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eCommerce marketing strategies for beauty, personal care and cosmetics brands. All your questions about how to market cosmetics have been answered here.

For a global industry that generates $500 billion in sales annually and is responsible for millions and millions of jobs and livelihoods, the COVID crisis sure did pose a humongous challenge that initially indicated a rough year for retailers and manufacturers alike. More so for luxury stores and premium beauty outlets as these were mostly driven by offline retail. As more and more of these stores got shut down and premium beauty products went further down people’s list of priorities, the global market saw a hit no living being had ever seen before.

However, it was only a matter of time before things began to steadily turn around for good. Post the initial, much-anticipated setback caused by the closure of stores, and a massive decrease in spends on beauty, a paradigm shift in how industry leaders marketed and sold their products became apparent. In line with this forced and immediate digital transformation that became the need of the hour, retailers switched to online channels to promote their products as well as make them available to consumers.

Whether it is the sudden spike in the number of new D2C businesses, setting up of online marketplaces, or creation of engaging social media handles, brands quickly overhauled their entire business and marketing strategies and doubled down on their digital efforts and spend. And it would be naive to believe that this sudden, but the monumental transformation is temporary. It definitely is here to stay. Therefore, in order to keep up with the ever-changing trends of how premium and luxury beauty brands engage with their customers and drive sales, and stay ahead of the curve, your marketing strategies need a 360 degree revamp.

In this post, we shall discuss some path-breaking eCommerce marketing strategies for beauty and cosmetics brands that will enable you to keep up with the relentless innovation that the times ahead and your customers are going to demand.

Jump on the digital bandwagon with these eCommerce marketing strategies

1. Revisit your design and make it more user friendly

More often than not, the design is seen as secondary – whether it is of your marketing collaterals such as emails and social posts or digital properties including your website and app. However, if your design is not appealing or doesn’t add to a seamless user experience, you are not going to see conversions improve, especially now that your audiences’ primary interaction with your brand is online.

The way your site or other communication is designed is a reflection of your brand’s personality and not just a mere tactical aspect. For example, a cluttered site that makes it excruciatingly hard for your visitors to search for a particular category of products immediately puts them off and makes them drop off, thereby delaying a purchase – something which could have been easily avoided by improving your site design.

So, instead of thinking of design as an afterthought, you must consider it while crafting the copy or content itself so you end up designing a page, email, or post that converts and not draws people away from it.

Here’s an example of Birchbox’s website to take inspiration from:

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2. Double down on your social presence for cosmetics marketing

With an ever-increasing focus on digital adoption throughout 2020, there’s no wonder that the number of social media users crossed the 3.8 billion mark this year. For brands, this means having to amplify their social media efforts in order to connect with their potential customers, more so now than ever before.

With all other avenues shut, social media is what keeps conversations between brands and customers going and helps businesses keep their audience engaged. Therefore, leverage Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all other platforms your audience uses not just to promote your products or drop a sale announcement every once in a while, but regularly post engaging, informative, and interesting content that keeps your audience hooked and in constant touch with you.

Whether it is dropping updates or making an announcement, conducting a contest, or just sharing exciting content, social media can help you connect with millions of potential customers that are now spending more and more time on such platforms. With people hesitant to opt for free makeup trials in stores, you can leverage this as a marketing opportunity to share makeup tutorials on social media in the form of quick videos or reels. You could even conduct AMA sessions with experts and doctors on social platforms and give your audience a chance to get their questions answered by your esteemed guests. Contests and giveaways are another effective way to drive engagement on your social profiles.

L’oreal Paris is one brand that is impressively active on social media and is never short of engaging content to keep their followers hooked. Here’s a glimpse:

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3. Leverage personalization to add a human touch to your emails

Offline retail might be a thing of the past now, but shoppers are still always going to be biased towards the human touch it offers. You walk into a store, tell the staff what you are looking for, and immediately have someone to assist you in making your purchase. It doesn’t end there – you are more often than not presented with a plethora of products that you may like or those that are usually recommended with the one you have finalized.

While the charm of shopping from a store cannot be replicated while buying stuff online, you can most certainly offer your customers a premium and personalized shopping experience by connecting to them via other channels such as email.

Emails allow you to engage your customers and constantly connect with them beyond just transactional messaging. Use the email ids you collect from shoppers who browse your store to send them personalized recommendations about those they might like. You can even share personalized recommendations on your latest blogs they might be interested in, latest collections and launches that might catch their eye, or literally any other interesting update based on their browsing history or purchase so they are more likely to respond positively.

