How Sephora Used Bot Marketing to Increase Sales

Stefan van der VlagCasestudies, General


Chatbots are hardly novel these days, yet tons of business don’t apply bot marketing in their business. With well over 50 million business pages on Facebook, there are only 300,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone. All while 40% of millennials report interacting with chatbots every day. Crazy! Needless to say, there’s still a lot of ground to gain for chatbots… Chances are, that you still don’t have any bot marketing going on.

And we get it, some people are fearful of AI swooping in and taking their jobs. Or even worse, bearing witness to the singularity. You know, when the abilities of computers surpass the abilities of the human brain. The good news is, though, the future is not so grim as some may think. See, not marketing is no longer on the fringe. In fact, 80% of all companies intend to deploy chatbots of some sort by the end of this year. And with good reason! Because bot marketing can cut business costs, increase profits, and help build customer relations.

In this article, we’ll have a look at what chatbots and bot marketing are, and how they can work for you and your business. We will also take a closer look at a case study on Sephora. In this part, we reveal how they increased their sales and expanded business using marketing bots.

What are chatbots?

First things first, what is a chatbot? Considering chatbots, as we know them now, first landed on the marketing scene 4 years ago… You ought to know what they are and what they can do for you and your business. And frankly? If you’ve done any online shopping over the past years you may have already engaged with one.

That said, just in case, if you don’t know yet, here’s a small summary of what they are: 

The basic premise of a chatbot is that it’s an automated marketing tool. In essence, it’s software that you can “program” to perform certain functions (like sending a text, images, or capturing an email address) based on user inputs. Moreover, a chatbot simulates human conversation, via text chats, with your prospects and customers. Though chatbots are no longer novel, the surface has only just been scratched with what these bots can do.

Chatbots, as we know them today, have 2 main paths. On one end we got the command-based chatbots which follow certain rules that you program. I.E. User says “X”, chatbot replies with “Y”. Then, you also got chatbots that are a bit more freestyle, using machine learning or AI to respond to customer queries. The latter is cool, but NLP and machine learning are complicated to setup. Plus, chatbots that are based on this do still make many mistakes. One of the reasons why we think the singularity is decades away.

Alrighty, let’s dig in a bit deeper into these 2 types of chatbots.

Command-Based Chatbots Versus AI-Driven Chatbots

Using bots for marketing works by either training chatbots to translate user inputs into desired outputs. Or manually configuring your chatbot’s output based on certain keywords you provide. Either way, when the bot gets the data, it quickly analyzes and creates a context. From there it can point the user to the relevant data through verbal and written prompts.

  • Command-based chatbots come up with responses based on answers that you program. This can ensure better grammar, consistent answers, and brand consistency. The only downside is they are limited in their responses to what is in the database they draw from. The workaround is easy though… Make sure you have all possible questions covered in your database. Dreading? Perhaps… But it’s a one-time setup, and you’ll be happy once you have a bot do the hard work for you.
  • AI-driven chatbots are able to respond a bit better to vague questions. They do this by using Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP allows the bot to pick up on conversational tones and better mimic human dialogue. But, often, a conversation tends to have a longer duration as the chatbot needs to understand, and return a message that’s appropriate to, let’s say, a question… And more often than not, they usually don’t understand the gist of what’s being said.

Right now, we recommend going the command-based chatbot route. It’s just way more smooth and gets you the fastest results.

Why are Bots So Popular?

The first chatbot was actually developed 22 years before the internet was even a thing. I know, that’s cool, right? But, since that time humanity has marched steadily toward better automation and technological integration into day-to-day human activities. Many people report they love chatbots because they have 24/7 access to support. They know they can get quick, on-demand answers. What’s cool is that all generations seem to love them. Millennials and Boomers alike prefer talking with a chatbot to talking with a person.

However, some people – the laggers – still report wanting warmth and kindness from customer service interactions. A feat that can be difficult to achieve with the current technology. Difficult, but not impossible. Just make sure to program your Messenger chatbot well, by using language that relays your brand identity and your humanity.

So, How are Companies Leveraging Bot Marketing?

Last year, 2020, has been full of ‘unprecedented times.’ I mean, at one point I even expected Aliens to land on the Whitehouse lawn too. Unfortunately, many businesses had to close their doors. Longstanding companies have filed for bankruptcy. Like J.Crew and JCPenny… All while Sephora plans to open 100 new locations. They’ve been thriving!

The question naturally is…

How has Sephora been able to double its growth during a global pandemic? All while so many other businesses floundered or died?

To be frank, Sephora is one of the best case studies to look at when it comes to the effective use of chatbots and bot marketing. I mean, with doubling their growth, it’s clear they have been very successful with bots. Seamlessly integrating the mobile experience chatbots offer with the in-store shopping experience.

Sephora used Facebook Messenger Chatbots to Thrive!

Sephora used Facebook Messenger Chatbots to Thrive!

Sephora was one of the first brands in the retail sector to explore chatbot marketing. They employed a chatbot through Kik first, and it was wildly successful. They then upped the ante and launched Sephora Reservation Assitant on Facebook Messenger.

These bots generated 4 million visits to the Sephora app and facilitated over 90 million shade try-on’s. Foot traffic also increased by 11% through the booking app. Once in-store, customers spent an average of $50 per visit. That’s nuts!

So what did Sephora do? Well, they harnessed the power of automation and augmented reality. Users of the chatbot could fit shades while looking at themselves via their phone, then by using AR, they could see how the shades would look on them in real life. Then, they mixed this experience by giving people access to real live salespeople.

