How Adore Beauty boosted customer engagement

Looking to give customers the sort of personalised beauty advice found in stores through online, the ecommerce platform tapped customer data to be highly personal

Online beauty retailer, Adore Beauty, has a catalogue of over 15,000 products across over 200 cosmetics brands, serving more than a million transactions a year. Its unique market proposition is providing beauty consultation services through its digital channels, aimed at allowing customer to skip the intimidating traditional cosmetics floor.

This ethos has been built into its communications, but Adore Beauty wanted to extend this into its lifecycle marketing by analysing real-time customer behaviour.

Adore Beauty head of acquisition and retention, Michaela Michaut, told CMO being an online-only business, it has to use data as its “intent signals around what a customer might be looking for”, in place of having in-person and in-store consumer behaviour.

“We want to be the customer's beauty best friend and being able to do that at scale through data is very powerful,” Michaut said. “With our CDP [customer data platform], we’ve been able to service our customer and their individual needs, pick up on their signals and we want to support them in their journey."

Creating the in-store experience online

Looking to build out its personalisation and customer experience, the platform tapped Tealium and added several of its solutions to use real-time data and optimisation to boost engagement. This has led to a 400 per cent increase in customer engagement.

Adore Beauty needed to replicate the in-store experience as closely as possible without compromising on customer satisfaction, Michaut said. To optimise the purchasing journey, it would have to collate and activate real-time user browsing data and offer a personalised experience unattainable on the high-street.  

In 2017, Adore Beauty called on Tealium to help collect and activate data which would help it get to know customers better, deliver personalised advice, and ultimately convert to sales. Leveraging real-time data collated by a combination of Tealium iQ and Tealium EventStream, Adore Beauty rolled out the nurture campaign, ‘Guided Solutions - Concern Areas’. The campaign’s focus was to deliver advice to customers with skin and hair concerns by harnessing recent browsing behaviour data.  

The quality data sets were then optimised through AudienceStream, providing Adore Beauty with an optimal data supply chain from collection to engagement. A key capability was being able to identify browsing activity that demonstrated a customer's intent signals for skin and hair concern areas. Customers were then served with targeted and relevant email communications to encourage further consideration and purchases.  

“Based on the kind of content customers are looking at, we see if there's a particular guided solution that’s going to be really relevant to a customer, we then send them a personalised email communication around that concern area includes a range of content and products,” Michaut explained.

The nurture campaign was extremely effective as a real-time marketing tactic because it allowed customers to decide what’s best for them by delivering beauty facts and not opinions, she continued. With customers more willing to go on a journey of discovery completely online versus finding the best deal, Adore Beauty was able to build an insight-led approach – informed by real-time user browsing data – to put the power back into the customer hands during their purchase journey.

“It's not telling the customer exactly what they have to buy, but helping them in that research phase, and then really empowering them to make their own decisions about what will and won't be within a particular area,” Michaut said.

To fully bring this initiative to life, collaboration across several stakeholders including email marketing and IT teams was required, as well as strategic partners and technology vendors. By starting with the skin and hair concern areas driving the most revenue by themselves, the opportunity was seized to determine how much more could be driven incrementally by prioritising these categories into nurture track communications.  

Driven by the success of the nurture campaign, Adore Beauty has identified additional opportunities and is building out content to support additional targeted, triggered communications. For example, when a product is in low supply or even out of stock, Adore Beauty can use this information to activate email or social targeting.  

On the other hand, if a customer leaves items in their cart or adds a product to their wish list, this data is used to elevate information to a real-life representative through the website’s live chat function. The Adore Beauty representative can then offer advice and assistance without the customer having to wait in line. Tealium was also able to leverage data to interpret behavioural signals and convert them to product recommendations, by using AudienceStream to connect the dots.

“It shows the power of personalisation. There’s an appreciation from our customers that we're taking the time to look at their needs and give them something that is right for them. Each person’s beauty needs is a very personal thing,” Michaut said.

Up next: The results, plus how Adore Beauty is bringing more machine learning into the mix

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The results of personalisation

Through this combinatino of technology and strategy, Adore Beauty was able to gather and optimise customer data to increase engagement, average order values and, ultimately, revenue.  

“The challenge with every online business is how do you give customers that seamless experience while they’re browsing and in that research phase," Michaut said.

Since partnering with Tealium, Adore Beauty has seen an unprecedented rise not only in revenue, but customer engagement, too. The retailer has increased its engagement rate by 400 per cent, boosted conversion rates by 17 per cent and grown its revenue by 249 per cent since launch.  

In terms of campaign optimisation, the Guided Solutions campaign alone drives both incremental revenue and additional consideration across Adore Beauty’s anti-ageing, blackhead treatment and hair care products, Michaut said. There are seven Guided Solutions campaigns running in-market, triggered by real-time product interest, accounting for an average 27 per cent increase in revenue month-on-month and 249 per cent increase in revenue since launch.  

“We’ve been able to share who we are as a brand and share our tone of voice. From the very inception, it’s been important to have an authentic tone of voice,” she said.

Since establishment of triggered communications based on customer behaviour patterns, Adore Beauty's email open-rate is also 109 per cent higher than it was, the click-rate is 400 per cent higher and the click-through rate is 136 per cent higher than before the Tealium partnership.  

“Being able to connect with our customers through our content, whether its TV, podcast, written, YouTube, is something we will continue to do, and to evolve,” Michaut said. “This has been about how we use data to answer the kinds of questions our customers have and give them content that is going to be relevant to them.”  

Machine learning future

Looking ahead, the ecommerce beauty platform wants to take the solid foundations, and in particular its data, and extend and develop the data layer correctly, defining the signals it will use to determine "preference".

“From there, it's about developing campaigns which leverage this data and link it with business and customer objectives,” Michaut explained.

The company will be trialing Tealium Predict ML in 2021 to test and learn how it can enrich its robust customer lifecycle program. “Once again, the focus is going beyond just the email channel to determine if speaking to the customer at key moments on their preferred channels can lead to better engagement and action,” Michaut added.

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