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Branding Consumer Insights Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer Insights

Regardless of the size of your organization, as a brand manager or marketer, you’ve likely had to make some difficult choices in the face of constantly evolving consumer behaviors and elevated expectations during the pandemic. E-commerce adoption and price inflation have both grown exponentially, while supply chain issues continue to be a persistent headache for brands, negatively impacting revenues and endangering long-term growth. In this guide, we’ll explain how combining datasets can answer questions about your brand’s health and where to steer your brand strategy.

Introducing The Four S’s of Brand Strategy Measurement

Researchers and strategists intuitively seek to triangulate data sources whenever possible because reviewing different sources of customer and business data reveals anomalies and inconsistencies that are not apparent when relying on a single set of study results. When you combine datasets, you also see opportunities to treat some measures as proxies for data that has historically been harder to obtain or unreliable in present market conditions. 

For a holistic, real-time view of your brand strategy, tap into the 4 S’s of brand measurement: sentiment, search, social, and sales.

1. Consumer Sentiment

Brand lift measures advertising effectiveness, comparing pre-and post-ad campaign results, usually with some control markets to ensure that lift is attributable to advertising rather than external factors. If you have not run a brand lift study before, there are several ways of doing so, including a digital programmatic solution that continuously measures brand lift using A/B testing with in-market respondents. This enables the continuous optimization of campaigns to focus on brand key performance indicators. 

Brand trackers measure brand-specific KPIs longitudinally. If you currently run a tracker, consider adding new questions to ongoing surveys to start tracking consumer attitudes toward issues such as price sensitivity, product availability, delivery, collection options, and any others that are applicable to your brand. If you don’t have a brand tracker, consider establishing one. If you don’t want to commit to a set cadence, many agile research solutions exist that enable data collection from statistically significant samples of consumers within a matter of hours. 

2. Share of Search

In the past couple of years, measuring a brand’s share of search has emerged as a practical alternative to the long-established concept of share of voice, or SOV. Share of search as a brand measure was developed concurrently by two leading strategists in the UK, Les Binet, and James Hankins. This metric is equally accessible to brand managers, marketers, and agencies like Bigeye thanks to tools including Google Trends. 

What makes share of search so useful is that it’s proven to be highly correlated with market share, valuable not only in assessing ongoing brand health but also in predicting demand. As an alternative to manually searching Google Trends for volume data on your own brand as well as your competitors, the online platform MyTelescope combines searches, news, and social media, presenting data in a user-friendly visual dashboard.

3. Social Listening

Over the past decade, social networks have emerged as places where consumers connect and chat about all aspects of their lives – including sharing (and comparing) their experiences with products and services. For marketers, social media has grown in importance as both an organic and paid channel, with the newest platform, TikTok, seeing a massive rise in popularity during the pandemic. You may already be using social listening software to cut through the noise and identify meaningful signals in the firehose of social data, but if you’re not using a listening tool already, this is as good a time as any to consider doing so. 

Today’s tools typically incorporate some type of natural language processing and artificial intelligence. The value to brand marketers is that conversations taking place in social media reflect real-time perceptions and can provide a steady stream of insights around consumer sentiments toward your brand as well as the competition. This combination of qualitative and quantitative data is especially useful when triangulating data sources to reveal the “why” behind a spike in search volume, for example, as well as yielding insights unavailable elsewhere.

4. Sales Data 

If you’re working with a direct-to-consumer brand, you most likely have direct access to your sales performance and revenue data. But this is not the case for everyone. Maybe you sell to distributors and rely on syndicated sales from Nielsen or IRI. Brands that are distributed to unmeasured channels – those not tracked by a third party – may experience lengthy delays between the data collection and reporting.

Where sales data is hard or impossible to obtain, an alternative source can act as a proxy. We’ve already highlighted the correlation between share of search and market share, but you may also use historic campaign lead-to-conversion ratios to predict future sales. Consumers’ purchase intent can also be measured in longitudinal brand trackers as well as in brand lift studies, voice-of-the-customer data, ad hoc consumer surveys or in omnibus studies, where several non-competing brands can ask panelists questions.

Final Thoughts

A strategy focused on delivering long-term brand growth requires a corresponding commitment to brand building. Depending on the category, the impact of long-term initiatives can take up to 24 months to appear in market share metrics. CFOs – and markets – are impatient. The reality for most of us is that we have to balance performance marketing’s focus on short-term goals with long-term brand building.

The 4 S’s framework provides an agile analytics methodology to leverage consumer insights and brand measures, balancing long-term brand strategy and short-term performance marketing tactics.

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Audience Direct-To-Consumer Insights

A couple of years ago, marketers assumed innovation within the digital landscape had started to mature and slow. Cue the disruption of the global pandemic and the way retailers needed to pivot to adapt to rapidly changing behavior. Vaccines now offer some relief, and most economic sectors appear to have started healing. At the same time, innovative tech keeps surprising the market, plus some changes to consumer preferences seem permanent.

As always, marketers need to make plans. As a top Florida marketing agency, we’ve based our plans upon these likely forecasts for 2022 marketing trends. 

1. A resurgence of Out-of-home and direct mail advertising

Social media platforms may not retain their place as the hottest topics in marketing as some renovated versions of traditional advertising begin to enjoy more attention. For instance: 

  • Outdoor signs might exist as one of the oldest forms of advertising in the entire world, but new digital signs have emerged to give new life to this effective form of outdoor advertising. 
  • As marketers respond to pandemic-related mail slowdowns, they’re not giving up on direct mail. Instead, businesses have turned to technology for automation and optimization as part of an omnichannel marketing strategy. 

2. Changing viewer preferences

More people now subscribe to various streaming services than subscribe to cable packages. Marketers also enjoy connected TV because the advertising platforms offer them better analytics and more precision when targeting audiences.

3. A greater focus on packaging design 

Packaging design will gain importance as businesses strive to gain attention from consumers on retail shelves and in eCommerce photos. Marketers understand that their packaging often offers a consumer’s first exposure to a product, so they will continue to create bolder designs that evoke emotion and tell a story. Also, expect more companies to turn to eco-friendly packaging to attract customers and meet sustainability goals. 

Both packaging and product designers will court customers with trending colors. For instance, Benjamin Moore Paints declared October Mist, a silver-gray color, their Color of the Year for 2022. Behr and Sherwin Williams offer very similar colors, supposedly evoking nature and peace. As a complementary color, they suggested a green-gray color, sometimes called Sage. 

5. An overall focus on nature and sustainability 

As part of continuing marketing trends for 2022, products will emphasize nature for relaxation, health, and sustainability. As a consumer insights agency, we worked with a DTC brand called Luma & Leaf to raise awareness of their plant-powered, gentle, and effective beauty products. Our Luma & Leaf case study describes our continuing work with this brand. 

6. An appeal to the next generation of pet parents 

The ASPCA reported a record of 25 million pet adoptions during the coronavirus pandemic. Even better, the ASPCA said that 90 percent of dogs and 85 percent of cats still live in these adopted homes. More than that, most of these new pet parents strive to incorporate their pets into their lifestyles, and they’re treating their furry new family members a lot more like family than people used to consider normal. 

As an example, PetCo has operated a national chain of pet stores since 1965. The company recently rebranded itself as “Petco: A Heath + Wellness Co.” As part of this effort, the company announced that it would no longer sell shock collars. The company’s CEO, Ron Coughlin, said that studies have demonstrated that these collars increase stress in pets, and training with positive reinforcement works better. 

7. Awareness of intelligent, thoughtful consumers 

Websites, social networks, and other internet platforms offer consumers the tools to learn more about brands and how they conduct business. In turn, these savvy consumers want to give money to companies that support goals in alignment with their values. Today’s consumers don’t care to hear typical sales talk and want facts to back up assertions.

Almost everybody has endured experiences that made them more aware of ways the environment will impact their health, well-being, and pocketbooks, so they expect businesses to minimize or even eliminate their product’s negative environmental impacts. 

8. Exploration of socially distanced brand experiences

First, the pandemic closed retail stores. After they reopened, many consumers still felt reluctant to mingle in crowds. Others grew used to the convenience of online shopping experiences. In turn, marketers have explored creating connections and meaningful brand experiences with low- and high-tech methods. 

For instance: 

  • For a low-tech experience, restaurants and grocery stores have held take-out parties and drive-up demos in their parking lots. 
  • For medium-tech, eCommerce sites have doubled down on the quality and quality of images and videos on product pages. 
  • Emerging technology introduced both augmented reality and virtual reality to let customers better imagine their experiences. For example, some businesses have employed AR in their apps to allow customers to upload a photo of their living room to see how a new sofa might look in real life. According to The Verge, companies have also started testing ads in VR apps for devices like the Oculus Quest. 

