Starting a business is tough.
Starting a business targeting millennials is especially tough.
And starting a business targeting millennials that actually breaks through the clutter and makes a real impact on this notoriously hard-to-impress demographic? It’s darn near impossible.
Unless you’re HiSmile, that is.
HiSmile, a teeth whitening company out of the Gold Coast, is absolutely dominating the teeth-whitening market. In just over three years, founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic’s sales have exploded, starting off from just $20K of their own savings and growing this into over $40M in sales from over 100,000 customers across the globe. And the bulk of those customers? Those much sought-after millennials.
HiSmile’s explosive success is no fluke. In this in-depth case study, we’ll dive into exactly how HiSmile was able to capture a huge share of the market in a short period of time thanks to a stellar digital marketing strategy with an emphasis on social marketing.
Table of Contents
A Brief HiSmile History
Let’s get started, shall we?
A Brief HiSmile History
HiSmile launched in 2014. As mentioned, the operation was entirely self-funded by founders Mirkovic and Tomic. With only $20K to get their business off the ground, the founders recognized a gap in the oral hygiene market – a gap they believed they could fill with the right teeth-whitening product and branding. The pair set out to not only create a product that would deliver results but build a business with low overhead (their products, which are made in China, are sold directly through their website) so they could reinvest their profits into scaling the company to a global level.
Today, Mirkovic and Tomic are among the most successful entrepreneurs in Australia. In 2017, they made their debut on the list of Australian Financial Review’s Young and Rich List (and, at 22 and 24, they’re also the list’s youngest entrants).
Mirkovic and Tomic have managed to create a wildly successful business in an incredibly short period of time. So how, exactly, did they do that?
Before we deep dive into the “how” behind HiSmile’s domination of the teeth-whitening world, let’s talk about the “what” – the product.
HiSmile’s flagship product is an LED teeth-whitening kit (containing a teeth-whitening gel, an LED light, and a mouth tray, which altogether retails for $79.95AUD) that promises to make your pearly whites look their whitest in just six applications. After those six applications (which last 10 minutes each), you can expect your chompers to lighten up to eight shades whiter.
In addition to their teeth-whitening kit, HiSmile has a variety of related products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, and a tooth-whitening pen for touch-ups. You can buy the products a la carte or if you want to save, look into their subscription packages and bundle deals.
Currently, HiSmile offers subscriptions for their toothpaste, mouthwash, whitening gel, and whitening pen – all of which offer a 30% discount. HiSmile will deliver your products each month; plus, they’ve got a “no hassle” policy, which means if you want to change the product or frequency of your deliveries or cancel, all you have to do is let them know.
HiSmile also has a few bundle deals that can help you save on retail pricing. Currently, HiSmile has three bundle options available on their website:
- Ultimate (which contains the Teeth Whitening Kit, Coconut Whitening Mouthwash, and Teeth Whitening Pen and saves you $25.98)
- Coco (which contains the Teeth Whitening Kit and Coconut Whitening Mouthwash and saves you $13.99)
- Original (which contains the Teeth Whitening Kit and Teeth Whitening Pen and saves you $13.99)
One of the traits that make HiSmile’s products unique is their ingredients. HiSmile’s products are entirely vegan and cruelty-free. Additionally, there is a promise of zero sensitivity or pain following application – a far cry from the harsh formulas you’re subjected to in the dentist’s chair.
HiSmile is confident their products work (and judging by the 14,000+ five-star reviews they’ve got on their teeth-whitening kit, it sounds like they have good reason to be), so they offer a money-back guarantee; if you’re not happy with the results, a 30-day full refund is available.
Ok, so now that we’ve covered what HiSmile is, let’s talk about how they’ve managed to transform their $20K teeth-whitening startup into a $40M powerhouse embraced by influencers and millennials around the globe.
The secret key to HiSmile’s explosive success? Social media.
From day one, HiSmile has focused their energy on connecting with their target demographic across social media platforms. Today, the company spends $10M per year on social media marketing – to amazing results.
Let’s take a look at how HiSmile’s focus on all things social media has helped them achieve great success and go from $20K to $40M in just three years:
Gathering intel from social media
Understanding your ideal customer is central to success in any business. But when HiSmile founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic started out, they weren’t sure who would connect best with their product. But they knew they needed to find out – rather than guess, they turned to social media.
In the early days of HiSmile, the company took a bit of a “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks approach.” During their first six months of business, Mirkovic and Tomic published an abundance of content for everyone from 15 to 35 years of age. They hoped that by promoting to a wider audience, they’d be able to find their niche and figure out which exact demographic was the best fit for their product.
“We pushed so much content out because of social media,” says Mirkovic. “We got to see what content got the best interactions.”
After six months of experimentation and analysis, Mirkovic and Tomic realized their target market was millennial women between the ages of 15 and 24. If they wanted their company to gain market share and succeed, they’d need to focus their marketing resources on this demographic.
Mirkovic and Tomic developed a strategy that relied on selling not just their product, but the ideal lifestyle for their demographic.
And how, exactly, did they accomplish that?
