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Adore Beauty – Empowering Audiences of All Ages

Adore Beauty is Australia’s leading online beauty retailer committed to providing a personalised shopping experience that empowers and engages its customers. The web store, which also ships to New Zealand, is an official stockist of over 300 brands and home to over 11,000 products.

What started in 2000 in a garage in Murrumbeena, Victoria, with a $12,000 investment from family has grown into an iconic online shopping destination with a multi-million-dollar turnover. In the second half of 2020, sales skyrocketed 85% to $96.2 million, supported by an 84% increase in new customers and an 82% increase in active customers to 770,000. Overall earnings hit $5.2 million, three times higher than the previous period.

Over the past two-decades, Adore Beauty has evolved, introducing integrated content, digital marketing, and eCommerce retail to meet changing customer needs. The business’s innovative approach has been recognised across the industry, achieving accolades such as a spot in the Deloitte Tech Fast 50 and Power Retail All Stars Top 100 Online Retailers, and taking home the Top Customer Rated Online Store in Australia and Top Email Marketing from All Star awards.

Adore Beauty’s success is multi-faceted and data-driven. This article will explore the approaches, digital marketing, and eCommerce strategies that have propelled the company from hometown start-up to beauty retail leader employing over 170 people.

We will examine:

  • Adore Beauty’s commitment to the customer
  • Adore Beauty’s website
  • Adore Beauty’s content
  • Adore Beauty’s organic search
  • Adore Beauty’s social platforms

Let’s get started.

Adore Beauty’s commitment to the customer

“We’re a beauty democracy, not a beauty autocracy – in other words, we put YOU in control of which brands you decide to buy, rather than making the decisions for you.” – Adore Beauty.

Adore Beauty’s customer-centricity is its secret weapon. Permeating every aspect of the store’s user experience design, it keeps shoppers loyal – 64% of the site’s business comes from return customers.

Let’s examine three strategies that Adore Beauty uses to cater to its customer’s needs: personalisation, convenience, and customer feedback.

The customer journey is personalised

71% of consumers feel frustrated when an online experience is impersonal. Understanding the gravity of shoppers’ preference for personalised experiences, Adore Beauty turned to US-headquartered company Tealium to leverage real-time data to supercharge engagement and conversions – and it worked. Powered by live user browsing data, the newly optimised customer journey resulted in a 400% uptick in engagement.

According to Michaela Michaut, Adore Beauty Head of Acquisition and Retention, the goal was to recreate the tailored, individualised in-store shopping experience online.

The retailer’s first Tealium-driven nurture campaign was launched in 2017. Titled ‘Guided Solutions – Concern Areas,’ the campaign utilised recent browsing data to recognise intent signals and predict web visitors’ specific skin and hair concerns.

The segmented audiences were then fed relevant emails to encourage second-looks and eventual purchases.

Adore Beauty continues to experiment with Tealium’s data-driven personalisation capabilities.

For example, if a customer adds an item to their cart or wish list, views a product, or reads an article, this action informs live chatbots and real-life customer service representatives. The chatbot then delivers a “top suggestion,” as shown in the screenshot above.

“Each person’s beauty needs is a very personal thing,” Michaut said.

Online shopping is made as convenient as possible

Adore Beauty stocks many items shoppers consider essentials. They don’t want to wait weeks or pay through the roof for shipping (63% of cart abandonments are due to high shipping rates) to get their hands on the products they need on a day-to-day basis, and it’s the company’s commitment to easy shopping that keeps customers coming back.

Adore Beauty offers:

  • Free shipping on Australian orders over $20 and free express shipping on Australian orders over $50
  • Same-day dispatch on in-stock items ordered before 4 pm
  • Same-day delivery (also known as Twilight delivery) for $6.95 on orders placed before 11 am to select postcodes
  • A large and ever-growing range encompassing budget and high-end products
  • Multi-channel customer service – phone, email, and live chat – operating 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday
  • Fuss-free 90-day returns

Adore Beauty was also a first-mover in the mobile eCommerce space and has plans to launch an app later in 2021.

Customer feedback shapes the brand’s values

Adore Beauty’s customer-centric approach runs deeper than its personalised shopping features and leading-edge conveniences – its customers’ values influence the company’s ethics, too.

