When I first came across Snapchat, I dismissed it as yet another messaging app that would quickly fade away into oblivion. It seemed like a silly app for kids to share their debauchery without the consequences. You send a text, photo, or video to friends and they can see it for 10 seconds before it’s automatically erased forever. You never need to worry about those incriminating pictures showing up online.

Yet, Snapchat has grown into something more. It’s become a way to broadcast your messages to a group of people without overwhelming their inboxes. In the few years it has been around, it has already grown to almost 200 million monthly active users!

[Tweet “Snapchat has 200 million users. Are you marketing your #eCommerce store to them yet?”]

What’s really special about Snapchat, and this sets it apart from the big social networks, is how it can totally capture someone’s attention. On the Twitter and Facebook activity streams, there’s just so much going on that most people just glaze over your marketing messages. On Snapchat, users know that your message lasts only 10 seconds before it’s gone forever, so you have their undivided attention for that time.

Sure, their user base consists mostly of young people, with 77% of college students saying they regularly use Snapchat, but if your eCommerce store is targeting that market then you have a potential goldmine in your hands. In fact, 58% of college students say they will buy something from a brand if it sent them a coupon via Snapchat.

[Tweet “58% of college students say they’ll buy from a brand if they were sent a coupon on Snapchat.“]

Ok so basically Snapchat is starting to look like a marketing channel with a large number of users, most of whom are engaged and willing to give you at least 10 seconds of their time to view your promotions and buy from you. On top of that, it’s completely free to use and you don’t need to pay for ads. It’s like email on steroids! Sounds like a dream, right?

In this post we’ll take a look at some savvy eCommerce stores creatively marketing their products on Snapchat, and how you can use it to growth hack your own store.

Case Study #1: 16 Handles

16 Handles is a frozen yogurt brand and probably the first to use Snapchat to market their products. As part of their “Snappy New Year” campaign on Jan 1st, 2013, they asked customers to take pics of themselves eating the frozen yogurt and send it to the company’s Snapchat account. In return, participants received a discount for their next purchase.

The campaign was a success and within a couple of days, they had already exchanged over 1,400 snaps with their followers. Followers got discounts on their favourite frozen yogurt, and 16 Handles found a way to generate repeat business from customers while keeping them engaged and happy.

Key Takeaway – 16 Handles didn’t just send out discounts to every follower. They first engaged them by asking them to send in pictures. This meant that only the most interested people took part in the campaign, and they were rewarded with a discount.

Case Study #2: NARS

NARS is a cosmetics retailer with a cool Twitter and Instagram handle – narsissist. Get it? NARSissist.

As part of a campaign to drum up some buzz around their new Guy Bourdin cosmetics collection, they decided to do a sneak peak on Snapchat. First, they used their large Twitter and Instagram accounts to drive traffic to their Snapchat account.

NARS snapchat growth hack

This resulted in a whole bunch of followers on their Snapchat account, from people who were curious about this special announcement. The FOMO is strong in this one!

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At exactly 12PM EST, NARS sent out a 3-second video snap to all their new friends. The feedback was very positive, with people praising NARS for their creativity. Ultimately, the campaign was a success because it generated a lot of buzz and intrigue around the new products.

Key Takeaway – Getting started on a new social network is always a pain because you need to build and nurture your following from scratch. For most brands, this is an instant turn-off and they don’t bother starting. However, NARS was smart about it, and they used their existing followers on other networks to kickstart growth on Snapchat.

Case Study #3: Wet Seal

Wet Seal is a teen clothing retailer, which means that Snapchat is the perfect marketing channel for them. When they started out they wanted to grow a large following quickly, so they enlisted the help of a… Wait for it… A 16-year old!

The teen they brought on was actually an online influencer who went by the name of MissMeghanMakeup. She had over 200,000 Youtube subscribers, 49,000 Twitter followers, and 101,000 Instagram followers. Meghan took over Wet Seal’s account for two days and documented her life using Snapchat’s story feature. Stories are snaps that can be tied together and last for 24 hours.

At the end of the two days, Meghan had added 9,000 new followers to the account. This gave Wet Seal a large base to promote products to.

Key Takeaway – If you can’t attract followers to your account, ride the popularity of an online influencer in your industry. As brand associates, they call leverage their existing following and introduce your products to a new audience.

More Growth Hack Ideas


Consumers love promotions. Every time you have a sale going on, send your Snapchat followers a coupon. Flash sales work great because they are unexpected. Customers don’t know when the next one will come around so they’ll want to cash in on the short-lived coupon you just sent them.


Like 16 Handles, you too can run your own contests on Snapchat. This is a great way to get followers engaging with your brand and sending you snaps, instead of just the other way around. More engagement means more loyalty, and you can reward that loyalty by sending them more discounts on your products.

Sneak Peaks and Announcements

It’s painful to launch a new product line that you’re excited about only to hear crickets. Like NARS, you can send a sneak peak to your followers and get them excited about what’s coming. At the same time, you can also build your following by letting people know on other social networks that you have exclusive sneak peaks only on Snapchat.


People love stories. By telling your story through Snapchat, and sending followers photos and videos of what goes on behind the scenes of your brand, customers will start to trust you more. Show them who your team members are, or what goes on in your factories.

It’s Time To Growth Hack

Now’s the best time to leverage Snapchat while it’s still quite young and not a mainstream app like Facebook or Twitter. As you’ve seen in the case studies above, a few savvy brands have already started running creative, zero-cost campaigns on it. However, it’s still not a crowded with brands and promotions like the other social networks, so chances are you could be the first in your industry to take advantage of it if you started now.

Have you had any success with marketing campaigns on Snapchat? If so, let us know in the comments.

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