The biggest component of HiSmile’s social media strategy was (and is) targeting social media influencers. By getting HiSmile products into the hands and onto the social media pages of influencers in their target demographic, they hoped their followers would soon follow suit.
Mirkovic and Tomic invested nearly all of their initial $20K into compiling stock – most of which they allotted to send to influencers.
HiSmile’ decision to pursue influencers in their early days was a contributing factor for their immediate growth and an important turning point for their business. They focused on regional micro-influencers – social media influencers who might not have had millions of followers but had a strong influence in their market (in this case, the Gold Coast and surrounding suburbs). Mirkovic and Tomic sent teeth-whitening kits to these micro-influencers in hopes of getting a mention on their social media channels.
While pursuing famous celebrities for their influence is a viable strategy (and one HiSmile would execute later), leveraging micro-influencers provides you with more bang for your buck. In fact, according to AdWeek, micro-influencers are 6.7X more effective per engagement than larger influencers and have 22X more weekly conversations than the average consumer. By partnering with micro-influencers, HiSmile were able to increase the effectiveness of their influencer campaign, reach more potential customers, and grow their business rapidly. Not too shabby!
According to Mirkovic and Tomic, they were so successful with their influencer outreach campaign because they focused on the product first. Before they began outreach to any single influencer, they set out to create a product that influencers would not only love but would be likely to buy themselves. Because their products were embraced, influencers who received HiSmile products were likely to be excited to share it with their followers.
Once Mirkovic and Tomic ironed out the details and figured out the most efficient and effective way to manage their influencer outreach, they expanded their influencer outreach program to other micro-influencers and celebrities, around the globe.
That is when things really blew up.
Today, HiSmile works with 2,000 influencers at any given time (with about 5,000 total on their roster) and has skyrocketed their social media following to well over 2 million followers across platforms. Let’s take a look at the different platforms HiSmile has used to take over the teeth-whitening world, one social media post at a time:
The company’s main focus is, without a doubt, Instagram.
Instagram was the jumping off point for HiSmile taking their influencer outreach to a whole new level. After the success of their micro-influencer campaigns, HiSmile decided to go after the queen of all social media influencers: Kylie Jenner.
Kylie Jenner is a force to be reckoned with in the world of social media. She has an amazing following of 100M users on Instagram. When she recommends a product, millennial girls drop whatever they’re doing in order to get their hands on it. HiSmile recognized that a post from Kylie would do more to promote their product than any amount of advertising ever could, so they set their sights on landing the Holy Grail of Instagram connections.
Unfortunately, getting your product onto Jenner’s page isn’t easy. Not only is the teen idol flooded with requests from companies around the globe to feature their products, she’s also notoriously selective when choosing which products she’ll promote. Before promoting a product, Jenner has to test and review it to confirm it aligns with her image. As a result, getting the ball rolling can be difficult.
After six long months of negotiations with Jenner and her team, Jenner signed on to promote HiSmile. Their patience paid off in a major way.
“Our five Instagram posts with Kylie have all had over 1 million views and 100,000 comments and you see the sales uplift immediately after each one,” says Mirkovic.
Inspired by their success with Jenner and millennial women, Mirkovic and Tomic decided to take their influencer formula and target a new market: millennial males.
While still in early stages, HiSmile has already landed a mega-deal with one of the hottest influencers in the millennial male market: UFC star Conor McGregor.
“We wanted to make noise in the male market and make it OK for men to purchase products like ours,” says Mirkovic. McGregor, as the “most relevant male for our demographic”, was an obvious choice.
After months of negotiations, HiSmile landed McGregor right before his Vegas fight with Floyd Mayweather (a match they got to attend, by the way – not a bad work perk!). McGregor’s Instagram video promoting HiSmile has been viewed over 5M times, an impressive feat, so HiSmile can begin to envision the same success with male millennials as they’re experiencing in the female market.
In addition to promotion across the pages of the top Instagram influencers on the planet, HiSmile has managed to build an enviable social media following of their own. To date, HiSmile (@hismileteeth) has 663k followers on their Instagram page.
HiSmile’s Instagram page is dedicated to both their product and the lifestyle their target demographic – millennial women – crave. Think beautiful bloggers showing off their HiSmile results, fun fashion shots, and a whole lot of pink. It will be interesting to see how HiSmile’s Instagram feed changes now that they’re widening their demographic to include a male audience. Stay tuned!
One of the main focal points of HiSmile’s Insta page is – you guessed it – their influencers. HiSmile does an amazing job of leveraging the content from their influencers on their own platforms. “We don’t view influencers in terms of direct ROI or reach to their followers (which is still great) but we instead look at what we can do with their content on our own platforms,” said Mirkovic and Tomic.
Just take a look at this recent post, which features makeup artist and beauty influencer @skye.wheatley (373K followers):
Or this one, which features Aussie influencer @kolideinsta (19.2K followers):
The benefit of featuring content from these influencers is two-fold. First off, it saves HiSmile’s time and energy which could be spent creating their own content. And featuring the influencer on their Insta page helps to strengthen the relationship (by potentially sending traffic the influencer’s way). Furthermore, it aligns their brand with the beloved influencers, a strong positive association. It’s a win-win whichever way you look at it.
