Gretta Rose van Riel, Founder, SkinnyMe Tea
Van Riel has used influencer marketing to catapult her businesses to millions in revenue. Now she’s using her expertise to build a platform that can help others do the same.
When Gretta Rose van Riel launched her first business, she was just 22 years old with less than $25 in her bank account.
In search of the perfect detox tea for herself, van Riel had started creating blends at home and soon found a loyal customer base among her office coworkers. Inspired, she put up a simple Shopify site and started selling her teas.
It did better than expected. Way better. She started making her day job’s daily wage in just one hour with her teas, and then her weekly wage in an hour, and then eventually, her monthly wage in an hour. That’s when she knew she was onto something.
“I was like, ‘Okay, this is really something that I need to focus on,’” van Riel says. The young marketing professional was still working her full-time job while she ran the ecommerce site for the first two to three months.
But asking for advice from friends and family didn’t go so well.
“Everybody said, ‘Do not quit your job!’” van Riel says. “So I just didn’t tell anybody and quit anyway.”
In its first six months, SkinnyMe Tea was making more than $600,000 in revenue a month. Since then, it has garnered 300,000 customers around the world and multiple millions in revenue.
But if you think she’d be satisfied with one multimillion-dollar company and a burgeoning “teatox” market under her belt, you don’t know van Riel. Since we last spoke with the social media marketing titan back in early 2016, van Riel’s suite of brands has only grown stronger. In her latest project, she’s looking to help other entrepreneurs find similar success, by harnessing one of van Riel’s own secret weapons—influencer marketing.
Founding The 5TH
After the success of SkinnyMe, van Riel embarked on her second venture, demonstrating her marketing chops by creating a watch company with a unique twist. The 5TH sells high-end timepieces on the fifth of each month, for only five days.
The time-limited aspect of this sales process is part of its genius—it sparks increased demand with its restricted supply, and has allowed van Riel to build a loyal following willing to stay up late or get up early just to be the first to snag a 5TH watch.
How did she come up with such a unique launch process?
“Well, it was kind of a bit of an accident to begin with,” van Riel says.
Thanks to her influencer marketing prowess, she had grown a list of about 8,000 leads before launch. But the problem was, she had only 1,200 timepieces to sell. So when The 5TH launched, it sold out of most of the styles within the first day.
Being sold out can be good for the seller, but it’s a huge pain point for buyers.
“We decided that we’d … use that to our advantage,” van Riel says. So instead of having to send an “out of stock” apology message to prospective buyers, van Riel and co-founder Alex McBride chose to be transparent about the process and let customers know that stock is limited, so they have to get in fast.
“And that worked really, really well,” she says, “because for the first, like, six months of sales, we were selling out really, really quickly—sometimes within a few hours—which meant that also we’re building this incredibly loyal customer base, because those people that were buying literally stayed up until midnight Australian time or got up at, like, 5 to 7 a.m. around the world to shop our store.”
But van Riel admits it wasn’t always this easy. The 5TH has been in business for more than two years now, but the first five to 10 launches were tough.
“We didn’t really have our processes locked down very well,” she says. “It would just be a lot of moving parts at the same time and just having to act very, very quickly to keep up with orders.”
Despite the rocky start, van Riel and McBride hit their stride with this unique business model one year after launch. In December 2015, The 5TH brought in a whopping $1 million in sales in just one day.
Weaving Social Good Into a Business
For most children, Christmas might be a time to ask for new toys. But 5-year-old Gretta van Riel had something very different at the top of her Christmas list: She wanted a certain politician to “become a good person.”
Van Riel, whose parents are both social workers, says she was raised in a very socially conscious family, and that upbringing inspired the way she runs her businesses today.
“I have always been interested in developing socially conscious brands,” van Riel says. “Usually it’s just behind the scenes, and it’s just things like going with the more ethical supplier or sustainable product parts, and you don’t often get to celebrate that as much.”
When she started her third business, Drop Bottle, she decided to make a good cause central to the identity of that business by donating a percentage of its sales to clean water initiatives around the world.
“I think having that social-conscious image at the forefront of your brand develops a different relationship with your customer,” van Riel says. “And it helps the discourse of your brand in general. You can talk about completely different issues-based topics rather than just the general functionality of the product.”
With SkinnyMe Tea, she’s been able to give back through public-facing events, such as a charity gala where they raised $25,000 for The Kids’ Cancer Project. But for van Riel, some of the most rewarding moments are when she hears from customers who have found her products helpful.
“The products are often rewarding in themselves,” she says. “But then it’s also nice to give back where possible.”
Drop Bottle was launched in a sort of reverse method, something van Riel likes to think of as “market product fit,” rather than the traditional “product market fit.”
“We launched Drop Bottle off the back of an audience,” she says, “rather than developing that audience for the product.”
Van Riel had grown an Instagram community interested in detox waters, with about 900,000 followers and lots of engagement in the form of comments and likes. So she started brainstorming ideas for a product she could offer this engaged audience. She decided to create a detox water bottle that customers could use to infuse fruits into their drinking water, and thus, Drop Bottle was born.
“I prefer to think of it as ‘market product fit,’ because if you launch a product to no audience, it’s not really going to develop into a brand or anything sustainable,” van Riel says. “You’re not going to get the sales that you thought you were. You’re going to be quite disappointed. So the idea that you develop the market before, or at the exact same time as your product, right along the way, as you’re building it, is just a much better concept in my eyes.”
Van Riel’s Powerful Influencer Marketing Strategy
After scaling a few multimillion-dollar companies, van Riel has perfected a repeatable formula for success. A key component of that formula has been influencer marketing, which relies on personal endorsements from people with devoted social media followings.
“It’s the most effective digital marketing technique that there is right now, in terms of ROI,” van Riel says.
Why? Consumers are growing more distrustful of brands, and influencer marketing is a way for people to feel an authentic connection to a business via influencers who love a particular product.
Van Riel has been a master of this approach since early days, and a big part of her branding success has to do with the personal connections she’s cultivated with fans over time. She’s also got the logistics down cold, with a unique understanding of how this form of marketing works, including some key best practices.
Free vs. Paid Campaigns
Is offering free product enough, or should you pay an influencer? “That’s kind of the bind right now,” van Riel says.
There are pros and cons to both the product-for-post campaigns and the paid ones.
If an influencer is willing to post about your brand simply in exchange for free product, the good news is that influencer is genuinely interested in your product. But the bad news is that influencer may not always follow through and post about your product.
And then you’re in a tight spot. Because there was no monetary compensation involved, it’s difficult to follow up in a meaningful way.
On the other hand, when you pay an influencer, it completely changes the dynamic, because now it’s a business relationship.
“Often, paying them is going to be less work in the long run,” van Riel says. Product-for-post campaigns involve a lot of relationship management, requiring you to make sure they received the product, that they’re happy with it, and that they know how to use it.
And these days it’s common for most professional influencers to expect payment, a fair expectation, says van Riel, considering all the work that goes on behind the scenes. “A lot of them are incredible content creators that have to take that photo on their camera and then spend an hour editing it as well, and so it must be hugely disappointing if that post was not paid for, because you’ve spent hours of your life generating that content.”
But how much should you pay an influencer?
As with any industry, there are many different ways to put a price tag on content. What’s important is that you decide from the start what you will be measuring. While you could choose to pay based on conversions, van Riel says payment-for-post is the norm.
Once you start working with influencers in your niche, you’ll get a better idea of the going rates. But van Riel offers some benchmarks to give us a general idea:
- Influencers with under 20K followers = $50 to $100 a post
- 50K followers = $100 to $200 a post
- 100K+ followers = $200 to $500 a post
500K+ followers = more than $1000 a post
Micro- vs. Macro-Influencers
While many eager brands might aim for the big leagues first, hoping to hit a homerun with a celebrity like Kylie Jenner, van Riel says that sometimes the “micro” influencers can have a larger impact.
“I haven’t heard one brand actually regenerate all of the sales they spent on that one post with a macro influencer like a Kylie Jenner,” van Riel says.
