The Empowered Marketer: Customer Retention is Everything in Ecommerce



When it comes to ecommerce success metrics, customer retention is the only thing that matters to Dominic Coryell.

Coryell is the Growth Advisor at Glambot, a site for makeup lovers to buy and sell used makeup. Because the company is offering a new type of service to its customers, it can sometimes be challenging to convert new buyers. It’s Coryell’s job to make sure the company not only converts new customers, but keeps existing buyers coming back again and again.

In this exclusive interview, Coryell shares how the company:

  • Engages with a highly-coveted and active audience of makeup enthusiasts
  • Nurtures new customers to encourage a purchase
  • Focuses on customer retention and long-term customer value
  • …and much more.

Listen to Episode 3: The Empowered Marketer

Read the Interview

1. How did Glambot start? What products do you offer and why are they so fantastic?

Glambot is a marketplace for people to buy and sell gently used makeup. A lot of people raise their eyebrows when they hear that, but there’s actually a huge problem where makeup ends up in landfills. A lot of people go out and buy this expensive makeup, but maybe they change their mind or maybe it looks different in the store lighting.

Karen Horiuchi, our founder, faced this problem. She had drawers full of makeup but had no place to sell it. She didn’t want to throw it all away, so she built a site and saw there was demand for it. What she did differently was offer a sanitization service. As people got to know the makeup was all verified real and was cleaned, they became very comfortable with it. It’s just grown since then.

2. Who is your target audience at Glambot? Is this a challenging group to engage? Why or why not?

Luckily, it’s not a tough group to find because it’s just people who love makeup. The problem is it’s extremely competitive. You have really big companies with very big budgets — like Sephora and L’oreal — that have big margins on makeup. What they’re really selling is the brand.

For us, of course, we don’t have those same margins. One of the reasons people like us is that our prices are at a discount. Normally, pricing could never be a competitive advantage, but it is for us because the product is pre-owned. Our buyers are either deal seekers, or looking for specific brands. The groups are also broken down into sellers and buyers. There’s not a whole lot of crossover between people who sell and people who buy.

3. Since you’re a new ecommerce brand, how do you expand your brand awareness?

Just being a startup, we try not to really focus on brand awareness all that much because it’s very hard to measure. A lot of the vanity metrics — impressions, likes, reach, and view throughs — I don’t put as much stock in. Because Glambot has such a unique value prop, and there’s an immediate reaction when people hear about it, either, “Oh my god, that’s awesome.” Or, “Ew, used makeup.” Either way, it sticks in the mind.

The one way that we do measure brand awareness is direct site visits and conversions through direct traffic, or conversions through organic search related to brand terms, or paid search related to brand terms. That’s pretty much the extent of how we think about brand awareness. At the end of the day, it’s more about the tangible conversions or KPS, like emails, and sales, and repeat customers that we can track.

4. How do you think about new customer acquisition at Glambot? What channels have been most successful in bringing in new customers?

We really focus on micro conversions because a lot of people are not ready to buy right away. Even though they’d be ready to buy a MAC or a NARS product the first time they see it online, they might not be ready to buy a product directly from Glambot for the first time. Because of that, most of our funnels lead towards some sort of email collector. Emails are a really big deal for us.

There are three channels that we’re largely looking at. One is influencers, because if influencers have tried used makeup, that helps people get over the hump. Influencers also drive up organic search and direct site traffic as well, because people hear or they see it and they go search for it. Other channels are Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and we’re largely looking at email acquisition there. I mentioned the competitive advantage of our pricing, and it’s big for stuff like Google Adwords with product catalogs because we can show products that are cheaper without actually giving a discount.

We try, spend about 20%-30% of our time trying out new channels, and I think as most growth marketers will attest to, 90% of the stuff you try doesn’t work the first time. Where do we experiment and where do we just stick with operationalizing and optimizing? That’s the challenge.

5. What’s your team’s big marketing focus right now? Can you share a specific campaign that you’re proud of?

Right now, everything is about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The main thing that we’ve been focused on is experimenting with a viral waitlist and doing inventory hoarding to get that email list built up. So far, that’s been going really well, and I think people are really excited about Black Friday.

Typically, ads become way more expensive during this time period. Somehow, we’ve been able to get the targeting down and we’ve been acquiring emails in the sub-dollar range, which is great. Hopefully they convert, but again, the focus of our entire effort has been to build a list and open the sale. If this works, we’re going to continue to do this for other sales. Then, for campaigns in general, we want to do more nudging. We want to try to help people find products they would be more likely to enjoy and spend less time searching for onsite.

6. How do you measure success for Glambot? What metrics are the most important, in addition to the standard ROI?

We look at success based on the number of repeat purchasers. We think about loyal customers as the most successful metric, and of course, after that, we see what percentage of new customers survive and become a loyal customer after the 3-month mark. If that percentage is high, then it means that our acquisition efforts are on point. If that number is low, it means that we’re targeting the wrong audiences or there’s something wrong in the product experience.

7. How do you nurture your existing customers to buy for a second, third, or fourth time? How important is customer retention to your business model?

There’s a lot of talk about retention being the most important metric, and it really is. One of the only blogs that I really pay attention to is Reforge by Brian Balfour, just fantastic stuff. They recently published a piece about how retention is the metric that moves all other metrics, including referrals and acquisition. I couldn’t agree with that more, the problem is that there is just so few levers to pull to influence retention.

In the past historically, if people were buying again, we would say: “Let’s just give them more discounts” or “Let’s show them the products that they’ve seen before.” Those make sense, but it’s also training your customers to click on your website, wait four days, and then get a discount for the thing they want. People are amazingly intelligent when it comes to seeing patterns and things like this happen at every ecommerce store.

We suspect product recommendations around replenishment and new arrivals related to previous browsing behavior and previous purchase behavior will help with retention. Also, tying in more product marketing with influencers will help support that, and then using that in content streams. We wouldn’t be able to do any of that without the right data set triggers and tools, and that’s why we’re excited about having a CRM like Zaius. It’s a big undertaking, but hopefully it works.

8. What is Glambot planning for next year? What do you think will be most important for ecommerce success as we move into 2018?

In 2018, I think CRM-driven marketing will be big for us. This technology makes it easier for people to discover the items that they may be interested in. We have to understand that the buyer’s attention span is becoming shorter and shorter as we progress with more devices, and faster apps, and more distractions. We have to make mobile a focus and make it easier to buy. Then, focus on product curation heavily, getting the right products and listings into the site. For any ecommerce business, including ours, it comes down to sell the right thing to the right person.

To learn more about Dominic Coryell and Glambot, visit This post originally appeared in the publication, The Empowered Marketer.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email