Arlen: Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson, and today we’ve got a very special guest Morgan KlIng, is the founder of Market Boost and CloutHQ, the first Public influencer marketing database. They help take your influencer marketing to the next level by providing a suite of tools designed to streamline and optimize your influencer relationships. As a leading expert in the field of influencer marketing Morgan works with some of the world’s most popular and growing businesses and has been featured in Forbes, Buzzfeed, Influencive, Entrepreneur and more.

Morgan: Thanks for having me Arlen.

Arlen: Not a problem. Yeah, I’m super excited to talk to you today is a lot of our listeners may know influencer marketing and. Everything influencer is something that’s kind of in my wheelhouse at Omni star which course providing if affiliate referral platform and we always encourage our customers to go after influencers and there’s a lot of ways to do it.

So I’m definitely interested to pick your brain about that kind of this is going to be. A great value to our listeners, but before we get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself specifically how you got into what you’re doing today 

Morgan: for sure. Yes. So I’m 23 years old. I started my first marketing agency back in 2007.

I really just got into the space because I fell in love with the psychology behind direct response marketing and influencer marketing specifically. So I started about three years ago working with a bunch of different direct consumer Brands mostly like small Shopify stores and things like that. And as I started to work with larger Brands, I realized that there’s an opportunity to create a story brand behind a fictional entity like a company or something like that.

So I started talking to people that had large audiences. That fit within the same niches my clients and I was trying to find ways that we can collaborate with them. So before I really understood that influencer marketing was like a space or like a standardized industry. It was really just me kind of talking to people that had picked audiences trying to find a way that we could promote my clients brand.

So I got started that way in the very beginning was a lot of. Google Sheets and manual work and just like data entry and things like that. But as I started to understand better how the systems and processes worked. I started to build more advanced Google Sheets if that’s the thing using formulas and Integrations and things like that.

And then eventually I decided to build a internal software for my company that we could use to scale these campaigns and manage things more efficiently doing like tracking and Reporting and stuff like that. So I started working on a software about a year and a half into my agency. And about six months after we started we launched a software as a service company and that is now cloudhq and that was the first and I still believe it’s the only public influence your database that’s out there.

So I’ve been working on that for about a year and now we’re looking into more operational software’s inside of the influencers base 

Arlen: rate. That’s awesome. And did you say you guys started in 2003 at these? 

Morgan: No, not 2003 I think was 2017. Okay, that’s 

Arlen: got you guys you guys I was I was doing the math and like men we did you get started when you were in high school.

I think that 

Morgan: was true sport for me. 

Arlen: Okay? Okay guys. Well, I’m kind of a dinosaur in the game as you probably picked up when we did the kind of the pre-recording. I’ve been in the game for about 20 years. In this kind of industry. So I’ve seen a lot and you know, it’s been a lot of changes in the industry and I would say maybe probably about 10 years ago.

The term influencer marketing was probably non-existent from if my math is correct. It could have been even less time than that. So for all of the listeners that aren’t necessarily familiar with the terminology what exactly is influencer marketing? 

Morgan: Yeah, so influencer marketing is basically leveraging the authenticity and the trust that somebody has With Their audience to promote a company.

So basically finding people that have large audiences that have cultivated a relationship with them through social media or other digital channels like blogs or YouTube channels or Twitter accounts or something like that and find a way that you can collaborate with them to leverage their influence to promote a brand.

Arlen: Gotcha. So actually in a way it’s even though the term is new businesses have been utilizing this model for quite a while. If I’m not mistaken, I guess prior to influencer marketing. It was probably companies or larger Brands were using pitch people like celebrities entertainers sports figures people that were very visible that I had a loyal following, you know, people that always wanted to see there.

Favorite star or their favorite sports person do something and they would kind of follow all of their movements. And so if they’re person of choice was behind a certain brand then that commanded an audience and that definitely translated to dollars. So if I mistake and I think that’s kind of where it all began and then now it’s because of the internet and social media.

It’s kind of taken a whole nother. Taking it to a whole nother level. It’s really a lot different. 

Morgan: Yeah, I think that the term was coined within like the last 10 years, but you can go all the way back to like the 50’s and 60’s and see like cigarette. He’s promoting with even presidents at the time or top baseball players or football players and people like that.

