An interview with

Tatcha's Ryder Meehan

Oct 26, 2015

How a luxury beauty brand is doing wonders with its scrappy digital marketing strategy. A conversation with Tatcha's Ryder Meehan.

After eleven years of growth hacking for various companies, Ryder Meehan knew just how to launch Tatcha's nascent digital marketing efforts. As Digital Marketing Director, Ryder is tasked with managing all things digital at the beauty start-up. Ryder is an expert at using digital media to build a lux- ury brand and he gives us an inside look at how he does it. Whether it is paid search, SEO, display media, affiliate marketing, partnerships or social media advertising - he knows his way around the digital marketplace.

What excites you most about your position at Tatcha?

I love the freedom to be scrappy, a trait our executive team shares. There are so many marketing directions for young companies to go in: SEO, PPC, affiliate, social media, influencer program, display media, part- nerships, and that's just a Tuesday. We've grown up a lot in the last two years, and established core channels, but scrappiness is still central to our culture and gets me excited for Monday.

How does your team approach digital marketing?

We stay nimble! If one of us reads an article about another brand's success with a tactic or channel that could make sense for Tatcha, you can bet we'll test it the following week. Our channel specialists own their strategy, but the team gets involved cross-channel as needed, and that keeps everyone engaged outside their own expertise.

How do you use programmatic?

Before programmatic, media buyers had to guess which sites our target audiences visited, build a creative we thought might speak to them, and do our best to optimize the campaign as it ran. It's like trying to sell surfboards without knowing if anyone in a market actually surfs.

Programmatic marketing has drastically improved the efficiency of our display-prospecting program, as well as simplified its management and scalability. It lets us reach a quality audience on a high quality network, at a fraction of the cost of traditional prospecting channels, like non-brand paid search. And third-party data gives us insight into customers, which we can then use across email, social and display.

Now when we have a big product launch or promotion we just dial-up our programmatic initiatives rather than set up five distinct direct-buys based on hunches and sales pitches. We buy media based on rich models of current customers and intent signals.

Can programmatic help marketers understand the value of consumer interactions?

Programmatic does a lot of your prospecting work for you while generating mounds of customer data in the process. Marketers have an opportunity to understand their customer demographics, interests, browsing and shopping behavior, which messages resonate the most, and when and where customers want to hear from you. What more can you ask for?

What are some of the biggest marketing challenges for you and your competitors?

In the luxury beauty space we all want to achieve four things in a tidy package: reach new, highly qualified prospects at scale for an efficient acquisition cost. Beauty shoppers are inundated with products, recommendations and advertiser messaging through sampling boxes, beauty bloggers and social media. The brands that succeed know their customers intimately and present them with relevant, timely and compel- ling placements.

Can programmatic build brand awareness or change brand perceptions?

Absolutely, it's really the best of both worlds, especially if you can incorporate compelling creatives and content to en- gage consumers before selling them some- thing. Video is the perfect media for this.

How do you approach building the brand vs. customer acquisition or retention?

We face the unique challenge of build- ing Tatcha's very luxurious, calming, indulgent brand, while simultaneously working against ambitious direct-response performance goals that are part and parcel for every young, high-growth e-commerce company. We tailor our branding and acquisition onto a single program, and use brand storytelling to acquire customers. But we're very intentional with our approach. We can leverage sales and promotions to acquire more customers in the short term, but it is not germane to our brand, so they're not levers we use.

Retention is easier because we work really hard to delight customers, which makes them inclined to stay. For instance, we surprise them with bonus gifts in their orders and include handwritten notes in every box. This is additional to our generous returns program and best-in-class customer care.

Does your campaign strategy differ based on these different objectives and approaches?

We tailor each campaign a little differently based on the spotlight product and its target user, but we generally stay focused on our core prospect. We continuously test and optimize that strategy to identify new pockets of success.

What do you look forward to in terms of digital marketing?

I love how our industry is shifting away from annoying, disruptive placements and relying more on compelling adver- tising that consumers actually want.

Three trends will get us there: programmatic, user-generated content (UGC) and native advertising. I've already talk- ed a lot about programmatic, and I have no doubt it will continue to evolve.

Marketers are gravitating to UGC to find fans and influencers. Users don't want to hear from brands about products they've never heard of or aren't disposed to learn about. Influencers are brand messengers who go where marketers can't, and give authentic testimonials for brands they believe in. Native advertising blurs the line be- tween content and ad. I like the idea of giving away a piece of valuable content in the form of video, infographic or article. These are the Super Bowl commercials of the Internet.