What’s the secret to a successful influencer partnership? Data, according to Amber Venz Box, cofounder and president of RewardStyle.
Venz Box launched RewardStyle, an invitation-only platform that allows bloggers and influencers to monetize their content, in 2011. The Dallas-based company now works with 4,500 brands and 30,000 influencers and last year, drove more than a billion dollars in sales to retail partners through its Liketoknow.it channel.
Influencers are among the leading voices in fashion and beauty, which is why brands are now competing with each other to work with them. But according to Venz Box, many are making the mistake of not using data to inform who they work with.
“Last year, over 80 percent of brands engaged in some type of influencer marketing and a large percentage of those had over $25,000 budgets for influencer [marketing],” said Venz Box. “The problem is they’re investing in influencer [marketing] because they know it’s a trending topic, but they’re using no science behind it.”
In 2013, RewardStyle launched Campaigns, a tool that allows the company to cast influencers for brand campaigns based on historical performance data, thus helping brands be more strategic about their influencer partnerships. The feature is available exclusively to RewardStyle’s enterprise clients — those paying six and seven figures — and has proven quite popular for the company. In the first quarter of this year, RewardStyle received 1,000 applications for Campaigns, and Venz Box said she’s seen a 68-percent year-over-year increase in brand spending through the feature.
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She also said RewardStyle has a 90-percent retention rate for its enterprise clients.
“As a brand, when you’re giving us your exact goals and targets, like ‘I need to hit this many sales and this much traffic and this is my target demographic,’ we’re using all of that data to cast,” said Venz Box. “Brands are always very surprised at who we cast for those campaigns because it might not be celebrity influencer A, B or C, who they thought, but we already know who that person’s audience is and what type of products they convert at. We’re able to rationalize their rate because we know what kind of sales they drive.”
The influencer marketing space is becoming increasingly cutthroat. Influencers with a high ability to drive sales are being booked up, which means that more of their links are now paid.
As paid content gains favor over organic, Venz Box is seeing three major trends emerge within the RewardStyle community. The first is a halo effect among the influencers.
“We found that for every piece of paid content published, [the companies] receive on average three and a half pieces of organic content from these long-term campaign partners. Said another way, they’re paying an influencer to do a single post and the influencer then also does essentially three and a half pieces of organic content incremental to what they’re paid for,” said Venz Box.
She also found that influencers who are being paid for their content have a higher average order value — by $17, to be exact — than organic linkers.
“The RewardStyle influencer who is paid for content is not only incentivized by the flat rate, but they’re also incentivized by the commission that they will get on that piece of content and they work harder for the brand and they’re driving higher order values than someone who picks up the brand and talks about them organically,” she said. For context, RewardStyle influencers can earn anywhere from thousands of dollars “on the low end” to millions of dollars annually.
Lastly, Venz Box said the Campaigns partnerships continue to grow over time. “One of our partners executed collaborations for 27 months and they’re seeing 56-percent year-over-year sales growth,” she said. “What we see is those long-term [influencer] partnerships continue to drive incremental sales growth. It doesn’t flatten.”
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