What Brands Need to Know: How to Drive Conversions & Sales

Oct 20, 2021 3:00 pm4:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

How do you create an authentic relationship between the brand and influencer that translates to consumers? Is there a way to generate reviews and ratings while establishing consumer trust to scale and grow your brand?

There is a massive push for influencer and affiliate marketing programs — with good reason. All marketers should spend money on an affiliate program and an influencer to promote and scale their brand. Why? They create the consumer experience built on authentic, trustworthy, and knowledgeable information across platforms.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Katherine Barnes, Senior Customer Success Manager at Mavrck, Jade Sandford, Program Coordinator at Mavrck, and Madison Altman, Marketing Associate at Mavrck, to explain the power of the digital consumer experience to drive results and sales. They discuss why brands need to be open to evolving digital strategies to reach consumers, the importance of consumer reviews and affiliate programs, and what it looks like to run an affiliate marketing campaign.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

 

  • Jade Sandford introduces Mavrck and the importance of targeting audiences for greater ROI
  • Katherine Barnes discusses influencer space and why that is crucial in today’s market
  • Why you should create a simpatico relationship between the brand, influencer, and consumer
  • Being open to pivoting strategy and creating content to engage in the consumer journey
  • The importance of choosing relevant content based on platform preference to target consumers
  • Ways to capitalize on your audience through reviews and ratings
  • What are the three main elements used to increase eCommerce conversion?
  • Is there a structure for working with an influencer?
  • Why you should incorporate ratings and reviews into your marketing strategy
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Event Partners

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jade Sandford

Program Coordinator at Mavrck

Jade Sandford is the Program Coordinator at Mavrck. She began her career in communications at Fluent PR after graduating from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Media Studies.

Katherine Barnes

Senior Customer Success Manager at Mavrck

Katherine Barnes is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Mavrck, an influencer marketing platform. Her work with Mavrk has scaled her experience with sales, relationship management, negotiation, and a focus on renewals and strategic scalability. She graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree.

Madison Altman

Marketing Associate at Mavrck

Madison Altman is a Marketing Associate at Mavrck. She graduated from Union College with a degree in Sociology and used her experience of understanding human behavior to launch her career in marketing. She has worked for Ame & Lulu, 305 Fitness, and Asquith Corporation as an intern to help hone her research and communication skills.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jade Sandford

Program Coordinator at Mavrck

Jade Sandford is the Program Coordinator at Mavrck. She began her career in communications at Fluent PR after graduating from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Media Studies.

Katherine Barnes

Senior Customer Success Manager at Mavrck

Katherine Barnes is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Mavrck, an influencer marketing platform. Her work with Mavrk has scaled her experience with sales, relationship management, negotiation, and a focus on renewals and strategic scalability. She graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree.

Madison Altman

Marketing Associate at Mavrck

Madison Altman is a Marketing Associate at Mavrck. She graduated from Union College with a degree in Sociology and used her experience of understanding human behavior to launch her career in marketing. She has worked for Ame & Lulu, 305 Fitness, and Asquith Corporation as an intern to help hone her research and communication skills.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

What's up everybody, my name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder Managing Director at BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge-sharing group with 1000s of individuals who do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it might be that’s shaping the digital landscape. Today, I talk with 30 plus brands a week just to stay on top of those trends more than happy to connect with anybody after the call today set up some time to chat. We don't sell anything here, BWG Connect, but more than happy to network knowledge, share connect with other people in the space, but that might be looking at the same pain points or problems or strategies you are and let you collaborate with them. A couple house housekeeping items as we get started here. Number one, we're starting at three to four minutes after the hour. And just you know, we're going to wrap up before the end of the hour as well. So just know, we're not going to be running in and pushing up close to 4pm Eastern time, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. There'll be other people that join along the way I'll just keep admitting them as they come in. But just you know, a quick note that you have any questions along the way we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time you have questions, just you know, unmute jump in ask a question. Or you can always just email me Aaron Aaron@bwgconnect.com if you can't come off mute just know a lot of people working at home may have some background noise. But just email me Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. And so with that, I think we're going to go ahead and kick off the call today. So as I noted, you know, just talking with a lot of brands every week to kind of get a pulse on you know, digital trends and strategies, what they're looking at. And you know, a huge focus right now across the board on direct to consumer. And with that, there's been a lot of issues that people have had with the iOS 14.5 update, people looking for top of funnel, you know, things that are happening with Facebook, ad targeting and everything else. And so a lot of questions right now around driving traffic to the site. But then also conversion in sales once you have them there. And so, you know, we got some great friends, great partners and supporters of the network. They're working with a lot of different brands in the network and come highly recommended for their expertise in this area. And just, you know, super excited to have them kind of walk through and kind of a knowledge, sharing fashion as a whole, you know, what they see taking place, how they're helping people out with leaders in the category are doing. And just a reminder, you have questions along the way, we're here to get as many of those answered as possible. So, you know, you know, I think maybe if we kick it over to Katherine, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Mavrck and you know, then we can kick it over to Jade, who I think is going to kind of walk through some of the content we have. Does that sound good?

