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May 12, 2015
Case Study

Email Marketing: Customer reviews boost clickthrough by 25% in ecommerce product emails

SUMMARY: Customers can be a wealth of content for marketers, and natural cosmetics company Naturopathica discovered that combining feedback and email can be especially compelling for consumers.

The company decided to use reviews to nurture its consumers who wanted to be educated about products before purchasing, increasing the clickthrough rate for a review campaign by 25%.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content

THE CUSTOMER

Naturopathica was founded in 1995 in East Hampton when founder and CEO Barbara Close opened a healing arts center and spa. The spa focused on holistic health and well-being and eventually evolved into creating its own products. The company has grown out of the East Hampton spa to be a brand that is in hotel and destination resort spas throughout North America.

"[Close] was looking for products that really served her clients and didn't find them on [the] market, so she began developing her own," Sarah Falcon, Director of Marketing and Communications, Naturopathica, said.

Naturopathica's environmental standards are organic and natural-cosmetics-certified by a French certification body. It is a specific and comprehensive process that includes the approval of ingredients all the way into the manufacturing and packaging of products.

Because of this extra effort, Naturopathica appeals to a specific consumer who is concerned about what products they buy and needs to feel well-educated about all purchases.

CHALLENGE

Falcon joined Naturopathica in 2010 alongside the launch of the first fully-operational ecommerce site for the brand, which came during a rebranding of the product packaging and line.

"There was a Naturopathica website, but no one was putting marketing effort behind it. It was churning through some sales because it was a place people could purchase the product, but there wasn't really an ecommerce marketing structure," Falcon said.

In regards to coming to the marketing team to support that digital push, Falcon said the focus was on ramping up "our direct-to-consumer activities as well as growing in the spa channels. This year, we're looking at continuing to do that and grow our footprint in the spa world … and also doing much more in the online space to raise awareness to capture conversions on our site."

There has been a lot of growth in the past five years, she added, and as they continue to move marketing activities toward consumer-driven marketing, the challenge has been "looking to see where we can speak to our consumers."

"Whether they had a treatment in our spa in East Hampton or visited our website, how can we make sure that we're carrying messages to them and really providing them resources and education and information that helps them achieve their well-being and get inspired and intrigued by the brand? That's where we are," she said.

Email, Falcon added, has been "a really huge driver both in sales and in telling the brand story."

Because Naturopathic customers are specifically looking for environmentally conscious products, they are generally looking for a lot of information before purchasing. By providing that content, the marketing team can turn them into long-time customers.

"That's really been a huge platform for us in content marketing. We're looking more at what we can do on our website in the next few years to really drive up our content marketing activity," she said, adding that "using content and using email lets us tell those stories that are a little bit more complicated."

CAMPAIGN

Because both content and email are such a large part of Naturopathica's ecommerce strategy, "We're really looking to integrate," Falcon said.

The team had seen feedback coming through customer service. According to Falcon, consumers "really like the products and we were getting positive feedback," she added.

In response to this positive feedback, over the past year, the team worked on building out a process for capturing that information and publishing it.

"We started a plan of doing emails that highlighted reviews and testimonials of our top products. We'd send out emails to customers who had purchased products in the last six to 12 months to solicit star ratings — a one to five star rating — and feedback on specific prompts," she said.

Step #1. Begin building feedback into product emails

Initially, the team began collecting feedback from an initial email send featuring a survey. The email was soliciting comments along the lines of, "The thing I love most this product ... " or "I would recommend this product to a friend because ... "

"What was interesting was we actually saw sales coming off those survey requests, which is always interesting. Just … the reminder to think about the product experience was a prompt to purchase," Falcon said.

They began populating the website with those ratings and reviews on specific products, while using the email marketing content as well.

"We started linking the ratings and reviews in the emails to what you would see on the product page on the site," she said. "Mainly we're using it in e-blast — our promotional product-focused emails that go out to either a segment of the list or just the [entire] list."

Also, within the regular email schedule are specific product highlights. The team began using the product testimonials in those sends as well.

View the Creative Sample


Click here to see the full version of this creative sample



One email, with the subject line "5 Star Savings," featured Naturopathica's five-star rated Plant Stem Cell Booster Serum.

The copy reads, "The reviews are in. See what's being said about our best-selling Plant Stem Cell Booster Serum."

There are three customer reviews, all giving five stars, that surround the product image, and one reads, "My skin feels softer; looks brighter. I look good when I wake up in the morning!"

The bottom of the email gives a coupon code for 10 or 15 percent off, depending on what size the customer purchases.

"We started that process early this year. We've really ramped it up in Q2 and Q3 of this year. We've just started playing with it. What we're looking to do next is looking at where there are more opportunities to populate those reviews along the purchase process like an abandoned cart email … [and] plot those things along the consumer purchase path," she said.

Step #2. Insert social elements into email sends

To continue fusing email and content, the team began pulling from social media for compelling email sends. Most of this was user-generated content, such as uploads from Instagram.

For one email send, with the subject line "InstaFaves!," the team featured their favorite fan pictures of Naturopathica products, listing both the product name and the Instagram user who posted it.

"We pulled from our Instagram and from Instagram's photos that were #naturopathica that featured our product ... " Falcon said.

The copy reads, "Better than a selfie. Some of our favorite Naturopathica images on Instagram!"

Beneath each of the four pictures is a link to shop for that particular product, and at the bottom of the email are coupon codes to receive either $10 off $100 or $20 off $200 spent. The top of the send reminds customers that they will receive three free samples with every order and free shipping on orders over $75.

Customers are also encouraged to "Share with us. Please use #naturopathica to help us find your gorgeous photos. @Naturopathica."

For a flash sale, the marketing team decided to make the email send a flashback to an original product. With the subject line "#TBT Flashback Sale," the team infused social media elements from the beginning.

View the Creative Sample


Click here to see the full version of this creative sample



The copy highlighted free shipping with a coupon code and featured one of the brand's first skin care lotions. From there, the email pulls a quote from a 2008 Refinery29 article, raving about the lotion.

Step #3. Combine reviews and social media

The brand had 20,000 Facebook page likes and decided to leverage those followers for their feedback.

For one email send in the campaign, the subject line was, "Customers Rave." This subject line utilized a longer review focusing on a particular product — the Vitamin C Revitalizing Lotion — and is attributed to "Carleigh R., Facebook."

The email features a large image of the product with the review listed next to it and again features a coupon code at the bottom for customers to redeem with product purchase.

Also, the bottom of the email features links to all of the Naturopathica social media platforms.

RESULTS

"The good problem that we found was that we have more great content than we can use at a time. I think there's really an opportunity in integrating social proof in more places along the communication process and the purchase process and finding ways to leverage it through the consumer pathways," Falcon said.

One of the biggest challenges for a skin care product online, she added, is making a credible case for purchasing to an ideal customer who may not have physically touched the product before. Customer reviews can be a powerful tool and more trustworthy to those customers.

The results the team was able to see for the emails in this campaign were:
  • An average open rate increase of 6%

  • An average clickthrough rate increase of 25%

  • An average 10% higher read rate

  • An AOV (average order value) that was 8% higher than the average of emails overall

"It's such a personal product, unlike an outfit you can easily return or even a shampoo that, if you have a bad hair day, you can wash it out. With skincare, you might have a bad skin week. It helped us tell a story about our product in a way that wasn't just us speaking to the product but showing actual people that had an authentic experience with the product," Falcon concluded.

Creative Samples

  1. 5 Star Savings email

  2. InstaFaves email

  3. #TBT email

  4. Customers Rave email

Sources

Naturopathica

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