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Digicom Interview with Iman Hamidi, Director of E-commerce at INNBEAUTY Project

In episode 4 of our Growth Marketing Podcast, we had the opportunity to chat with Iman Hamidi, the Director of E-commerce at InnBeauty Project, one of the fastest growing brands at Sephora. We delve into the world of digital marketing, e-commerce, and the essential strategies that can help businesses thrive.

Iman Hamidi's journey into the digital world began over a decade ago, starting with SEO and social media marketing. As he delved deeper into the industry, he found a passion for advertising due to its analytical nature and immediate impact on businesses. This journey eventually led him into the world of e-commerce, where he now focuses on growth and strategy for the skincare brand, InnBeauty Project.

Key Takeaways:

The Power of Data-Driven Decisions

Iman emphasizes the importance of making data-driven decisions in the digital marketing world. While intuition plays a role, relying on data often leads to better results. He highlights the significance of A/B testing to validate assumptions and optimize various aspects of digital marketing, from ad campaigns to email and SMS marketing. Through data analysis, brands can uncover unexpected insights that drive growth.

Understanding User Behavior

Iman stresses the need for businesses to understand their buyer personas thoroughly. This understanding is crucial for crafting effective marketing messages and optimizing the overall user experience. Continuously gathering data on customer profiles, including new and returning customers, helps tailor messaging for better results.

Flexibility in Product Strategies

Iman goes on to discuss the importance of flexibility in product strategies. He mentions the surprising success of higher-ticket items and bundles compared to single, lower-cost products, highlighting the nature of customer preferences. Brands need to adapt and experiment with product offerings to meet changing demands.

Shoppable Video and User-Generated Content

Looking ahead to the future of digital marketing, Iman predicts a continued focus on user-generated content and shoppable videos. Platforms like TikTok have shown the effectiveness of influencer-driven, authentic content. Shoppable videos are becoming increasingly popular in e-commerce, providing engaging and interactive experiences for customers.

Evolving Team Structures

More hybrid teams are anticipated in businesses, where team members possess skills spanning marketing, design, and development. Collaboration between these departments will become even more critical for success.

Don't miss out on this podcast episode that provides valuable insights into the world of digital marketing and e-commerce. Iman's proficiency in data-driven decision-making, user behavior analysis, and innovative holiday season strategies offers practical insights you won't want to miss.

Make sure you catch this valuable discussion—tune in now!

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Connect with Digicom:

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We at DigiCom are obsessive data-driven marketers pulling from multi-disciplinary strategies to unlock scale. We buy media across all platforms and placements and provide creative solutions alongside content creation, and conversion rate optimizations. We pride ourselves on your successes and will stop at nothing to help you grow.


