Successful Customer Retention Tactics For Indie Beauty Brands

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions relevant to indie beauty, we ask 21 brand founders and executives: What are customer retention tactics that you’ve used successfully?

MELINDA CHENAULT-HERRON Founder, 103 Collection

We use several customer retention tactics, but the most successful are abandoned cart and exit pop-up banners. Abandoned carts remind the customer that they left something in their cart and usually offer a discount if they purchase the items when they receive the notification. The exit pop-up banner is a fairly new tactic we use, and it has a conversion rate of 42%. We love it! We will always show our customer appreciation by allowing them to be the first to know about new products or events as another retention tactic we feel is effective.

Janna Ronert Co-Founder, Hush & Hush

We do it the old-fashioned way, calling customers to make sure they are happy with their purchases, sending handwritten notes along with orders, and being generous with sampling so that everyone can try out the products. I always want every single customer to feel like they are having the same luxurious experience every time they purchase from us. The feedback and appreciation prove that it is something most brands don’t offer anymore or at all. I also think trust is key in establishing a strong relationship with the customer. Your customers need to trust the products, the founders, the brand philosophy, the track record and how the customer is cared for.

Khadidja Toure Founder and CEO, Kubra Kay Skincare

One way that we have successfully been able to retain customers is by having omni-channel communication. We make it easy for our consumers to connect with us whether it’s through social media, text, our website or email chains. They can always ask us questions, and we are transparent and honest when we speak with them, and they feel that.

Ann McFerran Founder and CEO, Glamnetic

We make them feel special via creating a private Facebook Group where we give them special perks like early access to launches, [and] allow them to give feedback on new products, post selfies and [reveal] their lash hauls to get them hyped up by their fellow glam fam! This allows them to feel like a part of a real community that they can safely share their love for our products and know their opinions matter. Having a two-way conversation with the customer like this truly builds long-term loyalty.

RACHEL LAMBO CEO and Co-Founder, Sade Baron

Personalized emails and friendly customer service. Almost everyday I get customers replying to our emails with lovely replies, questions or just commentary about our brand. I will continue our personalized approach in all our touch points with customers. It is so much more fun to get thoughtful emails and notes from a brand.

Michael CANEPA Co-Founder, Kidskin

Since most of our sales are online direct-to-consumer, we’ve noticed two things that work very well for customer retention: email blasts and our subscription service on our website and Amazon. Emails have been a great way to directly communicate with our customer, not only for specials and discounts, but also for skincare education. Our subscription service offers a deep discount for customers who want to order in 1-, 2- or 3-month intervals. Works really well for us.

JAMIKA MARTIN Founder, Rosen Skincare

Facebook ads! We have this funny meme that we shared on Twitter that is all about our Facebook ads waiting to jump on customers as soon as they leave our site. They work so hard for us, and the thought of letting people leave our site and not get bombarded by us over and over again after honestly scares me!

YOKI KIVA HANLEY Owner and President, Itiba Beauty

One thing I have recently implemented is the offer of free shipping within the U.S. for orders of $50 and greater and a flat rate for all international customers. I have seen that my regular customers shop a little more frequently since implementing the free shipping. 

I have also started a regular session on IG Live called #Skintalk with Dr. Merritt, a local board-certified dermatologist that allows my customers and anyone to hear valuable skin advice and tips on taking care of their skin and how our products can help with that as well. Dr. Merritt recommends and sells our products to her patients, and this is also a great way for current and new customers to get a better understanding of how to use the products and how they work as well.

Sara Kyurkchieva Founder, Orpheus Skin

We use many customer retention tactics, including subscription-based incentives, access to discounts, referrals, customized newsletters, and special offers for loyal customers. However, engaging customers to be part of the conversation when it comes to future innovation and brand initiatives has proven to drive the most impact. 

We’re constantly engaging in direct conversations with some of our most loyal customers, seeking feedback and inviting them to take part in ongoing customer panels to help us continue to improve our formulas, and also giving them the exclusive opportunity to test new products in the early stage of development.

For example, nearly 200 women have participated in the formula development of our serum and mist. And, even post-launch, we continue to gather constant feedback on how to improve our current products. Our early customers appreciate that we’re making them a part of the brand’s development process. It has proven to be an amazing way to excite and retain people’s interest in our brand and create a sense of anticipation for the next big thing.

ALLISON MOSS Founder and CEO, Type:A

Our core retention tactic is email marketing where we can provide our most valued customers key products and promotional offers as members of our subscriber base. We have also recently extended our line from solely a deodorant brand to also offering hand sanitizer. When the pandemic broke out in the U.S. and customers were finding it hard to find some of the core essentials, they turned to us asking for things like hand sanitizer to help them get through the resource shortage. We were able to transition one of our production houses to manufacture a hydrating, skin-softening hand sanitizer and answer the pressing need of our consumers.

Jessika Carter-Ross Owner and Founder, Madam J Beauty

I use multiple customer retention tactics as my customers are the most important piece of my business. I write personal handwritten notes for their packages. I send random discount codes and free shipping offers. I respond to any questions in a timely manner. The quality of my products encourage customers to leave reviews, and I overdeliver often by always accepting responsibility. 

I know these tactics work because I have many repeat customers, and my customers post video reviews without being asked. They rave about the products and tell their friends and families to try them, too. I know it's successful because I make my customers feel cared about and included. In their reviews, they have also commented on our stellar customer service skills.

Aleena Khan Co-Founder, CTZN Cosmetics

We show our loyalty to our past customers by offering them perks and early access to promotions that other individuals on our mailing lists receive slightly later. This keeps our customers engaged and shows them how much we value them.