Work with us to navigate marketing in 2022 

As a Florida marketing agency, we make it our business to stay on top of the latest marketing trends. Contact us at Bigeye by phone or email to tell us about your business ideas, and we’ll explain how we will help.

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Direct-To-Consumer Insights

Most retailers rely on the holiday season to bring in peak sales numbers. This year, supply chain problems, invigorated consumer demand, and new shopping behaviors have already impacted holiday shopping. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, online and offline retail outlets will experience a challenging holiday sales season this year. Find out what to expect for 2021 holiday shopping and how to turn this gift-buying period into the merriest holiday sales season yet. 

Naturally, each retailer’s experience with holiday sales may depend upon their market niche or location. Still, these overall consumer trends should impact most local and online sellers. 

Pent-up demand from consumers 

On the plus side, the National Retail Foundation predicted a record sales season in 2021. The NRF’s Retail trend forecast takes into account an enormous pent-up demand from consumers. Many people budgeted carefully during the pandemic because of uncertainty about the future. 

Today, vaccines, labor demand, and stimulus checks should reinvigorate shopping. The NRF expects holiday sales to total between $843 and $859 billion, and these figures represent growth between 8.5 and 10.5 percent since the holiday season of 2020. 

Start sales early

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, marked the start of holiday deals in physical stores. Cyber Monday would fall after Thanksgiving weekend, and it gave online retailers a chance to gain more attention. Lately, the lines between Black Friday and Cyber Monday have begun to blur as more large retailers aligned online and offline sales to pursue an omnichannel marketing approach. 

This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday may mean even less. Just about every large retailer started their sales early. For instance, Target has a Holiday Savings Event that runs through Thanksgiving, Amazon will have Epic Daily Deals, Walmart calls their sale Black Friday Deals for Days, and so on. 

Why do stores want to encourage early shopping? These retailers expect a significantly increased demand but fear that they may experience supply chain issues that keep them from satisfying all customers. Thus, offline and online stores want to hold early sales to help encourage shoppers to get a head start. Also, the post office has posted warnings about delivery delays, so consumers should order early to make sure gifts arrive on time. 

Expect more conscious consumers

Even though many consumers have their balance sheets in good order, they will still exercise more caution about the way they spend money. To support this observation, Forbes reporting on the PwC’s 2021 Consumer Insights survey uncovered that today’s consumers base buying decisions on more than convenience and price. 

For some examples: 

  • Plant-based food sales increased 27 percent, organic food sales by 12 percent, and nutritional supplements by 35 percent in 2020. 
  • Two-thirds of Americans say they will pay more for sustainable products. Over three-quarters say they will feel more inclined to purchase eco-friendly products if they’re clearly labeled. 

On the theme of increased sustainability, more people find regifting acceptable, just so the re-giver follows some commonsense rules. For instance, a crafty friend might consider a regifted craft store gift card thoughtful so long as the card still retains the original balance and not some odd amount. Similarly, unless they’re sentimental treasures or antiques, only offer new, packaged products as gifts.

Anyway, retailers should not mind this thrifty practice so long as it reduces the number of cumbersome returns. Some businesses even promote services that make regifting gift cards easy. 

How can retailers make the most of holiday marketing this year?

Increased demand can help retailers thrive and may look like a great problem to have. On the other hand, supply chain issues can generate issues because even the biggest retail sites and stores fear they can’t satisfy all of their potential customers. Maybe even worse, shipping delays will probably result in plenty of late gift deliveries. 

Leaving customers dissatisfied or disgruntled can detract from hard-won brand images and encourage people to shop elsewhere the next time. Few customers will feel satisfied if their Christmas gifts don’t arrive by December 25 if the store had promised an earlier delivery. More than a few of them will probably vent their dissatisfaction on social media or review sites. 

Communicate honestly and promote early holiday shopping. 

Stores need to confront this common issue by letting customers know about possible shortages and encouraging them to shop early. For example: 

  • Communicate transparently: By now, almost all consumers have already experienced some supply chain issues. As an example, few people have entirely forgotten last year’s panic over toilet paper shortages. Retailers should encourage customers to shop early and, more than that, tell customers about the possibility of delays or low inventories. 
  • Promote early shopping: Heavily promote special sales and create a genuine sense of urgency by telling people about a limited stock. To better encourage quicker purchases of big-ticket items, consider buy-now-pay-later options. For example, Shopify offers a product called Shop Pay that can allow customers to split the bill into four payments without impacting credit scores. Shopify says that this alternative has increased store conversions by as much as 50 percent. 

Work with a retail marketing agency to maximize your holiday profits.

As a retail marketing agency, Bigeye merges genuine consumer insights with creativity to reach more customers right when they’re ready to hear your business story. Contact Bigeye for a chance to view your marketplace in a new light. 

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Audience Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Market Intelligence Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

As a leading consumer insights agency, we conducted research about what consumers look for when shopping in our latest study: Retail Disrupted: What US Shoppers Want From Brands Today. We’ve uncovered timely retail trends that can help you provide unforgettable shopping experiences for customers that will entice them back into physical stores.

As we noted before in previous articles, the coronavirus pandemic spiked growth in an already-existing trend towards the rise of digital sales. Consumers discovered the convenience and savings they could enjoy by ordering online and getting deliveries at their front doors. 

For example, digitally native DTC brands often replace traditional retailers by attracting and engaging customers with emerging technologies. Even as life slowly returns to a more normal state, digital sales keep increasing. Consider five retail trends that retailers can use to benefit their businesses. 

1. Social shopping 

Retailers encourage customers and influencers to share their experiences with products on social networking sites. These sellers engage new customers by creating a shared experience online. According to Bigeye’s research report Retail Disrupted, almost nine out of ten consumers admit to making purchases because of an introduction to the product by an influencer on social media. Even more, social commerce has emerged as a primary source of leads for DTC brands. 

Popular social networks for social shopping include Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok. At the same time, almost all sites with a social aspect, like YouTube and Reddit, support this kind of social sharing for products. 

2. Augmented Reality shopping apps 

AR shopping apps from Home Depot, Target, and IKEA can show consumers how a sofa will look in their living room. The Sephora and Amazon apps let customers see how various lipstick shades and eyeshadow colors will complement their skin tones. Customers can use these apps to make better at-home or in-store shopping choices. Most consumers believe that within 10 years, shopping will involve more interfacing with technology than human salespeople. 

3. DTC subscriptions 

Digital marketing opened up a direct pathway to consumers. By bypassing retailers and other intermediaries, DTC businesses can improve profits while keeping prices competitive. Retail Disrupted revealed that 72% of hispanic shoppers have purchased from a DTC brand in the past six months.

Subscriptions offer customers convenience and savings, and they help drive retention for brands. Also, brands don’t have to sacrifice other distribution modes to benefit from DTC sales. Some brands originated as digital natives and expanded to retailers. In contrast, legacy companies began focusing on direct selling after only working through distributors and retailers for years. 

4. Socially conscious consumerism 

Almost forty percent of shoppers engage in conscious consumerism. Socially conscious consumerism refers to purchase decisions with positive impacts upon the environment, society, or economy. Some common examples of conscious consumerism might include buying clothes and accessories at thrift stores, donating items to charities, and purchasing products from stores specializing in pre-owned and vintage clothing. 

In these cases, people choose sustainable purchases that may also offer a chance to save money. In other cases, shoppers might choose new products with more eco-friendly packaging and eco-safe ingredients. 

5. Physical retail stores of the future 

Digital technology will not just impact online shopping but also in-store experiences. Improvements in retail tech can help attract shoppers back to stores and make physical shops more efficient to run. For example: 

  • Over 30 percent of shoppers feel that entertainment or other in-store experiences would entice them to visit a local store. 
  • Almost as many people sit at the other end of the scale and prefer stores like Amazon Go or Apple store that let them choose items, pay with an app, and leave without needing to visit a checkout line at all. 

Many discount, drug, and grocery stores already rely on self-checkout lines that can speed up checkout time and reduce the number of cashiers needed. Some shoppers prefer these, but others find them awkward to use when they have bulky, awkward, or unusual purchases. Perhaps this represents a transitional phase with better solutions for automated checkout on the horizon. 

How a retail marketing agency benefits retail clients and consumers 

Now more than ever, retailers need to adopt a customer-focused marketing plan. Retailers can’t only focus on delivering the best products, but they also must provide these products in a way that customers prefer. The solutions involve adding effective enticements to get shoppers to visit their offline or online stores. 

Technology may help make purchases socially conscious, cheaper, convenient, or even more fun. At the same time, innovation can help businesses operate more efficiently. A consumer insights agency will spot the retail trends that help their customers achieve these goals for their unique businesses.

Download Retail Disrupted: What Shoppers Want from Brands Today for more insights.

