Episode #11

Lindsay Dreyer from Haute Hijab

Also available on:

In this episode of Beyond the Inbox, we talk to Lindsay Dreyer, the CMO of Haute Hijab, a fashion and lifestyle brand that creates stylish and comfortable hijabs for Muslim women. With over 300,000 followers on Instagram alone, Haute Hijab has built a passionate community of customers who love the brand's products and values.

During the interview, Lindsay shares her insights on how to build a strong brand community, the importance of SMS marketing, and how to make the most of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. She emphasizes the power of SMS marketing, explaining that customers who opt-in to receive text messages from a brand are more likely to be highly engaged and passionate about the brand. She recommends a weekly cadence for SMS messaging and emphasizes the need to monitor metrics like unsubscribes and opt-outs to determine the appropriate frequency.

Lindsay also discusses the importance of building a strong brand community, which she sees as a critical component of Haute Hijab's success. She explains that the brand's Facebook group is a safe space for women to communicate about hijab or other issues on their minds. The group has become a powerful touchpoint in Haute Hijab's customer journey, and Lindsay emphasizes the need to moderate the group and ensure that it remains a safe space for customers.

In addition to discussing SMS marketing and brand community, Lindsay also shares her insights on the role of social media in Haute Hijab's marketing strategy. She explains that the brand's approach to social media is to view all of its marketing channels as working collectively and in tandem. She describes various social media channels and how Haute Hijab uses each one to reach its target audience, including influencer marketing, paid ads, and Instagram Live sessions with the brand's founder, Melanie.

Lindsay also discusses Haute Hijab's Tuesday drops, which are limited edition scarves made from dead stock fabric. She explains that the brand drops four to eight hijabs every Tuesday, and customers name the product on Instagram. The winner receives a hundred community rewards points, which they can redeem for a future purchase. The Tuesday drops have become a highly anticipated event for Haute Hijab's customers, and Lindsay emphasizes the importance of consistency in marketing channels like email.

Overall, Lindsay's insights on building a strong brand community, the importance of SMS marketing, and the role of social media in Haute Hijab's marketing strategy provide valuable lessons for ecommerce marketers.

Show Notes

  • (03:05) Lindsay explains how Haute Hijab started and how it built its brand community.
  • (05:10) The power of SMS marketing and the importance of having highly engaged customers.
  • (07:29) The benefits of moving customers from one channel to another.
  • (09:59) The value of SMS marketing and the personal touch it provides for customers.
  • (11:48) The importance of balancing the frequency of messaging with the need to rise above the noise.
  • (14:23) How Haute Hijab is using different channels to convert visitors into customers.
  • (17:30) The importance of gathering information from customers, segmenting them, and tailoring messages to their preferences.
  • (20:04) The sustainability of Haute Hijab's weekly drops and the role of social media in their marketing strategy.
  • (23:40) The approach to social media and the different roles of Facebook and Instagram in their marketing strategy.

Read the transcript:

Sam (00:03): Lindsay, welcome to Beyond the Inbox. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us.

Lindsay (00:08): Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Sam (00:11): I have so many questions about the brand, but I wanna start off by asking, can you tell us about Haute Hijab and the problem or problems it solves for its customers?

Lindsay (00:23): Yes, absolutely. So, Haute Hijab job has been around for about 12 or 13 years now. It was founded by Melanie Elturk, who was a civil rights attorney prior to founding the company as a Muslim woman herself, she realized throughout her life that there weren't a lot of resources out are there for women who wanted to feel stylish, feel confident, and comfortable every day putting on their hijab and going out into the world. So this was a problem that she knew she could solve, and she felt confident that she could solve. So she started the company in her apartment. At the time, she was living in Dubai, descending Hijabs out from her <laugh> from her living room, basically. The company grew, she eventually moved it to New York, decided to fully pivot her career away from being a civil rights attorney to you know, just running this company full-time. And here we are today, about 13 years later helping Muslim women every day feel comfortable and confident when every time they walk out the door.

Sam (01:26): And how many employees are there and how many are in the marketing department?

Lindsay (01:31): Right now, we are a team of about 10. And in the marketing department, we have about three people.