For example, on our 1-year brand anniversary, our team manually emailed every single customer who shopped with us in year one and reminded them of the date and details of their first purchase, thanking them with early access to our 1-year promo, one week before we launched the promotion to the public. That provides early customers with an exciting reason to continue to engage with the brand and open our emails because they can see we have made the effort to personalize the experience and show gratitude in the form of perks!

Trista Okel CEO and Founder, Empower BodyCare

We retain customers by consistently providing outstanding products. However, we also find our mission to help people also attracts and retains customers. Knowing we are a values-driven company that donates a portion of each sale to organizations focused on LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights and social justice inspires customers to repeatedly support our efforts.

Tamera Ferro VP of Global Marketing, Sol de Janeiro

We recently teased our Bum Bum Body Scrub launch with a GWP deluxe size of this product to drive trial and excitement around our newest product. It created buzz and drove reviews before the launch, and we saw 78% of initial orders come from returning customers. 

Additionally, our new Eau de Parfum has been sampled in all our e-commerce orders, and we have a triggered email flow to re-engage customers. The sampling and email reminder tactics drove return purchase rates and allowed customers to try the amazing scent while stores were closed, making it easier for them to come back and buy the full-size product.

Yanghee Paik Co-Founder, Rael

Treating our customers the way they want to be treated, like people! Our repeat rate is over 60% because our customers quickly become fans of not only our products, but also our approach to customer care. We believe having a quality product that performs well is an industry standard. What stands out is that we have a human touch. In addition to typical digital marketing tactics like retargeting ads on Facebook and promotional emails, customer care is a huge focus for us. 

We have over 15,000 5-star reviews not only because of our high-quality products, but because we respond to 100% of customer inquiries within 24 hours. We also go beyond responding to inquiries by proactively reaching out to our community on social media through direct message to see if there are ways we can better serve them, whether it's new product ideas or content that would inspire them. 

We believe kindness can go a long way. It can be the friendly, caring voice that answers the customer support line or the handwritten notes we included in surprise care packages to hundreds of top customers during COVID-19. We see that they appreciate that we go the extra mile through our strong customer loyalty.

SELMIN KARATAS Co-Founder, Kazani

At the moment, I am giving away a smaller version product as I want the customers to continue using it. They love the product and get hooked on it. When I send the packages, I write a handwritten thank you note, and I follow up with the customers. Sending out newsletters every month is also another way of retaining customers. This way, the customers will remember you and come back when they need the products. Keeping in touch, answering questions or comments on social media is another way of retaining customers.

BEATRICE DIXON Founder and CEO, The Honey Pot

One of the things we've implemented during COVID-19 is to give customers free shipping and online discounts to help counteract the longer shipping times and the inventory issues we've been encountering. It's been successful because our customers have commented that they feel heard and appreciate that we're acknowledging the inconvenience and are trying to make things easier for them during these challenging times.

Paayal Mahajan Founder, Essential Body Couture Skincare

My customer retention comes from my authenticity and transparency. I make myself accessible to my clients. I take time to respond to every single person who writes to me on Instagram or my mailbox. Yes, interns and staff can do the job, but customers buy into the experience of a brand, and how they are made to feel matters immensely! 

I stopped shipping a week before the lockdown started in India. I could see we were headed for difficult times, and I felt strongly that I couldn’t burden resources that were already strained. The courier delivery person’s life is as important as mine. I refused to accept orders on my website. It was important to me for people to hold on to their money. So, for the consultations I did, I worked out solutions for folks based on what they already had at home. 

I couldn’t do treatments. So, I started my faceworkoutparty on Instagram to bring people relief, lift their spirits and to teach them what I knew: how to build strength into their cells, give themselves stress relief and actually have healthy skin, all without tools or devices, just clean, sanitized hands.

LISSETTE MONZON Founder, Lilly Be

I began selling my products at local markets and events, so I really had the chance to get to know my customers on a regular basis. It was important to me that I listened to their needs before I sold them a product. I wanted them to be a satisfied return customer whose needs were truly met, not just a sale for the day. At recurring local markets, you have the opportunity to get to know and build a relationship with your customers. It was first and foremost important that my product was going to help them, in turn, cause them to love it and share it with their friends. 

I also began growing my email list a few years ago. I invested in a device to connect sales to my email (with customer approval) so that I could retarget customers and set up personalized automations. Emailing provided another outlet to connect and keep my customer up-to-date on monthly happenings, wellness resources that I knew they would appreciate and, of course, promotions. 

Due to the recent changes, I have had to pivot and translate that personal attention I was able to give at markets to my social media efforts as well. I am learning different ways to communicate more authentically on social and create a community feel on my pages. Ultimately, the most successful tactic is to focus on the customer, not the sale.

DANIELLE GRONICH Co-Founder, CLEARstem Skincare

We offer tailored advice to help with their acne like personalized vitamin and supplement guidance, and webinars on hormonal health and commonly misunderstood acne triggers (like too much of certain vitamins). We also offer ingredient reviews if someone is unsure if their makeup or SPF is breaking them out. We go above and beyond all the time, even when there is no chance of a sale (e.g., we don't sell vitamins, but help guide people all the time) so this willingness to help and genuinely share our expertise delivers so much value to our community that we have built a ton of loyalty!

Max Dresse Founder, Bellway

Launching a brand DTC, you have a very close relationship with customers. If you have a great product, they will tell you what they love about it and what makes your brand different. The key is listening to them and growing your brand based on their feedback, which will turn your customers into your biggest ambassadors.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].