Bluemercury customer journey breakdown and marketing review
The beauty industry is roaring, and the evidence is inescapable. There were over 100 mergers and acquisitions among beauty brands in the past two years. Transaction size of acquisitions increased by 6% between 2016 and 2017 alone.
Much of the beauty industry’s recent success comes from digital channels. Consumers continue to show a growing interest in beauty online, particularly millennials. Kylie Jenner’s e-commerce brand recently posted $420 million in sales in 18 months. Meanwhile, Youtube beauty vlogger Yuya surpassed 21 million subscribers last month.
Bluemercury, a beauty brand that sells cosmetics and provides spa services, is set to take advantage of this boom.
Marla and Barry Beck founded the company in 1999, which began competing with traditional drug and department stores. They wanted to give customers a more personal, specialty-store experience. After years of success, Macy’s acquired the company in 2015 to compete with companies like Sephora and Ulta. But as competitors in the beauty industry shift to focus on e-commerce, is Bluemercury bringing their personal touch to digital channels?
Today, I’m going to review a pivotal piece of Bluemercury’s marketing: how they communicate and build relationships with customers visiting their website. I’ll take you step-by-step through a timeline of my own customer journey with Bluemercury. I will include photos and comments throughout. Read on below.
Day 1: email sign-up and cart abandonment
Upon landing on the website, I navigate to the “men” tab. I find the Jack Black Beard Oil, click “add to bag,” and then “secure checkout.”
The website forwards me to a page giving me an option to add samples of different products to my cart for free. This is a great way to increase user engagement, and potentially get your customers to buy more in the future if they find and try things of interest to them. But be careful about placing too many obstacles throughout the checkout process, as the most important result is getting the customer to complete this transaction. Bluemercury offers a lot of samples in brick-and-mortar stores as well, so it’s great to see consistency online.
But, for my customer journey, I click “no thanks,” choose not to try any samples and land on a page with several checkout options. I select “secure checkout,” and enter my shipping information and email. From there I abandon my cart by exiting the page.
Day 2: cart abandonment email
According to Statista, 21% of people abandon their cart because the process is taking too long. Brands must ensure abandoned cart emails don’t come too late as well. Over 24 hours later, I receive a cart abandonment email. I open the email but don’t click through.
In the email, Bluemercury does a good job giving the customer more reasons to buy–they offer free two-day shipping, free returns and 5% off my order.
I’m also looking to see if they add me to their newsletter subscription or send me any follow-up emails over time. For most brands, it’s a good idea to ask the customer to opt-in to your newsletter once they sign up for an account on your website. This practice eliminates an unnecessary step for customers who don’t want to hunt for your sign-up form.
A couple of weeks go by without any further communication and I decide to move on to the next step.
Day 16: newsletter sign-up and welcome email
I navigate back to the website and scroll to the bottom of the home page to find the newsletter form. A chat bar follows me and blocks a large amount of content. I enter my email, receive a “thank you,” and wait.
Shortly after, a welcome email lands in my inbox. A personal note from the founder adds a nice touch. The top navigation provides great visual consistency from the email to the website, which builds trust with customers.
But let’s remember–welcome emails have one of the highest open rates of any lifecycle stage. It’s a valuable conversion opportunity. Bluemercury should focus on showing popular product categories instead of more generic headings by topic. Given specific customer data, it might make more sense to send a different type of email that has a higher probability of conversion as well. Great first impressions are critical for customer retention.
Days 17-30: an inbox avalanche
In the next 14 days, Bluemercury buries me under a heap of 20 emails. In the modern era, these batch-and-blast strategies are obsolete. Instead, they would do better to track the timing and frequency of when each customer opens their email, and send emails only within that customer’s preferred timing interval.
Despite having my email, browsing data, and my address, Bluemercury uses little to no personalization. By adding dynamic product recommendations, they will see a significant lift in conversion. Companies like DSTLD have seen a 104% increase in year-over-year email revenue when enabling this feature on ReSci’s platform. It’s also interesting to note that none of the emails include the item I abandoned earlier.
What’s more, there doesn’t appear to be any incentive optimization. Each customer has a unique discount threshold. Bluemercury should right-size their incentives to protect their margins. One ReSci client, for example, saw a 19% increase in email conversion rate when using dynamic incentives versus static incentives.
