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Building an affiliate/partnership program with SaaS agencies

Hey there,

I'm a little new at this so I apologize if I seem a bit dense/uneducated – which I suppose is why I am here!

I work for a small-to-medium marketing SaaS solution. We work with a lot of agencies (approximately 50-100 and growing) who use our tool with their own clients. We're a website builder tool similar to Wix, Squarespace, etc.

We recently started a affiliate program to incentivize new trial starts of our service. Right now we have a lot of marketing blogs and such that have signed on – receive an affiliate link – and then distribute this link to people they feel would be a good fit. The new user receives a discount for their first few months of service. It has been doing well so far – though it's a bit too early to get a clear idea of what retention looks like.

We are hoping to expand this program to agencies – so not just independent marketers – but rather agencies who use our service with their own clients. We are thinking of creating a directory where prospects can look up agencies that work with us – so it's a win/win for everyone – ex. the agency receives revenue/gains a new client, we gain a new user, and the new user is in the best position to succeed.

I don't a lot of experience with this – and much of what we have tried so far has been trial/error.

So I guess my ask here is:

– if growth is shown by data, what are some things that you keep track of to measure success? how do you recognize what is working and what isn't?
– what are some ways to empower agencies/affiliates to promote our product to create quality new trial starts (versus those who sign on and drop-off after the discount has expired), ex. I was thinking of creating an information package/white paper with best practices, case studies, etc.
– how do you justify (if at all) to the customer to pay the agency for their services (marketing advice, direction, tactics, PPC, SEO, etc) while also paying for the tool itself?

It doesn't have to be anything too specific – like I said, I'm very new at this, and I am just looking for some foundation advice that I can bring to the table and eventually build from.

Thanks so much in advance.

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A day in the life of… Janicke Eckbo, CMO at Cavai, the conversational advertising platform

Cavai helps agencies, publishers, and advertisers deliver conversational marketing through its cloud platform. We caught up with Janicke Eckbo, CMO at Cavai, to find out how Covid-19 has changed her daily working life, and why she believes the future of the digital marketing industry is ‘conversational’.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I run global marketing for Cavai. This entails everything from brand management to product marketing to events. I am tasked with increasing our brand awareness and engaging agencies and advertisers who are unfamiliar with conversational marketing. We are active in over ten markets and are constantly launching into new markets, so a big part of my role includes an educational piece; to introduce brands to the significant benefits of conversational marketing.

Talk us through a typical day…

I have only recently joined Cavai so I am spending my days familiarising myself with our products and markets, building out a marketing plan for the year and working on upcoming product launches. Since our workforce is distributed across Europe, Asia and the Americas, that naturally means lots of Slack messaging and Zoom calls. Outside of internal team catch-ups, I have a significant number of virtual meetings with sales and product. As part of Cavai’s brand awareness function, I am often liaising with our external PR and marketing agencies to develop campaigns that engage our client base.

How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?

Like most people, I struggle with avoiding the urge to catch up on work during evenings and weekends. I have a young son, so I do try to ensure that at least one day over the weekend is logged off and fully focused on him. What works for me is turning off email notifications on my mobile as they tend to lead to stress. I check my phone and email often enough as it is anyway, so I really don’t need the notifications. And if there’s something super urgent, someone will call me.

The key is to create boundaries between your work and your personal life – especially with home-working – so there’s a clear line between when work starts and ends.  I usually start the working day with a walk and a coffee. Being outside and getting some daylight (it’s really dark in Norway during winter), is crucial for me – I like to take my lunch breaks outside or go for an afternoon run when I can fit it into my schedule. In Norway, we have a lot of snow now, so some nights I will go skiing in the dark with a headlamp on which is a great way to escape. Being active is now more important than ever to me. Finally, to combat all that cold weather, I enjoy taking long, indulgent baths in the evening which really help me to relax and unwind; that’s one great thing I learned whilst living in the UK!

How has strategy changed at your company?

Whilst our strategy hasn’t changed a great deal as a result of the pandemic, we continue to develop campaigns to engage and educate our clients on the benefits of conversational marketing. My strategic priority is to ensure we broaden the scope of what ‘conversational’ is and what it entails; it’s a new and expanding field of marketing and we have a lot of exciting products in the pipeline that build upon that same engagement and conversation.

