Even though transactional emails see 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email — and can generate 6x more revenue — it’s shocking to see how many companies fall short. In our unboxing blog series we take a look at the transactional emails of the biggest and most popular retailers. Join us to see what’s working, what’s not, and apply these learnings to your own transactional emails.


Seeing What Sephora’s Made of

Sephora is a luxury beauty product retailer with 2,300 stores globally and 430 stores in the Americas. Sephora opened the doors to its first brick-and-mortar store in New York’s Soho neighborhood in 1998 and launched Sephora.com in 1999. Sephora features about 300 brands as well as a private label.

In everything from their logo and masthead, to emails and display ads, Sephora consistently uses a clean and classic white and black design aesthetic with variations on a theme: black and white polka dots, stripes, etc. This look, along with their sans serif typeface, provides a good backdrop for showcasing their colorful makeup and products. Sephora is all about letting the product do the talking, and it’s working.

sephora marketing


The Sephora Purchase Experience

To see how Sephora’s transactional emails size up to their marketing efforts, the MailCharts data team purchased a nail cleanser for $2.00 plus tax and shipping.

From the time of purchase through the first 30 days, Sephora sent us 20 emails, which is just slightly more than the 19 that Birchbox, a direct competitor, sent us.

We’ll take a detailed look at three of those transactional emails here, but to view more from the purchaser journey, as well as timing and delay data, sign up for MailCharts.


The Beauty Insider Welcome Email

sephora email, beauty insider email

Sephora’s welcome email is nicely timed and beautifully designed. We received it right out of the gate, and from the very beginning, they make it clear that they are committed to their Beauty Insider program, which allows customers to earn and redeem points on purchases throughout the year.

Sephora clearly outlines all the perks and benefits of the program and in each section of this email, we know exactly what is happening. In the “Reasons to love” section, they let us know that weekly specials (i.e. more emails) are coming. We also like the “Tell us more” option which means that users will receive better, more personalized recommendations.

Six minutes later, we receive our Order Confirmation email.


An On-Brand Order Confirmation

sephora email

Sticking with the points theme from the welcome email, this email lets us know right from the beginning how many points we’ve earned (notice how it stands out in red).

And, as to be expected with a company like Sephora, beauty is everything, so it makes sense that they drop the word loud and clear in their header copy. The black and white design of this email is also very on-brand for Sephora.

We like the way all of our order details are cleanly laid out. We have the product image, all of our shipping information, payment details, and the last four digits of our credit card as well as the Visa logo. Bravo!

One critique here is that the order total is a bit hidden. On first glance at this email, you might think that your order total was only $2.00 which is visually misleading.

From there, we have the clearly branded app upsell, but the subhead above it reads “Other people are buying,” which leads us to believe that this was either supposed to be a recommended products section or the app callout is simply mislabeled.

The footer is clean and no-fuss, but unfortunately, this email is missing a callout for support. The only callout is a small, gray “Contact us” link at the very bottom.

Eleven hours later, our Shipping Notification email arrives.


A Brief-But-Busy Shipping Notification

sephora email, sephora shipping notification

The same day, we receive our Shipping Notification email. This email does a good job of centralizing all of our information, but in doing so, they’ve made it feel a bit cluttered. The “Estimated delivery” information should not even be included, since there is no data available.

Design-wise, this email would also have benefited from a more developed header. The simple black-on-white gets lost in the mix.

We do, however, like that this email promotes their return policy, which is more helpful than simply repeating the points messaging.


The Sephora Unboxing Experience

sephora packaging

Sephora’s shipping package is pretty simple.

sephora packaging, sephora unboxing

We like that they include a packing slip. This simple inclusion seems to be falling by the wayside in today’s age of shipping giants like Amazon.

sephora unboxing

There’s not a ton of fanfare in the product packaging. For a brand that promotes their luxury appeal as much as Sephora, we feel they could have stepped it up.

sephora product


Sephora does a good job of standing on-brand with their email design and consistent promotional messaging. Their Shipping Notification was slightly busy, but they’re on target in terms of timing and providing us all the information we need in each email.

To see more on Sephora’s email strategies as well as data from 30,000+ other companies, join MailCharts today!