Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host, Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Irene Moore, is a digital communications expert who helps e-commerce brands build communities and drive sales online. She co-founded Digital Marketing London (DM London) a specialist online marketing consultancy to the beauty, wellness and luxury sector five years ago and quickly grew the agency through delivering digital marketing campaigns for global brands, such as L’Oréal, NYX Cosmetics, Cantu Beauty & Dior.
With a background in PR and marketing psychology, Irene’s always been fascinated by what makes a powerful brand and credits her own business success to helping her clients better understand the ever changing shifts in customer behaviour in order to deepen their connection with their consumers.
Irene has spoken on stages for Twitter, Instagram, Festival of Female Entrepreneurs, General Assembly, Soho House, Instagram and Virgin Startup on the power of visibility, female entrepreneurship and online marketing trends.
Keen to support new founders starting their ecommerce journey Irene recently launched SavvyStartupClub.com – a mentoring and marketing platform to help small brands grow. The new platform offers expert training, templates and group coaching on everything from setting up your store to how to get your brand noticed by the media. Welcome to the podcast Irey.
Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
I know it was a pleasure having you and thank you for joining us today. I’m really excited to talk to you today about our topic, which is going to be influencer marketing, because it’s something that is near and dear to my heart, as are all of our listeners know me being the co-founder of our affiliate software these days, I like to think of influencers really as the affiliative today. I don’t know who originally coined the term, but that’s kind of really what they are.
They’re the affiliates of today reporting brands. So, you know, in exchange for an incentive. So super excited to dove deep into that, because I know you can definitely provide a lot of value as to that subject. But before we do get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and specifically how you got into what you’re doing today?
Sure. Well, first of all, I completely agree totally in terms of influencers being the affiliate marketers of today. And I’m excited to talk about this. And typically, when brands come to me or come to my agency, they are in a place where they want more awareness, typically with a slightly younger audience or a different niche than they are able to currently penetrate or they want more sales. And typically they want both. Right. And you know where marketing agency.
So, of course, you’re going to you’re going to get that. You’re going to get the sales and everything else. But actually, what we’re helping them do is build communities around that brand and not just numbers for numbers sake, but actually engaged communities that convert into clients and customers and then in turn convert into raising funds. So it’s very aligned with the work that you do. You know, the power of this already. And the way I got into this was actually by happy accident, because when I was first in my corporate job, before I started my agency, I was working for some incredible brands.
I’ve always been very lucky to work for with incredible brands. And I remember when I was working handling PR actually for Bobby Brown Cosmetics and. I it’s this really strange trend, and it wasn’t they weren’t called influencers or bloggers or anything at that point, it was just cool girls doing cool stuff with make up a line that was literally what they what they were. And I just noticed that actually this is where all the makeup artists this is where all our creators were looking for info.
And it really sparked my imagination. And I remember starting to kind of connect to them and engage with them. And at the time, a lot of my peers were like, hey, you should be hanging out with Vogue.
What are you doing? You know, speaking to these girls?
And I was like, listen, there’s something going on here, especially in the creative community. And that’s really how I kind of fell into working with people who maybe want influences but were influential in their space. And so when I got approached by L’Oreal to basically set up a whole new division called Digital Communications because there was no name for it, it was a really exciting brief because it hadn’t been done before. There was no kind of blueprint to follow.
And basically it was working with, you know, five of the biggest beauty brands in the world and shaping what that looks like for those brands in terms of content and making it relevant and making sure that those brands could still speak directly to their consumer. So that’s kind of how I sort of fell into it. And it was through that role and relaunching and I extend to the UK and Ireland. That really is where my career, I guess, sort of shifted.
And I started getting my brands to come in and strategize and do talks. And that’s what I knew. OK, this is the time to go off and do something for myself, you know? So that’s kind of how I got into this space.
OK, great. That’s awesome. Great story. And thank you for sharing that with us today. I want to kind of really start at the beginning. I mean, a lot of people know about influencer marketing or he heard about it. It’s something that they should try. It’s really kind of the buzz word of the day. But why don’t you break it down for us? Really? What what is it? Why is it and why specifically is it so important right now for ecommerce brands and why are they so successful with it?