Conversational advertising made a remarkable argument for its value during the pandemic; disseminating information and resolving uncertainties in real time. Indeed, many brands and public sector organisations turned to Cavai during the outbreak. Even as COVID, slowly, comes under control, the need for interactive, conversational tools will remain in a cautious world – setting the scene for an imminent surge in commercial, conversational advertising. 

How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour) changed during the pandemic?

There has been a rising need for information and meaningful interaction in an otherwise chaotic world, which has presented brands with exciting opportunities to experiment with conversational marketing in a bid to engage consumers in a new way. One of the key learnings during the pandemic is that now is the time for conversational to really prove its value. Advertisers are much more aware of the importance of exploring channels to reach their customers – customers who expect to be heard, seen and listened to.

What do you predict for the future?

The future of the digital marketing industry is conversational. Conversational helps to empower advertisers to engage with consumers on a personal level. Gartner has foreseen as much, predicting last year that “by 2025, customer service organisations that embed AI in their multichannel customer engagement platform will elevate operational efficiency by 25%.” I believe conversational ads are a solution to the current situation as they enable brands to cross borders, enhance customer service and adapt to the compromises of our reshaped reality.

Now, more than ever, brands must find innovative ways to communicate with consumers and cut through the noise with bespoke campaigns. Expect to see conversational advertising continue to grow in usage as the format’s popularity impacts messaging apps and smart speakers. Messaging has long been the natural home for conversational advertising, so we predict the ad format will soon dominate messaging apps. Additionally, with more consumers using smart speakers to make purchases, this presents huge opportunities for advertisers. With an increase in adoption rates, consumers will grow even more comfortable with the kinds of interactions that were once thought impossible. Indeed, vocal recognition technology now allows for deeper insights into what a person is feeling. That is an exciting prospect for advertisers.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: Try to focus on the problem you’re solving for the customer, and less on the actual product or service you’re trying to promote. This matters now, more than ever, as customers rarely care about what you sell, but they do care about how it might overcome their pain points. This is where conversational advertising comes in. By its very nature, this format is about creating a dialogue that puts the customer first.

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Have cash back sites and sites like honey killed off affiliate marketing for everyone else?

An affiliate marketer might set up a site, and do the leg work to get leads. But if the buyer ends up using one of these sites, then they will get the commission. Have you found this to be a problem? And do you think that sites like these will eventually kill off AF for everyone else?

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How to not lose half your audience before you’ve even started

In 2020 we saw years of digital growth in just a few months; this rate of change, however, has left many CX funnels leakier than a colander. Luckily, Contentsquare recorded billions of web sessions to identify the trends that matter. Here are the three key issues we found, and how to solve them.

With coronavirus cases on the rise and entire countries asked to work from home, 2020 was a year of shifting paradigms.

The digital transformation that’s been simmering for years was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. In many cases, if it wasn’t digital; it simply wasn’t happening. In fact, some brands experienced 10 years of digital growth condensed into just 3 months, according to McKinsey. Digital transformation is no longer a choice – it’s a survival strategy.

Which means the digital customer journey is now one of the most important tools in the business world.

Despite this, for many the customer journey bucket is leakier than the average colander. So what lessons can we learn from the past year? We collated data from 20 billion+ web sessions to bring you some much-needed clarity and help take your web visitors from mild interest to bona-fide customers.

Stage 1: Don’t shut the door in their face

So you managed to get someone to visit your website – great! Bad news though. Our data suggests that 47% of these visitors will leave before you get a chance to create a connection with them.

The B2B industry suffers the most; with a bounce rate of 75%, demonstrating the need to articulate value quickly before the visitor loses interest. The industries with the lowest bounce rates were energy (38%), grocery (40%) and travel (42%), where visitors may be more intentional in their purpose, paying bills or buying their weekly food shop.

We also see that people are most likely to bounce when using a mobile device, reflective of our consistently less patient relationship with digital – one that relies heavily on instant gratification. Little surprise then that high mobile bounce rates are consistent across all industries (with the exception of B2B, where tablets performed the worst). As mobile traffic spiked significantly in 2020 (+16%), it’s more essential than ever to nail your mobile experience.

