Allison Roy is a digital marketing consultant at Capgemini. She helps brands tell impactful stories through digital media and expand their reach through influencer marketing. Allison has provided strategic content marketing advice to B2C brands like Intermix, Havaianas, True Religion, Wilton, Radio Flyer and more.

Arlen:  Welcome back to the eCommerce marketing podcast everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest Allison Roy who is a digital marketing consultant at Cap Gemini. She helps Brands tell impactful stories through digital media and expand their reach through influencer marketing.

Allison is providing strategic content marketing advice to be to see Brands like intermix. Have you Anna’s True Religion Wilton Radio Flyer and more. Welcome to the podcast Alison. 

Allison: Thank you. Happy to be here. 

Arlen: Yeah. Well, it’s a pleasure talking to you. I’m as we were discussing prior to the recording.

I know a lot about influencer marketing and I was actually just talking to someone. Earlier this week about that influencer marketing is really an influencer. These days is really kind of a buzzword of the day. So it’s really kind of on the Forefront of a lot of marketers minds and their lingo as well as e-commerce professionals and e-commerce businesses.

So super excited to hear your take on that subject. But before we get into that subject of today, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into what you’re doing today? 

Allison: Yeah, sounds good. So my background is not an e-commerce funny enough. I have a background in public relations and journalism.

I went to Northwestern School of Journalism for grad school started off with crime reporting a magazine editing and a little bit of photojournalism, which I really took two and then I went on to have a career after that in book publishing and then somewhere in the middle of that I decided that I wanted to Pivot into something a little bit more Innovative and.

Econ marketing really just kind of caught my eye and I had done some work as a local content creator in Chicago in like the early days of Instagram and people were just figuring it out my photo journalism background. Kind of help me figure out how to tell stories online and Brands tapped into that pretty early.

So my first exposure to this was actually as a content creator for Brands and then once I wanted to switch my focus in terms of my career, I decided to come on board at the agency that I work at now to help them build out their influencer marketing program to helping Brands become more strategic about what they’re doing.

Arlen: Great, that’s awesome and definitely hats off to you and living in the Chicago area. That is my hometown. Actually remember the days when I was in high school and meet my friends were trying to think we’re older, you know, when you’re in high school. You always want to try to relate to the older kids the college kids.

So we used to try to sneak into the Northwestern parties the Frat parties and I and we got away with it a few times actually hit song that that area definitely is dear to my heart as far as influencer marketing for those people that aren’t really familiar with that particular. Subject matter what that movie is.

Why don’t you just Enlighten us on really what exactly is influencer marketing and really why is it such a buzzword these days? 

Allison: Oh man. Yeah. There’s a lot of ideas about what influencer marketing is and isn’t and our understanding that I think it’s evolved since the very beginning a lot of people think about influencers as being the Kardashians or celebrities or the bachelor contestants, and they’re not wrong.

But from an econ perspective, I like to Define it as the utilization of persuasive social media personalities to promote something whether it’s a product or a brand or a service. And it’s fuzzy because it’s cool and it’s new and I think people see success stories like revolve which is a pure play fashion retailer that built a billion-dollar brand off of influencer marketing alone and people want in on that and we see people Brands jumping into this and they don’t have much of a strategy behind it, which is where folks like yourself or myself come into play and work with companies to.

Kind of strategically designed those relationships and help them work with these influencers. I like to call it the wild west of the Internet. It’s not really regulated and everyone’s kind of taking their own creative spin to working with influencers. But the one thing that I think really drives, this is the data.

You know, there’s tons of studies out there, right? And you know, I saw one from ion that said that 49 percent of consumers say that they depend on influence her ex to make a purchase forty percent of people say they purchase something after seeing it on social media and influencers are the people that are driving that.

Arlen: Interesting has some powerful stats. Now. How do you actually get dubbed with that title? Because it seems like these days. It’s it’s almost really kind of like a glamorous title to have to say that you’re an influencer. You know, how does that happen to you? Just wake up overnight and say okay.

