Holiday SMS Campaigns for Beauty Brands

Holiday SMS for the beauty vertical

Holiday SMS Campaigns for Beauty Brands

Table of Contents


Beauty brands tend to do well during the holidays, when gift-giving is at its highest. But that’s no guarantee of success. We’ve noticed that Holiday SMS campaigns with beauty brands are most successful when they engage customers on a community level. This kind of year-round loyalty is what results in customers turning to your brand when they’re shopping for gifts.

The State of the Beauty Industry

Beauty is big business. Globally, the beauty market comprises $532 billion, with the United States representing the largest market at a 20% overall share. China (13%) and Japan (8%) represent the next two highest markets. At current projections—assuming growth of 5-8% per year—we could expect to see the global beauty market surpass $800 billion by the mid-2020s.

More and more, that money is coming from direct consumers who shop online. eMarketer estimates that beauty, health, and personal care will move from $62 billion in ecommerce sales in 2020 to $85 billion by 2022. And in a 2019 survey, 52% of consumers reported having purchased personal care and beauty items online in the past. That’s higher than any other market on the list.

What about the individual products within the beauty category? Criteo’s deep dive found that skincare (15%), color cosmetics (10%), and fragrance (9%) had the largest impact. And consumers tend to prefer ordering online delivery by mail. 63% of respondents reported making these purchases online, while only 24% had purchased a monthly subscription box.

Smartphone shopping is growing, according to Criteo. In the U.S., 28% of beauty shoppers order their products by smartphone. Desktop orders remain the most popular. In Japan, the categories are reversed: smartphone orders comprise 71% of purchases. Desktop and tablet orders represent a minority of purchases.

In other words: beauty is one of the strongest industries around. Not only should you expect it to continue growing throughout 2020, but an increasing portion of the sales will come from digital sources. With more customers buying via their smartphone, the opportunities for SMS sales will only grow.

Top Beauty Campaigns from the 2019 Holiday Season

Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder’s “Blockbuster” holiday campaign packaged over 30 “beauty essentials” into one kit. This is nothing new for Estee Lauder. The brand has made a habit of creating large, all-in-one gift sets for holiday gift-giving.

Estee Lauder uses these holiday campaigns to launch products that will last throughout the year. Gift boxes created for holiday promotion remain on sale in the middle of the summer. But by creating holiday-specific products for Black Friday shoppers, the brand is smart enough to cater to gift shoppers. It’s especially effective during the biggest shopping days of the year.

TikTok Campaigns

Last year’s holiday season saw many brands--including eos and NARS Cosmetics--emphasizing TikTok campaigns to grow awareness for their products. The “Eyes. Lips. Face.” campaign of e.l.f. Cosmetics received some 4 billion views thanks to marketing with a viral song. MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder, spends about 75% of its overall media budget on social influencer campaigns.

Successful TikTok campaigns are emblematic of a growing shift in influencer marketing. Although television commercials featuring celebrities still remain a favorite strategy for traditional beauty retailers, marketing with influencers online can provide similar benefits. Many of these campaigns are highly targeted, which gives smaller budgets a chance to compete.

CVS’s Photoshop-Free Christmas

CVS announced in January of 2018 that it would no longer use digitally altered photographs in its beauty campaigns. That led to a “photoshop-free Christmas” promotion for the brand, using its subsidiary CVS Beauty Mark. Beauty Mark products also featured the tagline “Beauty Unaltered” in CVS shops, working through the holidays with the goal of creating a completely transparent beauty line by 2020.

Switching to mobile campaigns

Wander Beauty made headlines in 2018 and beyond when it adopted an SMS approach to capturing new customers. 10% of their customers signed up to receive texts from the brand, resulting in conversion rates as high as 7%. In an industry where conversion average 1-3%, the results speak for themselves. The campaign also highlighted just how important SMS campaigns are in the beauty industry. Today, two-thirds of Wander Beauty’s customers come from its mobile site.


In an example below, we highlight how Kopari used Spotify playlists to foster its community. We’ve also seen that trend as more beauty brands engage in social issues. Today’s beauty brands will often launch campaigns based on social awareness. Other beauty brands succeed in engaging hashtags like #RockYourConfidence and #CelebrateYourBody.