Another thing HiSmile’s Insta page has got going for it? Their post frequently – they post regularly, keeping their audience engaged. Instagram’s algorithm is complicated, but two of the major factors it takes into consideration when deciding whether to show a post in someone’s News Feed are engagement and timeliness. HiSmile reliably posting twice a day, and their great engagement metrics from followers viewing, liking and commenting on every post, lead Instagram to get HiSmile in front of countless users and potential customers.
HiSmile also has an Instagram page solely dedicated to showing results of their teeth whitening product (@hismileresults). This page, which has nearly 15k followers, displays impressive before-and-after shots from the use of HiSmile products.
This page is a smart move on HiSmile’s part. Millennials tend to be sceptical shoppers, and clearly illustrating the transformation they can expect through real before-and-after shots diminishes any reasonable concern and adds to their authenticity. This can help push would-be customers who are on the fence about buying over the edge.
While Instagram is a huge focus for HiSmile, Facebook may be equally as important, where they impressively have 1.5M likes.
HiSmile’s brand identity on Facebook is very similar to what they feature on Instagram. There are many pictures and videos of their influencers, as well as fun lifestyle content that is appealing to their target millennials.
One thing HiSmile does really well on Facebook is getting their followers engaged. A lot of brands have an impressive number of likes, but when they release content, they release it to crickets. No likes, no comments, no views.
But with HiSmile, that could not be further from the truth. Every post they share sees a huge level of engagement.
But what, exactly, makes their content so engaging? Let’s deconstruct one of their more popular recent posts and talk about why it works.
This is the pinned post that you’ll find at the top of HiSmile’s Facebook page:
The post features a quick video about the product that, at the end, encourages viewers to tag a friend that could use the HiSmile Teeth Whitening Kit.
Since it was posted in early November, this video has been viewed 25M times, gotten liked/loved 137k times, and has been shared 22,273 times. Those are INSANE engagement numbers!
The reason why this post generated so much engagement? It’s literally tailor-made for a) their target demographic, and b) social sharing.
First off, the video features a variety of good-looking, happy millennials (many of whom are influencers) trying the product. Millennials are much more likely to be influenced to buy on social media by people they consider their peers, so featuring a bunch of millennials was a quick way to connect with their target audience and generate immediate buy-in.
Second, let’s be real – no one has a very long attention span these days, least of all millennials. HiSmile wisely kept this video short and to the point. It is 45 seconds, but they pack a lot into that less-than-a-minute time frame, including product demos, key product information, and results. By the conclusion of the short 45 seconds, the millennial viewer has everything they need to make a decision – and they’ve already decided they want the product.
Which leads us to the last thing HiSmile did right in this video, encouraging social sharing by adding a simple request. That simple “Tag a friend who needs this!” call-to-action at the end of the video is part of the reason why the video was shared and commented on so many times.
And it’s this way with pretty much all of HiSmile’s content. It’s like they designed every post based on a millennial’s wish list.
There’s how-to content, like this product video featuring Kendall Jenner that generated over 10M views and 140k likes:
There’s also user-generated content, like this video that featured HiSmile users and followers from around the globe. The “can you spot yourself?” copy in the post was a genius way to encourage followers to watch, and watch they did – to the tune of 192k views in the first week:
Another thing HiSmile does incredibly well that millennials love? Comedy. Their Facebook page is full of funny memes and videos that mirror their tongue-in-cheek brand personality, like this one:
HiSmile is currently crushing the Facebook game, and we can expect nothing less from them as their brand grows. Facebook is a better channel than Instagram for directing followers to their site for purchase, so this success is monumentally important in justifying social spending and their overall success.
Another social media channel that HiSmile does really, really well? YouTube.
HiSmile does a ton of video on social media channels, so predictably, their YouTube channel is chock full of engaging content.
A quick glance at their video homepage shows the consistent millennial gal branding they’ve used on their other platforms (notice all the pink?!):
HiSmile’s YouTube content is designed to entertain and absorb their target audience. There are a ton of beauty tutorials (housed in what they call “The Beauty Corner”), comedic content, product reviews, product roundups, giveaways… it’s a millennial girl’s dream channel. And it’s working! HiSmile’s videos currently have almost 750k views, and that number will only grow as HiSmile continues to cross-promote their video content.
HiSmile wisely chose to feature mostly lifestyle content on their YouTube channel, but the product is not overlooked. The channel has a section called “HiSmile Reviews” that feature – you guessed it – reviews on the teeth whitening product. Just look at the views on these review videos:
Featuring beauty bloggers and influencers trialling the product and sharing their thoughts is an incredibly smart move. As mentioned earlier, millennials are much more likely to make purchasing decisions based on peer and influencer reviews, so by showcasing people trying – and loving – the product on their YouTube channel, they can drive sales and convert new customers. Watching these video reviews also builds trust with consumers.
Next up, Twitter.
Judging by HiSmile’s Twitter page, which has about 13k fans, it’s not a focus of HiSmile’s marketing. Their Twitter profile lacks the depth of content that you’d find on their Instagram or Facebook accounts. That being said, they are using Twitter to their advantage.
