Season 02 / Episode 034
Sales Are The New Likes, Views, and Clicks with Andy Hohl
With Andy Hohl - Brand Sales, Magiclinks
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Today I speak with Andy Hohl, Brand Partnerships and Sales at MagicLinks. As Public Relations and Affiliate Marketing continue to merge, we at JEBCommerce try to bring you the conversations that will help you navigate this brave new world. And this is just one of those conversations.
MagicLinks is an influencer platform, working with over 25,000 influencers and 4500 brands. Andy and I discuss best practices in working with MagicLinks, their influencers, and integrating affiliate marketing and PR in this way.
Andy has been working in PR and Affiliate Marketing for over a decade and has seen the transition and the integration of these two channels happen for some time. Needless to say, he has some great insight.
If you are trying to navigate this new thing, this is definitely the episode for you.
Want to contact Andy? Follow him on LinkedIn or email.
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[00:00:50] Jamie Birch: Hello, and welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast. I am your host, Jamie Birch, and founder and CEO of JEBCommerce, your award-winning affiliate management agency. Today, we have a great guest. I will get to that and introduce him to you in a moment.
As we’re recording this today, we are squarely in back to school, no matter how much I want to protest and throw a fit and not acknowledge that my kids will be going back to school here shortly and entering another – one of the last few actually, for me, of school, back to school seasons. You’re probably listening to this closer to Q4. As we get ready to target that, you may be thinking about ways that you can increase your sales, but also strategies to lower your customer acquisition costs within your affiliate channel.
Now, if you are trying to balance those two things, and lower that customer acquisition costs, we’ve got a resource for you. Just go to jebcommerce.com/cac. That’s jebcommerce.com/cac. You’ll be taken to a resource where we’ve identified four ways that you can lower, four strategies to lower your customer acquisition costs in your affiliate program.
Now, let’s get to our guest today. Our guest today is Andy Hohl. Andy is the brand sales and partnership at MagicLinks. Now, MagicLinks is an influencer platform, working primarily with YouTube and TikTok influencers, and merging that space of influencers and affiliate marketing. They are using affiliate marketing to monetize, incentivize and reward influencers for the content they create on behalf of brands.
Andy has been in the PR space, in the affiliate space for a little over 10 years now, so he’s done both. As we have been talking about a lot at JEB, and you’ve noticed that in our content we create on our blog, on our podcast, and in the work that we’re doing for our clients, the merging of public relations and affiliate is happening. It is here. This is one of those conversations that we bring to you. Some of the things and partners that we work with to help take advantage of this brave, new world that is merging these two disciplines in these two channels. This is another one.
Andy is a great guest. If you want to learn all about working with MagicLinks and how they work with influencers, then this is the podcast episode for you. I’m going to step out of the way, so you can listen to my conversation with Andy Hohl.
[00:03:31] Jamie Birch: Awesome. Andy Hohl, welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast. Thank you for spending time today with me. How are you?
[00:03:40] Andy Hohl: I’m great. Coming off a great weekend. It’s sad, we’re in the dog days of summer, but luckily, I live in Miami, so it’s summer year-round. The nice part of the weather comes now.
[00:03:50] JB: Yeah. My first time in Miami, I experienced true humidity. I’ve never seen it before. It was about this time of year, August. I stepped out of my cab and my glasses fogged up for about an hour.
[00:04:03] AH: Yeah. My go-to going out outfit is usually just a bathing suit shorts, or regular shorts. I try and be like, “Oh, I’m going to wear jeans out.” No, bad idea. Or any long sleeve shirt, you’re going to be sweating through that before the day is over.
[00:04:16] JB: Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, I’ve never been there outside of August, so I would assume the rest of the months are – it’s a great place to be. You have the dog days of summer. I’m not looking forward to the winter. I saw Halloween decorations at the mall yesterday. I was like, “This is too early. I don’t want to see this.” I almost ordered my first pumpkin spice donut from Krispy Kreme the other day, and my wife was like, “It’s too early.”
[00:04:39] AH: Ooh, they already have pumpkin spice out. Wow, okay. Yeah.
[00:04:41] JB: They do. It’s a 100 degrees.
[00:04:45] AH: In July, I was at Target, and I saw the back-to-school supplies booth. I was like, that was what I dreaded growing up. Because I lived in Ohio. We had only three and good months out of the year. When you saw school supplies, you’re like, “Oh, it’s over already.”
[00:05:00] JB: Yeah. Not looking forward to it. This is the first year my kids will go to public school, because they’ve been homeschooled or private school. Everything starts a little earlier. It seems like these holidays never end, or these times of year. I saw back to school stuff, yeah, in July. I was just, “I don’t want to think about this yet. Don’t make me think about this yet.”