I’m an influencer would what is that process? Like? Yeah. 

Allison: It’s like some people actually do that. But you know, there’s no hard and fast definition anyone can become an influencer, which I think is why people find this so funny. Fascinating because you know, you read some interviews with people who have you know, a million followers on Instagram now and they come from backgrounds like the marketers that you know, we work with and they decided that they needed a creative Outlet, you know in two thousand thirteen people were making these blogs and they blossomed into these really profitable Instagram accounts, you know, but they can start anywhere we’ve seen the term Nano influencer thrown around people who have.

You know around a thousand followers there being tapped by, you know, local hotels or restaurants on a very very micro level, you know to promote Brands and then you see those large-scale influencers, like for example, Brittany Xavier who had you know several followers and they are making three times over what their old salary used to be and so really anybody can be an influencer.

Arlen: Yeah, definitely. I’m glad you mentioned that because I think it’s kind of a misnomer these days when people hear influencer. They’re always you kind of naturally think a big-time celebrity a big-time. Entertainer or an athlete but that’s definitely not the case. You mentioned a term Nano influencers.

So if you have you know, a thousand followers or less and I’ve even heard of term, of course the you know micro influencers, so there’s various. Yeah, so there’s various levels of influencers and even when you go really really really down to the ground level very interesting article someone else that actually kind of broke down the different.

It even starts at the very bottom which would be like a local influence during a local influence is really just anyone like you and I and everybody listening to this podcast anyone that has some type of. You know basic presence online and has some type of connections whether it’s just your friends and family your colleagues.

We all have a virtual network of connections and so in a sense, we all are influencers, but we just, you know at a different level and we have a different amount of followers in our Network. And so, you know, that’s really what it comes down to is really kind of a numbers. You know for the brands that are listening or the e-commerce marketers that are listening if they haven’t really started or created a strategy.

How do they do that? How do these create an influencer marketing? 

Allison: Good question. Well, okay. So before I can answer that. I want to back it up for a second and I think Brands really need to evaluate first and foremost if influencer marketing is right for them and there’s a series of things to consider before you really drill down into it.

You want to think about do you have the budget for it? Is your product or service or brand something that influencers can tell authentic stories about online and make Visual and then lastly, you know, the Personnel do you have a person that you can dedicate to forming these relationships to tracking engagement metrics to really formulating your program and I really recommend that brand start looking at this internally before they go all in and then once they do that to find your goal.

So before we’re even looking at picking the right influencers and getting going on that I really encourage people to think about what they want out of influencer Marketing. A lot of people know that it’s fuzzy. They want to jump right in they say this is what’s missing from our marketing strategy and they just Dive Right In but I think the next step is to determine what your goal is.

Do you want to drive traffic? Do you want increase sales? You just need that brand awareness. Are you new to the market or are you strapped? For Creative resources and you really want fresh visual content to repost or using your you know, your paid strategies Etc. And then last step before you get going is to Define your audience, you know, you need to know what kind of influencers to reach out to.

When do they model your target audience or Target consumer? Do you think your consumers already follow them and start there and kind of paint a picture of what you want to get out of it before you start reaching out and selecting your influencers. 

Arlen: So you got you got some great advice, you know before really kind of getting into it.

You’re correct. And that’s just like with almost any marketing strategy. You want to make sure it’s right for you because you don’t want to spin your wheels for no reason and burn cash. If it’s not going to be the right direction for your particular business. So that makes a lot of sense. Now, you know, let’s say a brand is then of course established that.

You know, there are a fair amount of influencers in their Niche or the industry and there’s other brands that are successful with them. They’ve established that much and want to kind of go ahead and pull the trigger. So to speak what are you know, what are some ways to find the right influencers for your brand because.

You know, I know everyone of course once you know the big-time celebrities once you know somebody like anyone in the Kardashian family to be here an influencer that’s promoting the brand but you know, we have to be realistic not every business has several hundred thousand dollars to pay for one Instagram post, which is I think they’re going rate for at least some of them.