Did you know:

Google will soon use only the mobile version of your website to evaluate the relevance of your page to a users search query. Make sure your mobile experience at least matches your desktop experience.

Learn more

So how can you prevent losing half your audience at the starting line?

Attract the right visitors

An engine is only as strong as the fuel you put in it (just ask my mechanic). If your web visitors are leaving straight away, the chances are that they’re the wrong kind of visitor, and your targeting may need attention. Focus on high-value keywords and consider whether your keywords are focused on awareness or conversion.

Improve content accessibility

It’s simple – if a user is unwilling or unable to interact with your content, they’ll leave. Make sure your content is simple and brief, relevant and consistent across your brand. More importantly, there are millions of people with impairments that may actually be unable to use your site, leading to both a terrible experience, a lost customer and a poor reputation.

Ensure your website is speedy

A slow website is sure to frustrate your users. Not only that, but the introduction of Google Core Web Vitals means that from May, your website will be ranked according to the overall user experience, including site load speed. The time to act is now.

Avoid pop-ups on your homepage

The age of the pop-up is over! Disrupting a user’s journey can have a negative effect on sentiment, particularly if execution issues occur (we’ve all had the unclosable mobile pop-up experience). If you plan to use pop-ups, try using them further into the journey to promote deeper navigation.

Stage 2:  Don’t drop the baton

You’ve avoided the dreaded bounce, and the user is engaging! Don’t pop the champers though, you haven’t passed the finish line yet.

Forty five percent of all web content went unseen in 2020*. In the Beauty and Apparel industries this climbs to 60% and 59% respectively – a huge number. All that hard work to serve content that most people will never see.

On top of this, we observed that the average scroll rate (or the percentage of the page that a user views) is only 56.8%. Even if a visitor makes it to your content, they’re still missing almost half of what they find.

We also found that users spent an average of 8 seconds less on each page in 2020 than they did the previous year; 54 seconds, compared to 62 seconds in 2019. Time spent on page is a great indicator of content engagement, and interestingly the B2B industry exhibits the highest time per page at an impressive 1m 37s, suggesting that B2B audiences are more engaged than we initially thought.

How do we ensure that your content is seen and consumed by your audience?

Sometimes, less is more

To fix the problem, first you need to understand it. Use a behavioural analytics tool to audit your web content. Focus on identifying well-placed but underperforming content and consider replacing it with potential gems that are hidden under a pile of irrelevant fluff.

A/B test everything

Whenever introducing new or updated content, create practical hypotheses that you can test. Nothing should get onto your site without being tested against an alternative. Your tests should be simple but bold, and relevant to your business objectives.

Order, order! *whacks gavel*

The order of elements on a page can have a huge impact on the consumption of your content. Identify where on a page your users are interacting most actively, and consider switching up the order to promote the most relevant stuff, or to improve the user experience by making it easier or quicker to complete important tasks.

(*To calculate content unseen, we compare the total number of pages on a site to the number of pages not viewed by 95% or more of traffic.)

Stage 3:  Always be closing 

The user stayed on your site, and they interacted with your content. Amazing. Now for the most important thing – closing the deal.

As the range of conversion goals can be wildly different between industries, we’ve focused here on eCommerce. Across all included industries, we measured an average conversion rate of 1.8%, down from 2.4% in 2019.

The dip in CVR may be due to the increase in search volumes in 2020. People were filling their spare time with mindless web browsing, and may have channeled their lockdown frustrations into online window-shopping. We saw especially large peaks in traffic at the start of Covid-19 quarantine.

Grocery brands saw the highest average conversion rate (5%), indicative again of purposeful browsing, whereas Luxury sits at only 0.8%. Of all the industries, Luxury is particularly driven by mobile browsing, and the conversion rate for mobile continues to be a problem.

How can we boost that all-important conversion rate?

Ruthlessly find and fix errors

Small site UX errors – like failed discount codes, unclear CTAs or lengthy forms – could be keeping your customers from converting, Troubleshoot your site to remove friction and ensure you’re providing users with a seamless, error-free experience.