For best results, van Riel recommends working with those micro influencers who are growing quickly, but have hardly posted any branded content yet.
“The reason that micro-influencers are so much more effective than a macro-influencer, in terms of ROI as well, is because often those micro-influencers, their feeds are so much more fresh,” she says. “They’re like gems.”
Where macro-influencers really shine is in influencing your micro-influencers, who will, in turn, influence your potential customers.
“If you do engage a macro-influencer,” van Riel says, “you can use that as leverage to engage your micro-influencers. Plus, your micro-influencers will have had exposure to your brand through seeing it on feed. So you’re much more likely to then be able to pursue them for just a product-for-post or a cheaper post than usual.”
That’s when the micro-influencers can come in and create branded content that will inspire user-generated content from your customers.
This technique builds an entire ecosystem that, when managed properly, can thrive and spark a whole lot of growth and sales for your brand.
Real-Life Influencer Case Studies From Van Riel’s Brands
SkinnyMe Tea: How 1 Instagram Post Led to $1,000 in Sales in 1 Day
The timing was perfect. When SkinnyMe Tea launched in 2012, “influencer marketing” wasn’t a well-known term or strategy yet, and there weren’t many brands trying to collaborate with influencers on Instagram.
One day, van Riel noticed someone from Tasmania had purchased from SkinnyMe Tea and posted about it on Instagram. That same day, the tea company had its best day ever at $1,000 in sales.
Van Riel saw a huge opportunity here. She went through and took screenshots of Instagram accounts that fit well within her target demographic and then commented on these accounts, offering to send them free tea.
The results were overwhelming. Van Riel was seeing response rates of 90 to 95 percent from Instagram influencers (which, back then, meant each had only about 1,000 followers).
The low competition and the novelty of influencer marketing meant van Riel was able to use this one technique to help grow SkinnyMe Tea to the multimillion-dollar company it is today.
The 5TH: How 30 Influencers Generated $100K in Sales on Launch Day
Before launching The 5TH, van Riel sent 30 sample watches to Instagram influencers. This campaign was unpaid, but it’s important to note she had already developed good relationships with these influencers.
She sent watches to 10 influencers with more than 100,000 followers and 20 influencers with under 50,000. The call to action in all the posts focused on getting the audience to sign up for the waitlist. As a result, van Riel was able to add 8,000 highly qualified leads to her email list prior to launch.
Sending out those 30 watches and sending emails to the waitlist were the only marketing tactics The 5TH did before launch. On launch day, the company generated $100,000 in sales.
For her next endeavor, Van Riel is venturing into new territory with a software as a service (SaaS) company, albeit one in a very familiar setting. While running influencer marketing campaigns for her other businesses, van Riel has run into several pain points. So she decided to build her ideal, end-to-end collaboration platform—it’s called “Hey.”
Hey guides you through the process of creating and managing your influencer marketing campaigns.
The first step is to create a campaign. Hey offers templated campaigns based on goals, such as generating sales or content.
Next, it helps you find influencers. They’ll appear based on the demographics you chose. If you have pre-existing relationships, you can invite those influencers to the campaign by uploading a CSV or adding their email addresses and names.
Finally, Hey makes it easy to manage relationships. You can set the terms and communicate via a chat feature so that you can find all the essential information in one spot.
Once your campaign is up and running, you can pre-approve a post and give the green light when it’s ready to go live. The brand gets notified when the post is published, and the payment gets released to the influencer.
Influencer marketing—and Gretta Rose van Riel’s online empire—appear to be here to stay. With Hey, the branding wizard hopes to make it easier for other up-and-comers to find similar success.
Think Outside the Box: 3 Types of Influencer Marketing Collaboration
The biggest misconception surrounding influencer marketing, van Riel says, is that most brands don’t understand it’s multidirectional. Instead of thinking of influencer marketing as strictly a place where brands send a brief to influencers and tell them what to do, van Riel recommends thinking in terms of creative freedom and collaboration from all directions.
She cites three types of influencer marketing collaborations:
- One brand collaborates with multiple influencers. This is your traditional influencer marketing campaign and the one with which most brands are familiar. You send a product, and sometimes payment, to influencers and have them post about your brand. When you do this, give your influencers creative freedom to do what they do best: influence. A brand should not be dictating the wording and creative direction of the posts. “It’s really unfair on the influencer, and it’s not going to have good results for your brand,” van Riel says. “An influencer knows their audience.”
- Multiple influencers collaborate on a single campaign. On the influencer side, popular YouTubers and Instagrammers, for example, can team up on a collaboration for a brand and expand each other’s reach. Van Riel says you can think of them as a “content crew,” where each influencer has a role, such as hair stylist, makeup artist, photographer, and model. This crew can then pitch its creative concept to a brand.
- Multiple brands collaborate on a single campaign. Many brands share similarities with other brands within their niche. Rather than viewing them as competition, consider teaming up with them on an influencer marketing campaign. One huge benefit to this is that you can split the campaign costs. “It’s that kind of collaborative aspect that a Frank Body … could team up with a SkinnyMe Tea,” van Riel says, “because we have really similar audiences, but it wouldn’t be detracting from either company’s sales. … If you’re doing a body scrub, that’s quite detoxifying for your skin, and if you’re drinking a detox tea at the same time, that wouldn’t be an unusual thing to happen. People often use our products side by side. So why not team up to create that content at scale at half the price?”
- How to build an incredibly loyal customer base through social media
- The easiest way to hack into the power of influencer marketing to build your brand
- Gretta’s method to developing the perfect product from idea, to validation, to selling
- Why Instagram should be your number one channel for customers and sales
- The foolproof marketing formula guaranteed to double your revenue
Full Transcript of Podcast with Gretta Rose van Riel
Nathan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of “The Foundr Podcast.” I just want to say thank you so much for your time and attention and listening to my soothing voice from wherever you are around the world. I hope you enjoy this Australian accent. I know most of you guys are not from Australia tuning in. I know we have a very, very global audience. So I just want to say thank you, I appreciate you, and please do let any of your entrepreneurial, startup, founder friends know about “The Foundr Podcast.” It really helps us grow.
All right. So now, let’s talk about today’s guest. She’s a fellow Australian, a fellow Melbournite. Her name’s Gretta Rose van Riel. She’s one of the smartest female founders that I know out of Melbourne. She’s absolutely crushing it. She’s a master of e-commerce. She’s a master of growth, and marketing, and product. She is a very, very smart person that I’m lucky enough to call a friend, and we’re having her back actually for the second time around of “The Foundr Podcast.”
Now, there’re a few reasons that we’re having her back a second time around. The first reason is her episode is actually the most downloaded episode that we’ve ever had. It’s had over 40,000 downloads, which is pretty awesome considering, you know, we have only been doing this podcast for just under two years. And then another reason is if you follow along, you must be thinking, “Nathan is beating on dead horse,” but if you are just listening in, we wanted to know how we could serve our audience further. You guys told us that you, you know, wanted to start a business, didn’t know where to start. A big proportion, now, this is not a whole audience, but a decent-sized proportion wanted to know how to start a business but didn’t know where to start, and you said you most-likely wanted to produce an e-commerce product.
At Foundr, we’re not masters of e-commerce or physical products so I had to find someone, and I twisted Gretta’s arm to teach a course because she has four multi-million-dollar e-commerce brands, and I wanted to invite her back to just talk about her new projects that she’s working on and also this awesome course called “Start & Scale” that we’re working with her on. So this course is coming out Monday, 29th. If you do want to be notified when it goes live, or if you do want to get access to it, make sure you sign up at foundrmag.com/ecommerce, and if you do enjoy this interview, make sure you do check out this course because Gretta is a super-smart person, and she goes through her whole framework and repeatable system that she’s used to build these brands and build these businesses.
And in this episode, we talk about influencer marketing with her, and she is working on a SaaS product which is called “Hey,” and it sounds like an amazing influencer platform that I’m going to be using, which I highly recommend that you check out also. So I promise you, after you listen to this interview, you’ll be like, “Wow! How can I learn more from Gretta?” Especially if you guys wanna start a business, you don’t know where to start, you’re listening to this now, please do go and check out foundrmag.com/ecommerce.