So I yeah, how do you find those right influencers for your brand? 

Allison: Completely and I think determining your budget it’s you said it’s a great place to start and. I also want to emphasize because I think you bring up a really powerful misconception. Is that like you have to have those Heavy Hitters to make an impact and people are becoming more and more skeptical, you know, like we’re really really become immune as a collective audience to advertising and and big-time celebrities.

Like the Kardashians trust is a really big issue which is why people are going smaller and smaller with their influence. But what I always recommend is starting with social listening go on your platform. So, you know your platform of choice. So let’s say it’s Instagram and start looking at relevant hashtags.

Maybe the ones that you were brand has been using thus far and see who else is having conversations on these hashtags who else is using them who’s mentioned your own brand to might be somebody worth tapping into who’d already be. You know and do the istick voice to amplify your message and then Branch out from there.

I really like what I like to call the internet Rabbit Hole approach. I know there are tons and tons of platforms out there that you can sign up for pay for and have them help you kind of source influencers and while that’s definitely a great route to go for for seating or review mining. They’re not always the most authentic Storyteller.

So I really encourage kind of the more bespoke method the more organic method of just going on. Social platform and seeing who’s there and not only that but look at other brands that you want to align yourself with, you know, the ones that espouse the same values and see who they’re working with because you know the person that’s following you might follow them and you kind of want to see you know, what voices they’re paying attention to and those are great potential collaborations for your.

Arlen: That’s awesome. And you kind of mentioned the term. I hadn’t really heard before social listening that makes a lot of sense, you know kind of putting your ear to social media or your your eyes and fingertips, you know going through and searching for these people looking. For them, you know just kind of doing your own grunt work that makes a lot of sense and kind of take it to the next level to give our listeners an example of one of the things that you can do because you know, I Could Be Wondering okay.

I’m trying to uncover these influences. What are some things that I could actually search for? I did a webinar actually last year where I talked about referral marketing and influencer marketing and I gave some different examples on how you can find influencers. And since you’re in Chicago, it actually made me think of this.

I gave an example of going on to Instagram and let’s say you are you have a fashion brand and let’s say you’re located in Chicago one particular hashtag that you could search for could be Chicago fashion blogger and surprisingly enough. If you do search for that and Instagram, you’re going to get several thousand post.

I don’t know. How many are there at this time? But this was last year when I did the search, but there were several thousand uses of Chicago Fashion bloggers and so on. Is the somebody that’s using that particular hashtag there either a fashion blogger in Chicago or they’re using that to maybe of course attract the fashion bloggers or they are associated with some type of fashion brand.

That’s a specific hashtag that not everybody is just going to use and so, you know, of course you can come up with variations of that depending on your Niche but typically people that are influencers or bloggers they may use you know, those types of hashtag. So that’s just. Example and then you know, like you said, it’s just going to be a matter of you doing your own due diligence and your own actual research and finding out are they really legit?

Are they the real deal and you know looking through their followers not only their follower account but also in their engagement level how how engaging are they with their followers or they responding to every poster their comments that are only from there. Followers in or are they responding bag?

So, you know those are different types of things where you can kind of do your own kind of due diligence and try to find them. It was one of the things I was going to ask you now outside of doing your own due diligence and your own social listening. What do you think about these influencer networks?

There’s a really kind of a ton of them out there today where you can kind of pay a fee to get access to a database the kind of like matchmaking services for Brands and influencers. What’s your experience with those and do you have any feedback on our phones are? 

Allison: Yeah, definitely my experience. I think it can be really useful.

Like I said before for feeding. If you’re just trying to get awareness of a product out or kind of fishing pole reviews. If you want to get more reviews on, you know, your product description pages. I know that really helps with like search engine optimization when you can get a lot of those reviews that something that you know, the platform influence their does where they’ll send out boxes of perhaps, you know, a new mascara that L’Oreal came out with and they’ll.