After requesting customers’ feedback, the retailer has embarked on a sustainability journey that involves reducing waste, using more recyclable materials, cutting carbon emissions, and engaging a third-party to perform an ESG (environment, social, and governance) audit.

“One of our core values at Adore Beauty is “doing the right thing” – which sounds easy, but really isn’t,” wrote Adore Beauty Founder Kate Morris. “Doing the right thing by the planet means that we’re constantly looking for ways we can improve our impact.”

Adore Beauty also created a Women in Tech scholarship and offers its employees extended domestic violence leave.

Key insights

  • Adore Beauty uses real-time browsing data to deliver a highly personalised online shopping experience that mimics that of a brick-and-mortar store.
  • The retailer makes shopping easy for its customers with fast and affordable shipping, hassle-free returns, and a comprehensive product line.
  • The company collects and listens to customer feedback to shape its brand identity and ethical approach.

Adore Beauty’s website

Adore Beauty is an online-only retailer – its website is its greatest asset. The company combines intelligent web design with effective, albeit repetitive messaging, to nudge visitors toward purchasing.

Let’s examine three features of Adore Beauty’s website: the information above the fold on the home page, promotions, and navigation.

Crucial information is above the fold

On its home page, Adore Beauty keeps key features and crucial information above the fold:

  • A top banner in an accent colour highlights a current promotion
  • A search box in a secondary accent colour encourages immediate action
  • A black menu offers clear labels detailing navigation options
  • A sub-menu lists Adore Beauty’s unique selling propositions (USPs)
  • A slider displays several promotions: free gifts, discounts, and new products
  • A series of buttons provides further navigation options

Immediately, the customer is confronted with a variety of next-step options. If they are informed, they can search or browse by product or brand. If they are browsing, they can investigate top-rated and best-selling products. Either way, the customer is made aware of current promotions – the sales are unmissable.

Promotions are repeated everywhere

The power of limited-time promotions is undoubted, and Adore Beauty ensures every visitor, regardless of what page they land on, is aware of the retailer’s current special offers.

According to Ahrefs, 41% of Australian visitors using search land on the retailer’s home page. Before they can click or scroll, they are informed of sales and promotions in six separate areas.

If they navigate to the Promotions page, which is linked twice above the fold, they are presented with a smorgasbord of purchase gifts, special offers, and discounts. Users can even filter promotions by product category or brands to find discounts relevant to their needs and interests. This feature further plays into the personalisation of the customer experience.

A sticky promotions message follows the user around the site, too, acting as a constant reminder.

Navigation is comprehensive and intuitive

Finding a specific product among thousands is made easy with Adore Beauty’s legible and simple-to-use menu and powerful filtering capabilities. Users don’t have to scroll through all moisturisers to find a night cream, for example. They can view sub-categories from the outset, minimising frustration.

When a user selects a category, they can then filter results further by price, brand, and even “choices,” including features like vegan, Australian made, and alcohol-free.

CRO observations & recommendations

  • UI/UX Improvements
  • Membership based subscription model with free shipping
  • Automate repeat purchases for same products bought again
  • Recommendations based on other past purchase behaviour
  • Partnerships with fast.co

UI/UX Improvements

Generally, the site’s UI/UX is good, however the buttons on the main hero carousel images could stand out more prominently if they were in a contrasting colour to the background. For example, the “Shop Now” button could be made red or light blue. Similarly, the five buttons below could be given a fill colour, not just on-hover but as static. For example, keep the black background on them similar to the “Top Rated” button.

Membership based subscription model with free delivery

Adore Beauty could offer a membership based Premier Delivery option that would provider members with unlimited express shipping for the year, similar to ASOS. This could also be done by setting a minimum order value as well, which will help customers stay hooked and increase the ATV.

Benefits could include:

  • Same day delivery
  • One click checkout (fast.co)
  • Member only sales
  • No delivery fees

Automate repeat purchases for same products bought again

Looking into the customer purchase history data, Adore Beauty could streamline a shopping experience for those who simply repeat their same basket purchases month on month. This way it saves them time and effort, directing them straight to checkout with their favourite items.

Recommendations based on past purchase behaviour

Currently Adore Beauty’s website recommendations are being made as a pop-under, which needs to be clicked. This could be brought to the product pages as a data-backed AI recommendation, suggesting product combinations customers have previously liked or showed interest in. This minimises speculation or guess work in what customers might need.