[00:05:20] AH: Well, yeah. I don’t like that. It gives me the shivers of being back in school, which, after going to college, or high school and all that. I went to one post-grad class at UCLA for wrangling talent. It was a very niche class for one day. I have one official post grad credit at UCLA, which I still use my resume. I don’t know how much that means, but I have done post-grad work, I like to say.
[00:05:46] JB: Awesome, awesome. I have not had a chance to do that yet. My sister is wrapping up her doctorate right now. That’s been pretty interesting.
[00:05:51] AH: I can’t even imagine.
[00:05:53] JB: It’s quite the journey. It’ll be the first doctorate in our family. Real proud of her. I can’t imagine. I was done with school, then I was done. I wanted to never go back.
[00:06:05] AH: I’m glad I was able to go to college in four years. It was a close one, but I figured it out and got it done.
[00:06:11] JB: Yeah. I was a late starter. I worked for a little bit, and then I went to school. Then it was like, I went straight. Straight through summers and everything. I got there and I wanted to get out.
[00:06:22] AH: You made up for lost time?
[00:06:24] JB: I did. I mean, I was still the old guy in all the classes. I think, one of my last classes was a freshman English class. I was five years older than everyone else. They thought I was the teacher. Yeah, and that was the worst class.
[00:06:40] AH: How we think that, like when I was 18, you think somebody that was 23-years-old. Now if I go out to the bar and meet somebody who’s 23, I’m like, “You’re so young. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”
[00:06:51] JB: Yeah. I turned 48 this year. I remember thinking when I was maybe 10, that you’re really close to death at that point.
[00:07:01] AH: Maybe, if you’re on the Oregon Trail, you might be close to death.
[00:07:06] JB: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’d be 10 years over the life expectancy at that point. Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us. Tell us and our listeners about your career journey. How did you find affiliate marketing and what was the path to get there?
[00:07:22] AH: It was a long journey. I went to Ohio University. I was a public relations major. I didn’t really have many options for internships. One of my internships, actually, my only one during college was at Hocking College, which was a technical college, a couple of miles outside of Athens where I went to school. For that, I really got my hands dirty. I was doing marketing and PR, got to learn so many things, because they basically had a one-person department.
I remember taking a picture of a baby fowl, I think that’s the baby horse, and making the front page of the newspaper in that town. That’s just how things went and everything. Like, “Oh, I got a front-page article.” Yeah, it was a really good experience I had. After that I worked all summer at an island in Ohio called Put-In Bay. Saved up 10 grand. Saw an ad off Craigslist to work in PR, because I wanted to be a celebrity publicist. That was my end goal.
I saw so many things on TV documentaries, and I’m like, “Oh, I want to be that person checking people in the door, walking celebrities down the red carpet.” I applied for an unpaid internship, which I don’t think is legal anymore in the state of California. You have to get it for credit, or they have to pay you. This was, I think, this is 2011. It’s a completely different time. Yeah, I did that for a company called Tyler Brunette PR. Did three months unpaid, then three months paid, and then three months as an assistant. He was doing lifestyle and branded consumer PR. I did check in at some events, and then just calling magazines to pitch them. I’m like, “Hi, do you have a quick second for a pitch?” All these New York reporters. They’re like, “Yes.” Then I would freeze up on the phone, just because I was so green, and trying to spit out –
[00:08:58] JB: Wow. Phone pitches.
[00:09:00] AH: Because now, it’s all email pitches, at least in my – Yeah. For what I’m doing now in sales. Yeah, back then, phone pitches is how you did it. It taught me a lot. Then, I started a company called Artists and Brand Management, where I did celebrity endorsements. Basically, celebrity sales, if you will. I got to work with Lindsay Lohan, Nicki Minaj, all these big celebrities over six years there, which is really exciting.
That’s when affiliate was just starting to creep in, at least in my world. They’d be like, “Hey, would you want to do this, but it’s only for a percentage of sales?” We are always like, “No, we need to see the money upfront.” Especially with celebrities, just because bigger brands they’ll pay for bigger upfront fees. I remember some people getting a $100,000 for one social media post, which is just crazy, and they’re seeing no ROI. It’s just basically brand awareness is what they’re paying for, which is pretty crazy.
Yeah. After six years there, I dabbled in a company that did micro influencer management. I was managing influencers with 10 to a 100,000 followers, and we were dabbling in affiliate again. Then I worked for a Canadian-based company doing YouTube, managing influencers there. Just lasted a little bit. Wasn’t a great fit. Then my stop right before I started MagicLinks was back doing influencer endorsements at a company called NTA, which is a full service talent agency in LA.