Simplify your conversion journey

Long and tedious journeys will frustrate your customer and increase the chance of errors. Try to minimise the number of touches needed to convert, and include clear instructions at each stage of the journey so the user can’t get lost.

Focus on your mobile experience

Mobile conversion is an issue, and as mobile use continues to grow year on year it’s vital that you maximise the mobile experience. Consider navigation tricks such as sticky menus to make the user journey easy, but remember to maintain content consistencies between your desktop and mobile journey.

Summary

Although questions remain over the stickiness of our new-found behaviours, it’s clear that 2020 rocked the digital experience boat. The move to mobile consumerism continues unabated and it’s more important than ever to tick the technical boxes if you want to reach, engage and convert your audience.

The digital customer journey is the new marketing battleground, but we didn’t need to tell you that… We’re certainly looking forward to seeing some innovative new approaches to creating stand-out digital experiences. One thing’s for sure, though many brands already have a well-established online presence, the race to understand and capitalise upon these shifting digital behaviours is on. Will you win that race? Your customers may thank you if you do!

For a more in-depth look at how you compare to your competition, check out Contentsquare’s 2021 Digital Experience Benchmarks report. With 12 months of data from 900+ websites and over 20 billion user sessions, you’ll see how your CX stacks up against the competition.

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Here’s Why Your Ecommerce Subscriptions Aren’t Selling

A recurring subscription model is a powerful tool for growth and profit — if you can get subscribers.

“A lot of brands install our subscription software and slap a ‘subscribe and save’ option on their products. They think they’re going to be a successful subscription company, and a couple of months later they aren’t,” said Jay Myers, co-founder of Bold Commerce, an ecommerce platform.

While every online subscription business is unique, there are a few problems that plague many of them. If your ecommerce subscriptions aren’t selling, check these reasons.

Why Subscriptions Fail

Wrong product. “Six years ago, when we started Evive, we didn’t even think of selling online. It is a frozen product,” said Dominic Dubé, co-founder and CEO of Evive. The product “is frozen smoothie cubes, so if they thawed [even a little] and froze back they would just be a big blob. There was no way we would have started online.”

Instead, Evive took a traditional path toward retail, placing its nutritionally balanced, shaker-ready smoothies in more than 2,000 North American grocery stores.

Evive didn’t have the proper product for selling online, let alone via a recurring subscription. But that changed.

“Three years later, we changed the packaging,” Dubé said. Now, the smoothie cubes are shipped in a hemp tray that is 100-percent biodegradable. If the cubes do thaw slightly (which does not impact their safety), they retain their shape. Voila, a product that didn’t make sense for ecommerce subscriptions, suddenly does. It’s now the only way to purchase Evive’s products online.

Screenshot of Evive's home page

Evive’s new packaging made it possible to sell online, and the product is right for subscriptions.

“One of my friends owns a meal kit delivery company here in Montreal. I brainstormed with her. She said, ‘You have to go with the subscription model; there is no way this is going to work as a one-time purchase [online],'” Dubé said, adding, “And she was right. A subscription model for a product like ours that people consume regularly made total sense.”

Certainly the pandemic changed how some shoppers buy groceries. Even those who turned completely to purchasing food online and picking up curbside tend to buy from a single grocery retailer. Since Evive sells through more than 2,000 grocery locations, it could get some of those sales.

But it seems unlikely that online grocery shoppers will visit the Evive site to buy more smoothies every week. For them to keep purchasing, they need a subscription.

The key here is that your subscription products need to make sense both for online sales and repeated delivery. As you try to find your subscription niche, focus on replenishable goods such as Evive’s smoothies, or product discovery such as Birchbox, for example.

Subscription fatigue. But having the right product isn’t the only hurdle. An Evive subscription, for example, could include as many as 36 packages of smoothies per shipment. That is a freezer full. A shopper could easily have too many, prompting subscription fatigue.

To avoid this, Evive allows subscribers to switch flavors or quantities. The result is just the right amount of smoothies.

Make sure you’re not overwhelming your customers and causing fatigue.

Churn. Subscription fatigue and other reasons create churn. Consumers who happily signed up a few months ago unsubscribe and move on.

Obtaining subscribers via pay-per-click ads can work for a time. But unless most of them stick around, the cost of acquiring those subscribers can kill a business.

