Publisher spotlight: Shopping Links

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Shopping Links is an influencer and content marketplace that makes it easier for brands and agencies to reach new audiences, track conversion, and increase revenues through establishing meaningful blogger relationships. Brands can identify and engage the right influencers using the detailed demographic and reach data that their platform provides, then track  results to see the real-time ROI by blogger. New to Awin US, Shopping Links has already performed well for a recently-launched campaign with Missguided. 

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Image courtesy of Shopping Links

How does an influencer start working with Shopping Links? How many influencers do you work with?

We have 15,000+ influencers in our network, and signing up as an influencer involves heading to our website and clicking on the ‘Influencers’ tab. From there, influencers can apply to join our marketplace.

After browsing their social media and website to get a feel for their content, we’ll check they post regularly and confirm they’ve posted sponsored content in the past. In looking at this, we’ll consider the quality of their content and their alignment to the brands we work with, which operate in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle sectors. We’ll also check to see if an influencer engages with their audience regularly, if the amount of likes they receive on a post is proportionate to their follower count, and if the comments on their posts show signs of genuine engagement.

We get our influencers to connect their social media accounts, so we have insight into their audience authenticity. This also helps us validate their metrics in a transparent way. If we’ve determined these influencers have an audience that aligns with our brand requirements, can see they post regularly, have no obvious discrepancies in their follower count, and think that they’re the right fit for our community, we’ll approve their application or alternatively send them an invitation to join the Shopping Links platform.

You provide brands with influencer digital media kits to make informed decisions when picking partners. What kind of information is included in your influencer digital media kits and how are they updated?

Our influencer digital media kits come in the form of a ‘Blogger Profile,' which incorporates verified Google Analytics and Instagram Insights data in the one streamlined dashboard. This updates daily and allows brands to see, not only the following an influencer has, but also a granular view of their audience demographics, their engagement levels, their domain authority, their site traffic and more.

At the forefront of all our blogger profiles is a focus on transparent metrics; every data element we obtain from an influencer regarding their demographics and performance is available for a brand to see on their profile. For brands to ensure the quality of an influencer, and their ability to convert, we provide integrations with Instagram Insights and Google Analytics in our blogger profiles. This helps brands get an in-depth cross section of an influencer’s actual reach and impressions - by showing not just an influencer’s unique reach - but also their audience demographics, the city-specific locations of this audience, and the times they are most active. This high level of detail allows brands to determine not just which influencer is quality; it also shows which influencer will drive conversion in which markets and at what times.

Earlier this year, Shopping links incorporated Instagram Insights into our platform, meaning brands can get an even more granular look at an influencer’s social reach. Insights is essentially for social media what Google Analytics is for websites, which makes its insight into an influencer’s reach, age demographics, countries, cities and gender so important -  especially if a brand is looking to post an Instagram-only collaboration. With Instagram Insights, a brand can now see an influencer’s actual unique reach and the breakdown of their demographics, which means we can now better predict which influencers will perform best for the brand before even entering into a collaboration. This data has the power to change the way we market. Previously unavailable to brands, being able to access this data fundamentally changes how we measure and track the success and return on investment of social campaigns.

Our Blogger Profiles also incorporate Google Analytics data, which shows the demographics of an influencer’s website visitors. Seeing the primary gender of an influencer’s followers, and the age brackets that their blog appeals to, helps brands find the perfect influencer and target audience alignment for their campaign goals. In the past, looking at a blogger’s follower count, the types of images they post, and their engagement level might have been enough to proceed with a campaign... these are all ‘vanity’ metrics you can see on the surface.

Image courtesy of Shopping Links

Getting found on the web is becoming even harder, which means brands have to establish a solid SEO strategy more than ever before. That’s why Google Analytics data incorporated into our platform also shows how helpful a blogger will be for a brand’s SEO. This information includes a blogger’s domain authority, their blog page authority and equity links. Brands can head here to see the number of visitors to an influencer’s site over a three-month period, a metric which includes unique page views. Our profile also shows a selection of an influencer’s images so brands can get a feel for their aesthetic. We additionally include the categories of content an influencer produces, along with their collaboration rates. This allows brands to hone in on the influencers most closely aligned with their collaboration goals.

For brands who don’t have the time or experience to optimize their influencer campaigns, Shopping Links offers managed services. These services make it much easier for brands and agencies to find and work with the right influencers: the ones who are the most likely to convert into traffic and sales via gifting CPA, and flat fee payments.

Can you walk us through how setting up a campaign with Shopping Links would work?

