The Art of Online Beauty Advertising

It’s no secret that a great advertisement lingers in the minds of consumers long after they’ve seen it. From Brooke Shields’ iconic Calvin Klein jeans ad to Isabella Rossellini’s Tresor ads for Lancôme and Michael Jordan’s work with Nike, great ads fascinate, captivate, resonate and continue to drive brand awareness and purchases for, ideally, years to follow. However, while past ads were mostly found in magazines, newspapers or on TV, today advertisements are bombarding consumers from every side—on Facebook pages, smartphones and tweeted to friends 24/7, in addition to the traditional channels, billboards, vehicle ads and more. While to say that online advertising is a golden opportunity is no understatement, the bigger question is: how do you create the best online ad that both engages your key customer and makes her want to actively engage with your brand?

To capture the attention of your target consumer in today’s hyperconnected world of multiplatform advertising, the need to create a beauty ad that carries a lasting impact while also translating emotionally is critical. To find out just how critical, The Beauty Company talked with more than 200 female beauty consumers across the U.S. about what attracts them to online beauty ads and uncovered five primary themes.

Capturing—Not Demanding—Attention

While a flashy advertisement can be fun and engaging, it’s not always necessarily the best way to reach a consumer—especially a beauty consumer and especially online. As we all know, a lot of information is vying for our attention when we are surfing the Internet, and demanding that consumers pay attention to your brand with a flashy ad may not always produce the results you want.

The best way to ensure your ad cuts through this visual clutter and captures your target consumer group’s interest is by creating a message that is interesting, succinct and relays key product information in an engaging, seamless way. What are your key top benefits? Where can someone purchase or find your products? If consumers only remember one thing about your brand from this ad, what would it be?

Regardless of whether they saw your ad on Facebook, watching a YouTube video or surfing for information on Google, the message should be consistent and creative. Don’t insist consumers check out your brand—make it so they’re unable to resist doing so.

A Great Online Ad Understands

It’s no secret that most women approach shopping in a unique way, especially for beauty products, which they view differently than shopping for everyday items such as food and/or household supplies. Beauty shopping is something that makes women feel up when they are down, and it helps women escape the daily stresses of their lives. Preferring to shop alone, women often say they feel like they are in their own world when shopping for beauty products and doing so helps them feel better able to deal with whatever issues are awaiting them back at home or the office.

Accordingly, successful online beauty ads will speak to and understand this connection or feeling of escape women equate with beauty and highlight it rather than simply trying to sell a product or service. By highlighting what female consumers like about your brand and why it’s going to help them feel happy, positive, excited and de-stressed, your advertisement does more than just get them interested in your brand—it leaves them feeling that your brand is for someone like them, which is a key to keeping their loyalty for years to come.

Getting Engaged

Just as beauty consumers want to be left feeling that your brand understands them, women primarily buy from brands they understand, and that engagement is especially critical when online. Whether surfing a variety of websites or chatting with friends, another key to a great online ad is one that quickly engages consumers and then goes one step beyond, prompting them to investigate further—ideally by clicking through your ad to your website or social media pages.

Messages that convey a clear sense that what you offer is differentiated and unique from anyone else and that compels them to stop what they’re doing to like, re-tweet or pin your ad for friends and family to see is a winner on multiple levels.

Just like with their clothing styles, consumers are very protective of their online personalities, and if your ad doesn’t capture them right at the outset, they’re not going to give you the click-throughs you are seeking, or share your product with their friends and connections. Consumers have to not only think that your product will benefit them and bring value to their lives, they also have to believe it will do the same for others in their lives and everyone else connected to them via social media.

Repeat Emotional Connections

Women live in an emotional world. Emotions drive many of their decisions, and where beauty is concerned, women are seeking a deep emotional connection with their favorite brands and products or, alternately, already have one. Accordingly, a great advertisement reaches out and creates a powerful connection with women on levels that transcend the product. Calgon’s “Take Me Away” ads did more than just promise a pampering bath experience, they promised to transport the tired mom or stressed executive away and make her feel pampered, peaceful and relaxed again and again.

With the extremely fast pace of online media, it’s even more critical that your ad give consumers an emotional reason to keep connecting with your brand repeatedly and without necessarily being reminded to do so. Whether they’re re-pinning from your Pinterest boards, subscribing to your Facebook feed or simply browsing and shopping your website regularly to see what’s new, every connection your brand forges that keeps you on your target consumers’ minds (and their lips) helps create a strong brand story that will translate time and time again.

Concise Storytelling

It’s been said consumers decide if they are going to purchase a product within three seconds or less, which we can all agree is not a lot of time. And it’s even less time when you consider that online ads have a lot of unique competition. Facebook routinely peppers user’s walls with multiple ads, and a Twitter feed can bury an update in one second let alone three, so how does an ad stand out? By creating that immediate emotional connection point that speaks to consumers and is true to your brand—something a consumer can instantly believe in and feel she can trust.

What are you trying to sell? What do you want consumers to do with the information you are telling them? What story are you sharing, and will it connect with your brand’s personality when people finally make it to your website and, hopefully, checkout? Forget complicated ingredient explanations or extended, drawn-out brand stories. To truly capture consumers while they’re online, your advertisement needs to create a snapshot that speaks in a bold, concise way and uses images that instantly capture interest and compel a click-through. Consumers simply must know more about your brand. Once they’re on your website or Facebook page, you can roll out a longer story or detail your proprietary ingredients, but until then, give them a reason to believe in your brand that only takes moments to draw them in.

What It Takes to Win

To win with beauty consumers today, advertisers need to start by understanding what women want to see in advertisements and knowing what it really means. Help them eliminate stress and feel relaxed, give them images they can aspire to and connect with as relevant to their lives, and be everywhere they are shopping, browsing and socializing online. Women love to look and feel beautiful, and with a carefully crafted advertisement, your brand will be their first choice—and second and third—to achieve these goals.

Alisa Marie Beyer is the founder and creative director of The Beauty Company (TBC), a global beauty consulting firm offering business, strategy, consumer intelligence and branding. Serving its clients at every stage of development (from start-ups to 13 of the top 15 global beauty companies), TBC intimately understands the industry, the consumer and the market, and becomes an integral part of each client or project team. [email protected];

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