It appears Bluemercury is sending the same email to all of their subscribers with products defined by their marketing team. Instead, they should be able to predict, based on data, what each subscriber might like and show them that. ReSci’s platform handles all of these data-driven recommendations automatically.
I’m happy to see that Bluemercury prioritizes omnichannel in their emails. Many templates have links to find the nearest brick-and-mortar store. They have the right idea here but should be cautious. They are robbing themselves of sales in both channels by simply sending branded batch-and-blast emails, instead of personalized, 1:1 messages.
Lastly, Bluemercury didn’t recommend even one men’s product. This basic form of personalization is called “gender-based filtering.” ReSci’s platform uses a gender-matching filter by default. On average, we see 2-10% of our product recommendations removed by this filter which would enable Bluemercury to recommend more relevant items instead.
Day 31: cart abandonment again after newsletter sign-up
I add a different product by the same company, Jack Black, to my cart. This time it was the beard lube, whereas last time it was the beard oil. I then exit the page to abandon my cart.
Four days later, I still haven’t received a cart abandonment email. This apparent error is significant because cart abandonment emails are extremely relevant for users and account for an average of 18% of total email revenue share.
Day 35: adding items to a wishlist
I still want to test for additional personalization, and Bluemercury has a wishlist on their website. Let’s see if they use this data to send me a relevant email that might push me over the edge to buy a wishlist item.
I go to the website, and under the “men” tab find the “Jack Black: shave essentials set.”
Then I click the heart next to “add to wishlist,” but nothing happens. I assume the link is broken, but realize only the text is linked. This lack of functionality runs contrary to the normal user experience customers expect on social media.
When I click through, Bluemercury sends me to a sign-in page. I sign in, go back to the product page, and add the shaving set to my wishlist again. Then I wait.
Unfortunately, I never receive any 1:1 messages about items in my wishlist despite waiting several weeks. This is a miss for obvious reasons. The company knows I want this item because I’ve told them. In the same way that a company would follow up after a customer abandons their cart, they may also want to send an email reminding customers of their wishlist item along with any standard, sitewide incentives (like free shipping).
Further, they can send price drop or item alert emails for items on a customer’s wishlist, or for items they predict the customer might like. While manually predicting each customer’s product preferences may be impossible, ReSci’s AI gives marketers this power right out of the box. An experiment by ReSci recently found that these targeted item alert emails result in a 1.7X click to open rate lift, a 3.4X conversion rate lift and an almost 7X increase in revenue per email compared to an item alert in a promotional email blast to all customers.
Day 52: churn
I completely disengage with Bluemercury, stop visiting the website, and don’t open emails. I want to see if their messaging changes. Will they send any targeted win-back messages?
The answer is “no.” I only get their standard promotional blast emails. One of the reasons customers churn or never buy again is because a brand isn’t staying relevant to customer needs. The first step to getting back lost customers is to identify they have churned, and communicate with them differently.
The best performing win-back messages typically include a discount that expires in 1-5 days. For ReSci clients who send win-back emails, we see average email revenue share for this stage at 2%, a 24% open rate and 13% click rate.
What grade do we give Bluemercury?
Macy’s acquired Bluemercury to compete with companies like Sephora and Ulta. These two companies obsess over how they can personalize their customer experience online. Despite creative messaging about current events, Bluemercury must modernize their digital presence to win the customer experience game online as they have done in stores. The good news is that many of these mistakes, when fixed, will likely bring a large revenue increase for the brand.
- Including a page to offer free samples online just as in stores
- Weaving current events and news into emails
- Incentivizing customers with the first cart abandonment email
- Focusing on omnichannel
Opportunity for improvement
- Prioritize and send cart abandonment emails at each user’s preferred time
- Update the chat application on the home page
- Include popular product categories in the first welcome email
- Implement dynamic product recommendations
- Add gender-based filtering for more intelligent recommendations
- Add discount optimization
- Optimize email timing and frequency
- Create item alert and wishlist email campaigns
- Speak directly to churned customers with win-back emails
- Fix the “add to wishlist” button on product pages
- Personalize email stages based on user data
About the author
Chase Doran is the Marketing Manager at ReSci. He’s obsessed with high converting, scalable marketing funnels and using technology to enable performance-driven creatives.
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