In this episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break Podcast, Nisarg Shah, Co-Founder & CEO of affable.ai, shares his insights on how to leverage influencer marketing and five ways to get started.
On the Show Today You’ll Learn:
- The importance of working with influencers
- Ideas to get started on influencer marketing
- Finding influencers who share your brand's audience
- Getting influencers on board: what you should offer
- Influencer marketing spying: what you need to know
Links & Resources
Shopify App Store: https://apps.shopify.com/affable-influencer-marketing
About Our Podcast Guest: Nisarg Shah
Nisarg Shah is the Co-Founder & CEO of Affable.ai, an AI platform for influencer marketing. Prior to founding Affable.ai, Nisarg worked at Goldman Sachs building scalable automation systems. He has personally worked with over 200+ brands and is an avid researcher and writer, exploring unique business models in his newsletter. With two offices in the US and Singapore, Nisarg leads a team of experts at Affable.ai to optimize influencer marketing campaigns from discovery to success measurement.
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Claus Lauter: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the E-Commerce Coffee Break. Did you know that influencer marketing has a six times return on investment on marketing spent and that there is more than 30 million influencers? So that's a big number, and as you see, Influencer marketing is a good way to get the word out, but it's not the easiest way to get started with today.
We wanna start or talk about how influencer marketing can work for you, for your business, and we will show you up five ways on how to get started with me on the show today. I have Nisarg Shah. He is the Co-Founder & CEO of affable.ai, an AI platform that helps brands run successful influencer marketing campaigns.
Nisarg has worked extensively and personally with over 200 brands, founders and creators in this field, and he has also worked for Goldman Sachs where he get experienced building scalable automation systems in the technology department in Bangalore In his free time, Nisar is an avid research on writer contributing to his newsletter about unique business models.
he has written about Du lingo, Unsplash, Robinhood, and other ones, , how they generate revenue and sustain their business. So Nak has a vast background when it comes to technology and influencer marketing, and that's what we wanna talk about today. So let's welcome him to the show. Hi Nisarg, how are you today,
Nisarg Shah: Hello
Thanks for having me here. I'm, great. Thanks a lot for, , creating these podcasts. I've checked out many of your e-commerce podcasts. I love the format where we just casually. , it's a pleasure to be here and share some of my views on influencer marketing, creator economy, and the e-commerce world in general.
Yes. On that,
Claus Lauter: maybe just let's dive right into it. So influencer marketing, just tell me from your perspective, why is it so important to work with influencers?
Nisarg Shah: If I had to summarize it, , influencers give you, , a loudspeaker in a stadium full of people. If you think about it visually, influencers have influence because of the kind of content they [00:03:00] create.
They have trust among their followers. And when a brand wants to either spread word about the new product they're launching, or when a brand wants to make the most of this trust that the influencer has already. A brand is better off just partnering with the right influencers and reaching the target audience, , at a fraction of the cost.
, when we talk about influencers for e-commerce, typically we focus a lot on micro influencers. And the reason for that is affordability. You can actually get the same or more reach by working with, let's say, 50 micro influencers than spending on a collaboration with one celebrity. This channel of reaching masses through micro influencers has been something which has been very, very successful for e-commerce brands, and we are here to help scale that.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Now, as mentioned in the beginning that there is more than 30 million influencers worldwide, so there might be a couple of influencers for every vertical, for every industry in Asia out there. So obviously very [00:04:00] difficult to find the right person for the right job. We wanna go through different steps and ideas to how get started on influencer marketing and finding the right influencer, I think is step one.
How would you approach.
Nisarg Shah: It all starts with the goal that the brand has. Typically, when we work with brands, they either want to have a massive reach to share about their products or they want to generate sales. you would find influencers based on either one of your goals. Now, if you want to just spread your, , net wide and reach as many people, , you would start by identifying influencers who have a lot of followers, because the more followers, the more people are going to see what the influencer is talking about, not necessarily engage with them.
If you want to drive a lot of sales, you want influencers that can actually engage their followers apart from just reaching them. depending on the goal, the system kind of goes and identifies influencers. You touched base upon a few influencers for each [00:05:00] industry vertical. One of the things which is very important is identifying influencers based on the content they upload, as well as the followers they have.