All right, guys, that’s it from me. I hope you enjoy this episode. I know you will. Now, let’s jump into the show.
The first question I ask everyone that comes on, and this is your actual second appearance, I don’t even think we’re having a second appearance, is, how did you get your job?
Gretta: How did I get my job? I got my job now, I guess, back in 2012. I was working in a digital marketing role at a print-turning digital agency, and I just…every day, when I go home from work at 5:00-ish, I’d be coming up with different ideas all the time, and wanted to kind of pursue those at the same time. And I guess it was just something that turned from a passion project or a hobby into something that I was able to pursue full-time, and that was SkinnyMe Tea.
Nathan: Gotcha. So how did you get started on SkinnyMe Tea, getting into e-commerce? What made you wanna start a business back in 2012? Yeah, did you read any books, or what…well, actually you thought, “Oh, okay, well…”
Gretta: No, no. I was just always coming up with different ideas and kind of half-pursuing them, but not really thinking…I definitely didn’t think about the word “entrepreneurship,” the idea of starting a business, anything like that. That was not very common discourse back then in Melbourne in 2011, 2012. It was nowhere near as popular. Basically, I just had an idea that resonated with me so strongly that I just knew that it was something that I was going to have to pursue, and that idea was of a “teatox,” so a detox with tea. I’d been trying a lot of different teas on the market, and making my own blends from different herbs that I’d buy, like, in bulk from our local health food store, and I’d just been playing with those, and people at work started asking me whether they could try my, like, detox with tea.
And it wasn’t until I kind of thought of that word and that concept, “teatox,” that I could really…that was kind of my lightbulb moment where I could kind of identify with something and it was this concrete term, and I was like, “This is what I’m doing. This is what this product is, and this is what I’m going to sell.” But basically, it just, it grew quite organically because people from work were asking me whether they could try my detox of tea, so “teatox” in the end, and I was getting a lot of Facebook messages from even their friends and stuff, and I was like, “This is getting a bit out of hand. I can’t really manage this, like, as it is so I’m just gonna create an online store.” So I literally just googled, like, e-commerce software, read a few different reviews, decided go with Shopify, and created my store. I think it took me about eight hours to create the store with a blog and some information pages, like, on the ingredients and their effects, and just put our single product up to begin with, which was the 14-day teatox, and started selling from there.
Nathan: Gotcha. And you’ve done multiple extremely successful e-commerce brands. Can you tell us how far you took SkinnyMe Tea, and, yeah, let’s really talk about…because we’re gonna get more into influencer marketing, how you’ve done it, which I think is really, really key because it seems to be a recurring theme across all of your brands that you’ve scaled to multiple millions of dollars in turnover. But, yeah, how far did you take SkinnyMe Tea, and can you tell us about some of your other brands?
Gretta: Yeah, for sure. SkinnyMe Tea grew very quickly in a…kind of, it felt like an uncontrolled manner. The scariest part about the business was how quickly it was growing and not being able to fulfill orders, and running out of stock all the time, and all those kind of problems, which were good problems to have as the money was coming in. We were able to grow quite quickly. We scaled from nothing at the very start. I started SkinnyMe Tea with $23 in my bank account, so I didn’t put in much money to the company basically, only for web hosting, I think. The Shopify was, like, a free trial back then, and it was just kind of to host our support email and stuff.
So basically, we started in a pre-sale model. So I would get the orders during the week while I was at work, and then I’d fulfill them on the weekend, and then send them out, which meant that we were always cash-flow positive, like we were always getting money before we had to spend money. So that was kind of how we started out. And we scaled from there really quickly. In the first six months, we were doing over 600,000 USD a month, and I started to realize how much money the company was making, and how I kinda needed to start to focus on that more so because I was still working at my full-time job at the time for the first, like, two to three months. And it just kinda took that realization from when we went from…like, I was making with the tea company my daily wage in an hour, or my weekly wage in an hour, and then I was making my monthly wage in an hour sometimes, and I was like, “Okay, this is really something that I need to focus on.”
So I quit my job without telling anybody. I asked for some advice from friends and family, and everybody said, “Do not quit your job.” So I just didn’t tell anybody, and quit anyway, and told them after the fact. And I think I was more scared that I wouldn’t have enough to do in a day, which seems insane now. I’d be like, “Oh, but I kind of have been getting all this done, you know. In the meantime, what if I just, like, sleep all day, or something? I don’t know. Like, be on, you know, constant holiday,” which was the biggest misconception I’ve ever had. Like, the more work you do, the more you’ve realized that you have to do.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s crazy. So you’ve taken that business, turn it into multiples of millions, and that wasn’t enough though. You started…
Gretta: Apparently not.
Nathan: …three more brands that are killing it. Can you tell us just about them, and we’re gonna talk about the key pieces? You’ve got over 17 million followers on Instagram, social media, you know, the queen of Instagram, absolutely crushing it. We talked about that last time you came on, but I’m really wanna hone in on influencer marketing and how you’ve done it because this is really, really key, and now, you’re moving on to building a SaaS platform, which we’re gonna talk about as well, which I’m really curious about.
Gretta: Well, influencer marketing, I guess, is how I built those 17 million Instagram followers. But going back to the previous question, the next brand that I helped co-create with my co-founder was The Fifth Watches, and basically, we’re a watch company that is exclusive by time rather than by price. So we only sell on the 5th of each month, for five days. That was kind of our points of difference. So each month, we’d kind of spend the five days of the month focusing on sales, and then 25 days of the month, we get to focus on, you know, customer satisfaction, and building demand, and exclusivity, and growth through that means, which is quite unusual for a brand.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. And when it comes to just, operationally, your company, is it difficult because you’re running, like, a launch pretty much every single month, or is it fairly standardized across the operation site?
Gretta: It was really difficult, to begin with, the first, you know, maybe…it’s been running for over two years now though. So at first, maybe 5 to 10 launches were always the most difficult because we didn’t really have our progresses locked down very well. We’d just be, like, a lot of moving parts at the same time, and just having to act very, very quickly to keep up with this . And, of course, it still always is, something always changes every month, but basically, the hardest part about the model is keeping that demand going each month, which is mostly through communications, and, of course, you know.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. No, I think that model was genius just around the scarcity-based selling, and then also using it as a form of, as you call, UVP.
Gretta: Well, it was kind of a bit of an accident to begin with. What happened was we had generated a sign-up list of about 8000 people before launch, and we only had about 1200 timepieces to sell. So what happened was we launched and we basically sold out of most of the styles within the first day of launching, and we actually did over $100,000 in that single day of sales on our first-ever day. So that was really, really exciting, and it was also my co-founder’s birthday that day so he was having the best day of his life, which was amazing. And it was his first business so it was just awesome to get to experience that with him.
Yeah, so basically, we sold out more like we don’t want to be coming in and out of stock all the time. As we grow, we can’t afford right now because watches are quite an expensive per-unit cost product. We’re like, we can’t afford, we don’t wanna put in, like, a lot of capital into something we don’t know will continue to succeed so we’re just going to grow as we do. And we’ve realized that by limiting that to the five days a month and saying, or until sold-out previously, we could kind of grow and use that…like, usually, that would be a pain point, like running in and out of stock or running out of product, that we decided that we’d harness this way to use that to our advantage. So rather than saying, like, “Oops, we’re out of stock. Sorry for the inconvenience,” it was more like, “Yes, we are out of stock. We’re transparent about this. We only have limited numbers of stock, and you need to get in quickly.”
And that worked really, really well because for the first, like, six months of sales, we were selling out really, really quickly, sometimes within a few hours, which meant that also, we were building this incredibly loyal customer base because those people that were buying literally stayed up until midnight, Australian time, or got up at, like, 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. around the world to shop at our store at that time. So these people are highly-motivated buyers, and we had great retention from those as well.
