Growing Your eCommerce Business Through Influencer Marketing⎜ Kynship ⎜ EP 191

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This is a podcast episode titled, Growing Your eCommerce Business Through Influencer Marketing⎜ Kynship ⎜ EP 191. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Cody Wittick of Kynship one-on-one as they discuss growing your eCommerce business through influencer marketing.</p><p>---</p><p>Crossover Commerce is presented by PingPong Payments. PingPong transfers more than 150 million dollars a day for eCommerce sellers just like you. Helping over 1 million customers now, PingPong has processed over 90 BILLION dollars in cross-border payments. Save with a PingPong account <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">today</a>! </p><p>---</p><p><strong>Stay connected with Crossover Commerce and PingPong Payments:</strong></p><p>✅ Crossover Commerce @ <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>✅ YouTube @ <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>✅ LinkedIn @ <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>---</p><p>You can watch or listen to all episodes of Crossover Commerce at: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>

Ryan Cramer: What's up, everyone? Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is Crossover Commerce, presented by PingPong payments. The leading global payments provider, helping sellers keep more of their hard- earned money. Hey everyone, happy Friday. Welcome to another episode of Crossover Commerce. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is my corner of the internet where I bring the best and brightest in the Amazon and e- commerce space. That is what this podcast is about; is bringing different parts of the industry into this corner of the internet, so we can educate you, whether it be an entrepreneur who is an SMB or a small or medium- size business, or you're trying to grow your business to new heights in international ways that you never thought possible. But we're going to try to get you the tips and tricks in everything I can, of each and every one of our guests in this podcast, to help you grow your business. That being said, want to go ahead and give a quick shout to the presenting sponsor of this podcast; PingPong payments. So, if you're watching this and you don't know what PingPong payments is or who they are, perfectly fine, but you haven't been paying attention if you're seeing any one of our past episodes or episodes... all 190 leading up to today. PingPong payments is helping international sellers, whether it be domestically paying international suppliers, manufacturers, BAs, or anyone in a different country, helping them save time, money, and effort. What does that mean? That means you can actually pay out your employees, business entities, in localized currency, with ever having to step foot in that country. That means helping people save time, money, and fees. That is, obviously, money that you can put towards your bottom line, you can hire a different person, you can order more inventory, you can start to take that money and expand your business, or just have it padded, so that on a rainy day, you can have those funds saving for you and working for your business instead of paying fees through banks or any other sort of service out there. So, that being said, utilize and sign up for PingPong payments today, by going to usa. pingpongx. com/ podcast. And that's where you will find all of our past episodes, all 190, leading up to today, which I'm super excited about this Friday, December. Let's check the watch here; December 3rd. If you're listening to this, I'm on a different date. We're in the midst of Q4. We come out of... I've heard it called Turkey Five by some people. That's the five days between Thursday, black Friday into cyber Monday, believe it's five days or so. Check my math on that. But it's been a crazy week thus far. People are looking at statistics, what that means for businesses going forward, and believe it or not, a lot of people have seen that it has dropped in terms of sales, year over year. The first time it has dropped, but it's still growing year over year, but doesn't mean that there's too many major takeaways. But in terms of that, my quick analysis would be, people are buying more on different parts of the year, there's logistics problems, there's sourcing problems, there's lots of different inventory issues, but people are just trying to shop at different parts of the year. That means a quick analysis of that. Why that applies to today is because there's a lot to buzz about how brands are starting to grow, going into 2022. You're looking at December 3rd and you're looking at the rest of the year, what are your plans for 2022? How am I going to grow my business even further, whether it be starting out or launching new products, or just trying to grow an audience, what are those ways? Those ways are going to be going through influencer marketing. Influencer marketing, if you have been living under a rock, that's anywhere on social media, someone who has an audience of a certain degree, that would be of small magnitude of one to a thousand people, or that could be nano- influencers, up to 10, 000, macro, and you go full- fledged, supernova influencer, whatever you want to call it. I didn't want to dictate to it. Those are people that have the blue check marks who are going to have major followings, sponsorships, things like that. Why that's important to small and medium-sized business owners, that's what we're going to be talking about today. So, without further ado, I want to go ahead and welcome on our guest. We're going to be talking with Cody Wittick of Kynship today and we're going to be kindly talking through. I hope it's always kind. Talking through growing your e- commerce business through influencer marketing. Now further ado, Cody, welcome to Crossover Commerce. Thanks for hopping on today.