Sam (01:37): Okay. And can you share more about what you are doing and what your day-to-day looks like?

Lindsay (01:42): Yeah, definitely. So as the CRM manager my job really started with email using email automations and filtering to reach our customers, you know, in the most native way possible in their inbox. But then, over time, as Drip started to add things like onsite and SMS, I realized that my job was so much bigger than just email. People like to be reached in different ways across their digital life throughout the day, whether they're on their cell phones, or they're on their desktop at work. So we've, I have figured out really the secret sauce to using all three of those things to reach our customers where they are, bring them back to the site, and make their purchasing experience the easiest and seamless it could be. Start to finish.

Sam (02:36): Let's dig into that, starting from the top. So assuming I am a new visitor and I land on the website, I see a pop-up offering a 20% discount, and there's also the option for me to enter my mobile. So I wanted to ask you, and this can be as long of an answer as you like, can you tell me how the brand uses email and SMS in its life cycle marketing?

Lindsay (03:00): Yeah, so say you're that customer, you come to the site for the first time, you see our pop-up and you're, you're interested. You're like, you know, I'm not sure if I'm ready to make a purchase yet, but I'll, I'll give you my, my name, my email address, and my phone number. What we do there is we trigger an automation where the person gets the well, we give them a double optin,o of course, because we wanna do quality control for our list and make sure somebody really wants to be there. And then from there, the second email they will receive is that promo code from us reminding them, Hey, you've got, you know, you've got 20% off on your first order. I also reveal that promo code right after they enter their information. Because some people, you know, might not go back to their email that day or you know, email, everyone's sending emails all the time, it might get lost in the shuffle.

(03:47): So we reveal it there after they put in their information as well just to make sure they definitely see that promo code. And from there, after they receive, you know, those first introductory emails I put them into a welcome campaign where I let them know what our brand is all about. Introduce them to Melanie why she founded the company, and tell them a little more about the community of our brand. Because part of what makes HTA JB so special really is the community, the customers that have been there for all these years, duper loyal customers. And we have a really robust Facebook page where they communicate with each other, just talk about styles or what's going on with our brand on the website. They let others know, Hey, they've got a sale going on right now, or check out this new color, this new fabric that, you know, ho hijab just launched.

(04:37): So we let people know all of that information upfront. We have a loyalty program, so as we drip them through there, obviously, the goal is to convert them into a customer. And at that point, when they do make that first purchase, we then put them into our new customer drip, which is a little more detailed about what they can expect now that they've made a purchase. Here's some information about how to care for your new hijab. Here are some styling tips. And don't forget to redeem those points when you come back because we have a loyalty program. So all of these different automated flows that we have set up are really geared to where the customer is in their journey with us as a customer.

Sam (05:18): There's so much good stuff here to unpack. Let me ask you are you continuously testing this, or is it something that you are running and maybe going back to once a quarter? How are you continuously iterating on some of these workflows?

Lindsay (05:35): Yeah, a lot of 'em are set it and forget it for now, just because we are a really small team. So we don't necessarily have a lot of the resources to be doing a lot of continual testing. I will say, I do go back to those flows frequently. I look at metrics like open rate, click through, and I monitor those over time and see what's, if you know, something stands out like, oh my God, our, you know, our clickthrough rate just plummeted on this flow, what's going on there? You know, I'll go in and take a look and you know, ma make some changes or try out some new things to see if we can get some of those metrics up. So I'm constantly, even though, i's set it and forget it. I'm always looking, I always have an eye on how those metrics are doing.

(06:21): And you know, I use the drip email metrics to just keep an eye on that over time. But I do, I do change out imagery pretty frequently in those flows. As our brand presence changes and evolves, I wanna make sure those emails are consistent with what the customer sees on the website so that it doesn't feel like the emails are old or stale are coming from a different brand. I think brand consistency is one of the most important things, especially in that introductory flow. It's the first time you have the customer's attention, they click through and if the emails don't feel like the website, there's gonna be some kind of disconnect there. And the customer might not consciously say, oh, that feels weird, but in the back of their mind, they're not gonna feel as comfortable to make a purchase or, you know, go back and read another email if that first experience, that first touchpoint just didn't feel right or organic.