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Audience Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer Research Reports

Discover the Future of the Retail Industry

Today’s shoppers are more informed, connected, and demanding than ever before. 

Even before the pandemic, with growing competition from e-commerce, traditional retailers faced declining footfall at shopping malls and lackluster sales within department stores.

COVID accelerated these trends, enabling more consumers to discover the convenience of online ordering and home delivery. 

Over the past decade, we’ve also seen the rise of direct-to-consumer brands that cultivate their audiences on social media, amplified by influencers – changing the path to purchase in many retail categories. 

These factors combined have permanently disrupted retail.

This report from Bigeye, based on census-balanced data, reveals what shoppers want from brands today, the factors that influence their purchase decisions, and the customer experiences that can entice them back into physical stores.

An Inside Look at how Shoppers Make Purchase Decisions

Direct-to-Consumer

of Hispanic shoppers have purchased for a DTC brand in the past six months.

Social Media

followers have purchased a product based on an influencer’s recommendation.

Shopping in 2030

of shoppers believe that within a decade, most retail stores will be fully automated with robots and involve little human interaction.

On-Demand Webinar

Request the Study

To receive the full study from the audience insights agency, please complete the form below.

The study will be sent as a PDF.

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Audience Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Market Intelligence Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

As a consumer insights agency, we employ a number of quantitative and qualitative research methods to help our clients make data-driven decisions. We find that DTC and CPG brands often fail to spend much time researching product pricing. These businesses generally fall into two camps: 

  • Some companies want to set prices very low to beat the competition. This strategy often backfires because consumers may think a too-low-to-be-true price signals poor quality. Sometimes, low prices may encourage lots of sales, but they might not generate enough revenue to offset costs and sustain business growth. 
  • Prices set too high may discourage consumers who don’t believe the product’s value justifies the cost. That’s particularly true if consumers can easily find the same or similar products elsewhere. 

How to use the Van Westendorp Index to find the right price 

For our work as a quantitative marketing research agency, we often organize surveys or focus groups to gather useful data for setting prices. One of the marketing research techniques we rely on, the Van Westendorp Index, narrows down the price customers would willingly pay to a range. 

Also called the Price Sensitivity Model, the Van Westendorp Index starts with a set of four survey questions

  • Which low price might make you question the product’s quality?
  • Which price would make you consider the product a bargain?
  • Which higher price might make it begin to appear expensive?
  • Which higher price would discourage you from buying because of the cost?

Conjoint.ly develops analysis tools for marketing research. According to the Conjoint.ly blog, samples should include a minimum of 200 survey takers. That helps ensure statistically significant results. Ideally, marketers should either survey current customers or members of the likely target market. Consumers who would actually consider buying the product can offer better answers than random people. 

To analyze the data: 

  • Plot the answers for each question on a graph. 
  • Marketing research analysts refer to the intersection of the “question quality” and “too expensive” lines as the optimum price point, or OPP. 
  • Test the OPP and values around it to derive the real-world optimum price. 

Example of employing the Van Westendorp Model for Luma & Leaf 

luma and leaf products

We served as a consumer marketing agency for Luma & Leaf, a DTC natural skincare brand. We employed qualitative and quantitative research techniques to find answers to a range of questions, including packaging, brand messaging, and introductory price points. 

Luma & Leaf manufactures products with high-quality, clean, and sustainably sourced ingredients. After completing the surveys and analysis, the company successfully positioned itself as a mid-level skincare brand. Their product’s quality and prices appeal to consumers who would pay somewhat more for quality but still would not budget for the most expensive brands. 

The company could differentiate its products from cheap drugstore brands because of the sustainability, purity, and quality of ingredients, so consumers would pay somewhat more. At the same time, they set prices much lower than luxury brands to ensure they didn’t price themselves out of their target market. 

Benefits of the Van Westendorp Pricing Model

Rebecca Sadwick works as a consultant for businesses about growth strategies. According to Ms. Sadwick, marketers used to introduce a product and ask customers how much they would pay for it. This method never worked well because: 

  • Studies found that survey takers tended to offer low-ball answers as if they wanted to bargain with the business for a better deal. 
  • Also, many people taking surveys can’t answer the question well because they don’t actually have skin in the game—emotion factors into most buying decisions. 

The indirect series of questions about prices tend to produce better answers. Nobody can say exactly how much they will pay for a product at some point in the future. In fact, most shoppers would probably have a range of prices in mind and not one specific price. Survey takers can do a better job of estimating which price points they would find too-good-to-be-true, great deals, and prohibitively expensive.

How should companies use the Van Westendorp Model to set prices?

Even when a consumer insights agency offers a better way to estimate optimum price points by using the Van Westendorp Model, businesses should still test prices to find the real-world optimum. As with the example of Luma & Leaf, marketers should also understand the reasons for specific prices, such as the advantages the product offers over cheaper competitors. 

Mostly, eCommerce businesses need to set prices high enough to earn revenues that will cover costs and return a decent profit but not so high that they discourage their target market. Marketers can use this kind of quantitative analysis when it’s time to set prices. Ideally, they will also conduct surveys while they’re still planning the product to ensure their sales will support business goals.

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Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Website Development

As a Shopify development agency, we develop and enhance Shopify eCommerce stores for our DTC clients. Plugins give us an efficient way to customize our clients’ experiences and those of their customers. This customization translates into increased revenue and efficiency, equaling greater profits.

Shopify plugins make it easy for us to fully customize eCommerce websites for our clients, depending on their specific needs. They also give us the tools we need to easily implement new features that keep customers engaged with the brands. No matter what solution we’re searching for, we can typically find an app that does exactly what we need it to, which in turn cuts down the development time.”

Jenna Radomsky, Bigeye Digital Project Manager

Five essential Shopify plugins for eCommerce stores

Thousands of plugins can integrate with Shopify. That offers store owners plenty of choices. On the other hand, new eCommerce store builders may feel somewhat overwhelmed by all of the options.

Our eCommerce marketing agency gained experience with dozens of Shopify plugins to serve the unique needs of an array of clients. While our clients offer a variety of products and business models, they all have common goals of increasing profits, improving efficiency, and earning more profit.

We find ourselves frequently returning to many of the same trusted plugins to help clients meet their goals. That’s why we commonly suggest a handful of plugins to almost everybody.

Enjoy a brief introduction to our top five eCommerce plugins for DTC Shopify sites:

Klayvio

This email-collection plugin helps build subscription lists. In turn, eCommerce sites can send messages with order updates, upcoming sales, and new product announcements.

Klayvio allows audience segmentation and works with text messaging and email. For instance, it could send out a message through text or email about a sale on end tables to customers who have recently purchased a sofa.

Sales Motivator

What shopper doesn’t love free gifts? What marketing manager wouldn’t appreciate increasing customer order value?

With this plugin, eCommerce sites can encourage larger sales by offering free gifts based upon the total value of purchases in a shopping cart. Users can also select free gifts to enhance specific product purchases. For example, a shoe store might offer a free package of socks or upgraded shoelaces with the purchase of new running shoes.

Yotpo

Today’s customers look for user reviews to help with purchasing decisions. Yotpo can collect and display user reviews with images. Shopify recommends adding reviews to product pages because almost 95 percent of their own customers read them before buying.

Both buyers and search engines appreciate this kind of high-quality content. Plus, Yotpo lets website managers organize the reviews into attractive galleries that can add a social media experience to an eCommerce site.

PayWhirl

Paywhirl gives eCommerce sites the ability to offer more purchasing options. Some examples include payment plans, subscriptions, and pre-orders. Offering customers more flexibility provides a competitive edge over competitors that neglect to give customers options.

For instance, BusinessWire recently reported that subscription revenues have increased over 400 percent in the past decade. According to surveys, customers like subscriptions that help them save money and provide them with convenience.

ShipStation

If customers only sell on Shopify or also accept orders from other channels, ShipStation keeps shipping organized and ensures customers and customer service can view their tracking codes. Some highlights of ShipStation features include:

  • The plugin can import orders from multiple channels, like Shopify, Amazon, or even a CRM.
  • Automation and scan-based workflows manage orders to ensure timely fulfillment.
  • The software can compare rates from various carriers and then print labels one at a time or in batches.
  • After the order ships, ShipStation sends tracking info to sales channels and customers.

Why consider these five Shopify plugins for a DTC eCommerce site?

As a DTC marketing agency, we do more than consult with our clients about external advertising and marketing. While site promotion matters, it can only bring people to the eCommerce site. The experience an eCommerce site offers visitors will close sales.

Besides making business sites more useful for customers, these plugins also make sales management more efficient. As sales increase, a more efficient website will help widen profit margins even more.

As a Shopify development agency, we work hard to design eCommerce sites that generate more revenue and lower operating costs. That’s how we bring value to clients and why they return to us as often as we return to these trusted plugins.

