Digital Marketing for Beauty Brands

In my former life, before I devoted myself to all things digital marketing, I was the editor of an industry-leading magazine in the beauty biz. From foundations to fragrance and mascara to men’s skincare, I’ve read all the press releases, seen all the ad campaigns and tried all the products. And what brand managers wanted from me was column inches, filled with glowing copy.

But now I’m on the other side of the fence, working with brands to make sure consumers not only read about their products, but actually buy them. So, after almost 10 years as a beauty journalist and four years working with their digital teams, what is it that sets out the best from the rest? And what should beauty brands be doing to get the edge online?

Make Sure You’re Visible

According to recent research from Google Think Insights, 63% of beauty shoppers conduct research online. They use search engines more than any other tool, and the top four results in Google collectively receive 83% of all first page organic clicks.

Beauty Quotes - GoogleClick here to Tweet this stat!

Looking at our various beauty clients, search engine traffic accounts for anywhere from 35% to as much as 70% of their overall visitor numbers. And there’s no coincidence that the ones doing sophisticated SEO and PPC campaigns are the ones that attract the most traffic from the likes of Google.

Make sure you think about how people will search for your products. And don’t forget that you’re not only competing with other brands for your generic category terms – in most cases, you’ll also be competing with the likes of Amazon, Boots, FeelUnique and other such powerhouses for your own products and brand terms.

If you can’t compete with the big boys in terms of SEO, think about clever, targeted PPC campaigns to gain that all-important first page visibility.

Use Video

There’s a reason why some of the biggest stars on YouTube are beauty vloggers. From how to create the perfect up-do to how you should apply false lashes, beauty hounds are hungry for tips, tricks and tutorials. They’re also keen to actually see what your products look like ‘in the flesh’ and what sort of results can really be achieved. So don’t underestimate the power of video to bring your brand to life.

Still not convinced? Retail Touchpoints found that Shoppers who watch video are 174% more likely to purchase than those who don’t, while research from Internet Retailer showed that 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in their online purchase decisions.

Beauty Quotes - VideoClick here to Tweet this stat!

There’s no such thing as too much video when it comes to beauty products. Whether it’s 30 second product demos, testimonials or detailed step-by-steps, make sure videos are in your marketing armoury. And make sure you’re promoting them not only on your site, but across channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and wherever your customers are engaged.

Check out Benefit’s Beauty School videos, or Max Factor’s Create The Look series (which is featured plum on the home page). And remember that the more you can mirror the user journey that a consumer makes in-store, the better. So think of your site, and its videos in particular, as the consultants and product demo girls in a store. They’re there to help sell your products and turn browsers into buyers!

Use Imagery That is Beautiful And Useful

Yes – it’s logical that beauty brands will have stylishly shot products, often in the hands of unfeasibly beautiful models. But when it comes to online shopping, there are other imagery considerations to bear in mind. Beauty Quotes - ImageryThis list is by no means exhaustive, but here’s a few examples:

  • Make sure you show the actual product as well as the packaging. It may be a moisturiser, or a hair gel, or something that seems pretty ‘standard’. But people want to see whether it looks thick or more liquid, what colour it is, and – bizarrely as it sounds – how it looks like it will feel. Benefit do this really well.
  • If your product is particularly large, small or is in some other way unique in size, make sure you put it in context. Have someone hold it. Or put it next to a standard-sized mascara/perfume bottle/hair dryer, etc. (Such as Unilever has done with its compressed deodorants.
  • Show the product’s results, or it actually being used. This is particularly true for cosmetics, hair styling and such like – many of which may have ad campaigns connected to the products, such as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini for Elnett.

Make Sure it’s Easy to Order

The key to successful eCommerce stores is an easy, friction-free purchasing process. Make sure you are upfront with your information about shipping costs – unexpected extras at the checkout are one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment. Indeed, according to the Wharton School of Business, 61% of consumers will consider cancelling their order if free shipping is not included.

Beauty Quotes - OrderingClick here to Tweet this stat!

Another thing that is guaranteed to put customers off is a longwinded check-out process. Although it’s tempting to gather as much data as possible from shoppers, numerous studies have shown that cart abandonment rates rocket with each extra field you need to fill in. Keep it as slick as possible – and give people the option of checking out as a guest if they don’t want to go through a registration process prior to purchase.

Experiment, too, with automatic email reminders. Platforms such as Magento offer plugins that will send emails to customers who have abandoned their cart, with a link to the items they had in it. You can also set up automatic replenishment reminders and other such cues to purchase.

Engage Your Community

Effective Social Media activity is one of the best ways to keep your customers coming back for more. As the old adage goes, 80% of your business will likely come from 20% of your customers – and these loyal brand fans are likely to be the ones following you on your social channels.

According to a report from PM Digital in March 2014, beauty brands get a whopping 12% of their traffic from social media accounts – unsurprising when you note that many of the most followed brands on sites such as Instagram and Pinterest are in the beauty industry. Furthermore, stats from Mintel show that sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used by 34% of would-be beauty buyers to inform purchase decisions.

Beauty Quotes - EngagementClick here to Tweet this stat!

The key to extracting value from social is in engaging and entertaining first and foremost – and “selling” to them as a secondary action. Brands such as Dove, Bobbi Brown and Benefit have been able to build millions followers who like and share their posts thanks to compelling content based around competitions, celebrity looks, how-to’s and fun or inspirational imagery. Of course, there’s also product information, discount offers and other more overtly sales-focussed tactics, but it’s not a constant sales barrage.

Word of mouth and personal recommendation is still a massive factor in why people buy the products they do. So the final thing worth bearing in mind as you build a social strategy is this: how can you take your customers from brand fans to brand advocates, who will ‘sell’ your brand for you?


According to a report published by eConsultancy, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. And according to Reevoo, on-site reviews result in an average 18% uplift in sales.

Beauty Quotes - ReviewsClick here to Tweet this stat!

It’s not exactly surprising (especially when you see examples like these from Clinique and L’Oréal). It’s long been known that consumers trust friends, family and word of mouth more than brand advertising – and these days consumers expect to be able to see ‘real life’ reviews. So although some brands may fear opening themselves up to potential negativity, you really have to take the plunge. Bear in mind that to receive good and bad reviews is only natural. Some studies have actually shown that even bad reviews can be helpful for building credibility online, as reviews that are 100% positive are often trusted less. And you can, of course, moderate or block reviews that are libellous.

Remember, too, that delivery, customer service and a range of other brand ‘experiences’ above and beyond the product itself may affect reviews. So make sure your customer will be happy from start to finish.

You can also find out more about some of the beauty clients we’ve worked with, and our approach to building your online beauty empire at www.reloaddigital.co.uk/beauty