Cody Wittick: Thanks, Ryan. It's good to be here.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah, of course. So, you're joining us from Orange County, California. Did I pronounce the name of the company right? That's first and foremost. Kynship, is that-

Cody Wittick: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: Is it K- Y- N. And that could be... I was like," inaudible or anything like that." Or it's like a silent K. What are we going with here? So, what's that... First and foremost, congrats on the success of everything you've done, and appreciate you joining us today. I want to know more about you and your background. How do we get where we are today? And you hopping off calls and talking to the likes of... working with like what? LeBron James, Dale Earnhardt. I saw a lot of A- list celebrities. That was pretty impressive, I'll give that to you, working with those kinds of people in the influencer marketing space. So, tell me about you. Tell me about the company.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. So, before starting Kynship, I mean, those names you referenced was at a brand called QALO. That's where I kind of cut my teeth with influencer marketing. They started this silicone wedding ring industry.

Ryan Cramer: Is that your wedding ring, first and foremost?

Cody Wittick: It is.

Ryan Cramer: Or is that something you just have on hand? I was going to say, hopefully, we're married and we're not just using this for like props or anything like that.

Cody Wittick: No. I don't have any other presentation things to present today.

Ryan Cramer: Exactly.

Cody Wittick: But yeah, that's where I cut my teeth in influencer marketing and was building out the influencer program there from, basically, 2014,'15 to 2018, right before the month before January 2019, when we started Kynship and we got to work. I mean, gosh, a lot happened in those years, a lot of mistakes too, but also got to work with a lot of big names. And it was the Facebook ads, Heyday too, at that time, with testimonials and being able to repurpose their content. So, that's dictated a lot of our strategy even today, but times have changed, but because of the use case of the ring, it was just such a wide ranging categorically, that we could work with influencers in all different categories, that I was able to get a lot of experience from the big- time athletes, all the way down to your mommy bloggers of the world.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. I mean, that's a really cool product. And obviously, I want to say, one of the first of its kind if not the very popular brand, that even today is still popular amongst a lot of different people, has a wide use case too. So, you're doing that, you're working in an industry that really doesn't have a playbook. This is something you were just... not making up as you go, but you're trying to dictate what's going to work, what isn't, what is, and going from there. Why do you think it was so important then? And obviously, it's grown to new heights, even today, to develop a new company out of it.

Cody Wittick: Why do you think it was so important to develop a new company?

Ryan Cramer: Well, I mean, as you're finding out that this was where the market was going, what's been that journey like? And then obviously, you're going to stake a business around it, that it's going to be sufficient and it's going to be here for a long time, and you guys are going to work with multiple clients instead of one brand. Obviously, that's one big use case, but this is something where you're hopefully working with hundreds of products now and going from there.

Cody Wittick: I just fully believe in influencer marketing as a channel. It's always been around. If you just look at history as a great teacher, it's always been around, just the mediums have changed. And so, it used to be just TV commercials, seeing your favorite athletes or favorite influencers. We just didn't always call them influencers. And then as it's morphed, it's just morphed into Instagram stories, and now I get to see LeBron James in his kitchen talking about taco Tuesday with his family. There's just incredible more access into their lives, which makes them all more influential. So, I just think the platforms will continue to change, time to time again. In 15 years, it won't be TikTok anymore maybe. It'll be something else, but yeah, influencers will always be around because we've always looked at other humans to look for inspiration or connection, et cetera.

Ryan Cramer: Right. So, in that regards, is it just the access into someone's personal lives of," Hey, this is what I use." Like you said, it's always been around of you see somebody... I think, in the olden days, people reference like smoking, not a... Obviously, there's signs behind it, but I saw people that you would look up to. Maybe that's why people started smoking. It was like," Oh, that's really cool. I want to do something like that. I want to feel like that person," has become-

Cody Wittick: John Wayne inaudible Camels.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Exactly. I was going to say the Camel, John Wayne connection. That was always what you associated one versus the other, would be people in front of those brands. Now it's almost because... Is it because of influencers in that regards, has it become a dirty term or has it become a term that it's so broad range? Because, obviously, you can say it in a good way, but you can also say it in a bad way. You can influence decisions; ultimately that's what it comes from. Have you established other sorts of definitions in terms of where we're going with this? Does it make sense?

Cody Wittick: I don't know. I don't get really into the name. I think people try to get cute and try to," Oh, we don't use influencers because we call them content creators or we call them ambassadors," and stuff like that. Whatever word you want to use, they're still the same. Same means you're influencing other people around you, whether it be your audience on social media, or you're a business owner and you are not on social media, but you're influencing those around you. So, obviously, like when we're talking influencer marketing, we're talking about people on social media, but everybody has influence, so, whether we want to use that word or not. I like to just still say the same word or use influencer just because I want to change sort of the connotation of the way that people think about influence marketing, which sometimes is negative.

Ryan Cramer: Right. So yeah, I guess starting your business with Kynship, is that something where... What was that decision from going from a known brand to something where you have to now solicit and work with different clients as well, different brands, you have different markets you have to focus on? Like you have, you said, anywhere from like celebrity clients to mommy bloggers that you're working with on a day- to- day basis. That's a lot wider ranging focus that you have to do, instead of," Hey, we have one brand we're working for, and now that's it." What was that jump like in terms of that capacity?