And well, the returns speak for themselves. In a challenging pandemic stricken market, Sephora doubled the results of their brick and mortar locations. All while remaining very competitive in the stock market too.

Sound like a dream, right? But, what if I told you, that you too can leverage these tools to bolster your business.?

I’m In! Tell Me How to Use Bot Marketing.

The world of bot marketing is still getting started. By the end of 2022, it’s expected that chatbots will help cut business costs by 8 billion dollars. Several high profile businesses are taking the lead, and you, dear reader, can too!

There are many ways to implement a chatbot marketing strategy. Here are a few of our favorites.

8 Fun Ways to Utilize Chatbot Marketing

1. Communicate With Visitors to Your Website

This one will offer you many wins and lessen your workload. Visitors who come to your site are looking for answers. They may have the questions already or they may form as they browse your site. If they can’t find the answers they seek, they will leave. A potential sale, lost. But, not if you have set up a chatbot on your site to interact with customers as they land on your homepage.

You can customize your bot to have a name, even associate a photo with it to make it more ‘human.’ Econsultancy found a whopping 57% of online shoppers prefer this kind of interaction. Bots give you the ability to cater to every single visitor to your page. No matter when they visit, without having to employ an army of customer service reps.

Tip? Make sure to program the chatbot in ways you or your support agents would actually respond to questions that people tend to ask. People know that they aren’t chatting with a human, but they want it to feel as close to the real deal as possible.

2. Let Bots Help Nurture Your Leads

Leads are super important for any business doing online sales. But it can be a lot of work to tend to leads and turn them into sales. Not with the help of a bot! You can program your chatbot with specific questions. These can help you funnel customers into different places within your sales stream. Once the bot qualifies your lead, you can have an actual salesperson swoop in and finish the deal. If you do it well, the customer won’t even notice the transition. And you will be up a sale and a happy customer.

3. Get Your Team Organized

Bots can also help you manage human personnel. This is important as more and more work seems to be shifting to remote for the long haul. Bots can help you keep track of what everyone is doing and keep everyone informed. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you can still utilize bots. They can keep you organized and up to speed with activity on your site. You can program bots to check your email, run your numbers, all sorts of things. Freeing up time for you to live your life, and run your business.

4. Bots Can Help Customize the User Experience

Western culture has a ‘my way or the highway, immediately,’ mentality. Countless consumer studies show that personalization is the quickest way to someone’s heart and wallet. This is one of the things Sephora has done well. They use bots to encourage users to take short quizzes. The information from the quiz then turns into customized suggestions for the user. It’s quick, it’s easy, and once programmed requires zero work on your part.

5. Bots Integrate Well With Messaging Apps

People are spending more and more time online. Where messaging platforms are becoming a hotbed for sales leads. By integrating your chatbot with Facebook or Slack, for example, you can capture your audience without lifting a finger.You can program your bot to make polls, ask questions, or track sales. The possibilities are limitless. Especially with Facebook integration, you can do it all right from the user’s inbox. Generate the lead, personalize the interaction, land the sale. Easy peasy.

6. More On Sales

Making sales is huge, so it deserves its own section. You can program a bot to handle the entire transaction of a sale on its own. Throw in some loyalty rewards and your customers will never leave. Using marketing bots for sales is a genius move. The user get’s a tailored experience without you doing a thing. They actually guide themselves through your sales funnel. Then, they can instantly share their experience on their platform of choice. Serving up some excellent word of mouth marketing. You can level up and use bots to manage your loyalty programs as well. Good loyalty programs increase brand loyalty and fuel regular purchases.

7. Learn About Your Customers

Using bots for marketing allows you to learn lots about your customers. They can low-key gather demographics and psychographics about your customers by asking simple questions. The best part? Your customers will feel like they had a casual conversation with someone on your team. Which is way better than taking a long boring survey. Growing numbers of people actually prefer engaging with live-chats. So it makes sense they would stick around to engage with a bot for a company they patron. The bot can store this info gathered for customized experiences later on.

8. Amp Up The User Engagement

It’s no secret that sales are driven by relationships formed with a company or product. The challenge has been how to engage customers in just the right way. A well-programmed chatbot can engage the customer in a manner they are receptive to. They can then adapt on the fly to meet the customer’s preferences and they can even guide a sale. By having a bot make the first move, reaching out to customers landing on your site, you are almost guaranteed an interaction. Whereas if a customer walks into your store and is approached by a salesperson, the interaction could go either way.

So, Ready to Level Up with Bot Marketing?

There is so much that technology can do for us in the world of e-commerce. Bot marketing is just one of many tech tools businesses are jumping on.

Using bot marketing in your business will:

  1. Increase productivity
  2. Nurture leads
  3. Close sales
  4. Build detailed customer profiles

Yup, so many benefits! As you can see, investing in a solid chatbot marketing strategy is worth its weight in gold. And, that’s where we come in. Yup. Clepher is here to help! We can assist you as you navigate the future of business with our customizable bot software. We’ve done the market research, we understand the trends, and quite simply – we know what works.

Plus, we are ready to put that knowledge to work for you, today! Don’t spend another moment blundering with business tools from the past. The future is here and the future is chatbots. Have a look here to find out what Clepher can do for your business. Our claims are bold, but our service is even bolder… We offer an all-in-one chatbot creation and marketing suite with tons of extras to give you a crazy edge. See you on the other side!

Click Here to Discover How to Start with Bot Marketing!


Related Posts