Last month at Recode’s Code Commerce conference, Glossier’s Emily Weiss shared her ambitions to move the site away from simply ecommerce to be a ‘beauty ecosystem and network’.
"We’re trying to own that conversation of beauty online," said Weiss, as she pointed to poor beauty experiences online. But this is about more than enhancing the shopping experience. Glossier wants the data. It makes sense. Glossier receives five Instagram DMs a minute and last year had over 100,000 tags for half a billion impressions, yet all that data sits inside Facebook’s walled garden.
Data informs, confirms, gives context and allows connection for beauty brands, but some of the best beauty brand building channels, be they mass AV channels like cinema or TV, or deeply relevant channels like social—or dark social—yield fewer leads.
Beauty without social simply isn’t an option. 98% of the beauty industry think influencer marketing is effective, and 83% of marketers polled in a recent Celebrity Intelligence survey said influencers were the most relevant talent to use (versus film or TV actresses at 29% each), so it is crucial to make sure you have the right one. In 2018, we expect to go behind the scenes and deeper in detail. Influencers are willing to let us go where celebrities won’t. The analytics we get from social platforms owners help guide but social listening gives a more complete picture.
Today’s purchase journeys—particularly the beauty ones—are ever complicating, and sales are more often the result of a dozen touchpoints ranging from TVCs to counter visits to word from a friend in the bathroom. The exact value of each in the final sale can be a challenge to assess in such a high-interest, low-investment, easily triggered category. Which offers will tip the journey into a sale are often debated, but the answer to that may live within the data the brand already has, when tapped into with behavioural data and algorithmic modelling. Total attribution is also important, to track online and offline campaigns alongside each other and understand their effects on each other.
Google search data informs marketers across the world on what is in demand, but Google then sells that audience back to the marketer for connection. With the fragmentation of media across the world, addressable consumer data will be the starting point for any campaign. Many beauty brands do not yet have that first-party data to hand. And they want it badly.
What strategies can beauty brands take to best use the data they have—and to get the data they don’t?
Messenger contact with AI and chatbots
This enhances the consumer experience and our understanding. When thinking social, think conversations. Responsiveness and customisation can be created at scale through the interface with careful planning and innovation. Chatbots together with natural language processing, a form of AI, can yield a wealth of information on what your consumers want, need and how they are solving issues at the moment. Chatbots can also encourage action. The Messenger version of Sephora’s reservation assistant has an 11% higher booking rate than options like calling the store, booking on Sephora’s actual website, or booking through a mobile app, proving that AI interaction can at times be a human proxy building literal connection.
Omnichannel strategies marry online interest with offline conversion
To this day, online beauty retail still accounts for just 10% of the entire market, and consumers would often rather get an item in store if they have the option. Finding a way to capture data around these shoppers and their conversions is the best way to build your base of potential advocates. If we can’t get addressable data such as an email or user ID, give customers an incentive to take the leap themselves with online coupons or QR codes that can be claimed—and registered—in-store.
Facebook lead ads get us that email id right away, so we can call them to action. Point-of-sale (POS) systems to take in email IDs close loops. But the omnichannel gold standard sees email IDs being hashed, uploaded and retargeted as a full campaign. And if your brand has its own bricks-and-mortar presence with a dedicated POS, confirming the shopper at that very moment locks them in so you can ask for a glowing review and convert five more people off the back of it.
Build and plan content ecosystems to live outside of social and capture audiences
So how can beauty brands build their first-party data to gain their independence and safeguard their futures? The keys are content and contact. Grab and intrigue them through Instagram or Facebook content but leave them hanging for more carefully retaining some assets for your own space. On IG, encourage them to ‘click into bio to link’. Data capture email addresses or mobile numbers with a promise of more content in the future and build with CRM best practice. Beauty brands are famous for some of the strongest open rates across direct marketing. As we have said from the start, Beauty audiences love to talk, share and learn, and they will do it anywhere, so make sure you—like Glossier—get your share of the conversation.
Sarah Musgrave is strategy lead at Dentsu Aegis Network.