The man behind the McDonalds franchise, Ray Kroc, once said: “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” Thing is, putting the customer first ain’t so easy unless you know precisely what they want.
CurlMix founders Kim and Tim Lewis thought they had it all figured out when they launched their first hair products back in 2015. They led with their own experiences and put passion into their product, creating a line of hair care that was natural and healthy. Then they did what they thought customers wanted: they provided the ingredients and packed them into DIY subscription boxes for customers to make at home, using the included recipes.
For a while, business boomed. Until it didn’t, and sales began to decline.
The team reached out to CurlMix's Facebook community with a poll to find out why sales were dropping. They asked customers about their favorite products, their DIY pain points, and what it was they actually wanted. Turned out customers found the DIY process messy and inconvenient. With this one critical touchpoint and insight CurlMix pivoted their business model. They switched to producing only the top sellers from their best box, a four-step hair care line.
This was the linchpin to a customer-focused content marketing strategy.
Now that Curlmix had untangled the mystery of its plummeting sales, it was time to get their new product lines in front of the right faces—and onto the right heads. They dove right into this new business phase, even appearing on the TV show, Shark Tank, to secure an investment. Spoiler alert: they got an offer, but turned it down. They walked away without a shark, but also, without any regrets.
Armed with determination, they kept their focus on what matters most: the customer. But how do you know who your customers really are and what products will meet their needs? Enter a fun, educational quiz.
What kind of Curl Mixer Are you?
CMO Alicia Ferguson decided to create a "Hair Type Quiz' in order to engage and educate customers about hair care—and generate interest in CurlMix. She loved quizzes and knew that they are irresistible because people are curious to find out something new about themselves, or get affirmation for what they think they already know. Engaging, illustrative, and informational, CurlMix’s Lead Gen quiz accomplishes a few things:
Identifies potential customers and zone in on their hair profile to provide tailored product recommendations. Insights come from questions like: “What’s the image that closely represents your hair?”, “After standing in the shower, how long does it take for your hair to get soaking wet?” or “Describe your hair’s current state.”
Helps the CurlMix team get a pulse on the hair results people are trying to achieve and the brands customers are currently using.
Provides new customers with insights and information that educate and help mend the relationship users have with their tresses. A statement screen in between questions offers an educational tidbit: “having a good trim or 'shape' has a huge effect on how good your hair looks when you style it in a Wash + Go.” Also, the quiz results offer users insights on their actual hair type.
Just look at how smoothly they’ve integrated the quiz into their site:
Once users have answered all of the questions, they are taken to a custom landing page that shows them their hair type and provides a recommended product.
Quiz takers are also shown an image showing what they’ve self-selected, offering a more personalized approach they can identify with.
“Customization is key. As a small company, we don’t necessarily have access to all of the tools that larger companies can use for all of these customizations, but I love how Typeform was able to really work with us to deliver that experience.”
You know what else is key? Distribution.
The CurlMix quiz is front-and-center anywhere their target audience is. It’s on Facebook, runs on YouTube, gets shared on Instagram, and links back to the blog and landing page. To date, the CurlMix quiz has more than 40,000 responses. Take a look at the full quiz and its flow here:
By educating customers and asking the right questions, CurlMix is able to understand their users and pinpoint areas where they can continue to innovate.
Providing photos of real women was also key in how users identified with the questions. As Alicia points out:
“We care and want to show that. And what we observed is that women with naturally curly hair, weren’t necessarily in a relationship with their hair growing up. So there is this disconnect of how I think my hair is vs. what it actually is on the spectrum. Education is a big part of our platform. Healthy hair is the mission.”
But how exactly does CurlMix analyze their results in order to provide an educational and inspirational experience for their customers?
Twists, turns and integrations
The responses Alicia and the team get from the quiz reveal wonderful insights that are used to help shape everything from the narrative they tell to the products they sell. But getting all of this out of a quiz takes a lot of organization, strategic thinking, and a little help from other tools.
For example, they use the quiz to capture leads, but every single question then pulls into their email marketing tool, Klaviyo via a simple integration. This lets CurlMix to run diverse customer segments to particular groups and topics in order to scale their brand messaging. It’s also used to give out discounts and freebies. This segmentation forms the building blocks for their brand messaging, including content on the blog, videos, social media, etc.
Insights from the quiz, along with user data and social channel metrics, allow CurlMix to really dive in and provide users with value at every stage of their journey. It also has revealed a key learning about their core users: the median age of their customers.
Through Instagram messaging, which was originally intended for a younger audience, the team realized the engaged audience was older. The late naturals (women in their mid-40s and up), were their actual target demographic, not their intended target, legacy (women who have had natural hair for 10+ years).
This was critical in shifting their marketing strategy. Their images and video content now all reflect their actual audience. This helps them tell a powerful story which is inclusive of all of their customers' journeys.
“When you create a company that’s close to you, you almost look at yourself as the avatar, but as it starts to grow, you realize ‘wait, maybe I’m not my target audience.’ Now, even though I may not share that same experience, it still resonates with me.”
For CurlMix, personalization is a key factor in who identifies with their brand and how relevant their brand is to others. And so far, so good. Through targeted messaging, creative DIY videos and a consistent intention to listen to customer’s needs, Kim and Tim have shaped people's mindsets. They’ve also helped to nurture a new generation of women who are proud of their natural curls. The proof is in the pudding. Well, actually, the proof is in their online community.
Curly hair, don’t care: CurlMixer Community
Every marketer worth their salt knows that you haven’t truly made it until you have a community of loyal users that not only like your product, but advocate for it. By that definition, it’s clear to see why CurlMix’s Facebook community of more than 12,000 active followers is a good thing.
They go by the name of CurlMixers, and they are the heart of the CurlMix brand. It was their feedback that first opened Kim and Tim’s eyes to shifting their DIY business in their early stages of the product. Back then, it was a Facebook poll. Now, they answer questions like ‘What do you want?’ and ‘How can we better serve you?’ The answers to these questions have also inspired the weekly hair tutorials Kim now presents, “Wash N Go Wednesdays”, featuring a CurlMixer model.
“The sisterhood in this group is beautiful and inspiring. They’re champions and uplift each other. They even send each other products if one is missing something. And when someone posts pictures of their natural hair, everyone is like, ‘Yes, girl. You look beautiful!’ ”
Although the CurlMix team monitors and engages with the community often, they also minimize their own comments and posts and allow the community to run with the topics that are top of mind to them.
In this community, it's clear that in the end, customers aren’t just buying products. They're connecting with one another. And also learning to take better care of their hair.
“We can get a few hundred comments in one post. Our community is so active. They’re an extension of the brand itself. Honestly, that’s what sets us apart. People feel very connected to us. In a way, it’s like we’re becoming a lifestyle brand.”
CurlMix has recently launched CurlMix University, a way for customers to get an even deeper understanding of how to best treat their tresses and embrace their natural hair. With so much attention to customer feedback and an active community, the future of CurlMix looks bright.
Riding the wave into a successful future
The journey isn’t always simple, but when a brand knows who their customers are and what they want, they can serve them better and accomplish their business goals. For CurlMix, the solution was found through an engaging quiz. In the end, it helped them:
Recognize their pain points and solve for it by creating the right products
Build a data-driven persona that enables smart marketing decisions
Continue to create and identify new needs in the market
Build trust with their customers that in turn, helped nourish and grow a loyal community
The CurlMix enterprise has come a long way since their days of DIY kits and Kim’s in-the-shower hair tutorials. Little did they know back then, that their aspirational business venture would take them on an incredible journey. One which turned a passion into a thriving business, and a loyal community of advocates.