Nathan: You know, I think it’s absolutely genius, kind of like what Adidas do with the Yeezys, you know, Kanye shoes, or you’re just so rare and you just want…
Nathan: Yeah, gotcha. So what happened next? That wasn’t enough. You started some other companies, too, right?
Gretta: Yeah. Well, then I was working on Nichify at the same time, which is now our product, Hey, still owned by the Nichify Company Group. But, yeah, Hey is the influencer marketing product, and we’re working on that because digital products, like, physical products take a lot less time than a digital product to develop. So we had to develop all that software, so that was kind of behind the scenes, working at the same time as we built that.
And we launched another company called Drop Bottle, and that company was a bit different. So we launched Drop Bottle off the back of an audience rather than developing that audience for the product, so it was kind of a reverse launch. Like, people talk about product market fit, I kind of have a bit of a semantic problem with that term, I guess. I prefer to think of it as market product fit because if you launch a product to no audience, you know, it’s not really going to develop into a brand or anything sustainable. You know, you’re not going to get the sales that you thought you were. You’re going to be, you know, quite disappointed. So the idea that you develop the market before or at the exact same time as your product right along the way as you’re building it, is just a much better concept in my eyes. So Drop Bottle was the perfect example of market product fit where I developed a really engaged Instagram community around the concept of detox waters, so basically just water that you infuse with fruit. You get some of the added benefits from the fruit, and it’s just a really kind of fun, tasty way to stay hydrated, I guess.
And so I had this community that had about 900,000 followers on Instagram, and it was really engaged, and just a lot of comments, as well as, like, engagement so we could tell that people were really identifying with the concept. So we were like, “Okay, we’ve got this really engaged audience. Like, what product can we offer them?” So we decided to create a detox water drink bottle, so a fruit or tea-infuser drink model that’s also quite fashionable. Glass, double-walled glass, and, like, the gold lid has been the most popular. So it’s kind of like a fashionable and functional drink bottle. And we also give a percentage of sales of that bottle to help make fresh water initiatives around the world. Recently built a well in Uganda, I think it was.
Nathan: Yeah, wow! That’s awesome. Why did you decide to do that?
Gretta: I have always been interested in developing socially-conscious brands, whether that’s…usually, it’s just behind the scenes, and it’s just, you know, things like going with a more ethical supplier or sustainable kind of product parts, and you don’t often get to celebrate that as much, but I think that, you know, kind of having that social conscious image at the forefront of your brand kinda develops a different relationship with your customer, and, you know, it helps the discourse of your brand in general, like you can talk about completely different issues-based topics rather than just the general, you know, functionality of the product and the effects of lemon water on your body. Like, it just lets you participate in a completely different conversation and paradigm to which you would generally be able to participate.
Nathan: Yeah, I think that’s really smart. And you can build, like, a stronger relationship with that person as well.
Gretta: Yeah, exactly. And I think my parents really inspired that in me. They’re both social workers so I grew up in quite a socially-minded family. Like, as a five-year-old, my Christmas dream was for this one politician, I won’t mention his name, I’m actually now friends with him, to have something dropped on the roof of his house to make him a nice person, this special magic crane. And I told him this, and this is how we actually became friends, because we sat down next to each other at a dinner, the Pitcher Partners, and I sat down next to him and I was like, “You almost shut my primary school, and my dream as a five-year-old was for you to become a good person,” and he was like, “Whoa! Okay.”
Nathan: Wow! That’s so funny. I hear the craziest stories…
Gretta: So, yeah, I came from a bit of a kind of a left-wing, very socially-minded background where my parents both work in government roles as well. So I’ve always been brought up in that way. Like when we started SkinnyMe Tea, I always tried to give back as much as possible as well. So we’ve given…we had a charity gala for the Kids’ Cancer Project, and donated $25,000 from that night to the Kids’ Cancer Project, and just a few other little things.
My mom always comes across, like, little initiatives that you can do that are a bit more behind the scenes. Like when we first started SkinnyMe Tea, a girl needed a really expensive wheelchair, and I think it was about $16,000, and there was no way her family would have been able to afford that, but she couldn’t even go to primary school without the new chair because she was in too much pain from sitting in the normal chair each day. And so, you know, we were able to donate that on the company’s behalf, and just little things like that that make you kind of feel like you’re doing some social good at the same time. I mean, all of the companies do have…like SkinnyMe Tea even, like we’ve helped so many people achieve their health goals, and we constantly get incredible feedback and reviews of people saying like, “I was, you know, so out of shape before I started this, and it’s really helped me turn around my whole headset about health. And, you know, I was very overweight. Now, I’ve lost…you know, the tea helped me kick-start losing about 20 kilos,” and things like that. Like, we get some incredible stories, so the products are often rewarding in themselves, but then it’s also nice to give back where possible as well.
Nathan: Yeah. Yeah, it is great. I agree, and I wanna do more of that kind of stuff with Foundr. We did it with our book. We gave a significant amount of money to this cause that helped people obtain, you know, fresh meals in South Africa. You know, I think it’s really, really good to do that kinda stuff, especially when you have the, I guess, responsibility once you build up a brand, or you build up a presence, or your company is doing okay for itself. I think that’s important.
Gretta: Yeah, of course.
Nathan: So that wasn’t enough though. You did wanna build a SaaS-based product, and it’s actually a platform, as well, so it’s a end-to-end marketplace. So talk to us about that because the recurring theme, you know, with you and these brands is you have a repeatable framework that’s proven, and you’re actually working with us at Foundr to work on actually teaching that. It’s gonna be our first course. We’re not gonna talk about that. We’ve got tons of stuff coming out around that, but, you know, a recurring theme has been this influencer marketing piece, and you’ve created a platform because that platform that you wanted to use didn’t exist.
Gretta: Yeah, basically. Like you said, it has been a repeatable kind of formula. An integral, like, central to that formula has been influencer marketing every time, and it’s probably then the topic that I’ve got the most questions about while I’ve been growing the businesses. I’ll chat later a little bit with you about, like, some of the case studies which our company is, like, launching The Fifth or when we discovered how powerful influencer marketing was with SkinnyMe Tea. But basically being able to create a platform that automates a lot of that process has just been really helpful because it’s a really difficult area to kinda just explain. Like, I was finding it really difficult, if I was doing consulting or advisory, to be able to advise on every area because it’s, in some ways, it’s quite simple, and others, it’s very complex. So it’s kind of, the great thing about Hey is that it can take you from, you know, the most simple kind of campaign where you’re simply reaching out to an influencer, offering your product in return for content or a post, through to much more complex situations like offering affiliate commissions of products or revenue share.
So that’s kind of the way that the platform came to be. It was just basically a pain point in the market, and, again, just scratching an itch because it was something that I needed for my influencer managers to help them do their jobs better and to help me do my job better just by automating some of the manual processes that we have to go through, but the main thing was just kind of…it was centralizing that communication. Influencer marketing is very relationships-based and it’s very communication-driven, and by creating an end-to-end platform where you can go in, start a campaign, and finish it with a payment, and be submitted the work to review and those metrics to track all in the one platform was just the most helpful part because everybody knows, that has started an influencer marketing campaign without using a platform, that just the communication becomes very decentralized very quickly. You’re communicating across multiple platforms like email, or Facebook, text messaging, WhatsApp, and it quickly gets out of control, and just a lot of Excel spreadsheets. And I just thought, like, “This is not the way that I want my team operating. This is not the way that I want to be doing this, and there’s got to be a simpler way.”
So we kind of started working with developers to get those concepts and what I did kind of every day out of my head into a platform that other people could use and be scalable. So it was kind of a way of scaling my knowledge into a platform that could help other brands grow in the same way that we had.
Nathan: So why is influencer marketing so key now if you do have any kind of brand? Because we’ve done it at Foundr and we’ve done it, like, reasonably well as well, nowhere near to the scale that you guys have done it, but it’s been incredibly key for us, you know, to build our social, yeah.