Once the pandemic hit, times were tough, and they made me part-time. I’m like, “Okay, this is not sustainable to live in LA.” I was already cutting it pretty close with my regular salary, plus commissions. I took a chance on MagicLinks. I didn’t really know. I thought it’d be like, okay, I’ve got all these contacts at brands that usually pay upfront fees. I’m like, okay, they’d be great for affiliate. A lot of people didn’t understand the model at first, or just – just didn’t understand it, or weren’t familiar with it.
I got a lot of pushback, or just people, I think, I sent out 400 emails when I started at MagicLinks, and nobody responded. That was eye-opening. I was the first one hired on our sales team. Now, I think we’ve got a sales team of about 12 or 13. It was good to be with a really a startup in the infancy, and especially during a weird time like COVID. Everybody was online shopping, so we had that advantage. It was in June of 2020. We thought we were getting out of it, but okay, we’re still in it now. We know what the heck we’re talking about.
[00:11:30] JB: That’s so funny now, right? We thought we were getting out of it two years later.
[00:11:34] AH: I remember just a month staying at home, while I was working maybe three hours a day, because I was part-time. I was just going crazy. Because LA took it really strict. Even if you’re walking outside, you need to wear masks and don’t stay out for that long. It was just crazy. Then going into the grocery store was my one big highlight of the week. It was just crazy. Yeah, so I started with my boss ad who’s great. It was really good that I could – I was going to the office when technically, I think you weren’t supposed to be going into the office.
We were masked and we were just like, I work better when I’m in the office. As I work remotely now, I do prefer going into the office, just because I feel there’s camaraderie. You don’t have to Slack your boss questions. You can just ask him quickly. Hey, what’s your opinion on this? How would you approach this? As unique situations come up, especially when I’m in my infancy of doing affiliate sales pretty much. It was very helpful. He really taught me the ropes. It was just eye-opening to see how this works and how where they can find really good influencers to produce affiliate sales that aren’t celebrities, that are niche.
We’ve got people that with 30,000 subscribers on YouTube that outperformed people with a couple million followers. It’s really a unique process to see, it’s all about engagement and authenticity. If your fans are really dedicated to you, or they’re just following you to hate follow you, or just following you just to like –
[00:13:08] JB: I definitely want to ask about the hate follow.
[00:13:11] AH: Yeah, because some people do just hate follow. “Oh, this girl. I mean, she’s got cool stuff. I wouldn’t buy anything she buys,” or something like that. Because there definitely are people, we do live in a cynical time where people are – especially Gen Zers, and probably Gen Xers, too, or millennials, too. I’m a millennial, I believe. I’m 33, so I think that’s right. People definitely do hate follow, or just not appreciate the content they’re seeing. Other times, there’s people that are really invested in it. It’s just interesting to me the whole spectrum of it.
[00:13:43] JB: Yeah. Before we dive into affiliate marketing and everything, one of the things we talked about, you alluded to it here, was what it was like looking for work in a pandemic. Now we’re entering this phase where we see layoff notices every week, daily on LinkedIn, and there’s still a lot of weirdness. Unlike June 2020, we’re not sure when we’re going to get out of this now if we’re more realistic of. There’s a lot of uncertainty coming. I thought it was appropriate, especially for those listening who are job searching. What was it like navigating during the pandemic, a job search?
[00:14:18] AH: I applied a lot. It was just a numbers game when it came down to it. Because I’ve been in jobs before where I didn’t like, or just wasn’t a fit. With two Canadian-based companies that I just was like, okay, this checks the money box and checks general what I want to do. But then I’m just like, I don’t want to get in a situation like that again, where I’m just like, I’m not happy at this job. I was very hesitant about doing anything straight sales, which is my brand partnership/sales is in the title. Is cold outreach, no cold calling anymore, unless we’re really trying to get a big, we like to call them whale on the hook, or a fish on the hook.
Yeah, it was definitely tough. I was always trying to update my resume. I was featured in Women’s Wear Daily a couple times before. I definitely attach that to my email, in the bottom. Here’s some articles I’ve been featured in. Just anything to reinvent the wheel, make me look maybe somebody that they really want to give an interview to. Because a lot of times, I didn’t even get to the first base. It was just frustrating where the lien I would get is your application has been received. That was it.
It was definitely frustrating. It took probably, I’d say, three-month process, and that was for MagicLinks, too. I started interviewing with them in March. Then I didn’t get the job. I didn’t start till June 15th. I don’t think I got the offer until the end of May. It was like well timed. I met with pretty much the whole team. There’s only 10 people, but I met with everybody. It’s something cool about their companies, they’ve said like, “Hey, we don’t hire people, unless they’re F yes.” I was an F yes, too. Which is really cool for them to say, just because I think, especially during those hard times, you want to really invest in somebody that’s going to be with your company for a while and is going to be good to work with.