Here’s a fantastic example of a personalized year-end email from Ulta:

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Need help setting up your beauty and cosmetics brand online or marketing it? Contact the eCommerce experts at Motif today

4. Use SMS marketing to engage with customers in a one on one manner

There is plenty of debate around the efficacy of emails vs SMSes as a marketing channel. While it’s not right to compare the two given their unique USPs and use cases, the fact that SMSes boast shockingly higher open and click-through rates (98% and 19% respectively) as opposed to emails (20% and 3.2% respectively) cannot be ignored.

Though conventional and age-old, SMS continues to be an engaging and effective marketing channel that not only captures customers’ attention but also successfully gets your message across. The magic lies in the fact that the time commitment required from the receiver in order to scan through your entire message is fairly lesser than any other channel. In fact, it is one channel you can leverage to send truly personalized and tailored communication in fewer words that is more likely to get the receiver clicking the link to find out more.

5. Improve visibility on social media with ads

Merely posting regularly to engage your audience is not enough to maintain an authoritative presence on social media. Since social platforms are your key target channel with these evolving times, you want to leverage it to the fullest by also reaching users who don’t actively follow you and improve your reach multifold. This can only be done with the necessary evil commonly known as social ads.

Target keywords that are super relevant for your target audience so that people who actively search or engage with content similar to yours or important to your products are shown your ads and products. Running highly targeted ads will ensure you expand your reach significantly and allow you to get in touch with buyers who would potentially be interested in trying out your products.

Here’s an example of a social ad by Lancome:

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6. Boost your search results visibility

To establish dominance over search results, organic growth isn’t enough. More importantly so if you are looking to climb up search results in the short term. Search ads can help you beat the competition and grab attention right off the cuff when buyers enter a search query relevant to your brand or products. You don’t want to wait around for them to discover you organically among thousands of similar-looking brands, but get to them first and drive them to your store.

Ads will help you capture the attention of potential buyers with high purchase intent (given they actively searched for a relevant keyword) and allow you to offer your value proposition in the shortest possible format. Once you have crafted and triggered search ads for your relevant groups of keywords and users, you can rest assured that your ad will reach the right screen and attract the right set of eyeballs.

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Need help setting up your beauty and cosmetics brand online or marketing it? Contact the eCommerce experts at Motif today

7. Bank on search engine optimization

While ads help you improve your search visibility in the short term and attract customers with a few words, what about building your search presence over the long term and attracting customers who make a purchase only after consuming all possible information?

The answer is simple – you need your webpages to be search engine optimized and thorough. Whether it is through blogs, resources, or product pages, make sure you offer enough information required to make a purchase and optimize it for SEO so they rank for every search query and keyword relevant to your business and products.

Once you start engaging your potential customers with your content and also educating them, you get a step closer to closing the purchase life cycle. While building an SEO strategy, avoid targeting any and all keywords that are remotely significant for your category, but stick to ones that are the most relevant and double down creation for those so you drive highly targeted visitors with high purchase intent.

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8. Leverage emerging technologies to sell makeup online

When it comes to beauty and skincare marketing, the toughest challenge is convincing buyers to make a purchase without trying out a certain product. Emerging technologies can come in quite handy in offering a shopping experience similar to that of retail stores where customers could try out products before finalizing them. Embedding artificial intelligence and augmented reality features into your site or app empowers you to welcome shoppers to witness how products would appear on their skin and then decide whether to purchase them.

Sephora has been doing a fantastic job at this. Here’s a look at their app allows users to experience products on their face before buying them:

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Need help setting up your beauty and cosmetics brand online or marketing it? Contact the eCommerce experts at Motif today

9. Focus on storytelling and being descriptive

The in-store shopping experience is irreplaceable not just because of how shoppers are able to try out products and thoroughly evaluate them before making a purchase, but also because of the dedicated assistance the salespeople offer while you are at it.

Even if a shopper walks into a store knowing nothing about the product they want to buy, they are supplied with all the information they need to make a decision – including the benefits, ingredients, and so on. It’s all tied together and presented in the form of a story that not only appeals to the customer and makes them want to be a part of it. With your online store, the only gap now left to bridge is to create a similar shopping experience digitally.

The first step, therefore, would be to tell inspiring and engaging stories that bring out the product as a hero as opposed to simply listing products, sharing their benefits, and asking people to buy them. This goes for both – your owned digital properties as well as other channels such as social media. While telling stories, you also want to be as descriptive as possible when it comes to sharing the product details.

Remember, buyers aren’t able to touch or feel products so they need to be given as much information as possible to compensate for it. Social media can be a great place to share stories of customers who have used your products and seen wonderful results in order to create both hype and credibility. When it comes to beauty and skincare products, stories are worth their weight in gold and significantly impact buyers’ decisions.

