As importance of pre-sales engagement increases, whether online or IRL, Refinery 29 has unveiled its retargeting tool, called Converge, to help brands nudge readers of branded content down the sales funnel, even when they don’t click. Warby Parker recently announced plans to expand its brick-and-mortar locations. And Sephora launched a new digital online community, which, among other features, supports customer-to-customer engagement and conversion. We’ll dig into how these brands are looking to win by investing in shoppers and readers before they become customers.

Sephora “Beauty Insider” Launches New Online Community Where Customers Drive Conversion

With 10 million members, Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program is frequently listed among the top loyalty programs. In addition to promoting brand engagement, Sephora is now encouraging personal connections among its loyalty members through a new interactive digital community, reports Allure.

The new features allow members to store personal makeup profiles, join groups that share similar beauty traits, connect with other Beauty Insider members through Q&A sessions, and share makeup advice through an online chat feature positioned on product pages. The new communications platform will allow loyalty program members to establish “deeper personal connections” with people who “share their passion for beauty,” noted Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora’s senior vice president of digital in Women’s Wear Daily.

Sephora is also looking to its Beauty Insider Community to offer multiple benefits for its bottom line, including:

  • Ability to learn more about customers and improve personalization
  • Access to customer feedback for products and features
  • Increased sales, by allowing customers to convert each other via product page chats

By capturing inter-customer social engagement under its own umbrella, Sephora has also increased the value of its direct-to-consumer communications.

With New Tool, Refinery29 Supports Conversion of Readers of Branded Content

While branded content continues to eat up a greater portion of media budgets, brands are still working on ensuring and measuring its effectiveness. “There is a level of sophistication, maturity and rigor that is increasingly becoming required as branded content becomes a much deeper part of a marketer’s media mix,” says Hallie Johnston, senior vice president of client services and strategy for branded content at Refinery29.

Now, Refinery29 is bringing at least some of this maturity and rigor to branded content with Converge, a tool for retargeting content to convert branded content readers to buyers, reports AdExchanger.

Converge allows brands to retarget ads to readers who don’t click on links in branded content. This retargeting occurs within the original context of the branded content, e.g. on Refinery 29. Converge runs across all platforms, so someone who watches a video on a tablet will see follow-up content when they go to Refinery29 on their desktop or phone.  Ultimately, Converge’s goal is to help brands go deeper with Refinery29’s engaged audience, and to increase conversions.

Warby Parker Expands Omnichannel Strategy With 22 New Stores

Warby Parker’s experience with in-store sales has thrown some light on the impact of omnichannel marketing on customer conversion. Warby Parker began life as a pure-play digital retailer, but has since opened 50 store locations. It has discovered that 75 percent of in-store buyers conduct their pre-purchase research online, reports eMarketer Retail. The company wants to continue to support this trend by opening 22 more physical stores.

Warby Parker plans to open its new stores in locations where its online activity is high. That can mean locations outside of the usual big urban markets in states such as Kentucky and Alabama. As part of this strategy, the stores are stocked with art postcards depicting local scenes to build help establish an authentic, personal relationship with customers, co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal told eMarketer Retail.

“We try to make each environment special to the community, whether it’s through original artwork or through some partnerships,” he added.