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Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Influencer Marketing Podcast

Bigeye’s forthcoming national study reveals that among those who follow infuencers, 9-in-10 purchase a product after seeing it used or recommended by an influencer. Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President at RVD Communications in New York, explains how influencer marketing is reshaping retail and why it redefines the shopper’s path to purchase. Paige also shares which tactics yield the most positive ROI and predicts where influencer marketing is headed in the coming years. 

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

​​Paige Garrett: The fluff content is gone. Influencers are really doubling down on brands that give back or initiatives that, you know, they align with personally. They’re saying no to deals with brands that they don’t admire who aren’t doing well by society.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Alongside the growth of social media over the past decade, influencer marketing has gained popularity with audiences and brands. Direct-to-consumer brands were among the first to use influencers to drive sales, particularly among new customers. A survey conducted by Inmar and Social Media Today recently found that four in every five respondents had made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation. And that over two-thirds of them had spent $150 or more. Influencers have loyal followings across several social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and most recently TikTok, creating new opportunities for brands to appear in paid and earned campaigns that leverage influencers’ connections with their followers. Today’s guest is an expert in influencer marketing. Paige Garrett is the assistant vice president of marketing at RVD communications, based in New York City. She has over seven years of marketing experience across various industries, including fashion, fitness, hospitality, and lifestyle. Having worked at companies like Shopbop, an Amazon subsidiary, Obé Fitness, and more. In her spare time, Paige is a fitness trainer and integrative health coach. To discuss all things influencer marketing, Paige is joining us today from Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. Paige, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Paige Garrett: Thank you so much. I’m so thrilled to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Could you tell us about RVD and the kinds of clients you serve?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So RVD is a progressive PR, social media, and brand-building agency. We’re based in New York City and work across the hospitality and lifestyle industry. So we’re working primarily with bars and restaurants in the New York area, but also across the country, as well as some bigger national lifestyle brands. We also have a really strong women’s health vertical, so working with a lot of leaders in that space as well. And in terms of our, you know, core capabilities, I would say editorial PR is actually our bread and butter. So that’s where, as an agency, we got our start, that said, we understand, of course, that PR and sort of no marketing channel happens in a vacuum, so over the past few years, we’ve expanded our capabilities and services to include other marketing verticals as well. So social media management, email marketing, and then, of course, influencer marketing, which we’re here to chat about today.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, you’re the assistant vice president of marketing at RVD. What does your role entail?

Paige Garrett: I oversee our influencer marketing division, which is actually our fastest-growing division, which is really exciting. I also help oversee email marketing, I worked very closely with the social media management team and our publicists of course because for a lot of our clients, we’re working on the same projects, just on different channels. And I also help oversee new business with our founder, Rachel Van Dolson. So putting together proposals and strategies for potential clients based on their needs or what they’re looking for, which is also a lot of fun.

Adrian Tennant: RVD has clients in the lifestyle, health, and hospitality industries. Are these verticals especially well-suited to influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So I would say, really any industry at this stage, is fitting for influencer marketing, but where we sit across lifestyle, health, and hospitality, there’s so much opportunity because there are so many influencers who are leaning into, more of just that like snapshot into their everyday life. So I think that those industries and categories, in particular, touch every one of us at some stage in our day. So it’s a lot of fun putting together strategies and, you know, specific campaigns for our clients within those industries, but, definitely a lot of room across any industry for influencer marketing.

Adrian Tennant: Is that true of business-to-business brands, as well as business-to-consumer brands?

Paige Garrett: I do think that there are still a lot of opportunities because from a B2B perspective, the people who you’re still operating with, a lot of them are also still on Instagram or on Facebook, or, you know, are using those channels to find potential partnerships. So I think, obviously from a consumer perspective, there’s a lot more opportunity in terms of just driving direct purchase and conversion  and bigger brand awareness campaigns as well. But I do think B2B, when you think about who is the consumer on social at this point, it’s really everybody.

Adrian Tennant: Are there any categories at all that you found don’t tend to be as good a fit for influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: At this point in time, really every industry can win from some form of influencer marketing. That said, it’s obviously more challenging for certain industries than others. So you know, there’s a lot of red tape or regulations for certain industries. For instance, the liquor industry, even with our women’s health clients or supplements, there is a lot that you can and can’t do when it comes to having influencers endorse your brands or products. So, as long as you’re really reading the fine print and staying up to date with those regulations, and they do vary from platform to platform, I think that there is a way to go about influencer marketing. It really just comes down to finding the right strategy, finding the right partners, really getting clear upfront on the goals of your program and what you’re looking for. And then obviously matching that back to what you are, and aren’t allowed to do from an endorsement perspective.

Adrian Tennant: Could you explain the differences between paid and earned influencer management?

Paige Garrett: Yes, absolutely. So at RVD, we run three different types of influencer marketing programs. So the first you mentioned is earned influencer marketing and what that means it’s basically a fancy way of saying, trade influencer marketing. So trading a free product or experience or service to an influencer in exchange for set content. And that’s probably the type of campaign that we’re all most familiar with, in the sense that we’re driving trials with our influencers and getting their real-time feedback via content. So with those engagements, obviously there’s no agreement in place, there’s no flat fee compensation. So while we do our very best to confirm via email, we don’t have control over what that final piece of content might look like. So, it’s really making sure that, within those campaigns that you either have established relationships with those influencers, you’ve worked with them before and I think that’s where an agency comes into play in the sense that when we’re working with influencers on behalf of our clients in an earned capacity, we have that trust established. They trust us in the brands that we’re working with. We trust them that they’ll follow through with the content that they’re promising in exchange for that again, complimentary product or experience. And it’s a great way to also establish relationships early on with influencers and also just learn a lot because it’s not, from a budget perspective, you’re not spending a ton of money. You’re really just trading again, that experience or free product for content. But then from there, there’s bigger paid campaigns. So that’s when, in addition to those complimentary services or products, you are also giving an influencer a flat fee payment for their content creation. So this is where you might be working with a bigger macro influencer who requires compensation, or you have a very specific campaign brief that you want to make sure that you get exactly the type of content that you’re looking for. So with the bigger paid campaigns, there’s an agreement in place. You have more control over exactly when that content is going to go live. A lot of times we’ll include reviews within our agreements or that we’re getting to see the content before it goes live and providing our influencers with a round of content edits. So there’s just a little bit more control, compared to the earned engagement. That said, I don’t think smaller brands need to have these bigger paid budgets so early on as mentioned, I think an earned or trade relationship is a great way to learn and then carry those learnings into a bigger paid engagement. But we also do a lot of affiliate influencer marketing as well, which is more of an ambassador program, which also works nicely because you’re incentivizing influencers just based on the number of conversions they drive. So that typically looks like a set commission of sales that they drive, whether that’s tracked through a discount code or a unique link. So those are the three main campaigns that we run for our clients at RVD.

Adrian Tennant: How does RVD categorize influencers by the size of their following?

Paige Garrett: So this is a great question and I think the answer evolves every week, in the world of influencer marketing. But for now, we typically equate a nano influencer to anybody who has zero to 10,000 followers. So those are smaller influencers, but they usually have hyper-engaged communities. So in those earned engagements or the trade engagements, that’s where we’ll be working mostly with nano influencers. Micro influencers we typically categorize as having 10K to 100K followers. There’s a new branch of influencer, which is the mid-level, which is a hundred to 500K. Macro influencers would be 500K to a million followers. And then there would be the mega macros, which have over a million followers snd those are typically more of the celebrity status of influencers. So we, of course, are very mindful of these different tiers. And as mentioned a paid campaign versus an earned campaign will kind of stipulate who we’re working with from a tier perspective. but we do also keep a very close eye on engagement rate. No matter if we’re working with a nano influencer or a macro influencer, because at the end of the day, you want to make sure that your content is being seen. So there are a lot of platforms that can equate engagement rate for you but the way you would basically go about finding that engagement rate is likes and comments divided by the total number of followers. So again, making sure that in addition to a lot of followers, all of those followers are hyper-engaged with that specific influencer’s content.

Adrian Tennant: For those listening, who haven’t yet worked with influencers, what are some of the issues marketers need to consider when planning a sponsored campaign for the very first time?