Katherine Barnes  3:04

Yeah, actually, that's in reverse. I will kick it over to Jade. She's gonna give a quick introduction of Mavrck and then I will jump into some of the slides we have for today.

Jade Sandford 3:13

Awesome already. Yeah, love it. Make sure my There we go. Hi. Um, so I am Jade Sanford. I'm a Program Manager here at Mavrck. And then I'm joined by Katherine Barnes, who was one of our Senior Customer Success Managers. And we both work alongside clients to kind of strategize and launch influencer campaigns using the Mavrck platform. So if you are not familiar with Mavrck, there we go. We are a social proof platform, essentially, that's kind of how we like to position ourselves. And we allow, sorry, we're an all-in-one influencer marketing platform that helps enterprise brands promote, automate and scale their social proof programs. So we work with influencers across the spectrum of influences, as we call it. So there's macro-micro advocates, loyalists and employees so that they can create content, amplify and syndicate that content, sample products, write reviews about brands and products. And then we work across many different verticals. And with influencers, an audience of all demographics. We run 1000s of programs across all social networks, which allow brands to reach their target consumers to drive sales where they are. So with that said, I can pass it back to Katherine so that she can get us started.

Katherine Barnes 4:35

Great, thanks to you. So jumping right in, as Aaron mentioned, a lot of conversations right now, especially in the influencer space are driving towards, no pun intended, why conversions are important and how we can be driving more conversions across all different types of programs. So ROI isn't just nice to have any more. As the influencer marketing industry is evolving and changing. I'm sure many of you have been through several evolutions of it, that ROI and those harder metrics are becoming mandatory across the board. So whether that's tracking sales through affiliate programs, ratings, and reviews, looking at historical influencer performance, more brands are demanding both externally and internally a little bit of hard metrics across the board.

Aaron Conant 5:30

I've seen that actually, across the board, right, that almost in 2020, there was this, you know, I know grace period, across the board, I'm multiple levels of digital marketing as a whole. Yeah. Now 2021 Like I love it, it's not a just a nice to have anymore. It is it's mandatory CMO, even CFO CEO is looking at it saying, what's happening? What is the performance look like? Right? What's, what's the ROI?

Katherine Barnes  5:58

I think 2020 You know, was was unprecedented times as we can all say, and though those data points, were a little bit of outliers, as that becomes our new normal, all these buzzwords, you know, we can definitely better predict and better forecast these trends. And we have a better understanding of consumer behavior, what's happening, you know, amid the pandemic time, so yes, certainly 2020 was a little bit more up in the air with regard to what programs we're going to look like and why I think both at the brand level and also within Mavrck as well. Now that we've shifted into 2021, and are almost into 2022, which is insane. We we certainly are seeing this as a hot button issue across the board. No, I agree. Yeah, and just a quote here to really make this hit home real results matter. Now, previously, brands were happy to pour money into influencer programs and get some likes in return, those times are passed and brands now demand real results, sales, etc. From their partnerships, they want real measurement beyond just mothered modest increase in followers influencers need to be able to show those results or brands will find those that can. So again, Aaron, like you mentioned, was was kind of just coasting for a little bit. But now as the influencer industry is getting more and more sophisticated, and it's becoming more and more pertinent for marketing strategies across the board. You know, we're we are living in modern times. And going back to the way things were brick and mortar may not be a thing that happens anytime soon. So we certainly want to make sure that marketing goals that were spread across a variety of different departments are being focused within the influencer space.

Aaron Conant 7:49

Yeah, I mean, it's like at the beginning, when you were just jumping in, what is yours is more sophisticated. Now. Anything that happened was great. And it was almost like just testing in real-time testing and learning. But as soon as you started seeing results, and you had, you know, brands actually putting in plans, right and executing strategies against it, and then getting actual performance out of it that they could measure. That was a whole new level. Right, and then 2020 hits, and you there is this clear gap that came? Right between those that had a strategy, were executing based on KPIs and performance and testing and learning versus those who were just riding along? And now this is, yeah, you aren't just pouring money into influencers

Katherine Barnes 8:33

anymore? Yeah, definitely not. I mean, I will say that there are some brands that take 2020 into consideration. And there are other brands that we work with that say okay, let's Like honestly, just scrap the data. We compare a year two years back to 2019. We've seen it all so of course it varies. It varies just based on the vertical based on the brand, but yes, definitely. Definitely real results matter now.

Aaron Conant 9:00

Awesome. Love it. Love it. And just a reminder, for those who have joined you have any questions along the way you can drop into the chat.

