How OLLY’s Marketing Strategy Is Helping Them Redefine Wellness

Two bottles of Olly gummy supplements. One bottle is labeled "Undeniable Beauty" and the other is labeled "Glowing Skin."
Published on
Apr 22, 2024
Written by
Kayla Ellman
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For the vitamins and supplements brand, email and SMS is the winning formula.

Remember when taking your vitamins was the bane of your existence as a kid? Even as adults, it's still not the most enjoyable experience. But OLLY is on a mission to change that. 

The San Francisco-based B Corp believes that happiness starts from the inside out. They want to make taking your daily vitamins more simple and fun, so it doesn't feel like a chore.

Bringing that mindset to consumers starts with standing out in the supplements aisle. You can't miss OLLY's signature square containers and vibrant, eye-catching labels sitting on shelves among a sea of bland bottles. And that's precisely what makes their products accessible.

The fun doesn't stop there, though. OLLY is best known for their delicious gummies, which are just as effective as they are delightful, and inspire people to actually take their vitamins every day.

We recently sat down with the OLLY e-commerce team to dig into their strategy. Watch their story below, and read on to learn how the brand uses email and SMS to make wellness available to everyone, and keep their loyal customers happy and healthy. 

When science meets fun

OLLY isn't your typical vitamin company. That goes for how they make their products and package them up to how they market them to consumers. For starters, their ever-popular gummies are made with delicious flavor and yumminess in mind, which explains why they taste so amazing. "When we create our products, we always begin with excellent formulations, but delight is a huge piece of our brand promise," says Jennifer Peters, Senior Manager of E-Commerce at OLLY. 

Bringing joy into the wellness space is at the heart of how OLLY connects with customers. "Our personal mission is to make nutrition fun and easy to understand because we know starting a health journey can be tough," explains Becca Tran, the CRM and Retention Specialist behind OLLY's email and SMS channels.

The brand keeps things simple by giving their products names that tell you exactly what they're for, focusing on the benefits they offer rather than the science behind them. You don't need to know the ABCs of vitamins or that biotin is great for your hair. You can just look at the labels.

promotional text message from Olly about a new product called Fiber Gummy Rings

Need better sleep? They've got a line of products called Sleep. Want to improve your gut health? They've got Probiotic in multiple flavors. And if you could use some assistance in the bathroom department, they've got Keep It Movin.

This more transparent approach sets OLLY apart from other brands, and made them truly different when they entered the market by way of Target stores in 2015, Peters explains. But it also takes the pressure off consumers who may not know where to start on their wellness journeys.

promotional text message and email from Olly's new year campaign

"We're very real and honest with our customers. That's how we connect with them," shares Tran, who makes sure this authenticity shines through in all of OLLY's email and SMS marketing. During the New Year, for example, the team wanted to create a campaign about shedding unrealistic expectations and embracing imperfections. "Wellness looks different for everyone," adds Tran. "We always frame our messaging as, 'If you're into resolutions, great. If not, that's cool too.' OLLY is your wellness wing person, always there for you."

Wellness is a (multichannel) journey

People may turn to OLLY to get their nutrients in gummy form at first. That’s what the brand is best known for, after all. But they’ve expanded their product offerings in recent years, introducing adaptogens in capsule form as well as classic softgels. Email and SMS have been crucial in educating customers about these new formulations and how to use them. For example, adaptogens aren't just mushrooms, and softgels most definitely aren't for chewing.

promotional text message and email from Olly about a new line of adaptogens products

"Combining email and SMS creates a winning formula that supercharges customer engagement," says Tran. Last year, when OLLY introduced the new line of adaptogens, the team created a series of emails and text messages to educate customers about what they are, how they work, and why consistency matters, including real reviews to show how effective they are. "If we tried to put all that information into one piece of content, it would be overwhelming," explains Peters. "By breaking it down into smaller pieces that all fit together, we made it more digestible and accessible for our customers." 

This multi-channel approach isn't just for new product launches. It's part of the team's evergreen strategy to make sure people feel confident and informed about what they're buying and putting into their bodies. "Our customers are genuinely interested in the educational content we provide," says Tran, adding that a big part of her job is helping customers find the right products for their needs. 

Take OLLY's sleep supplements line, for instance. There are a variety of options to choose from, and people naturally have questions about which one to take, how often to take them, and if they're safe for kids. Luckily, there's an email series dedicated to answering those (and many other) frequently-asked questions. 

Routines are the key to retention 

"People don't jump around between vitamin brands very often. Once they find something that works for them, they tend to stick with it," says Peters. It's one of the major benefits of being in the vitamins and supplements space. Brand loyalty is built in—but there are ways to make it stronger. "Email and SMS are retention levers for us," Peters adds, sharing some of the strategies the team uses to support that stickiness, like reminding existing customers to replenish their supply and helping new customers discover which products to try first.

triggered replenishment and welcome flow email examples from Olly

The real challenge is figuring out how to reach each customer in the right way, depending on where they are in their journey and their unique shopping habits.

