What’s up everybody?
Everyone’s having a good start to Affiliate World. I’m really excited to be here and talk
with everyone today. So here we go. So what we’re going to talk about today is a unique case that I brought about earlier this year,
an influencer that I recruited onto our affiliate program,
he could have easily been in a traditional influencer, but I was able to sell him into the performance marketing world and went from zero monetisation on his channel,
zero affiliate marketing experience to raking in just under $100,000 in commission
in just about three months. So it’s a really interesting case study that I’m excited to share with you guys today. So, who am I? My name is Paul, like Heath said, based out of Austin, Texas. I work for Onnit. It’s a supplement and performance nutrition company.
Our goal is total team optimisation, so we do that in a couple of ways with
our supplements. Some of the popular ones like Alpha Brain it’s a nootropic, down
to NSF certified supplements, like whey protein, glutamine, creatine for athletes in NFL, NHL, NBA. So we cover a lot of ground with our products. I’ve been in the affiliate world for about nine years. I got my start at a small coupon publisher called RetailMeNot. I started on early there, and by the time I left the company, we had 450 employees and IPOed. So it’s really cool to see
the inside track on that company and get to know the affiliate space
from the publisher side. For the past five or so years, I’ve been on the advertiser side, worked at an agency for a while running a few different programs as an OPM.
In the past two years at Onnit, running their influencer and affiliate program,
which I’m excited to talk to you about today. Onnit is very much an influencer-driven company.
I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the brand, but we definitely use social channels to tell our message, through our own personal owned channels, but definitely through our network of athletes and influencers as well, so we really value that as a channel, which is why I think marrying the influencer world and the affiliate world is so exciting to me. Just as we moved more to a very device-driven, social media-driven world. So I just want to talk quickly about the
state of influencer marketing. How I see it and where I think it’s going. So more and more influencers are posting every single day. Promoted post, I see the hashtag ad more and more on my Instagram feed, every single day. 100% more than just a year ago, that doesn’t mean it always works. A month or two ago, there was a story about an Instagram celebrity who had 2.6 million followers. She was trying to launch her own clothing brand and couldn’t even sell 36 t-shirts. So me as a performance advertiser,
I get a little leery of talking to some of these influencers who are demanding $5,000 / $10,000 / $15,000 / $20,000 for a post and I don’t know what my return is gonna be on that first ad buy. It’s kind of a gamble for my side. I really try and push towards the performance aspect or performance angle knowing not everyone wants to go that
way, but it kind of protects both sides. There’s also the Fit Tea fiasco. Fit Tea was the brand that was selling teas through Kendall Jenner, the Kardashians, was really kind of the first case where the FTC started to crack down on sponsored posts through Instagram. Really kind of brought a lot more eyes on it. Selling products, just pushing products for money, which isn’t a bad thing but at Onnit,
we’re definitely trying to push things that are healthy and driven towards a fitness goal. On average, companies are spending like
upwards of 10% of their advertising budgets on these influencers. At Onnit, we’re not far off from that number either, but we’re definitely selective on who we use. Some analysts are predicting that that number can go up even higher, 25% of total budgets through the influencers. The overall market is projected to grow to $22.3 billion in just a couple of years, and users are actually very, very much inclined to take action on these influencer posts, which is why it’s such a great market. It is, however,
really hard to track sometimes, which is a problem as an advertiser, I always want to see where my ad dollars are going, how much return we’re getting per influencer. So leads me to like, what we’re doing at Onnit with our influencers. We work with a wide variety of guys, athletes, we work with NFL guys, NHL, NBA. A lot of niche sports as well. So we have the world’s long drive champion as one of our sponsored athletes to post for us.
Some really interesting athletes. We also work with some actors, podcasters, MMA fighters. We’re really bigger in the MMA world as a performance supplement for those guys,
and some comedians as well. We definitely use them for a lot of different
initiatives, whether that’s pushing a new product, new apparel, or just kind of living
the brand on a day-to-day basis. Some of our influencers. Demetrious “Mighty
Mouse” Johnson. He’s a 12-time flyweight champion of the world in the UFC. He now fights over at One World. He’s also an avid Twitch streamer. So eSports is a big initiative that we’re trying to get into. So he kind of makes that crossover from the UFC world to the Twitch world. Twitch is a great influencer network that not a ton of people are really aware of, but streaming more hours watch than
YouTube per user, which is a really interesting network for us.