Sam (07:16): So once someone makes a purchase, how are you turning first time purchases into second time purchases and so on?

Lindsay (07:24): Well before SMS and onsite, it was like, let's just send them more emails, right? And we were seeing that we weren't getting the customer loyalty that we needed through email alone. And I think it's because there's just so much noise and you see it in your inbox. I see it in my inbox every day. I miss emails from the brands that I actually wanna hear from, and then I get upset. I go back two weeks later and I'm looking through that promotion tab and I'm like, wait a minute. I had a 20% off coupon from this brand that I love and I didn't even see it. I didn't even know and nobody told me. And so I know how frustrating that is for customers who do wanna be alerted to some of these things. So I think one of the really helpful things for us has been SMS.

(08:07): We've we have that pop up when customers come to the site. We also have the Shopify SMS opt-in box at checkout. So there's a number of ways that our customers can opt into SMS. And what we've seen with SMS is we have our most loyal customers signing up for SMS. They're the people who they don't just want us in their inbox, they want us on on their phone, you know, they wanna be the first to know what's going on, and they wanna hear from us the way that they would hear from one of their friends, which is in their, you know, text inbox. So we've been using that a lot to reach those customers who who we know are always going to make another purchase. So that's been really helpful for us. With email itself. We do lot of automations to reach customers after they've made that first purchase. And then we also follow up with them after they've lapsed or we, you know, after they've gone cold and they haven't made a purchase in maybe six months, we have an automation set up where we funnel them in and say, Hey, you know, it's been a while, here's an incentive, or here's some news about what we've been up to. So there's a number of tactics that we use to make sure that people keep coming back and see what we're up to. So,

Sam (09:28): Wow, there's, there's so much to reflect on there, especially how powerful it is to move a customer from one channel to another. I never thought about how impactful that can be receiving text messages from a brand you love. I guess maybe there is some conditioning around, okay, when I see an email from a brand, then they're probably going to ask me to buy something. And like you say, there's so much noise. Do you think SMS is something a lot more bronze should do?

Lindsay (09:59): Absolutely. And the wonderful thing about SMS is that you're really only going to have a list of people who really wanna be there. With email, people know, okay, I can sign up for that welcome promo code, or whatever that thing is that got me in the, in the funnel. And then, you know, I don't really have to unsubscribe because I know I have so much storage in my Gmail and I'll just, you know, even if I'm on the fence, I'll just kind of let it sit there. Maybe I'll go back and open that email a few weeks later. But you know, with, with SMS what you're, by giving people the opportunity to sign up for text messages from your brand, you're giving them a chance to feel like they're friends with you. And that's something that we've noticed with our SMS customers. The list is much, much smaller than our email list, and that's a good thing, right? Like, we want that list of people to be the people that we know every time are gonna click, they're gonna purchase they want us in their text inbox. Like I said, the the way that you would expect a friend to reach out to you, they're giving us permission to message them in that same way to invite them into their digital world in the same way a friend would be invited. So it's just, it's personal. It feels a lot more personal than an email.

Sam (11:15): You mentioned about rising above the noise. And I was speaking to an e-commerce founder recently, and he was talking about his concern that maybe he's emailing too much and he even looked at other brands and signed up for their emails and tried to take an average, and he said it was impossible because every brand is different, every industry is different. How do you strike this balance between emailing the right amount and not texting too much? Is that something that you discover through trial and error?

Lindsay (11:48): Oh, definitely. And that's where you always have to have an eye on metrics, especially that unsubscribe. And the optout that'll tell you kind of everything you need to know if people are getting annoyed, right? It's like, okay, this week we sent four text messages and our unsubscribed WA rate went up, you know, significantly. That's telling us like, we've hit the threshold, people don't wanna hear from us four times a week. So with SMS, we've really found that once a week is a really good cadence for us. And it might be different for your brand or a different brand but you have to, you definitely have to test people's threshold and people's you know, what, what they're willing to consume and how they're willing to consume it. And you know, for something that's more transactional, a customer's gonna be okay with, you know, hearing from a brand more frequent frequently.

