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LULA Beauty's Influencer Marketing Strategy for Indie Brands

Oct 11, 2022

How LULA Beauty Created their Successful Influencer Marketing Strategy

LULA Beauty is a female-founded brand that makes clean and cruelty-free skincare products with a less-is-more practicality. Within its first year of business, the brand has built a loyal customer base, won recognition from industry publications like WWD, Allure, and Well + Good, and launched in big retail stores like Anthropologie and Saks 5th Avenue.

The surprising part? LULA’s marketing team is just two people, and influencer marketing is their only strategy for reaching consumers online. In the article below, we detail the three influencer marketing principles that have made this small brand mighty.  

Expand your influencer network to find key partners

“When vetting potential influencer partners, ask yourself if you can see your brand working with them in the long run. At LULA we make this assessment easier by using Traackr to analyze whether they’re aligned with our brand, hitting the right demographics, and meeting desired performance benchmarks.” — Giovanna Rienzi, influencer marketing manager at LULA Beauty

When it comes to influencer discovery, marketers are usually dealing with two competing priorities: finding the right influencers, and finding enough influencers. You need a baseline of loyal partners that you have deep relationships with, but, you also need enough volume of mentions to break through the noise (i.e. a big enough influencer network).

LULA Beauty overcame these challenges by using Traackr to evaluate four key elements in every influencer profile:

  • Audience demographics. Is the influencer’s audience in the right age range, location, and income range? There’s nothing worse than sending out a bunch of products to an influencer, and then discovering later that the majority of their audience is in a non-relevant market! 
  • Audience authenticity. Is the influencer’s audience made up of actual people? Or do they have a high percentage of bots and mass followers spiking their numbers?
  • Brand alignment. Does the influencer’s interests, values, and past content align? Rienzi often looks for influencers that have mentioned ingredients or scents that are present in LULA Beauty products.
  • Performance benchmarks. Does the influencer create content that actually captures audience attention and inspires interaction? Rienzi looks for influencers that have interesting comments on their posts, as well as high engagement and video view rates. 

This approach has helped Rienzi minimize the time it takes for her to find and vet new influencers (she is only a team of one!). It also helped her find a host of new influencers who were not originally on LULA’s radar, and identify quality partners who drive website traffic, newsletter subscriptions, and even sales. 

Tip: If you are a brand that receives inbound requests from potential partners, you may need a way to organize your process. Traackr has a feature called Studios that generates branded landing pages for campaigns. Influencers who receive this landing page will be able to opt in to campaigns, read creative briefs, and share their product preferences.

Hone your influencer marketing strategy with the right software

“My number one tip is to invest in an influencer marketing platform that you trust. Using Traackr has taken out a lot of the guesswork and made our lives easier. Sometimes people are scared to invest in a software because it feels like a big commitment, but I promise it will pay off for your brand.” — Sarah Uslan, celebrity makeup artist and founder of LULA Beauty

When LULA launched in 2021, its goal was to make a big splash with an influencer marketing campaign. Even though these partners were great for brand awareness, the campaign didn’t have the desired impact on sales. According to Rienzi, things might have turned out differently if they had a tool like Traackr to vet their influencers based on overarching goals. Although investing in an influencer marketing platform takes resources (both time and money), it can ultimately save your brand from inefficient spending.

Since then, Rienzi and Uslan have shifted their strategy away from traditional paid partnerships. Not only can these one-off paid partnerships be expensive (making it difficult for small brands), they can often lack a certain brand affinity/alignment and even come across as inauthentic.

Since bringing on Traackr as their influencer marketing platform, Rienzi and Uslan have been able to identify what strategies and partners are working for their brand. Some of these include:

  • Seeding campaigns. Similar to other brands, LULA discovered that influencer gifting campaigns are an efficient way to build brand awareness. Unlike sponsored posts, the only cost that the brand needs to absorb is the price of shipping the products.
  • Affiliates. While seeding campaigns are great, they don’t always guarantee that an influencer will post, much less drive sales. LULA discovered that a more affordable way to drive sales with influencer marketing is through affiliates. Both the brand and the influencer get a cut of the sale, making it a good deal for everyone!
  • Specific influencer types. While LULA is continually expanding its influencer network, it has also managed to define certain types of influencers that make great partners. After conducting research and performance analysis on Traackr, Uslan and Rienzi found that great partners for LULA are typically: beauty obsessed, trend setters, wellness gurus, lifestyle-focused (home and interior designers), up-and-coming makeup artists, and multitaskers with busy lives (e.g. moms).

Tip: Fighting a fear of missing out (fomo) on great influencer partners? Read this article on how to find high performing influencers for your brand.

Keep brand values at the center of partnerships, products, and influencer collaborations

“Remember why you’re in this space and stay true to your values. This is a very oversaturated industry! You ‘make it’ by understanding what makes you unique and sticking to it. There’s a big difference between staying relevant and selling out the heart of your brand for a moment of virality.” — Sarah Uslan, celebrity makeup artist and founder of LULA Beauty

When Uslan founded LULA Beauty, she wanted to create a brand that was inspired by international good. She named the brand after her daughter, Tallulah, as a commitment to making the planet better for future generations. This mission is what guides the brand in all things, including:

  • Influencer strategy. There are many over-the-top influencer gifting campaigns that have extravagant unboxing experiences and excessive waste. Uslan and Rienzi try to consciously avoid this problem by taking a “less is more” approach. Instead of sending custom mailers to mass influencer lists they opt for evergreen mailers that utilize regular shipping boxes. If personalization is needed, they simply add in a small custom note or gift element that can be kept by the recipient. 
  • Product. LULA’s products are clean and Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free. They also seek to reduce environmental impact through water conscious product formulations. Two out of three of LULA’s inaugural products contain .02% water or less, one of which (their Beyond Balm) is completely anhydrous or water-free. The brand’s commitment to sustainability has also led them to packaging their products in recyclable materials, and using Terracycle’s Zero Waste Box platform to keep empty jars and bottles out of landfills.
  • Brand initiatives and partnerships. This notion of intergenerational good has also inspired LULA to expand their focus to include water conservation and cleanliness. They work towards this goal through a partnership with nonprofit NEU Global, whose mission is to provide clean water delivery infrastructure to communities in Rwanda. 

If you want to stay up to date on the incredible work that the LULA Beauty team is doing, follow them on Instagram or TikTok at @wearelula! If you’re curious to learn more about influencer marketing best practices from other industry experts, subscribe to our newsletter.