Yes, absolutely. Well, interestingly, we call it community that we really call influencers our community. They are part of the community, but we’re building them around brands. But for anyone who’s new to this, which is looking at people who are almost little mini experts in this space, very credible in this space, and they don’t necessarily have to have millions and millions of followers. They can actually have very small followings, very tight followings that we find those to be the most effective.
But they are influential because they’re credible and looking at ways that brands can connect with them and deliver content in a way that helps storytelling around their brand also educates and informs and sometimes just entertains that community. And it’s powerful because they’re such a powerful trust with someone who looks, sounds, behaves like someone who maybe understands and can share the same concerns and desires. We’ve seen such a huge shift. You know, when I first started it in this space, especially in the beauty luxury space.
Right. Everything was about celebrities and being super aspirational.
And I just think that actually with the last couple of years that we’ve had and the longer than that, people really are growing tired of that super glossy over over filtered lifestyle. And people want to see more raw, real conversations happening online. And that’s what influences can bring to your brand.
Gotcha. Thanks a lot for breaking that down. And that makes a lot of sense. And I hadn’t really heard anyone kind of describe it like that, where traditionally these influencers, these celebrities, there’s always been celebrities pitching brands, you know, as long as kind of advertising has been around. And that’s kind of always been out there, I guess you could say they were kind of influencers. But historically, like you said, you’ve always seen this kind of glossy, filtered light of these celebrities, and they’re aspirational.
We aspire to be like them. But I think we’re at the day and age now that, you know. All right, it’s nice to be like that or to aspire to be like that. But, you know, really, what’s the real deal? What are what are these guys doing day in, day out? Because, you know, we’re all people. We’re all human. We all put on one pants leg at a time. So nothing changes about that as far as the human race concerned.
So it makes a lot of sense how we just really want to see the real deal right now and we want to want to go now is because things have definitely changed within this past year. Twenty, twenty, of course, everybody’s been under this whole covid-19 the lockdown’s worldwide. Our world has really shifted totally. And so with this whole shift with regards to ecommerce and with regards to brand, what trends are you seeing in the whole world of influencer marketing?
Yes, yes. I love this question because I want to try and cherry pick. There’s a few the handful that I’m loving and try and cherry pick, the ones that I feel that no matter what stage you’re in your business, you don’t have to be a huge brand that you can sort of really become present to the first and foremost. Is the fact that because there are so many more people online and so many more brands investing in either influencer marketing or creating content online, there is definitely a desire to stand out.
Right. So this isn’t necessarily a trend, but something to really start thinking about is how are you going to create content that really stands out? You know, how can you inject things like humor? How can you inject more playfulness or interaction in that content? I’m seeing a lot more of that. And actually, this is where I see the brand new baby brands really stepping up in this space because they know they don’t have the huge budgets. Right.
So they have to get super creative. And it could be something as simple as just telling some home truths and really cutting through the noise in that way. So that’s something that I’m loving, seeing more and more. But I think specifically when it comes to Eckermann and influences, you know, I love it, but I say my word for the year because we’ve had such a crazy year is surrender and I’m inviting brands to do the same. And the reason why I say this is because if you want your content to connect with the communities that you were sometimes paying hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to these influencers to connect with, you need to be open to them leading the charge when it comes to the creative.
So really, you know, when we’re looking at these new formats, the tech talks to realize this is content that we’re seeing for the first time and it doesn’t how to doesn’t really operate in the same way on there. And so being really open to letting them be at more of a collaboration rather than this is the brief. This is what it’s launching. This is what we want. And trying to create almost a mini ad on influences platform that just doesn’t work anymore.
So surrendering that creative control or at least being a bit more collaborative is something that I really feel a lot of brands needs to be present to right now because they are on it.
