With customers looking for an authentic approach and genuine connection, having a micro-influencer marketing strategy can help drive growth and retention. But who are micro-influencers? We have good news – they may already love your brand. Brett Bernstein, Founder and CEO of Gatsby is here to talk about how you can find micro-influencers within your customer community.
Brian Weinstein: Welcome everybody to Sippin’ & Shippin’. I’m your host, Brian Weinstein. We’ll be kicking it here every other Thursday, quenching your thirst for an insider’s take to enhance your customer’s experience. Grab your drink of choice, kick back, it’s Sippin’ & Shippin’ time.
All right, welcome everybody to another episode of Sippin’ & Shippin’. I am your host, Brian Weinstein, and she has a mic, she has a voice and she’s not afraid to use it, my trusty sidekick, Caitlin Postel.
Caitlin Postel: Oh, Brian, how are you today?
Brian Weinstein: I’m doing well, I’m doing well. All right, so today we have special guest, Brett Bernstein is with us from gatsby.ai. How are you today, Brett?
Brett Bernstein: I’m good, Brian. Thanks for having me on.
Brian Weinstein: Appreciate you coming on. Brett, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Gatsby and a little bit on your background as well, and then we’ll kind of hop in.
Brett Bernstein: Sure. Yeah, so Gatsby, we’re about five years old now at this point. I started the company in 2016 back in Los Angeles, I’m now living in Southern California in San Diego. What we do is we help merchants, primarily Shopify merchants, but really it doesn’t matter, they can be on any platform, help them scale their influencer strategy, right?
To go back a little bit. What I recognized when I started this company was that the barriers to entry to become a eCommerce merchant have gone way down, right? Shopify has made it extremely easy to start an eCommerce store. My mom did it, it’s just not really a big hurdle anymore. But because of that, the big hurdle is actually how to stand out from the competition, how to acquire customers, how to actually be successful at it.
Not to go too far into this with your first question, but what I saw was that most brands are growing with the same formula, which is acquire customers through Facebook Ads and Google Ads primarily, and to try to get a good on that. The problem is it’s not scalable. As more competition enters the market, keyword competitiveness goes up, the prices to acquire go up, retention goes down, there’s more competition.
I kind of saw this third acquisition channel on the fringe, which was influencer marketing, I thought how could I make that third channel more scalable and more effective to be in competition with advertising? So, that’s kind of how this whole idea started and where we’re at today.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. When you’re in that Facebook world, and like you said, there’s a lot of competition, you’re just trying to get your message out. So for these rising brands, I mean, we call them startups in our world, where they’re really just coming out and maybe they’re just getting into it. Is there sort of an inflection point in their growth where it starts to make sense to go the influencer direction in terms of company size or where they are in volumes?
Brett Bernstein: Well, we at Gatsby have sort of redefined influencer marketing. So I would say before us and our approach that we’ve taken, the answer is yes, you have to have the resources and the funds to pay influencers typically, or have somebody on staff whose primary job it is is to spend all day sourcing influencers, micro-influencers, managing the collaborations, the communication.
It’s typically done manually on a spreadsheet today. Which we work with clients, some of the largest in the ecosystem, as well as some of the smaller ones, and doesn’t matter how big your company is, there’s a good chance you’re currently doing things in a very manual way. So, the answer is it’s a lot quicker to start up on ads and acquire your first customers that way, but once you have the ball rolling and you have resources to put behind the strategy, then it made sense.
I’ll kind of, if it makes sense, go into more of the details, but essentially there’s ways now that you can just automate outreach, automate collaborations, automate the content, all of that through your customers. That’s what we’ve kind of helped to create.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, and let’s take a step back, because you mentioned something that maybe not everybody’s familiar with, micro-influencers. Can you tell us, just describe what is a micro-influencer just versus an influencer or macro-influencer, or whatever it might be?
Brett Bernstein: Yeah, so we actually just … is there video on this podcast or are we just doing audio?
Brian Weinstein: No, we’re just doing audio.
