Santa Pics

An innovative app development and digital campaign that saved Christmas from 2020.


Landing Page Conversion

(Compared to average Landing Page Conversion Rate 2.35%)


Acquisition cost decrease over 4 weeks


Install rate increase over 4 weeks

How it Started (Ideation)

The increase in cases of COVID-19 in 2020 caused the Canadian Government to impose a number of restrictions and lockdowns to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its citizens. With the holidays soon approaching, many families prepared for a Christmas like no other. 

Sharon Knutson, Director of Account Services here at Sherpa and mother of two, lamented about the missed opportunity of taking her kids to get a picture with Santa in 2020 – a family tradition she had carried on since her children were born. She searched for a safe way to bring Santa to families amid the global pandemic and when no viable alternative could be found, she hit on the festive notion of developing an app that used innovative augmented reality technology to let smart-device owners take photos of — or even dance with — a virtual Santa. 

The Process

App Development 

With the help of the talented Development team at First Descent AR, Sherpa Marketing was able to deliver a brand-new application from inception to market in a matter of mere months. Throughout this process, our Software Development team mastered the processes necessary for making a successful app – from creating fully custom augmented reality experiences all the way through to tracking app engagement and measuring success.

Our team's agile process allowed to translate the team’s input into tasks within our sprints and stay focused on the high value deliverables. Our development team also implemented measurability best practices, such as installing Firebase Software Development Kits (SDKs), so that Sherpa’s Digital Marketing team could optimize ad campaigns based on in-app metrics.


App Design and User Experience

Santa Pics uses innovative AR technology to stage lifelike photos and videos with Virtual Santa right from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Users could select different poses or dance moves and add festive props and objects to set the scene for their photo or video with Santa. In-app integrations also allow users to save, share, or order photo prints on-demand. 


Creative Branding

Santa Pics needed a brand identity that brought spirit to the dispirited. Our creative team developed branding that brought cheer, festivity and sweet moments, while integrating the innovative nature of the app. They took a real-life problem, identified and executed a creative and engaging solution that brought impact to parents and families looking for a new way to have their kids meet Santa. Our Creative team made sure that the user experience was easy for all ages and established a visual identity that would stand out from other Christmas themed apps. The Santa Pics color system pushes the envelope of traditional Christmas hues and uses typography that bridges whimsical personality with the modern conventions of user experience.

Flat illustrations were used, detailing the most prominent features of Santa and his winter wonderland to make sure the mood and character would be instantly recognizable.


The Results

Positive Landing Page Activity

After extensive research on best practices, Sherpa built an industry-leading landing page that paved the way for conversions. The landing page solely highlighted the desired CTA and showed users exactly what they could expect via screenshots, how-to videos, and benefit statements.

Measurable elements of this journey, for instance the percentage of app downloads that derived from the Landing Page, helped with on-going optimizations and A/B testing to reach audiences that were most likely to convert. Additionally, integrated measurability, such as the app’s SDK, helped Sherpa to optimize ads based on downloads and in-app behaviour and attribute downloads to ad platforms and specific campaigns / ads. 

28.6% of page traffic clicked through to the App Store


Digital Strategy

Sherpa led the way on a digital campaign for Santa Pics across various search and social marketing channels—driving measurable increases in app downloads, while significantly decreasing the cost per acquisition in a short timeframe. Sherpa used a variety of platforms to reach users, including Facebook, Instagram, Apple App Store, Google SEM, and Influencer marketing. 

Through digital agility and daily optimization, we were able to drastically improve results over an extremely tight timeline. Through increased budgets and adjustments to the pricing strategy, we were able to get enough data to make the right decisions for optimization, which included adjusting the cost per click and helped determine which creative assets would be used. We gained a better understanding of the target audiences and ensured messaging was provided at the right time, in the right place, in the right format. 




Cost per Install decreased by 90% over 4 weeks

(the amount of organic downloads for every paid download) of 2.41 (industry standard is 0.45)

Install rate increased by 5X over 4 weeks

Earned Media  

Sherpa also helped generate excitement and virality for the Santa Pics app through organic social media and networking, which brought along earned media and a subsequent PR plan for the application. Santa Pics was featured on various radio and television programs, such as CTV and Peggy 99.1 FM. The application also generated excitement among North American Influencers looking to work with and promote Santa Pics. 

Our in-depth data analysis of Santa Pics showed many applicable insights, but sharing our secret sauce wouldn't give our client the competitive advantage, would it? If you find yourself saying "Wow, this is exactly what my business needs, how can I get in touch?”, drop us a line at - it could be the start of something great!

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