Katherine Barnes  9:06

Wonderful. Great. So jumping into a few different ways to track conversions. Let's make sure we're actually putting this into action. The first is going to be tracking links so no surprise here. I'm sure each of you as consumers have seen a variety of different tracking links through your own Instagram feeds, Pinterest, what have you. tracking links within influencer marketing are going to be unique to each influencer. They're typically shared within captions bios, swipe up links for for example, stories, or during direct links like Pinterest or blogs. These individual tracking links do track conversions attributed to each individual influencer, which we'll dive into a little bit further down the line but really important to have this data on an individualized level. Of course, these help optimize your conversion strategy by identifying these top performers. Something we'll chat about a little bit further down the line is is making sure that we're nourishing these relationships and analyze who's performing best and why? Awesome. Similarly to these tracking links, coupon codes and promo codes, again, they're going to be individual to each creator. To evaluate individualized performance, we typically ask individuals to create their codes with their audiences. Similarly through captions, bios, etc. We can then track this conversion activity both within the platform and offline as well to really get a better sense of which conversions are being driven by who as well as total dollar amounts driven by each Creator as well. Wonderful. So a handful of best practices here for driving conversions with these influencers. First, as I alluded to, we want to make sure that we're working with influencers who are driving results. So top performers who are driving a handful of conversions, as well as looking at that dollar amount, we want to make sure that on a pretty consistent basis, where we're analyzing why these trends are happening, you know, on a quarterly basis, maybe biannual, whatever your brand is most comfortable with that we want to get a better sense of who's driving and what, what's happening behind the scenes. With top performers, we do also want to make sure that we are working with them, again, making sure that we're understanding maybe a nice group of performance. And then also, if we want to level up those relationships, determining a compensation model for future campaigns, you know, maybe that's affiliate programs, which we'll discuss or additional compensation for these influencers.

Aaron Conant 11:40

Yeah, so we will get into affiliate a little bit, because I think that's a major focus right? Brands right now, who don't just want to shell out money for posts, right? It's kind of getting back to that, quote, they don't want to just throw money out there anymore, and hope that something happens, or have that same person promote a competent competitors product the following week, it's been very into them to a performance model. Yeah. Right. And in, you know, how are they driving? How much are they driving, and then compensating them based on that is what you mean by affiliate commission? And

Katherine Barnes  12:12

exactly, yeah, and as much as brands don't want to be throwing dollars just in the air influencers also want to be specific and more particular with who they're partnering with, you know, influencers, I think, especially in 2020, with how much we have all been consuming on our phones and scrolling. They understand their value, they understand their worth. And it's a mutually beneficial relationship. So we want to make sure that that is reflected across all the partnerships and campaigns that we're running. Awesome. Love it. Yes, so again, hear partner with creators for longer-term relationships. So again, we want to make sure that the relationships we have with those top performers are mutually beneficial. Consumers, on average, need to hear a message about five to seven times before they take an action, like purchase or add something to a cart, I know myself as a consumer, I often need to have a message be saturated over and over again, before I actually make a move, because there's so many messages out there. So with that being said, if we're partnering with creators and influencers, who are driving sales and are driving results, we want to make sure that their audience is also seeing these messages over and over again. So it becomes natural, and it feels authentic. That is something that we are always trying to achieve with influencers across the entire spectrum of influence, authenticity, you know, that really is the crux of our industry is being authentic to the consumer. So wanting to make sure that we're partnering with individuals, more than just a one off time creates a more authentic relationship between the brand, the influencer and their consumers.

Aaron Conant 13:50

It really quick question comes in any questions to prevent longer-term campaigns from getting stale?

Katherine Barnes 13:57

Yeah, great question. I think, you know, it really just depends on the vertical and the brand. I think a variety of different types of influencers, whether that's different personas, or different sizes can be great. influencers that we work with on a consistent basis, too, are typically individuals who know what they're doing. This is typically something that they're doing as their full-time job, a macro as, as we would call it. Oftentimes, they're pitching ideas to the brand giving some ideas, you know, whether it's a product one month and a lifestyle shot. There's also a variety of different types of content, as, as you all know, whether that short-form long term, stories, posts, TikTok a lot of different ways for us to shake things up and make sure that it feels authentic and doesn't feel stale with just kind of like a product post like this.

Aaron Conant 14:50

Also, you know, it's interesting because yeah, I like the question because consumers need to see messages five to seven times before they take action like this That's the standard, right? I mean, maybe it's down, he was a seven touches, right in marketing space, maybe pushes down to five. But then I love the questions like, well, if you have a campaign out there, is it that campaign? Or is it the influence? You're touching them? You know, seven times? Or is it? You know, you've got a persona. And so you've matched up across multiple influencers, and you hit the seven times, like, how are people addressing that?