Brett Bernstein: Okay, so there is a blog post that your listeners can go to on our website, it’s gatsby.ai/blog. We just published this one last week, but it actually shows a strategy shift from the larger influencers down to the micro. At the most quantitative position, the big difference is follower size and audience reach, right? That’s really the definition of a larger versus a micro, but at a more qualitative analysis, it comes down to engagement rate and the targetedness of their following, right?
So when you have a micro-influencer, there’s a much higher probability that the people following that person know them in real life, or know them through a friend of a friend, or are part of the same niche interest groups, they’re maybe in the same geography. Those were the attributes. Where a larger influencer, someone with a million followers, their audience typically doesn’t know them personally, so as a result the engagement rate is much different.
A large traditional influencer, which go back decades is like a celebrity, and nowadays it’s somebody whose celebrity status is from influencing-
Brian Weinstein: Yep.
Brett Bernstein: They might get a 1% to 2% engagement rate on the high-end, right?
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Brett Bernstein: I mean, when they publish a piece of content, 1% to 2% of their audience will engage with it. Whereas a micro-influencer, you could get 7% to 12%. Me personally, I have 500 Instagram followers. I have a normal network of people that I’ve met along the years, and when I post content, I’m getting 20%, because these are my friends and family. People who know you personally, they want to engage with your content.
So, the purpose of Gatsby and the micro-influencer movement is to build an army of these smaller advocates that have probably already purchased your products before, they’ve engaged with your brand organically, the people that they are posting content and engaging with for, they typically care about the posts, right?
Brian Weinstein: Right.
Brett Bernstein: Actually, I told you before we started recording, I went paddle boarding yesterday with my girlfriend and I published a funny photo of us out there at the pumpkin patch and the paddle boarding thing. My friends, they want to know what I’m up to and they want to engage with that. So the more you can get along that authentic scale, the better your brand and your strategy will be.
Brian Weinstein: Right. So, it’s taking a little bit of a difference, right? I mean, obviously a micro-influencer still has to have some followers, because you with your 500, if you had 10% engagement, it’s 50 people, versus Chrissy Teigen at 1% is still fairly sizable. So I’m sure there has to be some breadth of followers, but at the same time, it gives it more of a grassroots feel. I mean, is that sort of the-
Brett Bernstein: 100%.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah.
Brett Bernstein: Yeah, the grassroots, authenticity, all of that comes in here, but you’d be surprised. Because we can automate this on the Gatsby platform, we have large brands that are actually saying, “Hey, between one follower and 1,000 followers, we’ll still give you some messaging. Please go post about what you just bought from us.” The offer, the incentive is reduced. It could be as much as just a please post and we love you type of message, or it could be a promotion code.
Then as you go up the scale of influence, the offers and engagement get higher, but it still is way less than paying the name celebrity influencer. So yeah, which you mentioned, I think you mentioned Chrissy, that influence, one person with micro and one person with macro, it’s not apples and apples, but if you get 1,000 people with a micro-influencer following, they’re going to outperform the larger influencer every single day.
Brian Weinstein: Yep, yep. No, that makes sense. Are there particular verticals that really lend towards the micro-influencer more than others?
Brett Bernstein: So, I think influencer marketing in general skews toward brands that are selling visually appealing products, first of all, but also ones that target a younger demographic. So fashion, beauty, sporting goods, things that get you outside-
Caitlin Postel: Yoga.
Brett Bernstein: Yoga, 100%.
Caitlin Postel: I feel like yoga, always. Not an ad, but everyone goes crazy, they go nuts.
Brett Bernstein: Yeah. We’re talking about the yoga brand right now, actually. I mean, yeah, yoga is big, but really what’s cool is those are the highest performing verticals, the analytics and data we’re able to provide those brands typically is better. However, we also have clients that use our platform for micro-influencer marketing, they sell tools, right? I mean, we just have a wide array, because at the end of the day, brands that have customers have influencers.
So no matter what you’re selling, there’s some degree of your audience that’s going to be passionate about your products, because maybe you make the best screw and they’re in the home improvement industry, right? Like, “Listen guys, I’ve spent my whole life in the home improvement industry buying this screw, this one is going to save me this amount of time, and I want to tell my other people in the industry about it.”