You know search their network of people who signed up and they’ll send out boxes to people who you know have reliable content creation Cadence’s and the followers and and then these people will receive boxes. They’ll test it. They’ll review it and it really really works. Well for those purposes. I think you really want to look at what your end goal is if you want people with.

Really really large followings who are swaying their purchasing Behavior. I do recommend going the more bespoke method just because I think you’ll find a lot more authentic voices out there who perhaps identify as an influencer, but first and foremost are really dedicated to whatever message they’re sending out.

So I do think platforms have Play services have a place in the influencer marketing Arena, but I would be very very choosy about. About when to engage with them, especially if you’re a new brand who’s experimenting with influencer marketing that may be a big spend for something that you’re going to want to test out a little bit.

So I really recommend starting small working with those micro influencers that you find yourselves owning those relationships before you start Outsourcing 

Arlen: that makes a lot of sense and I also often myself Wonder with those services and those databases the authenticity. Of those databases in the actual influencers in there is it, you know, they’re really the real deal or are part of their database is kind of just kind of filled with you know, people that really aren’t that active.

And so yeah, like you said, there’s really no beating doing your own due diligence and your own search. 

Allison: Yeah, it’s a lot of leg work, but I think it’s worth it. I also think it’s really nice to own your own influence relationships and be that person that is communicating with them directly without a middleman.

I think the relationship management aspect of influencer marketing is something that doesn’t often get talked about we get so caught up in you know, are we driving revenue and you know, what kind of Engagement they’re getting and you know what the ROI is but everything in between that is so important.

Cultivating those relationships the same way that you know, a PR person would cultivate with the process very similar because not only are you looking at attracting influencers to work with your brand and having a successful relationship with them, but you want to keep them on board because the more we watch these influencers and where we see that repeated exposure to their messaging is what’s driving that purchasing behavior that following behavior from.

Their audience members that are coming over to the Brand’s platform and so if you can keep them on board every month check in with them. No, you know when they have a child and when you you know want to send something extra in their sample K. If you’re going to give them something I think being really dedicated to maintaining those relationships is a part of that recipe for a strong relationship with your influencers.

Arlen: That’s very true. And I hadn’t thought about that before but you’re correct with those influencer Networks. You’re you’re giving up a. A fair amount of that relationship to the third party. That’s the kind of the middleman there and you know, unfortunately, you know, sometimes yummy you never know some of these companies that are these networks could be fly-by-nights and they could be here today gone tomorrow and then then then kind of what happens then you know, you may have lost some of your relationships and you know, there may not be trust there because there’s no middleman between you and the influencer.

So yeah, you’re totally right. It probably makes a lot more sense to. Formulate your own relationships at least initially and then of course, you know, if you’re making a certain amount of Revenue and you want to take it to the next level and Branch out there to cast kind of a wider net for your influencers.

Yeah that the networks may be a great way to do it and could save you some time now. I’m sorry. You don’t know once you’ve kind of you’ve isolated these influencers as if you found. Either a one particular influencer or set of influencers for to Market your brand what are typical fees or incentives that a brand would usually pay an influencer for the marketing their?

Allison: I love this one because it’s kind of a tricky question, you know, like influencer marketing and influencers on Instagram YouTube. It’s not a regulated space, you know, so there aren’t any hard and fast rules for what they can charge but the rule of thumb is generally expect to pay $100 for every 1,000 followers, you know, and so on from there you’ll be pleasantly surprised and find people who come in under you’ll find people who are you know, very sought-after who will charge more.

So I think that’s what’s reasonable. It’s a case-by-case basis the other thing to consider to when you’re thinking about pricing. Is what kind of content you want them to create so, you know asking somebody to create a video or a series of videos is a little bit more labor-intensive than a one-off Instagram feed post or a blog post.

So often you’ll see pricing broken down from influencers in packages where they’ll pair, you know, so many Instagram stories with so many feet posts in a blog post. You can pay to have your link in their bio. So you’ll see packages. You’ll see all a carte options and then you’ll see recurring.