Gretta: No, it’s just a different market. I think you guys have done a really great job with influencer marketing. Just I think, like, the main importance is that constantly, the trust of a consumer for a brand is decreasing over time. Brands used to be more of a trusted authority point for a consumer, and now, consumers kind of are feeling disillusioned by a lot of brand history. So I think, like, the main importance of influencer marketing is that influencers not only have an audience’s attention, but they also have that audience’s trust. And so it’s kind of that trust component that makes influencer marketing so important, and that makes it so effective as well. So I think, like, the main importance of influencer marketing is how effective it is on your company’s bottom line. It’s the most effective digital marketing technique that there is right now in terms of ROI.
Nathan: Yeah, wow! That’s a big claim. Like, how do you measure ROI? That’s something that comes up a lot.
Gretta: Well, there are a lot of kind of different ways to measure social ROI. It depends what your goals basically are, and whether those goals are kind of more follower and social-growth-based or sales-based, and you can track and manage both of those. A tool that we’re building into Hey right now for our follower-based campaign is the ability to track, follow a growth based off the new followers that you gained after an influencer’s post that used to be their followers and are now your followers. So basically, the algorithm would do their followers minus your followers equals followers gained. So you can see that you, like, have gained 56 followers of one influencer post and 1020 of another, and that just makes it very, very clear that the ROI, in terms of social growth, was much higher for one influencer than another. And often, you might be really surprised by the influencers, we find, especially for micro influencers, because they have that higher level of trust and because their feeds aren’t as saturated with branded content that sometimes, they provide really surprising results. So it’s just great to have that tool there to track.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that part alone is just game-changing. I’ve never found a tool that can actually do that, which…just even that part alone doesn’t exist right now in the marketplace, correct?
Gretta: No, no. I just use a spreadsheet tool that does it based off, like, a code right now, and it’s really hideous, so it’ll be good to have it, you know, put into our beautiful books , which is kind of one of the things we’ve prided ourselves on for this version of the product. It’s just a really simple, straightforward UX.
Nathan: Yeah, gotcha. So if you ever wanna know more about how to use influencer marketing to grow their brand, to grow their business, is it B2C mainly, or can B2B do it? Love to hear your thoughts there.
Gretta: Yeah. I think that basically, it’s going to usually be more effective. It just depends on the audience of the influencer. Basically, like, an influencer is someone that has an audience’s attention, basically, and can influence their audience on a brand’s behalf to buy the products they recommend. So if that audience happens to have a lot more business owners in it, like Saunders, for example, then that’s when you’re an influential body or you’re an influencer in the B2B network. And we are looking to integrate LinkedIn to Hey as well so that we can harness kind of that more B2B aspect, too, with the LinkedIn influencers.
Nathan: Yeah, that would be really, really smart, because there are people like in the B2B space that have big followings around, you know, SaaS, or big followings around consulting or…you know, like Richard Branson, I don’t know if you…do you think that you would get business leaders to connect to the platform, to do influence deals?
Gretta: Yeah. I think that we mostly implement our kind of more code marketing aspect, that’s when that will come in a lot more. So basically the point of difference for Hey to other platforms in the market, I think, like I’m in kind of a bit of a unique position to comment on influencer marketing in that I’ve been on the brand side representing my brands, and also having those 17 million Instagram followers. I’ve been on the influencer side before, so I can kind of understand the pain points and complexities from both sides of the market, and the main thing that I’ve noticed that is lacking in the market right now is the understanding that influencer marketing is a multi-directional relationship. It’s not just a brand sending an influencer a brief and saying, “This is what you need to do.” Like, there needs to be the component for an influencer to be able to pitch to a brand, and then also for multiple influencers, or like maybe a bit of a kind of content crew, like, you know, “This is our hairstylist, this is our makeup artist, this is our photographer, this is the model, blah-blah-blah, this is our videographer,” to be able to then go pitch their creative concept to a brand.
And then, also, the next stage of the product is then multiple brands being able to collaborate on a single campaign, so, say, there’s a lot of brands that are often identified with other brands, or where competition isn’t going to be an issue, I’ve always been a lot more into collaboration over competition. So it’s that kind of collaborative aspect that a frank body, like my sister’s company, could team up with the SkinnyMe Tea because we have really similar audiences, but it wouldn’t be detracting from either company’s sales, and we could split the cost of that influencer marketing campaign. We could say, as long as…you know, like, if you’re doing a body scrub, that’s quite detoxifying for your skin, and if you’re drinking a detox tea at the same time, that wouldn’t be an unusual thing to happen. People often use our products side-by-side, so why not team up to create that content at scale at half the price?
So it’s multiple brands being able to team up like that, like a sunglasses company and a T-shirt company. The opportunity is kind of endless in that way. So I think it’s like connecting brands to collaborate, brand to brand, at the same time as connecting influencers to collaborate with brands, brands to collaborate with influencers, but then, also, the next step after that is the influencer-to-influencer collaborations. So it’s the fact that you need to constantly be focusing on your growth as an influencer, and you should be spending 80% of your time as an influencer focusing on your organic engagement and 20% focusing on your branded content. So that 80% of your time can be spent collaborating with other influencers that are around the same size as you and around the same breach.
So we’ve already got this platform with, like, highly-engaged influencers to be able to connect those influencers, to collaborate at the same time to help grow their social accounts, also to help show them, like, e-metrics and data based off the other tool that we’re implementing with the tracking of followers. How that’s fairing for them will be really, really important. So it’s connecting this market in multiple directions.
Nathan: That’s fascinating, yeah, because as influencers, like, you know, you see all the YouTubers, they all collaborate, like they’re all from LA, they’re all getting in each other’s videos, they’re all collaborating. They don’t see each other’s competition. Yeah, same thing.
Gretta: Yeah, which is great, and it’s like fashion bloggers that hold those giveaways where you have to follow one of them, and then you follow the next one, and the next one, and the next one. On Instagram, for example, they’ll be giving away a Gucci bag or something like that, and they all collaborate together, maybe like five of them, and share each other’s reach in that way.
Nathan: So talk to me, let’s say you have a physical-product business or, you know, you have a digital product, but generally physical product, let’s go for physical product…
Gretta: Yeah, let’s go for physical now.
Nathan: Let’s go for physical. Do you pay an influencer or do you just send them the product for free?
Gretta: That’s kind of the bind right now. There is the product for post-campaign, which is really beneficial in terms of the influencers that you’re going to get to apply to that campaign really are just interested in your product and want to post on your company. The issue with that campaign is influencers may not always post on your product once you’ve sent them, whereas if you pay them it’s a business relationship. If you’ve only sent them a product, it’s kind of hard to follow up in any kind of meaningful way. You can’t say, like, “I sent you this, you might hate it, and you need to post on it now.” That’s the really important part, too. Like, whenever you’re doing an influencer marketing campaign, it’s important that the influencer really does care about your product and it does resonate with them, so you kind of need to find that. Like, influencers should be turning down campaigns from brands, even if they’re paid, if they don’t identify with that product or it doesn’t align with their values.
And that’s what we separate, like, the influencers that are actually influential from just people with a large social reach. So once influencers start to post multiple products, like if they’re posting five watch companies within five days, or if they’re posting, you know, three different tea companies in a week saying that they’re doing all of their “teatoxes,” it’s just not realistic, and it’s kind of keeping that authentic relationship with the brand at the forefront.
So for the product, for best-paid campaigns, I’d say often paying them is going to be less work in the long run, product-for-post is a lot of relationship management. You need to stay in constant contact with the influencer making sure you know they’ve received the product, that they’re happy with it, that they know how to use it. And that’s all normal, but you shouldn’t have to get to the point where, you know, you’re following up whether they’ve posted for you or not, and a paid campaign kind of just takes that element out of it. It’s just going to be a lot easier to follow up, and that relationship can be more ongoing.