Partnership with fast.co

With a partnership to fast.co customers wouldn’t have to re-enter password or fill long entry forms; they can securely checkout with a single click, saving a lot of time and increasing repeat purchases.

Key insights

  • Adore Beauty reveals all important information – navigation, USPs, and promotions – above the fold.
  • The website encourages users to take advantage of promotions through repeated messaging and sticky reminders.
  • The navigation and filtering are both easy-to-use and highly detailed, empowering users at all stages of the buying journey to find the products they are searching for.

Adore Beauty’s content

Adore Beauty’s vision is to empower and engage its customers, and its content plays a crucial role in transforming this goal into a reality. Let’s take a closer look at the retailer’s blog, Beauty IQ, product information, and email marketing.

Beauty IQ inspires with influencer-style content

Launched in 2016, Beauty IQ is Adore Beauty’s in-house content platform that publishes news, reviews, how-tos, and tips.

Although the blog’s tagline reads, “An expert guide to everything beauty,” the content leans more toward influence-style reviews. Selfies and embedded YouTube videos and Instagram posts bulk out most long-form articles. Paired with an informal, conversational tone, the posts establish a sense of authenticity and connection.

Influencer-style content appeals to millennials, who are the most frequent online shoppers with a penetration rate of 86%.

Blog content is also promoted across the website, with relevant guides, how-tos, and reviews appearing on category pages. Adore Beauty further personalises the customer journey by showing visitors educational or inspirational content relevant to their browsing behaviour.

Product information is highly detailed

The product page is packed with valuable information, enabling users to make an informed purchasing decision:

  • Product info – a generic blurb describing the product’s key features alongside simplified information on the product’s suitability for different age groups, skin concerns, and skin types
  • How to use – instructions on how to properly use the product for best results
  • Ingredients – a list of ingredients the product contains
  • Delivery/returns – a snapshot of Adore Beauty’s delivery costs and returns policy

Including these details on the product page ensures users stay engaged with the product long enough to make a purchasing decision. Users are not forced to navigate away from the product page to find other important information, such as shipping costs.

Product reviews are rewarded

91% of consumers between 18- and 34-years trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Adore Beauty’s best-selling products have racked up hundreds of reviews, likely thanks in part to the site’s “Review & Earn” system – for every review a user writes, they are rewarded with $1 toward their next purchase.

The most helpful positive and most helpful criticism are also featured at the top of the product review section, creating a quick and easy snapshot for users not wanting to read pages of reviews.

Emails are tailored to subscribers’ interests and behaviours

Adore Beauty emails its database frequently, leveraging the data-backed segmentation discussed earlier.

As well as informing subscribers of new products and special offers, the retailer delivers personalised recommendations and customer-specific coupon codes. These time-sensitive coupons are particularly effective, as they create a sense of urgency.

Interestingly, web visitors cannot subscribe to Adore Beauty’s mailing list by entering their email address into a conventional form. Instead, the retailer has rebranded their email communications from a traditional newsletter to an exclusive-sounding “Adore Society” loyalty program. After joining, users gain access to members-only coupons, as shown in the email above, and rewards programs, like the ‘Review & Earn’ system.

Key insights

  • Beauty IQ publishes influencer-style, media-rich articles to target millennial shoppers and drive organic search traffic.
  • Each product page contains ample information about the product and Adore Beauty’s shipping and returns policies, empowering informed purchases and preventing users from navigating away from the product page.
  • Adore Beauty encourages customer reviews through a “Review & Earn” system, boosting their platform and products’ trustworthiness.
  • Adore Beauty frequently emails its database with generic and personalised content, including time-sensitive, customer-specific coupon codes.

Adore Beauty’s organic search

Data in this section was drawn from Ahrefs on 15 March and 26 March 2021, and from SEMrush on 26 March 2021.

Adore Beauty is Australia’s leading online beauty retailer, but what does that look like behind the scenes? How much organic traffic is the site attracting, which search terms are packing the most punch, and how is Adore Beauty proactively optimising its website to boost rankings for a broader range of search queries?

Adore Beauty attracts significant organic search traffic

Ahrefs estimates Adore Beauty attracts over 423,000 organic visits per month from more than 401,000 keywords. The site’s traffic has not increased steadily, spiking in late 2016, rising until 2019, and moving up and down through 2020 and early 2021.