Monthly option. So when you’re reaching out to influencers, you know, it’s always worth asking if they have a Media Kit to try and see if you know, there’s any expectations there. 

Arlen: Gotcha. Yeah, that makes sense because you’re right some of these established influences, you know, they probably kind of have their set rates so to speak but you’d mentioned a kind of a gift of starting point could be $100 per thousand followers.

Now would you say that a hundred dollars are you talking about is it typical? To pay per engagement With Their audience paper post or is it would that be more of like a monthly commitment? How does it typically works? 

Allison: Most often that’s per post for Less established influencers or ones that are just kind of smaller.

Sometimes that will be included into some sort of package that they’ll formulate and offer up to like one story one feed post. You know, I’ve seen male fashion influencers that have charged, you know, 604, you know the whole shebang and I’ve seen ones that have charged six hundred for one post. So it really will vary.

Arlen: Okay. Got you. Got you just really kind of depends on their their Network Their audience and really what type of Roi you can expect to get from that now there’s been over the past year. Actually, there’s been really kind of a lot of debate about influencer marketing and whether is it just today’s hot Trend or do you really see it as a viable long-term marketing strategy in the future?

What do you think? 

Allison: I think it’ll kind of continue to change and evolve. I think influencer marketing is here to stay but I think the way that we engage with influencers and the way that we engage on platforms will change. I don’t know if you’ve seen this but there’s been a lot of news lately about Instagram experimenting with hiding likes and a lot of people have thoughts about what that will mean for Content creators and Brands and you know how they’ll be able to communicate value through.

The quantity of life’s at their posts get so I think that may be influenced as we see how things shake out with Instagram and we’re also seeing influencers kind of start to identify as content creators, you know, which indicates that they see themselves as a business extension of the brands that they’re working with so.

It kind of seems to me that influencer marketing is becoming a little bit more established even though it keeps changing but I think influencer marketing is here to stay and the reason why I say that is just because there’s so many numbers that back this up. I was looking at this Google study that came out this year that said four and ten.

Millennial YouTube subscribers said that their favorite influencer our scans them better than their friends and what’s even more than that, which is a pretty bold statement. Is that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers. So we’re talking about I don’t even know what generation that is Arlen, but you know, they say that they relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities.

So I feel like we’re patterning away from advertisements. Successful communication method and we’re patterning away from large celebrities as Persuasions for purchasing Behavior. So I think we’ll continue to see people leaning on you know, the more glamorous version of the Everyman to sell products, but I think the way they do it will keep changing.

Arlen: I think you’re so right and then when you were talking about how these Millennials were, you know, we’ll have a I guess you could say kind of a stronger relationship and follow these YouTube. Influencers YouTube celebrities more than just the traditional celebrities. I was thinking about Will Smith.

He’s one of the few celebrities these days that has made a kind of a full-on the transition into becoming a kind of a YouTube subscriber and the listeners that don’t know Will Smith had recently. I guess it’s probably a year or two ago. He kind of he’s always had a social media presence. But what he did is he really went all in on?

Launching a YouTube channel, you know documenting what he does on movie sets him and his family, you know, just the whole like the typical things that YouTube personalities do but you know, he’s on a whole nother level because of his his reach and because he knows who huge mega celebrity and so I’m wondering is he really kind of setting the trend because he understands.

Those stats that you just said that the children coming up the Millennials coming up. They’re not looking at Celebrities the same old way. They’re looking at YouTube and for YouTube personalities. So will these celebrities these days have to make that transition in order to you know, command a large salaries and to really maintain their quote unquote Star Quality, and I’m just wondering what you think about that.

Allison: Yeah, I think so. I think it extends far beyond celebrities to but I think you know, what from what you described, you know, he’s being super smart because you know, as we were talking about people don’t trust that perfect, you know glossy image of the celebrity anymore. We want to see the behind-the-scenes.

We want to see the real person and that’s why. People have been gravitating towards influencers in the first place. So when you see celebrities like Will Smith giving you the full background or you know female celebrities posting pictures of themselves without makeup and having real conversations.