We worked with guys like Ken Block. He’s a rally car racer, a founder of DC
Shoes, and has an amazing YouTube channel, where he drifts cars and does all sorts of crazy stuff. Really cool. He kind of gives us a shout out when he’s feeling it. Like when he was on the Tim Ferriss Show just a couple of months ago, talking about his morning routine like how he stays on top of his game at over 40 years old, racing cars, have a full-time packed schedule.
You know, posting things like this, we just see like this huge spike in sales just due
to his sheer size and volume. We work with actors like Dominic Monaghan,
who has been in Lord of the Rings and is gonna be in the new Star Wars movie.
He promotes more of the fitness side of things. We have a star a stormtrooper kettlebell he likes to play around with. So for Star Wars day he did this post for us featuring a little workout that his trainer put together. It’s really cool to kind of like brand connect. We also have some like niche sports, like Gavin McClurg, he’s a Red Bull X-Alps paragliding adventure racer. So when he’s flying for six hours, he gets a little bored. He takes selfies with Alpha Brain Instant sticks, which make for a cool content for us to share, and then we kind of work with more of our traditional fitness influencers, like Eric Leija. He’s @primal.swoledier on Instagram if
you’re into kettlebells. Worth the follow. He’s just absolutely shredded as you can see. So he produces a lot of in-house content for us and sells through our
performance affiliate network as well. Just kind of talking about his
supplement stack and things like that. None of the influencers really come close
to our next one. Joe Rogan a pretty popular guy. He has one of the most popular podcasts, at least in the US. The Joe Rogan Experience, which he has branded synonymously with Onnit really, really well.
He is as much Onnit as anything else. He’s a co-founder as well.
UFC commentator, stand-up comedian, whenever he talks about a product, like
you can just see the sales spike. We tell him to post about a sale, we could immediately see the site traffic double, triple, quadruple. It’s just incredible.
The power that one man can really drive. It is sometimes a little hard to track
because he is so synonymous with Onnit. His podcast screen has kind of become a meme. You see this sometimes on Reddit, or Instagram, or the internet. Him saying saying, that’s O-N-N-I-T, use code word ROGAN for 10% off. Basically so much so that we can’t really attribute his sales necessarily to him anymore. Just because it’s leaked so often
and that’s his code word so much so that we had an analyst pull numbers for me the other day. 15.5% of all of our conversions come from codeword ROGAN, which we love,
but it’s just an astonishing number when we talk about what one man can do. And I know there’s a bunch of different ways that you can work with influencers. There’s a time old tested method of
giving free product in exchange for posts. There’s flat fees. We sign athletes or influencers up for contracts, give them one-time payments, you can do like all sorts of calculations,
cost per followers or calculate a CPM. We’ve done a little bit of everything. We’re definitely more on the first two. We do a lot of product giveaways. We definitely do a lot of flat, free placements.
Try and build relationships with influencers that kind of last a while to where
you associate someone with a brand. We don’t kind of want a one-off type of a relationship. There’s also a limited program to that, so what our typical affiliate looks like is we see a lot of Instagramers coming through our program, and I love that. It is such a social world. We want to see see people live in the brand. Instagram gives a great opportunity to spread what you’re doing as a human, what you’re doing
as a person, what you’re doing as a brand, and try and make some money off of it
as well, as long as you have an audience. So you know people are using our creatives
that we give out, branding them themselves, using the swipe up buttons, using GIFS.
They take like studio shots of their morning routine with our MCT oil and coffee or show their little workout routine with a bottle of Alpha Brain. Give them a custom code, use your swipe up as well.
All of these work really well. Typically on a small scale is when I see, couple sales a day, a couple sales a week. People make some side cash, that’s great. We scale that program from a couple hundred affiliates to a couple thousand affiliates. We make a decent amount of money through our affiliates just promoting it in this form and fashion. But we’re at Affiliate World, and everyone wants that paper. Everyone wants to make it rain. I think that’s why you’re here today, figuring out how we can use the Instagram platform to really scale that acquisition and scale that commission.
So with that, let’s go on to the case study. So more about this Instagrammer.
So when I first reached out to him, he had about 400,000 or so followers.
He had awesome engagement, and when I look for a new partner to work with,
I really look at the average number of video views or the average number of likes per post.
So I know people are gonna actually see that content and pay attention to what they’re doing. So he had a solid engagement rate, somewhere around like 5% which is pretty good for 500,000 followers. Like I said, he had no previous affiliate marketing experience. He really didn’t know what affiliate marketing was, but when I reached out to him, I told him I was with Onnit, and kind of what my plans were with him, he got really excited and since he did all of his creative himself, I knew it could be like a really good match. He had never taken on any sponsorships.
