Building a ‘beauty-ful’ community

The advertisers were happy. The audience was there. So the next logical step was a Loyalty Rewards Program…right?

This is an abridged case study. All sensitive information has been omitted. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of the client.

Product

A popular beauty website that features reviews, how-tos, and articles from a crew of experts.

 

Problem

Is a Loyalty Rewards Program (LRP) worth the cost and effort?. 

After a stellar first year the website became the #1 online beauty destination in Australia. Traffic was great, but now they needed to start phase two. On the consumer side they wanted better brand engagement and recognition. On the client side they wanted a wider variety of offerings that advertisers would find attractive. They recognised the need and importance of creating a community space for both users and clients and were curious to see if a loyalty rewards program would be the best way to go about it. LRPs are extremely costly so a lot of research needed to go into the idea before stakeholder approval.

The advertiser client side of the project had already been investigated and documented based on their existing sales relationships. It was the consumer user’s experience that still needed to be considered: if the consumers did not engage with the LRP then the advertisers wouldn’t either.

 

Limitations

Budget – Loyalty Reward Programs (LRPs) are expensive to buy, implement, manage and fulfil – they are essentially a whole separate website.

 

Role & Responsibilites

Role / UX designer & researcher

Responsibilities / Take product through the user experience process; recommend viable solutions to the problem based on the findings from the UX process; put together a thorough and compelling body of research to support the proposed solutions; present the solutions to internal and external stakeholders; iterate based on feedback

The Discovery Phase

 

First, I compiled a list of questions that needed to be asked:

With regards to a Loyalty Rewards Program…

What problem are we solving for the user?
What do we offer them that they can’t get anywhere else?
Why are our users motivated to earn points with us?
Once they’ve completed ‘the loop’ and redeemed a product/prize, what keeps them motivated to start again?
Why are our users motivated to move to the next reward level?
What do we anticipate as their possible pain points during their journey?

Who is our ideal member?
What does their participation look like in the loyalty program?
What does their participation look like offsite?

Breaking the big picture problem down into smaller, thorough questions made it easy to begin applying UX methodologies to the challenge – and helped make sure all bases were being explored.

Step One / Tools

I chose the UX methodologies that were most relevant to the problem at hand to help guide the analysis.

Market analysis

Immersive research on everything to do with female-skewed Loyalty Reward Programs.

Competitive product analysis

Who’s the most popular and why?

Extensive matrix of the who’s who of online beauty communities (ex. tone of voice (TOV), engagement strategy, community cultivator, feature comparison, etc.).

User goals vs. Business Goals

Outline and make a case for the user’s goals and what’s needed to achieve them. The short term the monetary return of fulfilling user goals is not very compelling, but long-term would ensure growth and retention.

Comparative feature analysis

Analysed and compiled a list of competitor features that help facilitate community and would be possible to implement without too much development and financial cost.

Fun fact / The most popular beauty communities are behemoths, some with devotees with 20+yrs membership – fiercely tight knit, passionate and territorial groups. Who would have thought?

Step Two / Findings

LRPs are an expensive, time intensive undertaking and it’s extremely important to consider all these factors in relation to the users and their engagement before committing to starting one.

An established loyal community of website users is essential before implementing a LRP. To begin to build a community presence you need to infuse a website with the voices of the users. Experts are now not just the editors of magazines, but the owners of Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. accounts. It’s not hierarchical in the same way it once was, but linear…spanning across peer to peer.

Solutions

The overall finding was that implementing an LRP without an established community was a gamble. The recommendation was to make interim changes to the website to begin facilitating community and gage the user’s appetite first before committing to the bigger project.

I provided a suggested feature updates document with visual aids to show how these updates could be implemented. The suggested feature updates were picked based on common features in popular communities the brand most wanted to emulate.