Pure Growth: How DIVINIA Water Grew to $1.5M Revenue
DIVINIA Water is the stuff eCommerce success stories are made of. The Idaho-based purified water producer was started by Steven Sedlmayr in 2005 in support of his family, buttressed by friends and relatives, and slowly but surely transformed from a brand into a lifestyle. It’s an enterprise with an identity as pure as the water it sells.
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But it wasn’t always an easy ride. DIVINIA was tested massively by the 2008 financial crisis, when, in the months before the crash, the Sedlmayr family invested much of their savings into growing the business. That was an educational process for the young company, and taught them the power of resilience. The ups and downs of learning how to become an entrepreneur have only strengthened the Sedlmayrs’ commitment to the two-pronged mission of the company: to help people and the planet.
Co-founder and Director of Marketing Kiersten Sedlmayr Landers is charged with fulfilling that company purpose through a robust digital marketing strategy. Over the last few years, she’s helped evolve the family business from a community staple to an international success.
Wix sat down with Kiersten to learn how DIVINIA Water built momentum and how sustainability is driving the company forward, with an eye on Earth Day and beyond.
What made you want to get involved in the family business?
I was advising on a family business committee recently and what I expressed was, even though you’re working as a family and it’s a comfortable environment, each person obviously brings unique abilities and skills to the table. You have to come into it with your own objective - your own reason, your own purpose, your own get-out-of-bed moment. If you’re just getting up for the money, or you’re just doing it because other family members are doing it, you’re not going to last very long.
What really persuaded me over time was the number of people that have come to us and said that this water has benefitted them because they’re facing health problems and they understand that the tap may not be the best place for them to get their water, and they understand that drinking out of plastic isn’t a healthy choice, either. I’ve seen what DIVINIA Water does for people, and it’s the people that give me my purpose.
How would you describe your business, and what makes DIVINIA unique?
What makes us unique as a company is that we recognize that the market is thirsty; thirsty for products that aren’t only good for ourselves, for our bodies, for our wellbeing, but also for the planet.
What makes DIVINIA unique is that it’s the only pure water with functional benefits. Taking our cues from nature, we remove things from water that make it harmful to people - and that’s pollutants, toxins, pharmaceuticals, industrials, solids, etc. [We don’t throw in any additives]. We want to take man’s imprint out of it and just give people good, clean, hydrating, healthy water.
Tell us more about how sustainability plays into the DIVINIA Water story.
When we first started DIVINIA Water, we did put it in plastic bottles for people to sample, and we noticed that the water would leach the plastic; and] because of the nature of DIVINIA and how pure it is, when you put it into something like plastic, you’ll taste it.
A recent Australian study found that the average person ingests about a credit card’s worth of plastic every week. We just want to do our small part in offering bottled water in glass that people know they can drink, is safe, and they can recycle or reuse the bottle. You can recycle glass infinitely, and it doesn’t lose its quality. In the unfortunate case that the bottle isn’t recycled and it is thrown into the landfill, it’s not a detriment to the planet like it would be if it were plastic. I want a better planet for my daughter, and I want a happier, healthier place for her and her friends to live. This is our small contribution to that.
Tip: By adding a product subscription service to its online store, DIVINIA Water was able to reward customer loyalty and secure a steady income stream for their business. DIVINIA Water offers three different plans so customers can choose the option that best suits their lives and budgets. Their PREMIUM PLUS plan is a 3 month subscription that saves customers up to $140.
The bottom line tends to be one of the biggest barriers to certain companies feeling like they can confidently take a more eco-friendly route. Do you feel that your commitment to sustainability helps or hurts your business?
As consumer demands have grown, changed, matured, and it has been a lot easier for us as a growing company to find affordable glass packaging that fits within our mission. Luckily our vendors and other businesses around us are seeing that demand, because people really do vote with their dollars.
I recognize that DIVINIA is not the cheapest water, but also our customers recognize the quality that they’re getting when they purchase DIVINIA, and what they’re supporting when they purchase DIVINIA. And what they’re supporting is a company that’s trying to make a difference, when other bottled water companies aren’t always making the best decisions for the state of the world overall.
Make clear your mission and your purpose as a business owner. When people understand the why, then they’re more apt to support your mission and your goals, and they want to be a part of it too. Buying your product is one way they feel like they can help. It’s going towards something that I think is more than just a bottled water brand; it’s an entire lifestyle that we’re trying to promote. People recognize that, and they can attach themselves to a mission more than to just the product itself.
What marketing initiatives have you used to attract new customers and keep them coming back?
In one month, DIVINIA Water saw 70% growth in online traffic, driven by using integrated email marketing tools, like Ascend by Wix, for their newsletters which have an impressive average open rate of 30% and a 3% clickthrough rate.
Wix Analytics has also been essential for measuring KPIs and understanding what works for DIVINIA Water. Kiersten says: “The first thing I do each day is check analytics. I set a goal for the day. How much I'd like to sell and how much more I'd like to sell to hit a number that I'm projecting for the end of the month.”
For DIVINIA Water, adding video has also proven to be an important tool to connect with and educate potential customers. Shoppers spend more time on its video page than any other.
Sharing informational YouTube Videos on their blog pages provides a place for people to learn more about its unique product. With an average session duration of 3 mins and 16 seconds (91% better than others in their category) it's clear that customers are engaging with DIVINIA Water's content. The end result? An impressive conversion rate of 12%.
What do you find has been the most helpful strategy you’ve used to grow your sales?
The most helpful strategy in growing sales is maintaining a feedback loop with our customers. A big part of that is making yourself available to hear from your customers. I don't care if you run a small business or are the executive of a large company - if you are "steering the ship," it is important to know what your customers are thinking. They give valuable feedback on what the market wants, how your product or service is faring in that market, and how to improve so that you stay relevant and responsive. When you get feedback absorb it, review it, and pivot if need be.
By doing that, we have improved areas in the sales funnel, payment processes, shipping times, etc. through our eCommerce site. Customers see the improvement and trust your company more when you listen. Gaining the trust of your customers when you don't run something that is brick-and-mortar is often overlooked but is paramount when selling products online.
Where do you see DIVINIA Water growing? What’s next for you?
When we first started the company...one thing we had big problems with was the taking of resources from one area, putting them in a plastic bottle, putting that plastic bottle on a gas-guzzling truck or boat, and shipping it around the world. That didn’t make sense to us because it’s obviously not good for the planet and the communities that are left with these depleted water sources. We wanted to change how it was done.
Our big-picture plan is to set up multiple satellite plants around the country, and then expand internationally. We keep the resources local, we hire local, and we only ship within a 300-mile radius of that satellite plant. We want to reduce our carbon footprint. So ultimately that’s where we want to head, and really where we’re looking to go next.
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Managing Editor, Wix eCommerce
Daniel is the Managing Editor at Wix eCommerce, where he uses his experience as a merchant, journalist and marketer to create content that helps online businesses grow.