Macro, micro, and power: Influencers come in different sizes with unique talents and capabilities to boost your brand and tell your story. What is the checklist to choose and manage the right influencer marketing approach? How can you repurpose creatives to get more mileage out of your campaigns? We get the answers when our host Peggy Anne Salz catches up with Natasha Upal, VP of Marketing & Growth, Clover, a top-ranking on-demand dating app. Natasha, a Mobile Hero recognized by Liftoff for her app marketing achievements, shares her pick of tools, agencies, and techniques to help you find the right influencer to deliver your message. She also draws from her expertise to help you bring together teams and talent sure to wow your boss.
It’s amazing. I mean, I still can’t believe it, first of all the show’s been around eleven years and this is, if I’m correct, your eight year we’re going to start now with you on the programme and honestly, I just remember when we first start putted the show and we were pitching the idea, we had to go and start talking about, we need to start talking on Webmaster Radio about social media and talking about different areas in mobile...
And mobile, imagine that, yes.
We had to have a mobile show and it was just – it was – right before the iPhone comes out and we’re saying to ourselves smartphones are just starting to come into the space, we’re seeing Nokia making big moves, we needed to have a show like this and one thing was we did have, you know, always give credit, Cindy Krum did help start the move for us and then we did have a thing where we needed to find someone else to come and take on the show and Kim Dushinski, we have to give credit to her, she did not recommend you, my god, I don’t know how this should would have gone how it did but, listen, all due respect to Kim and Jordan Costello and Cindy Krum and the folks at Skyware for, you know, grabbing the baton and running the race for us here at Mobile Presence but you have taken it and we had Shahab join you and you’ve been going solo for I don’t know how many years now but you’ve been doing fantastic work. Yeoman’s work and I don’t give you enough credit that you deserve.
Brasco, you as producer, I don’t give you enough credit either because it is, it is a team effort together we have brought on a new sponsor in the new year, I don’t know if you saw it over the holidays but we were on a list Last FM of the top 50 podcasts and app marketing that you must listen to. So, I mean, one accolade after another tells us we’re on the right track here.
We’re getting a lot of good traction like that. I mean, but honestly, you know, I’m just happy to put the content together and I think we do a great job of it but really it’s the people you’re bringing on, you are bringing on rock stars in this programme and you are getting some amazing credibility. Listen, just in the last couple of years, writing for Forbes, writing for Fast company and the Liftoff – things you were doing altogether, the show’s just stepped up and this is the go to place for mobile app marketing and just for mobile marketing in general.
We’re getting the right people onboard, some of the companies, I can’t believe some of the names you’ve brought onboard. It’s been great.
It’s magic or it’s our traction. I have to say a perfect segue so we do have a rock star on the show, we have Natasha Upal, she is VP of Marketing & Growth at Clover and Natasha, great to have you kicking off the show of the New Year here at Mobile Presence.
Thank you, hi.
And it’s not just being here on the show which is great in itself, I’m sure it’s a milestone for you already, Natasha, but you’re also, hey, you’re kicking it off as a citizen of Canada which is great. What’s the story here?
I am yes, very exciting for us. We came to Canada almost ten years ago, we came from the ex-pat trail in Dubai actually so we thought we’d start for a couple of years max and then we discovered what a great place it was. I mean, everyone was just so nice, how could we leave?
And also being in the industry as you have, I mean, I was looking over your LinkedIn profile and we have a lot of guests on the show who are – I wouldn’t say new to marketing but let’s just not say they have your cred, to be quite honest, quite a long time in mobile. What got you into mobile and marketing in the first place?
Well I’ve always enjoyed and have always worked in tech in one form or another but for many companies, mobile was still very much an afterthought or an add-on which didn’t, you know, increasingly mirror user behaviour. So I wanted to change all of that so when the opportunity came up at Clover, which is an Marconi mobile service, it seemed like the right time to jump full in.
And of course a challenge as well, it’s a dating app, it’s an on demand dating app – very competitive space. Maybe you want to tell me a little bit about Clover as well and what you’ve been doing there.
Sure. Clover is – we’re proudly Canadian and we’re probably the only Canadian app to hit the top ten iPhone grossing apps in the US in the social networking category. We’re a well designed app only dating service primarily for the 18-34 year old target demographic but of course we have groups in all of those buckets. 81% of our audience fall into the Gen Z millennial category so we’ve made really great traction with that sort of highly coveted audience and in terms of the service, we can boast that we provide a more user-tailored approach to dating offering singles the opportunity to apply detailed filters and we put a lot of focus on providing opportunities for our users to actually meet in real life and actually set up real dates.