Paige Garrett: A lot of the clients we’re working with are brands that are just launching or who have never done influencer marketing before. So what we like to lead with is lead time. So it does take a little bit of time to nail down your strategy, align on the goals of the program. Is it brand awareness? Are you looking just for content to repurpose across your owned channels? Are you looking, of course, to drive sales, sort of like, what are the main goals of this initial campaign that you’re putting together? And then from there, really working backwards to find the right partners. I think really making sure that you’re doing your due diligence and researching to find the right type of influencer. For instance, we would never recommend a cheese brand to an influencer who is obviously dairy-free. So while it takes a little bit of time to do that manual research, of course, there are resources and platforms that help, it is really important to take that extra time to do so. And then from there, it’s also vetting those partners. Obviously, in the world that we live in, everything on social and everything online, it lives there indefinitely, so make sure that you’re doing a deep dive before reaching out to a potential partner to make sure that they’re fully brand aligned with your brand or your client’s brand. I think influencer marketing works very similarly to public relations or PR in the sense that you still need to proactively pitch your brand or your product or service to the influencer and get them to be interested. So, you know, just like how journalists are inundated with pitches every day, so are influencers. So what can you do to really insert your brand or product or service into that influencer’s day-to-day life? How can you personalize your outreach and make them see the value of what it is you’re offering to them? So really taking the time to craft that messaging, in the right way. And then from there, it can take a little bit of time to get that interest. So again, I think the overarching theme of my replies is time and research. Typically, once we have that initial interest, we’ll provide a creative brief, but also leaving ample room for that creator to use their creative expertise, because that’s why, you know, you’re approaching them in the first place. So, just making sure you have all those various aspects buttoned up before you even begin your outreach so that once the interest is there, once you start the process of collaborating with an influencer, you know exactly what you’re looking for and the value that they can provide to you and your brand.

Adrian Tennant: Thinking specifically about direct-to-consumer brands or retailers selling online, what types of influencer marketing campaigns does RVD typically run?

Paige Garrett: A lot of the clients that we’re working with are either new brands that are just launching or brands that are smaller and may have never done influencer marketing before. So for a DTC client, specifically, we typically start with more of an earned or trade engagement. So providing that product, just getting the product into as many influencers’ hands as we possibly can. Of course, again, doing our due diligence to make sure that they’re the right type of partners, the right influencers, who would genuinely as consumers value from that client’s product or service. So, within that sort of initial earned or trade campaign, it’s a great way for us to learn a lot, candidly. So before our clients have to put, you know, larger budgets behind campaigns, we can use more of this earned engagement to find out what type of influencers are really resonating with the brand or product? What type of content is working really well? What content might not be working as well? Who do we love, who loves us? Just really establishing relationships and learning in this initial earned phase so that when it does come time to do a bigger paid initiative or campaign, or even just build a brand ambassador program, we have all of those learnings in place. The beauty of DTC, as well as that obviously via stories, or even just via link in bio, if you’re working with a smaller nano influencer, you can link directly to your client’s website or the specific products that the influencer is recommending. So from a conversion perspective, it’s really helpful specifically for those DTC clients.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Lane Martin: I’m Lane Martin, graphic designer on Bigeye’s, creative team. Every week IN CLEAR FOCUS examines trending topics through the lens of consumer behavior. At Bigeye, for every engagement, we commit to really understanding our client’s target customers, using research to learn about their attitudes and motivations. As a graphic designer, I use these insights to guide my approach to crafting visually engaging solutions and inspiring effective campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the right people, at the right place, at the right time.

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Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

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Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at RVD communications. Paige, how do you calculate the return on investment for clients from an influencer marketing campaign?

Paige Garrett: I love this question. Of course, measuring success is extremely important and, you know, for our earned, our trade relationships, where we don’t have an agreement in place, we still typically like to use UTM links. So, essentially it’s first establishing, what is the goal of this program or campaign that we’re running? Is it capturing content? Is it driving sales? Which is usually the goal. Is it just driving bigger brand awareness for a specific initiative or partnerships? Sort of aligning on what the goal is upfront so that we can measure against that. But what we can use UTM links for is essentially, once our influencers are including that swipe up or the link in bio, we get to see what’s happening once a consumer leaves the world of Instagram or leaves the world of that influencer, and enters the world of our client or brand. So while again, these aren’t paid, we do have a lot of success with asking our influencer partners to use their UTM links, because the way we position it to them is that we, as a brand, want to create a longstanding relationship with you. And what this unique link will allow us to see is everything that you’re driving for us as a brand. And I think influencers are really active and receptive to that, which is wonderful because they also want to do right and do well by the brand. So basically what a UTM link does is codes all of that information into our clients’ Google analytics backend, so that we can see, obviously, who’s purchasing, if anybody’s purchasing or if they’re not purchasing, you know, when that customer is leaving the site, how long are they on the site for? It kind of helps from a UX perspective as well, especially for our brands that might have just launched. That’s typically how we will measure success in an earned capacity. From a paid capacity, there’s a lot more we can ask our partners for because we’re paying them and have that agreement in place. So we’ll always ask for their Instagram metrics. So there’s a lot that’s public in terms of likes and comments, but we also like to look at things like sends and saves. So, from an engagement perspective, how else are potential customers engaging with the content? I think saves is a great way to see that there’s obviously some sort of intent to come back to that content or learn more about it, read more about it, or purchase. The same goes with sends, in the sense that somebody is clearly sending that to a friend or to somebody else who they want to see that content. We also ask our paid partners: did anybody DM you about this brand? We look at the sentiment of their comments. So overall, just making sure that we’re capturing the full picture in the sense of what did this partnership drive from a website or conversion perspective, but also just from a bigger brand awareness and sentiment perspective as well.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, thinking about the types of clients you work with at RVD and obviously without giving away any trade secrets, what are some of the tactics or types of content that you find work consistently well?

Paige Garrett: Yeah. So we have a fun phrase that we like to say at RVD, which has gone are the days of fluff content. I think that, when influencer marketing first started a few years ago, especially on Instagram, there was a lot of posing with specific products or very curated content. And I think that while there are a lot of content creators who do create beautiful content that is very editorial and stylized, I do think that more real, authentic content is what is performing really well. And it makes sense because at the end of the day, a follower or a community that an influencer has, they’re looking to that influencer just for day to day inspiration. And they have that established relationship with that influencer. They know what their typical day is like because the influencer shares it every day. So when an influencer is promoting something that is so far from what they typically would share, or that clearly goes against something that a follower already knows about them, I think it’s really obvious to the consumer and it’s very unlikely that they’ll take action when it comes to that content. So for instance, we have an influencer who we work with quite frequently, who we had a paid engagement with recently. And her content was already pre-shot, we’ve, you know, approved the content. We were ready to go. And she actually, unfortunately, got COVID and it was during this time that she really used her channel to open up about her mental health, about the way that it was affecting her, obviously, physically, but mentally as well. It was such a beautiful thing to see in such a real and honest depiction of who she is as an influencer and the way that she wants to try to help others who are likely going through similar situations. And the content we had prerecorded just felt so wrong in that instance, because of this phase that she was coming out of personally. So instead, we decided to collaborate on, you saw value in the product previously. How do you see value in the products now that you’re coming out of such a difficult two weeks, a difficult time where you obviously spoke to your mental health, and how this has all affected you? And we kind of worked with her as a creator to reshoot the content in a way that felt really real and honest with where she was in her life. And I think that is a great example of the type of content that is resonating most, because it’s very authentic in a way that, followers and consumers are picking up on now more than ever.

Adrian Tennant: E-marketer estimates that influencer marketing sponsorships totaled around $10 billion in 2020. Given its popularity, are you seeing clients using influencer marketing in addition to ad campaigns or does that $10 billion reflect a shift in spending away from traditional and digital advertising and toward influencer marketing?

Paige Garrett: Yeah. I would say that the two definitely go hand in hand. I think it was about two years ago that it took 8 touchpoints to convert a customer. So I could only imagine it’s more like 12 now. Whereas as a society we are very distracted, we’re doing too much at once. It takes a lot to get somebody to finally decide to purchase something or to go to a restaurant or whatever that action is. So I do think that there is a reason to have both traditional and digital advertising in addition to influencer marketing. So I would say that, you know, bigger brands, they have that bigger advertising budget, but they’re also setting up a separate budget for influencer marketing. That said, I also think that for smaller brands or newer brands who don’t have as big of budgets, I think that the value of influencer marketing, especially early on in a business is so important. And I do think that a lot of our clients and a lot of the clients that we’re working with, do tend to allocate their dollars there first, because I think working with influencers, it’s almost like you have a group of beta testers to collect feedback from. Using our UTM links, we can see, is there anything broken in terms of our UX website flow that we should consider before you’re putting larger dollars behind advertising? And I do think also with influencer marketing, there’s a lot of content you can capture that you can then leverage for your owned or paid channels eventually. So, I do think again, the two work hand in hand, there’s a reason to be doing both, but as a smaller brand, while you’re just starting out using an influencer marketing campaign and more of that trade or earned capacity to start, is a great way to find your core audience demo, find what’s working from a content perspective. Use your influencers like beta testers, just like use that influencer campaign to collect a lot of data and information that you can then carry over when you’re ready to do more of a traditional or digital advertising run.