Here’s an inspiring example from the D2C brand, Honest, using storytelling marketing:

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10. Support and promote a cause through your brand

People appreciate brands who support a certain cause(s) and buyers are naturally inclined to be associated with brands that are aligned with their core values and principles as opposed to those who don’t have any. Therefore, supporting a particular cause and shaping your brand story to include the voice of that community will most certainly help strike a chord with the new-age buyer who cares about inclusivity, promoting worthy causes, and building a sense of community.

Beauty Berkie took to their social media handles earlier this year to announce that instead of celebrating the 4th of July, they would be celebrating Juneteenth (19th June), also known as Freedom Day, and marks the day slavery was abolished in the United States. Here’s a sneak peek into their campaign:

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11. Embrace and celebrate inclusivity and diversity in all forms

Beauty is no longer about catering to a specific segment or about aspiring to be one. Beauty is about being inclusive, diverse, and real. Consumers are drawn away from brands that set unrealistic standards of beauty, promote a certain colour or type of skin, only cater to a specific gender, or any other segment – essentially anything that’s more exclusive than inclusive.

Therefore, your campaigns, narratives, and stories must talk to everyone regardless of their colour, age, sex, gender, sexuality, body, skin type. Your consumers want to be associated with brands that set examples and promote a community they want to be a part of and not something that’s archaic and exclusive.

To set the tone for their inclusive marketing approach, Fenty Beauty, owned by Rihanna, launched their “beauty for all” digital campaign in 2017. Here’s a look at one of the posts from their campaign that promotes their “foundation for all”.

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12. Tell a new and unique story

Stories that focus on anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle, and likes are a thing of the past. They no longer connect with the audience as they used to. And even if they do, the segment of the audience that gets influenced with such messaging is getting narrower by the day.

Therefore, to create your own niche and truly connect with the modern audiences, you must develop a unique and convincing narrative, something that strikes a chord with the new-age skincare shopper, and stop relying on age-old tactics and hashtags to draw attention. This is probably why you see newer D2C brands telling their own story with regards to where their ingredients are sourced from, how their products are manufactured, the claims they make, how they are different, and so on – completely overhauling their brand persona.

The perfect example here would be that of Glossier. Their entire narrative is around easy-to-use cosmetics and how beauty is about letting your real skin shine, while makeup comes second. Take a look:

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13. Tie up with influencers and micro-influencers to promote your products

When it comes to the beauty and skincare segment, recommendations from influencers can go a long way in impacting purchase decisions. Getting influencers to try out, review, and promote your products while comprehensively listing their benefits and ingredients will help build trust in them and get your audience more excited about trying them out themselves.

Therefore, combine influencer marketing along with your other social media and marketing efforts so that your audience gets a sense of what it is like to actually use your products and hear from those experts whose opinions they trust and value. However, you must thoroughly vet influencers and tie up with only those who align with your brand’s principles and have the kind of following that fits within your target audience.

Here’s an example of an influencer post for Kiehl’s:

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Need help setting up your beauty and cosmetics brand online or marketing it? Contact the eCommerce experts at Motif today

14. Double down on video marketing

With the focus entirely on shopping for makeup and beauty online, video marketing is the need of the hour. Buyers need to be able to see and experience the product as though they were in the store trying it out. Creating enticing and engaging videos that showcase the product in use will give shoppers the much-needed confidence to go ahead and buy their favourite products from online stores.

More importantly, try not to stick to a single format, but experiment as much as you can. Try out product videos for your product pages, video webinars with experts on topical subjects for social media, and even product tutorials for your blog for interested customers.

Estee Lauder, for example, regularly shares IGTV videos of experts sharing beauty and skincare secrets. Here’s a recent one:

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15. Experiment with “How-to” content

To help educate potential buyers from the comfort of their homes, create how-to content that can be featured on your owned digital assets, social media, as well as other communication channels. For example, if you own a skincare brand, you could try out topics like – “How To Get Rid Of Blemishes” and package it in the form of videos, infographics, or simply listicles. The idea is simple – to educate and inform customers about what products might work for them, how they should include them in their skincare regime, and so on, and then nudge them to try out your products as you would in your store.

Kiehl’s has a dedicated how-tos and tips section on its website, directly accessible from their homepage. They use content marketing to keep shoppers engaged and educated.

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Time to set the ball rolling and get your eCommerce marketing strategies in action!

The times may be changing and evolving, but the silver lining is that the future opens abundant doors for innovation, personalization, and growth for the beauty and skincare industry. If you do it right, skincare marketing can be more rewarding than it seems to be challenging.

All you need to do is study the trends, get to know shoppers’ evolved mindsets and pain points, experiment with newer ways of reaching your buyers and make their shopping experiences convenient and delightful.

Need help setting up your beauty and cosmetics brand online or marketing it? Contact the eCommerce experts at Motif today