In today’s digital landscape, delivering a seamless customer experience is crucial for brands to succeed. Put one toe out of line (read: deliver a clunky or slow digital experience), and your customers will go elsewhere. Because truthfully, there are plenty of brands out there prioritizing speed, engagement, and efficiency who they can shop with instead. That’s why it’s so important for brands to prioritize optimizing their digital experience to avoid being left behind.
Personalization, loyalty programs, and automation play significant roles in shaping happy and engaging customer interactions—and generating revenue. Recently, Annabelle Bottomley, Customer Success Director at Insider, had the pleasure of speaking with Roisin O’Brien, eCommerce Trading Manager at Clarins, to learn more about the brand’s approach to customer engagement and loyalty.
What does a 360-degree customer experience mean for Clarins?
Building meaningful relationships to increase brand loyalty
Small changes that make a big impact
Automation is also a key part of Clarins’ customer experience
Measuring what matters
The key to successful gamification
The pitfalls of neglecting personalization
The two key trends that are here to stay
Find out more
Roisin is the eCommerce Trading Manager at Clarins, where she’s been for the last two and a half years. Her main focus is driving revenue and increasing conversions, working closely with Insider to improve the brand’s personalization strategy to achieve CRO targets.
With her passion for customer-centric strategies and commitment to continuously improving the customer experience, Roisin is a key player in shaping Clarins’ success in the competitive beauty industry.
Roisin highlights how the infamous ‘Two Years Indoors’ transformed the digital retail landscape.
“The evolution of how customers communicate with us has totally changed from before the pandemic,” she explains. “It was split between online and offline customer databases. And then suddenly, all customers were forced to come online. Post-pandemic, we have more of an omnichannel customer; those we absorbed online during lockdown are now back to shopping fluidly—both online and in-store.”
With customers shifting seamlessly between online and offline channels, a 360-degree customer experience is essential. Clarins analyzes data to understand where customers are coming from, what they’re looking for, how often they visit, when they choose to shop, and what device they’re shopping from. “Data helps us decide how to segment and personalize the journey to make it more enjoyable for the customer both online and offline,” she says.
“Clarins has been around almost 70 years, so we have customers who’ve been with us since the late 1950s,” she explains. “These loyal customers help drive awareness of our brand through word of mouth, sharing products with daughters, friends, and family.”
To serve these valuable customers, Clarins prioritizes offering something special. “We want to give them a more personalized, premium experience to keep them with us because we already know they love our product. They’re our most valuable customers, so it’s important to understand who they are, and how they like to communicate so we can deliver highly personal experiences for them.”
Annabelle’s next question is about low-hanging fruit. Specifically, what small customer experience changes have had the biggest impact on Clarins’ most meaningful metrics?
“We completely revamped our customer loyalty management (CLM) platform to get a more granular view of customers and their lifecycle,” says Roisin. “We implemented a tiered loyalty system that customers progress through over time—they get different points and rewards depending on their activity. And their feedback about the program drives our changes to improve it.”
This intentional and customer-centric loyalty program is set to make an impact on the customer lifetime value of Clarins’ customers, helping encourage more users to become repeat customers through the use of points, reward vouchers, birthday benefits, and exclusive offers.
On Clarins’ website, automation has been a key part of the brand’s success. “We don’t sit back, relax, and use automation to do the work for us,” Roisin quickly notes. “We endeavor to drive automation that’s segmented and effectively targeted. We want to make things easier for our customers and ourselves and remove the manual work it takes to understand who our customer is—and, importantly, what they need from us.”
Clarins uses AI and automation to do the heavy lifting, then uses its brand knowledge and customer feedback to deliver more personalized onsite experiences. “And our strategy is constantly evolving,” adds Roisin. “We don’t simply do something and move on, but adopt a continuous cycle of improvement because our customer database changes regularly.”
The last three years drove home the importance of this always-on approach for Clarins, whose customers are now completely different from before—and will change again in the future too.
For that, Clarins uses tools like Insider’s Architect to segment and target customers with relevant, timely, and contextual messaging across multiple channels. “If we can understand where they’re coming from and what they’re looking for, we can target them with the right offers, experiences, and messages to drive higher conversions,” Roisin says.
Insider’s platform helped Clarins increase conversions by 4.1% by improving customer journeys and personalizing every touch point.