You know, they know exactly how to maximize these platforms. And so definitely something I definitely love to see. It goes without saying being more expansive in your in your approach to diversity and not in a tick box way, but really looking at your community. You know, one thing that I know for sure is that especially for ecommerce, you know, people are looking at your social media. You know, they’re scrolling back. They want to see what your stance was when conversations were happening last year.
People are doing that subconsciously. And so really having an expansive world view where you’re not completely abandoning your niche, but almost looking at other people who are credible, looking through your feet and saying, actually, have I proactively been as inclusive as I could? Does this feed just like everyone does? Everyone just look and sound exactly like me, even in terms of people who are collaborating with. Right. So really starting to think about that in a very, very structured way, because believe you me, your community will call you out on it if they’re not seeing that right now.
So it’s such an important this is more than just ticking a box. This is really about you surviving the next 10 years in your brand and making sure that people really feel that they are represented in your business.
Yeah, so true. And I think what you said is right as far as you know, traditionally a lot of brands are a lot of times when they’re dealing with outside people, advertising on their behalf, marketing on their behalf, they use like a heavy handed approach where they give a strict media guide as to how you’re supposed to market highest percentages in our brand. And, you know, to an extent, you do want these people to represent your brand correctly.
So I understand that you want people to abide by your criteria that you have and how people should present your brand. That’s fine. But these days it’s a little different because of the social platforms. Like you said, we have the tic tac toe Instagram where there’s a lot more creativity involved in whatever you put out there. And so I think what you said is spot on, because if you put it in the hands of these people, these influencers, they actually it really kind of opens up a whole world that you may not have thought about as a brand.
And they obviously know how to connect with people because many of them have tens and thousands and hundreds of thousands of followers. And then some of the bigger ones, of course, millions of followers and people aren’t just following them just for their health. They’re you know, they’re attracting an audience from what they do. And so, yeah, you do have to I think to a certain extent as a brand, take the back seat to how they are putting things out there and just, you know, kind of follow their lead.
So I’m sure a great point there for sure. Know, what I want to do is because I’m really all about really what what are some practical things that brands can do to really achieve their goals, specifically with influencer marketing. So, yeah. What are some practical, actionable strategies? That a brand can use to actually connect with the right influencer, because I think that’s really one of the first steps in the process.
Yes, yes. And actually a very important first step. I think when you are approaching influencers as a brand, move away from this. Let’s just get as many as possible and do one piece of activity, because in all honesty, that is not going to allow you to build a deep enough connection with that community. So what used to happen was that, OK, we just want to have a squad of like 12 influencers and and go out for a campaign.
Everyone talks about it and then it walks away. But actually, what that does is like it’s like taking out one ad in vogue.
Right? It’s not going to have the impact that you want it to have. And so what I would like to see is brands really taking a long term view.
You know, if you’re going to work with someone, do the deep dove look at the quality of their content. Have they spoken about brands like yours before? Have they actually spoken about your brand before? And what kind of reception did it get when they’re on their feet? Look at them. Engagement again, moving away from not just we’ve all heard the term Mitko influences and I think we all know what that means. But actually looking at specifically like almost like genre influences as well.
Expanding when I say being expansive, yes, diversity is up there, but also looking at different areas that are still talking to your audience. You know, one of the things that we’re doing with our brands is looking at, you know, the gaming community, those gaming influences who have massively engaged audiences, who are used to buying that ad to buy from that. Right. And so looking you know, we’re talking to sports people. We’re talking to different kinds of influences that still attract the kind of community that we want to the brand.
So doing that sort of legwork, I think is still really important. And I think it’s easy to kind of just sort of put it out there and see what happens. But I think doing the legwork to see who really resonates with your brand. And then once you’ve done that, looking at a more long term collaboration so you can build a deeper connection with their community. So they’re seeing you regularly over a longer period of time. And I think that’s something really practical that people can start doing today.
And another practical tip that I would share is we’re all here to sell, right? We’re here to make my own money, ultimately. And so that’s a given. But also remembering that when your customers online, they are seeing so many other brands that can give them what you give them. Right. So you’re looking for other ways to retain the attention. And so creating regular appointments with your community, whether that is a weekly life with your expert, whether that’s a conversation with an influence and someone from your team, whether it’s taking the behind the scenes in that regular way, whether they’re like, you know, it’s a bit like I used to run home and watch Oprah.
