeys.
Chelsea: To hear that 16% of your buyers are willing to give you their email address if they know they're going to get a birthday offer. That is value exchange right there. Data in exchange for value, value exchange. Now I got a stat for you too. In our 2022 Consumer Trends Index, we saw that 86% of consumers are willing to give their data if they know that they're going to get exclusive access to content or offers. So is that something you've seen as well in addition to what we've described?
Kim: Yeah, that's great to hear. We do actually leverage exclusive content drops in email. So one of the ways that we do that is about a week before we drop a new collection, we will send an email with a live timer utilizing Liveclicker to our audience saying, hey, you are an email subscriber. We value that more than anything. You're going to get that content one day early.
Chelsea: And at this point we've really talked about the four stages of relationship marketing and it sounds like you guys are doing really great. And so speaking of revenue, a lot of D to C brands are struggling right now. There's fears of a recession. They're seeing much lower numbers when they're coming out with their earnings reports. Actually, many of them are laying off employees, but you guys on your quarter two earnings call had a record quarter. In fact, you reported 18% total growth in net sales from the same quarter last year and you doubled your net income. That's fantastic.
Chelsea: And how much of that positive movement would you say you can attribute to your omnichannel strategy?
Kim: Yeah, absolutely. I think omnichannel is so important for us, especially because we are really targeting that millennial and Gen Z audience who lives so much of their life online. And I think it really speaks to the value that they're finding in our products. So whether they are seeing us on TikTok, looking at us and shopping on Instagram or finding us in that newsletter content, really it's about driving that value. And especially with our giving back and ethical origins, we just love showing how we're excited to be that brand that consumers keep coming back to.
Chelsea: What's also impressive is that you saw a 36% increase in your total orders. So while we both know that you do have a set of showrooms all across the country, you're mostly a D to C brand. And so email really becomes that primary channel, that primary driver for getting all these messages across, like you're saying about the feel of your brand, your emphasis on sustainability, as well as all the special offers and other tactics that we talked about. So would you say that email has had a huge impact on those numbers?
Kim: Absolutely. I would say email has had a huge impact. And even when people are interacting with us in those other ways, I think email is really a key touchpoint for us to be able to target them in that sort of one to one communication and drive them back to ultimately making that purchase.
Chelsea: Well, it was awesome to see your CEO call out those efforts and basically attribute a lot of this growth to not only a strong resonance of your brand, but to a strong execution of the omnichannel strategy. So that's amazing. Kudos to you guys.
Kim: Thank you.
Chelsea: Now would love to talk a little bit about Sailthru as a platform. Is it easy to use? Do you have a favorite feature? What are some of the tactics that the platform's really giving you the opportunity to use?
Kim: Yeah, absolutely. Sailthru has been such an amazing partner for us in our email marketing channel. One of my personal favorite features is personalized send time. So we are really able to target our users based on when we know they're going to be opening and consuming that content. So we can set up a send starting at 5: 00 in the morning and end sending it at 7: 00 PM in the evening. And whenever that user is going to be in their inbox, we know that we are going to be at the top of their mind and they are going to see and interact with that content.
Chelsea: So something like a send time feature, that's incredible because it gets you in the inbox at the right time. Eyeballs on the message. And then for you as the email marketing manager, does it save you time as well, the platform? How does it make your day easier?
Kim: It makes my day totally easier. I think when you can set up a campaign to run over that send time and that you're going to be hitting users when you want, you don't have to spend as much time monitoring it because you can really trust and rely on the tool and it's so easy to set up. It's right in the campaign features. I love it.
Chelsea: Well, that's so great because we always want to hear that we're making people's lives easier and that the platform is really helping you to reach people at the right time with the right message and the right content. Now, I've got one last question for you and it's about women in technology. This is a big theme and it's something we care a lot about. And so I'm curious. I'm a woman in tech, you're a woman in tech. How does that play into your role at Brilliant Earth and how does the company approach women in tech?
Kim: Brilliant Earth is really, I think, at the forefront of that. Our founder and CEO is a woman in tech. The majority of our senior leadership are women. And I think we're really excited just to keep bringing more women into the fold. We really focus heavily on mentoring and continuing to lift up other women in our field, and I think there's a lot more that we can do, but we certainly are very focused on it and love to be thought of as a brand that is really fostering women in tech.
Chelsea: Wow, that is super great to hear that Brilliant Earth is prioritizing putting women in leadership positions and that there's this culture of mentorship and that women are getting an opportunity to grow. I love that, and it personally resonates with me, so thanks for sharing that.
Kim: Of course.
Chelsea: Well, Kim, this has been a very informative session, very tactical. I think it's going to really help everyone who's watching out there. We appreciate you joining us from Brilliant Earth and sharing some more insight on how you use Sailthru to implement these great email marketing strategies. And we hope you'll join us again one day soon.
Kim: Awesome. This was so great. Thank you for having me.
Chelsea: Thank you.
Brilliant Earth has been one of the few DTC brands that has not only met revenue expectations, but has expanded both its physical and digital footprint.
Sales saw double-digit growth in the last quarter, and the brand has opened six new showrooms for a total of 21 across the country. Known primarily as a jeweler for engagement rings, Brilliant Earth has succeeded in converting first-time recipients into long-time shoppers with careful segmenting, retention and follow-up.
Join us for an informative session to learn more about how this digitally native fine jewelry brand collects data and leans into an omni-channel strategy. Hear about Brilliant Earth’s highly successful “Drop-a-hint” digital experiences has helped acquire customers from the very first time a shopper visits the website. They take reengagement to a whole new level.
- Timing is time-tested. Brilliant Earth attributes much of its repeat business to a well-honed email cadence based on the customer’s first purchase.
- Retailers cannot ignore the power of an in-store transaction that matches the comfort and accessibility of an online shopping experience. This is particularly important for brands in the luxury space.
- Leverage content that’s designed for your various audience groups. Brilliant Earth has converted scores of first-time buyers into repeat customers who purchase for special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays, and no longer need tactical content about buying an engagement ring.