How Glossier Uses Amplitude to Help Customers Find Their Beauty Story

For so long, consumers have been sold a particular story about beauty: What they should look like and the products to buy to get that result.

Customer Stories
December 16, 2021
Image of Faith Bindernagel
Faith Bindernagel
Product Analytics at Glossier, Inc.
Glossier helped customers

Glossier embodies a different perspective. We don’t want to define beauty for our customers. Instead, we want our customers to discover what it means to them and support them through their own personal beauty journey. We use digital optimization and data to provide that support and connect with customers along the way, both online and in our stores.

What Do Our Customers Want?

I joined Glossier’s Data team in 2019 and have worn many different analytical hats during my time at the company. Being on the core analytics team and leading digital product analytics allows me to work cross-functionally with analytics partners embedded on our business teams to understand how users behave on our site, and then use that data to inform our strategic business decisions.

Compared to many direct-to-consumer retail brands, our main business question isn’t, “How do we get people to put more items in their cart?” Every conversation at Glossier begins with the question: “What does the customer want and need from us?” We’re hyper-focused on helping our customers find joy in their personal style, however that looks. Ultimately, it’s about optimizing our space on the internet to make a more fulfilling customer experience. One of the ways we do that effectively is by using Amplitude to analyze how users navigate our site, zeroing in on the pain points and drop-off moments.

Glossier has been an Amplitude customer since 2019. Amplitude helps our various teams understand the different user paths on our site. For example, our Sales team, which owns our merchandising strategy, uses Amplitude to drill into the behavior behind the products that people view the most. This includes examining how customers navigate the site differently if they arrived at our site organically versus through an ad or on their phone as opposed to their desktop computer. Exploring this data helps inform how we can best communicate with our customers and meet them where they are in their beauty discovery journey.

Some of our ecommerce PMs and engineers are more feature-focused, so they use Amplitude to examine how users interact with new features we launch on our site. If we develop a new feature that we think will optimize conversion, for example, we use the Amplitude to understand if it actually is doing what we expected. If not, we use the insights we gather to inform future tests to look into other strategies. We rely on data and insights from Amplitude to understand those customer journeys and the kinds of experiences customers want.

Finding Answers in Two Minutes Rather Than Two Weeks

As a company, we have an endless list of questions, but it was difficult and time-consuming for teams to access the necessary data to get answers in the past. We use Segment to log all of the events on our site, but before Amplitude, all that data flowed slowly to our data warehouse. To glean insights from that data, teams had to rely on only the modeled data provided in our reporting platform, Looker, or know SQL to pull the data right from the database.

The workflow that resulted from this was not ideal. Business teams had to formally submit their questions, and they were dependent on people with technical skills to pull the data for them. Answers to these questions would have allowed teams to make more data-driven decisions, but waiting for answers was often so time-consuming that questions went unanswered altogether.

Now that we have Amplitude, answering questions is so much easier. It’s a very user-friendly product with a short learning curve, which has led to a high adoption rate across many of our business teams. People now use Amplitude to pull their own data and dig into what matters most for their team. It eliminates the dependence on a middle person with technical know-how, reducing the time to answer ad hoc requests from two weeks to two minutes.

Turning Insights into Strategic Action

We use Amplitude to answer both strategic and product-specific questions. Strategically, Amplitude helps us understand the narrative that our customers are most interested in. Are we telling the right story? Is this a compelling and meaningful experience?

We recently launched Universal Pro-Retinol and incorporated educational content focused on the retinol category into the launch. We even surfaced a whole page dedicated to education around the product. We’re now doing a lot of digging into how that content resonated with our customers. What happened after they viewed that page: Did they purchase the product or did it drive them to look at other products? Is a particular type of user more attracted to educational content? Amplitude allows us to hear directly from our customers through data to see what they want and what they still need from us. Then, we can use Amplitude to more precisely pinpoint which digital features are functioning as expected—and if they’re not, we can see why.

With digital optimization, you can use data to answer questions and see what your customers want and need. Click To Tweet

One of the features I love in Amplitude—and use all the time—is the Funnel Analysis chart. It shows us where users drop off, allowing us to determine friction points. We use this feature often to inform hypotheses about our user experience that we ultimately test on our site. One experiment that we launched that came directly out of an insight from a funnel analysis in Amplitude was related to our checkout flow. If a user selects the traditional route to complete an order (entering their payment information instead of using Apple or Google Pay), they have to complete a series of steps in order to successfully submit the order. Using the Amplitude Funnel Analysis chart, we could see a huge drop-off between seeing and completing the first step of the flow, which prompted users to enter their email address.