Cody Wittick: Oh man, I could talk for hours about this, but I think it's also just the early business startup life. You're just trying to figure out what people want, and scale that. And honestly, the first year and a half, we were just trying to figure that out, like," What brands want, what do they need, and how do we position that?" So, it's not so much about their brand and product, but just like," What do consistent D- to- C e- commerce brand owners want out of influencers?" And I think a lot of times, we were just trying to... Of course, when you're surviving as a startup too, especially in the early days, you're doing whatever." Hey, whatever you want, I'll do it for you." Just to try to keep the train moving, but eventually, you get to a point where I think you can service them the way that you know best. And I think that was actually tying back into my days at QALO, what we ended up doing a lot and what we'll talk a lot about today, I'm sure, which is doing influencer seeding for brands and kind of putting a package together that was really attractive for brand owners in that way. But before that, I mean, we were just trying to service any sort of influencer service for clients in the beginning. And I'm sure you probably relate to that, every brand owner or business owner relates to that in some degree.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. So, you brought up a fascinating point. And when I was doing some research into the company, I like the facet, how the process you've kind of established like this, are the KPIs that you want to put together, but also just the process of what you're doing; fascinating in terms of product seeding. What do you mean by product seeding? I have a general concept. I think I know what you're talking about, but for the listener and watcher out there, what does that mean for the Joe Schmoe, if you will?

Cody Wittick: That means sending your product out for free; that's essentially what it is. Whether that be to your mom or to your friends and family. But when we say it's to influencers, to people of influence, the people that you really would be proud that they represent your company, those are the people that you'd want to send out product for free. But essentially, the basic definition comes from broadcast farming, like seeding. You're just throwing seed on the ground, some sprouts up. I'm from orange county. You're in Indianapolis, maybe you can tell me a little bit more about this, but that's my basic understanding of it. Some will sprout out, some won't, but the some that does sprout up, those are the relationships that you now have, that you can create long- term partnerships with. So, that's kind of the foundation and basic definition of seeding.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Farming 101; not every seed's going to grow, obviously, some is going to die off and not everything is going to take root, but the things that do grow, obviously, you can bear fruit from it. I mean, yeah, farming 101 of fill that way, fill that way, fill that way. It's all around us and it needs to happen, but obviously, you got to cultivate it, you got to grow it. It's the beginning processes of it. So, obviously, I mean that makes sense, like you want to send it to people. I'm assuming there's a list of people you can inevitably send goods to. It's not something you're just going to broadcast. Like for example, where LeBron James lives, he can look it up, but you're not going to give away addresses to people, like go crazy and send them a bunch of different stuff. So, how do you reign that in? Is it by categories, by product type, people are open to receiving that kind of stuff? Where does that process begin?

Cody Wittick: Yeah, you nailed it. That's the first step, of you got to be able to identify the right influencers for your brand. So, obviously, if you're a sock or running shoe company, you're not going to be sending these to people that play NFL or anything like that. So, that's kind of like," No, duh." But then there's things deeper in terms of identifying the right influencers that are going to reap what you end up wanting. So, some people... And what we think is great video content creators that are going to lend itself to great video UGC in return, stuff like that. But yeah, your foundational level, you guys know the brand the best. You should be able to identify the right people that fit along those things and those qualitative metrics.

Ryan Cramer: Is it a wishlist, almost like,"That would be really cool if we can get our product inaudible," or like," This person, I feel like we know their identity." But then again, I guess then it comes to, in theory, that person and its perception, then you might have an athlete or someone who might have like a... Like you said, we were talking either pre- show like taco Tuesday, or something like that, with a brown James. And he has all these intricate, like he's... Again, I know this because I've... many people follow him, but he's a big wine person, he's a big cigar person, but he's also a big health and fitness person, that makes sense, branded by Nike, clearly. There's all these different things that fit in different aspects of their lives. How do you become aware of their passions and almost the side thing that they're not known for, but then they will also want to be a part of? Which is interesting.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. There are some tools that help you, especially nowadays, in this world. Most of the time, we're not talking about the macros of the world, because, the macros, there's so many people that are following them for eight different reasons, rather than the micro that's smaller. And when I say micro, I say really anyone's of a 150K of following. There's like a million different definitions out there, but that's our definition.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Micro, nano. Yeah. Exactly.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. But usually, you're following that person because they are a vegan food blogger and you're vegan and you love food, and that's why you're following them. So, it's just like one to two reasons compared to like eight to nine when you get at a bigger scale.

Ryan Cramer: So, brands that are coming to you, where do I join you on my journey if I'm an e- commerce seller? Am I doing this from the beginning, like launching a product, I haven't even been public for a long time? What's the traditional... When do I engage with Kynship?

Cody Wittick: Well, the short answer is if you can afford us, then we'll work with you.

