The beauty and skincare industry is a competitive one. Run on Shopify, COOLA is a high-end sun protection skincare brand with a mission to create products that help customers live a happy, healthy lifestyle. Recently, the ecommerce brand adopted a new targeted strategy to reach their audience — women between the ages of 24 and 35. Mykella Gannon, COOLA’s Marketing Director, found that influencer marketing was an effective way to foster community, boost brand awareness, and improve customer retention.
Influencers, both large and small, act as tastemakers in the beauty space. Their recommendations provide social proof that today’s consumers require when making purchase decisions. Mykella’s goal is to build a community of COOLA fans who can not only promote products but produce authentic content that can draw in new customers and build a cohesive brand identity across all marketing channels
Without the proper tools, the influencer marketing process proved to be overwhelming. Mykella struggled to keep track of conversations and review content to ensure it met brand standards. And it was difficult to hold influencers accountable to contractual obligations because the brand prefers to do unpaid campaigns in an effort to keep relationships more organic. All of these moving parts made it nearly impossible to foster real relationships with influencers and see tangible returns.
Prior to working with Aspire, Mykella worked with another influencer marketing software and collaborated with a PR agency to assist with vetting influencers. However, the quality of the content she received wasn’t meeting COOLA’s standards. She needed a solution that streamlined the process of identifying and managing influencers in-house, to ensure that content was on-brand every time.
Identifying Brand Champions
When Mykella is searching for influencers, she wants to know if they embody the COOLA vision of a healthy lifestyle. This means she’s looking for authenticity, a strong personal brand, aligned aesthetic, as well as an engaged audience. Aspire’s AI-powered influencer search engine provides Mykella’s team with 20 influencers each day that meet her campaign criteria. Outside of this, the team can filter through influencers by targeted keywords or by dragging and dropping an image they like into the search bar. Plus, if a COOLA team member meets an influencer at an event or off the platform, the brand can easily invite them to a campaign using only a link.
Managing Long-Term Relationships
COOLA successfully creates and nurtures relationships with influencers that are truly passionate about the brand. Because of this, influencers are willing to share their love of COOLA in exchange for free product alone. With Aspire's flexible workflows, Mykella can create collaboration contracts that keep all parties accountable. Plus, growing relationships over time is much more manageable because the relationship history for each influencer is in one place. This allows the team to quickly review how an influencer performed on a past campaign, see what stage an influencer is in (negotiation, content creation, etc.), approve content before it goes live, and leave notes on each relationship to communicate internally.
Scaling Content that Tells a Story
With Aspire, Mykella builds templated content guidelines with visual terms so that influencers know exactly what kind of content the brand is looking for. The team can easily check in with influencers, send automated reminders during the content creation process, and review content before its posted. Plus, each piece of content is stored in the brand’s Content Library and easily downloaded through the Google Drive integration so that different teams can use influencer generated content across different channels.
Influencer marketing through Aspire has allowed the COOLA team to scale their program by 10x. They went from working with around 150 influencers every two to three months to over 500 influencers per month, all of whom align with the brand’s values. These brand champions have generated more than 9,000 pieces of authentic content in exchange for products that they love. Repurposing this content across various channels has saved COOLA more than $75,000 each quarter because they no longer have to organize quarterly photoshoots.
Not only has the size of COOLA’s community increased, but so has the quality. Influencer recommendations have helped boost its online presence and sales. Since scaling its program, the brand has acquired and retained more than 37,500 loyal followers on Instagram. These followers become valuable community members with high purchase intent. In fact, after its “Drop It Like It’s Hot” campaign, sales for the Sun Silk Drops were up 60% from one year prior and 27% from one month prior.
But influencer content isn’t just performing on social – the content that influencers create has consistently outperformed brand-directed content across paid social, website headers, product pages, retailers’ websites, and even in-store signage. The COOLA team has significantly decreased the content they create in-house, because Mykella feels confident knowing she has an always-on community of influencers who can produce the quality of content she needs every time.