That led us to test various improvements, ultimately realizing that we needed a more prominent guest checkout option instead of making users think they had to register for an account on the site. This change delivered huge wins for us. This query would have been wildly complex to write in SQL, but we were able to pull up results within a few seconds using Amplitude.

As a digital-first beauty company, we know that many customers value the opportunity to engage with Glossier and our products in person, in addition to connecting with us online. Many people can’t make it to one of our brick-and-mortar stores though, so we give ecommerce customers the option to add a free sample when they complete an order. When we noticed the adoption rates for samples were lower than we expected, we began to track how users interact with the sample interface in their cart, and have come up with several hypotheses as to how we could improve that experience.

In both of these cases, we turned insights from Amplitude into actionable outcomes.

When Optimizing with Amplitude, We No Longer Rely on Gut Feelings

We have a strong experimentation culture at Glossier—we test everything. We avoid blindly launching something into the world on the assumption that it does what we intended. Glossier uses Amplitude as an insights discovery platform to dig into options for testing, zeroing in on the biggest opportunities for change. Those tests and the learnings from them inform our future product roadmaps. It’s a cyclical process where we analyze, build, test, and then analyze again.

Before we invested in understanding our digital data with Amplitude, we relied a lot on gut feelings. We didn’t always have data to back up those feelings—or getting the data would sometimes take too long. Now, we can test with data easily at our fingertips.

One of our bigger wins this year was launching our new set-recommendation cart feature. If a user is only one item away from completing a two-product set, a module now appears at the top of their cart, notifying them that they are only one item away from set savings. We weren’t sure how users would react to the new feature, so we tested it. Adding the recommendation feature to the cart yielded impressive wins for both units per transaction (UPT) and average order value (AOV). And this is just the beginning. The team is now considering ways to personalize these set recommendations and iterate on the feature.

The Importance of Reporting and Segmentation

Amplitude plays many different roles across the company. For analytical teams, it’s used to take a deep dive into the details of user behavior. For leadership, it’s about top-line company reporting. Looker is our company’s go-to reporting platform, but many times, reporting starts in Amplitude. In Amplitude, we create temporary reporting dashboards on metrics that we haven’t built out in Looker yet. We can quickly build these dashboards in Amplitude first to see if the new metrics stick.

Apart from the Funnel Analysis chart, which is one of my favorite features, another great feature we utilize in Amplitude is User Segmentation. We believe we shouldn’t dictate what beauty is to our customers, and there is no one beauty playbook for everyone. We want every person to create their own beauty story, and that’s important to keep in mind as we look at the data and personalization. We need to understand that everyone interacts with our products a little bit differently. Without Amplitude, it would be hard to drill into those different experiences.

Amplitude’s Pathfinder feature helps us here as well. Pathfinder exposes all of the different ways users navigate through our site, showing the best paths to increase conversion and retention.

But Amplitude is more than just its features. The Amplitude team is great. They’re very responsive and constantly keep us in the loop. I never feel like I’m in the dark about upcoming feature releases. Amplitude wants to know what we want from them, and they’re keen to deliver. It’s a great partnership.

Acting Fast at a Hyper-Growth Company

Amplitude is different from other analytics products because it’s so easy to play with data. That element of play means we stumble across things all the time that we didn’t know we wanted to know. Our first question always leads to more questions, and that’s a great discovery process that brings us close to our customers.

In the right data platform, the first question always leads to more questions, and that's a great discovery process that brings you closer to your customers. Click To Tweet

We constantly work to bring the beauty of Glossier’s ecommerce experience into our retail experience and vice versa. We want to ensure our customers get the best of both worlds, regardless of where they shop. We get feedback from our retail stores about what customers tell them and translate that knowledge into how we discuss a product on our website.

We know that customers in our stores love trying our products on and talking with our editors in the store about our products. When shopping on our site, that physical touch and interaction with our products is lost. We have come to learn through testing and analysis that having reviews on our site are valuable to customers because reading what others have to say helps them decide if a product is right for them.

Glossier is a high-growth company, and to move quickly, we have to make strategic decisions fast. Amplitude has freed up time, allowing us to work more strategically and create the journeys that matter most to our customers.

Interested in learning more about why 45,000+ digital products at companies like Glossier and others use Amplitude to answer strategic questions about how customers use their products? Visit our Customers Page to read more stories like this one.

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About the Author
Image of Faith Bindernagel
Faith Bindernagel
Product Analytics at Glossier, Inc.
Faith Bindernagel is the Product Analytics Lead at Glossier, Inc. Prior to Glossier, Inc. Faith served at the Product Management Manager at Geico.