Ryan Cramer: There you go.

Cody Wittick: No matter what stage you're at, that's fine. But normally, I think you're a little bit down the road in terms of you got branding, you got your unboxing experience, you have your website, and so you're not just starting out, but you got your customer experience dialed in. But as far as the product goes, that's when I think we can start at any stage in terms of being able to identify and start our process alongside with you.

Ryan Cramer: Is it a lot of just coaching, like you have to tell people," Hey, these are the steps along the way. You can't just jump from the beginning to the end of the road." Like it's that growing experience; is what a lot of the calls in day- to- day have to be in a profession like yours, of," Hey, this is a process. It's going to grow over time. You can't just snap your fingers and make everything happen." What's that like on a day- to- day basis for you?

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I mean, as an agency provider, I think the biggest thing that I tell people is you just got to communicate expectations over and over and over again, like," This is what our first call was about," and over and over again, we're communicating the same thing of what we can expect. That's where we've run into issues where we're not communicating, but communicating up front, like," This is what you're going to get." Because I think with these relationships, like you said, it's not like overnight, but with our process, you're going to get, in the short- term, a ton of UGC, a ton of organic posts for free, all those sorts of things, but then those relationships, that's where it starts to materialize. I think what you're mentioning too is like all marketing comes with a risk. You don't just turn on Facebook ads and just start getting conversion for every dollar that you spend. You can spend and not get anything, and you're willing to risk that because you believe in the platform. Same thing with influencers. You got to believe that these relationships will be valuable to you long- term, and some won't get it, some won't... like the product, just like your customers return the product. So, you got to be willing to take that risk as you start seeding out and sending your product out for people and building relationships with people.

Ryan Cramer: Got it. So, where's a good place to start? If I'm listening to this, I want my company to another level. People have told me, I need to get an influencer marketing. I need to start some sort of program. What does that look like and where do you typically point people in that direction?

Cody Wittick: I would start with seeding. I'm going to be a broken record today, but that is just the most foundational way, because, most of the time, when I talk to brand owners all day long, they all say," I want a long- term community of influencers that are posting about me consistently over time." I say," Great, your behavior needs to match that belief system." And most of the time, their behavior goes against that belief system. It is a bunch of one- off posts, paying people very transactional," Oh, this person has a sexy amount of followers, so I want to get to them and I want to pay for access into their audience." And then everybody wipes their hands clean and moves on. The way I would say is you just got to get your product and brand into their hands because those are going to be the people that you want to work with anyways, because, you want the advocacy that they drive to their audiences to be genuine. And it's only genuine that they believe in your brand ethos, they love your product, et cetera.

Ryan Cramer: And what about... So, in that regards, if I'm seeding, with the process... I know we're going back to... And I don't mind broker record. I think it's super important to understand. From that capacity, is there metrics that can support behind the whole 80/20 rule? Like 80% of the products I'm going to send out there, like 20% will be accepted. How do you insert that processes? Is it on you as the brand? Do you reach out to them on like DMs or is there a contact information that you, as a company, facilitates some of those relationships?

Cody Wittick: Yeah. We do it all. We're doing it all, like A through Z, but yeah, let's get into the practicalities. I'll reach out through DM and email. And every outreach that you send, it should be," Hey Ryan, this is a free gift. We'd love to send you the product and no strings attached." And all that means is," There's no expectation for you to do anything with it. I just want to get the product into your hands from there." As you outreach to all these people, offering that same gift, you should expect at least 20% of people to opt in. If your brand and product is better than that, maybe you get more opt- in. Let's just be real. So, if you have more credibility or if your brand product is awesome or really attractive or sexy, you're going to get more opt- in. But as a minimum benchmark, you should expect 20% opt- in. So, if you reached out to 30 influencers, you should expect six to opt- in, say," Yes, I'd love to receive your product." Now, of the people that you outreach to, you should expect 30% of those to post for free without you even asking.

Ryan Cramer: And they understand... It's pretty apparent people understand," I'm sending a product for you to take a look at if you like it." They get that right? Like that's the whole concept behind influencer marketing. You're on social media, of course, I mean, no strings attached, but you're not expecting them to, but they also understand like," Hey, if I do this, I will..." Say, got this in the mail today, tag social XYZ, maybe, I think you're talking about.

Cody Wittick: I think people are really honored by generosity, so they feel a sense of like," Oh wow, this was a really awesome gift. They didn't even ask for anything. I'm going to throw it up on my story. I'm going to make a TikTok video out of it." But again, it's their own genuine interaction with it. If they don't like it, they're not going to post about it.

Ryan Cramer: Sure. Makes sense.

Cody Wittick: And you don't want to work with them anyways, but you should expect at least 30% to post for free just without you even asking.