So he was kind of just doing this passion project, trying to spread his love for what he was doing, spreading content, and telling his message. So I thought it was gonna be
like a really, really great match. So when we first started, he didn’t really know what to do, I didn’t want to push him too hard, knowing that we had so much room for growth. So he did what a lot of my affiliates do, which is just low effort testing. We have offers, whether that’s just sending people to the homepage, whether that’s offering them like a 10% discount, that’s our standard offer, but he wasn’t talking about it in any of his posts, he wasn’t talking about it any of his stories. Just a simple link in the bio and with 400,000 followers, he was able to generate a decent amount of traffic for literally doing nothing. 650 clicks over three weeks.
Obviously no sales, but that really wasn’t my — wasn’t really a problem for me at that point, just because I knew he had the audience, knew he had people that were gonna listen to what he had to say. So after a bunch of emails back and forth,
we had a sale coming up and I said let’s get something going with some new creative.
So he put together this post on the right-hand side of the screen featuring Mr. Joe Rogan. He had a theory that people would really go after the kettlebell offer, and with that creative it’s thumb stopping, it’s funny, it’s exciting. Someone’s gonna stop and pay
attention when they’re scrolling through their Instagram feed, even though you
know they have a million other things going on. So he ran this ad a couple of different times. When I say ad, it was just an organic post. No paid dollars behind this. He was
able to get like a ton of traction with this. It had 1,500 clicks, 50 sales, and finally made some money on his Instagram account for a couple of hours of creative work. Maybe not even hours. Minimal effort and saw the light at the end the tunnel, as far as what I could make with my account. Like I said, he thought he’d be selling a
lot of fitness equipment, Joe Rogan’s big into kettlebells. After analysing the sales data, I took a look at what he was actually selling, and it wasn’t kettlebells. It wasn’t fitness equipment at all. It was some of our supplements. One of those supplements that really sold well on this sale, was our supplement Alpha Brain, which we so happened to have like a low-risk, low-barrier free trial offer, pays out a bounty for our affiliates as well. So I suggested that we go
that route moving forward. So him being the creative guy he was, and being around the time that Aladdin was coming out, he came up with some new forms
of creative for this offer. He used one of our podcast sponsors,
Joey Diaz as Aladdin. Photoshopped him in there and quite frankly, some graphic creative, but once again, super compelling, super thumb stopping. You want to know what the hell is this. You want to try Alpha Brain for free? Wish granted!
Kind of funny and very timely because there was a lot of attention on Aladdin at this point.
Once again, try something for free is a great offer for Instagram, great offer for affiliates. Converts really well. So he posted two different version of this
creative in his fifth week within the program, and we’re starting to see some traction. Over 12,000 clicks in that week. He saw a great 5.5% conversion rate on the offer. Once again, made some cash.
Made $7,000 in a week. Zero ad dollars spent on that. What he didn’t know is that he’s not reaching all of his audience. Out of 12,000 clicks that’s like less than 3% of his entire audience,
but at a 5.5% percent conversion rate, we knew people are interested in the offer, and the people were converting so well we just knew that there was so much room
for growth within this offer. So what did we do? We started putting some paid ad dollars behind both these ads. Once again, mostly through Instagram stories
but also some Instagram in feed ads, and some Facebook ads as well. Identify those those winning creatives and
iterated on them a little bit, but for the most part using those same typical concepts,
those creative, funny, compelling, creative concepts and just targeting fans of his page. Knowing that there’s so much room for opportunity, he is taking off traction-wise with 400,000 followers. He was growing week over week. I think by week six he was up to like 500,000 followers
on his Instagram, which makes him even more marketable. By the time this campaign ended, I think he has like 750,000 followers. So once again, just targeting fans of the page, targeting fans that are very closely related to the supplement world, so like the GNCs, the vitamin shops of the world, and not putting a ton of money into this. He was doing three campaigns with about $200 in ad spend, getting really cheap cost per clicks, conversion rate just skyrocketed once Facebook understood the market that was converting on the offer. He was getting a $10 CPA on the offer. So nothing like a crazy CPA. We can’t pay someone with a crazy CPA, that a lot of affiliate offers go for in the nutra space, but he was still managing to get 2 to 2.5x return on ad spend within the offer. So we ran this for a total
of three and a half months, I believe, and the numbers were crazy. Made just under $100,000. $97,000 in affiliate commissions over that three-month period.
