“We're also driving a higher percentage of new visitors through Bing, as compared to our paid search efforts on other search engines, and we see higher conversion rates with a lower investment.” — Krysta Brown, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, Too Faced Cosmetics
More than 5,000 years ago, ancient Sumerians crushed gemstones to create lipstick and other facial adornments — the Old Testament talks of Jezebel painting her eyelids in 840 BC. So, you’re forgiven if the word “cosmetics” makes you think of something that has always been here, a tradition mothers have passed along to their daughters for generations.
In 2016, traditions battle for attention alongside progress. From presidential candidates to movie superheroes, athletics to internet culture, female empowerment is a buzzword that is easy to get behind.
Too Faced Cosmetics is finding the perfect balance of tradition and progress with a three-word motto. “Own your pretty,” says Krysta Brown, senior manager of digital marketing at the company, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary. “That phrase means, no matter who you are, no matter what style you're into, Too Faced empowers women to own it.”
In the late ‘90s, two young cosmetics employees named Jerrod Blandino (working at a department store makeup counter) and Jeremy Johnson (working for Armani) decided to rebel against the dark looks of the time, dragging pink back into the spotlight. The two men maxed out credit cards and focused on their shared dream to celebrate individuality and inject joy back into an industry that had become too rigid.
Naming their company “Too Faced” (after Blandino’s makeup counter customers who he’d tease as they turned from sweet to sour when their favorite lipstick wasn’t in stock), it has grown into a global, multimillion-dollar business. But still, the company operates on the belief that being pretty on the outside empowers the pretty on the inside.
“For me, the draw to work with Too Faced was about being associated with such a strong brand.
Everyone that I've talked to knows the brand, and they're excited that I'm able to be a part of it,” explains Brown, who has worked in the company’s Irvine, California, office for just under a year. “It's a beautiful office, filled with intelligent people and positive attitudes. It's a fun place to be.”
Every day, Krysta comes to work with a mandate that is both challenging and thrilling: Get the word out about Too Faced, encourage women everywhere to create their own unique version of pretty, and continue the upward trajectory of the company’s growth.
With a laugh, Brown readily identifies herself as “a tester.” Constantly tweaking and analyzing the company’s paid search strategy, it’s her job to own all of the channels that drive traffic to TooFaced.com. And she snatches up data with as much enthusiasm as Too Faced customers grab “Better Than Sex” mascara or “Born This Way” concealer.
“We do a lot of testing to see what markets perform best for us,” she explains. “It’s dependent on the current strategy, the product offering and who we're going after. Within all of digital marketing, we continuously test to see who we want to reach based on the goals of a particular campaign.”
Enter Metric Theory, a data-driven marketing company that focuses on four key elements — data, technology, communication and results — to achieve market-leading results for more than 200 clients.
“We've been working with Metric Theory since the beginning of 2014. They've really been an integral part of the growth we've seen within our dot-com business,” Brown says. “In that time, we’ve been cleaning up accounts and getting more granular in the way we bid, targeting our keywords and driving traffic to the site. It's evident, in regard to the performance we've seen year over year within our paid search program, we're definitely moving in the right direction.”
In 2012, Metric Theory was born after several employees who managed an SEM division of a global technology company branched out to start their own agency. Working out of a one-bedroom apartment and living the San Francisco startup dream, Adam Edwards and his co-founders would spend the next four years turning Metric Theory into a top-tier digital advertising agency with over $100 million in annualized media spend, additional offices in New York City and Denver and more than 70 employees.
“It's been a pretty quick ride,” Edwards beams. “When I started in paid search, the big fear was everything was working toward more and more automation, whether it was different bid policies, the introduction of product listing ads and then shopping ads. There was this fear from those who worked in the industry of, ‘Oh my gosh, what does this mean? Everything's going to be automated, and there's not going to be any jobs for digital marketers.’”
But Metric Theory’s founding team has grown the company by embracing and seeking to understand paid search innovation — never running from it. “I've tried to take a longer view,” Edwards reasons. “Using and leveraging technology for automation and leveraging that data we have more effectively is always going to be a positive. That's what allows us, as marketers, to focus on things like stronger ad copy, or how to reinvest in different channels or different campaigns within the account.”
Metric Theory’s partnership with Too Faced has been immensely successful in not only getting the word out about the cosmetics company, but also testing Edwards’ long view.
“Too Faced is a good example,” he explains. “We'll see at the end of the day that a customer converted on a search for the brand term, ‘Too Faced,’ but there were a lot of other touchpoints along the way. We always want to take those into account, to make sure that we're reinvesting in the appropriate places to drive the right growth, and investing in the keywords — the campaigns — that actually led to that eventual conversion.”