Ryan Cramer: Is there a tip to find people like that, that would be in my... If I'm selling like children's clothing items or children's toys or something like that, that's not something that I would naturally follow on my own social channels based on what likes. It's just a business that I'm operating. How would you search for that? You can't just go on Instagram and search baby clothes or something like that followers. How do you start to seek out some of these influencers?

Cody Wittick: There's three free tools, and they're all on social media. One, I'll just start with Facebook, which is probably the least amount of people that use in terms of younger demographic, but Facebook brands collabs manager, or maybe we should call it Meta, so Facebook crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Meta manager.

Cody Wittick: Meta for Creators, I think if you Google that. It's just a way that you'll... It's free. You can discover influencers that are on Facebook and Instagram on there. The second is Instagram itself. If you go on a profile. So, if you just know one influencer that you're like," Oh man, I've been following this influencer. I'd love to get them our product, et cetera." Go on their profile, there's a little dropdown arrow, that if you hit that dropdown arrow, it'll pump out algorithm- picked influencers that are all similar to that same influencer. Back in the Heyday, 2014, 2015, before all these tools were out there, I would spend hours discovering influencers for QALO just doing that.

Ryan Cramer: Putting in your spreadsheets and things like that.

Cody Wittick: Exactly.

Ryan Cramer: You're like," This person, you found, handled this way."

Cody Wittick: Yeah. And then the third is TikTok, which is a hot ticket that people should be jumping on now, but it's called Creator Marketplace. Also free, it's owned by TikTok, but you can apply as an advertiser or as a brand. And you should get accepted, but that's a way that... All three of those, especially the TikTok Creator Marketplace and the Brands Collabs Manager, you can go on and search like, if I'm Jim shark, I can search Jim Shark and people mentioning that, or like you mentioned, the baby clothing, people mentioning baby clothes or kids or anything like that.

Ryan Cramer: How often should I be doing this as a brand owner? Because shoot, without mitigating the amount of actual influencers out there... I say actual, again, it's a scale and degree of... People can become... I can start my TikTok account today, and in a week, I can have a pretty significant... I mean, that's just the nature of growing people are opting in, they're trying to get content that's applicable to them. And the algorithm is a fire hose. Literally, there's no options. That's why TikTok is popular. You understand this, but for the listener out there, just this fire hose of content that's only coming from one source. I can't go to stories, I can't go to posts, I can't go to Reels or anything like that. It's all contained in one literal stream, and that's how you find people. So, in that regards, how often am I checking for new people to the market, or how often should I refresh my list of people? Daily, weekly, monthly, is there a good practice?

Cody Wittick: I'm going to say something pretty controversial here. Every time you take a dump, you could go check out and discover influencers.

Ryan Cramer: Every time you have to go to the bathroom, got it.

Cody Wittick: There you go.

Ryan Cramer: Makes sense. It's that regular, huh?

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I mean, if you're going once a day, that's either once a day that you're sitting on your phone anyways, and you can find five influencers right then and there. Over time, that's 150 influencers.

Ryan Cramer: That makes sense. I mean, is there too many to manage? I guess in that capacity, that's organic. Again, you're creating a lead list. This would be like marketing in general; of, got to create the funnel of that, we're talking 30%, and then, of those people, there's going to be either regular people who will speak to you on an engagement level. I'm assuming you want to build out that list so that it's big enough and consistent enough, where there's constant content out there in your world of influencers.

Cody Wittick: It just depends on your goals. If you just want to get to like," Long term, hey, I just want 30 influencers that I can just build my brand around and build relationships. And for the next year, I'm just going to ride these 30." For some, it's like," I want to get as many people my product as possible." And for some, it's multi- layered. For us at QALO, when I was running the influencer program, it was like," These were the people that we were just seeding product every month." And then it was people that we had monthly organic post going live, almost like an affiliate, before there was affiliate tools. And then we had like just UGC content that we were getting for repurpose as ads. And then we just had people that like Dale Earnhardt Jr. that signed a long year contract with us and was like the face of the brand. He had his own product line, stuff like that. But that's a 30 million dollar brand that has multi- levels, and we were spending a million a year on influencer marketing. So, that's a lot of money, that's a lot of coin to be spending on influencers. Not every brand has that, nor has the resources or maybe an internal employee like me to run it. So, it just depends on how do we want to... I'll go back to the question of how you want to get started. The more that you can populate that list, the more that you can outreach to those people and offer your product, the better numbers you're going to get and the more relationships that you can start getting. And that's where that compounding value can start building momentum.

