Joanne Coffey on flexible influencer marketing and becoming a retention marketer for Jones Road Beauty
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I recently interviewed Joanne Coffey, a data-driven email and SMS marketer who works with early-stage startups in the DTC beauty industry.
At 23 years old, Joanne is the former Head of Retention at Aisling Organic Cosmetics and is now the new Assistant Manager of Retention Marketing at Jones Road Beauty, a clean beauty company founded by legendary makeup artist Bobbi Brown.
Joanne shared her rapid career growth story as well as tips for new marketing professionals. She also gave a behind-the-scenes look at Jones Road’s influencer marketing and overall marketing approach.
Becoming a retention marketer
While studying at Southern New Hampshire University, Joanne wanted to find a way to break into the beauty industry. She found a local entrepreneur on LinkedIn who owned a direct-to-consumer (DTC) makeup line called Aisling Organic Cosmetics. Even though she had no idea what DTC meant, she decided to reach out and connect.
During a call with the founder, Joanne pitched a part-time unpaid internship, which Aisling Organic Cosmetics happened to need at the moment. Because the office was only 45 minutes away, she and the founder decided to meet up for a more formal interview in person. “We instantly connected, and it was a perfect match. She was looking for someone to help with marketing, and I was looking for an opportunity and mentor in the beauty space,” Joanne said.
As an intern, Joanne spent her days washing makeup brushes, labeling products in a warehouse, and assembling basic marketing plans.
“I had basic intern responsibilities, but I didn't care. I was a sponge trying to absorb as much information as I could from a strong female founder who quickly became my role model. I was building everything out while taking 7-9 classes at a time, being a scholarship athlete, and trying to have a sliver of a social life. I had to sacrifice a lot but I knew this was my one opportunity to break into this highly competitive industry.”
This was Joanne’s first experience in marketing, which soon led to a part-time Marketing Assistant role for the company. Seeing quick successes with email marketing, she went on to expand their efforts into SMS, loyalty programs, affiliates, and more. Her job title followed suit: she became the Head of Retention at Aisling Organic Cosmetics.
In December of 2021, Joanne was tagged in the same Twitter thread as Jones Road Beauty’s Director of Ecommerce. “I had never heard of Jones Road before, so I asked him to jump on a call to network and see what was working for him,” Joanne said. “After sharing my strategies and what I had done at Aisling, he said he was looking to bring someone on for email and SMS. I had no idea that call would lead to a job opportunity.”
When Joanne was offered a retention role at Jones Road Beauty, she couldn’t believe it.
“The 19-year-old college girl version of myself, who was just labeling inventory in a warehouse, was screaming on the inside. I got to work for Bobbi Brown, a renowned serial entrepreneur, and pro makeup artist, as well as an incredible team of performance marketers to become one of the fastest-growing beauty startups in the world.”
Three weeks later, Joanne signed the offer letter and started at Jones Road Beauty in January of 2022 as the Assistant Manager of Retention Marketing.
Transitioning into a new role
At Aisling, Joanne was responsible for a lot: Copywriting, designing, segmentation, strategy, budgeting, advising, and more. But that was the early start-up life, and while she loved the experience, at the end of the day, only one person can do so much.
“I'll be the first to admit I was not an expert in any of the marketing areas I was helping with, but having the opportunity to get my hands dirty and try new things that I wasn't familiar with was an incredible opportunity to have. I'll never forget that.”
With her new role at Jones Road, Joanne is now working with a team of professionals who are the best in the business. They're experienced, talented, and driven, and she shared that her new role feels more stable and targeted. She’s working with a team of professional copywriters and designers to help support her in my role, instead of her trying to figure it out on my own.
However, much of her role as a retention marketer still involves a lot of experimentation, which is why being part of a team with a flexible marketing strategy is so important.
The importance of a flexible marketing strategy
As a retention marketer, Joanne knows marketing is about listening to customers and leaning into what works. However, what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. What works tomorrow might grow exponentially by next week.
So what’s the secret to a successful, flexible marketing strategy? It’s all in the blend.
Using a blended influencer marketing approach
Influencers and creators play a large role in Jones Road’s marketing. The company does a blend of paid partnerships, gifting, and content seeding—partnering on Instagram with influencers such as Carolyn Gray and Lynn Shabinsky.
Joanne said the combination of paid, gifting, and seeding has led to more exposure and sales for the brand. She sees influencer marketing as a small test to see how live shopping will evolve in the future.