Usually, for product-for-post, you’re only gonna get one post from the influencer on the product, which may not be enough to nurture their audience or educate them on the product. So you might want to enter into more of a paid campaign where you set up three posts that are kind of like your nurturing email series, like a drink , like, “Welcome to the product,” and then, “Here are some of its benefits, and here are my results,” often like three really good steps to kind of go through for the product. You know, it might be like the unboxing, and like the excitement of initially receiving your watch, and then like the benefits of the watch, like, I’ve been getting so many compliments on it. It’s like I haven’t taken it off. That’s like an average kind of three-step campaign for an influencer, and I just think that a lot of influencers also will only accept paid campaigns, and they might be even more professional influencers. But at the same time, a product-for-post campaign is a lot better if they’re a micro influencer, whereas paid campaigns are better for those macro, larger-audience influencers.
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All right, let’s just jump back in. And you said the micro influencers, the ones that, you know, might be just starting to get a following. Are they the ones that you really want to tap into, where they’re following is quite big, they’re not doing that much posting, they’ve got a reasonable, like, a really, really strong deep trust with their audience the most? Or have you seen results with really, really big ones, too, like maybe a Kylie Jenner? I’m really curious on that.
Gretta: Yeah. I think that a lot of people speak about their really high results with macro influencers like Kylie Jenner, like, “Oh, we sold out,” but they may have only had, like, 50 units in stock to sell out, and a post with Kylie Jenner cost $300,000. I haven’t heard one brand actually regenerate all of the sales they spent on that one post with a macro influencer like a Kylie Jenner. So, like, the celebrity as an influencer side isn’t often going to work unless you have, like, a personal relationship with that influencer, which is very unusual. Like, if Kylie Jenner happened to be, like, your cousin’s best friend, then, great, go for it. But the great part about macro influencers is macro influencers influence your micro influencers, so it’s more that the macro will influence the other influencers that you might want to work with.
So often, there’s a macro influencer of a market. So, say, Sydney foodies, the macro influencer of that market might be Li-Chi Pan, for example, who has a much, you know, a higher following. I think she’s got, like, over 500,000 followers, very engaged, and every Sydney foodie knows that Li-Chi Pan is kind of like a go-to person in terms of content-styling, audience engagement. So if you do engage a macro influencer, you can use that as leverage to engage your micro influencers, plus your micro influencers will have had exposure to your brand through seeing it on Li-Chi’s feed. So you’re much more likely to then be able to pursue them for just a product-for-post or a cheaper post than usual. So I often just use macro influencers to influence your micro influencers, and micro influencers influence your customers.
Gretta: So the micro influencers will influence kind of like your user-generated content. So a great way to kind of get users and your customers to create the images they want is by using those micro influencers for constant content generation, and then your customer will use that as inspiration to then create content based off that.
Nathan: Yeah, because UGC is so key. Like, as a great way to sell, you need to have influencers. You need to have everyday people, like me or you, using the product because that’s what people relate to the most.
Gretta: Yeah, because that’s the real results in reviews. People are increasingly understanding that influencers are paid or influencers were given that product. So it’s an influencer’s job now to stay as authentic, and real, and organic with their audience as possible, and knows their role, and it is a brand’s job to allow that influencer to kind of propagate their creative. Like, you should not be saying, “Post this with these exact words,” or…like, it’s really unfair on the influencer and it’s not going to have good results for your brand. An influencer knows their audience.
Nathan: Can you give us some case studies, just to wrap it back, so like some things that you’ve done with your brands?
Gretta: Yeah. Well, for The Fifth, for example, we were lucky enough to have 30 sample pieces, timepieces, to send out to kind of some key influencers in our market before launch. And we sent those to a few kind of macro influencers that had larger audiences, that we already had good relationships with, but it was, again, unpaid.
Nathan: On Instagram and YouTube? Sorry to interrupt. Instagram…
Gretta: Just Instagram at that stage. Now, we use a lot more YouTube, but at the time, it was just influencers on Instagram, and mostly micro influencers for content. So we would have sent out about 10 to influencers with maybe over 100,000 followers, and 20 to influencers with under 50,000 followers, and those influencers with under 50K were able to generate awesome content, or some branded content for us to start seeing and using to generate demand around the product. And that resulted in our amazing first day of sales because at the same time, we were very cognizant of the fact that social followers are traffic at the same time, but the best kind of conversion that you can get without it being a sales conversion is a sign-up via email.
So at the same time, all of our influencers were pushing their followers to sign up to our wait list, at the same. Like, that was their general call to action, and that was our call to action on all of our posts. It was kind of like, “We’re launching soon. Sign up,” you know, “and we’ll let you know when we launch.” And so then we were able to kind of garner about 8000 really, really qualified leads because obviously, as we sold out, and we only had a thousand timepieces, you know, that’s a really, really high conversion rate, one out of that, to buy off a waitlist. Usually, I’d say it’s 1 to 20 or even potentially 1 to 40 off a waitlist. So we were able to kind of generate those qualified leads.
And the great thing about influencer marketing as well is that studies have shown that influencer marketing leads to 37% higher retention rate of customers at the same time. So because those leads are more qualified, because they already have that identifiable kind of feeling towards your brand, when they’re signing up, they can remember kind of why they signed up in the first place, or which image, you know, resulted in that sign-up, and so then they identify that with your brand on a more ongoing kind of basis because they’ve got that emotional attachment as well to your product. So basically, sending out to those 30 influencers before launch was the only marketing we did, and we did $100,000 in sales. We didn’t do any Facebook ads. The only marketing was gathering those emails, and then just sending out an email saying, “We’ve now launched.” “Well, we have, like, five hours to go,” and then the launch email.
Nathan: Yeah, wow! That’s crazy. What about…
Gretta: The ROI, and that was paid. Well, with SkinnyMe Tea, to begin with, it was really interesting because it was back in 2012 that we discovered kind of the effectiveness of influencer marketing. And back then, brands basically would not influence their marketing on Instagram. It wasn’t a known kind of thing. Like, brands had done it on YouTube, and stuff before, but it still wasn’t even given that kind of term or name as an influencer at that stage. So in 2012, an influencer maybe had, like, a thousand followers on Instagram, which just shows the scale now. So 1000 would have been relevant to, like, 50,000 followers now.
So what happened was a girl from Tasmania bought our tea just because she was interested in it and I’d been engaging with her a bit on social as well, answering some questions, and we followed her and would like her photos and stuff to stay engaged. And so she purchased our tea, and because I was, like, all over the brand, I was involved in every single little part because I was an obsessive freak. Yes, I was pretty special. I wouldn’t even let anybody touch the customer service for the first six months. I was on customer service, like, eight hours a day responding to every email because I thought that it made me a bad founder if I let anybody else do anything. So that was…
Nathan: Just a lesson.
Gretta: …a little bit silly. Yeah, really good lesson. I’ve definitely learned delegation now, because I’m on top of the brand. Like, one of the main things in the setup is to kind of track where your growth is coming from, and, you know, we all know that. If you don’t know how you’re growing, then there’s no way to replicate that from there. So basically, I saw that this girl had posted on us, and then we had our best day of sales ever that day, and we made over $1000 in that day of sales, and we’d never done that before, like, we cracked that kind of number. This was, I think, in the first month. Yeah, must have been just like a couple of weeks in, or something actually.
And so then when I was going through Instagram all the time, because I would go through and follow and unfollow the community, like I kind of spoke about in my first podcast with you guys, like how we kind of, you know did scale to scale our community, like just manually going through, and following and unfollowing, doing all those kind of processes that automated now. But, yes, so every time I’d see somebody that fit our audience and demographic, like a young health-conscious female with over a thousand followers, and who was out of high school, too, was one of my criteria because you had to be over 18, every time I’d see them, I’d screenshot them and I’d reach out to them on Instagram. There was no direct messaging them, so I’d just literally just write in a comment, like, “I’d love, you know, to grab your email and send you some tea,” and the response rate was huge then. Like, I’d said 90% to 95% of people would respond saying they’d love to.
So it’s really different to now that all different companies are kind of involved, and there might be like…there’s like 200 different “teatox” companies now, whereas then, there was only us. So, like, you’re competing against that market at the same time, and, like your question earlier about paid versus product-for-post, if there’s 200 different tea companies, and they’re all paying people, and you just send someone your product, it’s not going to work, unfortunately, anymore. So, like, it’s quite unusual. It will be dependent upon your product. If it’s a fashion item, for example, and it’s quite unusual, and there’s not that many other brands doing exactly what you’re doing, that might get away more with the product, suppose, that now, payment is becoming more and more of an expectation, and that’s completely fair as well.