While HiSmile does tweet fairly regularly, most of their Twitter activity happens in the retweet zone. HiSmile retweets posts from their influencers, like this post from Kylie Jenner:
Or this one from Conor McGregor (which actually promotes HiSmile):
Retweeting posts from their influencers is an excellent tactic and one-two punch for HiSmile. Punch #1: it helps to align their brand with their influencers in the eyes of their audience. Punch #2: it helps to build the relationship between the brand and the influencer – which can help grow the relationship moving forward.
SnapChat is the former king of HiSmile’s social media accounts. In fact, they even had an employee whose only job was to create Snap content.
After reevaluating their strategy and realizing they weren’t getting what they expected from their Snap strategy, HiSmile shifted their focus from Snapchat to Instagram and Facebook. While Snapchat is notoriously the social channel of choice for young demographics, HiSmile struggled to measure the ROI of their work on the platform and achieved better results with Instagram. Today, they still post brand-aligned photos, videos, and memes on their Snapchat account, but it’s definitely not a central aspect of their social strategy.
The one thing HiSmile does right across all platforms
As you can see, HiSmile is killing it on their social strategy. And part of that success is the one thing they’re doing right across all of their platforms – engaging with their followers everywhere they are present.
Having millions of followers is amazing, but without interaction and building an authentic connection, what’s the point?
All people, millennials included, want to feel like they have a personal relationship with the brands they do business with. The key to building that personal relationship is communication and interaction between brand and consumer. This may seem like common sense, but so many brands miss the mark when it comes to connecting with their audience. It requires time and social-savvy. While many brands may have millions of followers, if they’re not interacting and building an authentic connection with them, they’re missing the point.
HiSmile isn’t one of those brands. They’re constantly responding to comments, answering questions, and interacting with their followers across platforms.
They’re interacting on Instagram:
They’re interacting on Facebook:
They’re interacting on Twitter:
These interactions might seem trivial, individually they may be, but as a whole, they are of great value. By acknowledging their followers, answering their questions, and sending a little love their way, HiSmile demonstrates to potential customers that they are valued. This level of engagement and commitment to their followers is something that other companies can learn from. It’s definitely a huge contributor to HiSmile’s social media success.
Clearly, HiSmile lives and loves all things social media – and, more importantly, doing social media well. While HiSmile has clearly poured a lot of their resources into social, it’s not the only area the brand is focused on.
HiSmile’s site is incredibly important because Hismile sells their products direct-to-consumers. As a result, their website is central to their success. While HiSmile primarily focuses on marketing, HiSmile has invested to create a simple site that is efficient and adequate.
Social channels are used to grow their brand, influence and reputation, while their website is responsible for educating users about the products and purchase options, as well as converting interested users from social channels.
HiSmile’s site effectively establishes HiSmile as a modern, trendy teeth-whitening business, unlike the antiquated businesses they set out to disrupt.
Let’s take a look at their homepage, where consumers land and begin their shopping journey.
The Home Page
HiSmile’s homepage greets users with a large, clean image, emboldened with their key claim, “White Teeth In 10 Minutes”. This immediately sets the tone for the branding and site. Modern and fashionable, a marble bathroom is presented with a young woman, a representative of their target demographic, using the teeth whitener in the bathroom mirror.
Above the fold, there is only one button-to-click, which is not prominent. Viewing this page’s attention and heat maps confirm this issue. User attention is drawn to the image, rather than the shop now button or any method to continue down the sales funnel to a purchase.
HiSmile uses a pastel colour palette, which is on trend and perfect for their market, but not ideal for their site’s clarity. This hurts the user interface and may hurt conversion and lose sales. That being said, HiSmile, respectably, remains consistent, featuring their lifestyle and brand before all else.
Scrolling down, reviews are wisely featured.
Reviews are increasingly valued by consumers. They provide social proof and the consumer confidence required to convert sales. Furthermore, while HiSmile masterfully brands themselves socially, featuring reviews confirm their products live up to the hype.
From the homepage call-to-action “Shop Now” button, users are guided to the product page for HiSmile’s teeth whitening kit.
While this is HiSmile’s bread and butter product, which most users may intend to buy, HiSmile offers many additional products. Failing to present these from the shop now button will confuse some users and lose sales, but it does lend to a smooth, quick sales funnel and experience.
The Teeth Whitening Kit
The Teeth Whitening kit page has excellent design. The image is clear and demonstrates application. Unlike the homepage, user attention is also drawn to the “Add To Cart” button to begin their purchase.
Further down the page, reviews are featured for those who require further assurance about this product. This is Brilliant!
HiSmile is viral and doesn’t hesitate to use this social success throughout their site. Featured Instagram photos not only provide affirmation about the quality and effectiveness of the product but provide inspirational photos of the desired results and appearance. This motivates consumers to join the trend and purchase.
Also noteworthy is their inclusion of one male in the photographic reviews. HiSmile’s primary market is young women, but including a man helps broaden their appeal and provide social proof for interested males.
From the hamburger menu, users can find the products page.