And it is about connection, I’m just curious about the channels that allow you to make that user connection, that customer connection. Is there a special mix of channels, for example, or approaches?
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you know, paid advertising on all of the social media platforms is probably, you know, our primary source so we see a lot of success with Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube but we do also work in other ways and we work – we have a very successful influencer programme, we have worked with in-field ambassadors, we’ve run radio campaigns as well. We’re really trying to speak to that Gen Z millennial audience in all of the ways in which they consume media.
I mean, that’s what’s fascinating, I was looking at this, you have also written a blog about influencer marketing. You know, in a nutshell, you know, we’re going into 2020 – what do you think is like the biggest change that has shaped how we’re going to be doing influencer marketing – maybe to begin with on such a platform as Instagram, to start?
Yes, I think the biggest change, you know, just even up to sort of 4 or 5 years ago, it was a lot easier to work with the influencers to some degree in all categories directly and develop those strong relationships and get results on a dime. Now, as the platforms have experienced, you know, monumental growth in popularity, you know, the audience is greater, supply has increased but so too have the demands both from the influencers and the ticket price is higher as well, there are middle guys to deal with the saturation in the landscape which can mean a little less impact in terms of the results that you see.
However, there are also a plethora of tools out there now to help you find, identify, work with the influencers, boost the actual content from the influencers and we’re all sort of waiting with baited breath as well to see what Facebook’s going to do in terms of, you know, whether they’re going to develop a platform of their own potentially, a self-serve platform to access and work with those influencers. Something they haven’t done to date, they haven’t indicated that they will but who knows?
Exactly, I mean there’s a lot of open questions about influencer marketing in the year ahead, of course, what’s also interesting is to get down into the weeds which is what I can do with you as a VP of Growth & Marketing about a practical approach to influencer marketing. So, we do have to go to a break right now but I’m just setting the stage, you can see listeners we’re going to learn from Natasha, reason to come back and we will deep dive into influencer marketing right after the break.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz – we have Natasha Upal, VP of Marketing & Growth at Clover. Natasha, it’s great to have you here talking about influencer marketing because it’s not sort of a pastime, it’s really a passion for you. I mean, you’ve got great background in marketing, we were talking about that, but influencer marketing in particular seems to be a passion for you. Where does that come from?
I’d have to say actually my inspiration comes from the influencers themselves. I mean, there’s some amazing content that they’re coming out with these days, they’re really the trendsetters defining and shaping our ideas, our consumption, our creativity – they’ve really got their arms around the tools and technology and the platforms that are available to them. They’re also diverse, they’re raw and they’re real. They make my job as a marketeer very easy for me to able to speak with my target audience. But they’re also fun, you know, they’re entertaining and it’s entertainment in a way that we’ve never seen before and so rapidly changing.
I love that you say it’s fun because it’s great to learn from marketing, you know, we talk so much about analytics and data – this is real, as you said, it’s raw, it’s entertaining. What might be a best practice or key learning that you’ve learned from interacting with influencer marketers, because I remember the days where people used, marketers I talked with just said “Oh, you know, they’re a bit of a pain, you have to negotiate contracts and hope for the best and hope for a good fit with your brand” and you’re having fun.
Absolutely. You know, I think it’s a great point, all of the things you just said still hold true. So, you know, you’ve got to love it, you’ve got to be ultimately a sales person, it’s all about relationships, you’ve got to enjoy fostering and growing and developing those relationships, influencers are, you know, they can be very young, they can be perhaps unprofessional in terms of their experience, they’re just starting out many of them, they’re leading with their talent and they’re leading with their creativity as opposed to an experienced or a well trodden path and you as a brand have to be flexible and able to foster those relationships but if you really enjoy that people management aspect, then you will absolutely enjoy working with them.
As I mentioned before, you have a blog over at the Mobile Heroes website where you share, you freely share, which is great because some people don’t always share everything – no, you’ve got a really good blog here, I enjoyed it, “Create Influencer Marketing Strategy that will Wow Your Boss” – I mean, who doesn’t want to read that? And you go into the differences between nano, macro, micro, power influencers – I wasn’t aware they came in all the sorts of different shapes and sizes that you describe. What should a marketer know or pay attention to when looking for the right fit?