Influencers do do more than just posting something to their feed. Like, a lot of them are incredible content creators that have to take that photo on, you know, their camera, and then spend, like, an hour editing it as well. And so it must be hugely disappointing if that post was not paid for because you’ve spent hours of your life generating that content, and then promoting that to your audience that you have, again, spent hours now, with maybe 80% of your time, like I spoke of before, keeping that audience happy, generating content for them, engaging with them, answering their questions. Those are owned assets, and that makes complete sense if somebody should pay for an owned asset.
Nathan: But how do you know how much to pay? That’s a scary thing, right?
Gretta: Yeah. I think that the industry is still like, as with any starting-out industry, there’s going to be different ways to value content. I know that a lot of big influencer agencies use all different techniques to value their audience, so it might be based on conversions. Some people might pay based on conversions, like a percentage of that conversion, which is also difficult though because how long would that, you know, last for? Because it could take three months for that customer to finally convert when they’ve followed you from another influencer’s page. So that is one way to stretch the value, but usually, it’s just payment per post.
And once you start working with different influencers, you can kind of get the general idea of how much payment the post might be. Like, under 20,000 followers might be $50 to $100 a post. Fifty thousand followers might be kind of close of $100 to $200 a post. A hundred thousand plus could be $200 to $500 a post. Five hundred thousand followers plus would be over $1000 easily a post. So this kind of marking points that are there and present, and you can kind of see those based off the other influencers that you’re working with. But at the same time, if an influencer had had a much more engaged community than usual, but less followers, that creates incredible content that’s very obviously there, that’s kind of like intellectual property at the same time. Like if an influencer has a very unusual content style that people can automatically identify with them, and they are a kind of leader in their community, then you should be willing to pay more to access that kind of influence.
So those people that head up communities, those are perfect macro kind of influencer, like I spoke about with, like, the Sydney foodie community. There’s all different communities and there’s all different leaders within those, and identifying those leaders just by going and researching that community on social, and seeing, you know, who has a very engaged page, who’s followed by most of the other influencers within that community, who they’re mentioning, who they’re re-posting, who they’re hanging out with, that is kind of…like, I think of a community like a cluster on Instagram, and you want to engage that cluster as a whole.
So, say, again, even the Sidney foodie cluster, if we engage the Li-Chi Pan, a couple of bigger other macros, we’d want to engage maybe like 10, 20 micros to each one macro influencer. And you might get the macro influencer to do their post first, and then that inspires the content of micro influencers, which…you know, like if you’re going in upwards of, like, $5,000 to $10,000 a post, it obviously makes sense that rather than just having one post by somebody with five…you know, that costs $5,000 to $10,000, you can have 20 to 50 posts of micro influencers with the same reach, but entirely different ways of accessing that kind of audience and customer base. But the reason that you want clusters is because similar audiences follow the same people.
So, like, the same follow those five influencers, and they will promote your product multiple times kind of in different ways of showing that content, like, each influencer creates content unique to their feed, and they’ll be like, “Wow! Every Sydney foodie is going to this one cafe right now.” Like, “I need to go there. What’s so special about it?” Or like, “Every fashion blogger is wearing this unique jewelry company right now.” Like, “I need to go check out what it is.” And it’s kind of garnering and generating that demand through repetition, but it’s not repetition in terms of, like, it’s not annoying to see five times, it’s not like seeing the same re-targeting ad in your Facebook feed five times and being like, “I am deleting this brand,” and blocking them. It’s more like, “Wow!” Like, “Everyone’s doing it.”
So, like, often, people say, “Yeah, okay, you have 17 million followers, except what’s the overlap between them?” And I’m like, “I couldn’t care less. If it was 1 million people or 2 million people and I followed those accounts 17 different times, then I don’t mind because we generate different content for all those different accounts, and we’re approaching those people in 17 different ways, and kind of the more that you’re able to nurture them from all different angles, all different ways, with all different kind of value propositions is the way that your influencer marketing is going to convert the best.”
Nathan: You know, that’s gold, channeling some real inner wisdom there. Okay.
Gretta: I get a bit passionate about some of these things.
Nathan: No, it’s awesome. No, this is great. We have to work towards wrapping up, but I have a couple of more questions. Is there a law of diminishing returns? Can you find…like, let’s say you use one influencer, you track it with Hey, you know, you’re getting a really good ROI, and then you just wanna keep going. Is there a law of diminishing returns where eventually, your ROI becomes less and less, and eventually, it doesn’t work anymore?
Gretta: Yeah, definitely. That would be quite transparent in our data as well. So that’s one of the great things. You can kind of see the point where that’s starting to drop off a lot, and you might want to think about approaching a different influencer to work with at that stage, and just pausing that for a little bit as well. If you pause a campaign and come back to it with an influencer later once they’ve got, you know, kind of some fresh new followers, and it’s not as repetitive within the one feed…like it’s great to have products that are repetitive throughout different feeds, but you don’t want them posting, like, your watch every single day. People will become sick of that. They’ll unfollow the influencer, which is bad for them, and, you know, they’ll build up that kind of resentment towards your brand, which is the last thing that you want. So there’s definitely diminishing returns, and there’s also diminishing returns with influencer as a whole for any product.
So the reason that micro influencers are so much more effective than a macro influencer in terms of ROI as well is because often, those micro influencers, their feeds are so much more fresh. They’re like gems. If you can find those little micro influencers that are growing really quickly and have hardly posted, like, much other branded content, and you work with them until the returns are diminishing a lot more, like, that will be very obvious based just around metrics, so the measurement things like whether you’re getting as many followers, if you’re using, you know, discount codes, for example, like Daniel Wellington does really well, they’ll do an influencer’s name like “Gretta 10,” and that means you get 10% off by using that discount code, and that makes it quite trackable as well.
But then there’s other brands that are, like, more affiliate and more referral software where they can track things like cookies, like where that person clicked from in the first place, to then be able to identify that sale back to the influencer, or there’s different brands like, I think, it’s Olapic, it’s called, where it creates kind of like a shoppable feed on your Instagram, and the last influencer photo that that person has clicked the sale is attributed to them. That, I don’t really find that that helpful because, you know, they might have clicked three different ones and then being like, “Yeah, I’ve seen enough, that’s okay,” not being like, “Oh, this photo made me buy the watch.”
Nathan: Yeah, I was just about to say I’m not a big fan of shoppable feeds. I guess, yeah, I’m not, yeah.
Gretta: They can be helpful. I mean, they work really well for, like, a lot of fashion brands where people just want to know what products are featured in that photo, because they’re like, “Oh, I wanna buy that top,” you know, “not the shorts, not the jewelry, you know, not the hat. I just wanna buy that top.” And they can go and find that there. So, like, relevance-wise, that’s okay, and it’s a good way of kinda connecting that digital social experience into your website experience as well, I guess, but I don’t think it would work as well for, like, a brand like yours, for example, with Foundr, at all. Like, we clicked this quote, and then I wanted to do the course.
Nathan: Yeah, right. Yeah, I won’t get a value there, yeah, yeah.
Gretta: It’s not the exact same thing, yes.
Nathan: No, that makes sense. Yeah, so let’s work towards wrapping up. You’ve channeled a lot of wisdom, shared a lot of gold with us around influencer marketing, e-commerce, branding, you name it. So this is, as mentioned, like, you do…we have been able to twist your arm to actually teach an e-commerce course, which I’m really, really excited about, and team up with us, and it’s gonna be absolutely crazy. But we’ll let you know, for everyone listening, how you can find out more about that. And if you wanna find out more about Hey, how can you find out more?