Beauty Brands Who are Executing SMS with Precision

It’s not enough to run a holiday campaign. Using targeted SMS drives more engagement with smartphone customers; the brands that know how to do it well have a leg up during the holidays.

Let’s look at a couple of beauty brands who are already executing SMS with precision:

Kopari Beauty, a client of Postscript, uses coconut-based beauty products for an all-natural take on everything from deodorant to lip gloss. They’ve adopted a customer-friendly approach during COVID-19. During the pandemic, they’ve ramped up SMS and incentivized customers with free shipping.

The results of their SMS outreach have been impressive. Smartphones are accounting for 60% of online sales, an improvement since launching their SMS campaigns. A substantial portion of its revenue now comes from text messaging.

In 2017, when Kopari realized they were relying too heavily on email marketing, they found that their customers preferred to browse Kopari on smartphones. Their new SMS campaigns reflect that. Within just months of announcing its new SMS campaign, the company had signed up over 10,000 new customers.

Kopari only sends about 3-4 messages per month, which helps them achieve an opening rate that far exceeds any other marketing channel. Even the email open rates—once Kopari’s bread and butter—underperform compared to SMS.

Kopari also had success in creating a community-centric approach so that their customers wouldn’t feel that SMS was Kopari’s only goal. For example, Kopari created playlists on Spotify. It would then text this link to its customers. This yielded a 20% higher click-through rate compared to its other messages. It was this message—including a link to the Kopari website—that drove the most orders.

Avocado hair products are unique, giving NaturAll Club a natural differentiator. Is it enough? NaturAll Club makes the sale by emphasizing a smart SMS marketing program with Postscript.

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In particular, NaturAll has mastered the art of the promotional text blast. NaturAll will send out a text to its subscribers, usually offering a unique discount code as high as 20%. They also like to mention the free shipping they offer on orders over $35.

We found that 49% of customers believed that promotion codes and discounts were the most effective SMS marketing messages they received. NaturAll’s SMS marketing campaigns are a great example of leveraging high open rates. With text, NaturAll is able to get more feed in the door—and more eyes on the site.

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What Health & Beauty Experts are Saying About SMS Marketing

“This is a perfect example that shows, when you build a community, it does translate to sales, even if that is not your primary intent.”

Gigi Goldman, co-founder of Kopari.

Goldman was referring to the unique SMS strategy Kopari used: creating a Spotify playlist for its customers. While many marketers might be wary about sending their customers to a third party link, the campaign had the opposite effect: Kopari had more orders from that SMS than any other in the quarter.

““Provide unique value. Customers are giving you access to something special when they give you their phone number. You have to give them something good in return, and it has to be more than just an endless stream of discounts.”

Mark Johnson, Ecommerce Manager for Hydrant.

Best Practices for Beauty Brands

Given the results we’ve seen from beauty brands, what are some of the best ways your beauty brand can approach SMS marketing in 2020, 2021, and beyond?

Focus on community—not always sales.

The success Kopari had with creating a community and emphasizing a common experience with Spotify playlists is a perfect example. SMS marketing is a highly personal way to communicate. It accesses people when they’re already on their phone and ready to browse. Building a community helps create a trustworthy brand, resulting in customer loyalty.

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Oars + Alps, a beauty brand, gives away $5 in discounts without asking for anything in return.

Offer value with every SMS

E.l.f. Cosmetics has noted that SMS outperforms email, but has been wary about sending out too many text messages to customers without also offering value, fearing declines in engagement rates. Discount codes are a great way to offer value. So are unique approaches, like creating Spotify playlists.

Best Practices for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020

Start building a list early—well ahead of either holiday.

Stores who have implemented SMS months in advance of BFCM reached about 2,200 text subscribers per campaign on average. Each campaign also yielded an average of $2,900. The numbers were even more dramatic for brands who started earlier. With 4-8 months in advance, average subscribers were 5,000 per campaign and $4,200 in revenue.

Mention a discount without asking for the sale.

You may hear some people recommend that your brand “ask for the sale.” But SMS inboxes are so personal that overt sales talk can feel pushy. When people receive a discount code, minimal selling is required. They see the link, they know your brand. Getting too salesy in someone’s text messages can sometimes have the opposite of the intended effect.

Kickstart your holiday SMS

BFCM at PostscriptDownload Postscript and get set up with pre-loaded holiday automations for free.

Kaleigh Moore
Written by Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer for ecommerce companies.