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Beauty & Personal Care

Beauty's on the Inside at Sephora

1 Apr, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

Vice President of CRM Shannon Smith has proven that customers in the beauty giant's loyalty program actively engage with the brand, boosting sales.


 

Ratings, Reviews and Redemption

 

So much of the beauty and personal care industry relies on word-of-mouth for success. Women turn to friends and peers to learn about trusted products. Increasingly, that viral communication is happening online in communities like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. In September 2008, Sephora launched a Facebook page (sephora.com/facebook). Already, the page has more than 85,000 fans. The idea was to establish a dialogue not only between Sephora and consumers, but also amongst the customers.

Sephora chose Facebook as a social medium because customers were already engaged in this channel. The platform gives fans a place to discuss beauty, while also learning about exclusive news from Sephora. Interactive functions on the site include: polling and voting; contests; videos; photo sharing; exclusive fan-page promotions; and registering for Beauty Insider and Sephora's E-mail list.

Another source for beauty discussions and word-of-mouth recommendations is on Sephora.com. Last fall, Sephora's direct marketing and Web site teams partnered to launch "Client Ratings & Reviews" on Sephora.com. Within days, the site housed thousands of reviews; within weeks, tens of thousands," proclaims Smith. "Now more than 80 percent of the products on our site have a review, and the average rating is more than four on a five-point scale."

However, just giving consumers access to the reviews was not enough for Sephora's marketing team, and so they looked for a way to allow customers to access these ratings and reviews while shopping in the brick-and-mortar stores. The company launched a mobile application, m.sephora.com, that gives customers easy-to-use access to ratings and reviews from any mobile device.

Sephora is heavily entrenched in multi-channel DR marketing, including direct mail, E-mail and in-store communications, all based on cross-channel client behavior. For example, opt-in E-mail communications with promotions and product information drives a significant percentage of sales both online and offline. But the company knows that some customers are still best reached in-store. In fact, a majority of Sephora's loyalty members only shop in-store. Therefore, the marketing team creates a newsletter that can be picked up in Sephora stores, and POS systems target a client during checkout when the customer has a birthday or qualifies for a promotion.

Shannon Smith
Shannon Smith

 

Smith says that DR is an important element in Sephora's marketing arsenal. "The beauty of DR, combined with the sophistication of our client analytics, is that we have the ability to view a single client over time and across different touch points," she says. "We have built a world-class analytics team that is really strategic in their approach to campaign evaluation. They provide a quantifiable and actionable understanding of our client purchase behavior across campaigns, partnering with us to get smarter with each campaign and improve the ROI of our marketing initiatives."

One of the recent successful direct response campaigns is Sephora's birthday gift program, which offers customers a gift within the month surrounding their birthday each year. The gift can be redeemed in-store or online. Sephora sends the loyalty member a message about the gift through numerous channels: she gets an E-mail or two and then there is a third reminder that comes in the form of a prompt when the customer is checking out online or in-store.

"We have an incredibly high redemption rate on this gift, and we know it keeps clients coming back to the store or site," says Smith. "Clients are not required to make a purchase if they pick up the gift in store, but it's tough to walk into Sephora and not find something new and exciting — most clients buy something when they're here."

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