So it doesn’t really matter if you’re in the visually appealing fashion industry, that’s what’s cool about this space is that there’s customers who are passionate. As long as you make a good product, you have customers that are passionate about what you’re building and they are happy to go out there and talk about it, especially with a little nudge from the brand that they’re buying from.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, so it sounds almost like community, you’re chasing that sense of community. So if I’m looking for the best screw, I’m going to that guy who I know that’s been in the hardware business for 15 years. I don’t care what screw Chrissy Teigen used, because it doesn’t mean anything. So, brand awareness around community it sounds like is where the key is where the micro really hits hard.
Brett Bernstein: It’s funny, because we’ve actually been adding that word to a lot of our content recently, customer community.
Caitlin Postel: Right.
Brett Bernstein: We’re basically balancing micro-influencer and customer community, making them almost synonymous, at least in our content, because you’re 100% on a point there with that analogy.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, and it makes sense, right? Because I feel like when the bigger the macro-influencers, as soon as I see #ad, I’m like, “They’re getting paid for this, they’re not even authentic.” I’m not taking that into consideration the way that I would if you were to tell me, Brett, buy this paddle board, because I know that you do it and you enjoy it, so that makes sense for me if I’m going to consider purchasing something in that space.
Brett Bernstein: Yeah, I think what it comes down to is when you see a #ad on an influencer’s post, you know that they’re being paid for it and you know that it may not be them authentically saying they’re using that shampoo or that screw or that paddle board. It’s basically just traditional advertising, in the sense that it’s more impressions. Subconsciously you’re seeing that content, you’re seeing that brand out there and it’s just traditional advertising. But when you go to the micro-influencer, it’s getting into the … what is it? The ethos or the pathos. I always forget. The one that’s more of emotional appeal, right?
Caitlin Postel: Yeah.
Brett Bernstein: Where you actually can see the person that you look to for interests or influence, they’re actually generally using it. So, it’s just a different degree of impact it makes on you.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah. Are there any micro-influencers that are interested in podcasts around eCommerce?
Brett Bernstein: There are. I mean, our greatest partners. I mean, 100%. You go on LinkedIn, I can name off a few friends, but I don’t want to without their consent, but yeah.
Brian Weinstein: So, how does the whole engagement process work? How do you engage and how do you know which micro-influencers are the right ones for your organization, for your brand?
Brett Bernstein: So there’s a lot of tools out there that I won’t talk down, because they’re good in the way that they do what they do, and then there’s our approach as well with Gatsby, so I’ll kind of talk about both. So traditionally the traditional influencer marketing strategy, well, it starts by manually looking up people on Instagram, maybe doing hashtag searches, whatever. But once you have a budget and you want to put this thing to scale, brands will typically go and they’ll purchase a software that allows them to access a database, and they can search for people based upon interests and engagement rate, that kind of stuff, right?
So, you kind of start with a giant pool of people who have raised their hands saying, yes, I want to be an influencer, here’s my rate, or here’s my previous content. Reach out to me for a collaboration. That’s one way of doing it, and there’s some great softwares out there that do that approach.
On the flip side, I thought that that was already a pretty established market and there was some flaws with it, because it is so hard to scale. There’s a lot of people on there that maybe aren’t the right fit for you that’ll just do whatever, or they won’t respond to you. So, have you guys heard of softwares, I’m sure you have, softwares like Klaviyo or Omnisend or Salethrough, or any of those, right?
Brian Weinstein: Yep.
Brett Bernstein: So, email marketing and SMS marketing make up the largest share of revenue, right? I think it’s somewhere like 30% of a brand’s revenue comes from their email marketing, so brands are very well-versed on how to run their email automation, their SMS automations, right? So instead of having them learn another software for influencer marketing, Gatsby went and we built a plugin right into Klaviyo, Omnisend, Salethrough, HubSpot, MailChimp, et cetera, that allows you to run influencer marketing directly within Klaviyo.
