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Sephora holds first sweepstakes on Snapchat to up social clout

Beauty products retailer Sephora is running its first sweepstakes on Snapchat, a photo-sharing application for smartphones and tablets, to build its database of social media followers.

Known for its exceptional presence in digital and mobile, Sephora is one of the first brands to start using Snapchat for promotion. Creating its account for the app in fall of 2014, the beauty products marketer is increasing its exposure by combining Instagram into the contest as well.

“Mobile is the most immediate, personal and highly responsive media there is,” said Jed Alpert, cofounder/CEO of Mobile Commons, a New York-based Upland Software company. “Mobile sweepstakes, in particular, are a strong way of engaging your audience, promoting your brand and attracting new users.

“In this case, Sephora’s use of a mobile sweepstakes combined with the power of a Snapchat image makes it a great choice for their strong brand,” he said.

Mr. Alpert is not affiliated with Sephora or Snapchat, but agreed to comment as an industry expert. Sephora did not comment by press deadline.

Luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A. owns Sephora, which is the world’s leading retail chain selling cosmetics, fragrances and skin and hair care products.

Scenting opportunity
Sephora has created promotional accounts on almost all popular apps and social media, often combining multiple accounts in contests.

In this current sweepstakes, followers are encouraged to add the brand on Snapchat, take a picture of themselves and draw fake eyebrows on the photo through the app’s doodle feature.

The picture should be sent to Sephora’s account on Snapchat and then uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #SephoraSnapsSweeps. Consumers who are interested must follow the beauty retailer on Instagram as well.

The sweepstakes winner will be picked randomly and receive a $500 gift card to shop at any Sephora channel, including retail, online or mobile. The sweepstakes ends on the night of Feb. 27.

Sephora’s Instagram is one of the top 40 brand accounts on the app, with more than 2.3 million followers. It is constantly engaging followers with contests, pictures of new products, celebrities, behind-the-scenes, beauty look-inspiration and a slew of other features.


The brand is likely taking advantage of Snapchat because its more than 200 million users makes this mobile app a useful tool and relatively cost-effective.

Twitter is another social media app that Sephora uses to its advantage. However, its following is only 1.5 million. However, Facebook is by far its most popular social media account with more than 6.3 million likes.

Sephora’s mobile app is another great addition to its mobile marketing strategy. The app allows consumers to shop directly through it, access their rewards account, download coupons and mobile-specific offers and also get inspiration for beauty looks.

There is even a Store Mode feature in the app that customers can turn on whenever they enter a Sephora bricks-and-mortar store. This feature allows users to scan products to see reviews, favorite items they like, access their gift cards and see past purchases. Free advice on skincare, makeup and hair are available as well.

Sephora followed in the footsteps of coffee shop chain Starbucks by adding product recommendations to the app (see more).

“Sephora knows, understands and respects customers,” Mr. Alpert said. “Brands that do these three things well are able to succeed in the digital and in particular mobile space because of the one-to-one, highly personalized nature of the mobile channel.

“Sephora is also known to be fearless with their use of mobile, implementing SMS and mobile apps in a variety of highly successful ways,” he said. “This enthusiasm in fully embracing and utilizing mobile’s range is also, I think, a part of their success.”

Snap shut
Snapchat is an up-and-coming marketing tool that many companies have recently started to capitalize on.

Snapchat released a new feature it named Discover with its latest big update. This allows media companies to post content of their choosing to the app. Users can access a specific article that was chosen by the participating media brands for Snapchat by choosing from a list of icons of these companies.

At this time CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, People, Vice, Yahoo News and Warner Music are the only media brands to take advantage of the recent feature.

Cosmopolitan magazine recently posted an article called “15 Movies You Must Watch Before They Disappear From Netflix Forever.” It is an article that can typically be seen on its Web site or in its print magazine.

By sharing this article on Snapchat, it makes the content accessible to those who might not usually read the magazine. The post is aesthetically pleasing while providing attention-grabbing information. This can draw in potential new readers.

Although not many companies have taken advantage of the Discover feature, more are opting to create accounts on Snapchat.

Rebecca Minkoff, Free People, McDonald’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Honda’s Acura and Heineken are just a few of the many brands that have recently opted for Snapchat promotion.

Snapchat is increasingly on the radar marketers. However, campaigns on Snapchat must be executed carefully to avoid antagonizing users.

“This type of marketing will be successful for Sephora because they know and understand their customers,” Mr. Alpert said. “It is relevant, helpful and engaging.

“When brands achieve those criteria, they will be successful,” he said. “Sephora is also engaging in the unfolding narrative that we see, time and again: that of organizations and brands that have higher success rates when they choose to incorporate mobile into their marketing outreach.”

Final Take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer, New York.