Snapchat boasts more than 300 million daily active users. And it doesn’t look like it’ll be shrinking anytime soon. The platform has experienced a 20% year-on-year increase. This makes it a powerful social media app that can be harnessed by ecommerce businesses to boost their advertising reach and level up profits.
What is Snapchat and why does it matter for businesses?
Snapchat is a social media tool that allows its users to share pictures and messages that disappear after 10 seconds (private messages) or 24 hours (Snapchat Stories). The messages have been dubbed “snaps,” and they’re a fast way for people to stay in touch with friends through a mostly visual medium.
Snapchat has a huge userbase of Gen Zers and the younger end of millennials—in fact, 71% of Snapchat users are under 34, and 45% are between the ages of 18 and 24. While it’s known for its disappearing messages, the platform also has plenty of advertising features that let brands increase their visibility, gain traffic, and increase conversions, such as dynamic ads, localized sponsored lenses, and Snap Stories. There’s also a wide variety of calls to action (CTAs) that serve different goals.
Perhaps the best thing about Snapchat is its high engagement levels.
The average user spends at least 30 minutes on the app at a time, and the most popular reasons for use include shopping and socializing.
And, when it comes to shopping, 60% of users are likely to make an impulse purchase while on the app, four in 10 claim to have discovered a new brand while snapping, and 35% send snaps of products they’d like to purchase, giving brands more visibility and a wider reach.
The pros and cons of using Snapchat to advertise
Like with any platform, there are pros and cons of using Snapchat you should know about before diving in. For example, it might not be the best platform if you want to reach boomers, but if you’re looking to build an audience of engaged Gen Zers, go right ahead.
The pros of Snapchat for business
- Driving traffic to your site: you can add links to your website in Snapchat Stories to direct users to specific product pages or landing pages
- Resonating with users: Snapchat content tends to be more personal and authentic, allowing you to connect on a deeper level with your target audience
- Communicating with followers directly: the ability to respond to Stories and ads means you can encourage direct conversations with your Snapchat followers
- Reaching a young audience: Snapchat’s audience leans heavily on the younger side (who’s spending power reached $143 billion last year)
- Facing a low barrier to entry: it’s easy to get started both logistically and monetarily (follow these steps)—you can create an account, set up payment methods, and make sure your pixel is firing in minutes
- Using the platform with ease: Snapchat’s built-in ads manager is easy to use with a simple, intuitive interface
The cons of Snapchat for business
- Getting a smaller audience: while Snapchat does have a sizeable user base, it’s not quite as big as other platforms like Facebook and Instagram
- Dealing with time restraints: videos can only be 10 seconds long, and automatically disappear after 24 hours
- Resharing content isn’t simple: there’s no “re-gram” button on Snapchat, making it difficult to share customer-created content and celebrate your fans
- Parsing subpar analytics: Snapchat’s analytics aren’t as dynamic or comprehensive as those of other platforms, which can make it tricky to track how well your ads and content are performing
Best practices for making money on Snapchat
1. Understand your audience
Knowing your target market is crucial for advertising success on any platform, not just Snapchat. But it’s worth exploring who your potential customers are on Snapchat and what they’re most likely to engage with.
Do this by researching what your competitors are doing on the platform: Are they sharing product-focused Snaps or do their ads have more of a lifestyle feel to them? You can also use data sourced from your website analytics, ecommerce metrics, and other social media platforms to determine what your customers want and need.
Here’s a quick guide to understanding your audience:
- Drill into web analytics, social media analytics, and buying data.
- Create a survey or generate feedback from existing customers.
- Research what your biggest competitors are doing on Snapchat.
- Build a list of customer personas you can target with your ads.
2. Partner with influencers or create an affiliate program
Snapchat is hit and miss for influencers. There’s been some backlash from content creators because the platform doesn’t provide the community with as much support or features as other social media platforms. However, partnering with relevant accounts to promote your products can be a great way to reach a new audience through a pre-trusted source.
Alternatively, you can try affiliate marketing by giving your customers and influencers a special link they can share with their audience that lands them a chunk of commission if they make a sale through that link.
Amazon Echo partnered with influencer Joshua Peck to promote its product.