When it comes to metrics, Roisin reveals that at Clarins, it’s not just about driving high-volume traffic. Instead, Clarins’ focus is on understanding which traffic sources drive the best results and using that data to optimize its strategy. Roisin and the eCommerce team work closely with the acquisition team to drive high volumes of qualitative traffic to Clarins’ site. Roisin’s role focuses on converting that traffic using Insider’s platform.
“As marketers, we always wonder whether we’re driving enough traffic. But Clarins gets tons of traffic—what’s more important is the quality of that traffic. It’s quality over quantity for us.”
- Roisin O’Brien, eCommerce Trading Manager at Clarins
“We might be getting loads of traffic from a particular source, but it’s low conversion,” she explains. “So we need to understand why that source isn’t driving a strong enough ROI. That’s why traffic alone is the least meaningful data point for me.”
What customer experience fad does Roisin think will be forgotten in six months?
“Unintentional gamification,” she replies. While it often works well for driving engagement, Roisin thinks it’s important not to get carried away. “Together with our eCommerce Content Team, we wanted to be the first in the market with all these new and exciting gamification tools; Wheel of Fortune, scratch cards, and gamified sign-ups. But if you forget the intent, you forget the goal. If left unchecked, this may mean gamification lacks meaning and purpose.”
Instead, Clarins has shifted its gamification strategy towards sharing product information and educating customers about their natural ingredients and supply chain. “Our key USP is the naturality of our products, how we grow ingredients, and the changes we’re making in ethical sourcing and supply chain—brand education will always be a focus for us. We still see strong engagement in these experiences. However, now we’re targeting customers who are keen to learn about us, and we’re far more intentional with our strategy.”
Roisin still believes there’s a time and place for gamification, though: “Such as getting customers to spend more time on your site.” However, she’s learned from experience that if it’s not helping to achieve clear goals and isn’t segmented accurately, it may not be the best solution.
Understanding customer preferences and targeting them accordingly is crucial for driving conversions.
”We have hundreds of SKUs on our website,” says Roisin. “And, of course, not every product or price range suits everyone. So how do we attract customers with a lower price point product, then convert that entry-level shopper into a loyal customer who is highly engaged and shops multiple times a year?”
For Clarins, the key is understanding who they are, and how, when, and where they prefer their communication. “It’s analyzing data to understand that a new customer is more likely to buy a cleanser or best-selling Lip Comfort Oil than our premium range,” she explains. Brands should then tailor the experience and messaging accordingly depending on the customer’s lifecycle stage. It’s this 360-degree view of each and every customer that helps Clarins succeed.
But if you don’t know your customers, how can you target them with a message that resonates and builds excitement for your brand? “There’s no point pushing one product to everyone when it doesn’t suit them; that’s why it would be completely remiss to ignore the importance of personalization,” she says.
Annabelle’s next question is about the future of retail marketing—what trends should brands lean into? For Roisin, the answer is AI and automation.
“Our collections range from ages 30 (and younger) to 70+, so we need to know where each customer is in their journey with our brand. We want to be one step ahead of our customers, and AI helps us build the correct segmentation and messaging for each customer stage. It will only keep growing and delivering even more meaningful information as it expands, too.”
- Roisin O’Brien, eCommerce Trading Manager at Clarins
Automation also helps Clarins understand where to push triggers to improve the customer journey. Insider helps Clarins scale without losing the human touch by enabling 1:1 customer interactions based on behavioral data and predictive intelligence. “Automation is all about targeting customers where they are with relevant content—and doing it at scale. Insider helps us do that,” Roisin concludes.
If you’d like to learn more about how we help retail brands like yours, get in touch with us today. One of our growth experts would be delighted to show you around the platform and discuss the benefits of our platform for hitting your growth targets.
You can also take a peek at our retail case studies to see how we’re helping brands from around the world shape their CX strategies to drive impressive results.
Insider—a single platform for building individualized, cross-channel experiences—enables enterprise marketers to connect customer data across channels and systems, predict their future behavior with an AI intent engine, and build individualized customer experiences. Marketers use Insider’s platform to deliver consistent and engaging experiences across Web, App, Web Push, Email, SMS, WhatsApp Commerce, and more.
Katie is an award-winning content marketer with over seven years of experience in content strategy, development, and copywriting. As Global Content Director at Insider, she currently oversees content strategy across 26 regions. Fun fact: Katie read 64 books last year (for which she owes a long commute and two week-long holidays where she spent approximately six hours a day with her nose in a book).