Adrian Tennant: Well, we can’t talk about social media and not discuss TikTok, the breakout network of the pandemic. Paige, what kinds of brands do you see performing best in this channel?

Paige Garrett: We love to talk about TikTok. It’s definitely a labor and time-intensive platform in the sense that if you’re going to be on TikTok, you really need to double down, and to be on TikTok. So what we typically recommend for our clients is making sure that you’re really ready and that you have enough content to fill in that channel. So, it’s obviously very video-heavy. There’s a lot of cutting and it’s also what we like to say as well as whereas with Instagram, there’s a lot of curation. It’s a very editorialized vision of your brand or product or service, and the same goes for influencers. I think that there are a lot of influencers who still take a lot of pride, artistically in their Instagram feeds and the type of content they’re producing on Instagram. Whereas with TikTok, it’s kind of like what Snapchat was like when it first came out, only it lives forever. It doesn’t go away after 24 hours, but it is a little bit quicker, a little bit more real, authentic, kind of like a BTS or behind the scenes look at, a real, authentic version of that influencer or of your brand. So, I do think that, you know, when it comes to influencer marketing on TikTok, we typically recommend not going too heavy until you have a presence as a brand on TikTok. That said, I do think it’s also a great way to test via influencers, what type of content is resonating on TikTok. almost using your influencers like a beta test to see what they’re producing on behalf of your brand on TikTok. So that, that can kind of get your creative wheels turning from your owned content perspective. Also leveraging that influencer’s TikTok content on your TikTok eventually. But when it comes to, let’s say, an influencer campaign that we’re running on TikTok for a brand that doesn’t have a TikTok presence just yet, we’ll also make sure that our influencer partners are repurposing that content via Instagram Reel so that they’re able to tag our brand of course, and drive direct conversion that way as well.

Adrian Tennant: For any brand that’s considering engaging with an influencer marketing agency or a communications firm to manage a campaign, what are some good questions to evaluate whether that firm will be a good fit?

Paige Garrett: I think that it’s getting very clear upfront regarding what you’re looking for with that influencer campaign. So, obviously, I think every brand is interested in sales, but depending on where you are in your business, do you just need content? You know, maybe you don’t have a budget for a big photoshoot or, you’re just a founder and you don’t have access to a full team. Is there a campaign you’re looking to mount just so that you can capture content for your own channels? Are you looking to drive sales? Are you looking for, you know, bigger paid campaigns? Just making sure that your goals align with the agency and the agency services and capabilities. I also think definitely asking about previous projects that they’ve done, case studies, making sure again, that the types of brands that agency may have worked with fits with what you’re looking for, what your brand vision may be, that they’re brands that you know and respect and admire in the space. And I also think it’s just making sure that you’re also set up to have a successful influencer program. So for instance, if you’re looking for a bigger brand ambassador program, do you have some sort of DTC component, do you feel equipped and ready to have enough product to seed out to influencers? If you’re doing a trade or earned program if you want a bigger paid campaign, do you have healthy budgets, making sure that, you’re aligned on all of those key components, in addition to, the goals of your campaign, so that that agency can give their strategic recommendation on what is or isn’t doable.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, looking at the next two to three years, how do you see the influencer marketing landscape evolving?

Paige Garrett: The fluff content is gone. I think that when an influencer is choosing to share content, whether it be sponsored or not, I think that influencers are really looking to add value and to open up bigger conversations, and use their platforms for the greater good. Whereas, you know, I do think there was a lot of curated interest in stylized content previously. So I’m excited to continue to see this where influencers are really doubling down on brands that give back or initiatives that they align with personally, they’re saying no to deals with brands that they don’t admire who aren’t doing well by society. Really just leaning into authentic, real content that feels good to them as a consumer, but also that they know that their community will resonate with. So I, for instance, would always rather an influencer say no, and we have had some, some no’s, because if it’s a dietary restriction or, a personal decision that they want to lean into a different industry, I would always rather hear, “No”, that “this is not brand-aligned”, then an influencer produce content that they don’t feel good about and that they don’t think their community will resonate with. So continuing to move in that direction, I definitely think video will continue to be huge. And I do think that video allows for that more authentic and real connection. Whereas, you can’t just hide behind a stylized photo. A movement towards the real is really what I think we’re all experiencing and especially after such a challenging few years, with everything going on, I do think that influencers want to leverage their platforms to do more than just share brands or content, to share resources. You know, I think that educational content will continue to be huge and just moving towards using social media for the greater good, rather than perpetuating unrealistic norms of a perfect lifestyle, which we all now know does not exist.

Adrian Tennant: So Paige, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about influencer marketing with RVD, where can they find resources?

Paige Garrett: Yeah, so you can visit our website at www.rachelvandolson.com. You can email us at info@rachelvandolson.com or find us on Instagram: @RVDCommunications.

Adrian Tennant: And if people would like to know more about your coaching services for fitness and integrative health, where can they find you?

Paige Garrett: They can find me at www.PaigeGarrett.com or on Instagram @PaigeAConnelly.

Adrian Tennant: Paige, thank you very much for being our guest this week on, IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Paige Garrett: Thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Paige Garrett, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at RVD Communications. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Audience Consumer Insights Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer Insights Package Design Photography Video Production

According to a recent BigCommerce analysis, product description pages stand out as the most critical parts of an eCommerce website. They emphasized the fact that designers need to consider their product pages from multiple perspectives: 

  • Potential customers visit product pages to make buying decisions. Most importantly, the page’s content and design should offer visitors the information they need to click the “Buy” button. 
  • Many visitors might arrive at these pages directly from search engines, advertisements, and social posts. These prospects might not have ever seen the site’s homepage. In that case, the page needs to function as a landing page and an introduction to the seller. 
  • The page must also communicate its purpose to the search engine, ad platform, and social media algorithms to increase traffic. SEO represents a critical element of the product page. 

Thus, crafting a good eCommerce, Amazon, or Shopify product page design takes some skill. To get started or improve conversions on existing product pages, consider some eCommerce marketing agency do’s and don’ts for product page design. 

eCommerce Marketing Agency Tips for Product Page Design

Craft product pages well to increase website traffic and sales. Develop these important pages poorly, and conversions and even search engine traffic will suffer. 

The Do’s of Product Description Pages for DTC Marketing 

These tips should provide rapid improvement in traffic and conversions: 

1.Include customization options with descriptions 

Don’t force customers to navigate away from the page to find the color or size product they want to buy. Fewer clicks almost always translate into higher conversions. Use selection boxes or checkboxes to save space. Ideally, design the so choosing different options will also display images to match the selection. 

2. Display customer reviews 

Online customers almost automatically check for reviews before they risk their money with a new brand. Shoppers want to know how other customers felt about their purchase. Make reviews easy to find.

For one example, FigLeaves sells women’s clothing. According to Neil Patel, adding reviews to product pages increased conversions by 35 percent. 

3. Showcase competitive differentiators 

Searching online makes it easy for customers to find competing brands. Emphasize features for the product or site that make it a better choice than competitors. 

As an example, Neil Patel highlighted a product called a SuperSnorkel. This new type of snorkel retails for considerably more than typical snorkels. The product description lets customers know that the improved product allows breathing through their nose or mouth. Also, the lens doesn’t fog up and offers a 180-degree view. Shoppers can easily see the benefits of buying this product over cheaper alternatives.

Some products might not offer marketers the luxury of providing so many benefits over competitors. As an example, one set of cotton pillowcases might closely resemble another. In that case, high-quality images, various color and size options, and the store’s return and shipping policies may need to work harder to stand out. This also offers marketers a chance to highlight better or more eco-friendly packaging as an advantage.

4. Spell out and update return and shipping policies 

Shopify published a study by the Baymard Institute that found extra fees at checkout, including shipping costs, account for over half of abandoned shopping carts. Besides shipping costs, spell out shipping and return policies on the page to reduce customer support issues. 

Remember that customer-friendly shipping and return policies can help improve conversions, but surprising customers later with unfavorable policies won’t help. A European eCommerce site for watches called Harloges improved conversions by 41 percent and average sales by six percent when they added their return guarantee to a banner above each product description. 

5. Add Multiple Product Images For Various Angles and Options 

For example, customers will want to see what a futon or sleeper sofa looks like when it’s folded up or folded out. Some may want to see the back of the sofa as well as the front. If the clothes, furniture, or decor come in different colors, provide high-quality photos of those too. Include other objects or people in the image to help improve visitors’ perspective of size, fit, and what the product might look like when they use it. 

The Don’ts of Product Pages for Effective D2C Marketing 

Just as an Amazon or Shopify marketing agency should ensure they include all the right things, they will also strive to avoid common mistakes. 

1.Focus on too many CTAs

Product pages should help build trust, provide an introduction to a company, and help with search engine optimization. Still, the product page must center around its primary job of selling the product. 