I mean, I feel like I do check those boxes. I’m pretty friendly to get along with and everything. On paper, you can’t see that. It was just somebody taking a chance, being like, “Okay let’s give this guy a call.” Yeah, it was definitely, if people are getting laid off now, it is a numbers game and just using anything, even if you think it sounds like pretentious or anything. I thought using my Women’s Wear Daily articles was like, okay, this is what he’s gloating. I mean, in that tough job climate, it was just like, putting everything against the wall to see what would penetrate through all the resumes.
[00:16:46] JB: Yeah. It’s interesting, when I talk to prospective candidates, that seems to be a common thread of I don’t want to seem like I’m boasting or gloating. From the employer’s perspective, I need to know why you’re different. This is the time to do it, and you are okay to do it. Tell me why you’re different. My dad calls them blue chip stories. I always train my staff too, remember those blue chip stories, so when you go to get your next position, you take your next step, whether that’s inside JEB or outside, you have these stories that you can share that are readily available that you may have written down that you can share or, examples like you stated that you can just send along, that make you stand out. I think that’s huge, important. Do you have any other advice for those looking right now? It’s a numbers game, and then adding some of those things that differ? Anything else that you found worked for you?
[00:17:39] AH: I would say, I mean, Indeed, I thought was the best job tool I could find. I tried entertainmentcareers.net. I never got any responses for that. The only real job website I used was Indeed. Or, I’d look at a company and be like, okay, this is a company I want to work for. I would look on their website. A lot of times, I would just send a resume, even if they weren’t hiring, just because I’m like, “Hey, I want to put good Juju out into the universe.” Hey, at least they see that I’m interested and I know about their company. I did that with a couple of different companies. I didn’t hear back from them, but it didn’t hurt at the same time just to go after companies that you know you want to work for.
[00:18:19] JB: Awesome, great … thank you. What about employers? What do you think, from your perspective, and one of the reasons I love this podcast is I get to ask questions that I want to know, and hopefully others can learn from my curiosity. From a candidate’s perspective, what would you want employers to know that are looking to fill positions?
[00:18:37] AH: I would say just, yeah, you really want to make sure somebody’s hungry, because I feel like, I don’t want to generalize all people coming out of the workforce, or coming out of college or anything. It feels like, it’s a different time from when I graduated 10 years ago. People were really hungry. I would work over what I was supposed to. I remember my boss being like, if I picked up the phone on the second ring, this one, everyone had office phones, which nobody’s in the office anymore. She’d be like, “What’s going on there, if I didn’t pick up on the first ring?” It was just like, that’s how I was trained. I’m not saying that’s right. I just feel that hunger is missing nowadays.
With some of the people I see that applicants that we get. I would just say just a really, a drive to want to be successful in your position goes a long way and just be hungry for making it work and being an asset to the team. Just because I feel some people are just like, “Okay, I’m going to apply. See how these jobs goes, and then move on.” I know a lot of people in PR, I feel like, they only stay at a company for one year, then they move on, then they move on, then they move on. For my company, I was hesitant at first with sales, but we’ve got such a great office culture. We’ve got a beautiful office in Venice and just everybody feels family and it’s not like – it’s not micromanaged. It’s just like, that’s a big thing, too. Once you’re being micromanaged, you can be offended off of quick things. I feel with our office now, it’s just like, hey, if you make a mistake, let’s just learn how to do it better next time. It’s not as, yeah, micromanaging is. I’ve had other positions before other jobs.
[00:20:09] JB: Yeah. Great. Well, let’s talk about MagicLinks, and talk to me, what is MagicLinks and what’s your role at MagicLinks?
[00:20:15] AH: Yeah. We are social commerce platform. We’ve got 25,000 influencers on our platform. Primarily, it’s YouTube, but we are branching off into people whose main platform is TikTok, or Instagram. YouTube still sees the greatest conversion rate as far as sales go, which is very important for brands and affiliate companies. We work with about 4,500 brands are live on our platform. We work with brands in three different ways.
The first way is just, you can be onboard to our platform. For instance, Crocs is one of our brand partners. If I was an influencer, I could be like, “Hey, I just got this pair of Crocs. Crocs isn’t paying me. I actually paid for these Crocs myself, but I’m going to link in my bio and then you can click.” We’ll say, their cookie window is 30 days. They can get credit for those sales, if it’s 10%, whatever sales for 10% for 30-day cookie window, they’re going to be accredited, and then we’ll pay out at the end of the month to them from the Crocs account.