But at that time, I don’t think they even called the influencer marketing and what they would have called it back then but I know it worked really well because those companies are going really fast, right and then I mean just recently it started to become more of a. Digital Trend that anybody could have access to and it kind of makes sense considering Facebook ads.

We’re starting to pick up around like the same time influencer marketing became a term and more people had access to these. Distribution channels that before you would need to have a huge budget and be able to contact like the manager of that person or like know somebody that knows somebody so it’s kind of cool now because a lot more people have access to these unique channels of leveraging other people.

Arlen: Yeah, definitely and he kind of mentioned a key thing. These social networks have really opened up the average everyday brand to really do the world. We have the ability to reach out and get in contact with. Huge Stars, you celebrities that have a huge following even though you know, it’s going to be hard to kind of people at the top.

Of course. They have a. I guess you could say maybe his hypothetical wall around them of people that manage their Affairs, but there are still some of these people that are accessible and we’re least more accessible because of all of these different social channels that exist. So that’s definitely a wonderful opportunity for the average brand now, we hear a lot about influencer marketing and I appreciate your definition of it in defining it one of the things that I always wonder and I get this question.

From a lot of people because we deal with a lot of different e-commerce Brands and my initial questions. Is it right for any e-commerce brand? 

Morgan: I would encourage any company that is selling online or even like retail stores to give it a shot at least, you know a few times the way that you would go about it may be different.

If you’re a direct consumers Shopify store versus if you’re a local retailer that selling ice cream in your hometown or something. I think it’s worth it for anybody to at least experiment in that space whether it’s finding that. Macro celebrity that has 50 million followers on Instagram or finding like the local Alpha Mom.

That’s just really ingrained in the community and holds a lot of weight with the the other local soccer moms. I think it’s worth it for anybody to give it a shot at least and if you find a little bit of early Traction in the very beginning, it’s certainly something worth pursuing further and trying to scale up.

Yeah for sure 

Arlen: and you know like anything and what I tell people all the time with regards to marketing and specifically e-commerce marketing. We’re in a kind of a new age here. We we kind of have all of these different platforms out there. A lot of them are new and there’s so many ways and permutations of trying to reach people and trying to reach your customers and form those relationships.

So there’s really just has to be a lot of trial and error so. I appreciate what you said. You really have to just try it and you know, see if it really works just like a lot of other marketing strategies that are out there today. The main thing I think is you have to when you’re trying these things you really have to analyze the results.

You have to set up some type of system where your you know, your analytical abadi you’re studying your data you’re studying the results and you’re not just blindly. Continuing to throw money at a particular strategy of you know, if you’re not getting any return so you have to be very very diligent and saying if it makes sense for your brand and if you’re really getting a return so that’s definitely one.

Piece of advice that I always tell people to make sure that they are attentive to now the main thing with influencers you mentioned, of course the huge macro influencers that have access to you know, millions and millions of people but you know, if your average everyday you Commerce brand wants to find influencers.

What are some ways. That they can do it. 

Morgan: Yeah, so great question. That’s one of the most common questions I get when people are trying to find influencers or like they’re first starting to experiment with it back in the day what you had to do before so many software’s existed was and you can still do this today if it’s a like a really specific niche.

As you would go to your find one influencers profile on Instagram, you click follow and then the suggested followers underneath of that would pop up and that’s one way you can find people that are similar, but that’s actually why I created cloudhq in the first place was because so many people are asking me where can I find influencers and not have to pay a $650 a month platform fee or something like that.

So when I created cloudhq it was because on one hand I was working. A bunch of different types of Brands and each time. I had to go find a bunch of different types of influencers and then on the other hand, I was getting a bunch of people reaching out to me asking where can I find influencers like what’s a free resource we can use do you have any like CSV files or spreadsheets that you can share with us that we can use to like plug into our active campaign account or something?

So I would say start with looking on Instagram. You can lie. Find one influencer Searcher has hashtag could follow see who this suggested profiles are. And then I would also strongly suggest checking out cloudhq and that you know, Jim was plug, but honestly, it is the only public influence your databases as far as I’m aware at this point.