“What successful subscription brands get right is that [first] they understand the importance of referred by a friend as a channel,” said Bold Commerce’s Myers. “There is a viral coefficient — it’s like 1.6 — so that if you have enough customers who refer a friend, you have a viral product.”

“Or [second] you increase the value of existing subscribers. You can achieve negative churn where you don’t even onboard new customers, but instead you cross-sell and upsell to existing ones.”

If you want your subscription products to take off, follow Myers’ advice. Find a way to encourage referrals. This is helpful because subscribers who refer your products to others are more likely to keep subscribing themselves.

“When you buy a product one time, you are a customer. But when you buy a subscription, you are a member,” said Myers. “Something Evive has done well is create members — who refer others.”

Recurring Sales

The subscription model remains one of the most promising ways to grow and sustain an ecommerce business. So don’t give up. Make sure you have the right product. Then manage it to avoid fatigue and encourage referrals.

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4 Ways to Drive Product Sales from TikTok

Social commerce is growing. Facebook tools include Shops, Checkout, Commerce Manager, and Live Shopping. Instagram has those options and more.

TikTok is the newest craze. Posting engaging videos to that platform can drive traffic to a website. But can it generate customers, too?

In this post, I’ll offer four ideas to drive sales from TikTok.

Driving Sales from TikTok

Add your store link in the bio. Adding a URL to your TikTok profile is a simple way to help viewers find your site. Merchants, influencers, bloggers, and news outlets do this. In the example below, TikTok user Sophie Liard links to her ecommerce shop, pointing out above the link what the audience can find there — “drawer dividers.”

Screenshot of TheFoldingLady on TikTok

Sophie Liard’s TikTok bio links to her ecommerce site, pointing out above the link what the audience can find there — “drawer dividers.”

Importantly, not all TikTok profiles have access to the link feature. To check your account, look for the “Website” option after clicking “Edit” on your profile.

Screenshot of TikTok "Edit" profile page

Not all TikTok profiles have access to the link feature. To check your account, look for the “Website” option after clicking “Edit” on your profile. Image: Later app.

Linking to any page on your ecommerce site is beneficial. However, try to align that page with the videos on your TikTok grid. Third-party tools can help.

For example, Garage Clothing, an apparel retailer for females, uses a service from Dash Hudson, a visual-marketing software provider.

As shown below, Garage Clothing’s TikTok profile (at left) links to a Dash Hudson page (middle) that matches the videos on the profile. Users can click on any image on the Dash Hudson page to go directly to the clothing item on Garage Clothing’s site (right). The process allows viewers can match what’s in a profile to a merchants’ product page, streamlining the purchase journey.

Screenshot of three pages: TikTok profile, a Dash Hudson page, and a product page on Garage Clothing

Garage Clothing’s TikTok profile (left) links to a page from Dash Hudson (middle), which links to each clothing item (right). Image: Dash Hudson.

Connect Tik Tok to a Shopify store. Shopify’s partnership with TikTok is likely the first of many integrations with ecommerce platforms. Merchants can connect their TikTok for Business account to Shopify to generate in-feed shoppable posts from videos.

Advertise. TikTok offers limited advertising options. Sign up through your TikTok for Business account and wait for TikTok to confirm. Once approved, the choices include:

  • In-feed ads. Native-looking videos that appear in the user’s feed.
  • Pre-roll ads. Videos that start when a user opens the app.
  • Promoted hashtag challenges. Videos encouraging users to submit clips using a custom hashtag. This is best for brand awareness.

Advertising on TikTok will presumably improve. In-feed ads are the best place to start and the most widely accessible at the moment.

Work with an influencer. Considering partnering with TikTok personalities to create sponsored videos. Influencer marketing is not new, but it’s likely effective on TikTok as many creators have garnered huge followings.

Opportunities

Think about the customer journey. TikTok is a smartphone app. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly, so users have an easy transition from the app to your ecommerce store. And avoid disruptions, such as injecting ads, modals, and other promotions.

There are lots of exciting opportunities on TikTok, depending on your account and country. Regardless, commerce on TikTok is in its infancy and will surely grow.

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Profilemate to get emails from Instagram

Guys, I just wanted to give you a heads up.