Right. It’s a bit like having that regular community where they allow every Wednesday or every end of the month. There’s something going on with this brand. It keeps you front of mind and builds a deeper connection. And influence is a wonderful thing. How can you do that if you don’t have the team or the experts in House to be able to do that? Right. So thinking outside of just selling product and actually how can you work with an influence to build a deeper connection and have broader conversations that your community is interested in?
It’s so true. It really is community building. You’re getting these influences to work on your behalf or promote on your behalf. So it’s more than just like a a contractual relationship that you have with of course, you’re paying them. They’re getting percentage of water totals or they’re getting some type of cash incentive for what they’re doing or a fixed amount that you agree on. Yeah, that that’s the truth. But the way the world is now, the way these social networks are and the way things are changing so much, that community is very important that you have to stay engaged with them because as a brand, of course, you’re going to have a lot of things going on in your in that you want to make sure that they’re up to speed with as well as you want to get feedback from them, especially because things are changing so quick with all of these social networks that are just exploding.
You know, the tick tock, as you mentioned, is huge now.
Now we have this huge social network called Clubhouse, which if you’re familiar with that, but it’s the audio only social network. We’re going to listen to different live audio feed. And so, yeah, if you’re not communicating, you may be missing out on some opportunities. And so you’re creating the community is is essential 100 percent.
And to build on what you’re saying about looking at where these trends and these shifts are happening, because social media is always telling us what people want, these people that create clubhouses that create Instagram to create Facebook, they know intrinsically what people want. And so when you see people moving more towards audio, when you see all of that, pay attention.
There’s a desire there. And this is what I say about being expansive with who you work with as an influence of there’s many people that are not influencers or content creators, but have great influence. I would say, you know, all the you know, this show. You have influence, right? And so it’s looking at who you actually want to collaborate with because they have very powerful connections, podcasters with their audience, because they’re listening to you every single week.
Right. And so when we start to see those shifts, I think it’s important that brands pay attention to that. And, you know, one of the reasons why we actually hire influences in our agency to develop strategy alongside us with our clients is for that very reason, because they are so attuned to what’s coming next. And it really helps the brands understand it from the influencer and the community’s point of view.
Yeah, definitely so true. And it kind of brings me to my next question. I’m going to kind of pivot a little bit and really kind of play devil’s advocate on this one, because I know it’s a question that a lot of people wonder. Hit me. Yeah, there is a million in one marketing strategies, as people know. You know, you can go and YouTube, Google and type in e-commerce marketing strategies and you get a million results.
There’s a lot of different things you can do as you as you all are aware of. So one of the questions playing devil’s advocate is, you know, with influencer marketing and where it is right now, is it really a sustainable strategy for years to come? Is it worth the while or is it something that’s going to be kind of a fly by night strategy or the influences of today going to just disappear? Is everything going to switch? What do you think?
Is such a good question. And I was in a talk actually just before it looked out of the house. We had a bit of a challenge about this question, this exact question. And here’s my thoughts on it. I think that influencer marketing is definitely a sustainable strategy, but it’s going to be a shifting strategy, right? It’s not going to be just like when it first exploded or some of the influences that we worked with had to do was hold something up and say it was available now and it would sell out.
That doesn’t work anymore in the same way that Jennifer Aniston or gaolers wishing her used to sell out products, that doesn’t work anymore. And so I was thinking about it’s always going to be shifting. And this is why I invite us to think about who is the person of influence and not necessarily the influencer. Who is this person listening to day in, day out? And how can you integrate them into your content? Because I do think it’s shifting.
And actually, one of the lovely things about it shifting is that we’re seeing so many people who are influenced by, you know, the best friends, big sister. So, you know, the way that you do alone and, you know, with the affiliate workers is so smart because this is you know, you called it basically, you know, this is how it’s shifting. It’s going to be an integration of people that, you know, love and trust as well as the people that you are inspired by and follow on social media.