You don’t need an account or anything like that. You literally just clicked directory you type in your search results and then the influencers populate in the database there are so that’s probably the lowest friction way that people could go about doing it now if you’re looking for. Access to macro celebrities and people that are very hard to get in contact with you’re almost always going to have to know somebody that knows somebody or know how to contact their manager and there are some databases out there that are very expensive to access.

But if you have the budget to do that, you can access these databases of managers and talent management agencies and you can reach out that way answer to negotiate deals with these people 

Arlen: gotcha that all makes sense and like you said, People can go or a variety of different routes to try to contact these people all the way from just doing their manual searching and Outreach.

Like you said Instagram searching is that’s really a very effective method of doing it as well. You mentioned searching for specific hashtags and give some people some tips. One of the things I gave a webinar several weeks ago. We talked about referral marketing and even influence the market. And I want particular strategies and believe it or not.

You know, you’ll the results that you’ll find were just doing some basic searches are incredible. Now, of course, you’re going to have to do your own research Outreach your due diligence and your follow-ups, but you know to give a our listeners and idea. Let’s say you’re selling a fashion brand.

Excuse me. You see your fashion brand and you’re selling fashions in the in the city of Chicago. If you do an Instagram search and just like that the hashtag. Chicago Fashion bloggers that hash tag along turns over 50,000 or about 50,000 results. And so that’s a specific hashtag. And so anyone that uses that is going to be somebody that’s of course in the fashion industry somebody that’s a blog or somebody that.

You don’t have some type of following and is using that intentionally and that’s a great start if you were, you know in that specific Niche and that specific City and that’s the type of person you were trying to reach out to so that’s just an example but there’s endless hashtags that you can use to do the searching the next step.

Of course is just going to be to do your follow-up, you know, send them DMS in the beauty as we mentioned earlier with today’s world is that there’s so many different channels to reach people on you can. DM these people most people’s profiles are easy to find not only on Instagram but you know all the other social channels the Facebook Twitter LinkedIn, you know, you just gotta do the continuous follow-up and stay on it and you know, if you’re diligent enough, you’re definitely get a response.

So while yeah, that’s just another piece of advice but one of the things I wanted to ask you you mentioned with cloudhq. You guys are the only public available database we say that do you mean as I know there’s other. Influence our networks out there. There’s other services what sets you apart from some of those other guys that are out there with the influencer networks.

Morgan: Yes. So the first thing would be pricing the very beginning. I wanted to build an entry-level product that not only Brands could use but very small social media marketers or Freelancers that we’re offering Consulting Services. Prices start at $59 a month and even our highest plan is 129 a month and comparably with like a platform like effluents are Grand or something like that.

It’s about a 10x difference or 10 times cheaper than the next leading platform or deleting Platforms in the space. And then on top of that being able to just go on a platform and not have to submit your information and just be able to search at any point in time without maintaining a subscription or anything like that.

It’s just really helpful for people that are. Dabbing their toes into the influencer space and they’re kind of curious about it. And like you said persistence is really key when you’re wanting to work with influencers, like often times. It’s not the first Outreach message that will lead to a collaboration like most of the time you have to follow up to three or four times and you have least start looking at how.

Brand is being perceived by these influencers. So being able to continuously access a platform that has data on these influencers the history of those influencers and just like a place that you can find new influencers because it’s constantly growing its crowd Source database that other brands are contributing to all the time.

So. Being able to have access to a database where you’re not paying for it and knowing that it’s constantly being updated is just something that from my perspective is helpful because you don’t have to maintain a subscription and you’re not tied to that one platform if you decided like okay, this has three features that I really need but it doesn’t have these two that I really need.

So then you don’t have to split up across a bunch of them. So if we can solve the core friction points and influencer marketing which are finding the influencers and then sending that initial Outreach message that is sufficient for me to know that we’re doing what we need to do to help the influencer space grow and that’s you know, cloudhq is not going to be the.

It’s not going to take over the entire influencer space. It’s purely just supposed to be a resource that people can use for those two first points of finding the influencer and reaching out to them. So that’s kind of how I see the space and I think as it becomes more standardized and more evolved softwares like yours help a lot with attribution.

