Clicks Grows its Direct Marketing Audience 300% in Six Months with Salesforce
How this leading health and beauty company achieved 14% growth in six months – and added 600,000 new loyalty programme members.
Clicks is one of South Africa’s most recognised and valued brands. It provides for the health, wellness, and beauty needs of people and communities throughout the country, from big cities and their suburbs, to remote, rural areas, where its pharmacies and clinics deliver vital medical and healthcare services.
Customers enjoy the quality and value for money of Clicks’ own brand products, and the convenience too, with 800 stores carefully located where people need them most. In fact, more than 80% of South Africans live less than six kilometres from a Clicks store.
Clicks’ importance to the health and wellbeing of South Africans was emphasised during the country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Clicks Group, including its own pharmaceutical wholesaler, was instrumental in the successful nationwide distribution and delivery of more than three million vaccination packs, making it the country’s biggest vaccinator.
While many organisations claim to be driven by their customers, for Clicks, it’s personal.
Clicks strives to personalise every single contact with customers – online and in-store. The reward is loyalty, with over 9.5 million active members of its award-winning ClubCard programme and 2.7 million downloads of its online app – which has produced increased sales of nearly 14% in the six months to February 2022.
We talked to Dr Melanie van Rooy CMO, about what personalisation really means at Clicks, and how Salesforce is helping to deliver a great customer experience.
Table of Contents
1. Use challenging retail conditions as a catalyst for innovation
Like many countries around the world, South Africa is facing economic and social challenges in the wake of COVID-19. This is further complicated by load shedding, which means some stores are forced to close during the day during these periods.
While Clicks remains committed to growing its brick-and-mortar store network – with 50 more planned to open in 2022 – the health and wellness brand is accelerating its transition to a fully integrated, digital omnichannel platform. This doesn’t just maximise choice: it means customers can always count on Clicks. People can connect with Clicks 24 hours a day, in whatever format suits them best.
“The challenges we’re all facing are very real, but they’re also presenting some exciting opportunities,” explained van Rooy. “South Africa is constantly changing and because we are so customer focused, it’s vital that we keep changing too, responding to the needs of everyone who relies on us.
“We’re on a steep digital transformation curve, to make sure we’re as agile as possible. We’re using technology to provide great services that make our customers’ lives easier. One example is the digital wallet on our app. This will simplify payments and in-store collection, so customers don’t need to stand around in a queue.”
It’s clear that personalisation is at the core of Clicks’ business strategy.
Clicks understood the key to delivering a truly tailored and consistent customer experience – shaped around evolving interests, needs, and preferences – is rich, multi-source data and predictive analytics.
Because personalisation has operational and commercial impacts throughout the organisation, Clicks needed a technology platform to make the necessary connections. All roads led to Marketing Cloud.
2. Unleash the value of personalisation tools and technology during crisis response
Not long after choosing Marketing Cloud to pursue its personalisation goals, disaster struck.
A cornerstone of Clicks’ marketing strategy – its email subscriber database – was reduced from 1.5 million contacts to just 400,000 after triggering a spam trap. This resulted in Clicks’ email domains and IP addresses being blacklisted across all major email platforms.
A robust recovery plan was urgently required.
Clicks' in-house teams joined forces with colleagues from Salesforce South Africa to accelerate the Marketing Cloud deployment. The goal was to build a more robust database, with better quality information. This would then meet the required standards of email monitoring organisations – and help the company’s essential customer communication and marketing efforts get back on track.
At the same time, the team had to make sure they avoided accidentally re-using the suspect data that caused the problem in the first place.
Any customer email addresses that hadn’t been positively engaged on in the three months prior, were “quarantined”. These profiles were split into separate segments and weren’t re-integrated into the regular mailing process until they were confirmed and customer consent re-established. These segments were carefully set up and maintained within the customer database.
The team began by using customer data to define the various customer segments they needed to re-engage with. Then they identified the tactics most likely to succeed, such as asking long-standing customers (some of whom had been subscribers for almost 20 years) to reinstate their consent.
After that, the team used:
- Marketing Cloud Engagement to ensure the right personalised messages were triggered at the right time
Pre-built templates to set up a new preference centre with attractive options and a seamless signup process, making it much easier to collect consent.
