With the number of US smartphone owners officially passing more than 50 percent of the population, marketers realize that these devices are shaping consumer behavior and purchase decisions at astonishing rates. Shoppers’ ability to access the internet on the fly affects all stages of the purchase cycle. Consumers constantly reach for their phones for product reviews, price comparisons, coupons, and product information.
Case in point, we recently attended a Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) panel on Maximizing Mobile Moments. A beauty industry marketing expert from L’Oréal Paris spoke on how the company is utilizing mobile in innovative and effective ways.
L’Oréal Paris launched a new responsive design web platform in early 2013 that creates a unique, customizable session for each user. Kelly Solomon, Vice President of eCommerce and Multi-Channel at L’Oréal Paris observed, “Consumers are more informed than ever and often know more than sales associates.” (Q: How will this affect your associate training and sales support?)
L’Oréal’s new platform lets consumers create a personalized dashboard based on their skin color, hair color, eye color, and other self-identified features, with related product suggestions. Solomon said 60 percent of people who purchase health and beauty aids return to the brand website afterward to validate the purchase with a review or to look up usage instructions.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say “Jane”, a brunette with dark brown eyes, visits the site to review the concealer she purchased the week before. As the website opens, she’s prompted to input her hair and eye color and her email address. Her personalized dashboard then displays an instructional video of the product as well as a video called “makeup for dark eyes.” Jane watches the “makeup for dark eyes” video and proceeds to scope out some of the eye shadow colors mentioned in the clip. A few weeks later, Jane is in Target to grab paper towels and toothpaste when she walks by the cosmetics aisle. She remembers that she liked a shade of L’Oréal Paris eyes shadow from the video she watched a few days ago, but can’t remember exactly which one. She’s already got her iPhone in hand, so she opens up L’Oréal Paris on the web browser. The platform’s responsive design reformats perfectly to her phone’s screen dimensions, and that eye shadow she contemplated is listed on the first page of her dashboard as a “recommended item.” Jane finds the shade on the shelf and happily heads to checkout.
By 2014, smartphones are expected to influence over 50% of retail sales. Consumers use mobile at every step of the purchase cycle – from shopping list creation and research before purchase, to coupon redemption at point-of-purchase, and for reviews after trying the product. Responsive design and user-specific web platforms are just one piece of a larger digital marketing puzzle. The emergence of sophisticated marketing automation systems gives marketers the ability to reach users more frequently and with the most relevant content. This, coupled with the data collected from web and mobile platforms, like L’Oréal Paris’, generates a system that redefines relationship marketing. Marketo, a marketing automation industry trailblazer, explains that marketers “need multiple tracks for each buyer persona and buying stage that ‘listen’ to how the customer behaves, and adjusts accordingly – like a real-world relationship.”
This means going beyond a monthly newsletter. Data from email lists, website visits, in-store purchases, and social media mentions is aggregated into one system and enables marketers to reach customers across online and offline channels with personalized and timely material.
But if we’ve learned anything from working with clients, you have to walk before you run – meaning test, revise, and test again, before you find what your consumer will respond to. This means Beauty marketers should invest in maximizing mobile now.
Here are four essential next steps:
- Do you want an app or mobile website?
- Evaluate your web platform: mobile adaptation may already be a feature
- Determine your user flow: mobile behavior is not PC behavior, so you may need to adapt content
- Are you ready for marketing automation?