That’s a huge problem in the space right now is trying to see what an Roi on your spend is and then other problems like negotiating with influencers or you know, getting them to post on time or identifying fraudulent followers. Those are all really big problems in the space as well and the barrier to build a platform that can actually crunch the numbers behind all of these profiles in the history and basically all of the different data points that you need to look at to determine if somebody is buying fake followers are using engagement groups.

It’s a little too high for my for my taste to build a software that space and it’s very expensive to build a software in that space. So it right I’m just trying to solve the first two problems that people run into. 

Arlen: Yeah, that’s great. And you like you said that’s really the first concern and question that people have when you mention influencer marketing is okay.

How do I get access to them? And I see that your focus has been on solving that that initial problem. But but like you said there’s there are other issues. Of course when it comes down to it attribution is huge and unfortunately. Platforms like Instagram, they don’t make it easy to to try to track results and that’s kind of what one of the things that we as a business.

I mean Starfleet software has been trying to try to get our hands around because most referral platforms such as ours are. Lake base platform and we’re lying on a click of a link and you know as most people know with Instagram if you have a basic profile and you don’t have over 10,000 followers, you can’t have any external links in your post or your stories and only thing you can have is within the bio and so makes a little challenging for a brand to be able to track the activity.

Of an influencer on Instagram, but you know, they are making some strides as you as I mentioned it. They do have it. Now. If you have of course over 10,000 followers with your Instagram stories, you can have the flip up Pages where you can someone can swipe up and have an external URL loaded which definitely.

Helps out with regards to the tracking it and software Solutions such as are so I’m glad that they’re good. They’re going that route. But you know, hopefully over time there be some other ways to be able to track activity because it is a concern when you when somebody says they’re an influencer they’re doing they’re posting but, you know, wait kind of taking their word for it and if you don’t really.

Have any other way of tracking the exact customers that they’re bringing you then you’re paying for it gets supposed brand exposure which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes you know Brands really want to get the concrete numbers on exactly what a influencer is doings. Yeah. Those are just some things to think about as far as if you’re looking to enter the space now.

One big question that I always get from people that are thinking about influencer marketing because influencers like you said at the beginning have a ready-made audience. They have a following on a variety of different platforms. You’re going to be wondering. Okay. What is the incentive that I have to provide to them?

Is there a typical rule of thumb on how you incentivize these influencers? What is type of commission that you pay them? 

Morgan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I always look at it from the perspective of the influencer of why they’re spending so much time growing an audience. I look at it as they fall into one of four quadrants.

Usually it’s either they’re like a risque influencer where they’re just doing stuff for like all of the attention that they get for and all of the outrage that they can cause because of it their altruistic their celebrity. And what’s the last one last one is skipping my mind right now. But anyways, I look at this four quadrants of where an influencer falls into and why they’re posting the content on their social media in the first place.

And then I tried to craft an Outreach message that is going to align with their incentives behind that. So if I find an influencer that’s very altruistic and I can tell that they’re posting content because they’re trying to Share value with their audience and help them Excel and grows as individuals themselves.

I try to reach out with a message that’s going to align with that so. If it’s a CBD brand that’s supporting veterans. I would probably reach out because I want to help share this product that is supporting veterans. And then I would kind of get to the commission part in the in Senate the financial incentive part towards the bottom of it if it’s somebody is doing like risque or like not so much contributing to their.

Type of content I’m probably just going to get straight to the numbers with them and be like, hey, we would love to buy a sponsored post on your page. This is what we were thinking for rates and would also add a commission in there. Is this something you might be interested in the thing when it comes to working with influencers at this point pretty much of any size over a hundred thousand followers is the volume of Outreach messages that you need to send to.

People to reply consistently if you’re just reaching out cold and you’re not a very notable brand, you know, like if you’re not EA Sports or Nike you’re going to have to send a lot of Outreach messages to people because the so many influencers are getting collaboration opportunities from so many different brands at this point that a lot of the collaboration opportunities just get ignored.

So that’s even more the reason to focus on how can you optimize your Outreach messages to be most aligned with their incentives and then how can you build a system for following up with those people if they don’t reply to the first one, which is more likely than not. It always comes down to trying to find the reason that they’re posting on social media so consistently and then figuring out how I can maximize the amount of Leverage that either I’m trying to get out of the collaboration or my clients are trying to get out of the collaboration and then just tailoring the messages that way and if you can create a generic Outreach message, that’s even better because you can send it to a bunch of people but a lot of times for bigger influencers.