So, essentially instead of having to go and manage every individual micro-influencer and kind of judge them individually, we instead say, here’s all of your customers that have opted in to give you their Instagram handle, here’s how much influence they have. You can put them into buckets. So in the same way you manage an email flow for let’s say card abandonment or holiday promotion, you now have their influence directly layered on the top.
So you could say, hey, any customers who purchased from us in the past 60 days, maybe they bought one of these verticals of products and they have between one follower and 1,000 followers, let’s give them this email to post about their recent purchase, right? If they have between 1,000 and 2,000 followers, let’s give them this email with this offer to talk about what they purchased, right?
So instead of having to go and manage every influencer one-on-one, instead you start with a baseline of these are your customers. You want to engage with them anyways, no matter how influential they are, and now you can actually just segment them into one degree further of targeting and say, “We know you like Instagram this much, we know you have this following, we’ll actually refund your purchase or we’ll go and we’ll give you a free item or a free gift or first access to this next product launch if you go and talk about what you just got, assuming you love it.” That’s the idea.
Caitlin Postel: Yeah, what’s the willingness of providing the IG handle?
Brett Bernstein: Well, our brands will capture it in many different ways, right?
Caitlin Postel: Right.
Brett Bernstein: So it could be in the pop-up window on the homepage, the first welcome series pop-up, it could be on a landing page where they drive traffic to it. It could be on the post-purchase page, which I actually recommend every brand does, because it takes five, 10 minutes to put a form there, it’s very minimal on design. So, different capture points of different conversion rates on the form.
What I would say, just back of the napkin here, is in general about 15 to 20% of the customers who choose to give you their email address into a pop-up window will choose to give you their handle as well, right? So typically handle’s an optional field, so 15%, 20% of them will give you their handle if they give you their email address.
Adding a form post-purchase totally can depend upon a lot of different things. How the form looks, if it’s messaged like an influencer program or if it’s like get more involved with us. But the moral of the story is there’s really a no downside to asking for this data, because again, it’s just your customers, and having more about them is always a good thing.
Caitlin Postel: Right. Any micro-influencer, they’re giving you their handle before you even ask for it. Stop putting your handle on a sticker, I don’t want it.
Brett Bernstein: They want you to engage with them.
Caitlin Postel: I know.
Brett Bernstein: They want that, right?
Brian Weinstein: Well, it’s interesting to me that it’s actually, I guess to a degree you’re going out and you’re looking for these micro-influencers, but at the same time, the brands are letting them come to them, letting them become customers. Brett, to your point, they are customers who are already enjoying the product, and now you’re saying, “Hey, listen, you seem to have this far reach, here’s what we can do for you.” First release, whatever, exclusives, discounts, rebates, entirely to get to that point. That’s interesting that that’s a way to go about it.
So, obviously the brand then has to reach out to that particular person and say, “Hey, listen, this is what we’re interested in.” What kind of engagement back do you get? Is that a high percentage responding to an email or some sort of DM?
Brett Bernstein: Yeah. So again, all of this will vary by brand, because of the different … We have some brands that do plain text emails, just showing them a plain text message, asking them to post in exchange for this incentive. Other brands will have a really well-thought out structured campaign with beautiful HTML, animated emails. So, it really varies.
We did have a case study come out. I think the brand was showing 15% or 20% of emails that went out, got responded to. They did a post. Really, it’s for the brands to do testing and figure it out how it’s going to fit with their customer base and everything else. But I did see that this particular brand had a 2X open rate on their influencer marketing emails versus their traditional emails, and then the engagement rates that they got were 9% on average. So, 9% engagement rates on the posts that went out on their behalf.
Our software, by the way, can track all that. So every time a customer mentions you in a post or a story, we can pull in those insights, and then we also can send that data back to Klaviyo, Omnisend, et cetera. So you don’t actually give anything away ahead of time, you only give them their incentive, their reward after they post. Again, it’s all automated through our integration with the email marketing system.
Brian Weinstein: Amazing. So, how is it then measured? How is the success rate by maybe the aggregate micro-influencers that you’re using, or maybe even the individual micro-influencers that you’re using, how is that tracked? Is there any way to measure the success that’s coming from that?