On this page, a grid displays each of HiSmile’s products, as well as bundle and subscription options. It is a simple, intuitive design and couldn’t be easier to browse. To view a product’s details or purchase, users must click on a product and visit the specific product’s page.
HiSmile can improve conversion by enabling users to quickly add to cart without going to a specific product page.
Currently, users who intend to purchase mouthwash and toothpaste have to go to both individual pages and navigate back to the product page in between.
To resolve this issue, when a users’ mouse hovers over a product, price details and an add to cart option should appear, alongside a “see details” button. This is typically available from large e-commerce brands to minimize abandonment and simplify the user experience.
Moving on to the subscriptions page.
Product Subscriptions Page
HiSmile’s subscription page is relatively complex, dominated by text and icons rather than simple images and design.
Enticing consumers to commit to a subscription plan requires more education and information regarding the benefits and savings, as opposed to a one-time purchase. For this reason, HiSmile intelligently explains the details of this program. Unfortunately, they overlook featuring the greatest benefit of subscription options for most consumers, savings. This should be included rather than the “change product and frequency” icon.
Alternatively, a simple memo, such as “cash savings, added convenience, and satisfaction guaranteed” may replace the icons entirely and provide valuable space.
The combined promise of added convenience, cash savings, satisfaction guarantee and no strings attached, is perfectly convincing to begin a subscription service.
Evaluating this page’s attention and heat maps, we realize another flaw. The products are not within view. HiSmile should reorganize this page into a grid, similar to the products page. HiSmile’s toothpaste is not their primary product, so it should not be the only product within view.
Scrolling down, each subscription product is listed, as shown.
From the attention map, we see consumers overlook the “Add” buttons, which are the key buttons for consumers to add a subscription option to the cart and finalize their purchase.
The product subscriptions page looks great and is aligned with HiSmile’s clean site design, but is less than ideal for user experience and conversion. There is always room for improvement and HiSmile can definitely improve this page.
Continuing to the bundles page.
The bundles page is incredibly simple and offers HiSmile’s three bundle options in a grid, similar to the products page.
This page is noteworthy because there is white space below the footer. This wasted space does not decrease the ease of use, but it is poorly designed and unprofessional. HiSmile can quickly address this by featuring a large image of an influencer with a bundle, above or below the bundle products, or reviews from satisfied bundle buyers.
Additionally, what is included in each bundle is not listed. the nicknames aren’t revealing and this should be far more clear. Minimally, this should be presented when a user hovers over each bundle.
HiSmile’s cart is efficient and effective. The check out button is front and centre in HiSmile’s pastel green colour. From the heat map, we can see users focus is almost entirely on the checkout button, which is perfect.
In the cart, HiSmile is not upselling and offering add-on products. This is a missed opportunity. Many users who are purchasing toothpaste, may like to purchase mouthwash. Offering impulse-buy, add-on products will also increase order size and revenue.
Users who are directed to the teeth whitening kit from the homepage’s “Shop Now” prompt likely will add this to their cart. From here, extra gels, as well as all other products should be available for purchase in one click from the cart. This expedites the shopping experience for consumers and will improve conversion.
The header is minimal and functional. They have an icon in their header (on the right side next to the shopping cart) that makes it easy to switch between countries and get accurate pricing, which, as intended, is helpful for international shoppers:
As you can see above, HiSmile also offered a promotional code as a holiday discount and an incentive for customers to make a purchase. This is a smart, easy tactic. HiSmile should also incentivize email subscriptions in the header, such as “Subscribe for 25% off your purchase”. This is a tried-and-true, mutually beneficial strategy which pays for itself, as email subscribers are very valuable, and profit is still made on sales.
Moving on to the footer.
HiSmile’s footer is quite simple and designed in HiSmile’s signature light pink. Footers typically provide users with links to additional information and resources, such as a help section, as well as build an internal linking structure.
HiSmile’s site is very simple, and the footer naturally follows suit. The site is simplistic and has few pages, so few links are necessary to establish the internal linking structure. There are links to the shopping pages, reviews, a help section, to create an account, to social accounts and an email newsletter field. Wisely, HiSmile highlights the Newsletter subscription field, which stands out from the pink footer.
While simple, HiSmile’s footer is effective. It is incredibly clear and therefore very helpful for those navigating the site. Equally important, the newsletter field is not overbearing but is immediately visible.
HiSmile likely built their site with mobile design as the top priority. They are a young company, whose key demographic is young women, and their focus is social media influencer marketing. Their ideal consumer finds HiSmile’s product on Instagram while using their phone and then purchases via their mobile site, so having a strong mobile experience is essential to their success.
Visiting their mobile site, we see the same landing page as on the desktop, but the “Shop Now” CTA button is centred in clear view. The design remains stylish, simple and clean but is also easier to use.
While this homepage is better on mobile, it is not perfect. As you can see above, the “shop now” button is still smaller and less eye-catching than ideal. While the stylish image looks great, functionality is far more important and enlarging the CTA button is worthwhile.
From the homepage “shop now” button, next, we have the teeth whitening kit.