I think the first thing you have to decide for your company, every company is different – what are the goals that you’re trying to achieve and I know it’s kind of classic marketing stuff but you have to sit down and figure out, you know, what is it you want from your influencer program? Each influencer will bring different value to the table, nanos, for example, they’re very small, they’re just getting started, we define them as having under, you know, 5,000 followers but there’s a lot of potential there with agility and flexibility, they can be very, very cost effective, sometimes they can come out with content that although they’re not reaching a massive audience, you can take that content, you can white list it and boost that content and put some marketing dollars behind it and you will automatically have a great library of content for you to use as an advertiser and marketer.
Micros are similar to the nanos but they’re growing and they often have a very good local following and are really willing to work very hard to develop their presence. Again, you know, great flexibility in terms of what you want them to do for your brand.
And then in terms of the sort of seeing some heavy weight pull, that’s where you’re getting into the macros and the powers and the macros, we define as being somewhere between 100,000 to 250,000 or 500,000 followers or they may be big names in the media. So they may be somebody that’s on a TV show, they may not have high numbers in followers but they have that name and they have that brand presence. At this level, they’re still engaging with their audience so they’re still replying to comments, they’re still, you know, really getting deep in with their audience and they have that influencer feel still but they’re less likely to be as agile with the content.
And then you can imagine as you get into the powers, they’ve got followers in the millions and they’re looking for a more cookie cutter approach but the value you’re getting there is the huge audience reach and the endorsement that they’re bringing to the table.
And you mentioned you’re getting some great content – how do you sort of dice it, slice it, repurpose it because I’m sure that it’s not just about perhaps certain channels but can be repurposed for others, there’s probably, you know, content and creatives for other paid campaigns or am I misunderstanding sort of the multiple uses for this amazing content?
No, you’ve hit the nail on the head there, Peggy, and that’s where you need to be really creative as a marketeer and think of this in terms of your content library and there are multiple ways. So many brands will take that content and they’ll put some paid dollars behind it and simply boost that post. So there are different ways of doing that, you can work with third parties to do that, so for example there’s a company called Lumanu who will happily sort of provide a platform for you to be able to do that and you’ll work with them and they can boost that content.
Or you can work with the influencers directly who can allow you access in order to be able to boost it for you. And that’s a great way of being able to take nano content and then really power it through your own advertising. There are other ways of using that content in, for example, blog posts or your own social channels or even, you know, setting up individual negotiations with your influencers for more extended types of advertising content.
And you’ve shared a couple of names in there, Lumanu, I think you said?
What about the places to find these influencers that come in so many different sizes, it’s almost like in any industry of revolving around talent, you know, music, film, video – you sort of want to get them when they’re starting and watch that process so you want to get them maybe when they’re in places you wouldn’t normally think of – you can of course go to agencies and the rest but are there any other channels we should be looking at when we’re scouting for those influencers in those early stages?
Yes, absolutely. I mean, there are some good agencies, there’s a good Canadian company actually called Hashtag Pages that has a whole team of what they call creator managers whose job is to all day look for and scout and bring on good talented creators onto their platform for you to be able to work with or another company called Grapevine is more of a self-serve tool but allows you to find and identify influencers. You can also work with some of the platforms directly to TikTok for example actually helps you broker those relationships and can introduce you to some of the top influencers on their platform.
But I would also recommend a good old fashioned method of having some in-house help to be able to scout for - ultimately you know better than anybody else what you’re looking for and what’s going to be a good fit for your brand and so we also have people looking all day, every day to identify the kinds of influencers that we feel will be a good match for us.
And again, a really interesting point in your blog, I was really pleased because I love numbers and details and you were saying, for example, that if you’re going to do this in-house, a manager should be able to handle 10 to 15 influencers, so one person handles a team of 10 to 15 at your company – is that correct?
That’s right, yes, and of course it depends on how many times they’re posting and how granular the content is going to be, if you’re taking more of a standard sort of factory-like approach to the content and the instructions or whether you’re really working with each creator to craft that individual piece of content. But yes, on average, 10 to 15 in a month.
Well, I am enjoying so much of this conversation, time is flying by, Natasha, I can’t believe it. We do have to go to one more break but, listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
Hey, we’re back to Mobile Presence and our guest, Natasha Upal, VP of Marketing & Growth at Clover. And Natasha, before the break, we were going through some of the practical points in your blog, going through also your personal experience which I’d like to pick up on because influencer marketing, it’s something that you could just imagine – it’s fun, it’s challenging, probably some episodes in your life that you feel should be filmed, you know, dealing with the eccentricities of these great creative people.