It’s going to be a combination. And that’s why we always talk about building communities and not just influencer marketing.
Yeah. Very, very true. And it’s interesting that you mentioned Jaylo and Jennifer Aniston maybe at the beginning of this whole influencer marketing celebrity culture before, you know, they could just switch their hair and they could be, you know, millions of dollars to promote a brand where it’s different now. And the reason I say it’s interesting now is because you can see it by just what these influencers are doing. And I’ll give an example, Jaylo, for instance, and this is it wasn’t even that long ago, maybe a year or two ago, has focused a lot on her YouTube channel.
She has a YouTube channel with a lot of followers and so does her. I guess the if they’re married, not yet. A-Rod, he has a pretty popular YouTube channel as well. And what they’ve done, both of them, is they have really kind of invited the world into their kind of personal lives. And so they’ve done a ton of back scenes, videos of them at home, them with their the kids that they both have, which she was on her tour.
All of that just kind of inviting you into their world. And as we were mentioning earlier, that’s really what people want to see. They want to see, you know, what are these celebrities really doing? It’s fine that they the rich, they’re wealthy and there’s that filter of this glamorous lifestyle. But the end of the day, you know, they’re people. So people want to see what it is they do day in and day out. They want to see those conversations.
You do that to take it. What it’s for, what it’s worth, for the most part, a lot of it is can be maybe a little bit staged, of course, because there’s a camera there. They’re not going to tell you the real deal. But you do get a glimpse of, you know, kind of behind the scenes to what’s going on. And I think seeing things like that. And there’s a lot of celebrities that are doing this now that are bigger celebrities, not just the average kind of YouTube influencers.
I mean, we’ve got the Will Smith, of course, that is. Yes, he’s follow that same playbook where he is open. It is kind of world up to the world. Yeah.
And it says a lot. Right, because they know that that direct to consumer conversation is so powerful they don’t have to wait for media outlet to give them exclusive anymore. You know, it’s really important.
Yeah, exactly. And they know they can use that platform not only to promote the brands that they represent, but to promote the. Sells jello when she says you can do that.
Use that YouTube channel to promote anything she does from her music, she puts out to movies to whatever it is. And Will Smith this the same way I follow his YouTube channel. And whenever he has a movie coming up, he’ll put out an early trailer on his YouTube because he knows he has that audience there. So they’re definitely changing times. And I think you’re totally right. It’s not going to really go anywhere. It’s just going to be shifting and it’s going to be evolving over the years for sure.
Yeah. What I want to do now, just as we prepare to wrap things up, I’m always a huge advocate of looking at what some of the larger brands are doing and how some of the successful ones have really grasped certain strategies.
So what are some well-known brands that you’ve seen or brands that you think we may have known that have been successful with influencer marketing? What specific tactics to be utilized?
Yes, I love this question. I’m going to be a little bit biased. I’m going to talk about brands that we work with just because, you know, I think it’s important to show how much they’ve had to evolve. It’s a steep learning curve for brands, right, to move in this direction. But, you know, if we look at Nick’s example and my ex, which is a L’Oreal brand, they were really one of the first brands to sort of pioneer the space, because when we launched it into the UK and Ireland, we actually didn’t create any original content whatsoever.
And we managed to grow that social following from literally three thousand two hundred thousand in under a year, OK. And that was just purely through getting the product out to the community. Yes. Influences, but mainly out to community and girls that just love makeup and then celebrating the looks they were creating online. So then you had this little hive of people who were like tagging us every single day for that chance to be featured. And like, you see, it’s very common on them channels now.
But that was a brand that really pioneered that kind of behavior. And also what I love about that brand as well is that they we really got behind what the influencers wanted to create for themselves. So, you know, they wanted to do makeup, masterclasses. The brand could sponsor it, get behind it, help them actually realize their dreams. Right. And I think that’s what we talk about when we say building more of a community and connection, because when they are now launching something, you don’t even nine times out of ten, they just want to promote it because they feel like they are behind the scenes with you.