(12:43): So if it's for your shipping information, you know, they want it, they want updates. They wanna know, is my package in transit? Is my package arriving? Was it delivered? And that's a totally different sort of communication than, Hey, we've got a sale or check on our new product. So testing the different types of messaging and finding out that threshold is really important. With email, we've found that less is more often with email. We have our key days of the week where customers know to that they're gonna hear from us. Like every Tuesday we have a, a Tuesday that's gone out for a Tuesday email that's gone out for the past 12 years, it's our Tuesday drop. When you become a customer at Haute Hijab Jobb, you know that you can expect new product from us every Tuesday to check your inbox at 11 eastern time. And I think having that consistency is so important. So we do have emails that go at it various times as sales come up or we restock things, but that Tuesday anchor email is the one that customers, they wait for it and they know it's coming. So having something like that in your strategy can be really impactful for the customer.

Sam (13:54): I want to come back to that because I had a question around that. We were talking a little bit about quality of emails and having double opt-ins and so on. Where are you driving most of your conversions right now? Because you have forms on your site and you have the welcome popup, but you also have a quiz where visitors can enter the email to get a highly personalized recommendation, but they can skip it as well. And I wanted to ask you, which is converting better?

Lindsay (14:23): I would say it's a little bit of everything, and I know that doesn't really feel like an answer but the majority of our opt-ins come with checkout, right? You're, you know, you're checking out, you're opting in as you make that purchase, but we're having people, non-customers come in and subscribe to our newsletter. We've got, you know, an opt-in form in the footer. Some people fill that out. We've got that quiz like you mentioned. You fill out information about what your needs, what kind of climate you live in, what your lifestyle is like, and we make, make a recommendation for you. And we trigger a highly personalized email with recommendations based on your result. That does really well. We convert people through that. Another really fun feature we have is an onsite email capture form on our page called getting Started.

(15:16): And it's basically this introductory page to hijab. If you're either new or considering or just need a refresher, we kind of go through step by step what are the products you need and how do you wear them? So you start with your under scarf and then you get some accessories and, and it, and it goes, it goes down the page really just geared toward that educational content. And somewhere on that page, as the customer scrolls down, they get a popup and it says, Hey, welcome. Are you new to hijab or are you considering hijab? We'd love to know more about you so that we can serve you the right, you know, product. And from there, the customers get three options. They can say, I'm, I'm new, I'm a seasoned pro, or I'm ha I'm, I don't wear hijab yet, but I'm considering it.

(16:05): And from there, what we do is then in Drip we mapped those fields to to custom fields in, in their profile. And so we're able to mark them down as, okay, this person told us they're new to hijab, let's kick off an automation that gives them content geared to where they are in their journey for with this product. If they said that they were considering wearing hijab, then we trigger a different automation that's like, Hey, if you're considering that means you don't wear it yet at all, you probably need a different kind of educational series to kick off this journey. So that highly personalized approach is something that's been really successful. And our conversion rate on that popup, on that sleep note popup is incredible. We've had hundreds of people already tell us whether or not they're new or considering wearing this product. And that is a really powerful piece of information.

Sam (17:05): How do you arrive at the point where you say, okay, we need to segment our visitors into these three buckets. Are you having people tell you during the buying cycle that they would like to buy from you, but maybe they don't know enough about the brand? Or where can someone start with having such high level segmentation like that?

Lindsay (17:30): Well, I think it depends on where the person's email address is coming from, right? If, if somebody has completed a purchase and you're gathering their information post-purchase, you might want to have some kind of, you know, form after they complete the purchase. Like, how did you hear about us? That's a great place. The customer is highly engaged after they've made their purchase, and that's one of the best times to collect information about your customer. You could do a survey at that point about, you know, like a, you could send them to a type form, you could do all sorts of things with the customer post-purchase. So you could do refer a friend. That's a great time to say, Hey, you've just purchased from us. Like, if you want $20 off your next purchase, send this to a few of your friends. So ga gathering information from a customer post-purchase, I think is a really powerful way to begin thinking about segmentation.