I purchased Profilemate tool at 2021-02-16.

I just though that I will be able scrape IG users and emails (as advertised).

Here is what is behind all the marketing, real user experience.

You can only scrape limited number of users PER DAY, tool ask you to change IG account you use with the tool so that you can continue to scrape (so be prepared to make ready many warmed IG accounts, if you want to buy them, and pay between 2USD-5USD per account). Even if you do so you are still limited to new user limit. So it is always limited number of users you can scrape per account. If you want to scrape 10.000-50.000 or 100.000 users (which use quite normal to get meaningful amount of data) you have to wait days and most probably weeks.

Software says on the dashboard: "add new accounts to continue scraping or buy Upsell so that you can scrape faster". So whole app designed to sell you upsells ($49 per month for "100.000" profiles).

So, if you want to use it for scraping either wait for weeks (keep the app open, so you need to invest on a VPS too) or pay $49 per 100.000 profiles on top of what you pay for front end product.

Attention: we have NOT even started to scrape emails LOL.

Assume you go through all the hurdles and managed to scrape some users; you have to MANUALLY copy and paste all scraped users to another section of the app, wait for days to scrape couple of emails and THEN again manually copy/paste user profiles. But can you scrape emails of, lets say, 20.000 users? You guessed it, if you do not pay upsell ($49 per month for 100.000 users) it is dead slow. It took literally days if not weeks to scrape couple of emails (if you have say 20.000 profiles average emails you can find is around 10%: they try to make you believe it is 35%).

Software continuously says on the dashboard (with a moving text as if it is flash news) that you need to buy upsell for faster email scraping.

There are couple of training videos which is quite poor and trying to sell other upsells and products, and confusing, do you know why? Yes, you guessed it right again, they force you to buy PREMIUM training to really explain how to use the tool.

TLDR: this app is useless if you do not buy upsells continuously for EVERY 100.000 users, and premium training.

I asked for a refund they told me this.

"Our refund policy is 14 days from the initial purchase date. The refund policy is clearly stated on our website www.profilemate. com Your initial purchase date is :2021-02-16

Sorry but I cannot issue a refund on any transaction that is outside the 14 days refund period.

Kind Regards

Social Media Mansion Support Team"

Yes, refund policy is 14 days but I would expect a refund as an act of business ethics (my mistake: the app is so slow and useless to get some small nuggets of data, it took me more than 14 days to realize that I am in a Upsell rabbit hole!!!).

I do not want to name any here bu there are so strong alternatives that literally 100x this one with very reasonable price, I wish I would do my homework before paying for this crap.

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I’ve built up an email list to a 100k subsecibers. What affiliate network accepts people with email lists and no websites?

I have built an email list of about 100k people with a decent open rate in a narrow niche. Even though affiliate marketing isn't my main source of income (info products is) I've been dabbling into it here and there. I've signed up for Amazon associates and have been recommending products in my reach. The response to this was mind-blowing, which made me realise that I could earn more from affiliate marketing than my info-products. These emails that I've collected are through Facebook ads and a lead magnet. I do not have a website, and I've heard that all these major affiliate networks need a website to start with. Can anybody recommend any networks that I can start with that do not require websites?

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Free copywriting services

Are you a business owner who is geared up to dominate your chosen niche?

Are you operating within the health-care or self-help industry ?

As a business owner your time is valuable.

There are many moving parts within your business that need your laser focus.

Because you care about your business & your clients- you are constantly keeping up to date with latest trends within your industry, and tweaking your website to satisfy the ever changing Google algorithm.

I am willing to offer you free copywriting services this week. Taking one thing off your to do list.

Your focus can much rather be directed to other parts of your business.

Perhaps, you can use the extra time to tend to any personal matters or even catch up on a Netflix series. The free time is yours!

If you are interested please send me a message.

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Lessons from Vine Influencers Elevate Feat Clothing

Having co-founded Feat Socks in 2015, Taylor Offer hired Aly Raisman, the gymnast, to design and promote a custom sock. It generated $500,000 in revenue. Influencer marketing was clearly effective, and Offer wanted more.

“I started looking at the kids that got famous from Vine, the short-video app,” he told me.