Katherine Barnes  15:23

Yeah, I think again, it really just depends on the brand and where their audience is. We'll touch on that later in the slides. But awesome, that where we're addressing people where where it lands, that's important as well. Awesome. Wonderful. So across the spectrum of influence, as I've alluded to, there's a handful of different types of influencers. There are mega influencers, kind of think of your OG, you know, Kardashians, individuals who have tons and tons of followers very significant reach, we also have macro-micro. And then we also have loyalists, and advocates who are, there's a pyramid of influence that we refer to often a Mavrck, they're, they're more so on the bottom, so they're going to have a smaller reach, they're gonna have a smaller following, but they are going to have a more engaged audience. So we activate across the entire spectrum of influence for a variety of different reasons. You know, macros are really great to activate for certain type of goals versus micros, versus advocates and loyalists, we want to make sure that we are not only tapping into the assumptive, micro and macro, but also these individuals as well, who are already using your brand love, your brand, will be happy to share, you know, their their sentiment, their experience across social, you know, surprise and delight goes a really, really long way with these individuals who, again, are already authentic users. So you know, coupon codes, sharing just product with them for posting is a really great strategy here as well to make sure that we're driving conversions across the board. Great, and then similarly, as I touched on sharing coupons and discount codes, so of course, that lowers the barrier entry, to get consumers to try our products. I know myself, if I see like 10 15% off, I'm more than willing to give it a go. You know, consumers feel like they're taking on less risk if there's a discount or a coupon code. And then also a sense of urgency with regard to maybe putting in parameters with regards to time a discount, or a promotion going on, all the tactics to tap into making consumers move along within the consumer journey. Great. And then similar to what we touched upon a few slides ago, creating content on channels that attract consumers when they're ready to buy. So as mentioned, there's a variety of different types of channels and types of content that can be created. This does vary, per type of influencer. So of course, you know, we all know that Gen Z was very hot to TikTok. To begin with, of course, we want to make sure that if there are brands that are looking to attract for certain personas, age groups, they're hitting on those channels that are most relevant. It really just depends on each brand, you know, long-form in terms of blogs and YouTubes, maybe Pinterest has typically seen a little bit of an older demographic. That's that's always changing within the landscape. I think that's one of the great things about influencer is that nothing is ever set in stone. I think TikTok is a great example of that. We've seen a lot of brick and mortar brands that you wouldn't think would have an active Tiktok have done really, really well and had brought in net new consumers. So want to make sure that we're creating content on channels that are landing, but also being open to pivoting strategy, and looking at the data on a more consistent basis to see you know, if there are areas for new opportunities and new channels to be activating on

Aaron Conant 19:12

there really quick a question comes in a curious if you're seeing more influencer led campaigns initiated via retail-specific platforms versus traditional social media platforms.

Katherine Barnes 19:22

I'm not sure I totally understand that question.

Aaron Conant 19:28

Let me see here. Mike we want to jump in.

Mike 19:31

Yeah, sorry about that. I thought it was more about that. Okay. It first of all, thank thanks for hosting. I'm just wondering if you're actually seeing more campaigns lead, for example, on a walmart.com kroger.com even Amazon versus going through Pinterest, YouTube. Facebook, right.

Katherine Barnes 19:55

Yeah, that's a great question. I think that the type of campaign varies We are seeing the majority of our content creation campaigns being led through the platforms themselves. So Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, if it's a ratings and reviews program, we are seeing those typically be run in syndicated directly to the retailer sites. So hormones.com kroger.com Having those reviews be syndicated. So it does vary, but the majority of our content creation campaigns, where images and content has been created across the board. Those are typically across the social platforms.

Aaron Conant 20:37

So one other question comes through, and it's a flip side of what I was gonna ask you because Pinterest, you know, I'm talking to, you know, 30 plus brands, so we interest is kind of faded a little bit, and yet it pops up here. And I love your your comment, which is, hey, you got to keep an eye on it. Because, you know, basically, things come back around what old was was old is now new. Yeah. But a question comes in, what do you see working for legacy bigger brands, right, that might have been on Pinterest, we're gonna TikTok to help them break through and TikTok is very unique, because, you know, the consumer of content there can sniff out, you know, on authentic content pretty quickly.

Katherine Barnes 21:17

Yeah, totally. Yeah. I mean, Pinterest was just in the news today. I don't know if y'all saw, but it seems like there's some talks between Pinterest and PayPal. I'll let everyone do their own investigation there. But yes, certainly, we work with a large variety of enterprise clients. So individuals at, you know, large CPG holding companies, Fortune 500, those larger, more traditional brands that do have a harder time pivoting, and they want to seem authentic to their consumers and their clientele. I think there's not a one size fits all, with regard to shifting platforms and seeming most authentic. I think it's understanding where their target audience is. And then understanding also edge case. You know, we have a team of strategist here at Mavrck that do help brands, especially those larger brands, pivot their strategies to be more relevant, and to be aware of the trends that we're seeing in the space. But unfortunately, there's not a one strategy that fits all.