(18:29): But you don't necessarily need the customer to tell you things about themselves in order to use the readily available data to start segmenting them. So after they've made a purchase and they go into Drip and you're synced with Shopify or whatever, you know, system you're using, you're able to filter and segment by some of that information you already know, like what did they buy how much did they spend? You know, you can use that information to start thinking about how am I going to reach this person in the future? If their first purchase was like, say they only bought neutral colors in a certain fabric, you know, this person probably has a color palette that they like. You can make some assumptions about the type of purchaser they are. If somebody buys like bold colors, they're buying like blue and yellow and green, and you're like, okay, this is the type of customer who, you know, maybe I'll start filtering them into a segment of people who bought bold colors. Because when every time we have a product launch with something that's bold, bright colors, they're gonna be the first to know because we know they already like that. So there's just so much you can do without having to get too fancy, almost based on the readily available data that's already inside of Drip.

Sam (19:45): It's fascinating to hear. I wanna circle back to something you said earlier about these drops that you're doing every Tuesday. Have this in my notes as well. So how are you approaching these drops in a way that it's sustainable to do each week? Because I know you're doing some partnerships as well, and I wanted to ask a little bit more about that.

Lindsay (20:04): So our what's really cool about our Tuesday drops is that our product is made from dead stock fabric. So this is product that already fabric that already exists in the world, and other designers were either gonna throw it out or, you know, it would end up in a landfill. So what we do is we go and we buy that fabric and we create these limited edition scarves based on that fabric. So sometimes they come back into stock if we have more fabric, but generally that's it whatev, you know, that's those 20 pieces or those 30 pieces from that dead. So fabric is what is sold and that's all that's available. And we have so much of this dead so fabric that we're able to keep rolling out drops every Tuesday. We'll drop anywhere from four to eight hijabs every Tuesday. And I think what's really cool about these drops is that customers just know they've been with us for such a long time, so many of them have been, and they know that Tuesday is our day and that's when we serve them new product.

(21:04): And what's really fun about that is we have in a social media tie in there as well, where we allow customers to name one of the prints every week. And once they name a print and they, they comment on Instagram, we select a winner, and then the winner receives a hundred community rewards points, which they can redeem for a future purchase. So it's just a fun little way to incorporate other aspects of the customer's digital life within our Tuesday drops. And we see the same people coming back week after week. They're like, I gotta win this. I gotta win it. I have to win those a hundred points. And eventually, you know, if you come up with a name that's clever enough, you will win. And then on Shopify, we, you know, on our Shopify store we have a little blurb that says, Hey, this was named by one of our customers. You know, try, you know, join us next week and, you know, you can win a hundred community points rewards as well if you name successfully, name this week's pattern. <Laugh>.

Sam (22:04): That's fascinating. Something that came up for me when I was listening to that was how are you factoring in seasonal holidays as well? So if Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday, are you doing like a cross promotion where it's Valentine's Day themed, or are you maybe delaying another promotion? Like how do you schedule that all in?

Lindsay (22:24): Well, what's interesting about our company is that because we're a Muslim company, we don't really follow a lot of the traditional seasonal patterns. We don't recognize Valentine's Day, we don't recognize St Patrick's Day, obviously. And we don't recognize Christmas. So for us, we're in a really unique place because our holidays don't tend to fall on, you know, the traditional American holiday calendar <laugh>. So we don't, we don't have a lot of those conflicts really. We, we do Black Friday and we go hard on Black Friday. We have a huge celebration all November long culminating in our, you know, our big end of the month sale. But yeah, I know that's kind of a non-answer, but because we don't you know, we kind of make our own rules.

Sam (23:12): That's really fascinating. I never considered that. Yeah, there's a lot to reflect on there. I wanna switch gears a little bit because time is flying and I have so many more questions that I wanna ask you. So I wanna talk a little bit about social. So you have 300,000 plus followers on Instagram alone. What is social's role in halted apps marketing strategy? How are you using it and what is the, what is the approach to how you're doing it?

Lindsay (23:40): Yeah, that's a big question. <Laugh> social media is a really important touchpoint in our customer journey, and that's how we think of all of our marketing channels, right? They, they all work collectively and in tandem. They don't work alone and in a vacuum, all of these things intersect. And I think the way, one of the ways in which we see that is the Tuesday drop. The customer's name the product on Instagram, we select them and then we drop the products via email. So you see that it's part of a larger ecosystem, digital ecosystem. We do a, we do some influencer marketing, you know, like a lot of companies do. We do that on social. We have you know, some, some women in the US and then we also have some in the UK because we have a, a UK market as well.