Brett Bernstein: Yeah, so engagement rate, likes, comments, taps backs, taps forward on stories, that kind of stuff, those are important metrics. We have an estimate for reach in the Gatsby portal, but another big area that brands look at for ROI is just the content itself. There is a nonstop need for fresh high-performing content.
So inside of Gatsby, what’s cool is you can see all the content that your customers have posted about you. You can just easily sort them by engagement rate or by like counts, and then take that content, assuming you got the consent in the form, take that content and turn it into a high-performing ad on Facebook or TikTok or Instagram, et cetera. So, just being able to save your time of finding content, that alone helps brands.
So, it really comes down to how the brands want to measure it. Some brands will connect in their affiliate program, so they’ll give their influencers, at least of a certain influence level, an affiliate link. They’ll measure orders and conversions through that, they’ll measure redemptions of codes to say, okay, we gave all of our influencers these codes, and these codes have been used for 100 orders, 1,000 orders, whatever it is, and they can measure ROI through that.
We are working on a feature to actually build in that order tracking, that order ROI functionality into Gatsby early next year. So there’s just different ways you can do it, but at the end of the day, it could be a mixture of time-saving, content creation and sales.
Brian Weinstein: So when you’re choosing how many micro-influencers a brand should have, is there any metrics that are used there that might be important to them so they’re not maybe over-saturating with the micro-influencers? Or maybe there isn’t a point of over-saturation. Is there some sort of way to capture the right number that makes sense for the size of the brand?
Brett Bernstein: The more the merrier, at least in our approach. Before Gatsby or not using Gatsby I should say, there is a limitation on resources that your company has to manage all those collaborations. So from that standpoint, there could be a maximum that’s good for your business. But in our approach, because it’s all your customers and it’s all using automation, you want to just open up the floodgates.
Because again, going back to the very beginning of this conversation. When I started Gatsby, my intention was to make influencer marketing as scalable and as effective as the turn on turnoff spigot of advertising of Facebook Ads and Google Ads. So my approach is to be able to turn on a flow, a Klaviyo flow or Omnisend flow, et cetera, and have that same scalable approach, I think, spigot on and off. So no, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have as many of your influencer customers posting about you as possible.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, and that makes sense. I keep thinking about it and it’s interesting, because you really are, you’ve got people now … you’re not being talked to like a macro-influencer would, right? They’re talking to you, there’s the disconnect, you now have people talking with you and speaking with you, in that sense that it is forming that community.
We keep talking about this and this is a repeated topic on the podcast, is just eCommerce is creating communities. As big as it is, the worldwide web as it is, we’re now creating these small pockets of communities that make people feel a lot more connected. I think this approach, this micro-influencer approach really lends itself to that with all these brands, because you’ve got people who are sharing a common interest. I think that’s a key component to the success of a brand is when they have those other people and that community is forming and everyone feels connected.
Brett Bernstein: I mean, yeah. To give you a fresh analogy. Right now, we’re recording this in mid-October, it’s like Squid Game, that Netflix show is blowing up right now, and it’s because everybody’s telling their friends about it, right?
Brian Weinstein: Yep.
Brett Bernstein: You’re harnessing that same strategy, but for your brand. It’s pretty powerful when it’s actually done through all these different scalable approaches.
Brian Weinstein: Yeah, absolutely. Well, listen, Brett, I really appreciate the time. This is very valuable information, and I think it gives brands another way to get their voice out there. Quite honestly, I think it’s one of the more genuine ways to get your voice out there, so appreciate the insight. Again, it’s Brett Bernstein from Gatsby.ai. Appreciate you coming on.
Brett Bernstein: Thank you, Brian and Caitlin as well. Appreciate you guys both having me on here today.
Caitlin Postel: Thank You, Brett. Thank you everyone for tuning in. Check us out at sippinandshippin.com or on your favorite podcast platform. We’ll see you two Thursdays from today. Thank you guys.
Brian Weinstein: All right, thank you everybody. Take care.