Just as product pages stand out as the most crucial part of an eCommerce site, nobody should underestimate the importance of the “Buy” or “Add to Cart” button on the product page. 

For instance, Nature Air increased conversions by almost 600 percent after they made the CTA stand out more and added it right next to relevant content. 

While page designers should emphasize the product’s CTA, they should resist adding additional calls to action on the page. Keep the customer focused on the sale and worry about enticing them to join a subscription list or anything else after committing to the sale. 

2. Don’t compose wordy or hard-to-read descriptions 

Crafting product descriptions takes some skill. The text descriptions should include information to satisfy shoppers but not appear wordy or as an unreadable wall of text.

The Shopify blog even mentioned that their customers frequently struggle to find the perfect balance between wordiness and completeness on description pages. An eCommerce strategy professional provided these suggestions for a Shopify product page design: 

  • Include essential details but otherwise, keep descriptions as short as possible. 
  • Use headings, bullet points, and paragraph breaks to keep the text readable. 
  • Supply photos, videos, or other media that can provide more information and appeal to more people. 

3. Never forget to optimize product pages for search engines 

Perform keyword research and brainstorming to gather the sorts of queries that customers might use to find products. Include the most important and popular keywords and phrases in titles, headings, text, and image captions. 

Gather Data and Test for the Best Results 

Great product pages start with a good understanding of customers. An eCommerce marketing agency might use surveys, marketing research, and A/B tests to determine how to tweak product pages for the best results. As demonstrated by the examples, some seemingly minor changes can yield significant increases in traffic and conversions.

Categories
Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer Market Intelligence Podcast Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

Chantal Schmelz is a facilitator, strategist, lecturer, and marketer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Chantal explains how she uses the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method to break down barriers between participants and generate breakthrough ideas. Chantal shares consumer insights based on her work in Europe and the Philippines, and contrasts e-commerce in developed countries with what she sees in the developing world – plus how WEConnect connects women-owned businesses with buyers globally.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Chantal Schmelz: A very wise man once said perspective is not what you’re looking at, but where you’re looking from. So shifting perspectives in a team can unleash unbelievably creative solutions to problems that seemed impossible to solve before.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. A full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Bringing together business leaders, politicians, and journalists to discuss current economic and social challenges, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting is usually held in January in the ski town of Davos, Switzerland. This year, due to COVID-19, the annual meeting was held virtually, but the WEF’s decision reflected the level of global disruption unleashed by the worst health crisis in more than a century, the aftershocks of which will have profound long-term impacts on many aspects of our consumer-led society. And as my colleague, Dana Cassell, described in Bigeye’s webinar and podcast, a return to “business as usual” isn’t an option. Many organizations have been forced by the pandemic to re-engineer some of the ways they operate. But how do you introduce change strategically, and at scale, within an organization? My guest this week is a change enthusiast who resists the idea of only having one profession. Chantal Schmelz works as a facilitator, strategist, lecturer, and marketing consultant with a very diverse portfolio of projects and clients. But Chantal’s projects always have two things in common: they actively drive positive change, and they only work when the collective intelligence of the team is harnessed. Chantal uses agile methods, tools, and processes to enable co-thinking and collaboration. Chantal has worked with McDonald’s, the Innovation Hub of the University of Zurich, and with startups all around Europe. To talk about her work and playful approach to creative facilitation, Chantal is joining us today from her home in Zurich, Switzerland. Chantal, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Chantal Schmelz: Thank you very much for having me, Adrian. It’s a pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, you are a facilitator, strategist, lecturer, and marketing consultant. Do you typically work with clients who engage you for just one of your skills or are they looking to take advantage of a multidisciplinary approach?

Chantal Schmelz: So, actually, it most often is kind of an unintentional upselling process. To tackle strategy often sounds too big of a task and facilitation is too intangible for a lot of people or fancy-pantsy for them. So actually, often people come to me with a very clearly framed task, like doing a webpage or getting their teams trained on any specific, marketing communication topic. And once we get to work together by asking a few, probably sometimes uncomfortable questions, we started turning stone by stone. And in the end we mostly work on a rather strategic project together with the help of agile methods. So I’d say most of them are not specifically looking for my multidisciplinary approach unless they have already worked with me, but get to see the value of connecting all these dots and thus creating better outcomes once they’ve overcome the fear of tasks that seemed too big to tackle.

Adrian Tennant: Would you say that you are equal parts facilitator, strategist, lecturer, marketer – or do you favor one role or specialism over the others?

Chantal Schmelz: What a lovely question. I’ve always been a kinesthetic learner, myself. One of the characteristics being that connecting things and spatial thinking has always come very naturally to me. But I had an awfully hard time at school as the system implies that there are natural boundaries between physics and English where in my brain, there are none. All dots are somehow connected. So frankly speaking, I’ve never much questioned whether I’m now working as a facilitator or a marketer only. I like to listen and watch closely and then bring all skills to the table that might help the process. So I see myself rather as a human being, with a toolbox full of very differently shaped tools that all have their benefits and timing and also limitations. Using them resourcefully, that is more important to me than whether a client is referring to me as their marketing consultant or their facilitator. However, I’m not down talking on the difficulties that one faces when, especially I have to position myself clearly, as in this podcast. Ironically, that is something that I try to avoid, against the advice I’d regularly give to my marketing clients when I tell them they have to have a very clear positioning!

Adrian Tennant: Hmm, I like that. So, Chantal, what types of projects have you been working on lately?

Chantal Schmelz: Multidisciplinary ones! I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but it’s somehow true. So last week, I ran a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® workshop with 50 people that all work at the overlap of innovation and education. And we worked on the topic of gamification. So it was all mixed and tangled up: multidisciplinary. And I also currently work on two bigger projects with clients that always remind me of Renee Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy book, because both are existing within long-been-there industries with clear standards and procedures, and also a clear set of thinking or mindset. However, both have unique approaches that lay way outside of the industry norm or what has been known so far. So one is a small fashion label that manages to produce circular fashion. So not just hopping on this sustainability train that the bigger fashion labels have onboarded over the last few years, because it was trendy – where they do textile recycling, which mostly only consists of collecting old clothes, shredding them, and reusing as insulation materials. This small label has managed to really retrieve the raw materials from their clothes and make new ones out of them. And the other one is an even older trade – it’s retail. So it’s a hard discount retailer that is built up in a very similar way to the ALDI concept, from years back. So, old-style retail. However, while ALDI has mostly stuck to industrialized countries for their expansion, they are expanding into the Philippine market with its very unique demographics in a time where the communities there – not only by the pandemic – have already been widely digitalized. They have the need to educate their consumers while not making them feel that they’re being educated. So excellent use cases for multi-disciplinary tasks where I can bring all my skills to the table, not simultaneously, but over the course of time, all of them will be used.

Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Well, you mentioned the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method. I know you’re a facilitator and certified in the method. Could you explain what it is and how you came to be using LEGO® in facilitation?

Chantal Schmelz: I have two boys at home, so we were playing LEGO®, not very seriously, at home already. And I’ve seen the benefits with my children talking over LEGO® already. I also have an education degree and with all my consultancy customers and clients, I always hit the same brick wall where they just got stuck because you handed them a blank sheet of paper, where they had to note down bullets or ideas, or, had to, come to decisions based on just talking together. And I felt with the education knowledge in the background, that there must be more opportunities to unleash the potential that lays in these discussions. a friend of mine started doing LEGO® and she was like, that’s going to be that solution for unstacking those discussions. So I took upon a challenge and got certified and have ever since had the most amazing experiences with customers, people just wanting to test the method and being really like, “Oh, I didn’t know all these people in the room, but I now somehow feel connected and we could really, without knowing each other, with very different backgrounds, we could work on one topic together in a very appreciative, highly participative way”. So this is for me is the beauty of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®. And, also how I came to use it in the first place.

Adrian Tennant: What are some of the most common preconceptions clients and participants have about using- I nearly said playing with – using LEGO®?

Chantal Schmelz: Oh, we always say “let’s play,” because I mean, everyone knows it’s a play and playing comes very naturally to all human beings. So, why not to managers and CEOs? However, especially when it’s a highly hierarchical or highly disturbed team there, you always have people [with] crossed arms, eyes rolling, “Oh, yet another team-building event. And I’ve been to tons of them.” And we try to always just say, “Give it a try. If you don’t like it in half an hour, leave it.” And it doesn’t even take half an hour because most of the people, because they know LEGO® from their kids’ rooms and the painful experience when you stumble upon it then, most of them really think you’re gonna childishly play with LEGO®., but it’s a serious play. So there’s a process behind, there is a dedicated outcome you want to achieve. and it’s just enabling discussions in a very easy way that also perfectly works cross-culturally so I’ve had all these crossed arms and funny faces when I tell them we’re going to do LEGO® now, however, in the end, all of them have been rather fascinated by how easy discussions run throughout a day.

