In our 2012 Digital IQ Index: Beauty, prestige brands Estée Lauder and Lancôme tie for the top spot, beating out 54 other brands across more than 900 data points in four main areas — site, digital marketing, social media, and mobile. Estée Lauder and Lancôme are also the only two brands to be given a “Genius” ranking in this year’s study. Below, we highlight how their sophisticated digital influencer partnerships and best-in-class websites helped them earn the number one position.

For both Estée Lauder and Lancôme, forward thinking digital marketing has propelled them to the top of this year’s charts. For example, both brands have invested heavily in digital influencers. As bloggers and vloggers continue to gain voice and influence, they are further eroding the role of traditional editorial media. Estée Lauder capitalized on the opportunity by bringing on Cupcakes and Cashmere founder Emily Schuman as a guest blogger for their e-commerce site. The partnership connected the more “mature” cosmetics brand with Schuman’s digitally savvy and style-oriented younger fans. The relationship has proven to be mutually beneficial: while Schuman contributes weekly to Estée Lauder content on their owned and social media channels, the brand also supports the blogger’s efforts, such as promoting her recent book launch. In October, Womens Wear Daily reported that Cupcakes and Cashmere is now the number-one referring site to esteelauder.com.

Similarly, Lancôme has continued to leverage its two year old relationship with YouTube makeup artist Michelle Phan to dominate the vlogger-sphere with branded content. Phan’s videos remain the top viewed beauty tutorials on YouTube and while Lancôme reposts some of Phan’s content, her own channel drives significantly more views as shown below:

Both Estée Lauder and Lancôme are also leading the way on the e-commerce front. Lancôme’s recently launched live chat and autoreplenish features earned it the highest site score in the study. Furthermore, Lancôme’s e-commere site adeptly integrates content with commerce — visitors can add multiple items to their shopping cart while watching how-to videos.

Estée Lauder’s site received the highest customer service score with its live chat feature and a 24/7 dedicated phone line. On their site’s live chat, customers can specify the nature of their inquiry and start different windows depending on if they need “need beauty advice/ help with a product” or “have an order inquiry or technical issue.” Customer service is also highlighted during the check-out process. In addition, esteelauder.com features a store locator that helps customers search by specific department stores or by stores with promotions.

For more information on the Digital IQ Index: Beauty, download an excerpt of the report here.

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