This page is also clean, modern and efficient. Photos of the product are provided, along with product details, the product review rating, and a “add to cart” button below.
The mobile products page lists products as a list, rather than displaying them on a grid. This is the correct design for mobile ease-of-use. It is intuitive to scroll and clearly visible that more products are shown below the fold.
After adding an item to the cart, the experience continues to be near seamless. The cart and checkout process is simple and clear.
In summary, HiSmile has a great, simple website with opportunities for improvement on desktop. Most importantly it is stylish, unlike other sites where you’d typically purchase dental products, and easy to use.
HiSmile’s site may only have a few pages, but it effectively sells their product, with use of their branding, reviews, clean images and design. It is a no-nonsense site, yet still accomplishes to communicate the value of their products and brand.
HiSmile should continue to improve their site in an attempt to achieve the perfect, lean, stylish site. HiSmile has excellently balanced simplicity and minimalism while offering many photos and glowing reviews from influencers. The site is better than any others where consumers would traditionally buy teeth whitening and dental products, so HiSmile should be confident and proud. With some small changes and updates, the site will be improved and increase conversion and order size.
For a company that puts so much effort into content, their website is surprisingly lacking on the content front. While there seems to have previously been a news section, this now redirects to the homepage. Currently, there’s zero content hosted on HiSmile’s website – no blog, no videos, no photos (other than a few product shots and a banner photo on the homepage). Zip, zilch, nada. Which to be honest, isn’t the most effective strategy. Yes, there are links to their social media accounts where you can find TONS of awesome content, but there’s nothing on the website to draw people in. The lack of content makes the website feel somewhat sterile – which couldn’t be any more different from the brand personality they’ve established across their social media accounts. The lack of personality on their website can be a huge turnoff for their ideal millennial customers.
Next up, SEO.
HiSmile has over 700,000 visits each month.
Visitors, on average, spend only about 2 minutes on the site, with 3.74 pages viewed per visit and a 34% bounce rate. These stats are not surprising given the simplicity of HiSmile’s site, with little content and the shallow click-depth structure.
Almost half of HiSmile’s traffic comes from social. This is an impressive stat and obviously a result of HiSmile’s investments in social media and influencer marketing, rather than traditional online advertisements. In addition to this, about 15% of traffic is direct, consumers who are familiar with HiSmile and visit the site directly. This is also due to their social efforts, so in total, 60% of their total traffic is thanks to their social success and ingenuity.
HiSmile has a respectable 26% of their traffic from search, which is almost entirely organic. Given their youth as a business, as well as their minimal on-site content, this is a solid portion of traffic. To grow their market share in hopes of achieving market dominance, HiSmile will seek to grow their search traffic in the coming years. This should happen naturally as consumers engage with HiSmile, indicating to Google through positive engagement metrics that rankings should increase. HiSmile will need search traffic to increase long-term because their social dominance may halter at times, decrease, or become more costly.
HiSmile has almost no display (ads and remarketing) traffic. This is shockingly low in comparison with their competitors and industry but entirely intentional so it is not at all surprising. HiSmile has dedicated their efforts towards social rather than traditional ads and continue to thrive with this strategy. While HiSmile should not ignore the display channel altogether, it may always remain a minor portion of their traffic and business.
According to SEMRush, HiSmile ranks for 3,000 keywords in the US, and 785 in Australia.
Most importantly, HiSmile ranks very well for their niche and all directly related keywords. HiSmile ranks in the top 3, oftentimes first, for most teeth whitening keywords, such as “teeth whitening kit”, which has a search volume over 30K. That being said, HiSmile hasn’t been able to displace major toothpaste brands, ranking only 18th for “toothpaste” (33k search volume), so there are many opportunities for growth.
HiSmile currently sits just out of the top three, in the fourth position, for a crucial keyword, “teeth whitening”. While HiSmile ranks first for most keywords in which consumers likely intend to find their brand (all hail Google RankBrain), ranking for “teeth whitening” (135k Search Volume) will bring an influx of new customers and sales, as well as long-term brand awareness and growth. The fourth position is respectable, but is less than ideal for HiSmile, given their ambitious goals. Increasing their rank for this keyword, to third minimally or second, would be greatly beneficial.
Similar to our Casper Case Study, HiSmile ranks fantastically well for keywords directly related to their main products, but lack top rankings for general keywords related to their business and industry. As HiSmile matures and expands their product offering, they will likely capture more strong rankings for a variety of dental cosmetics, hygiene and related keywords. Building their site out, whether through more products, or creating blog content will also help with this effort. While their current rankings are on par with their growing start-up success, increased rankings across the category are necessary for greater market share and disrupting the industry’s major players.
Over 70% of HiSmile’s traffic is from mobile devices. This whopping majority of traffic is an indication of the growing importance of mobile-first design and business, especially for younger generations.
HiSmile’s target market is millennial women and their key marketing channel is social, so the mobile traffic share may only grow. Social Media is increasingly dominated by mobile devices, as the desktop share has dramatically decreased each year (https://marketingland.com/facebook-usage-accounts-1-5-minutes-spent-mobile-171561).