Initially, OLLY focused on physical retail as their main sales channel, before expanding their digital storefront. They're an omnichannel business now, which means they have customers everywhere. Some love shopping in stores, some prefer online, and some are all about Amazon.

Connecting those dots is one of the trickiest parts of being in the CPG industry. "If someone stops buying from our website, they might be shopping at Publix or Walgreens instead," says Peters, emphasizing that the brand is comfortable with their customers buying from wherever is convenient for them. The most important thing is for customers to feel the connection between all of OLLY's channels. 

SMS sign-up unit, welcome message, and Attentive Concierge™ conversation examples from Olly

That's where email and SMS come into play again, always keeping the lines of communication open. "Customers may pick up our products when they're shopping for vitamins in-store and pull up our website on their phones to gather more information or read reviews," Tran explains. Even when the products are as easy to understand as OLLY's are, people usually like to do some research before heading to the checkout counter—and that's how the brand bridges the gap. 

If someone decides to sign up for email and SMS after landing on OLLY's website, they get a friendly welcome message asking if they have any questions. All they have to do from there is text back with their question, and Attentive Concierge™ handles the rest. "Attentive Concierge helps us a lot with personalization because live agents can respond to customers within minutes and help them find what they need quickly," says Tran. 

Our customer service team is very small. They couldn't do their best work without the support of Attentive Concierge. We're answering questions and helping people faster than ever before.

– Jennifer Peters, Senior Manager of E-Commerce at OLLY

The perfect platform for personalization

OLLY's messaging strategy is all about personalization. They understand that, much like a good vitamin regimen, a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't cut it. "We want every text or email we send to feel like a personal message from us," says Tran. 

Using macros to be on a first-name basis with customers is one way the OLLY team makes that happen. But, beyond that, they've made broader changes to their tech stack to take personalization to the next level, like bringing their email program over to Attentive. "I can't emphasize enough how incredible it is to have email and SMS in one place," shares Peters. "Every marketer dreams of having a single database of customers to make sure their communications are always timely and relevant." 

I've used almost every ESP out there. You reach a point where you assume they all have email marketing figured out. But when we switched to Attentive Email, it hit me that most legacy ESPs are just doing what they've always done.

What blew me away about Attentive is that they approached email marketing with a fresh perspective, treating it as a new and exciting channel rather than an old, established one. They brought in techniques and strategies from SMS that literally no other ESP is doing. It was a breath of fresh air because we were starting to feel like, 'Email is dead. Long live SMS.' But the reality is, both channels work amazingly well together, especially when used in harmony.

– Jennifer Peters, Senior Manager of E-Commerce at OLLY

Another major advantage for the team is having access to the same tools for email that they've had for years on SMS. "When we added Attentive Email, it was amazing because we already knew how to use everything," adds Peters, specifically calling out her love of the segment builder and event tracking pixel. 

Of course, migrating to a new email platform is no small endeavor. Peters has gone through the process many times, recalling that it's always been a monstrous project. But it was a completely different experience with Attentive. In fact, the migration was so easy, Peters "couldn't believe it was real." 

What made it simple was the ability to move everything over piece by piece, starting with their email journeys and assessing their performance before adding campaign emails to the mix. "We truly felt like we had partners in our team at Attentive during the entire migration process," says Peters. 

That partnership is yet another reason OLLY decided to bring both channels together on the Attentive platform. "Since I own our email and SMS channels, having a dedicated CSM as a resource has been a huge help," says Tran. "Attentive comes out with new products and features all the time. Our CSM makes sure I know how to use them to optimize our programs." 

example of Olly's smart suggestion email series powered by Attentive AI™

One of those new tools is Attentive AI™. OLLY's CSM came to the team with the idea of creating a "Smart Suggestion" email series that sends subscribers personalized recommendations at a regular cadence. It performed so well—generating over 40% of a typical month's email revenue for the brand—that Tran has kept the series going ever since. 

examples of Olly's loyalty journeys using the Friendbuy integration

The team at OLLY has a lot of trust in their CSM's advice because of success stories like that one. That's why, when their CSM suggested Friendbuy as a loyalty partner, Peters and Tran were excited to learn more. It ended up being a smart move for their retention strategy, making it possible for them to send personalized messages to customers about their reward points balance, redemption options, and referrals. And now, it’s another avenue for the brand to make wellness easier and more accessible for everyone.

Inspired by OLLY’s success with email and SMS? Learn ‌more about ‌Attentive Email and what it can do for your brand. 

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