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Elf Case Study: TikTok Marketing Lessons For Beauty Brands


Elf TikTok case study

Dances, songs and memes are a few types of videos that go viral on TikTok. But have you ever wondered how a beauty brand becomes a viral sensation on TikTok? The answer lies in finding the perfect marketing mix of organic virality plus a paid marketing strategy that keeps your brand in front of your audience’s eyes, leading to more engagements, more sales, and more success! Our team at House of Marketers, has put together an article to present Elf Cosmetic’s case study, as it’s a pretty interesting one.

Elf Cosmetics has found its share of viral success on TikTok. Not just once, but many times. Over the years, Elf has successfully leveraged TikTok to create buzzworthy campaigns that not only increased their brand visibility but also engaged a new generation of beauty enthusiasts. 

We are going to be discussing how Elf utilised TikTok’s Viral potential by being creative and genuine.. We will also discuss the strategy and the execution behind Elf Cosmetics’ TikTok triumph, offering insights and takeaways for beauty brands looking to harness the power of social media marketing.

Elf Cosmetics – Beauty Brand TikTok Case Study

Elf Cosmetics, which stands for “Eyes Lips Face,” is celebrated for its commitment to inclusivity, innovation, and cruelty-free practices. Since its inception, Elf has focused on making luxurious beauty accessible to all, earning a loyal customer base. Their dedication to high-quality, vegan, and cruelty-free products has made them a favourite among ethically-conscious consumers.

The Strategy Behind Elf’s TikTok Success

Elf Cosmetics’ TikTok success is rooted in several key strategies:

  • Understanding the Platform – TikTok is known for its authentic, creative, and interactive content. Elf recognized this and tailored their approach to fit the platform’s unique style.
  • Creating Engaging Content – Elf’s campaigns focused on creating engaging and shareable content that resonated with TikTok’s audience.
  • Influencer Partnerships – Collaborating with influencers who genuinely connected with their audience helped Elf amplify their reach and credibility.
  • Always-Engaged Strategy –  Maintaining continuous engagement through a mix of organic and paid strategies ensured sustained interest and interaction.

Let’s break down their strategy in detail using their two most famous campaigns as an example. 

Organic Marketing – Creating the Viral Song #EyesLipsFace 

One of the standout moments in Elf’s TikTok journey was the launch of the #EyesLipsFace challenge in October 2019. This campaign was groundbreaking as it was the first time a brand commissioned an original song specifically for a TikTok campaign.

Elf collaborated with Grammy-winning producer iLL Wayno and rising artist Holla FyeSixWun to create a catchy 15-second clip. The song, inspired by the catchy beats popular on TikTok, was designed to be instantly engaging and easy to remember. According to the creators, the goal was to make a song that felt native to TikTok, blending seamlessly with the platform’s organic content.

The campaign strategically tapped popular TikTok influencers, including Brittany Tomlinson (the “kombucha girl”), to promote the challenge. These influencers created and shared videos lip-syncing to the song, encouraging their followers to participate. This strategy effectively leveraged the influencers’ reach and credibility, making the challenge seem organic and relatable.

@avani eyes, lips, face, SAFE &lt3 #eyeslipsface #elfpartner #ad @elfyeah ♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. Safe. e.l.f. Cosmetics – e.l.f. Cosmetics

To further drive engagement, Elf encouraged users to create their own videos using the song and tag them with #EyesLipsFace. The challenge quickly gained traction, with thousands of users participating and creating a cascade of user-generated content.

The #EyesLipsFace challenge was a massive success:

  • Engagement: Generated millions of views, likes, and shares.
  • Reach: Videos tagged with #EyesLipsFace amassed nearly 1.2 billion views.
  • Sales and Conversions: The campaign led to a substantial boost in website traffic and sales.

This campaign not only increased brand visibility but also fostered a sense of community among beauty enthusiasts. Users appreciated the inclusive and creative nature of the challenge, leading to positive feedback and increased brand loyalty.

Elf Cosmetics TikTok Ad Campaign: Always-On Strategy

Following the success of the #EyesLipsFace challenge, Elf Cosmetics continued to produce engaging content on TikTok. In 2022, another campaign was launched on TikTok to build on their previous success.

Elf implemented an always-on strategy that involved continuous engagement through a combination of standard In-Feed Ads and Dynamic Showcase Ads, powered by TikTok’s recommendation engine. This approach allowed for personalised ad targeting at scale, delivering curated experiences to the most relevant audiences.

“We have been able to test and learn on the platform and create a winning formula. Helping us consistently reach out to the TikTok community has allowed us to reach new customers and enabled us to efficiently test our messaging to ultimately drive down acquisition costs.” 

– Patrick O’Keefe, VP Integrated Marketing Communications, e.l.f. Cosmetics.

The centrepiece of the campaign was the #eyeslipsface challenge, which invited users to showcase their creativity by creating makeup looks using Elf products. Elf produced a variety of engaging videos featuring influencers and everyday users. These videos highlighted the versatility of Elf products and encouraged participation in the challenge.

They partnered with popular TikTok influencers who had a strong connection with their audience. These influencers created and shared content that was both authentic and aligned with Elf’s brand image. 

The campaign was executed in phases to maintain momentum and maximise reach. It began with teaser content to build anticipation, followed by the official launch of the challenge. Continuous updates and new content kept the audience engaged throughout the campaign. By adopting a full-funnel strategy, Elf was able to drive efficient acquisition costs and test their messaging effectively. This comprehensive approach allowed them to extend their reach, engage users, and convert them into customers.