(24:29): So we have some women there who are our brand ambassadors, and that's been really successful for us. We also, of course, you know, we've dabbled in the world of pay, like everybody has to these days paid ads. And that's been pretty successful for us. I think Facebook is, you know up and down, up and down all the time. But we've, we've really figured out how to see a positive row as there with Facebook. So all of these things are really working together and in tandem and specifically with paid. What we like to do in Drip is create automations where we can create custom audiences based on the criteria or customer attributes that we're trying to reach at that time. So I'll give you an example. If we are launching a new product that's black, we might look back at all of the customers who have purchased anything in the color black in the past, and then put them into a segment and then create a custom audience in Facebook so that we can reach those customers again or customers like them you know, on Facebook. So that's, that's a little bit about how we use Drip <laugh> to play into some of those social channels.

Sam (25:47): That's really smart. I love that. There's so much I'm reflecting on, on this call. What about the Facebook community that you have? How does that work? I know you talked about having all of these channels working in tandem, but are there any sub-channel? Like is there a difference between how you're using the Facebook community versus say, Instagram or another social platform?

Lindsay (26:10): Yeah, the really cool thing about our Facebook community is that we don't really do anything there. Our, our customers are so passionate about the brand, the content that we produce, cuz we also have this amazing blog that's updated regularly. And there's just so much for them to talk about. So we, the, the wonderful thing, like I said, is we don't really have to do anything. We, we put our product out into the world, we put our content content out into the world, and our customers really take it and run with it on Facebook, we moderate it, of course, we make sure that people who aren't supposed to be there aren't there. It's a women only group. It's a safe space for people to communicate about hijab or, you know, other issues on their mind. So that's what's really cool about the Facebook group.

(26:59): Instagram of course is just a different sort of platform. You know, we, we have a lot of people commenting, sharing but it just, the platform itself lends itself to a different sort of communication. Our founder, as I mentioned, Melanie, she's extremely active on the Instagram page. She created that Instagram page. It is her, it is her account really. And so when you go to Ho Deja on Instagram, you can expect to learn a lot about Melanie, see what Melanie's up to get a glimpse into her daily life. She recently was in Turkey doing some parody work for the earthquakes that happened there, and she documented that entire journey with our customers and brought them with along, along with her on that journey. And, you know, you don't really see a lot of brands giving their customers a glimpse into the life of their founder and ceo.

(28:03): And I think that pers highly personalized connection with Melanie is something that our customers really value. And you know, I mentioned before when we text people, it feels like we're a friend, you know, texting them to their phone and they trust us. And I think part of the reason that we've as been able to establish that kind of relationship with our customers is because of that transparency on other social media platforms, especially Instagram where Melanie hops on lives all the time. She'll take a topic and say, okay, this is what we're gonna talk about today. Let's get on live and we'll go for it. And then she takes questions from folks and I'm, you know, I'm always jumping on those lives as well just to listen and see, you know, what's Melanie gonna talk about today? And sometimes it's about hijab, but sometimes it's not. And I think founders have the, the ability to be a voice for things that matter beyond just the product that they're selling. And that's what Melanie does so well.

Sam (29:04): I think that's an amazing place to start wrapping up and see where can our listeners learn more about Haute Hijab?

Lindsay (29:12): You guys can go tota hautehijab.com, our website. We're also on Instagram as I mentioned, and just atta jobb. We have a second Instagram for our super Fran, our super fans called HH Spotted Club. So you can go there and see all user generated content, people who are wearing our product and tagging us. And we, we regram them pretty regularly. So if you're interested in really seeing the product, that's where you go and you can, you know, if you if you wanna join our Facebook group, if you wear hijab or you're thinking about it head over there, we'd be happy to have you.

Sam (29:51): Perfect. Well, Lindsay, thanks again for taking the time to join us and all the best in the future with everything.

Lindsay (29:58): Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Sam (30:00): Thank you.