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Deepening customer engagement: Estée Lauder Malaysia

AvantiKumar | July 23, 2012
To help ramp up its online campaigns as well as learn more about its customers' preferences, Estée Lauder Malaysia called in IT firm Experian.

John Merakovsky, Managing Director of Marketing Services, Experian Asia Pacific

PHOTO - John Merakovsky, Managing Director of Marketing Services, Experian Asia Pacific.

As part of its digital communication strategy, cosmetics specialist Estée Lauder Malaysia turned to IT solutions Experian to help ramp up its online campaigns as well as to learn more about its customers' preferences.

The rollout of Experian's CheetahMail was one of the results of a global digital communications effort by our parent company, Estée Lauder Group of Companies, according to Estée Lauder Malaysia assistant marketing/CRM manager, Carrin Lee.

"Improving our customer engagement was our goal," said Lee. "To do this, we included e-mail marketing as part of the online campaign, which required us to look for an e-mail service provider (ESP). The ESP needed to conform to Malaysia's Personal Data Protection Act - this is required for campaigns using personal data in commercial."

"We were already aware of Experian's portfolio of marketing services and their work with Estée Lauder Group of Companies in the US," she said. "With their knowledge in the industry, their insights and recommendations will help us drive more relevant and successful e-mail programmes."

Lee said that Experian CheetahMail rolled out a two-pronged approach for a more cost effective e-mail marketing strategy, which included the following objectives:

  • Validation and cleansing of data to reduce e-mail bounces;
  • Putting in place a bounce management scheme that removed subscribers after a number of bounces.

"This approach above helped us, as we were kickstarting our campaign," she said. "In addition, Experian's relationship with ISPs [Internet service providers] was a value-added service, which helped minimise Estée Lauder Malaysia's e-mails' tendency to be classified as spam. The Experian CheetahMail application also offers the flexibility of advanced tracking and robust reporting features on top of its world-class privacy and security policies are just several reasons why we considered the solution for our online campaign."

Estée Lauder Malaysia is part of The Estée Lauder Companies - one of the world's leading manufacturers of quality skin care, makeup and fragrance products. The company's products are sold in more than 130 countries and territories under well-recognised brand names including Estée Lauder, Clinique, Aramis, Origins, M.A.C., Bobbi Brown, La Mer and Lab Series for Men.

Short term and long term ROIs

"Estée Lauder only began exploring the digital marketing scene in 2010, when they started looking for an e-mail service provider to help with streamlining their online and offline communication strategies," said Experian Asia Pacific managing director of marketing services, John Merakovsky. "On top of that, the company also required a service that will comply with Malaysia's Personal Data Protection Act, which will come into effect in 2012."

"Experian has large client services teams to support our clients and also provide feature-rich e-mail technology and data insights to assist customers in driving personalised marketing campaigns," said Merakovsky. "By understanding customer behaviours, our clients are able to develop cost-effective e-mail marketing strategies for customer engagements and minimise e-mail spam."

The first deployment of e-mail for a newsletter was in March 2010, said Estée Lauder's Lee. This was quickly followed in April of the same year with the implementation of the Experian CheetahMail solution, which allowed the first e-mail marketing campaign planning, set up and segmentation in May. "After this setup, the Experian client services consultant conducted training for Estée Lauder Malaysia employees while the post-campaign reports were provided by Experian seven days after the completion of each campaign."

She said significant business benefits were experienced in the e-mail campaigns that followed the rollout. "We achieved 42 percent click-to-open rate for a standalone campaign; reached an average of almost 25 percent quarterly click-to-open rates, even exceeding the industry benchmark of 15.1 percent, while the deliverability rate was 99.1 percent."

"Bounce rates were reduced from 21.6 percent to just 0.9 percent, while we saw an average repurchase rate of eight percent from our eDM [electronic direct marketing] communications on a campaign-by-campaign basis," Lee said. "Estée Lauder Malaysia also experienced various strategic gains."

"These included full integration of Coremetrics (CheetahMail with Web Analytics), which allowed our brands with e-commerce sites to setup and run re-marketing campaigns quickly. Coremetrics also allowed us to measure Web traffic driven from e-mail," she said. "We noted a reduction of time in replicating similar activities with the other regions while maintaining more consistent quality and standards."

"We could now develop more sophisticated campaigns that were even more relevant and meaningful to our customers, and included enhanced designing of mail templates and better compliance with major browsers and e-mail clients," Lee said. "The incorporation of social media in the campaigns also encouraged our subscribers to have closer engagement with the brand, with a higher level of customer satisfaction and faster response time from customers from our e-mail campaigns."

"Estée Lauder conducts several e-mail marketing campaigns because of the various brands it carries," she said. "Depending on the campaign, eDMs are usually sent out to customers as frequent as twice in a month or less. At the end of each campaign period, an analysis is conducted based on the post-campaign reports provided by Experian."

"A post-implementation analysis is conducted between Experian client services consultant and Estée Lauder brand/campaign manager," Lee said. "The review of the report serves as a reference for the next campaign. It will help both parties identify any areas of improvement on the campaign. It will be used as a benchmark on what is working for the target audience or if there needs to be changed content-wise - e-mail subject, call to action, visuals, etc. This is a regular practice after each campaign.

Incredible customer insight

"Estée Lauder Malaysia has been actively using Experian CheetahMail since March 2010," she said. "In the past two years, we gained incredible customer insight that resulted in more targeted and focused campaigns. Such customer insight includes identifying the type of communications they were most receptive to. With every post-campaign analysis, we are also able to discern the best practices which we apply on succeeding campaigns. Each review and evaluation allows us to create more effective e-mail marketing strategies which helps drive open rates and grow repurchase rates for every campaign."

Lee said there were no major cultural or other organisational changes required as this particular IT solution constituted 'an additional leg' or resource to enhance campaign performance. "The dedicated client services consultant from Experian talks to each campaign manager to get a run down of the activities that need to be completed."

"Estée Lauder Malaysia did not need to customise or localise anything on the solution," she added. "At the start when we were looking for an e-mail services provider, our main concern was its compliance with the Data Protection Bill."

"Everything is moving to the digital era and going mobile; so are our customers," said Lee. "It is important that we stay relevant as we reach out to them on the channels they are on. This will also allow us to determine investments in channels where we can expand our marketing capabilities."

"For companies looking to go along the same road, it is important to first identify what the objectives and goals are before venturing on any digital campaign," she said. "Then, think of the appropriate channel to use that would best help to relay your key message. Do your research before, during and after. And of course, check case studies and best practices to help you improve your campaign. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and ask what they hate or what they like."

"Experian will continue to provide businesses in this region the support required to improve their communications with consumers online while making better use of digital data to plan their marketing strategies," said Experian's Merakovsky. "Such strong empowerment of consumers is really exciting. It allows local companies to immediately think regionally and globally, similar to what Estée Lauder Malaysia has done."

"With the increasing adoption of smartphones and the pervasiveness of social media across multiple platforms, we would encourage businesses to look towards the development of more useful, relevant and personalised content," he said. "This content should provide immediate and relevant benefits to their online audience, ensuring the success of targeted marketing campaigns for their brand to create loyal brand evangelists."

Other key clients for Experian Marketing Services in the region include CozyCot,, ZUJI, Sands China, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Sports Council, Groupon Hong Kong and Gold Coast Tourism.


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