Hemant Varshney (00:00.926) Hey man, thanks for jumping on our podcast today. We are very excited to have you. Doing well. Nice to see you for the second or third time this week. Ha ha ha. Iman Hamidi (00:08.729) Hey, how's it going? Good to see you. Iman Hamidi (00:16.573) I love when we make it to me and see each other. I'm sure we get to see each other both at the beginning of the week and also at the end of the week, which is fantastic. Hemant Varshney (00:18.823) Um... Hemant Varshney (00:27.19) Yes, sir. So today we're chatting with Iman. He has a ton of experience in D2C, e-commerce, CRO. Iman, can you jump into your background and what got you into digital? Iman Hamidi (00:44.273) Totally. So almost 12 years ago now, I started working in the digital marketing industry. I got my start with SEO and social media. Quickly I moved into advertising. I love the analytical aspect of advertising and being able to make an impact sooner than later as you know, SEO is a long term game. And from Iman Hamidi (01:14.053) direct to consumer brands and working with them. And that's how I started working in e-commerce actually, is through my time working in advertising. I started working for a medical company as the head of e-commerce over there. And quickly I started to get into more technical areas of not only digital marketing, but also e-commerce, moving into user experiences, web development. and trying to find opportunities to improve a e-commerce company's growth through optimizing their web experience, as well as email marketing and SMS marketing. That ended up coming a few years later. So I've had my hand in a lot of different areas of digital marketing and e-commerce specifically. And I think having a range of experiences has equipped me to be in the role that I'm in right now, which is director of e-commerce, where my focus is on growth and strategy for a direct-to-consumer brand in the skincare industry by the name of InBeauty Project. Hemant Varshney (02:27.406) Amazing, thank you for all that information. You are definitely a jack of all trades. I see that on the day to day working with you. What would you say is your expertise in digital and how has it helped the brands? Understood that you have your hands in many different parts of the business and you're wearing a lot of hats, but what would you say is your expertise? Iman Hamidi (02:35.869) Totally. Iman Hamidi (02:55.161) Well, I think there's always the intuition that people like to employ, but personally, I believe that data speaks for itself and making your decisions based on data typically leads to better results. So you may have, you know, an idea or hypothesis about how something can unfold, but until you actually test it and see what the data says, it's all just assumptions. Um, so working in the digital marketing industry for now, again, over 10 years, I've seen how things that you may think do well or are going to do well end up flopping and on the reverse side, things that you're not really sure of, you don't think it's going to do too well, end up doing much better than expected. Um, just this week, there was an example of a ad that we started whitelisting where we actually had two. Um, posts whitelisted from the same creator. And I'll be honest, I thought one of them was better than the other. And the one that I thought was better is actually not doing as well as the other one. So that just goes to show you that, your intuition can only take you so far. I think the data needs to speak for itself in a lot of different areas of digital marketing. Outside of that, just understanding user behavior, I think, having a solid foundation in digital marketing. You need to understand your buyer personas. You need to understand who it is you're communicating to in your marketing messages, who it is that's gonna be utilizing your product. And all of that helps you come to, you know, these assumptions that you wanna test, right? And a lot of that just takes time and, you know, it's not something you will know right off the bat. It's something you need to continuously optimize. in terms of what profiles your customers have and who your new customers are, who your returning customers are, and how to appeal to them and send them the right messaging. Hemant Varshney (05:02.71) Yeah, and I think just adding onto that, it's also your product type, right? We've been doing a lot of experimentation with different products and bundles. And while one product type can skew a specific demo, another product type can skew a whole different demo. And that can impact AOV and revenue row as all of the business level KPIs that are important to drive revenue and profit. Iman Hamidi (05:32.381) Totally, totally. I think, interestingly enough, to your point here, in the brand that I'm working with in beauty, we tend to think our customers are a little bit younger and potentially aren't willing to spend as much. But we've seen recently together that the bundles and the higher ticket price items are actually doing much better than the single items or the lower ticket items. So I think that's an interesting point that you made is sometimes you have to try different things and learn more about your customer base because it evolves just like everything else in D2C, right? Hemant Varshney (06:13.274) Yeah, it's always a changing environment, which makes it definitely fun and definitely complicated at times, but it's always solving a different puzzle. Can you jump into a couple strategies with examples that you've leveraged to help brands unlock, whether it's conversion rate or AOV or improving upper funnel, like click-through Iman Hamidi (06:26.385) Totally. Hemant Varshney (06:42.674) I just, I think it can be very helpful to some of our listeners because like, I've seen all the amazing work you've done in like our conversations in terms of like an e-comm