Nine Naturals, an all-natural beauty company for expecting and new moms, loves data almost as much as they love creating high-performance, toxin-free, pregnancy-safe products. We caught up with the COO and co-founder of Nine Naturals, Amanda Moskowitz, to learn a bit about her approach to growing a business with data.
The Nine Naturals team has always been quantitatively biased. Each member of the five-person team has a background in data and analytics, and they lean on data every day to make smarter decisions about their company. “We use data vigorously but also methodically,” says Amanda Moskowitz, COO and co-founder of Nine Naturals. “We start with a hypothesis and look at our data through that lens.”
Two practices in particular formed the backbone of this data-driven startup. First, disciplined reporting. In the earlier days of the company, this happened in spreadsheets. Every 3-4 days a spreadsheet would be passed around containing key metrics: new customers, revenue, retention rates, average order value, and projections on each of these. “It took a lot of time, but we were very consistent about it.”
The second is the project wrap-up meeting. After every project — a marketing campaign, a discount, a promotional giveaway, or a product launch — the team gathers to evaluate the success of the project. They look at the data and give it an overall thumbs up or thumbs down, taking stock of their learnings and, if applicable, deciding how to put them into action going forward.
But, Amanda said, “Nine Naturals is not in the data and analytics business.” And as Nine Naturals grew, so did their need for more data, and data in a format that required less manual input. That’s when they chose RJMetrics.
Growing with data
RJMetrics has become Nine Naturals’ go-to place to answer all data-related questions. “We look at our dashboards everyday.” Amanda says. But one chart stands out as being a favorite: the marketing campaigns success chart. As mentioned, Nine Naturals is rigorous in evaluating the success and failure of every campaign they run. RJMetrics’ team of analysts made this extra step easy by compiling all this data into an automatically updating chart. “This is the chart I’m most excited about,” Amanda says:
“We’re using this to evaluate our top five marketing campaigns by combining data from Mailchimp and Magento. This one chart shows us critical outcomes such as new customers acquired, the revenue generated, and the average order value of each campaign. And, most importantly, it updates automatically. It gives us a streamlined way to track the success of our marketing campaigns at a frequency that we just could not maintain if we were doing it manually.”
Amanda is partial to this chart for one reason — it gives her team information they can act on. “RJMetrics gives us dozens – if not hundreds — of these great charts, but I always try to challenge myself to answer the question: ‘Does this chart matter to me?’” And if the answer is no? She moves on. “There are charts on our dashboard that we loosely monitor, but we know we’re not ready to act on just yet. It’s important to make that distinction.”
The marketing campaign success chart has revealed one thing in particular. “We have a fantastic group of partners in the maternity and mom space, and we love working with these partners. We were thrilled when our data validated our hunch about how beneficial these partnerships are for our business and we’ve been increasing our investment in these communities as a result of what we’ve learned.”
Advice for other aspiring data-driven startups
Nine Naturals has the distinct advantage of being data-driven from the very beginning. For companies without this natural bent, Amanda offers the following advice:
“Resist the temptation to just run analyses ad nauseam – it’s tempting because there’s a lot of data out there. You want to organize your analytics around the questions you’re trying to answer for your business model. then focus on the metrics that will help you answer them. This approach forces you to stay disciplined about how you spend time with the data.”
Of course, she recognizes how hard this is. “The reality is trickier than it sounds.”Amanda says. “It takes time to figure out what’s meaningful.” But for a growing startup, it’s the only way to go. Nine Naturals has received a good bit of positive press including Vogue’s recommended best beauty products for pregnant women and ongoing coverage from top maternity, natural, lifestyle and fashion blogs. The opportunity is big for high-performance, toxin-free, pregnancy-safe beauty products and, armed with data, the team is ready to tackle it.