We talk a lot about authenticity. You don't wanna work with a food blogger to promote a lipstick. You are, we wanna identify fashion or a beauty blogger, most of whose followers are also. To promote a lipstick because that is typically the kind of audience that is going to engage and buy from this influencer.
Little multiple touchpoints that go into identifying influencer, starting with goal, followed by the kind of content influencer uploads and the kind of audience that the influencer already has. Okay,
Claus Lauter: As affable ai, you're working with more than 150 brands, 55,000 marketers, and you obviously have a huge background on how these brands and marketers approach the search for an influencer and then also going a little bit deeper and work with influencers.
Give me an idea how that works.
Nisarg Shah: So typically when brands use affable, we work with [00:06:00] brands like h and m Lenovo. When they want to identify influencers, what they would do is they would go into our platform. We provide more than 20 different filters, which completely streamlines the source experience. So imagine if you were to do it today manually.
Let's take the example of lipsticks where I want to identify a beauty blogger. Most of their followers are women. The influencer is based in the US and the influencer is typically talking about beauty products, and there's actually no way for you to do the search online yourself. You can go on Google and search for beauty influencers on Instagram.
You will get a list of 20 bloggers. You don't know if the followers everman. You can go and search on Instagram for hashtag beauty influencer. Person randomly in the world who's used hashtag beauty influencer, and the content will show up. So it's again, not relevant for you. They're not necessarily in the us the followers are not necessarily women.
What we do is we use a lot of machine learning to go through the followers, to go through the content, use image analysis, use text analysis, understand the biography, understand the display pictures, the geo. To make [00:07:00] sense of what the influencers are talking about and who's resonating the most with the content.
And with this, we've built an index of a search engine, which is used by a lot of these brand marketers to identify and then do the complete process after identifying the right influencers.
Claus Lauter: Now you have found your influencers. What's the next step? How do you onboard them? What do you offer them?
How do you make this corporation?
Nisarg Shah: the beauty of our offering is that we let the brands control the relationship with the influencers. And this is a very important highlight because typically most of the service companies in the space, they act as an agent between the brand and the influencer, and they control the relationship.
What we've done is we're taking a software approach. We allow the brands to do outreach to the influencers so they can reach out to hundreds of influencers seamlessly using a C R M integration that we provide. And the brand actually has complete control over the negotiation, over the deliverables, over the partnership, how long term or short term they want it to [00:08:00] be.
And the brand now owns the relationship with the influencer. So typically the next step after identifying influencers is reaching out to. Sharing with them about the campaign, asking who's interested, who's not sending them a product. And for e-commerce stores, we integrate with Shopify and Magento and other e-commerce backends, where the product seeding is completely seamless.
You can with one click send products to 500 influencers from your computer without having to do anything. And that's completely seamless through the integrations we've built out, followed by that is the tracking piece. Once you've reached out to the influencers, you send them the products, some of them will start posting about it.
So taking the example of lipsticks again some of the influencers will use it, upload a story, or a reel or a TikTok. It's a lot of effort for a brand marketer to track this manually. So what a system does is it listens to influencer content every day and it sources all the content that is for the brand and shows it to the brand along with a lot of measurement tactic.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Yeah, I [00:09:00] can imagine if you have a lot of influencers and they're all doing their own campaigns, it's like herding a group of leads there now. Is that your system helps , in managing this? From your experience, what are the best ways that brands are using to motivate influencers the most?
So really put in the work and make it work.
Nisarg Shah: Compensation is number one, you pay a fair value to the influencers and they will actually do what you want them to do, and then some more. We are also seeing a lot of affiliate performances where brands are reaching out to influencers, giving them discount codes, and also giving them a percentage of every sale that the influencer is gonna drive for the.
This way the influencer is actually motivated to position the post in format which can actually drive sales and to keep sharing it again and again because more people will see it. More people will go and purchase the product and the more revenue the influencer receives. So these are some of the tangible ways.
I think the intangible way that we have seen is creative freedom. Typically influencers that the [00:10:00] content performs better when it isn't their voice. So when a brand reaches out to the influencer and tells them a checklist of 20 things they need to do to create the content, this content does not work.