We also do gifting campaigns, which is when a brand has a test budget. For this, we’re guaranteeing X amount of influencers to post for a fee. Then we have a casted campaign that we offer, which is our primary focus, where we’re really acting as the influencer marketing agency of record for the brand for that particular campaign. For this, we’re doing anywhere from 5 to 20 casted influencers over the course of a month, and they’ve got full creative control, and then full casting control as well.
Those are the three ways we work with brands right now. Our company’s just growing year by year. During COVID, the first three months was weird, and then I started, and we saw people were still shopping online, and people still shopping online, too, we’ve seen after year 2021 to 2022. It’s been definitely interesting for me starting off where I did with celebrity sales, migrating now to affiliate and then working mostly with YouTubers, which I didn’t when I was with artists and brands and celebrity stuff.
[00:22:14] JB: Awesome. What’s your role at MagicLinks? What do you do in terms of these?
[00:22:19] AH: Brand partnerships. I work with both affiliate companies, marketing agencies and brands directly to talk to them about different options. If we see a brand spiking in sales organically, I would talk to them about possible gifted or casted campaign. Then brands, marketing agencies and affiliate companies come to me when they’re looking for a proposal for a brand to do a casted campaign. I manage those relationships.
Then if once we close a casted campaign, then I would hand it off to my influencer team who execute the campaign. Then I come back at the end to tell you how the campaign did, what was the return on investment, clicks, sales, and all that good stuff that we encapsulate into a wrapped deck. Basically, I’m the liaison between the brand and then our influencers.
[00:23:08] JB: Got you. Okay. I was looking at your site this morning, and I love what it says is, “Sales are the new likes, the new comments.” You’ve seen this throughout your career as affiliate, even all the way back to 2012. Talk to me about that transition of that KPI of how things are being measured now. What have you noticed? How has that changed?
[00:23:32] AH: I think, budgets were definitely looser back in the day. Since of the pandemic of when I’ve started in affiliate, it’s definitely more return on investment-driven, where they want to see a result. Maybe they’re okay with giving away a product, but they don’t want to pay for an influencer to post if they know that influencer is not going to move the needle. I think, I’ve just seen people wanting to be like, okay, can you guarantee a three times ROAS. We can’t, but we’ve got a match intelligence algorithm that will select the best influencers with the highest probability of driving sales for the brand, based on this brand sheet they fill out.
We put everything in place to ensure that the campaign is a success. Luckily, we’ve got over 70% of our campaigns that deliver a positive ROAS, which is amazing, especially in this competitive influencer marketing place. Yeah, we just try our best. We pre-screen all of our influencers on our platform to make sure we alleviate any headaches. I know with influencers, it’s oh, something comes up. My dog ate my homework, or I can’t post on this date. We’ve tried to get past all that by pre-screening, making sure they have the engagement, not just like, “Hey, I’ve got a million followers.” Great, but we only see three comments on your posts. Something doesn’t add up here.
We’ve got a data team too, that runs analytics as well. We really put a lot of things in place to ensure that the people that we select for your campaign are going to move the needle, are going to drive sales.
[00:25:09] JB: Thank you for listening to the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast. Hopefully, you are finding this episode as intriguing as we have. Now, one of the things we are talking about a lot at JEBCommerce is the merging of public relations and affiliate marketing. Maybe you’ve seen this happening. Maybe you’re a PR agency trying to figure out just what all this is and how you can take advantage of it.
Well, if you’re a brand, you’re an affiliate, or you’re a PR agency trying to figure out what this new world looks like, we’ve got a ton of content for you. You can go to jebcommerce.com/pr. There, you’ll find podcast episodes that walk us through this new change, as well as a ton of content talking about the technology that’s available, the similarities between pitching for PR and recruiting affiliates are, and really what you should be doing to take advantage of this exciting new change. Go to jebcommerce.com/pr.
If you need any help deciphering and figuring out your next step in this exciting, new development, then please, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will jump on a call and walk you through the whole process. Then, what we can do for PR agencies and brands to take advantage of this. We actually have a service level for each of you, and we can help definitely take advantage of that, help you track, acquire new customers, increase your reach and adapt to things very, very quickly. Check that out at jebcommerce.com/pr and email us at email@example.com. Now, back to our episode.
[00:26:52] JB: What type of advertisers work best for you guys? Do you have a sweet spot?
[00:26:57] AH: Yeah. Fashion and beauty are traditionally our biggest movers as far as sales go. That’s just because it’s easy to click, whether you’re on your phone or your computer impulse buys that we see are easy for people to do. Especially if the ALV is between a $100 and $200. Nowadays, people don’t really bat their eyelashes about spending that. People are quick to buy, once they see their influencer, or somebody that they’re following is posting this. They’re like okay. If it’s seasonal too, as far as clothing goes, they’re going to be more quick to buy as well. Yeah, fashion and beauty are definitely our two top verticals.