According to Brown, Bing Ads is extremely conducive to the data needs required by Metric Theory and her own company. “We always want to test new things, try new ways of how we target our customers, finding the right qualified customers and driving them back to the site. That can really get us the performance that we want out of our paid search program,” she explains. “Through these tests, we’re consistently seeing people coming in through our Bing advertising that are higher average order value (AOV) customers. We're also driving a higher percentage of new visitors through Bing, as compared to our paid search efforts on other search engines, and we see higher conversion rates with a lower investment.”
As she seeks to empower Too Faced customers, Brown is thankful for the tools and services that empower her. “Sitelink Extensions is something that we use heavily for promotions or new products,” she explains. “Newness works really well for our business. So, when our new products launch, Sitelink Extensions allow us to easily highlight those.”
She’s also a fan of device targeting , which facilitates a streamlined way to target searchers. “The Unified Device Targeting, and specifically being able to do bid modifiers by tablet, has been huge in allowing us to better allocate our spend by device, because we know for our business that tablet doesn't perform as well as desktop or mobile. That allows us to save dollars by decreasing bids on tablet and increasing our investment on mobile.”
Ashleigh Shapiro, senior manager of accounts services at Metric Theory, has helped orchestrate many such strategies. “We realized pretty early on that the Too Faced customer base is extremely responsive to promotions,” she says. “So, any time that the company runs a promotion, we put the appropriate creative in place to make sure that we can increase conversion rates.”
Once again, it’s Sitelink Extensions to the rescue. “We want to make sure that we have Sitelink Extensions supporting every promotion, because we know that once a promotion is present, there will be a ton of success in the account. By being able to capitalize on items such as that, we've been able to reinvest and continue to feed the brand growth,” Shapiro adds.
Edwards, agrees. “For experienced digital marketers — those that work at an agency and are in these accounts 40 hours a week, sometimes more — we want to be trusted with more control. The more levers we have to pull — whether it's adjusting bids on different devices, different geographic regions, you name it — the more effective we will be in investing our clients' advertising spend. So, we really appreciate and thrive off Bing Ads’ ability to offer additional control and additional levers to pull.”
Of course, all this data analysis, paid search strategy and disciplined engagement is preamble to the biggest statement of the year. As with any e-commerce retailer, it is essential that Too Faced has a profitable holiday season.
“In terms of November, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are hugely important,” Brown explains. “They drive, between those two days, 40 to 50 percent of the November business. So, we do a lot of planning around what types of promotions and messaging we want to push for those two days in particular.”
When it comes to Q4, Too Faced and Metric Theory walk a fine line between staying true to the lessons they’ve learned throughout the year and employing a few tricks that only come out for the holiday shopping season.
“Typically, we're not a very promotional brand; we try to focus on value-adding versus discounts,” Brown reasons. “But the holiday season is one of the exceptions where we will do some discounting.”
At Metric Theory, Q4 is a time for maximum effort — and perhaps a little Too Faced concealer to cover up the bags under everyone’s eyes. “It's a huge time of year, for both our agency and our clients. It's really a period where we have all hands on deck,” Edwards explains. “We start planning in August, and by September and October we're offering up projections to our clients in terms of how things will ramp up.”
But, as Andy Williams used to sing, it can also be the most wonderful time of the year. “Helping clients reconcile where they'll end up, and how we can maximize their profits over the holiday period, is of huge importance to us,” Edwards says. “We're planning out and scheduling everything from ad extensions to promotional ad copy. If a client did $1,200,000 in revenue in 2015, we want to do $1,500,000 to $1,800,000 in revenue this year.”
Much like Santa Claus, all parties involved can finally take a deep breath as December comes to a close. But when you love what you do, even such stressful times can be a holiday treat.
“Yeah, we're exhausted, but it's often the best way to wrap up our professional year,” Edwards explains. “And the validation is there in the form of hard data to say, ‘We did a good job for our clients and their businesses are in a better place. Now, let's go get some rest, come back in early January, and start all over again.’"
Facing a bright future
As Too Faced approaches its 20th anniversary, Brown couldn’t be happier. “This environment is just so positive, and it's really great to be a part of that,” she says of the company. “The brand is growing immensely, and every day I get to come in and work with such intelligent, strong women. I'm super excited to see what the future holds here.”
Bringing a modern approach to a cosmetics industry that began more than 5,000 years ago, Too Faced is using paid search strategies to bring beauty to the masses. Ultimately, the company might just be taking its own advice. Because when it comes to their upward trajectory, the company is definitely owning its pretty.