3. Use geofilters to capture local users
If you’re trying to attract a local audience to your brick-and-mortar store or would like to expand your reach to a specific town or city, use Snapchat’s geofilters:
- Toggle your Location Services to On for the Snapchat app
- Tap the settings cog in Snapchat and choose the Manage option
- Toggle Snapchat Filters on, which will enable geofilters
This can be a particularly effective way to serve location-specific ads to users. For example, you can run a discount for shoppers in Atlanta or drive customers to your physical store in New York.
Clothing brand Everlane uses the LA geofilter in its Snaps.
4. Create descriptive ads
Snapchat users are hesitant to leave the app. They want to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into before they navigate away from their Snapchat inbox. As such, it’s important that you get descriptive with your ads. Describe what shoppers will get if they click through, encourage them with a discount, and make sure they know exactly where they’re going to be redirected to if they decide to swipe up.
5. Get to the point
You only have a limited time to hook users—10 seconds to be precise. In that time, you need to explain what your ad is about, who you are, and why someone should click through or take action. That’s a lot to squeeze into a couple of seconds.
For this reason, you need to get to the point ASAP. The first couple of seconds really count on Snapchat, so make sure they’re working hard for you.
Postmates is very clear about what it wants viewers to do.
6. Showcase your product straight away
If you’re advertising a product, make sure it’s visible or mentioned as soon as possible in your ads. Snapchat users don’t want to have to guess what you’re advertising—if they have to, there’s a good chance they’ll swipe to the next story and forget about you completely.
The younger generation of consumers craves clear, concise communication from brands they buy from. Do this by showcasing your product immediately, and offer a discount in the first few seconds, if you have one available.
e.l.f. Cosmetics kicks its ads off with a handful of products, which has led to a 20% increase in site visits.
7. Leverage UGC
Fifty-five percent of consumers trust user generated content (UGC) over any other form of advertising, and 71% agree that UGC makes them feel more secure in their purchasing decisions. The organic nature of Snapchat lends itself perfectly to customer-created content like reviews, customer videos, and photos.
Incorporate UGC into your Snapchat ads to create an intimate vibe and give potential customers the chance to hear the experiences of past shoppers.
Moitié used content created by its customers in its ads to reach a wider audience of Gen Zers and millennials.
8. Create a sense of urgency
Just to reiterate, you have just 10 seconds to get the attention of Snapchat users. Creating a sense of urgency by incorporating a countdown timer or running a limited-time offer can activate fear of missing out (FOMO) and give shoppers the nudge they need to act.
Danish brand Matas promoted a limited-time discount during Black Friday.
9. Make sure ads work with sound off
Snapchat has claimed in the past that two-thirds of users view content with their sound turned on, but don’t rely on this information. Further research shows that the app is regularly used on the go, which shows that people are snatching short moments of time on it while on the bus, waiting for their coffee to brew, or while queuing at the post office.
It makes sense to create ads that work with the sound both on and off. One of the easiest ways to do this is to add subtitles or auto-captions to your ads so people who are listening with the sound off can still understand what’s going on.
10. Keep a close eye on budget
Snapchat requires a minimum ad spend of $5 a day. Clicks and impressions costs vary for different industries (and for the different types of ads), but if you set your target budget from the outset, Snapchat will keep your bidding to that amount.
Keeping a close eye on your budget will ensure you understand where your money is going and allow you to see which ads are getting you the biggest ROI.
11. Test, tweak, and try again
You may not get Snapchat ads right the first time. A young audience is picky about the content it consumes and the brands it’ll listen to, so it’s worth spending some time experimenting with different ad formats. Continue to monitor how your ads are performing and tweak upcoming campaigns to align with the results you’re getting.
The more you tweak and test, the better your ads will become and the quicker you’ll be able to reach your audience.
How to make money on Snapchat
Snapchat is a powerhouse of an app and relatively untapped by brands and influencers. If you’re looking for ways to make money online with your Snapchat account, these tips and best practices will get you off to a good start.
Make sure you understand your audience and the type of content that performs well on Snapchat, and don’t be afraid to get creative. The app has a wide variety of filters and creative elements you can use to connect with your audience and drive sales.
Need an extra dose of creative inspiration? Read What to Post on Snapchat: 21 Fun and Creative Ideas.