[00:27:34] JB: Fashion does lend itself really well to YouTube as well. Huge vertical. If a brand wants to work with you, talk to me from that first touch point to the campaign being launched. How does that all look?
[00:27:50] AH: Yeah. We first have a call, just seeing what they want to get out of the campaign, what their budget is, because the budget will really dictate what we’re able to do. With casting campaigns, influencers fees have went up, so our prices have to go up to reflect that. It just comes down to, okay, what’s your number one KPI? People say, it’s usually sales. We always want some type of YouTube component, we feel like, just because that statistically is the highest conversion rate for sales. Once we find out their budget, we will usually prepare a proposal with a couple different options.
Before the call as well, I want to know what they’ve done in the past with influencers just to see what has worked and what hasn’t. I know I’m doing a sunglasses campaign right now. We’re midway through and they’re like, just for gifting. They’re like, you know what? 80% of our clients are male, so let’s flip that where it’s I’ve had been casting females, let’s move that more towards male. We want to have them fill out all this information beforehand, so we’ve got a really good guise of what we need to deliver, so we can deliver success.
Once they choose which proposal they’d like, we would drop an IO. Then once they sign it, it’s usually a four to five-week process from IO signature to the rollout of videos. Right after the IO signature, we have a kickoff call, then we prepare influencer selection for them. They get to choose which influencers they like. Then, they come up with a creative guide that we would send to each influencer. Then they send out product as well. Then we’re hoping to have first video cuts for their approval within seven days of receiving product. Then, usually right after they get approval, they’ll go live within seven to 10 days. With holiday, they’re very specific. We need to post on Thursday on Thanksgiving, or in Black Friday.
[00:29:38] JB: Yeah. What KPIs do you monitor for the influencers in these campaigns?
[00:29:43] AH: First off, its sales. Then we also do last click, full funnel, sales estimate and we have an offline attribution model. A lot of people do buy offline, and we’ve been able to track this through bigger retailers that we work with. We provide those along with clicks, views, and then social engagement, which is likes, comments and all that. Likes and comments.
[00:30:06] JB: Yeah, and I would imagine for a long time with affiliate marketing, we really didn’t have a way to track outside of last click. That was as technically advanced as it was. Over the last 10 years, we’ve got a lot of technology from our platforms and networks that allows us to track everywhere, which is one of the reasons I think, early on influencer marketing affiliate failed, because a lot of those transactions were happening outside of the click. It was hard to get a clickable link in some of what these influencers are doing. You guys, you can track 360, all of what’s happening around this influencer.
[00:30:46] AH: Yeah. It’s with estimate for, because we do work with a commission junction. They’ve got full funnel that they can track. Ours is very similar. It’s a different attribution model, though, than theirs is. It’s not exactly what they’re recording. I feel like, each affiliate we work with has a slightly different attribution model that I’ve seen in the past. Then our offline is using, I believe, a company called RevTrax, that we’ve used in the past to track offline sales. We’ve known that that’s been down to a couple percent of actually what it was. We have a really good data team. A lot of that’s way above my paygrade, but they definitely track all that information, which is amazing and something I’m learning every day.
[00:31:34] JB: Just for clarity, if I’m an advertiser or a brand, I want to work with you, how is the fee structure? Are you able to work with influencers on a commission only? Are you also spending? Do you need to be prepared to spend some ad fees as well?
[00:31:51] AH: Yeah. We work with smaller brands, too, and they just want to start with that $930 onboarding fee. Then that’s what we start with, and that’s fine. They would just pay out commission. Obviously, we do see a bigger return on investment when there is an ad spend behind that. We never want to poopoo a brand just because they don’t have the budget. You can definitely start at our lowest level. Then once you’re seeing like, “Hey, I think there’s influencers on our platform that’s definitely moving the needle. Can we talk about gifter casted campaign?” We can talk about that then when they have the budget to spend. Yeah, they can start at the lowest level.
[00:32:26] JB: Great. Other publishers like yourself that I’ve talked to, they’ve been very picky on who they work with, especially in this merging of PR and affiliate that’s really taking hold now. Do you guys turn away advertisers? what are the markers of those advertisers that you turn away if you do?
[00:32:45] AH: We are a B Corp. We’re all about being sustainable. We do work with fast fashion brands as well. It would have to be something that really goes against our grain that cannot be forgiven or something like that. I can’t think of a brand like that offhand. Just because we are a business at the end of the day, and we do need to make money. At the same time, I think it would be, if there was a questionable brand, we would probably talk about it internally and decide as a collective. Probably my boss, and then our CEO, because I’ve got my sales boss, Ed, and then our CEO, Brian. I think it would be a collective conversation.