I think that is what makes them more appealing and will keep them more relevant, you know in the social media space and that said, you know, we’ve seen this Evolution with you know, those more traditional influencers to you know, when we started and you know, the early mid two thousands, you know, we.

We were seeing these beautiful aspirational Lifestyles served right up to us on our favorite, you know, social media platforms and we were seeing a fantasy and then as. Influencer marketing and influence. Your behavior is kind of evolved, you know, they started sharing more behind the scenes information.

I’ve started to see, you know, Beauty bloggers start talking almost in like a B2B fashion where they were talking to other people who wanted to be bloggers and they were explaining what kind of you know photo editing techniques that they used and they gave him more behind-the-scenes Glimpse and so they’re becoming.

The goal is to become more real I think and on the flipside of that from the brand perspective, I think that’ll change to you know. The hopped aboard the Instagram train, you know who might even be kind of knew or have a more basic approach to it. You know, they the idea is to get your product in the hands of the influencer and then have them create content and that’s been kind of the bones of what we’ve seen influencer marketing be but now we’re seeing brands.

Do you know sponsor large? Events were Instagram trips that create content that they used for the whole next year, you know, and I think we’re going to start to see Brands get smarter and more strategic about how they work with influencers to so, you know, I think we’ll start to see more influence or content social first content Incorporated on their websites and on their pdp’s I think we’re going to see a shift away from you know, those on model images that we see on fashion retailer sites, and I think we have some really rich content to look forward to in the future.

Arlen: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I think you definitely nailed it. We’re at the point where these brands are definitely going to have to make this shift because just the bottom line is the way that people consume media and entertainment is totally changing and in order for them to to get themselves notice and be appealing to their their Target demographic.

They got to make the change, you know, if they don’t make the change they’re going to be. Unfortunately, you know gone by the wayside. But yeah, it’s 

Allison: that’s right. There’s only so many. Hey 

Arlen: guys videos that we can watch right if I did exactly that I can talk to you about influencer marketing all day because it’s definitely a Hot Topic and it’s something that’s really close to what I do and I’m super excited about it so I can get go on and on about it.

But yeah want to go and wrap things up and I really appreciate you coming on. The podcast like I said, we always love him powering strategies and I think you’ve really gave us a lot today and like to wrap things up with my final kind of Switching gears here my final fun fact question and just wanted to ask you one one surprising.

Fun fact that our audience would would be surprised to know about you. 

Allison: That’s a tough one. Okay. Fun fact would be I started out as a music Major in school, and I thought I was going to be an opera singer. 

Arlen: Okay. Okay. Wow. Okay, so you actually sing opera? 

Allison: Yeah, I used to I sang with a few Chicago choir is off and on but that’s kind of my little side Hobby.

Arlen: Yeah, that’s awesome. Actually, I just watched the episode of HBO Real Sports. The the kicker for the Baltimore Ravens is actually an opera singer. He does that kind of on the side. Yeah, very interesting if you get a chance. There’s basically rated as the one of the best kickers every Super accurate super precise.

And not only is he a best one of the best kickers he sings opera and yeah, he’s pretty good and from listening to what they thought about it on the kind of the PostScript. They said that’s definitely could be a second life for him. I guess after the NFL. That’s so 

Allison: cool. 

Arlen: Yeah, they’re very. All right Allison.

Well, like I said, it’s definitely been a pleasure having you on the e-commerce marketing podcast. Now if any of our listeners would like to get a hold of you and pick your brains anymore about influencer marketing or any other marketing subjects. How do they get in touch with you? 

Allison: They can find me on LinkedIn under my name Allison Roy, or if they really want to get personal they can find me on Instagram.

My handle is just my full name. 

Arlen: All right, sounds awesome Allison. Thanks a lot for that. And once again, thank you for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing. 

Podcast Guest Info

Allison RoyDigital Marketing Consultant at Capgemini