Almost half of the organic search traffic directs users to Adore Beauty’s home page. Three brand-specific pages and the coupon codes page round out the top five.

Many searchers are brand aware

Adore Beauty’s top five organic keywords are as follows:

  • Adore beauty
  • Adore
  • Adorebeauty
  • Beauty
  • The ordinary

Depending on whether “adore” and “beauty” are included, the top two to four are brand-specific queries used by searchers already aware of Adore Beauty. This demonstrates key audiences’ familiarity with the company and further confirms that over half of the site’s customers are repeat purchasers.

Outside of the top five, Adore Beauty attracts new users to its website by capturing queries – organically and via paid advertisements – relating to the brands it stocks, like Clinique, Aesop, and GHD.

One strategy the retailer uses to target brand-name keywords is adding introductory and educational copy to each brand’s page.

The Cloud Nine page, for example, includes answers to several frequently asked questions.

Category-specific pages capture keywords

Adore Beauty’s detailed navigation and filtering capabilities do more than make the customer’s experience easy and enjoyable. They give Google a significant number of pages to index. This allows the site to capture a broader range of keywords that direct targeted users to web pages that add value and answer search intent.

Every category – charcoal masks, sunscreen, lip gloss, and so on – has its own page with search engine optimised content. The same applies to every brand Adore Beauty stocks, which is in excess of 200. Merchandising a deep inventory which spans a wide variety of categories, subcategories and brands, provides Adore with the opportunity to appear for generic search queries that would otherwise be unattainable. Crucially, the site is structured according to a logical hierarchy that makes sense to both users and search engines.

Internal links to boost authority

A well-considered internal linking structure is critical for a website as large as that of Adore Beauty. 

Adore cleverly integrates the transactional and informational sections of their website by linking to relevant Adore articles and guides from category and subcategory pages. For example, from the Vitamin C skincare category Adore links to a guide on the topic of best Vitamin C serums for every skin type. 

Internal links serve a dual-benefit; aiding SEO through the distribution of authority to pages within the site’s architecture, while also alerting users to content of potential interest.

Leveraging long-tail search for market-penetration

Adore Beauty’s ongoing utilisation of Longtail UX’s proprietary technology is broadening their Search visibility. Longtail UX creates Smart Pages which mimic the site’s design, look and feel.

Complementing the site’s existing structure, Longtail UX is able to extend the organic reach of Adore Beauty for long tail keywords.

Over 1,000 pages have been automatically generated under the ‘/buy’ subfolder which dynamically targets high-intent phrases such as ‘cheap makeup’, ‘best skin whitening cream in australia’, ‘beauty products australia’ among many others. Outside of the main URL path, this single section generates the 2nd most traffic of any subfolder on the site, accounting for approximately 18,000 visits per month from 8,661 keywords.

Internal links placed under the heading ‘What people are looking for the most’ on category and subcategory pages help to distribute authority to the AI-powered content.

Featured snippet traffic in decline

Featured snippets are short snippets of text that appear above the standard organic results in Google. They commonly appear in the form of definitions, tables, steps and lists. Sites which earn these coveted positions (also known as position #0) often experience an organic click-through boost due to the prominence they are afforded.

Adore Beauty experienced steady growth in traffic for featured snippet keywords from August 2019 to August 2020, peaking at an estimated 67,560 clicks per month from 1,050 search terms. Since that time, featured snippet traffic has fallen away drastically, now accounting for approximately 3,778 visitors (a decrease of 94% on peak traffic).

Key insights

  • Adore Beauty attracts over 423,000 organic visits per month, positioning the website as Australia’s leading online beauty retailer.
  • Many searchers land on the Adore Beauty website using company-specific keywords like “adore beauty,” demonstrating brand awareness.
  • Adore Beauty captures new users by targeting queries related to the products and brands it stocks. Each category and brand has its own optimised page.
  • Adore relies on internal links to strengthen pages that sit deeper in the site’s hierarchy. These links neatly tie different portions of the website together.
  • Adore Beauty leverages 3rd party technology to extend their reach for high-intent longtail phrases.
  • Featured snippet keywords may at one point in time have been driving a higher than normal click-through to the website. Adore’s ownership of these positions has reduced significantly over the past 6 months.