Let’s start by taking a look at HiSmile’s backlinks. We used Ahrefs’ backlink checker and competitor research tools to take a peek at HiSmile’s backlink portfolio, and the good news is, it’s growing.
At the start of 2017, HiSmile had less than 100 linking domains, but by the end of the year, they’d grown that number to nearly 250. This is respectable but less than ideal. HiSmile has ample opportunity in this area and can grow their market share by improving their search rankings.
As you can see, HiSmile had a major spike in backlinks towards the middle of the year, due to their influencer efforts leading to content.
Content is one thing HiSmile has done extremely well on the SEO front. There are two major categories of content that have really helped their SEO efforts: influencer and entrepreneur.
On the influencer front, all of that content they’ve created with mega-successful social media influencers like Kylie and Conor has gotten quite a bit of attention on major media outlets (just take a look at this article… or this article… or this article… or this article). And all of those articles from high authority sites link right back to HiSmile’s website, boosting their rankings and improving their SEO.
The other content area where HiSmile has really shined (and gotten tons of SEO link love as a result) is in the entrepreneur space. As we mentioned earlier, HiSmile founders Mirkovic and Tomic are two of the hottest entrepreneurs in Australia – and they’re barely in their early 20’s. As a result, lots of media outlets want to talk to them about their success – and they’ve embraced the media and done many interviews, all of which link back to HiSmile’s site.
But one of the content areas that HiSmile could stand to improve is how they deliver their content. HiSmile has been hugely focused on social media and influencer marketing to gain success, which has worked for them in a lot of ways – but not necessarily in the SEO realm. Because all of their best content lives on social media, they’re missing out on opportunities to generate backlinks to HiSmile’s website. By moving some of the content that lives on social media to their site, they could generate more backlinks, strengthen their SEO rankings, and get in front of more potential customers.
Now, to be fair – HiSmile is still a young startup, and they’ve been wildly successful in other areas like social media and influencer marketing, so we’ll cut them a little slack. While presently their backlink portfolio could definitely use a little love, they can funnel more of their resources towards SEO in the future. Strengthening their SEO can help protect the brand against any lulls in social media activity and potentially lessen their reliance on social spending and advertising by generating more organic traffic.
So, we talked about backlinks and SEO, so now let’s talk about on page SEO – in particular, site speed.
It’s extremely important for a website – especially an e-commerce site – to load as quickly as possible. Today’s consumer (and especially the millennial consumer) has a limited attention span; if a site takes forever to load, they’ll be out of there so fast it’ll make your head spin. Nearly half of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less – and a solid 40% of them will abandon ship if the site takes more than 3 seconds.
We ran HiSmile’s site through Google PageSpeed Insights to see how the site is performing. What we found are a few minor issues that, if resolved, could seriously improve site performance and drastically speed up loading times.
Just to make sure the Google results weren’t a fluke, we explored a few other sources. We ran HiSmile’s website through a few other resources starting with Pingdom, another awesome tool for evaluating page speed.
Pingdom confirmed what we learned on Google – that HiSmile’s site just isn’t loading fast enough. According to Pingdom, the load time for HiSmile’s website was over 5 seconds, which is slower than a concerning 71% of sites and WAY too slow for a company that sells their products directly from their website.
Next, we headed over to Pagelocity. HiSmile’s website fared slightly better here, landing a reasonable score of 73 out of 100, but as you can see, their site performance completely tanked with only 30 out of 100, thanks to issues such as image size and improper coding practices.
So, after checking out these three tools, it’s clear that HiSmile’s got some work to do in terms of SEO and page speed. But luckily, most of the changes they need to make are minor – Even better, they will pack a huge punch in terms of performance and speed.
One thing HiSmile can do immediately to improve their site performance is properly compressing their images. By compressing their images to Google’s standards (on both mobile and desktop), their site will have a faster response time, which will seriously improve the experience for their visitors and lead to better engagement metrics and SEO rankings.
Last but not least, let’s take a look at HiSmile’s paid marketing strategy. Which, to date, is pretty much non-existent.
Well, non-existent might be a stretch. HiSmile IS doing paid marketing. It’s just crazy limited.
Currently, HiSmile is going after seven keywords with their paid marketing campaigns:
All of their ads are clear, simple, and (obviously) play up their products teeth-whitening abilities:
Frankly, this just isn’t enough. Seven keywords?! Come on. HiSmile is missing out on a TON of opportunity to go after more competitive keywords and show their ads to potential customers searching for teeth-whitening products.
Many hyper-related keywords are also very cheap. Unlike some toothpaste and dental brands, HiSmile offers premium products, presumably with significant margins, so they can very easily increase their ad spend to grow sales and profits.
While HiSmile might not be aggressive in their ad strategy, they’re certainly aggressive in their ad copy. Bold claims like “whitens teeth in 10 minutes” can be a great way to catch those millennial Googler’s attention and drive them to the site.
