How Kiehl’s is using text messages and AI to keep customers loyal
Kiehl’s is using artificial intelligence and text messaging in its fight against Amazon.
The cosmetics brand, which does the majority of its business through its own Kiehl’s-branded stores and on Kiehls.com, is now using text messaging as a way to keep customers coming back.
Working with a company called OrderGroove, the company is defending its market share by creating text-message-based order and re-order capabilities this month.
Julia Mavrodin, the brand’s associate vp of e-commerce and digital marketing, said the brand discovered a “virtuous cycle” between Kiehl’s customers in-store and online.
“We’ve learned the first purchase happens in store, and online we’ve created tools to extend services to make a cycle,” she said.
One way has been an automatic replenishment plan. The company uses predictive data and dynamic processing through AI to figure out when customers might run out of something they’ve ordered in the past, then hits them with an email message prompting them to re-order. Now, the company is starting to deliver that same message by text. The customer is prompted to respond with “Yes” or “RemindMe” depending on if they’re ready to place the order.
Mavrodin said the company has two goals when it comes to customers: One is to acquire them, but the more important one is to retain them. The brand is not distributed on Amazon, at least officially, so to keep customers buying from it on its owned-and-operated channels means keeping a one-to-one relationship with them.
“Our goal is to keep it in the Kiehl’s family,” said Mavrodin. “Amazon focuses on speed and efficiency, and so do we, but for us what’s important is being able to re-order or re-up what you bought. And focus on customers that are maintaining loyalty to us.”
Another challenge is to differentiate from other places that sell Kiehl’s products, such as Sephora or Nordstrom. Those are important partners, but Kiehl’s can’t have a direct dialogue with consumers through those stores. With 85 percent of its emails opened on mobile phones, it made sense for Kiehl’s to try texting.
“The ‘why’ is the concept of relationship commerce,” said Greg Alvo, CEO of OrderGroove. “And any and every channel needs to think about anticipating their needs.” That’s where the brand is using AI — part of an overall cognitive technology bucket — to try and predict customer behavior so it can be hit with the right message, both online and via text, at the right time.
“When we acquire a customer, that’s our customer to lose,” Mavrodin said. “Our goal is to never let the customer go to Amazon in the first place.”
Member Exclusive‘Truly integrated’: As an unusual school year commences, agencies are aiming to help working parents more than ever before
Agencies, which have long had reputations as difficult work environments for working parents, are adapting to be more flexible for parents this year.
‘How much do we want to get screwed?’: Confessions of an agency exec on lack of payment due to coronavirus
In the latest edition of our Confessions series, we hear from one agency exec who says that the “times are tough” excuse for late client payments isn’t cutting it anymore.
‘Doubling down’: Inside the 49ers social and digital rush to replace lost in-stadium marketing dollars
Without the ability to deliver ads to the 70,000 fans who attend games in-person, the 49ers have had to pivot to focus on digital and social channels.
SponsoredIn the race to shore up revenue, publishers are overlooking deal terms
Many publishers are struggling to keep their business models afloat with cookies dying and brands tightening their ad spend in an age of pandemic and recession. To contend with unprecedented challenges, publishers have taken to implementing a wide variety of new tactics. Some are turning to alternate revenue streams, such as subscriptions and affiliate marketing. […]
Member Exclusive‘Can’t really be ignored’: Marketers and media buyers are finally taking the on-going TikTok saga seriously
Marketers and media buyers have said that as long as people are still on TikTok they’ll want to be there, especially as they try to diversify from Facebook and Google.
‘Clever about how we rest’: As uncertainties drag into fall, agencies are facing a burnt out and fearful workforce
Agency employees and executives say that a feeling of fatigue due to the on-going uncertainty and the need to be always on has set in.