High-end makeup brand Wander Beauty is using text messaging to grow its online business.
From July 31 to Sept. 30, the company tested a text messaging service with an undisclosed mobile messaging service on WanderBeauty.com where customers could opt in on both desktop and phone via a pop-up bubble. During the two-month trial period, Wander Beauty saw significant results: Over 10 percent of customers opted in to receive text messages on mobile, while over 6 percent signed up for the service on desktop — standard industry opt-in rates are around 4 percent for desktop and 6 percent for mobile, said the company. This resulted in over 15,500 new subscribers to the Wander Beauty texting service and over 2,300 new transactions directly from the text communications — the brand’s conversion was around 7 percent versus the industry average of 1.4 to 3.9 percent. Revenue during this pilot period was in the high six figures, according to the brand.
“There is so much clutter in the beauty space, so we have to service our customer better,” said co-founder and CEO Divya Gugnani of the project. She saw that most Wander Beauty consumers were shifting from shopping on their desktops to shopping on their mobile devices over the last three years — now, 66 percent of Wander Beauty customers shop mobile-only. In September alone, that number was even higher — up to 70 percent. On average, WanderBeauty.com has 225,000 unique visitors per month.
This is in line with larger industry trends. According to a 2017 report by Statista, 35 percent of consumers shop via mobile only, and that number is expected to grow to nearly 50 percent by 2020 and to 54 percent by 2021. The preference for shopping on mobile is even higher for millennials. According to research from cloud-based mobile messaging company Open Market, six out of 10 millennials prefer two-way texting with brands and companies over e-mail or phone communications. This industry data provided Wander Beauty with proof of concept, as their female demographic ranges from ages 18 t0 45.
For Wander, the text messaging service is largely a play to grow its direct business — its own e-commerce channel now accounts for 50 percent of sales — versus third-party retailers where the brand is sold, like Sephora, Birchbox and Nordstrom. And the spend was nominal: According to Gugnani, for every $1 spent on the mobile service, which included base fees and carrier fees, Wander Beauty generated over $25 in additional revenue. “That’s money we just wouldn’t have seen before,” she said. This is in stark comparison to what other indie brands are doing, from an education and gratis point of view, to scale in players like Sephora.
Over the two-month period, Wander Beauty sent only 14 messages in order to not inundate its audience. Click-through rates for the text messages were as high as 25 percent. A high point was a pre-Labor Day weekend message around beauty masks and essentials, which increased average order values to nearly $58. Wander Beauty products range in price from $12 for a cosmetic application cushion to $68 for a trio kit of a face oil, eye masks and a brightening and purifying peel-off mask.
“We’re highly in tune with our customer, through constant communication, listening to their wants and needs, and innovating accordingly,” said Wander Beauty e-commerce manager Lauren Debrowski. The brand’s new text messaging service was aimed at giving customers a personalized and customized experience, she said.
Wander Beauty does this in other ways, too — like through its AI-tests and product curation. In regard to the former, Gugnani reported that, at any given time, the brand is testing up to 25 different online experiences using proprietary tools, so no two customer website experiences are the same. (Coconut oil-based brand Kopari also did this recently with Dynamic Yield.) And in regard to product innovation, for its new Nude Illusion foundation that launched last week, Wander had an active test group of 50 customers, which included beauty influencers Rose Siard and Arshia Moorjani, who co-created the product based on back-and-forth reviews.
“We’re constantly using these data points as a way to connect with our customer more,” said Gugnani. Wander Beauty will continue the two-way text communication into the fall, and plans to further segment subscribers and its communication by new shoppers, repeat purchasers and those who have abandoned their shopping carts mid-flight. “We want to understand purchasing behavior even more than we do now — that’s the goal,” said Gugnani. “It’s the only way to grow as a brand and give our woman what she actually wants.”