perspective. And, you know, it's, and I've mentioned this to you before. It's just like, the granularity at what you're looking at from a data perspective, it's, it's really incredible. And then on top of that, the changes, and that you're making across, you know, the website or also in terms of like our marketing mix, right? And the conversations we're having, there's so much there that I think it can really help our listeners. Iman Hamidi (07:16.912) Yeah. Iman Hamidi (07:22.481) Totally. I kind of alluded to this a little bit, but I'd love to go into more detail. I really think that testing is going to be something that every brand, every marketer needs to employ. And you can test things on your website, you can test things in your advertising, you can test things in your emails, in your SMS. You know, working right now in the position that I'm in where I do manage the website. I do work with you and your team on the advertising and we're doing all of the email marketing and SMS marketing campaigns in house. Any opportunity I have to test something and gain some valuable insights, I take it. You can get very granular with your testing and sometimes there's a benefit to that, other times there's no benefit to it. I think understanding what your goals are, what outcomes you're trying to reach and what business objectives. you're trying to impact kind of helps me personally decide whether a certain test is going to be effective or not. You know, when it comes to testing, I think a lot of brands think about testing as an A-B test and A-B test is certainly very popular and it's the majority of the tests I run. Outside of that, there's also multivariate testing, which can also be very impactful because There may be changes you make to a webpage such as your product page Where you want to see different variations and how they interact with each other instead of running these independent tests on one element and eventually, you know doing instead of Simultaneously testing multiple things having these independent tests run sequentially where you test this after you reach certain Statistical significance you move on to the next test It's something that I've been doing more of is multivariate testing, especially on the website. Now, as it pertains to email marketing and SMS marketing, again, there's so many different variables you can test. I think understanding user behavior is one of the things that we try to gain insights on when we test within our retention efforts. So things like testing when to send certain messages, testing which cohort of customers to send to. Iman Hamidi (09:46.121) even as granular as testing the actual design itself and whether having a badge that says save X percent or the badge says get a free product. I mean there's all these things that you can test to learn more which can help you optimize future campaigns or optimize the overall experience and I think when it comes to testing things within your advertising. there's always going to be room for improvement. So just because you test a certain hook against another hook and you find some results there, it doesn't mean you need to stop at that point. I think you always need to be testing new hooks against each other, new designs against each other, as well as new video content. The things that we're testing right now are having a model. in the first few seconds versus not having a model and having the product be the focus. So when it comes to testing, I think there's so much granularity you can employ at the same time. Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the big picture, understand what goal or what outcome you would like to achieve, put together a hypothesis and test and then look at the data. And the data aspect can be also very simplistic. Which one had a higher click-through rate or which one had a higher conversion rate? I think different tools however do provide you with even deeper insights a prime example of this is I was a be testing a landing page several months ago and interestingly enough the overall Improvement that we saw in conversion rate was not great However, if you took a deeper look you saw that in fact new customers had a much higher increase in conversion rate, whereas that lower increase or honestly no increase was from the returning customers. So at that point you can take a look at the data and take a look at what's feasible on your end as to whether or not you can have a different variation for new customers and a separate variation for existing customers or returning customers. Iman Hamidi (12:08.793) And that's where you can get a little bit more advanced with your tests and identifying opportunities. And I think honestly, anything in terms of 5% to 10% increase is worth it because over time, those incremental 5% increases, they stack up and they start to make a large impact. Hemant Varshney (12:28.458) Yeah, and I think, you keep calling out data, which is very, very important. And from the tests you were running, if it's going to both new and old customers or returning customers, the increase or percent lift might not skew as high as we would expect. But when you broke out new customers, you're seeing like, oh, we are seeing that five to 10% increase, which then can come back to us and it's like, okay, maybe we should be running this specific landing page in our prospecting campaigns while leveraging the older landing page on retargeting. And then also taking it a step further, right? Like oftentimes we're finding different messaging works in different parts of the funnel. So similarly having different landing pages and really diving into the data to see what the unlock is can help you. Iman Hamidi (13:10.65) Exactly. Hemant Varshney (13:26.135) Um. Iman Hamidi (13:26.558) 100%. You hit the nail right on the head with that. Hemant Varshney (13:31.587) So wanted to just