The #eyeslipsface campaign was a resounding success, achieving impressive results across various metrics:

  • The challenge generated millions of views, likes, and shares.
  • The campaign reached millions of users, significantly increasing brand awareness.
  • Elf Cosmetics saw a substantial boost in website traffic and sales, as users were inspired to purchase the products featured in the videos.
  • Achieved a 56% reduction in Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA).
  • Achieved a 1.9x conversion click-through rate over benchmark.
  • Conversion CPC was 49% lower than benchmark.

The campaign exceeded its initial objectives, demonstrating the effectiveness of their strategic approach. The campaign fostered a strong sense of community among beauty enthusiasts. Users appreciated the inclusive and creative nature of the challenge, leading to positive feedback and increased brand loyalty.

Elf TikTok Case Study

Source: e.l.f. Cosmetics 

What Makes Elf’s Marketing Strategy Brilliant: Marketing Mix Analysis


Elf’s commitment to high-quality, affordable beauty products is a cornerstone of their brand. Their range of vegan and cruelty-free products appeals to a wide demographic, particularly ethically-conscious consumers.


Elf’s pricing strategy focuses on making luxury beauty accessible to all. By offering professional-quality products at affordable prices, Elf has managed to attract a broad customer base.


Elf’s products are widely available through various channels, including online stores, major retail chains, and their own branded stores. This extensive distribution network ensures that their products are easily accessible to consumers.


Elf’s promotional strategies have evolved significantly over the years. From traditional advertising to leveraging social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Elf has continuously adapted to changing market trends. Their innovative use of TikTok for the #EyesLipsFace challenge is a testament to their ability to stay ahead of the curve.

TikTok Marketing Lessons for Beauty Brands: House of Marketers’ Insights

Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

If your brand has a unique feature or standout quality, make it the focal point of your marketing strategy. For example, Elf’s commitment to cruelty-free and vegan products was prominently featured in their campaigns. Use your USP to differentiate your brand from competitors and create a strong identity.

A well-defined USP helps in creating a distinct brand image that resonates with your target audience. Highlighting your unique qualities can attract like-minded consumers and build brand loyalty.

Authentic Content

Prioritise creating content that resonates deeply with your audience. Authenticity is key. Elf’s success with the #EyesLipsFace challenge was due to its genuine and relatable content. Incorporate user-generated content that feels natural and aligns with your brand’s values. Showcase real people using your products in everyday settings to build trust and relatability.

Think about it, users on TikTok favour content that feels genuine over highly polished ads. Creating content that reflects the spontaneous and authentic nature of TikTok can significantly enhance engagement.

Influencer Partnerships

Partner with influencers who have a strong, genuine connection with their followers. Look for influencers whose values align with your brand. This can amplify your campaign’s reach and credibility. When selecting influencers, consider those who have a history of authentic engagement rather than just a high follower count.

Influencers can drive higher engagement and authenticity. The right influencer partnerships can make your campaign feel more organic and relatable, as seen in Elf’s campaign with Brittany Tomlinson.

Engaging Challenges

Develop interactive challenges that encourage user participation. Challenges like #EyesLipsFace can generate organic content and significantly boost visibility. Ensure the challenge is fun, easy to participate in, and closely tied to your brand.

Interactive challenges can lead to a viral spread of content, as users enjoy participating and sharing their creations. This user-generated content can exponentially increase your campaign’s reach.

FullFunnel Approach

Adopt a full-funnel strategy to drive efficient acquisition costs and test your messaging effectively. Utilise a mix of top-of-funnel awareness campaigns and bottom-of-funnel conversion tactics to nurture and convert leads.

Insight: A comprehensive approach allows you to extend your reach, engage users at different stages of the buying journey, and convert them into customers. Elf’s use of Dynamic Showcase Ads and In-Feed Ads exemplifies this strategy.

AlwaysEngaged Strategy

Maintain continuous engagement with your audience through a mix of organic and paid strategies. Consistently update your content and introduce new elements to keep the audience engaged over time.

Continuous engagement helps sustain interest and interaction, preventing audience fatigue. This strategy was crucial in Elf’s ongoing success on TikTok.

Creating a Community

Focus on building a community around your brand. Encourage user-generated content and actively engage with your audience. Host live Q&A sessions and interactive polls to involve your audience in product development decisions.

A community-driven approach can significantly enhance customer loyalty and create a sense of belonging among your customers. Elf’s interactive approach fostered a strong sense of community among beauty enthusiasts.

Leveraging User Feedback

Actively listen to and act on user feedback to improve your product offerings. Monitor comments and direct messages to gather insights on customer preferences and experiences. Use this feedback to make data-driven decisions and introduce new products that align with customer needs.

Leveraging user feedback helps in making informed decisions and keeps your product offerings relevant and appealing. Elf’s responsiveness to user feedback helped them stay aligned with customer expectations.


The Elf Cosmetics TikTok campaign is a prime example of how to leverage social media to boost brand visibility and engagement. By creating authentic, engaging content and collaborating with influencers, Elf successfully increased brand awareness and drove sales. 

For beauty brands seeking similar success, the strategies and insights highlighted in this case study provide a valuable roadmap. If you’re inspired by the success of Elf Cosmetics and looking to elevate your social media marketing efforts, House of Marketers is here to help. 

Inspired by Elf Cosmetics’ success? Partner with House of Marketers to create impactful influencer campaigns and harness the power of TikTok for your brand. 

Our expertise in crafting authentic, engaging content and leveraging influencer partnerships can help your brand achieve outstanding results. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your brand shine on social media. Let’s make your brand the next viral sensation!