Leveraging Purchase Data and Cross-Channel Marketing: Journey of a Sephora Customer

[ 0 By


We all know the drill — you get an email that piques your interest, you purchase something (oops!), and you get a series of transactional emails after that (order confirmation, shipping details, etc.) After looking back at the email journey of one of Justine’s purchases at Sephora, we were really impressed! Let’s take a look and start at the beginning of this “email journey.”


Let’s start at the VERY beginning. The subject line, “Inside: $20 to spend,” would immediately catch a subscriber’s attention, especially because it’s coming from a trusted source, “Sephora VIB.” How can you ignore an email that’s offering you $20 from someone that you know? I certainly wouldn’t be able to!

Since some email clients (Gmail, Outlook, iPhone, Windows Mobile 7) will display a portion of your preheader text as “preview” or “snippet” text, it’s important to use these few lines of text to your advantage. Sephora uses the preheader, “Enjoy our gift to you — $20 to spend at Sephora,” to their advantage and further emphasizes the great deal inside the email.


A few days after receiving this email, Justine also received a physical card in the mail with the same creative and offer as the email. This timing was obviously no accident: by sending her the same offer in multiple channels, Sephora was increasing their chances that Justine would use the $20 offer and make a purchase.

Ready to make a purchase but not wanting to visit a Sephora store, she located the email and was pleased to see that the offer was available both in-store and online. By linking their email program, direct mail and in-store systems together, Sephora ensures that customers have a hassle-free and convenient shopping experience. I know I’ve received plenty of promotional emails with all sorts of red tape and restrictions—Sephora does it right!

At the very top of the email, Justine’s name is present, along with her Sephora VIB point balance. By including personal details like this in the email, recipients feels that the email was tailored specifically for them. Also included are details about the $20 rewards card and how to redeem it, along with several links for gift suggestions, app downloads and offers via social media.


When logging into her Sephora account online, Justine can see all her past purchases: both online as well as in-store. This makes reordering items easy, regardless of where she purchased them. It’s also a great way to keep track of the colors, sizes and brands she prefers. This extremely convenient for her (and I’m sure it makes Sephora a lot of money!) In addition, it makes the value of a rewards program a bit more transparent.

Almost every retailer is trying to get shoppers to use their rewards card these days, but what’s the benefit? Knowing that a retailer is tracking your behavior can be creepy, but Sephora definitely shows the value of their program through the transparent use of their customer data: making product suggestions based on your purchase history and allowing you to view past orders.


This order confirmation from Sephora is a pretty typical transactional email — pretty boring! The email is in plain text and devoid of branding. If you glanced at the promotional email and the order confirmation, you would never know the same company sent them.

While I’m grateful that it includes pertinent information in an organized, thorough manner, I think they could have spruced it up a bit — even if they just added a banner and logo at the top. Using a little bit of HTML for some design elements would have added personality and added warmth to an otherwise cold, corporate text-based email. However, that being said, if they did choose to add HTML elements to order confirmation emails, it’s absolutely necessary that the transactional information is present and clear regardless of whether images are disabled or not.


What a difference from the confirmation email! This shipping confirmation is a perfect example of a great transactional email. Not only is it branded, but it has a design similar to the promotional email — the email journey has come full circle!

In this email, Sephora uses plenty of simple HTML elements to brand the email and create a simple, yet attractive design. Even with all of the design elements, the pertinent transactional content is still present in an images-off environment.

And what about the content of the email? As it should be, the transactional message is at the front and center of the email so that subscribers can easily decipher that it’s a transactional email, rather than a promotional one. The email includes all of the shipping information, the ship to address, a summary of the order, and the order number — all VERY important information.

In addition, Sephora includes links to the return policy, a help directory, and information on how to schedule and manage shipments for free. While these items aren’t directly related to Justine’s specific purchase, they add an extra benefit.

Sephora also took advantage of this opportunity to do a little cross-promotional selling, and included a link to shop the latest arrivals. This is a great addition to the email! It’s not front-and-center (as it shouldn’t be, it’s a transactional email, after all!), but it’s a subtle promotion to encourage the subscriber to continue shopping.


All together, I am really impressed with Sephora’s purchase process. While the order confirmation email could use some work, their promotional and shipping emails are nicely branded and flow well together. And, the email campaign paired with a physical mailing? Great touch!


Do you have an email that you’d like us to feature in our inspiration series? Send it to us at inspiration@litmus.com!