Ryan Cramer: At the risk of sounding like the curmudgeons marketing person, can... I'm only 32, man. I've seen a lot, but in this capacity of... For the audience, traditional media, there's still a factor and there's still a lot of reach in terms of the capacity. Social media is so wide- ranging. It's like the metaverse, as been dictated, is so wide and reaching, and you can get hit from a bunch of different ways. And of course, there's the likes of the crackdowns and privacy in terms of like, people don't like Facebook... Or Amazon doesn't like Facebook a lot anymore. They won't reward traffic for Amazon sellers. For example, Pinterest, it's constantly who's in the good graces of all these different things. So, many different platforms constantly are created, you can be everywhere and anywhere, but it seems like there's a lot of places you can be an influencer on. Again, Instagram, Facebook, consistent, there's Twitter, shoot, there's all these different places. But going back to the tradition media of news outlets, or just getting editorial pieces or just magazines and stuff like that. Is there a component of which this also works in that world of," Hey, those influencers still write for The Washington Post or they go for Fox News," or whatever it is, whoever you are trying to reach?

Cody Wittick: I mean, I'll go back to what GaryVee says all the time; is just like," You want to be where your consumers are." So, just where are your consumers spending time, and be there. So, if your consumers are spending a lot of time in The Washington Posts, and you have data behind that, then sure. Find an editor or find an influencer that can be posted there, but for most e- commerce brands that we work with, a lot of the time, it's Instagram and TikTok and those platforms, but yeah, I would never argue against if a brand came to us and said," This is where people are buying." And I'd be like," Great. Let's try to get people that have influence over those areas or built followings in those categories."

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. And a lot of people, if they're new to this space... And again, lots of different brands are constantly coming into market. They want to know like," How does this setup work? How do people get paid eventually?" Let's say you have this great network, I'm working with you and that team, people have heard of influencer marketing, but how they get compensated, not always to the point of so transparent in terms of that capacity. I've worked in affiliate marketing for multiple different companies. So, I get it at the Genesis of what it is, but for you guys and your team, this is as simple as affiliate marketing, commissionable, trackable information of like promo codes, links, or just like straight impression play. Is that where you guys are working in those dynamics of how influencers are getting compensated for working with brands?

Cody Wittick: Well, most of the time, when we're doing seeding packages for brands, we're not paying one influencer just because-

Ryan Cramer: Right. Let's take it a step further, but once you actually engage with them and you want to start that working relationship, like you said, when you were working at... Dale Earnhardt had his own year- long contract. When you get to that point, the in- between step of someone not so big, but you also want to pay for," Hey, I'm going to consistently post about you guys for once a month or once a week," or something like that, what's that step before that major contract happens?

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I mean, I think affiliate programs are a way that scoop up money off the table of the way the influencers. So, giving them a link for them to share and rewarding them based on your commission. The way I would think about it is just, if you can think about it from AOV perspective, comparing it to what you're spending on Facebook, if you can reward them enough to share it enough, make that commission enough for them to be attractive. So, it is just basically thinking about it from like comparing it to like your CPA target. So, if you have like a$40 AOV, paying the influencer 10 bucks, which would be 25%, is cheaper than paying 20 bucks to Facebook in that scenario. That's obviously like a lower AOV. So, that's like a way to think about just from an affiliate perspective, but yeah, there's certainly a percentage of spend behind their content within that account, or a percentage of revenue that they acquire through their content. I think when it comes to contracts that you can have, I always suggest; is once you've identified people that perform well within your ads or you really like their content, just paying them for UGC creation and then maybe having them post one of those assets. Just because they treat their organic socials like a TV network, so they charge-

Ryan Cramer: Crosstalk.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. They charge inaudible. So, I'll just try to think about it as more like UGC content creation than organic distribution.

Ryan Cramer: Gotcha. So, is the major play that you would maybe teach people, is that the constant seeding approach of, because there's so many different people emerging every time... Again, that we're naturally again, dumping. There's more people coming to the market constantly, that you live in that space of... not exploit, but work with the new emerging people constantly, so you don't have to put all the resources into one channel or... what's that-

Cody Wittick: No, i would say I would love for brands to build... like what I referenced earlier, what I had at QALO, just like an influencer pyramid. Like the foundation is seeding, but then you move up and you, as people love your brand, dig your brand, they've proven success, work with them, contractualize with them, get them onto an affiliate program, get them on a UGC contract. And then as certain categories show themselves to be really successful, maybe find a macro partnership that can represent your brand, be a flag bearer, be that big face that can drive retail partnerships, like Dale did for us at QALO with Lowe's and Home Depot and REI; that was a big name that got us into those stores. So, there's definitely valuable in those partnerships. I just think you don't have to just jump from zero to," Okay, I'm going to pay Dale Earnhardt Jr. 200 grand."

Ryan Cramer: Exactly. Yeah. It's not scalable and you don't know the actual return on it. It's that small steps in between. What's an example that you can share with us, Cody, that is a bad way to build influencer marketing program? Without naming names and crucifying yourself to the branding world out there, but what's a bad way to start your influencer or build your influencer marketing program? Is there one now that's operating, and you're like, They will not last?"