It turned out that many of those “kids” lived in the same apartment complex on, amazingly, Vine Street in Los Angeles.

“So I flew out to L.A., snuck into that building, and I saw every single Viner that lived there. There were probably 30 kids in the building with over a million followers each. I called my co-founder in Boston. I said, ‘We’re moving to L.A. into the building on Vine Street.’ That’s how I started understanding social media and influencers.”

Fast forward to 2021, and Feat Socks is now Feat Clothing, a wildly successful brand of joggers, shorts, hoodies, and crewnecks — all made from BlanketBlend, the company’s custom fabric.

I recently spoke with Offer about the journey. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript that follows is edited for length and clarity.

Eric Bandholz: Tell us about Feat.

Taylor Offer: We started 2015 as a sock company. “Feat” is our spelling of “feet.” We had a heat press. We would then press a design on white Nike or Adidas socks and sell them around our college campus. So, that’s how Feat started.

From 2015 to 2018, we were only making socks. We were scaling as a sock company from influencer collaborations. We were early in the influencer world, doing deals with The Chainsmokers, Logan Paul, Aly Raisman.

In 2018 we decided to expand, to make clothes that were soft and comfortable but also looked good. We wanted to combine comfort and style. And that’s how we developed our first product, called the BlanketBlend. It’s a special fabric we made. Now we have BlanketBlend joggers, shorts, hoodies, and crewnecks. It’s a soft fabric that looks and feels good.

Bandholz: I can’t imagine a better business come March 2020.

Offer: It’s was great, but we didn’t plan for the crazy spike. April was a massive month. We sold out of products in April and May. It was a huge influx of sales. It was difficult to keep up with the demand. We have manufacturers in downtown Los Angeles (for quick-turn stuff), South America, and Asia.

Bandholz: You created a fabric. How does that work?

Offer: It’s a long process. My co-founder, Parker, was much more involved in that process than I. We started with a base fabric and then made it softer. You tweak the materials a bit — a little more this material or that material. It could be polyester, cotton, or rayon. You’re experimenting with the materials. We put them through different washes. The process took a year and a half to perfect the BlanketBlend fabric.

We now own the process of making BlanketBlend and the name. Other people can try to make soft clothing. But they can’t make BlanketBlend.

Bandholz: You mentioned influencers. Can you elaborate?

Offer: We were living in Boston because we went to school there. We did this deal with Aly Raisman, the Olympic gymnastics gold medalist, in 2016. We made her own custom sock. We sold around $500,000 of that sock. We thought, “This is crazy. Through Instagram, and an influencer, or an athlete, we could sell so much.”

So I started direct messaging every single person on Instagram with over one million followers. And, again, that was in 2016, before the rise of influencer marketing. A lot of those DM people respond.

Then I started looking at the kids that got famous from Vine, the short-video app, since discontinued. All their videos had the same door handle in their apartments, and the same pool, the same gym. I thought, “Either I’m crazy, or they all live in the same building.”

Finally, one of the Viners responded, “Send some socks to 1600 Vine Street, in Hollywood.” I told myself, “That’s funny. He’s a Viner, and he lives on Vine Street. Either he’s messing with me, or this is the Mecca where all these kids live.”

So I flew out to L.A., snuck into that building, and I saw every single Viner that lived there — from Logan Paul, Jake Paul, Amanda Cerny, King Bach, Lele Pons, and Rudy Mancuso. Justin Bieber was there for a while. There were probably 30 kids in the building with over a million followers each.

So I called my co-founder. We had a 2,500 square foot office and warehouse in Boston. I said, “Get out of that lease. We’re moving to L.A. into the building on Vine Street. We’re going to work with these kids and understand social media.”

And we moved into the building. That’s how I started understanding social media and influencers.

Bandholz: That’s amazing. So you would bump into them on the premises?

Offer: Exactly. It was an interesting finesse. I didn’t want to be too aggressive. I couldn’t say, “I moved across the country to be in the same apartment building as you.”

Those kids would hang out at the gym all the time. I had never gone to the gym or worked out. But I decided, “I have to be in the gym because I just have to meet those kids, get those head nods.”

So I went to the gym all day. Eventually, we crossed paths.