What can you share, what stands out? You’re looking back over the last year, maybe even longer, what’s a great experience that maybe taught you something or might just make us laugh?
Yes, so, you know, one of the things we think carefully about when we’re planning our influencer programme is not just the sizes of the influencers but the categories that they’re into. So, of course we try to map and mirror the categories that our user base are into, so we did our research and we found that Gen Zs and millennials are into fitness and health and craft beer and all kinds of different things.
But one of the things that really resonates with our users is the comedy, you know, so we’ve seen – we’re living in a mean culture and sharing comedy and humorous content is something that’s really, really popular with this audience. And we wanted to find some influencers that were large in the comedy space or creative in the comedy space so that was something that was missing from our influencer portfolio. So, we set about finding the right influencers and we had a couple that were producing some amazing content, like you know, very very creative, they put a lot of energy and work into it, they were literally mini skits that came out with talking about dating in ways that even we couldn’t have imagined or the best marketing teams couldn’t have
scripted and we thought for sure these were going to be hits.
But what we discovered is that we had failed to really think about the customer journey and somewhere along the line, we had forgotten that, you know, what we’re driving after is direct response and where we see the biggest success is the kinds of content that leads to that direct response. And the comedy content that we had coming out was great in terms of branding and developing a presence and people liked it, they shared it, they commented on it but it didn’t lead to the clicking on the direct links which is ultimately the downloads, the subscriptions that we need to keep the engines turning.
So, you know, it was more or less just again being really, really clear on the goals and knowing that, okay, when we’re chasing after the downloads and the subscriptions, we need to stick with what we know works well, continue to test and continue to diversify but just really clearly understand the difference between the brand and the entertainment content versus the direct response.
That’s a really valuable lesson though because, I mean, people can’t – there’s nothing against viral content, right, branding is branding and branding is always good but it’s really important to stay focused because if some people went off the deep end and thought, “Okay, this is really, really fun, it’s really, really shareable” but at the end of the day, that call to action, there has to be a direct response so I think that’s a really good piece of advice for our listeners. You know, speaking of which, we want advice as we go into 2020, it would be interesting for me to understand as we come to a close here what is high on the radar for you, what do you think is going to be the opportunity or what do you have in focus for your company and then I’d like to hear the same thing also for you, your personal growth. So tell me about 2020 from these two perspectives.
We’ve got a very busy year ahead here at Clover as we prepare for the next phase of growth in the company and the change management that comes with that. We’re looking to grow several fold, we’re looking for the right partners to do that with and that ultimately is going to mean a lot of change in what is currently a small, almost family-like environment in a Canadian company.
In terms of personal growth, that’s obviously going to be a career development challenge for me as I build out the team, I’ve done this before but it will be, you know, doing it again and within a very different industry and a very different space and a different marketplace. So, you know, thinking a little more about where we need to add more strings to the bow in terms of the skill sets for the team as well as personal development for those team members as you grow, you know, you need to start putting in place more structures, more processes and that takes a little more thought and organisation.
And then, in terms of personal goals, well, one of my goals for this year is to perhaps hear less and listen more, you know. I think we can all do with a little more of that and I think it’s by truly listening that we can really fully take stock of the opportunities in front of us and I plan to do that both in a work environment as well as a home environment with my three little boys.
Well, that sounds like a fantastically good balance, life work balance. I love the idea of listening but I mean listening to you, I hope to have you back and maybe talk a bit more about this, Natasha, you know your stuff, I know by speaking with you that it’s not just that you’re an expert marketer but I believe you personally to be a visionary so I would be delighted to have you back on Mobile Presence, if that’s in the stars.
Thank you, I’d love to come back, Peggy.
You’re on. And in the meantime, you know, I’m sure our listeners want to keep up with you, maybe find out a little bit more about you, about Clover – what’s the best way if they want to, to stay in touch with you?
I’m on LinkedIn and I’m always happy to connect with others in the industry, go for coffees, chat online, very happy to share.
Absolutely, well, there you have it listeners, and if you want to of course keep up with other Mobile Heroes or read Natasha’s blog which I highly recommend that you do, then you need to check out the heroes in the series by going to their dedicated page over at heroes.liftoff.io.
And if you want to keep up with me throughout the week or find out more about how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, you can email me, email@example.com, that’s also where you can find my own portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services.
So my friends, it is a wrap of yet another episode of Mobile Presence. Be sure as always to check out this and all earlier episodes of our show by going to webmasterradio.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence. So until next time – remember - every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. We’ll see you soon.