So far, I don’t know of any brands that we’ve – We can’t work with CBD right now, or any marijuana companies. That’s a brand we legit, or legally, there’s too many repercussions, because it’s a state-by-state issue.
[00:33:37] JB: It’s a federal. It’s all weird.
[00:33:39] AH: Yeah. It’s just sending out products. That’s for sure. We can’t work with them. Even though we’re talking with our lawyer, trying to figure out a workaround for CBD, but we couldn’t find one, so we had to turn them away.
[00:33:53] JB: Yeah. Talk to me the other side, influencer side. How do you choose and select influencers, and what do you look for in those that you bring onto the platform?
[00:34:01] AH: It’s a minimum of 10,000 subscribers, or followers on any network. We work with a lot of management companies, too, that will suggest people. Then we review people that apply to our platform. We have foreign people who used to work at Shopstyle, who has good connections that they brought over some of their influencers, that they feel like would be a good fit. It’s just somebody with an authentic following. We feel like, either has proven themselves in the past to be able to drive sales, or has high engagement rate and would likely drive sales for a brand.
Our influencer team is pretty selective about who they select, but they do definitely have a couple checkboxes and that they review before letting somebody onto our platform that applies organically.
[00:34:50] JB: Got you. What are some mistakes advertisers make when working with you? What should they avoid when they start a relationship with MagicLinks?
[00:34:58] AH: I would say, something I just saw read recently is brands having too many dues are like checkpoints to hit for an influencer to say. The more organic an influencer can relate the product to their audience, the better it’s going to do. I know when some things, especially if it’s anything medical, or with supplement brand, there’s things that need to be said, but I feel for beauty brands, just say, how authentically feels, or for a clothing brand and be like, “Oh, it’s a 100% cotton.” That’s not really going to move the needle as much as like, “Hey, I like to pair this with this and that,” and just be authentic about it. Rather than reading off a cue card, is something I feel how an advertiser can make a mistake of just trying to be like, “Okay, we need to hit all these things, but that’s not going to move the needle.” Rather than them just speaking organically and authentically to the camera.
[00:35:49] JB: It seems like, they would try to control the narrative, instead of, there’s a little bit of, you’re going to engage with this person and you got to be okay with what to create. We’re not creating a commercial for you on your YouTube channel. This is for their audience. That’s one of the big things that they do, is what you’re saying. Brands need to be a little more okay with the influencer talking in their voice about the product.
[00:36:14] AH: Definitely. If they’ve already approved this influencer to be in their campaign, I feel I trust them, you’ve seen their content. If you don’t feel they’re a good fit then based on that, then I wouldn’t go with them in the first place. It’s definitely trusting somebody to deliver on authentic and organic message, but not hitting every talking point you suggested for them to say.
[00:36:37] JB: Yeah. One of the things that I’ve noticed in the past with platforms and aggregators is the need for the advertiser to have transparency. How do you guys handle that? My question is, the advertiser get to see the brand, get to see these influencers are in your campaign, here’s the content that they produce and here’s how each one performed, so they actually get to see?
[00:37:00] AH: We do all that. I think it’s an overall performance. We do say, the top performers from each campaign. We don’t break it down, as far as each person for sales. We usually just do the top performers, because that’s who they care about, who moved the needle. Because then some campaigns, everybody moves the needle. In some campaigns, you’ve got only three people that really made sales on it and made the majority of sales.
[00:37:23] JB: You mentioned, they need to be able to allow them to talk in their voice, a campaign will be multiple influencers. Then you talked about providing product. Is that pretty standard? They need to be able to provide product. They’re going to review the product, right? So they have to have it?
[00:37:40] AH: Yeah. We actually had an interesting case with a higher fashion brand, where they wanted the people to return the clothes after reviewing them, because that’s what they do with magazine editors. They’ll be like, “Well, I mean.” Their prices were maybe a couple $100 per piece. It’s like, just do an outfit, maybe that’s $600, but that’s still going to be an investment that you’re getting content out of. We said no on that, just because it just didn’t make sense in the long run for our influencer to be doing it just for commission, because then they wouldn’t even be getting the clothes, and it was just going to be a gifted campaign. It was a vital proportion of being gifted is getting to keep the clothes.
[00:38:18] JB: Getting to keep the clothes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. A good incentive to do the review. How about disclosures? I assume the influencers all handle that?
[00:38:28] AH: Yes. We’re very FTC compliant. Our influencer team has the most up to date of when you can just put American Eagle partner, #American, instead of just sponsored, will do the same thing. They’re very up to date on that and I just take their cue when it comes to that, just because I feel like it changes. I feel like, it’s a little looser, but you still need to disclose that you’re getting paid in some form or fashion.