Adrian Tennant: Do you typically work with a regular set of LEGO® bricks or is there one particular set that you give to each participant?

Chantal Schmelz: That really depends on whether we play physical, like in locations on-site or whether we do online sessions. If we play online LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, we go by the standard LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® exploration packs because then it helps that everyone who’s only connected via screen has the same set in front of them. When you have large groups, around big tables, I just really put masses of LEGO® on there, to have them explore everything because there you have another context. So both work with limitations, whether virtually or physically.

Adrian Tennant: What does the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method certification process look like?

Chantal Schmelz: Actually, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® was invented by LEGO® themselves as they were looking for a new innovation process that would enable them to get to new products and innovations faster. They used that for a couple of years and in 2010, they decided to make it available under the custom commons license. So there are, of course, they’re supplying the bricks and have kind of part of the earnings on that, but they are not the ones doing the facilitation. There are various companies, master, chief, black belts, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® gurus that do certifications, but you’re not certified by LEGO® you’re certified by each of those institutions that do certification rounds. However, you get a “how to use the LEGO® brand” custom creative comments manual that you have to follow once you tell the world that you are now officially a LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® facilitator.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender.

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Chantal Schmelz, a strategist, facilitator, and marketer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Now you mentioned that you’re involved in a very interesting textile company. Could you explain the philosophy behind the Yarn-to-Yarn® process?

Chantal Schmelz: Probably a lot of people already know cradle to cradle as a concept of the Circular Economy and Yarn-to-Yarn® is kind of the adaptation to the textile industry where you say you use materials that can either be easily separated, once clothes are being returned after use. For example, you need to be very careful what patches you sew onto your clothes, what color imprints you use and what tags you use, what buttons, what zippers because they need to be ripped off before the reuse can start. And also, like with cradle to cradle, it’s essential that you don’t mix raw materials in a way that they cannot be separated anymore. So you don’t glue it, you nail it because then it can be separated. And with Yarn-to-Yarn®, you use fibers that can be separated chemically or, with bio enzymes easily. So that in the end you have cotton and polyethylene fibers, as raw materials in the end. So you can have new yarn created out of the raw materials easily. So it’s the same process as cradle to cradle for the textile industry. And at the moment, it’s based on a bio enzyme process that allows to separate cotton and polyethylene fibers, so that they can be totally 100% reused at the end.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, how did you become involved in this particular technology?

Chantal Schmelz: Actually, it started with Facebook advertising. As I said earlier, a very concrete, clearly framed task someone needed to be done. So for a marketing campaign they needed someone to run the ads for them. And by asking more and more questions, and also being asked questions back, we came to “Okay, there’s more to the strategy that needs to be developed, the storytelling needs to be enlarged, needs to be tailored to certain audiences that are already rejecting fast fashion.” So, it’s really that unconscious or unintentional upselling, how I came to be involved. In the yard to yard and process or project as a consultant.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, I know you’re also very involved in WEConnect International, Could you tell us a little bit about your work with the organization?

Chantal Schmelz: Yes, I gladly do. So WEConnect is certifying women-owned businesses to give the purchasing partner, the certified buyer. Let’s say Walmart, for example, in the US, they have a hard time figuring out which women-owned business could be a potential supplier for us. So WEConnect kind of bridges that gap, giving the buyer insight into what suppliers they are in the specific areas they’re looking for products or suppliers. In the US, I know because WEConnect originates from the US and you have laws that tell procurement purchasing to what percentage they have to buy from minorities. Whether this is the Black community, or women-owned business, or LGBTQ. So they have like these set rules. In Europe, these rules or regulations, laws, do not exist. At the moment there are so many supply chains in Europe that have zero percent women-owned supply in there. And we try to change that. In my role, I do that for the Swiss market. So I try to first certify the women-owned businesses, assess them, and then also get them in touch with potential buyer-side customers so that we can help to diversify the supply chain as well, because that’s a big chunk of the market that is so far in untapped potential for women-owned businesses.

Adrian Tennant: In which areas of business do you see the most untapped opportunities for women?

Chantal Schmelz: So I think studies have already shown plenty of times that female-led teams or female-led companies, as well as diverse-led teams, sustainably perform with a higher return on investment for investors, for example, than all-male-led teams. So there’s generally a lot of potential in the market for female-owned businesses. However, what we see is that a lot of women directly go into the service area of business: training translation, copywriting, marketing consulting, such as I do. And there is a huge demand for products, med-tech. So the more technical areas where I think that the very mindful approach that women give to building up a company could also not only lead to them tapping into this potential or these opportunities but also sustainably changing industries to more sustainable working.

Adrian Tennant: Chantal, thinking about strategy, what are some of the biggest challenges you’re finding that clients are facing right now?

Chantal Schmelz: Even though we often say that we do forward-looking, future-oriented strategy work, we mostly don’t. We look at past data or data trends and then extrapolate it, to generate a strategy that looks into the future. Mathematically calculated, gut feeling extrapolated. Now with the pandemic that hit the entire world at the same time, looking at past data, and data trends, doesn’t do the trick anymore. And even if you say we only look at the years 2020 to 2021, the underlying assumption remains that this is just an exception and the trends might not continue. So, companies are facing now the challenge that they have to come up with strategies from within and still make sure that their mindset remains agile, to the point where they do short sprints, evaluating new problems, new challenges, ideation, prototyping, testing, and then redoing it over and over again. And I think that’s at the moment, the biggest challenge because lots of bigger companies are still used to long innovation cycles, where they do all the research properly and data analysts spend hours and hours on evaluating and benchmarking before they put anything in front of the customer. And I think that has gone.

Adrian Tennant: Yeah, it makes sense. Chantal, in what kinds of ways are you typically supporting clients with strategy?

Chantal Schmelz: I’m really hard on you in many! No, seriously, it is like with children, if you have the same age, same background of upbringing, same schooling, you still have totally different kids. And this also holds true for businesses. I don’t have the one typical approach of supporting them with their strategy, but I found three things to be of the essence for every good or successful strategy process. One is enabling all involved parties to form a joint understanding of the challenge. Because meeting culture, mostly renders this impossible. It’s like meetings are more of a talking back and forth, just staring at the wall battle, than a co-thinking process that would allow teams to capitalize on their joint knowledge. So setting the stage to enable, facilitate people, to really use this crowd wisdom, to jointly understand the problem, and being able to tell one story with one voice as a team really helps to move forward fast with strategy work. The second one is perspective. A very wise man once said perspective is not what you’re looking at, but where you’re looking from, and we are often caught up in own perspectives and probably don’t see the opportunities that lie right next to us, because our standpoint is not into the right direction. So shifting perspectives in a team can unleash unbelievably creative solutions to problems that seemed impossible to solve before. And the third one is getting the teams, the companies, to the mindset that they do strategies in small increments, and test them, right away. Get them in front of the relevant user, customer stakeholder. Because the most beautiful PowerPoints are totally useless unless you get the user, the customer to buy into them. So I think giving that perspective on the importance of testing, because before data analytics was like the key discipline you had to master. Now it’s testing. Testing, and interpreting data you get from testing in order to move forward fast.

Adrian Tennant: So Chantal, thinking about all the projects that you’ve been involved with across several disciplines, which was your favorite and why?

Chantal Schmelz: Actually very interesting story of a female entrepreneur. When I started with her, probably four years back, she was neither tech-loving, nor did she have any web page, online shop, anything like that. But she’s selling household products designed very nicely, high functional, so excellent, innovative products for the mass market and she was not on the internet at that point. Two years later, she became Amazon Entrepreneur of the Year in Germany. And the transition we made throughout all this, and accompanying her throughout this journey. She was on television on one of these Shark Tank shows, so a really exciting story to be part of. And at the beginning, I would not have imagined that we would manage that at all to get her on the internet, selling on Amazon, not in my wildest dreams. And she’s very successfully launching one product after the other now.

Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Chantal, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about you, and your work in strategy, facilitation, and marketing, where can they find you?

Chantal Schmelz: Most easily, I’d assume, on LinkedIn. Because there I’m available in all languages that I’m able to speak! 

Adrian Tennant: Perfect. Chantal, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Chantal Schmelz: Thank you very much, Adrian, for having me. It was a real pleasure.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on, IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Paige Garrett: In a way that advertising used to be where you trust the channel you’re watching, or you trust the magazine you’re reading, that trust is now in those influencers And not like you’re just getting that content. You’re not just getting served an ad. You’re getting served this person’s entire life or whatever it is that their niche is that they’re sharing about. And that is where that trust is established.

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with influencer marketing expert Paige Garrett, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, Chantal Schmelz: strategist, marketer, and facilitator. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.