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Sephora incentivizes app downloads with Black Friday sneak peeks

Sephora is driving downloads of its mobile application by taking to Snapchat to advertise exclusive first looks at doorbuster deals that are visible to app users several days before sales hit stores.

The cosmetics retailer surprised its Snapchat followers this past weekend by showcasing some of the products included in this year?s Black Friday deals. However, to unlock the full sneak peek, users were asked to visit the Sephora To Go mobile app or download it if they have not yet already, proving that Sephora is ready to give back to loyal customers by way of exclusive content.

?The success of a mobile app depends on the retailer?s ability to inspire its customers to take the first step to download the app,? said David Naumann, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. ?While there is no surefire approach to get consumers to download apps, Sephora is clever to leverage other social media platforms like Snapchat to promote the benefits of the app.

?Snapchat users are primarily women under the age of 35, which is a perfect target audience for Sephora.?

Marketing across social
Sephora is employing a cross-channel approach when it comes to marketing its holiday deals this season. This past weekend, Snapchat users who watched the brand?s public Story were able to view some of the must-have items scheduled to be on sale later this week.

The Story teased fans by showing a Snap claiming how much Sephora loves its followers. Later, as the Story progressed, consumers saw snippets and slow-motion clips of products strewn across a countertop.

These products will be part of Sephora?s Black Friday offerings. Some of the featured items included Sephora?s own face masks and lip glosses, Cover FX primer kits and Buxom makeup sets.

The final part of the Snapchat Story advised viewers to download the Sephora To Go mobile app if they were interested in seeing the rest of the retailer?s limited time $10 beauty deals. A download link was included as an ultimate call-to-action.

This strategy is a prime example showcasing the power of pre-shopping on mobile before major sale days. Sephora fans who were considering stopping by a bricks-and-mortar location over Thanksgiving weekend may now cement that visit into their plans, especially if they caught a glimpse of a desired beauty doorbuster deal.

?Black Friday is an uber-promoted shopping day and it is challenging for retailers to get noticed among the flurry of promotional campaigns,? Mr. Naumann said. ?Retailers need a multimedia approach for their Black Friday campaign to do whatever they can to cut through the cutter, and social media is a cost-effective way to deliver a message that has the potential to spread virally across the networks of their loyal fans.?

Furthermore, Sephora will undoubtedly experience an uptick in app downloads. Some of its Snapchat followers who had not yet downloaded the Sephora To Go app had a strong incentive to do so.

These types of loyalty-based campaigns generally resonate well with customers, because they display the retailer's willingness to offer exclusive content and a heads-up on sought-after promotions to them before the rest of the public.

Fueling app usage
Once consumers download the Sephora To Go app, a small banner will appear at the top of the screen, prompting them to click to view Black Friday deals. The app then takes users to a new landing page, where they can scroll through the various cosmetics sets that will be offered for $10 on Black Friday.

Some of the products included are a Tarte cheek set, Make Up For Ever waterproof eyeliner set, Nest fragrances eau de parfum rollerball trio and a set of three Sephora face masks.

After perusing the upcoming deals, customers may also be inspired to explore the app?s other features, which include full product inventory for purchasing as well as tutorials for various makeup trends, such as contouring.

The cosmetics retailer has been making one of the strongest pushes for mobile in its industry this year.

Another one of Sephora?s newest retail concepts is a Paris-based bricks-and-mortar connected boutique that creates a disruptive shopping experience via interactive in-store tablets, phone-charging stations and a selfie mirror (see story).

?Offering a special deal or coupon would create added incentive for customers to download the Sephora mobile app,? Mr. Naumann said. ?Making apps very compelling with value-added features and exclusive deals is critical to get consumers to download another app to their already overly-crowded screens.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York