“We collaborate with influencers on IG Live and have seen great success in terms of exposure and sales. I'm looking at it as a small test to see the opportunity in live shopping and how we can incorporate that into our marketing strategy in the months to come.”
Experimenting with different social channels
Having developed email marketing and loyalty programs in the past, Joanne recognizes the importance of being flexible and says being able to adapt and shift is essential to success.
When she joined the Jones Road team in early January, the focus was on Facebook ads because they were converting well. Then, the founder posted a viral TikTok, garnering 2.4M views organically.
“In that 24-hour period, we were blown away with the response and opportunity there is with TikTok. Over the next few weeks, we are going hard with TikTok to see if there really is a window of opportunity there, and what those potential customers want to see from Bobbi.”
Since the original video, they’ve shared another 20+ videos, two of which broke 1M views again. Many of their clips now have more than 30,000 views.
“Our strategy is not built around putting all of our eggs in one basket. We want to play the field, test, and see what performs. Our strengths lie in providing educational content to women of all ages and that is exactly what we are going to continue to do.”
Future plans with Jones Road Beauty
Joanne shared two exciting developments on the horizon for Jones Road.
First: Mid-January 2022, Jones Road launched with Credo, a clean beauty marketplace focused on sharing safer, sustainable, and transparent products. As a growing company with 200K followers on Instagram, partnering with Credo will help Jones Road spread brand awareness and connect with more customers.
Joanne’s excited to see what the future will bring.
“Although this deal was already locked-in before I joined the team, it's still an incredible achievement. I'm very proud of our tiny and mighty team for pulling off.”
The other exciting thing on the horizon: A focus on personalization.
The reason: Personalization is the name of the beauty game. Joanne said the plan is to create one of the most personalized makeup match quizzes on the market this year. Over 65.5% of cosmetics retailers offer interactive matching quizzes to provide a personalized customer experience. Some see 2x customer value and 2.5x average order value after 90 days.
Joanne’s 3 tips for standing out as a new marketing professional
1. Say yes to learning opportunities (even when you’re scared)
Still in college and new to the beauty industry, Joanne knew she had a lot to learn.
But she stepped up to the challenge. She became Head of Retention not by knowing all the answers, but by trusting herself to figure it out. Joanne made a habit of saying yes to learning opportunities, no matter how intimidating it felt.
“The founder asked if I would like to try email marketing, and although on the inside I was intimidated and nervous, I said ‘Absolutely.’”
2. Focus on your personal brand
After three years of working in retention and taking her personal brand more seriously, doors started to open for Joanne.
In 2021, she appeared on the podcast The Ecommerce Insights Show sharing her expertise on email and SMS retention marketing. She now also shares her marketing secrets on Twitter and attributes her new role at Jones Road Beauty to making her personal brand a higher priority.
3. Share your gratitude with others
When Joanne was offered the role at Jones Road, she felt honored. She was incredibly excited to take this next step in her career. But she didn’t forget her roots. She remembered all the hard work and mentorship that brought her here.
When she signed her offer letter, Joanne spent the better half of the night writing thank you letters to mentors, sharing her gratitude with the people who have played a big role in her career success thus far.
Advice for new retention marketers
Joanne has come a long way since her unpaid internship days.
In less than four years, she’s gone from labeling products in a warehouse to leading retention at DTC clean beauty startups. She pushed herself to step outside of her comfort zone and step up to figure out marketing challenges, however intimidating they seemed at the time.
Her biggest piece of advice for new marketers: embrace change and discomfort.
“The biggest obstacle I have encountered on my path to Jones Road is believing in myself and telling myself that I deserve this. Being an avid beauty lover, this opportunity didn't even feel real to me, nor did I think I deserved it. It was the first real change that I had in my life in such a long time. After seeing how change can be a good thing, I feel like I'm no longer scared of change; I embrace it.”
Joanne says the most exciting part of her job is having the opportunity to work with professional makeup artist Bobbi Brown, the founder of Jones Road. “There’s always that girl in me that loves makeup, and the fact that I get to observe, learn, and grow with one of the best in the industry in terms of cosmetic formulation and education is something I'm extremely grateful for,” she said.
She went on to say that working in early stage startups, it's easy to get stuck in the weeds of things and have your head down going full steam ahead. However, in her new role, she feels like a fresh pair of eyes bringing new perspectives and ideas to the table. “I've come on with a bird's eye view and I'm taking initiative on things that are overlooked, underperforming, and have endless opportunities,” she said.