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How Nutrabolt Transformed Its Influencer Strategy Into a Content Machine

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Have you heard of Nutrabolt?

If not, the leading sports nutrition company should be on your radar. Nutrabolt has:

  • Been in business for nearly 20 years
  • 40% market share in pre-workout category with its leading pre-workout brand, C4
  • A presence in 150 countries
  • A presence in 40,000 retailers across the US, from Walmart to Costco to Gold’s Gym
  • Generated $650M in retail sales last year
  • Sold more than 2B servings of C4
  • An online business that is growing 150% year-over-year
  • Both America's #1 selling pre-workout brand (C4) and the world's #1 BCAA brand (XTEND)

… Now that’s something to brag about.

We wanted to understand the root of Nutrabolt’s success — and help other brands copy these stellar strategies. So during Digital Marketing World Forum 2019, our Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Anand Kishore, sat down with Katie Tershel, Director of Partnership Marketing at Nutrabolt. One key aspect of Tershel’s role is to create influence with all of Nutrabolt’s diverse audiences. She oversees the brand’s athlete, influencer, and events marketing programs to create connections in the fitness space and further the brand’s mission to make fitness and sports nutrition accessible to all.

Here are a few pieces of wisdom pulled from our time with Katie about telling brand stories in an authentic way.

Fitness is a crowded space with tons of competitors. How does Nutrabolt differentiate?

Community is at the core of everything Nutrabolt does. “Community” was never a marketing trend for the business, but a true must-have for engaging audiences.

Here’s why.

The number 1 referral source for beginners in fitness is friends and family. Then, as people advance further into their fitness journey, they look to trainers and fitness influencers as well. At every step of someone’s lifecycle, seeing inspiration from others is essential for creating influence. Nutrabolt knew they needed to formalize this idea of community, and find a way to maximize results.

So Nutrabolt turned to AspireIQ to:

  1. Reach new consumers beyond its current audience
  2. Source unique stories to fuel its multiple social media handles
  3. Scale its program so a small team of four could streamline communications with hundreds of influencers on a daily basis

Tapping into a platform — rather than running everything manually — makes Nutrabolt’s process much more turnkey.

Scaling a program can feel like herding sheep. What are the biggest pain points Nutrabolt has experienced?

Nutrabolt has relationships all over ranging from Instagram DMs to relationships in the field to professional athlete endorsements. A platform helped Nutrabolt formalize all those relationships and house them in one place to overcome two big pain points.

A platform helped Nutrabolt formalize all those relationships and house them in one place to overcome two big pain points

1. Creating a system of record. Relationship management was disparate. Using a platform like AspireIQ allowed Nutrabolt to automate time-consuming processes like setting terms and dealing with billing. So Nutrabolt could focus on the fun stuff, like building the relationships.

2. Removing the emotional element behind choosing influencers. Everyone has their favorite influencers. But just because one colleague likes a particular influencer’s content doesn’t mean that person aligns best with the company’s brand. With a platform, Nutrabolt can see each influencer’s audience demographics, engagement rates, if they have fake followers, etc. It removes that layer of personal bias and ensures Nutrabolt can find influencers who relate to their consumers.

Value is difficult to quantify. How does Nutrabolt think about measurement and performance?

Growing the business and adding revenue are the highest priorities of any brand. But the direct tie-back to sales is challenging when you have an omni-channel business — you can’t directly attribute a consumer purchasing a product in Target back to an influencer ad.

Instead, Nutrabolt thinks about how they have to be in all the places its fans are, online and offline, or it will lose out to its competitors. And that means creating multiple touch points. You can find research online offering up advice on how many touch points you need to drive someone to purchase a product. Some sources say it’s as low as 7, others say it’s as high as 13. But since influencer marketing is often an earlier touch point, Katie considers her role to be the “first date,” ensuring Nutrabolt introduces its story in a way that makes customers like and trust the brand.

Nutrabolt does factor in other metrics besides revenue as well. It looks at reach, engagement rate, customer sentiment, comments, DMs, and anything else that indicates a willingness to purchase. Nutrabolt also keeps an eye on its branded channels, like its website, YouTube, and Instagram page, to check for traffic and follower spikes after campaigns.

How does Nutrabolt scale a grassroots community that speaks to so many different people?

People want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger — they want to belong and feel heard. That’s why a two-way dialogue with influencers and customers is so important.

And sometimes, you can’t always predict what that conversation will be.

When Nutrabolt heard that customers were using its XTEND recovery product — a mix of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), electrolytes, and performance ingredients — as both a mixer and for hangovers, the brand was taken off guard. But rather than shying away, it leaned into what its customers loved about the product and launched an XTEND mixology campaign and crafted the tagline “work, play, recover” to ensure people could have a fun night out and still make it to the gym in the morning..

To get a glimpse, check out Ron “Boss” Everline’s — Kevin Hart’s trainer and founder of Just Train — showcasing his favorite mixology recipe with XTEND.

The overall campaign resulted in 4M impressions, 100K engagements, and an earned media value triple what Nutrabolt spent. Influencers had fun with the campaign, leading to the community jumping into the conversation organically.

Macro-influencers, like Boss, have a large audience to generate buzz. But how does Nutrabolt work with the broader community?

For Nutrabolt, micro-influencers often have incredible return.

Take Ryan Smith. Katie met him in person when he had a few hundred followers and discovered he was a devoted customer. What comes next is an influencer marketer’s dream. Nutrabolt cultivated a relationship with him, launching campaigns with him as he grew his following. For both Nutrabolt and Ryan, it’s a win-win. Nutrabolt gets amazing content from Ryan, and Ryan can share his story on a much larger platform. Next, Ryan is about to embark on an 8-week fitness journey. Nutrabolt will be by his side to document it.

Other influential partners for Nutrabolt are big-name athletes.

Mat Fraser has been coined “The Fittest Man on Earth,” winning the CrossFit Games 4 times and engaging his very passionate fan base of 2M followers. In July 2019, Mat and Nutrabolt partnered together to launch a supplement — Fraserade XTEND Elite, the highest-tier product of the XTEND lineup — where Mat got a say in everything from the formula to the flavor, and even the name. During launch, the product led to the highest-grossing sales day on ever. Even better news: 90% of those sellouts were from new customers, proving that influencers opened Nutrabolt up to audiences they couldn’t reach on their own.

Out of all these incredible strategies, how does Nutrabolt bring this community to life?

The best example is Nutrabolt’s C4 Fitness Summit, a 360-degree marketing approach that helped Nutrabolt stand out in the most crowded marketplace of all: New York City.

Since so many locals leave the city during sweltering summer weekends, Nutrabolt invited the movers and shakers of the NYC fitness community to attend a retreat in Montauk. As a result, Nutrabolt:

  • Connected with over 50 influencers 1-1
  • Reached 14M+ people through influencer content
  • Received tags and mentions in 400+ Instagram stories
  • And saw a net promoter score increase from a 2.3 out of 5 to 4.9 out of 5 from attendees

Creating shared space for its community to bond is incredibly powerful. Check out some of the highlights here.

Bringing communities together

To create loyal customers, you need to generate an emotional connection, listen to what your audience has to say, and build a community of people who tell your brand story together. Brands that focus on community will withstand the test of time.

Nutrabolt is crushing it in this regards. Learn how you can build your own community and create lasting relationships.

Looking to get started with influencer marketing? Schedule your demo here.

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