ask you, you know, there's, again, there's just so many different things you touch on, but like, what are, what is like one or two pieces of advice you can give brand, different brands to help them grow? Iman Hamidi (13:47.461) Yeah, I think any brand obviously can utilize A-B testing. Just side note, unfortunately Google Optimize, which is a free A-B testing tool is going away. So brands are gonna need to look for alternative solutions there. Currently we're vetting a couple different providers such as VWO and A-B Tasty. But with all that being said, I think. The first thing is trying to understand what are you trying to achieve? Take a step back, don't think about the specific A-B tests you wanna run. Think about what outcome or what business objective you wanna impact. Is it to see more returning customers? Is it to see a higher conversion rate? For advertising, do you just wanna see a higher click-through rate, right? And then from there, think about it, okay, what can I test? come up with hypotheses, right? I actually, I have a science background. I studied biology in school. And when you're in a lab, they teach you about the scientific experiment. And very much, A-B testing is a scientific experiment where you have a hypothesis, you come up with how you're going to start that test, what's required, do I need a developer, or can I make some changes using a WYSIWYG editor within my A-B testing tool? Once you have that planned out, you run your test, you come to some sort of statistical significance and it lets you know based on that data, um, what you can do. So I think brands can start at a very simple, simple level there and start testing within their ad campaigns, different messaging, different hooks. It's, it's a lot more of an easy lift there because you don't necessarily need a developer, right? You maybe need a designer to write different copy and you know, test different variations of a hook or a different ad within your advertising and see can I get a lift in click through rate. Typically if you do see a lift in click through rate, what follows, not all the time, but most of the time is a lift in conversion rate, which ends up being more revenue, right? And another test too, it doesn't even have to include a designer. It's something that we do a lot of is the landing page testing. You know, testing. Iman Hamidi (16:13.229) a product page versus a collection page. You don't even need the designer there, you just need to set up the A-B test within the ad platform, right? So I think at a very simplistic level for brands who maybe don't have the resources to employ a developer to set these tests up, you can start there, see what sort of improvements you can make, what optimizations you can make. at the very top of that funnel, which is, you know, like you said, prospecting and try to get people to your site. And then from there, if you have, let's say a retention, uh, program with email marketing, SMS marketing, you can start to test things there. Again, if you don't have the designer to test different variations of a email design or, uh, an SMS image, like, uh, like MMS, you can get as simple as testing different send times. maybe sending it in the morning is better than afternoon, or maybe the evening time is better than the morning. It's gonna depend on the user, it's gonna depend on what industry you're in, and at times it's even gonna depend on what day you're sending it. The weekend is gonna differ from the weekdays. So I think for any brand who hasn't started A-B testing, that's a great start. Test your ads, test your landing pages, test your email marketing, send times, designs. Whatever is feasible for the team, gets started sooner than later. Even now, you know, I've been handling the email and SMS marketing campaigns for the brand for a few months. 80%, 90% of the campaigns we're sending have some form of an A.D. test. Hemant Varshney (17:56.458) Yeah. I mean, I think that is absolutely, you know, very crucial, especially because like all of the macro level changes and micro level changes and like business changes that are constantly occurring. I think, you know, very much like with every deployment, there should be something that we're learning. Whether like messaging time, like all of these, you know, amazing points that you've that you've hit on. Iman Hamidi (18:18.224) Exactly. Hemant Varshney (18:25.77) Couple more questions for you. Where do you see digital going in the next five years? Iman Hamidi (18:29.094) Let's hear it. Iman Hamidi (18:34.225) That's a tough question. You know, it feels like technology has advanced so much. The industry has advanced so much over the last three, four, five years. Um, and what we're seeing currently is this influx of, you know, user generated content that's doing so well, especially from an advertising perspective. Um, TikTok has been a huge, uh, part of that, right? Anybody can pick up their phone, record a video, talk about a brand they like. or talk about a product they like and post that. And people will come to it and flock to it and be quote unquote influenced by it, right? So I think that's gonna continue to be a part of the industry is influencers, raw content, not super polished, just very real, you know, very real content. That's again, produced by people who are. micro influencers, nano influencers, all the way up to the macro influencers, right? Outside of that, I think shoppable video has been something, in the e-commerce industry at least, shoppable video has been a big topic and something that a lot of brands are doing now. If they weren't doing it six months ago, they're doing it today. It's something that we're going to be launching soon for our brand. I think when someone comes to a website, sometimes a website can be boring. Hemant Varshney (19:37.025) Yeah. Iman Hamidi (20:01.517) You know, if there's no