Cody Wittick: No, I don't... None really come to mind because all of them, or a lot that I see is still operating in that transactional nature. So, like what I referenced earlier of just, they're just trying to get as many one- off posts as possible. And again, long term, that just does not reap what they're going for. And it's like the behavior doesn't match the belief system, because, nobody says like," I don't really care about a community or I don't really care about influencers. I just want as many one- off posts as possible." But they operate in that way. So, I think that's where people are missing it. They're settling for that short- term hit, like the little maybe boost in sales that they get from that one post. But the more that they do it, they see those one- off things hit sometimes, most are probably not, let's just be real. But maybe they get a boost of follower count, and that hits the dopamine too. So, it's just like they're just constantly trying to hit this... But short answer, no, sorry, I don't have the-

Ryan Cramer: No, you're fine.

Cody Wittick: Crosstalk that you'd put on the front of this YouTube.

Ryan Cramer: I don't have anyone. I'm not going say," Cody's literally dumping on this company." We have a theme, man. I have to stick strong with this. Didn't think they would turn this way today. Here we are. I think because it's so evolutionary and there's... Again, I say brands are speedboats. Big brands are the cruiser ships of, it's hard to switch in a moment's notice and work with those small people or the people who are emerging quickly and really focus on that without spending all your time doing this and reaching out. Is there a way that feels... I mean, like you said, it's just engaging to say," Hey, no strings attached reaching out to these people." Should I look for a certain metric? As well as I know, in that seeding round, there's metrics, but as I build up my influencer marketing program, what metrics do I need to really worry about, versus the ones that are fake and arbitrary, and they get my dopamine going and I feel like I'm going to take over the world essentially.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I mean, I think there's three, but I'll focus on just two. The third that I'm not going to mention is basically just like seeding just becomes CAC. It just becomes cost to acquire a customer in theory. That's the best way to relate it to that category.

Ryan Cramer: Very simple. Yeah. Makes sense.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. The second category is the more customers, influencers that you acquire through the cost of sending your product. The second category is just like the price per piece of creative. So, the content that you're actually able to generate from these influencers. Post- iOS 14 world, content is just so important and brands are always after more content. So, influencers can be a great source. And so, the more that you can populate your content library, the better that that's going to lead to the ways that you can repurpose that content. So, for us, a lot of time, that's repurposed within that account, but then Facebook, just be specific, Meta, and that's where, I mean, you're just judging it based off, like return on ads fund, at that point, after you're using this content. So, again, those are like, as it's starting to build out. At the beginning, I would just think about," Man, how many people can I get these hands... or my product in the hands of these influencers?" And a way to think about it is just from a cap perspective because it is a cost to you, but it's just the cost of your product.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Sorry, I had to mute myself because I have a dreaming dog behind me under my desk right now. So, if you hear woofing in the background, don't freak out, everyone listening to this. There's no child in danger. She's just dreaming, trying to chase something. In that case, is there like an inspiration... Because you had to build this out and this was all organic, like you had to do this on the fly, what are those inspirational ways of brands that you think that are doing it the right way, and you model or you say," Hey, this is the brand that no one knew about," because apart from the one that you built themselves, that you kind of are envious, or like," Shoot, I should have thought about that." And that's a great way to take it to another level? Is there an innovation in the space, that because you're working with so many brands, that you're just," Man, that was a great idea"?

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I don't know if it's necessarily novel ideas right now, but I think two that come to mind are just Lululemon and Gymshark, that were always in my mind as ones that were ahead of the space. And Gymshark really got its start through seeding. Their story is; I mean, Ben Francis started out of his garage and he just started hitting fitness events, just passing out apparel to all these different fitness influencers on YouTube. So, that was one of his starts, that kind of is hint, hint, an inspiration for seeding as well. But since then, they've had multiple funnels and they take care of their athletes really well. And so, they have a full functioning like program that's really inspiring. I think they do it the right way. And Lululemon, just the way that they thought about ambassadors, it wasn't always necessarily the biggest people with the biggest following, and that means that's the right influencer for us, but who's the right fit and who's going to actually represent this category really, really well. I think that's always... You're on the right track because people get caught up in the vanity metrics, so they're always ones that were kind of like," Who the heck is this person? I've never even heard of them." But they represented yoga or they represented rock climbing really well, but just weren't the biggest name. So, those are two kind of top of my head.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. I was going to say, one that took me by surprise in the kitchen space... I've worked in home and garden before, but the kitchen space, it took me by surprise. Once I started paying attention, it became everywhere. Are you familiar with like, it's a pie or a pan. And if inaudible food network or any cooking channel, my God, they're everywhere. Their spend on like YouTube TV and stuff like that is phenomenal. But then also, on social media, it's all these different one- off suggested for you. Again, Facebook is trying to feed you all this content of like," Suggested for you." It's not really an ad, but it is for that brand of product, but it's from a different influencer. I'm like," Again?" Everyone's populating this product, and if you search, I'm sure it'll pop up too, but I think the company's called Our Place and it's just one pan, but it's supposed to be an all... Everything it can do is, can take away like seven pieces of cookware or something like that. I mean, I paid attention. I don't think my wife is listening to this right now, but that was an easy check mark for the holiday season.

