Urban Decay

With influencer marketing now becoming a core part of many companies’ spend, the conversation’s moving away from gee whiz to what’s next for business strategies.

Urban Decay Cosmetics social media director Taylor Hiskey and Traackr chief executive officer Pierre-Loïc Assayag tackled the shifting influencer marketing landscape, something Hiskey said the makeup firm got in on early. The two talked key strategies on how influencer marketing is integrated into an organization, how to work with influencers as opposed to having them work for the company, a focus on building relationships and finding ways to measure the value of those partners.

From a high level, the end goal remains the same, “working with the influencers that are truly passionate with the brand,” Hiskey said.

Added Assayag, “Influencer marketing is starting to become core,” and, as such, marketers are now being pushed from what he called “vanity metrics” and a general feeling that a partnership with an influencer feels right to more exacting measures and impact data. The executive said more and more companies — whether large or small — are focusing on more in-depth information that digs beyond follower counts and engagement to back decisions behind working with influencers or creating a campaign.

Hiskey pointed to Urban Decay’s longtime relationship with Kandee Johnson, who was one of the first influencers the company began working with. The example stressed the importance of building real relationships. Initially, Johnson was invited to headquarters, met with founder Wende Zomnir and had coffee and dinner with her.

It was about “letting her be part of this brand from the get-go,” Hiskey said.

“If you have a relationship with an influencer that you know is going to work with you through thick and thin…that is the ultimate success,” she said. “All of that is going to help with the success of your campaign.”

Product launches are never-ending so there will always be the next lipstick or the next palette, Hiskey went on to say. Retaining people who stick with the brand across those launches is how Urban Decay approaches its influencer relationships, which runs from both the micro- to mega-influencers. The company, unlike others in the space, doesn’t rely on those partnerships for product collaborations and keeps them mostly focused on the creation of content.

The internal team has evolved in lockstep with the changing landscape.

Assayag pointed out, “It seems to take a village to be successful with influencer marketing. It’s not a one-person, one-department game.”

Urban Decay’s team consists of public relations, marketing and social media executives all putting in the time to properly vet who the company works with. The process is valuable from a brand perspective, but it also helps refine the pay scale and how to measure success.

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions out there right now is it happens overnight,” Hiskey said. “It really does take time and effort and work on your full team to really make sure that you’re strategizing the way you need to. It really is that time it takes to first build the [influencer] relationship because, ultimately, that leads into our paid organic strategy.”

“Brands tend to lead with the checkbook,” Assayag said. “If you don’t build affinity first, you’re not going to succeed. If you put yourself in the minds of an influencer, acquiring an audience is extremely hard work. It may look easier from the outside.”

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