Whereas when a brand reaches out to the influencer and says, Hey, we trust you to create the right kind of content here are the dos and don'ts. But then take your freedom to create the kind of content. And this is intangible. I say, because the influencers really like this, and they would then pour their heart into creating content, which actually really, really works well.
Claus Lauter: Okay, now. When it comes to, and that's something I'm interested in, as you mentioned this already, you need to track who is doing what. And then obviously you want to also measure sort of the performance. And it can be quite tricky. How does your system support that? So
Nisarg Shah: our system measures social performance as well as sales performance, social performances, reach, impression, engagement, estimated media value, anything that is measurable on social media.
And a lot of brands care about these metrics as well. We also measure sales numbers and website visits and traffic that influences the driving. And this is something we do through integrations with Bitly, Google Analytics, Shopify. To figure out where the traffic is coming from. So if an influencer uploads a post on YouTube, puts in a link there, we are able to track that traffic then, which [00:12:00] goes to the website and what is converting into sales and what is not.
At the same time we give a report to the brand beyond just social metrics and performance metrics to show them things like sentiment. For the comments that the influencers are receiving on the post, is it mostly positive sentiment? Is it negative sentiment? Are influencers getting the right brand messaging out, or are they attracting flack for being a brand ambassador?
These are certain intangible, , metrics which are very, very relevant for big brands as we start thinking about brand safety. performance metrics, social metrics, and certain brand safety metrics. Talking about
Claus Lauter: brand safety, is there a way that you can spy on your competitors to see what they do in regards of influencer marketing?
Nisarg Shah: A hundred percent. What we do is beyond just competitors in industry trend as well. So if you double click on that, our system tracks. Each influencer's public content and in that manner if they have tagged a brand. So if I'm Nike and if I want to identify all the influencers that have spoken [00:13:00] about Adidas, Or if I want to identify if a given influencer has worked with adas in the past, these are some of the things that brands are able to track.
But at the same time, I can also see what is generally happening in the fitness wear industry. Which brand is leading charge what kind of influencers are talking about brands in the fitness wear industry. So there's a lot of industry research and trends that you can follow, and that's where our customers are not only using our system to run a campaign.
But they're also leveraging the system to have an always on approach to influencer marketing and the strategy.
Claus Lauter: Now with your influencers, you might have some that perform better than others. Is there a way to have a ranking or to split the good ones from the bad ones that you can update your CRM and only work with the ones that give you the most potential?
Nisarg Shah: Definitely. The way we think about ranking. Rather than giving a score to each influencer, we rank them in order of relevance to the search itself. So today, if you're looking for a [00:14:00] beauty blogger with most followers in the US being women, The highest ranked influencer will be the one who's uploading the most content about beauty and has the most female followers in the us.
But when you change the search to beauty influencers, but most followers being men because you have a campaign for Valentine's Day, then we don't want to punish an influencer by ranking them low. just that the ranking change is relevant to your search. And for influencer marketing discovery. As a use case, this works very.
We also assign certain codes in terms of how engaging an influencer is, how real their followers are, or how fake their followers are so that brands can filter out unsafe or low performing influencers. But from the ones that are relevant, we rank them based on relevance.
Claus Lauter: Now, as most of our listeners and viewers on YouTube are Shopify merchants, and you spoke that you have an integration into Shopify.
Give me a bit of an insight on how exactly it works and what it does.
Nisarg Shah: So, Shopify integration is just a one click integration that integrates [00:15:00] your Shopify store with applicable. What it does is predominantly three things. Number one, it allows you to create orders in bulk to be sent to influencers without having to go to shop.
A lot of times the influencer marketing managers who don't necessarily even have access to create orders on the Shopify store with Applicables integration, one click, you choose the influencers and orders are created for them. Second, you can start tracking delivery status of the order.
So if the influences have received the order, if it has been fulfilled or not, and you can follow up with the influencer accordingly. Third, you can create discount codes and track sales associated with the discount codes to enable the whole affiliate use case. This integration makes it completely seamless.
So if you have a Shopify store as a one click install, and you can do all of these things, but if you don't, we still make it as seamless as possible for you to run the integration in a way where you can still pull the data, still create discount codes as much as possible.