9,700 conversions. It was a crazy offer. So much so that when he first turned on his ads, he failed to tell me he turned them on, on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday.
When I logged into my computer on Monday morning, as soon as I got to the office, I also received a call from the warehouse, saying, Paul what the hell? We have 1,500 sales of our Alpha Brain 40
count bottle, like what the hell is going on? I had to tell him what the campaign was and that we actually had turned it on. Is it legit? Like, are we shipping these out? And they were all great. The numbers from my side looked amazing. We had an 88% new to file customer rate. That’s one of the main metrics I look for in the affiliate channel, is his new customers for our brands, and these were sticky customers as well, because he did such a good job, marrying his account, his audience with our brand, it just turned out to be a goldmine for both sides,
which was just incredible for us. So I had a couple lessons I wanted to
share with you guys today. As an affiliate manager, I always tell my affiliates, know your audience, and I’ve tested this with a ton of different verticals within the affiliate world with some fashion folks, with some actors, with some musicians, and you really got to know like what people will listen to,
what people respond to. So if you have a growing audience, growing brand, knowing which products and offers can be promoted to your audience is so important. You can’t just throw something at the wall and expect it to stick. You also have to test. I thought straight sale might work for him, and it did alright, but unless its promotional, it didn’t really work too well with his audience. So knowing your price point that your audience might latch on to is gonna be huge, and then just the use of creative. I don’t think any of this would have worked, if he didn’t use branded creatives that his audience was used to. Having a resource available to get funny, get creative, but be still on brand within your eyes, and within the brand that you’re promoting,
it’s gonna be super important. And then for someone with a big audience, in general, knowing that you can go after a performance payout versus a one-time shout-out payment,
is gonna be so crucial. I could’ve easily approached this guy and been like, hey, you want to run a couple ads, maybe pay them $2,000 / $3,000 / $4,000. We could both have gotten some money. I could have gotten some sales and
that could have been at the end of it. Going down the performance marketing route was just so big for all of us, and we all kind of cashed in at the end, and it just proves that you can bet on yourself, bet on a brand, and it could really work out. So with that, I wanted to open up for Q&A. See if anyone had any questions and I’m definitely around to chat after this as well. So when you’re working with influencers and you want to do a barter exchange where you’re giving them the product versus paying them.
What’s your best idea for getting your return when you’re doing it that way because often, you can find that once to have the product, they’re satisfied to have the product. There’s not really much initiative for them to then promote the product cause they’re not getting anything after the
fact, you know what I mean? So I just curious like what’s your thoughts on doing it that way. Because I work with a lot of fashion brands and that’s how they do it.
They give the fashion, people put it up in their story, and to be honest, sometimes it seems half-hearted. So it’s like what will be the right way to try and get those people, to maybe encourage the influencers to want to do it or something? I don’t know. Is it money? You know, at the end of the day. Yeah, I mean, it’s good question. I think the opportunity for forming a longer-term partnership is the angle that I typically go for.
Some people want to be sponsored by us. They think we have this like never-ending sponsored budget and everyone could be a sponsored athlete, or a sponsored influencer, which is just not the case, but we do have different levels of sponsorships that we offer. And sometimes that is like
getting on a list of what is the new products, or like getting on a monthly allotment of
product offerings and then marrying that with the affiliate program. Being like,
hey we can we can test this offer, so I might be able to get you some product
and if you do well, we can continue this relationship, continue to build. Everyone loves getting free stuff,
especially if they’re into the brand. So doing a little bit of research on the influencer themselves is gonna be huge for me. Some people you can just tell it’s like a stock email they send to a million different brands. So filtering those out, looking at like what they’re currently promoting. Are they just doing a bunch of shoutouts? Like maybe that’s not gonna be the most valuable relationship for you as a brand but then, certainly
valuing those that do a good job and sending them a thank you, sending them a
personalised note with the initial care package, putting some thought into what you’re giving them. All of those I found, have gone a long way in building relationships. With bigger names are you typically contacting their
management? Or how are you technically getting in touch with these? Good question.
So we get approached from both sides. Sometimes folks come to us
and sometimes we go to them. For me, I feel like the people that want to get contacted and want to have business relationships are relatively easy to contact.