Aaron Conant 22:18

But you're seeing you're actively helping these larger legacy, you know, navigate TikTok, definitely, yeah. So it's doable. It's just,

Katherine Barnes 22:29

it's certainly doable, certainly doable, yes. And unnecessary. I mean, that's, that's the nature of our industry, we have to be able to change and pivot and apply strategies, to new platforms for all types of brands, you know, it can't just be trendy brands or brands that are in the mainstream now, awesome.

Aaron Conant 22:48

Are you helping them identify the right influencers in that space, too? Okay, definitely. I mean, I think that's a big thing. People want to make sure that they're getting, you know, the right influencer, targeting the right demographic, and it's tough to just identify that person. So yeah,

Katherine Barnes 23:07

yeah, I mean, you know, there are tons and tons of different types of influencers, you know, let's say with TikTok, just, for example, someone who may be wildly successful in one vertical, we can't just, you know, kind of handpick them and say, Oh, you'll you'll work because you've worked in the past, you want to make sure that they are relevant to your net consumer. So that's definitely something that our team and that our technology can help hone in on.

Jade Sandford  23:30

And I was also going to add that, um, we're also able to kind of leverage the experience of the influencer like this, for a lot of them, this is their full-time job, this is their profession. And so honestly, asking them what they've seen work best, especially for those like large brands that they've, they've obviously done other partnerships. That's also a really good way for those larger traditional companies to kind of pivot and kind of lean on the expertise of the influencers that you're using.

Aaron Conant 23:58

Now, I mean, that's like a key takeaway right there. Right. I mean, you're leveraging influencers, ask them, ask them what's worked in the past, right? They're, they're the resident experts. I love it.

Katherine Barnes  24:13

Cool, showcasing IGC. So influencer-generated content on product pages is some super low-hanging fruit to help drive conversions. Consumers are, as Jade mentioned, consistently, looking for social proof. You know, I know myself, I'm always looking at ratings or reviews or imagery for individuals who live a similar lifestyle as myself or have a same body type or build, to get a better understanding. If I'm purchasing online, especially these days, I'm not not leaving the house often. And so I want to make sure that I get it right the first time. You know, also FOMO is a real thing. We want to make sure that we are continuously leveraging the incredible content that is generated through our partnerships and through our platform and syndicate. Keep that whether that be on product pages, drip campaigns, banner ads, what have you. Additionally, ratings and reviews, as I've mentioned, are a great way to help drive conversions as well. So again, these individuals are typically those who may be a little bit of a lower lift in regard to the spectrum of influence. So maybe those advocates and loyalists who we've given a coupon code to, or we've gifted the product to an exchange for a review, you know, it's a low lift you you already have the product, you know, you have your sparkling water super easy for you to write a review, you already have it in hand, you know, we're not asking them to to do much. So it's an easy win win. And according to Bazaarvoice, super interesting stat here about 128% list and conversion rate when shoppers see other customer reviews and photos. So I know myself, I'm always always looking at at least five or six reviews. Sometimes more depends on the product, and then the price point. But definitely something that is easy, and helps with that conversion left.

Aaron Conant 26:15

Awesome. I'm just gonna jump in quick. You know, for those who are able to join kind of halfway through just having an awesome conversation with the team over at Mavrck, if you have any questions along the way you can drop into the chat, you can unmute and just you know ask the question straight to the group or you can always email me Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com so we want to get as many questions answered as possible. So yeah, keep dropping them in and we'll get them answered. Cool.

Katherine Barnes 26:44

And then finally using affiliate marketing in conjunction with the influencers, so again, influencers have influence 34% of individuals have made purchases based on a post I know myself included, that is, of course, the industry that David and I are n we want to make sure that the relationship that brands are holding with their influencers are mutually beneficial. And these affiliate partnerships allow that to be done. So enticing influencers with additional compensation, it depends on your brand depends on the percentage, you know, there's not a one size fits all but more and more brands are moving towards an affiliate model to support their existing influencer programs.

Jade Sandford 27:26

Thanks, Katherine. Sorry, I jumped the gun on you there I go on ratings and reviews. So diving deeper. I personally like Katherine's mentioned a couple of times, I cannot remember the last time that I bought something without either seeing it on social or hearing someone that I know but like, oh my god, this had such great ratings on Amazon, like I had to buy it. Like I think I say, Oh, I saw this on TikTok at least five times a day, it's actually a problem at this point. And according to Rakuten, that's a pretty common experience. Since eight out of every 10 consumers have purchased something after having seen it as a recommendation by an influencer. I'm generating these reviews and ratings is so important because it's going to build consumer trust. And we found that consumers truly do rely on these reviews as insight into the product or service that they'll receive. So you can also use the content to your advantage. Photos, videos, and other forms of social proof are really great additions to your landing pages. And they can prevent influencers or customers from leaving your site and actually going to find these ratings and reviews on their own. Because we all know, there's no telling what they'll find out there. So going ahead and putting your best foot forward and putting it right in front of them is a really key way to keep them on your landing page. They also offer insight into various points of view regarding your product. So a really great example is that maybe your product or service is geared towards moms specifically. But it also works for a teacher. And so having a teacher write a review, and then provide a different perspective or a new way to use your product that maybe you hadn't thought of or you just didn't have the resources to capitalize on is a really great way of opening up your audience. No, I love it.

