Oh-So Ulta: How National Beauty Brand Toned Up Its Email

It was a beautiful thing. Ulta Beauty, the national beauty chain that also has a strong online presence, assigned Movable Ink the task of helping it achieve “the email of the future,” says Allie Hahn, senior manager digital creative.  

The first goal of this effort was to create abandoned cart and store-locator use cases. Each email would include an evergreen store locator dropdown menu.

Only one problem: The store locator was based on geolocation, a variable that required a reader’s IP address to identify their location and present the nearest store.  

But Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) shields users’ IP addresses. And 62% of Ulta Beauty clients open their emails through the Apple Mail app, thus hampering this contextual personalization.  

But Ulta had zero- and first-party data, including zip codes, and was well prepared even before MPP took effect.  

Then, working with Movable Ink, Ulta Beauty automated and personalized its loyalty data by transforming it into an animated bar chart based on a customer’s rewards points and current tier. In the past, email teams had to do create infinite pieces to make sure members were getting the right information. 

In addition, Movable Ink built this into a uniform experience across touchpoints, including mobile apps. 

Movable Ink also powered a live poll asks how members will use their points offer that month. This fuels progressive targeting and presentation of relevant offers. If the shopper clicks onto a category, they are routed to a page with popular items in that area. 

“While we're not able to share specific metrics at this time, we’re pleased to report increased engagement everywhere we've implemented use cases—which is a strong start,” Hahn says. 

What’s next? “We're still narrowing down our goals for next year, and are looking forward to expanding and amplifying our current progress,” Hahn says.. “In 2021 we set up quite a few integration and API calls, so for 2022 we're planning to build out more  guest experiences using the framework we have set up.” 

“Looking ahead," Hahn says, "we see potential with triggers and transactional emails to use some data and create even better guest experiences. With our daily emails, we plan to continue pulling in data to create more relevant, personalized sends for our guests and also pull in more interactivity and playful engagement.  

Is there anything they would do differently?  

Hahn replies thatthe biggest learning for us this year was to factor in more time for projects. We had an ambitious list of use cases and projects we wanted to accomplish, and to do that successfully requires taking the time to build things out properly, test, then test some more.’

That said, the team “would always rather be 100% confident in what we're sending to guests, than doing more things, but not executing on them well or giving a great experience. So always setting realistic expectations on ourselves and prioritizing is the goal for next year.”



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