Influencing Marketing – How Beauty eCommerce Uses Social Media & Influencers
Aug 9, 2019
Beauty brands use social media and influencers to connect with consumers. But this content can be aligned with other channels to drive transactions and deliver a seamless customer experience
The internet has changed the beauty industry for good. Many start-ups have found success online first, whilst department stores and major global brands have diversified their online presence to reflect the behaviours of Gen Z and Millennials.
- Product discovery
- Influencer marketing
- Social media
- User-generated content
- Customer experience
Thanks to social media and influencers, beauty brands can connect more intimately with consumers. But it’s important they take the next step, connecting inspirational, educational, and entertaining content with seamless transactional experiences. Social media and digital purchasing experiences can be aligned with other channels to deliver a comprehensive customer journey, and promote brand loyalty.
Beauty is second only to gaming as the most viewed topic on YouTube. Almost half of beauty shoppers admit social media has played a part in a purchase, 20% of make-up buyers seek products to create looks they’ve seen on video tutorials, while 16% buy from brands that have collaborated with their favourite celebrities and bloggers.
There was a time when a beauty brand’s image was a supermodel wrapped up in a multi-million-dollar TV advertising campaign. Whilst fragrance companies are still hot on this trail, cosmetics, beauty, and personal care are swapping supermodels for influencers.
Social media and influencer content have replaced newspaper supplements and glossy magazines as the starting points for new product discovery in beauty. Think Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, and vlogs. This trend has resulted in a surge in interactive, consumer-generated content. Brands are sharing and acting upon consumer noise, and employing influencers to spread the word.
The likes of Hudda Kattan, Zoe Sugg, Nickie De Jager, and Naomi Giannopoulos topped the beauty influencer Instagram rich list of 2018. The list goes on and includes male beauty influencers, which is expected to be a large area of future growth, and even stretches to virtual influencers.
The power of influencers is reflected by Charlotte Tilbury, a British make-up artist, who has more than ten times the following of L’Oréal Paris UK and Ireland on YouTube.
Brands cannot afford to ignore the influencer impact. According to eMarketer, 89% of brand managers say that this tactic affects how people feel about brands.
For many start-ups, engaging influencers is a cost-effective way to get their brand in front of wider audiences. The average return on investment for influencer marketing campaigns is over six times the initial investment.
In fact, we are all influencers. No one buys a product that has a rating under three stars out of five online. Genuine reviews and ratings are a huge part of the beauty scene. They are also a big challenge for brands since independent influencer reviews are hard to control.
At the same time, social media provides new avenues for purchasing products and delivering customer service. Brands are utilising Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger to instantly connect with consumers, sell products, and offer 24/7 chatbot-driven customer service.
Whilst social commerce will continue to grow, brands must understand that these channels are so much more than selling platforms. Those brands that use social media effectively are doing so in a way that allows for interaction and co-creation in the beauty, health, and wellness space. Building a forum among followers allows for much greater buy-in for brands.
And integrating user-generated content throughout eCommerce sites and social media channels can build brand loyalty and an emotive connection between brands and consumers.
Include star-reviews on product pages, and testimonials on blogs or email campaigns. Use photos of ‘real’ people instead of models on-site and throughout social media. Share unboxing clips and video demonstrations on Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
Curate the experience
Influencers and social media content are often only a starting point, used to spread the word, or offer more information on a product or brand. To fully maximise the potential that these bring, brands need to re-assess, curate, and align their physical and key digital touchpoints.
The connection between blogs, vlogs, YouTube channels, product pages, Instagram posts, and in-store offers is crucial for beauty. Customers want to discover products on blogs, watch a demo on YouTube and be able to then find it at a beauty counter in-store with advice from a beauty advisor. Then they want to be able to re-purchase the product online, whilst being offered other related products or recommendations to complete the look.
Savvy brands are integrating and aligning social and customer journeys, so buyers have the complete picture. This involves coordinating loyalty cards and sign-ups for special offers in-store, via social, or on-site. The online customer experience is also key, helping consumers easily find the products to build the look.
It’s no good having an influencer tutorial video trending online if consumers can’t easily find the product, check it suits their skin tone, complete the look with other products, and buy easily on their mobile device. Website merchandising strategies should be aligned with other channels to make this journey as seamless as possible.
A Glossier approach
Glossier is the one to watch. It’s difficult turning ‘likes’ into something that is tangible and makes money. Yet the online-only cosmetics company has succeeded here, hot on developing new products from feedback in social comments. Co-creation is key. It not only partners with influencers— it was founded by a beauty blogger and influencer, Emily Weiss, who specifically focused on conversations with real women about their specific beauty routines and used this to shape the eCommerce experience.
The website and social channels show what each product will look like on all complexions. It deploys user-generated content by pulling images from social channels of real people wearing products in real life.
The site’s reviews system helps users find reviews that are most relevant to them: filtering by age, skin type and gender for each product. And it shows the negative reviews from its visitors, giving a sense of transparency and trust.
Loyalty is promoted through free shipping incentives. Discounted product bundles are available to trial various products and looks. A live chat feature lets users talk to an expert. And the 3-step checkout process is very straightforward, on a website designed specifically for mobile users.
The simplicity and customer-focused ethos of the brand is coherent throughout all stages of the customer journey, clearly driven by its main influencer, who happens to also be the CEO. From consumer-centric blogs and social media to a seamless shopping experience, honest reviews, easy checkout, and customer-focused products, the brand utilises it’s range of influencers and social channels to raise awareness and demand for its products, and provides an outstanding customer experience to build loyalty.