Aaron Conant 29:11

You know as another like key takeaway there is leverage that because you don't want them to leave the site. But I do that all the time. If I can't find it on the site. Right? I will go Google and try to find out, you know, additional content. So no, I love it.

Jade Sandford 29:26

Oh, every time I'll find a product, and I'll be like, Okay, let me see. And the first place that goes Instagram or TikTok. And I'm like, who's talking about this? Yeah, but can I find a coupon code like something along the lines?

Aaron Conant 29:36

Yep. And then they're off your site, and then you don't know maybe they find something else, right? They get distracted. They don't buy it now. Love it. Awesome. It's funny how all these things blend together, right? Because sometimes the question is, well, how does it really help drive conversion? Well, in multiple ways, right? It's not just providing the information but it's providing the information there at the point of purchase rather than that Having them leave. So it's this is like Digital 2.0. That's where I, I feel like we're really getting to, like quicker than then than we thought we would, which is the next level, it's not just having influencers or affiliates or creating the content, it is all of that and then utilizing it in, you know, to the fullest extent of its value, which is, you know, more than just repurposing it for an ad or more than just repurposing it on your site, but also using it in the ratings review sections. It's, it's awesome.

Jade Sandford 30:35

And I think that's that added layer that Katherine mentioned earlier is that like, especially after last year, like it's not enough to just dump money into these things, like, I feel like marketers really had to like dig deep and be like, Okay, where can I get the most value out of this, especially as so many companies are struggling right now. And so there's been a lot of like, very nuanced and specific ways that we've been able to, like, get extra value out of these campaigns and

Katherine Barnes 30:58

initiatives that are running. Yeah, there's certainly a method to the madness and watch out for those brands that are, you know, not only putting content on their product pages, but also supplementing them with ratings and reviews, double whammy there.

Aaron Conant 31:13

Well, you in there, a lot of people sit back and say, Hey, how do these brands, you know, small brands take off and crush it? They're utilizing this, they're digitally native, it's just natural to them. And I think even larger brands are now learning, you know, how quickly they must test and learn and pivot. And, you know, look beyond just checkmark, you know, checking the boxes. Yes. full-blown strategy. I love it.

Jade Sandford 31:39

Awesome. So let's diamond some of those key benefits, there's going to be three main ones that you're kind of looking for, to grasp out of kind of a new program. The first is that we're going to increase eCommerce conversions. And right, that's, that's almost the goal of everything that we do. That's why we're all here. That's why we all have jobs. And so Bazaarvoice has found that leveraging influencer, and consumer reviews can actually increase conversion by up to 138%. And then we also want to increase eCommerce conversion value. So 159% lift per shopper was found when visiting a product page that had reviews. So essentially, like we kind of touched on more reviews is going to lead to more of those purchases. And three, our brand lift and trust on the circles back, we talked about how consumers really rely on the opinions of others to help them make decisions. And 92% of consumers are going to trust recommendations from other people, even if they don't know them. Like I don't need to know Kathy from Ohio, who bought this last Tuesday, but I trust that she loved it. And I'm going to buy. Yep. Okay, and so earlier, I did also mention using social proof across your entire customer experience. So just wanted to touch on a few key places that you can do that. Obviously, we did mention, like the ratings and reviews being included. But you can also leverage UGC or user-generated content for product photos. And like we've all seen like the really nicely curated white background product images from every single angle, and there's 20 of them. And those are nice, those are fantastic. But they don't show real-world usability. So incorporating UGC can actually increase conversion rates by 40%. Because a customer can picture what this is going to look like when they take it to the park when they have it sitting on their desk when it's in their kitchen. And then I mentioned the reviews and ratings. Amazon is a super great example of this. They do an incredible job. And it actually does increase your conversion rates by 30%. And then also the sharing links and promo codes that Katherine touched on. Having those with creators and influencers is going to help drive converting traffic. Because like Katherine mentioned, if we have a 10 to 15% off coupon, we're much more likely to take the risk and try that new product. Awesome. So now let's kind of pivot that into affiliate and influencer marketing. So in 2018, affiliate marketing was a $12 billion industry and that was pre-pandemic, right. So over the last year, we've seen even more so the importance and the effects that influencers can have on marketing. And so this industry has only continued to grow. So now more than 80% of brands have an affiliate program. When we combine that with the influencer industry, that's estimated at $13 billion. We're looking at a combined $25 billion marketing or market that like is impossible to ignore at this point. So for anyone who is completely new to affiliate marketing, it's the process of earning commission by promoting a company's products. And then the important distinction that I like to make between influencers and affiliates is that affiliates don't necessarily have to have a large following. So loyalists and brand super fans advocates, as Katherine called them make great affiliates because they're already invested, they're already brand loyal. They're already telling people about your brand about your product about your company. And so they are super authentic and have very engaged, what audience they do have is super engaged. So you can think of like the superfans as like, an your sister who was like absolutely in love with a purse company or the person who will exclusively shop at Target and will not buy things anywhere else. Those are the brand loyalists. And from a high-level perspective, affiliate marketing has three key components. You obviously are the merchant, or brand with a product or service and a budget that you're comfortable with. And then there's also going to be a publisher. So that's the affiliate, the influencer, the loyalist. This can even be a website or a media outlet, Buzzfeed does a really great job of affiliating with brands. So a lot of the, you know, the BuzzFeed top five cheeses this month or something like that, like a lot of those are going to be affiliate links, they do make commission off of those. And then you're also going to have an affiliate vendor. And so this is going to be the platform of your choosing. There are a ton of them out there. That connects your brand to the affiliate, and they create links and coupons and then track conversions and payouts. The key that's really going to tie reviews and ratings to influencer marketing is that influencers and creators are your new publishers. A large scale example of this is kind of the TikTok phenomenon and the number of products that have just completely flown off of shelves because TikTok told you to buy it. There are literally full hashtags with billions and billions of views and videos that are literally just Amazon but Amazon finds on TikTok that you need to buy. Personally, I just bought a pair of jeans like two weeks ago, and I have not bought Walmart jeans in forever. My 16-year-old soul was cringing a little bit because I bought Walmart jeans. But this influencer on my 40 page who has a similar bill as me, who has a similar budget as me who has a similar lifestyle as me said that they were fantastic. And I said, Okay, take my money.