animations, if there's no video, if the colors are bland, I think nowadays people like to see something that's more fun, something that's engaging, that's interactive. And so that's where shoppable video and video in general starts to become part of not just DTC e-commerce websites, but I think other industries as well. People just wanna hear and be fed that information instead of reading something on a screen. Um, outside of that, I think, um, we're going to continue to see more and more marketing teams just working closer and closer with their design teams and their development teams, because I think, um, especially in tech companies, that product manager, um, plays that, that central role between the departments. Um, but within e-commerce and DTC typically, um, especially on the smaller teams, you won't have that, you won't have a product manager, right? I think my role director of e-commerce kind of acts as that product manager for a lot of DTC companies, bridging the gap between design, development and marketing. But I think there's going to be, in terms of people who work at the companies and those teams is going to be more hybrids. Kind of like myself, I've had my hand in so many different areas and I just have... I think that experience has really helped me think about not only a website, but also the users and the personas differently, where I can make certain suggestions or optimizations or run certain tests based on that experience and what I've seen. So I think we'll end up having a lot more of these hybrid teams in-house and internally that brands will start to employ. Hemant Varshney (21:58.518) Yeah, I think those are like several amazing insights, right, that our listeners can walk away with and like either do more research or figure ways to activate some of these strategies. What's one question you wish that I asked you that I haven't asked you yet and how would you answer it? Iman Hamidi (22:22.777) What's my favorite basketball team? No, I'm just kidding. You know, one thing that, you know, you didn't ask, which right now is a hot topic, obviously this time of year is holidays, the holiday season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. And if you had asked me, you know, what's the strategy there? I would say it's gonna be a lot of the same as last year, plus a lot of new things, right? Hemant Varshney (22:24.718) I'm not. Iman Hamidi (22:51.621) We want to test new promotions. We want to test new ads. We want to test new landing pages, right? I think getting creative during this holiday season is going to help a lot of brands set themselves apart. How can you get creative? There's a number of ways I think it's going to be specific to every industry. For us as an example, we're going to probably be doing holiday kits, holiday bundles, things that are limited edition and exclusive to this time of year. We may be doing some free gifts as well with purchase. So a lot of brands who have historically have done the percentage off, can try some of those tactics as well and see how that works for them. Again, it's never gonna be a sure bet. You do have to test it. But I think that may be something this holiday season and during Black Friday, Suburban Monday this year that we may end up seeing more of is creativity behind the promotions and the offers. Hemant Varshney (23:58.91) I think just strictly from a D to C perspective, I think that is definitely a great question because there's so many different ways for brands to kind of tackle, one, how to cut through the noise. And then second question also is it's like when are brands launching? The last few years they've been launching earlier and earlier and earlier, right? So Iman Hamidi (24:25.051) Yeah. Hemant Varshney (24:26.634) I think, yeah, absolutely testing through and understanding like what your strategy is, especially because it's almost October. October is right here. And October is gonna go by so quickly. And before you know it, it will be Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and we're in full holiday. So definitely important to like map out that strategy now versus, you know, later on. Plus if... for our listeners that are on all of these different ad platforms, like review times have started to take longer and longer and longer. So just getting set up earlier is definitely, I think, a great recommendation for everybody. Come on, thanks for jumping on our show and providing all of this information. Wanted to ask you one last question for today, at least. Where can our listeners find you? Iman Hamidi (25:10.621) course. Iman Hamidi (25:15.805) sure thing. Of course. You know, I try to keep a low profile, but I am on LinkedIn So if anybody wants to send me a connection request happy to connect with you on LinkedIn I've had some great conversations with other people in the industry over LinkedIn as well as that we can Hopefully see each other at the grow conference in LA in October. I know hey man you and I that's where we met And I know we'll see each other there in a few weeks. So anybody in the LA area, if you're going to go to the Grow conference, come look for me. But yeah, I think that's where you can find me on LinkedIn. Other than that, it's been a pleasure speaking with you. Hopefully your viewers and listeners can take something away from this. If nothing else, just start thinking about A-B testing, start preparing for the holiday season sooner than later, like you said. I think... The sooner you start, the better. Summer, midsummer is definitely the time to get started on all of that. Planning and holiday planning and setting that roadmap, like you said. Hemant Varshney (26:31.71) Amazing! Thank you for joining us! Iman Hamidi (26:35.097) Of course, thank you. Talk to you later. Hemant Varshney (26:37.506) Talk to you later.


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