How to Turbocharge Growth & Influencer Marketing with Sam Betesh
Sam Betesh once ran a Top 100 YouTube channel. He’s built marketing strategies for a range of high-growth companies, including Uber, Patreon, Fabletics, and OnlyFans, to name a few. Today, he’s running Fanatical, a startup studio for influencer-driven businesses.
If you have a question about influencer marketing, Sam’s your guy. He sat down with the Tydo team to chat about his time as a YouTuber, growth marketing tactics, and live shopping trends.
Designing a High-Growth YouTube Channel
In the very early days of Sam’s YouTube channel, he benefited from simply being one of the only Call of Duty YouTubers on the platform. Anytime someone searched certain Call of Duty terms, he was always one of the top results. That’s what blew up Sam’s channel.
In his words, it was a slow grind with no inflection point. Just repetition after repetition. Today, when he advises brands on their YouTube growth strategies, he notes that the biggest change he’s seen is that it’s all about keeping people on your video for as long as possible.
Like TikTok and every social network, YouTube is aggressively calculating the retention rate of videos, the conversion rate of thumbnails, and a bunch of other metrics to rank and de-rank videos. For example, YouTube will favor a 60 minute video with a 20% retention rate over a four minute video with a 40% retention rate. Their end goal is to keep more people on the platform.
For brands looking to expand their presence on YouTube, Sam suggests paying attention to CTR and thumbnail conversion rate. It’s hard to give exact metrics because there are all sorts of reasons why people click on and off a video, but those are two critical data points to track.
“You can use data to do this, but if you’re truly a subject matter expert, you can intuit what trends are interesting that not enough people are talking about yet. Then, you’ll benefit from people typing in those keywords.”
Relationship-Driven Influencer Partnerships
Influencer partnerships all boil down to relationships. When approaching influencers, you want to be very human and treat influencers like people you respect. Then, you say, “Hey, we really love what you do. We would love to share some of our products with you, if you’re interested.”
Sam recommends not obliging influencers to post an exchange for product. Instead, brands can simply note, “We would appreciate it so much if you did share the product with your followers,” which he’s seen result in a warmer reception and a higher conversion rate overall.
Regardless of the product, the unboxing experience should be colorful, eye-catching, and clearly unique from the rest of the market niche. Brands need to create memorable experiences that get influencers to pause and think, “What is this?” and in turn, help them tell engaging stories.
“You need to actively create digital experiences that inspire influencers to post something that gets their followers to stop scrolling. That’s the magic.”
Influencer 101: How to Measure Success
With regard to paid partnerships, Sam adds that it’s mostly one-time payments. Brands like Fashion Nova and Gymshark use retainer models, but it’s rare for a brand to reach the point where they’re always working with influencers over an extended period of time.
When choosing influencers, Sam encourages brands to cast a wide net. He recommends starting with understanding the brand’s psychographic niche and then nailing down the payment method, whether it’s free product or capital. That choice depends on the influencer’s viewership.
In terms of metrics, before launching a campaign, it’s helpful to note the percentage of an audience that’s male vs. female and U.S. vs. international. As far as success metrics, Sam recommends actively tracking views, impressions, and followers across accounts.
For startups scaling through influencers (Fashion Nova, Gymshark, Fabletics, etc), they mostly focus on measuring conversions to purchase. As it relates to attribution, most companies base success off of direct sales that come from an influencer’s discount code or a tracked link.
“It’s okay to work with influencers who others may not want to work with. I’ve dealt with too many founders who are overly particular about their brand. Fashion Nova and Gymshark didn’t get to where they are by being picky.”
Social Commerce & Live Shopping
Sam has spent the last few years leveraging influencers for Facebook ads and paid creative.
He believes it’s becoming the largest trend in user acquisition and is a clear strategy that results in higher retention rates for one of two reasons. Influencer content can look so incredibly organic that for two seconds the viewer doesn’t even realize they’re looking at an ad. In other cases, content can reach a high retention rate just because it’s just an eye-catching video (for example, maybe because the influencer has bright pink hair or their tone is incredibly excited).
That increased retention rate on paid social creatives can then mean the brand pays as little as half the CPM they were paying with their old creatives.
Right now, Sam’s most interested in social commerce and live shopping. He advises Popshop Live, where retailers treat the app like Shopify but for live video. Only physical retailers are on the platform at the moment, but they’re already tripling or quadrupling their revenue.
Sam notes that the app will eventually turn into mostly influencers streaming. Live shopping has already seen a ton of growth in China, and it already has a huge market in the U.S. with QVC.
“The fundamentals of live shopping translate directly to the U.S. market, but we just need to make a strong push in that direction. That’ll be a massive unlock for brands and for influencer marketing as an ecosystem.”
The TLDR on Fanatical
While advising companies like Popshop Live, Sam also runs his own startup studio, where he launches brands that are primed for an influencer-first distribution strategy.
Some of those ideas are physical DTC products that have the potential to be the next Gymshark, while others are software platforms that are more analogous to the next Patreon or OnlyFans.
He prefers this dual portfolio construction approach because he sees values in tinkering in a space that he’s super familiar with and then pattern matching based on years of working and building in the influencer ecosystem. In his opinion, it’s the best way to arrive at a killer idea.
“I’m not building tools for creators. I’m building both brands that resonate with their audiences and software platforms that either help brands make money or help them develop a new style of engaging with their fans.”
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
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33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
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