Gretta: Well, in the e-commerce course, I do a dedicated lesson on influencer marketing as an intro to influencer marketing, and then I do another dedicated lesson on how to scale your influencer marketing using Hey specifically as a tool. And I think maybe we haven’t quite gone through exactly what Hey does yet during this. So basically, Hey is an end-to-end collaboration platform that allows you, as a brand, to collaborate with influencers across different demographics, and search and filter influencers by demographics.
So it’s finding that right fit for an influencer, but it’s campaign-based at the same time. And our campaigns are template, so basically, you go in, you select the goal for your campaign, so that might be followers, like we’ve spoken about, it might be sales, or it might be content, might be a pre-launch, and you just need a lot of content for your brand. So basically, you go in, you create this campaign with the goals, we help guide you through those stages, which is really helpful for people that haven’t really done influencer marketing before, or even people that have that forget to be goals-driven, which is often the case. I sometimes just run a campaign and be like, “Well, it’s hard trap because I don’t really know what I wanted, but I know that it was a good campaign because I got, you know, this miss out of it,” and I’m like, “Well, that must have been my goal.”
So it’s good to have that goal from the very start. So when you go in to create that campaign, you might create a content-driven campaign, and you might just want to engage micro influencers for product-for-posts. So you can select the type of campaign, like you can say, “Wear our stuff,” or, “Review a product,” or, “Try something on,” or, “Go to a restaurant, work out somewhere.” There’s all different types of campaigns to help you kind of like get those creative juices flowing. Like, it’s always harder to start with a blank canvas. Like, we’ve just added some templates so that you’re kind of able to start from somewhere.
After you’ve created the campaign, it takes you through to finding your influencers, and those influencers will appear subject to the demographic data that you’ve entered in the campaign, like which platform you’d like to be working on, whether the influencers that you’re looking for are male or female, their kind of age group, their interest groups, which is, like, that’s the Nichify aspect, the niches that they interact with, so that might be health and fitness, or lifestyle and travel, or beauty, or fashion. And so once you’ve selected those, then you can go on to finding the right fit of influencer for your campaign. And the cool part is, as well, that if you’ve already done influencer marketing before and you already have those pre-existing relationships, Hey acts as a, I like to call it an IRM, like a CRM, customer relationship management. This is an IRM, so an influencer relationship management platform.
So you can invite all the influencers that you’ve had previous relationships with to that campaign automatically as well just by uploading a CSV or just inputting, like, the comma-separated values yourself, like the emails, and their first name, so kind of like a MailChimp, like your email-automation software. That’s basically the way that you go about finding and inviting influencers to the platform, and it’s called Hey because you “hey” somebody, you click the little hand and it waves, and you’ve reached out to them. And the way that Hey works is that it’s kind of like a matchmaking tool in a way. It’s kind of like Tinder crossed with influencer marketing because you both need to match to then go on to build that relationship together. It can’t be just a brand has reached out to an influencer, and now, they’re allowed to, you know, start negotiating price and value. The influencer has to have “heyed” a brand back. So a brand can either “hey” an influencer or they can make that campaign public and influencers can begin “heying” them, which can also be kinda strategic for a brand because then you know the influencers that are interested in working with you. It’s not like you’ve reached out this. They have kind of made the first move, so we go back to the dating kind of example.
So then it goes into the “manage” step, and you can manage the relationship, discuss the deal, set the terms. It’s kind of a split screen where on the left-hand side, you’re chatting with them. That’s kind of like a Facebook chat. And on the right-hand side, you’re setting the terms, so how much you’re going to pay the influencer, which you can negotiate in the chat, and they’ll be able to send you their rate card and their address card as well so that you know exactly where you’re sending the product and how much they generally charge for a post or for multiple posts. So you get all that information just straight up, which is really helpful, and it’s all just stored in that one centralized kind of spot. And, of course, we’ll be implementing kind of new features all throughout, like daily downloadable CSVs where you can download all the shipping details from that day for the different influencers that you then need to give to, like, your third-party logistics company, or to your distribution company, or to your distribution team within your company to send out all the product for the influencers that day.
So we’re just kinda trying to make the process as simplified as possible, but at the same time, have some things in there that allow for the complexities of any relationship. So the discuss element where you can chat to an influencer is really helpful because that’s where you can kind of build your relationship. And I think, like, the main two pieces of advice I’d give when relationship-building with influencers is to flatter them and make them feel relevant, so like, you know, “I love your feeds.” You know, “I love kind of the healthy lifestyle that you live, so I think that would be really, you know, relevant to our audience as well.” So just having an understanding of who they are, and then that takes you to the second point which is kind of that personalization. Don’t just be like, “Hey, insert-first-name, we’d love to work with you,” you know. Like, that’s so transparent, and they realize that they’re not, you know, kind of anything special or relevant to your brand.
And then I’d also say, as a third one, I’ve just thought of, again, giving them that creative freedom to do what they do and to communicate with their audience in their language with your message. They’re still able to communicate your message, but in their language, like, that’s what influencers do best. So it’s giving them that creative freedom to create the visuals and the text that they need. Yeah, so that’s kind of the way that Hey works in a nutshell, those three steps. So you create a campaign, you find the influencers for that campaign, then you manage that relationship. And then it takes you to kind of…you can confirm their post, you can give it a green light, saying, “Look, I already trust your judgment. I know the type of content this creates. I know your tone of voice, and I know that you’ll stick to, you know, the campaign boundaries, so I’m gonna greenlight your post, and once you’ve posted, it’ll be…I’ll get a notification saying, ‘Influencer has posted,’ and the payment will automatically be released.”
The other thing is that if you haven’t worked with an influencer before, and there isn’t kind of that trust in pre-relationship, and their content might be a little bit all over the place, some photos are, like, kind of hideous, but then some are good, then a good way to do it is to use pre-approval. So what happens is the influencer submits the post through to you, you pre-approve that content. Once you then sent it, once you’ve seen the exact caption and the image, and if their image deviates from that or if the caption deviates too far from that, we will be able to hold that payment in escrow while that dispute is resolved, so whether the influencer posts again with what they initially said, or whether the brand is refunded their money back into their account, because, A, the influencer hasn’t posted all within the time frame, or B, they have posted something completely off-brand and out of line.
That’s kind of the security that Hey gives you over just interacting, like, over email, because we are able to kind of hold that payment. So that was a really big pain point for brands, like influencers going off the radar. You know, they might suddenly decide they’re gonna go to Croatia for a month, or something, which actually isn’t that unusual, and not post for you, and the campaign’s already over, and it was a pre-launch and they’ve missed it, but they won’t refund your money. We’ve got so many pending payments to influencers that haven’t done the work for us, and there’s no way to really get that money. And then from an influencer’s point of view, too, brands, if they pay them over PayPal, because it’s a digital transaction, there’s no real way to prove that that was what was transacted. So an influencer doesn’t have that security either because the brand might get the post from an influencer and then charge back the amount, which, I think, was happening a little bit with some kind of dodgy, little ecommerce companies, like protein companies, and stuff.
Nathan: Yeah, you know, I’ve heard those stories, too. So wrapping this all together, Hey’s quite a complex platform that promotes…
Gretta: I can probably talk about it for three years.
Nathan: But, no, it sounds amazing. I’ve seen beta, it looks insane. I’m keen to test it out and start using it for everything that we do. So how can people find out more? Where do they go?
Gretta: So to find out more, our website is justsayhey.co. If you’re an influencer, you can search “Hey Influencers” in the App Store. We’re still creating our Android version at the moment, so we’re just on the Apple Store at the moment. The influencers or brands can sign up via justsayhey.co. So that’s our website, or I’m sure that you can just do some Google searches around “Hey Influencers,” and you find our website.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, Gretta, this is an awesome conversation, so much gold shared, and, yeah, I really appreciate your time. So thank you so much for coming back for a second time around.
Gretta: Thanks for having me, Nat. It was great.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Gretta Rose van Riel
- Follow Gretta Rose van Riel on Instagram
- Checkout Hey Influencers
- Checkout SkinnyMeTea
- Follow SkinnyMeTea on Instagram
- Like SkinnyMeTea on Facebook
- Checkout The Fifth Watches