Last month, research by analysts at social media marketing firm Ignite found that the reach of Facebook brand pages has declined by 44%. This is likely caused by a combination of factors — including a recent change in the platform’s news feed algorithm (which allows users to choose the frequency of content on their news feed, and enables brands to mark brands they don’t want to appear next to); and the iOS 14 Apple update, which has increased user control over privacy, enabling them to opt out of data sharing every time they download an app.

According to platform-generated data, about 3 million businesses worldwide currently advertise on Facebook, so any change in advertising effectiveness will have an impact on consumer product industries. And Facebook aside, regional authorities and private tech companies around the world are doubling down on user privacy right now, as they face pressure to be more protective, and more transparent, when it comes to personal data.

Some beauty brands are responding by turning their attention to email marketing strategy. With the future of data sharing and use expected to become increasingly controlled, the data that customers share directly with brands will be even more valuable. And the humble email list is a powerful resource, ready to be tapped with creative, on-point content.

Brands Are Investing In Email

Figures from Statista predict that global beauty advertising will be worth USD $7.7 billion in 2022. And here at BBJ, I expect beauty brands will put an increasing percentage of that spend into email.  Recent research by marketers at Litmus found that each dollar spent on email marketing results in an average ROI of 4200% — so even a relatively small spend can be lucrative.

In Q3 2021, haircare brand Lunata Beauty put 5% of its total ad spend into a campaign designed to build its email list, starting two months before Black Friday. The campaign’s CTA was to sign up to the email list in order to be the first to know about the upcoming sale. Co-founder Stacey Boguslavskaya told Beauty Independent, “this tactic paid off, and the list converted very well…next year, we will allocate more time and spend to this tactic.”

Back in 2020, AVON Kazakhstan invested in an email marketing audit by content marketing firm Promodo. The brand wanted to increase web traffic through the email channel with a new content strategy, and cultivate sustained audience engagement and brand loyalty. As a result of the audit, email frequency was optimized — dropping from more than three emails per week, to just one email per week — and the content zoomed in on popular products, focusing on bestsellers, new items, and sale offers. The emails also became more personal, with a preamble that introduced individual members of the team. A clickable catalogue block was also added, enabling readers to quickly skim through featured products and click to buy.

According to the case study, the results of this audit and content refresh were a 33% increase in conversion rate from emails, 34% hike in web visits, and a 22% increase in engaged mailing list subscribers.

Email marketing investment pays off. And while ROI on social ad spend is influenced by decisions that brands can’t control (like that new Facebook algorithm), the success of an email campaign is almost completely within the brand’s hands. In an interview, salon business founder Nina Tulio said “hands down, email marketing campaigns are my go-to…in my opinion, email marketing campaigns have the highest conversion rate with the least financial investment.”

Beauty Email Marketing Will Become More Interactive, & Hyper-personalized

Most of the emails that land in my inbox from brands don’t really ask me to do anything, other than buy a product. But savvy brands are leveraging the interactive potential of their lists by asking questions — instead of sending out content for their subscribers to passively consume. Vegan skincare brand Shea Radiance, for example, polled its email subscribers in November to find out if they wanted an early Black Friday sale, or a sale on Black Friday. More than 80% of respondents said they wanted an early sale, so the brand did just that — running its sale two weeks ahead of Black Friday.

Not only did this give subscribers a sense of ownership over the brand’s decision, it also meant that Shea got ahead of the crowded inboxes, sending out its sale content before everyone else, with a pre-Black Friday countdown newsletter campaign. Co-founder Funlayo Alabi told Beauty Independent this resulted in a 66% rise in returning customer rate, and a 27% increase in average order value.

As brands seek to leverage their email lists more effectively, we’re likely to see more user-generated content (UGC) popping up in beauty newsletters and email marketing campaigns. On social media, UGC brings an audience in, getting them involved in the content creation process and fostering that sense of ownership that is so effective at building brand loyalty. UGC in email is less prevalent, but highly effective. When fashion brand Monsoon started using customer photos in its email content, its click-through rate increased by 14%, and revenue by 3%.

Increased functionality of email service providers also means that brands can increase their email email list segmentation, and make emails hyper-personalized — integrating data from skincare surveys the customer may have taken on the brand’s website, for example.

More Brands Will Develop Ways To Integrate AI Into Email

AR and VR tech is sweeping across digital marketing, but it’s still difficult to work it into an email marketing strategy. But as we move into the new year, tech companies and beauty brands will work to develop methods of integrating new tech into email.

Apple, for example, has built support for AR into iPhones and iPads, which allows users to view AR content directly from the Mail app, and other Apple apps. With this, a brand could send a 2D image in an email that could be tapped to expand into a 3D AR object. I think this is just the beginning — because as consumer brands continue to invest in email marketing, the motivation to make those emails more enticing, engaging, and effective will drive a focus on email opportunities from the tech sector.

So throughout 2022, email will remain the understated hero of digital marketing for beauty brands. We’ve come a long way since 1971, when Ray Tomlinson sent the first ever email — but from a brand perspective, it’s a communication method that shows no signs of getting old.