Brands set up a campaign by applying to sign up to the Shopping Links platform and can post a collaboration brief, which the influencers on our network then apply to. Brands compare and select the influencers they would like to work with in their campaigns, managing communication and payment seamlessly through our dashboard. When searching for influencers, brands have access to the blogger profile and its conversion metrics, meaning they can select an influencer with confidence. They then work through the collaboration process with our in-platform workflow, get bloggers to generate and pick up affiliate links, and pay influencers all without having to leave the platform.

We offer guidance to the team managing a brand’s campaign by viewing the bloggers who have applied to their collaborations, negotiating the rate with bloggers and releasing payment from within the platform, viewing their results and marking a blogger’s work as completed. Once a collaboration is complete, the results page can be viewed after a blogger posts, with Instagram and Facebook API integrations that automatically fetch the results data on a daily basis. We’ve even come up with a way to make gifting at scale easier. When brands gift at scale, we give the brand a downloadable excel file containing all the blogger details... this cuts down on time and administration.

What kind of metrics and results do you record for each campaign?

On our results page, we record the number of times an influencer has posted across a range of social channels including Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. We also record the media posted. Whether that’s a shot of the Instagram post, or a video of their Instagram Story, we allow the brand to play back a story or view an image even after it has disappeared from an influencer’s feed. We record conversion metrics - including sales, unique website visits and social traffic, and average order value, cost per engagement metrics, views, comments, likes, potential audience, actual reach for Instagram posts and stories, actual Impressions for Instagram posts and stories, and page views from Google Analytics. This results page is available to brands for three months, and brands can filter by date range to get targeted analytics and results.

What are benefits for advertisers working with Shopping Links?

At Shopping Links, our commitment to helping brands run conversion-focused collaborations means transparency of data and quality influencers are always at the forefront of our mind. From incorporating affiliate link generation into our platform, to introducing Instagram Insights and allowing for gifting at scale with commission, we are always trying to make the process of running an influencer campaign more effective, more honest and transparent, and more results-driven.

We have incorporated affiliate links into our platform to make it easier for bloggers to include affiliate links into their blog and social posts, enabling affiliate link generation and tracking within one seamless workflow. We also offer managed campaign services where we help curate and select the best influencers for a range of campaign briefs and marketing requirements. Our transparency of data when it comes to conversion metrics allows brands to optimize their future campaigns with a granular insight into which influencers, channels and locations will work best for their upcoming campaign.

From a collaboration standpoint, our commissioned gifting at scale options provide a continual incentive for influencers to drive conversions and return for the brand. This stands out from the usual approach PR agencies take when gifting product. PR agencies charge brands a flat-fee payment up front without needing to prove an influencer will generate return, while our commissioned gifting options actively encourage influencers to drive sales and achieve optimal return during the collaboration. 

Why did you join the Awin network and what features do you enjoy?

We love being part of the Awin network, because it lets us explore the intersections between affiliate and influencer marketing. Awin also has great brands and a global footprint, both of which are propelled by a really strong team. What makes the Awin team so great is their progressiveness. They understand influencers, they understand social media, they understand the role it plays in the affiliate ecosystem and the importance of tapping into social shopping conversion - particularly for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands.

The Awin team is especially progressive in terms of incorporating influencers into their affiliate channel, and their relationship-first focus is ideally aligned with what we hold most important in our business. When our founder Kim Westwood met with the team, she found she didn’t have to explain influencer marketing or how important it is to the affiliate channel.

Do you have any upcoming promotions, new launches, or exciting news you would like to share?

Shopping Links is currently running a promotion where we offer brands $100 off our influencer gifting options.We believe gifting at scale is the perfect way for brands to dip their toe into the world of influencer marketing. Influencer gifting is a highly-scalable marketing strategy that lets brands connect with multiple bloggers and audiences without having to pay to post, making it perfect for brands looking to experiment with limited budget.

One of the best examples of the effectiveness of our gifting at scale collaborations came after a major international department store gifted its branded Peppa Pig pajamas to high-profile influencer Arielle Noa Charnas of the blog Something Navy. Arielle posted a story of her daughter in the pajamas, and the very next day the retailer reported a 1,400% increase in average sales for their Peppa Pig products.

We have also recently launched our own Skillshare course focusing on measuring the ROI of an influencer marketing campaign. It’s a master class in measuring return with actionable insights, and we learned so much putting the course together! It’s an intermediate course­ – in other words, the course you watch after learning the basics to influencer marketing – but we think it’s vital for those marketers who may have run campaigns in the past, and want to see how to optimize them in future.

Interested in partnering with Shopping Links? Please contact Kim Westwood at Shopping Links or our publisher management team.