So I don’t mind working with agents. Agents are fine. Agents are necessary for a lot of these people, but building a relationship typically starts with the agent when you’re coming down to the nitty-gritty, contracting, money, etc. and then really like building a relationship with the individual behind the brand is gonna be so important going long-term. So a little bit of both.
It’s kind of surprising though, like how easily contactable a lot of these people are. Just by DMs or they’ll give you their email in their profiles. I find as an affiliate manager, I have to be like somewhat of a private eye stalking them across the internet and typically I’ll find a way to contact them, but a little bit of both. If you have a certain budget for influencer marketing, how would you split it up between the big names and for instance, the micro influencers?
Yeah so I’ll give you like a real-world example. So for us, we have, I think it’s about 15 paid influencers that we’re consistently paying every single month. They get a salary from this. We have probably 10 more that we pay on like a one-off basis, consistently. Maybe that’s every month, maybe that’s every three months and then, we have about 130 or so that we do like product-only exchanges with. So we break it up in like tiers. Not everyone that’s in the paid tier is
gonna be like a macro influence honestly. Some of our macro influencers, we don’t really call upon all that often, but when we do call upon them, we want to make sure that they’re happy in working with us. So for us, I think we find like friends of the brand, often times, but it’s definitely like a tiering system. Definitely have a good split of big and small, and when we talk about like big and small, we have folks that have followings as small as like 5,000 or so on Instagram, upwards of like over a million, and kind of all falling in the ranges of paid and unpaid. Does that answer your question?
Yeah, kind of. Thank you. How do you think that this brand supplement will perform if it was a straight sale for example,
$50/$60 compared to a free trial? That’s a good question. The free trial converts at a much higher rate.
It’s no contest really. A $5 purchase versus a full price bottle of Alpha Brain that can go for like $85. Factor in shipping, you’re looking at like $95 out the door. So for a first-time customer that’s why we have the offer available because it really does
attract someone who may not be familiar with the benefits of nootropics or
never tried them before. So they’re able to try like a smaller bottle for free.
So I mean that’s the purpose of that offer. Not to say that full price bottles don’t convert as well, but at a lower rate. I would say like on average, the free trial is around 4% across our network and the full-price bottle maybe is like 2.5% to 3% if you blend all my affiliates together. Did you try just to pay bloggers to
buy the ads? And did you test the numbers so you have the partnership? First option,
and you just pay like $5,000 / 410,000 for the ad and it’s maybe better for you. Yeah, no, we definitely have.
We do both and they’re both super valuable. A lot of people don’t want to do a performance partnership even though that audience really is a really valuable and interesting one for us that we want to test. So we sponsored newsletters, we sponsored bloggers, we sponsored Instagram posts, YouTube ads. We try and test a lot of different audiences across a lot of different platforms.
I obviously like the affiliate partnership just because it is like a longer term placement versus a blogger or a newsletter that’s gonna be like a one-time quick hit and I really have to monitor what that ROI is on that traffic right away. Obviously if it works, we can do more
placements within that publisher. It becomes more of a back and forth but both are great. With regards to tracking influencers, you
say use codes, I use that a lot but is that the best way to do it because
obviously sometimes their followers won’t use the code to buy?
Yeah, no, codes are like the tried and tested method, especially on Instagram,
and they work well until they don’t. One thing that I’ve done more and more
over the years is try and shy away from codes and put a little bit more burden
on our tech team and building out landing pages. So activating a offer through a redirect. Instead of Joe Rogan using the code word ROGAN. Do onnit.com/rogan. This gives two benefits. You can still give an offer.
So whether that’s 10% off, whether that’s free shipping, whatever you want it to be, but we can also track clicks and therefore conversion rate, which I find super valuable because
maybe someone doesn’t convert that first time, maybe they don’t convert within the referral window, but I can see all that traffic and that traffic benefits us in so many other ways. Maybe they
sign up for the newsletter, maybe we get them in our retargeting funnel on
Facebook, and even though they didn’t make a positive return on whatever ad
buy that we did with them, I know that they send enough traffic and we
benefited in so many different other ways that I’ll choose to work with them again. But coupon codes do get a little messy. They do get spreads. Like coupon sites, you know, aggregators. So although we do use them, but I don’t always like them as the number one method. Oh yeah, so I mean within our redirects we can assign like a sub ID within our GA to track the performance of those individual influencers and then, we don’t use Shopify but we use a CMS that we built internally, so we can track
the code redemptions that way. I’m not sure if Shopify does that or not. Alright, I think that’s it. Alright, give it up one more time for Paul.