Skin-care brand Versed is launching an SMS text messaging service for its customers on Oct. 24.
The purpose of what Melanie Bender, Versed gm, called a Skincare Hotline is not to sell customers on Versed products directly but instead provide education with the benefit of also using that customer exchange to build customer profiles for its CRM and create another iteration of its Facebook group. Versed was born, in part, out of Clique Brand’s private Facebook group. Since launching in May, it has grown its own social channels to 42,000 Instagram followers and 888 “likes” on Facebook. The brand, which is sold through VersedSkin.com as well as Riley Rose, Revolve, Dermstore and all Target doors, declined to share sales data.
“We want to develop a strong connection with people, and SMS allows us to dig into those needs more,” said Bender. “There’s the ability to layer in [opportunities] to purchase product or interact with bots, so we certainly see potential to build off of this.”
Three employees on Versed’s 20-person team compiled a glossary of hundreds of questions commonly asked of the skin-care brand, and will manually handle the service for now. The team will address questions related to general concerns about issues such as the difference between an oil and a serum, when to apply products, and how to reduce a zit as quickly as possible. They will not provide medical advice, said Bender.
Following every interaction, Versed will also request open-ended feedback from the customer about whether the service met expectations, if it was easy to use, how it helped the person and how the service can improve. On a macro-level, Versed will also look at the number of engagements with the hotline, the frequency of questions asked and the percentage of people who are repeat hotline users. Bender said that these SMS interactions will better equip Versed about clients’ needs, especially if they come back again in six months.
“[SMS] is one of the platforms of the future,” Bender said. “Customers are primed to engage, and the tech that is available is advancing. We strongly believe in learning the unique abilities of the channel and how the customer wants to innately engage with it.”
There is an inherent question about whether people will be interested in soliciting skin-care advice from a specific brand considering the conversation around brand authenticity and skepticism in believing that any brand would not push its product. Bender said that Versed has received an average of 46,000-plus engagements per week on all the brand’s channels including its website and over 5,000 unique Instagram direct messages in the last four months, and that this data validates interest.
Eitan Reshef, Blue Wheel Media president, said he saw the potential for this kind of service, but said it could easily go wrong. “Convincing the customer they are a reliable source will be a challenge, but if they can do it and become a neutral authority, it is a powerful thing,” he said.
Despite these challenges, offering skin-care advice through SMS text messaging has become very popular among brands. Estée Lauder started offering a skin-care consultant through a voice assistant in 2017 (the brand now also offers SMS text messaging), while Wander Beauty and Supergoop all have an SMS offering supporting their sales strategies. SMS also informs brands very clearly who customers are and then brands can subsequently target them through advertising, said Reshaf.
For customers, being able to get a real-time response from any company — whether it is through text messages or social media — also provides a level of transparency. “In recent years, brand-consumer touchpoints have tripled, and, as a result, it’s no longer simply about connecting with the customer but staying top-of-mind and being where they want you to be,” said Alison Bringé, Launchmetrics CMO.