It’s a lot of customized messaging and filtering people down into different. Cohorts of people and then reaching out with those individual types of Outreach messages. 

Arlen: Gotcha. That’s very interesting the way you mentioned that as far as crafting those Outreach messages. I never have never heard it kind of put that way where you really need to tap in and uncover what their these influencers whole why is why are they doing these things?

Why are they? So visible, why are they posting it out? And then once you identify that then crafting a message that speaks to that and something that is going to get notice because otherwise you could be totally off base if someone is promoting for a specific reason, but you know, you’re offering them an incentive that they have no concern for and that really is going to go you’re going to be able to take your.

Your Outreach a kind of a whole nother level if you try to uncover their why and then also yeah, very interesting. I know that I mentioned earlier. It’s just the key thing is the Outreach and the follow-ups you have to have some type of system in place that’s going to really automate that process for you or if not automated you have to have people in your end or your team that is going to be able to do the audit the follow-up whether it’s manual or.

You used some type of solution because like you said when people reach the hundred thousand follower Mark, they’re getting approached all the time by large Brands and your Outreach message would probably just get lost in the shuffle. If you just do a one and two and then you think you’re done you’re not going to hear anything unless you just continually follow up and then pivot change your messaging try to reach him another platform.

So it’s kind of a whole a whole system really does have to be in place in order for you to. To really be effective with it and reach the people that you want to reach now as far as influencer marketing we know the internet is it’s always changing social media is changing so fast every time we look up there’s a new type of platform Facebook is changing all the time Instagram is changing and so we constantly have to Pivot and I would imagine all of these different marketing channels have to of course adjust with these changes of what as well and pivot as well.

So. In your opinion. What do you really see the future of influencer marketing headed? I know no one has a crystal ball. But what with your opinion is it kind of here to stay or where do you see it going? 

Morgan: I think it’s absolutely here to stay. There’s so many results shown in the industry of companies using influencers as one of their either their primary marketing channel or one of the primary marketing channels and then growing their brand to such a size that just irrationally large for you know, what you would have been able to do 10 years ago.

I think influencer marketing is definitely going to be here to stay as far as platforms. Go Instagram is definitely here to stay. I don’t think that’s going anywhere YouTube is definitely here to stay. I think that’s probably one of the most tried-and-true platforms that has a track record of surviving any controversy.

That exist in the industry are the technology space regarding privacy or anything like that gaming streaming platforms. Like twitch. Microsoft has released one. I think those are really cool opportunities that people should be looking into the way that I always approached new platforms to possibly Market it used for marketing is to try to understand what the buyers intent on those platforms is going to be so.

Tick Tock is a really hot topic right now A lot of people are trying to get access to their ad platform and wanting to work with influencers on there. I think it’s an amazing distribution Channel. If you have a product or like an app or download or something that is very it doesn’t take a lot of.

Incentive to get somebody to download or to purchase. I think those are decent platforms to use and it’s definitely worth testing. But I think they lack the intent to have a sustainable influence your industry in them. Of course, unless they create a like a standardized type of post that influencers can use where it’s like this is a sponsored influencer endorsement and here’s a product like and then like they do a product presentation, but I think trying to fit it in the conventional way of how.

Instagram influencers have done in the past or YouTube influencers have done in the past is not going to work on those lower intent platforms. And I think the companies that are going to stay in first place for at least the foreseeable future going to be YouTube and Instagram. I don’t see anybody taking the space of them for at least any time soon.

Arlen: Yeah, you’re so right about that. Yeah there I think they have submitted themselves. Those particular platforms have submitted themselves as a just a solid platform that yets. They’re definitely not not going anywhere and I’m constantly seeing things to speak to that. I think couple of days ago this week.

I think Instagram had some down time and I’m always looking at the trending Twitter hashtags and then it seems like if Instagram is down for just like two minutes people people lose their minds So based on that and based on just the amount of. Total amount of content that’s on YouTube. Yeah, they’re definitely here to stay for.