Now, part of the reason HiSmile isn’t going after more keywords in paid search might be because they have fairly decent rankings for competitive keywords on the organic front, like “teeth whitening” – which they rank 3rd for in Australia:
Or “led teeth whitening,” where they currently rank #2 in the US:
However, just because HiSmile is ranking for organic keywords doesn’t mean they shouldn’t put more resources towards paid search. Ads outrank organic listings, so if competitors are bidding on the keywords HiSmile ranks for, they’ll get their messaging in front of the searcher before HiSmile even gets a chance.
HiSmile’s got a lot to do on the paid search front. If they can pull together a strategy and start targeting a higher volume of competitive keywords with paid ads, they can drive a lot more traffic to their site. They could also consider going after more competitor keywords; they’re already targeting a few Colgate keywords, but there are tons of other brands in the oral hygiene space – and tons of other opportunities for HiSmile to grab their customers’ attention.
HiSmile, without a doubt, is a company on the rise thanks to their creative marketing efforts. Through a heavy focus on social media and influencer marketing, HiSmile has gone from a fledgling self-funded startup with $20K in the bank to a global brand with over $40M in sales.
HiSmile is killing it in a few different areas, including:
- Social media marketing. By continuing to connect with micro-influencers (to build their customer base) and celebrity influencers (to build their brand image), HiSmile can continue to drive traffic through their social channels and build buzz around their whitening kits and other products.
- Content. HiSmile has created an impressive collection content on social media thanks to a) their wide network of influencers, and b) their unique branded content. By continuing to create buzzworthy content that speaks to millennials, HiSmile can continue to widen their reach and connect with more potential consumers around the globe.
- Media. Mirkovic and Tomic have embraced the media and taken every opportunity to get the HiSmile brand out into the world, generating high-quality backlinks and a ton of buzz as a result.
- Momentum. Taking a brand new company from $20K to $40M in less than three years is an aggressive success story. If Mirkovic and Tomic can continue to build on that momentum and scale their company, the founders’ goal of becoming a billion-dollar company with products in every bathroom around the world could become a reality, sooner rather than later.
The brand should also take advantage of opportunities for growth, including:
- Website design. While HiSmile’s website looks fine, there’s a lot that can be done in terms of conversion optimization. Redesigning the site to take better advantage of opportunities to capture visitor information and convert visitors into customers can help take HiSmile’s website to the next level.
- SEO. There’s a lot that HiSmile can do to get more out of their SEO. Making minor changes to improve site loading speed and take it from the current 5 seconds to below 2 seconds will help improve user experience and boost SEO. Moving some of their content from social media onto the website will also help to build backlinks and drive more organic traffic to their website.
- Paid Search. HiSmile’s current paid search strategy is leaving a lot of opportunity on the table. If they want to reach more potential customers on the SERPs, they need to get more aggressive, target more keywords, and funnel more resources into paid advertising. While their focus on social has been wise, there is room elsewhere for growth.
It’ll be interesting to see how HiSmile evolves in the coming years. If they take advantage of their opportunities for growth and continue to build on their social media success, HiSmile has the potential to dominate the oral hygiene market and become a household name across the globe. Their market share will naturally grow if they retain their current consumers and continue to dominate the youngest demographic. HiSmile was correct, the dental teeth-whitening industry was ready for disruption.
So HiSmile is super successful, which is well and good, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t give you concrete ways to apply this to your own business.
Here are the key takeaways from our analysis of HiSmile:
- If social media is a part of your strategy, micro-influencers are the way to go. Find influencers in your niche with a reasonably small but engaged audience and build relationships with them as a way to reach more people, drive more traffic, and get more sales.
- Content is king isn’t just a saying – it’s the real deal. If you want to stand out from your competitors, focus on creating killer content that connects with your target audience. And not everything should be based on your products! Creating fun content that fits the brand personality you’re going for (like HiSmile’s comedic content) can be a great way to build and deepen the relationship with your audience so when the time comes you do ask for the sale, they’re ready to whip out their wallets. Content is no longer only print, but video, images, podcasts, among others. Find what is most appropriate for your applications.
- Be engaged. If you’re going to be active on social media, look at it as an opportunity to engage with your audience. Not only should you regularly post but answer any and all comments, questions, reviews. The more you engage with your audience, the more your audience will be familiar and loyal to your brand. The more sales you’ll make as a result.
- Embrace any opportunity to get your name out there. HiSmile founders Mirkovic and Tomic did an incredible job of jumping on media opportunities and getting the HiSmile name out there – and, as a result, built a ton of buzz and quality backlinks. If you want the same kind of buzz around your brand, you’ve got to put yourself out there and connect with major media outlets as often as possible.
- Don’t ignore your weaknesses. While social marketing is HiSmile’s primary focus and the reason for their success, other opportunities exist, namely paid marketing, which are ripe for success. Consider all channels for success and pursue profitable growth. While social may be familiar and even cheaper for acquiring customers in their case, ignoring other channels leaves money on the table and allows competitors to flourish.
- Focus on site speed. One area that HiSmile struggles is site speed. Their slow site loading speed is having a serious impact on their user experience, which is likely losing sales. Make sure your site loads as quickly as possible to avoid losing customers with a short attention span (which, these days, is pretty much all of them). Aligning your site to Google’s standards could not be more simple with Google’s many useful, free tools.
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