[00:38:52] JB: Got you. There’s a campaign. Is there a number of influencers that are typically involved in a campaign? Is that three? Is it 30?
[00:39:01] AH: I would say, a normal campaign, somewhere between five and 10.
[00:39:03] JB: Okay. How long does that run?
[00:39:06] AH: That’s usually running, I’d say, over two to three weeks will be the rollout. Unless, somebody’s doing a sale, where it’s like, we need every piece of content live within these two days, then we can do that. I feel like it works better when it’s spread out over a week or two.
[00:39:22] JB: Got you. Got you. Is there anything else that brands should know about working with MagicLinks that we haven’t talked about yet?
[00:41:54] AH: I would say, we’re definitely easy to work with. When it comes down to budget, I know some other companies have minimum budgets that you need to spend for casted campaigns, or gifted campaigns. We can definitely work within whatever the brands budget is, within reason, I’ll say that. Yeah, we’re definitely, we’re more deal makers and deal breakers, so we definitely want to make a deal work based on whatever budget you have, and creative. We definitely have the case studies to back up our successes.
Fashion and beauty are definitely two of our top verticals. If you’re in that space, I would definitely – I think a call would not hurt you with anyone on our brand team, including myself to talk further and see if we might be a good fit for each other.
[00:42:34] JB: Awesome. Well, let’s talk about that. How can they get a hold of you? How can they follow you, or get in touch to chat about ways that they can take the next step forward and working with you guys?
[00:42:45] AH: Yeah, of course. My email, firstname.lastname@example.org would definitely be the best way to contact me. I try and do 24 hours or less on every email. Isn’t always the case. I definitely, for the majority, my emails will hit that.
[00:42:59] JB: Awesome. Well, I will make sure to include that contact info in the show notes. If it’s okay with you, your LinkedIn as well, so they can get in touch with you there. Andy, this has been really great. I really enjoyed learning more about Magic Links and about you and spending this time together. Thank you for joining the Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast.
[00:43:19] AH: Yes. Thank you for having me. It was a joy.
[00:43:21] JB: Awesome. Well, I’m sure we will chat again soon.
[00:43:24] AH: Perfect. Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:43:29] JB: Well, Andy, first off, thank you so much for joining me and spending time today, talking about affiliate marketing and PR. Really appreciated your insights into the job search, what that looks like for a job searcher right now, especially as things are uncertain going into Q4. Lots of layoff announcements and things like that. Definitely, if you are a job searcher, we’re hiring right now. We’re looking for a senior affiliate manager, affiliate manager, and our entry level, assistant affiliate manager roles. We are looking for those. Please go to jebcommerce.com, click on our careers tab, you’ll see those ads.
Listen to the advice that Andy gives. We talked about that a bunch early on in the podcast. Andy, thank you for that. Definitely some really good insights from that conversation. It is interesting to see that Andy saw this creep in of affiliate and PR creeping into each other, all the way back in 2012. Some things, MagicLinks to think about, 25,000 influencers, 4,500 brands, mainly YouTube. They’re doing a bunch of TikTok right now. It’s really interesting to hear that YouTube is where they’re finding the highest sales conversions.
Also, their view of sales are the new view, the new comment, the new engagement. That’s a trend that we started seeing several years ago and we see today of brands needing more than just the comment, the like in any engagement. They want to track these campaigns based on sales. 70% of their campaigns are produced a productive ROAS. Let’s see, what else do I got here? Oh, so some of the KPIs that they report on sales, full funnel estimates, offline and online, views, clicks, and definitely, that revenue. Their minimum for influencers to get in is 10,000 subscribers on any platform, advertisers. The lowest rate to engage with them is includes a $930 setup fee, and then commission.
Lots of great stuff. If you are trying to figure out how PR and affiliates are working together, and how to integrate influencers into your affiliate strategy. This has been, I think, hopefully a really good podcast for you. We also have created our own content around this particular topic. You can go to jebcommerce.com/pr to get that as well.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. Andy, thank you again for joining us, and the whole team at MagicLinks. We really enjoy working with you guys. Looking forward to do more with our clients in the future. If you want to find out and work with MagicLinks, see if you’re a right fit and what influencers they can get to work with, definitely email Andy at email@example.com. We’ll include that in our show notes as well.
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Now, we are getting ready for season three of the podcast, which starts in January, and we are looking for guests. If you’d like to be a guest on the podcast, or you know someone who should be a guest on the podcast, please let us know. We continue to work on getting 50% of our guests represented from marginalized groups. If you know anyone in that group that you think is amazing and needs to be on this podcast, please send them our way.
Well, thank you very much for listening and getting through to this part of the podcast. If you need any help with your affiliate program, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you right away. Anyway, thank you for listening. Thank you for helping us get the word out on this podcast.