Sure. Well Morganite I definitely appreciate you coming on the podcast. I love talking about influencer marketing. It’s really a Hot Topic these days and I know it’s something that our listeners are interested in so this. Episode I know it’s going to go a long way. But before I let you go, I was like to shift gears here to get too low.

No our guests a little bit more. So if you have one kind of closing fun fact that you’d like to share with our audience. One thing that people may may be surprised to know about you 

Morgan: about me personally or about influencer marketing 

Arlen: be anything. Yeah, you personally influencer marketing or whatever you’d like to share.

Morgan: I would say something that I was really shocked to learn about the influencer marketing industry is that 90% of collaboration opportunities that are sent by Brands go unanswered and that’s stated that I’ve looked at industry-wide is data from our platform its data from other my Mutual connections that own influencer marketing agencies.

Almost always it’s 90% of the collaboration opportunities that go unanswered. There are some Brands if you have like a really killer product that you can offer a really killer offer in your like willing to pay whatever the influencers prices you can obviously that number down. But yeah, the time is 90% So just keep that in mind.

You do start your influencer marketing Journey. If you do decide to go the manual route of looking on Instagram profiles and clicking follow and seeing the suggested followers. You’re doing hashtags. You’re going to need to reach out to a lot of people to get them to respond. And that’s even more the reason to create customized Outreach messages and really tailored to the influencers personality.

So that basically just comes down to the same way. You would build a customer Avatar. You should build influence or avatars and try to understand what the best way to get them to come on board with your company as and to inspire them to fall in love with your brand and bring them on as like a partner instead of just a.

Some ad unit that you’re seeing is like what’s a direct Roi going to be on this? What’s the reach try to find a way that you can inspire people to want to partner with your company and to do that. You’re both going to have to have volume of Outreach and you’re going to have to personalize messages to send to these people.

It’s not quite as easy as just purchasing an ad unit. I think a lot of people see it as like sometimes I think of it as like if Facebook didn’t have the ad platform that they have that is so intuitive where you can just click through the process of like campaign traffic’s at the objectives that the ad placement all that stuff and you had to like reach out to a Facebook rep to buy it.

An ad placement from them a lot of people reach out to influencers as if that was the case and it’s not it doesn’t work that way because you’re talking to real people that have invested a ton of time and money into growing Their audience and building authenticity behind their name and their personal brand.

You really have to reach out as if you were reaching out to a real person big shocker, but I would say just approach it as if it’s not an ad unit and you’re trying to build relationships with people that have a lot of followers on social media. 

Arlen: Yeah, that is so true and appreciate you sharing that that actually is a very kind of surprising and shocking fact that like you said 90% of the.

The messages from Brands reaching out are going answered. I can see that because like I said earlier, it’s just these influencers are getting pitched left and right and it’s hard to get through when you have all of these different channels. It’s really hard to get back to people and even if if you’re offering an awesome opportunity for them.

It’s exactly what they’re asking for still may go unanswered because you know, you haven’t got. Through and because of the kind of the Clutter that they have so yeah that very interesting or surprising as well. Well Morgan, I appreciate you sharing that and appreciate you coming on again. Finally if any of our listeners would like to get ahold of you.

What is the best way for them to get in 

Morgan: contact with you? Yeah, the best way would be to send me a message on Instagram or Facebook. My Instagram handle is Morgan Kling , and then there’s two G’s at the end of my last name. You can always send me an Instagram DM on there. You can just find me on Facebook again.

Just Morgan Kling one of the only male profiles on Facebook. You’ll find me pretty quickly. It says cloudhq right on my profile there. So feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or Facebook. I’d love to try to buy influencer marketing or just in general ways to make the industry better 

Arlen: great.

That’s awesome. I appreciate that Morgan and thank you again for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing. 

Morgan: It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

Arlen: Thank you for listening to 

Morgan: the e-commerce marketing podcast. Do you need to get more feedback and reviews from your customers and improve your customer retention?

Arlen: We have made it easy to do all this with our customer feedback software. 

Morgan: Just visit OSI and sign up for a free trial today. That’s OSI If you’ve enjoyed this episode of the e-commerce 

Arlen: marketing. Be sure to rate review subscribe 

Morgan: and share it with everyone, you know.

Podcast Guest Info

Morgan Kling
Founder of CloutHQ