- Marketing Cloud Personalisation (powered by Interaction Studio) to deliver personalised web and email campaigns to drive signup.
- Multiple campaigns across channels were personalised, delivering the right messages to the right customers across web, email, push SMS, and app notifications, with results built into the new CDP to action offline insights.
“There was huge attention throughout the business on these recovery efforts. It was a major test for everyone and essential that we succeeded,” recalled van Rooy. “Thanks to Marketing Cloud and a magnificent effort by all those involved, the hard work paid off.”
Clicks has rebuilt its database to 1.4 million, representing growth of 300% in just six months.
The quality of the data is far superior, evidenced by emails now achieving a 20% open rate and 1.1% average click through rate. The company has welcomed 600,000 new members to ClubCard, which has won Best Loyalty Programme of the Year in the South African retail sector for two consecutive years.
“After the crisis was over, the team joked that it may have been the best thing that ever happened,” said van Rooy. “Our ability to personalise has been transformed and we’re in a strong position to get even closer to our customers and build even better relationships with them.”
3. Enhance trust and loyalty through personalised customer experiences
Clicks’ recovery gave the business confidence to forge ahead with its five-year personalisation journey, building its use of Salesforce in a measured approach.
In the first phase of the programme, Clicks uses Marketing Cloud Personalisation and CDP to curate and present tailored content seamlessly across core communication formats, including its website, campaigns, email, SMS, and WhatsApp. This content is based on an in-depth understanding of each individual customer’s history, interests, and browsing patterns.
Marketing Cloud’s data tracking and analytics capabilities interpret how each customer interacts with Clicks, building a profile that showcases what they are likely to be most interested in – for example, beauty products, mother and baby, health and wellbeing. This enables Clicks to automatically showcase appropriate content for each customer. Even better, customers can choose when and how they wish to consume this content – and take advantage of specific relevant offers within it.
With CDP, this is all achieved in a fully compliant manner, using only first party cookie tracking, adhering to the strict Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) in South Africa. Globally, third party cookies, loaded by websites other than the one being visited, are being steadily phased out due to growing concerns about privacy infringement and an absence of consent in the way personal data is collected and used.
The personalised experiences created in Marketing Cloud allow Clicks to nurture one-to-one relationships with individual customers. Ultimately, this enhances trust, loyalty, and value – hallmarks of the company’s business philosophy and enduring success.
Explained Alan Matthews, Head of the Personalisation Programme at Clicks: “We’ve been taking a step-by-step approach to personalisation, putting basics in place such as personalised pop-ups, product recommendation carousels and banners, ClubCard offers, and discounts, all based on a detailed understanding of customer interests and preferences.”
4. Achieve rapid return on investment while building strong foundations
Clicks’ investment in personalisation had short-term and long-term goals to achieve. It needed to hit some quick wins for the business, while laying firm foundations on which to base its customer service strategy.
While an emergency response to the loss of 75% of its contact database wasn’t the ideal way to begin the journey, Clicks’ recovery proved to be the ultimate proof of concept. The team delivered confidence to the business while showcasing the tremendous potential for Marketing Cloud to help Clicks get closer than ever to its customers.
“We’re seeing the results of personalisation all the time,” said van Rooy. “When it comes to our email campaigns, our contact list is superior to what we had before. We’re sending fewer emails – in fact, half of what we used to send before the crisis. But they’re producing better results because the content is what customers are interested in. So, they’re responding with increased conversions, both online and in-store.”
This is vital for a bricks-and-mortar business at the heart of communities all over the country.
“Having a technology platform like Salesforce, and the business intelligence it provides, enables us to create a seamless experience for our customers, empowering them to access Clicks when, where, and how it suits them best,” said van Rooy. “That’s what I call customer choice.”
South Africans trust Clicks to be there for them when they need them, helping to keep families and communities healthy and happy. Clicks is determined to provide products and services that people really need, when they need them, and how they choose to access them, both online and in-store. And personalisation is helping Clicks to make good on its commitment.
“Marketing Cloud enables us to respect our customers, by finding out what really matters to them and then empowering them to make their own choices,” concluded van Rooy.