Katherine Barnes 37:26

Yeah, Jade, I think that's a great point, I think, you know, can be as direct as a pair of jeans, but also thinking recently about the salmon lunch trend, you know, that's not necessarily a direct product, but that's a behavior and that's a, you know, an entire meal that individuals are being influenced by and continuing to influence on other individuals. So it's, it can be a little bit more subliminal than just direct to a brand brands product.

Aaron Conant 37:58

Like, velocity is like the story behind it as well, right? It's a you get something new, it's like, Hey, I found these at Walmart. It is Hey, you don't believe this? I am born jeans and forever, but I was gonna take Thai feet. I saw these like, wow, I gotta go buy it. Like that's worth it. I mean, that's, that's conversational. Right. And so

Jade Sandford 38:20

it's well in and Katherine mentioned FOMO earlier, like it is just the everyone's wearing these jeans, you go to a concert everyone has jeans on, it's like, Aha, I want those jeans like and so TikTok has made these things, these trends just absolutely blow up and they're massive. And now it's like, I want to be a

Katherine Barnes 38:38

part of that. Yeah, I think the omnichannel effect of this as well to where, for example, Abercrombie and Fitch, they've come out with these 90s pair of jeans, which is painful for me to hear that they're calling it that, but besides the point, you know, they're they're trending on TikTok. I also listen to a podcast where this host had mentioned that she tried them on and she loved them. And it wasn't a sponsored post and she just mentioned that they were trending within her feed. And you know, it's it's just follow these messages that you're hearing left and right from different types of mediums, whether that's on your personal feed, a podcast or you know, a friend tells you word of mouth, it is everywhere, and it is continuously saturating across the board. So super interesting.