Adore Beauty’s social platforms

Social media is a powerful tool in online retailers’ digital marketing arsenals. After connecting and engaging with a brand on social media, users continue engaging in several ways:

  • 91% visit the brand’s website.
  • 89% make a purchase.
  • 85% recommend the brand to loved ones.

Let’s investigate Adore Beauty’s four biggest social platforms: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.

Adore Beauty on Instagram

@adorebeauty on Instagram posts one to two times per day to its 177k followers. Content includes:

  • Educational infographics
  • Product inspiration
  • Reviews
  • Memes
  • Competitions

Meme-style posts generate the highest engagement rates, which is not surprising given Adore Beauty’s millennial-aged audience.

Instagram-only competitions also encourage engagement, build followers, and help the retailer reach new users. To win, users must follow the Adore Beauty Instagram account and tag a friend in the comments section. 

The relevant and relatable content encourages users and their friends to engage, helping to foster a strong sense of community with the brand online. However, there is also an opportunity for the retailer to further manage customer service related queries and comments, as these are intermittently responded to across each of the social channels.

Cleverly, Adore Beauty also uses Stories Highlights to communicate its USPs and answer frequently asked questions. First impressions count, and Instagram users that have not shopped with Adore Beauty perceive the retailer to be trustworthy and easy-to-use.

Adore Beauty on Facebook

On Facebook, Adore Beauty takes a different approach to Instagram, exclusively publishing links to Beauty IQ articles to its 118,000 followers.

The brand’s Facebook posts are designed to drive traffic to its website rather than engage audiences. As a result, each post garners a fraction of Adore Beauty’s Instagram engagement.

Adore Beauty also pays to promote the majority of its Facebook posts to increase reach, whilst also leveraging carousel ads and short form video ads with product messaging, discount codes and strong calls to action to encourage it’s users to purchase on site. 

Adore Beauty on YouTube

With just 14.5k subscribers, Adore Beauty’s YouTube channel is not as successful as Instagram or Facebook. Despite this, the brand has published videos consistently for about two years.

Content includes product reviews and demonstrations, skincare education, tips for specific concerns, and more recently, a Beauty IQ Uncensored series (with an accompanying podcast).

Although the retailer’s YouTube videos do not attract significant views, they are also utilised across the Adore Beauty website and throughout Beauty IQ articles.

Adore Beauty on TikTok

Adore Beauty publishes consistently to TikTok, too.

Alongside educational and review-style content, the brand cleverly capitalises on the latest video trends. These TikToks perform best, with several reaching over 100k views.

TikTok has a younger audience than Instagram and Facebook, with 26% of users aged between 18 and 24. Adore Beauty’s use of the platform may help it reach the next generation of shoppers. Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z, or Zoomers, make up 40% of consumers and will surpass millennials as the largest consumer base by 2026.

Key insights

  • Adore Beauty’s most successful social platform is Instagram. Posts include memes, educational graphics, and competitions that help grow the brand’s follower base.
  • On Facebook, Adore Beauty exclusively posts links to Beauty IQ articles.
  • Adore Beauty has published videos on YouTube consistently for about two years. While these videos don’t attract many views, they do enrich on-site content.
  • Adore Beauty publishes its take on TikTok trends to reach younger audiences.

Final snapshot of Adore Beauty’s success

At its core, Adore Beauty’s success is defined by its customer-centric approach. Personalisation is an essential differentiator in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. Shoppers are more discerning with their dollars, and brands – particularly online-only brands – must work even harder to earn website visitors’ trust.

At every turn, Adore Beauty personalises the customer journey. Product recommendations, chatbot updates, and email communications are targeted to specific audience segments. Users can learn about the beauty and wellness topics that interest them via long-form articles, videos, or chatting with a customer service representative. They can browse by product or brand, read hundreds of reviews, and even filter promotions by categories relevant to their needs.

Even on social media, Adore Beauty tailors its content according to the platform’s audience – memes on Instagram, tips and advice on Facebook, reviews and how-tos on YouTube, and entertaining video snippets on TikTok.

It’s Adore Beauty’s customer-first approach that enables it to be all things to all people, to empower audiences of all ages, with all concerns and considerations, and with all budgets to find the products they need to feel their best.

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