Claus Lauter: if I'm in a brand who has never done influencer [00:16:00] marketing and I'm thinking about it, what kind of homework do I have to do before I can really get started?
Nisarg Shah: Typically, all you need to do is kinda understand who your target audience is and what kind of influencers would work well for you. And typically as a brand, you would know what is the right persona that you have in your mind, because that's the first step, identifying the right influencers. I think beyond that just have a chat with someone like us where we go and do consulting as well.
But we kind of like will advise you on your strategy. We tell you what you should focus on and not focus on what kind of spend should you do on influencer marketing, how much should you pay, the influencers, et cetera. Obviously there is a lot of online resources that's available, but. Nothing beats a 30 minute chat with an influencer expert who's been doing this day in and day out.
So that's what we would recommend. We also publish a lot of our own content on Afable AI website under a blog section which is information that we think should be useful for a lot of brands, a lot of case studies of how other brands are executing successful campaigns. So one could also refer to [00:17:00] that as.
Claus Lauter: Okay, so if I wanna work with affable, how much time do I need for onboarding and training before I can really get started?
Nisarg Shah: Not much actually. Once we decide that you want to work with us it is very straightforward. , within a day we can get you started. That's a shorter answer, And the integrations and installs of the app on Shopify, et cetera, these are like one click. So as long as you have access to integrate these apps, one click and use set for running a campaign. gimme a bit of
Claus Lauter: an overview about the pricing. How does that.
Nisarg Shah: So the pricing is something that we work with on a case-to-case basis with the brands.
On an average, it is somewhere in the 10 to $20,000 a year range for e-commerce brands that are starting out have some influencer marketing campaigns that they are doing, and as you scale from there, then that cost increases. Obviously, it also depends on the channels. Typically we are seeing that e-commerce brands get started with one channel, Instagram or TikTok, or YouTube.
But if you wanna do multi-channel campaigns, and there's a separate cost to that, if you have a big team of five or 10 team members, [00:18:00] there's a separate cost to that. But 10 to 20 K a year is on an average. What you can expect to spend when you start working with.
Claus Lauter: Okay. one need to see that as an investment.
I'm giving a bit of an idea from your experience what the return on investment is on influencer
Nisarg Shah: marketing. I think you highlighted when we first started this conversation that brands are seeing around a six x ROI on their spend or towards influencers. So let's say you spend 20 K on a software and you spend another 60 to 80 K on the influencers themselves.
If you're starting with a hundred K, you're making 500 to 600 k potentially, once you have ironed out all the kinks and you are able to identify. A few influencers that actually drive good ROI for you. There is a lot of experimentation that goes in. will not get that six success ROI on day one or month one, but you will be able to identify the influencers that can drive the ROI for you.
One of the brands we worked with during Black Friday three months, October, November, and December they generated [00:19:00] around $550,000 worth of sales through influencers that they identified using. that is more than six success. That's like a 20 x ROI or something because it's crazy. Obviously Black Friday have a lot of awkward and discounts that they were running, but few influencers and over half a million dollars in sales.
So that's what we're talking about. That's not
Claus Lauter: a bad result. And I think like affable that your system helps a lot with managing this part. Cause otherwise it would be very time consuming to do this all manually. Where can people find more about your system?
Nisarg Shah: Abu ai? We are very active on our website, on our blogs or we update our information very tely there. We also have a very active LinkedIn presence and a Twitter presence. So if you just search for abu.ai, LinkedIn website and Twitter you'll find as much information as available about us on there.
Claus Lauter: , I'll put the links in the show notes for our listeners and viewers, and then you're just one click away.
Thanks so much for giving us an overview on how the importance of influencer marketing can make a huge difference in your business. And I would highly recommend to go to your [00:20:00] website and people should just check it out. I think it's, it's a very, very good system. Thanks so much for your time.
Nisarg Shah: Thanks a lot Claus. Thanks for having me here. It's great chatting with you about this. I'm very passionate about influencer marketing, so if your audience wants to learn more I would suggest, please feel free to reach out to us, let us know that you came through Claus's podcast and we definitely see what we can work out for you as a special offer.
I appreciate it.
Claus Lauter: Sounds great. Thanks so much.
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