Then we flew Aly Raisman to L.A. for a photo shoot. It was right when she won her gold medal. We did the photo shoot in the gym when I knew all of them would be there. They were all obsessed with Aly because she just won this gold medal. She was like America’s sweetheart, gymnastics, an awesome person.

They said, like, “What’s this photo-shoot?” I said to Aly, “Go tell Logan you’re selling a bunch of socks, and he can’t sell as many socks as you.” So that’s how the conversation started. I said, “Logan, dude, let’s sell some socks.”

Bandholz: Did he kill it?

Offer: Yes. It was wild. He drove over 1.5 million new visitors to our site over two weeks. That generated 20,000 new customers. We had no ads, no email capture, no email flow. We had no retargeting. There are many things I should have done better. But, yes, he crushed it.

Bandholz: You’ve transitioned away from socks.

Offer: Yes. We sell barely any socks now. Feat Socks was a lot of college humor-type stuff. We took a break from influencers for a while. We were focused on the product and experience and building an elevated brand. But we’re back, doing collaborations again. We did a great collab with Helen Owen in December. She’s a fashion influencer with 1.6 million Instagram followers. It did well. We have three or four collabs lined up for 2021.

Bandholz: How do you build the right influencer deal so it’s a win-win?

Offer: I’ve done tons of collabs. Some were extremely successful, and others were extremely unsuccessful. I’ve learned a lot. First, the person and the brand have to align. When there’s no alignment between person and brand, both sides are confused. The influencer’s followers are confused. It doesn’t convert. There has to be genuine alignment, and the influencer has to genuinely care. So that’s the first thing and the most important.

Bandholz: How do you find influencers?

Offer: We’ll gift products to them, or they’ll organically buy our product. We’ll stroll through our Shopify orders and see a prominent buyer. We’re like, “Let’s hit her up.” And she’s like, “I love your stuff.” We respond, “Let’s collab.” When it’s genuine and organic, people can tell.

Where a lot of brands go wrong is by thinking, “I’ll pay them five grand for a post. They’ll do one post, and that’s it.” It’s so far from that. It has to be a full campaign.

There are different types of collabs. You could do very small sponsor posts. You could co-brand products, which typically perform the best. A lot of these influencers want to create their own product. So I can be an enabler to create their own product and help my business, too.

You want them to feel as if it’s their product. Give them a revenue or profit share — with their own brand. Make content for them and with them. Have them play around with your product, and test it, and talk through it, saying, “Here’s why I’m choosing number one. It smells more like shaving cream versus pine trees. I like this smell.” Make it much bigger than, “Go buy this.”

We’ve worked with influencers with 100,000 followers that sold more than influencers with 5 million. So it depends on who they are and why people follow them.

As for paying influencers, it depends on the person. We’ve done deals from 10 percent of revenue up to 80 percent. We stay away from a fixed number of posts on any deal. When you place a dollar amount on a number of posts, you’re only going to get that many posts.

It’s better to say, “We’re in this together. It’s a partnership, a collaboration. You’re going to make X percent of revenue from this.”

Bandholz: Switching direction, have you experienced setbacks?

Offer: For sure. At age 24 I made the Forbes “30 under 30” list. We had our best year in business. I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk saying, “Hustle, grind, no friends, no going out, no talking to girls, no partying, just work, work, work.”

And I did that for a year. I became very depressed, sad, and unstable. This was in 2017 or 2018. I was in a bad mental state.

I booked a one-way flight to Thailand. I left my phone and computer behind. I stayed for a week. While there, I began watching these kids play in the street. Their clothes were scraps. They were playing soccer with a Coke can. And they were laughing so hard with the biggest smiles on their faces. I thought, “I live in the U.S. I have all these things. I’ve received awards. But I’m miserable all the time. These kids, all they need is a Coke can to be happy. So who’s winning in life?”

That trip taught me a lot. Yes, business is important, but so is life.

Bandholz: Where can people follow you.

Offer: Start with LinkedIn (@tayloroffer). I’m also on Instagram (@tayloroffer) and Twitter (@tayloroffer). Our site is FeatClothing.com. On Instagram it’s @feat. We’re popping on TikTok: @feat?.