Jade Sandford 39:25

100% Awesome. Okay, so I know earlier, I did mention that your affiliates don't have to be influencers. But there are some like very key benefits to combining your affiliate program with an influencer campaign outside of the fact that it's like a two birds in one stone situation. But the first of those is going to be that you know, you can expect high-quality content. There are so many people now whose full-time jobs is to be an influencer. All they do is work with brands and create content and post it on social and so they have the flexibility and the expertise to deliver crispy And the season really compelling stories. And then the structure of an influencer campaign also allows you to provide specific must-hit messaging and really control more of that narrative. Whereas if you're working with kind of these smaller advocates loyalists, you're really at the mercy of what they like best about your brand. And while that's great, you might have a very specific goal in mind that that messaging isn't going to hit. And then influencers can also have the experience to be able to incorporate that language more conversationally and authentically like you know, when someone is trying to sell you something. And so that comes out a little bit more if you don't have that like brand training, and that media training and the the experience behind wrapping this into an authentic story to where it really does sound like, Hey, I just randomly found these jeans, and I love them, and I want to tell you about them. And then the all this structure also means that you're going to receive a consistent message across all of your content and all of social. So you don't have one person talking about one key component and another person in the completely left field, talking about something different. So it's going to be a lot easier to track because it's going to have all this consistency. And then, so key steps and just kind of getting started setting this up, what's it going to look like to run a affiliate marketing campaign from start to finish? First, you're going to define your program. So as with any other campaign that you're doing, determine your objectives, your budget, your performance metrics, and then that target persona of not only the influencer that you want to work with, but the audience of the influencer that you want to work with, that's also a really key part of it. And then you're going to source outreach and activate your influencers. So this step is going to take time, especially because you want to ensure that you're picking the right people for your brand, not just going with the person who has the most followers or the person who you know, gets the most likes. And then I also don't recommend trying to fly through the step like there, there's ways to make it more efficient. And to obviously use your time to the best of your ability, but don't try to fly through it and kind of like cut edges. This is also where an affiliate vendor is really going to come in handy. And then you want to make sure that all your affiliates had their links and or coupon codes so that they can add them to their bios, just have them pay for their link stickers or swipe ups, whatever for their captions. Just because you don't want a million emails, the day that content is supposed to go live asking you for these links, I've made that mistake, you don't want that to be your inbox, I promise. And the next you're going to provide affiliates with a brief. This is going to include must-hit messaging, key product features, anything that you want to be highlighted. And then along with that, you want to include brand guidelines and creative direction. I also always highly recommend including campaign don'ts. So the really great thing about TikTok is that you have all these people and they are so creative, and they do so many amazing things. However, they also like to push the envelope. And so TikTok creators are like very well known for just doing these wild things. And so they don't need a ton of creative direction. But sometimes you need to like rein them in a little bit and be like you specifically cannot do this, say this include this. And just to make sure that you're you're covered, especially with those TikTok guidelines are always a little bit all over the place. Everyone's still trying to figure out what's going to stay up and what's going to get taken down. And finally, honestly This to me is the most important part is do not forget to pay your influencers in a timely manner. None of us would be happy if our paychecks were late. And at the end of the day, this is how people feed their families. So setting reasonable expectations of when influencers can expect payment and how is really important for your relationship with the influencer. And it's really important to keep in mind that while influencers and affiliates are massive industries, influence influencer niches, and this specific group of influencers that you want to work with have very tight-knit communities. And they are very much known for talking amongst themselves and letting each other know which brands they've worked with and kind of what that experience looks like. So paying in a timely manner. And letting them know ahead of time setting those expectations and making sure that you have a ton of communication there.

Aaron Conant 44:20

And this is something you help people out with, right. I mean, I'm just saying there's people on the line today saying hey, I need to get rolling with this. This is what you help people out with.

Jade Sandford  44:27

Yes, absolutely. Okay, cool. Love it.

Aaron Conant 44:31

So quick note anybody. You don't have this set up there, the rest of experts. Where's the follow-up conversation?

Katherine Barnes 44:38

Come talk to us.

Jade Sandford 44:41

You could do this in my sleep at this point. So awesome. So we are into final thoughts. Katherine, do you want to take it back over for a sec?

Katherine Barnes 44:50

Sure. Yeah. So jumping into some key key key takeaways of what we touched on with regard to conversion. As we discussed, there's a handful of best practices on how to track those conversions. So whether that's tracking links, coupon or promo codes, you know, if you are not working with a platform like Mavrck, as mentioned, come chat with us, we're more than happy to talk you through some of our best practices in the field. And then again, those best practices for driving conversions. So focusing on influencers that are driving results, looking at your data, getting a better understanding of why partnering with those individuals long term leveraging loyalists across the entire spectrum of influence, you know, sharing coupon codes, promo codes, low hanging fruit for individuals to try and have a low barrier to entry for your products, creating content on the right channels. So making sure that we're creating on platforms where it lands with your consumers, and asking for ratings and reviews. For individuals that we're already sending product to end, showcasing the IGC are just a handful of best practices that we covered today.

Jade Sandford 46:03

Awesome, and then just remembering the importance of those ratings and reviews, like people are definitely looking for them. So incorporate them into requirements for campaigns that you're already running. Like, that's a really easy way to just jump in and get started. And then you can also foster that trust and create those conversions without taking on an entirely new project. And then finally, speaking of like the two birds with one stone that I mentioned earlier, bring influencers into your affiliate model by combining these two strategies you can it always results in high-quality content and thus increased conversions for you. Awesome,

Aaron Conant 46:44

so now I don't know if anybody has any additional questions. If you if you want, you can jump in and ask them. You can drop them in the chat as well. But you know, just want to say a quick thank you. While everybody that was able to send in questions along the way made for a great conversation, Jade. Katherine, you guys are great friends, partners, supporters of the network. Really appreciate you know, you guys and all that you do for it. And with that, let me just just call people dropping in. Thank you. And so with that, I think we can fulfill our promise of wrapping up before the end of the hour. I don't have any other questions coming through right now. But you know, if anybody needs a follow-up conversation, you know, just let us know more than happy to connect you with KatherineJade, the whole team at Mavrck. They're great, you know, friends and partners and supporters to a ton of brands in the network and come highly recommended in this space as a whole. And with that, I think we're gonna wrap it up. Hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday a great rest of the week. Everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event. Alright, thanks again. Jade.

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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