That part of your brand, you’re part of the family.
So I think that’s a really, really great example. Another example of a big brand, which is big in the States as well as one of our clients, Country Beauty, which is a brand that specifically tailored, tailored to textured her for her. And, you know, we have launched initiative here in the U.K. called The Color Awards. And it’s a little bit like The Voice.
But for textured hair stylist, where we said them Phalangists, we invite inventors to get involved. And again, it’s a great opportunity to just celebrate their creativity, but also use a platform of a big brand to promote them and to highlight them as the top stylists and give them challenges in the community, vote on them. So it’s a really well-rounded way to bring both influences and your community together, but with the brand at the heart. Right, being the glue of that.
And so I think looking to brands that are having, as I said, creating experiences and creating opportunities to connect to the communities on a deeper level, those are the brands that are winning because every time you launch a product, the excitement around that and the show ability always increases because they are there to be entertained and they know it’s a trade off, right? Yeah.
So definitely, definitely.
I would want to know.
OK, great. I appreciate you sharing that. And you’re right, it is definitely a kind of a two way street where it’s not just the brands kind of pushing things out to these influencers. It’s almost like like we said before, it’s it’s a community and they feel like they’re part of your brand. So they’re going to do what they can to include your brand into their whole world. That’s really the ideal scenario, exactly what it is you’re doing part of their day to day activities.
Well, you know, I could go on and talk about influencer marketing all day because, as you know, our audience knows, it’s really my bread and butter here, what we do all day. And we advise people on how to get affiliates and influencers. So it’s a tough topic that’s near and dear to my heart. And I really appreciate you coming on, Irene, because I’ve learned a lot and I know our listeners have as well. So definitely a lot of great takeaways.
But before we let you go, I always like to switch gears and my last question and pick your brain on one closing fun fact that you think our audience would be interested to know about yourself.
I love this question. I don’t know if it’s a fun fact, but it’s definitely something people don’t necessarily know. But I have a strange, strange hobby, but an unusual hobby.
And I love writing. Horror fiction.
OK, OK, so this is this is I wouldn’t say yeah, I guess it’s a fun fact, but I find it really, really relaxing, not just make some weird, but, you know, I find it really relaxing to be able to step into a completely fictional world. And I don’t know, horror just always seems to be the thing that comes through. That’s my kind of fun fact. Maybe I’ll put out a series one day.
That’s awesome. I wouldn’t I probably wouldn’t have guessed that you like writing horror fiction. Well, I wonder, are you a fan of that HBO series Lovecraft Co.?
Have you familiar with that?
I’ve seen a couple of episodes. I think I need to let you know it’s a grower, I think.
Yeah. OK, guys, you got the reason I mention that is because I know the creator and the writer is an African-American young lady and yes, she’s done big things with that. That’s definitely for Regina.
And yeah, really interesting show. And I’ve seen some things on that show. I think I’ve seen people just prepare yourself if you hang in there with it.
OK, well, it’s not going to give it another try.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Definitely stick through it. Yeah. Very, very interesting show. Well, thank you for sharing that and I appreciate that fun fact. And lastly, of course, before we let you go, if any of our listeners want to reach out to you and pick your brain any more about the influence of marketing or really any digital marketing tactics at all, what is the best way for them to get in contact with you?
So the best place to go is to head over to our website, which is just Digital Hyphen Marketing, DOT London. And when you head over there, you’ll see a type called invitation, and that’s where you can essentially book some time for Speak with myself and my team. And if you’re a smaller brand who’s just getting started or emerging, feel free to head over to my website. I more dot com where you can find out about my coaching and mentoring packages to.
OK, great. Well thank you for sharing that. I, I definitely encourage all of our listeners to take you up on that and reach out to you and set up a time to meet with yourself or your team so that they can explore, you know, digital marketing, influencer marketing or really anything to help their brand.
Thank you so much for having me on and have loved it.
No problem. And thank you for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.
Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast.
Co-Founder of Digital Marketing London