Cody Wittick: Well, I'm scared to look them up because then I'll enter into their funnel and then I'll just be like," Yeah crosstalk."

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Funnel's amazing, but it's not even their brand. So, I guess, that question too, it made me think, can your brand get lost amongst all these different competing influencers of like," Come follow us. This is a great product," but like the name or the logo is what's really at the forefront instead of the product itself. Can that be a negative for influencer marketing, or is it really in any sort of negative outcome to influencer marketing that people need to be wary of?

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I mean, influencers that are posting different brands or competitors all the time, I would stay away from those that are posting one brand today, then other competitor tomorrow. But I don't see any negatives of people that are consistently posting the same things that they really believe in. Because I think that's... Because some people aren't going to dig it and maybe get annoyed of it and unfollow them, but then there's going to be those that are like," Yeah, I really like that too," or" I really believe in them too," or just simply not bothered by it. I mean, studies show and there's a lot of data around this, which is like most people are unfazed by the hashtag sponsored or hashtag ad. And most people are looking to those influencers for recommendations because they value that person, they trust them.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Even nowadays, I mean, I'm sure the marketing for BuzzFeed is a plenty right now because it's firing off all these different like products that you can find, going through stories of," Hey, shop this right now," depending on your search history. It's again, data is scary in the negative context, but it's also awesome because it can be very cultivated to you as a profile, which is also positive. You don't want to take the step further and be creepy about it. So, there is that fine line. So, Cody, I guess in the last couple of minutes I have with you today, what's the future look in influencer marketing? Is it consistently tying to like Meta/ Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or is there other ways that this is going to evolve and you see that coming, you What's that future look like for you guys?

Cody Wittick: Yeah, I think more focused on the content will be continued to be the focus, which I think is a great thing. So, less focus on vanity metrics, more focus on content. I think TikTok really made an impact on that when short- form content became the focus. And the way that their algorithm works, it's not like the with the four- you page. It's not based on who you're following or other people that you're following, but it's just based on the content that you're consuming and how it feeds you that same content. So, I hope it continues to go down that route, but I think we'll continue to see brand and influencer- created brands or influencer- owned brands more and more. I know that was an up and coming thing, even less than a year ago or two years ago. You'll start to see that more with like macros creating their own brands of the audiences that they have.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. That's really cool. I want to thank you today too, because, I'm always learning new things of... I think the processes makes more sense of, constantly, it's almost like farming. You have to seed the field. And again, I think the metrics are also important to know. If that's a benchmark that you're shooting for, keeping in mind an awesome takeaway that listeners can take of," Hey, of what you put out there, 30% of that... Hopefully, shoot for 30%. If your product's amazing, then you're in the right field and it's hopefully more than 30%. But I think that's so fascinating of everyone nowadays. I love the fact that certain people can become an influencer just out of sheer... I'll share this example with you, and I think it's a cool idea, of with Amazon brands putting inserts in, obviously, they can't ask for reviews or there's certain things you cannot ask for. It's listed in the terms of services. But what I saw is the most creative thing I found fascinating was business put in insert that says," Hope you like a product. If you like our brand or product, share a video on TikTok with the# brandunboxing" video or something like that. And if it gets to a certain threshold, we'll send you a hundred bucks or something like that. Everyone instantly is like," Hell yeah, I want to become an influencer. I want to become something that's famous and maybe get a hundred bucks out of it just by sharing it. That's organic content that you're building out for yourself, of you're paying anything, but the promise, of if it gets to a certain view threshold, there's a couple metrics of, send us your order ID, tag us, send in, and make sure you'd use the hashtag. And if gets at a certain level, of course, that content, we're going to pay you for, and that's amazing.

Cody Wittick: I love that idea.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Let's work for there. So, for your people in the future, if they want to build influencers from the organic nature of people buying your products anyway. So, I think its cool. Yeah. One of the more fascinating ways to build out an audience, followers, things like that, without, saying, you have to do step X, Y, Z, like us, follow us, like this page. It's just one easy, simple, unified metric. So, cool stuff like that. For people who want to learn... If they want to learn more about Kynship, yourself, they want to walk through these processes and saying like," Hey, I want to work with you. I want to throw some ideas around you." Like you said, you're talking with customers all the time and potential clients. What is the best way to connect with you and follow or reach out.

Cody Wittick: Yeah. I'm very active on Twitter and Instagram, so you can just connect me there @ codywittick. And then since you're connecting with me, you're connecting with my agency, but Kynship, K- Y- N- S- H- I- P. com, you can connect with us there, but thanks, Ryan. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. Influencer of his own company. That's what we like to see. So, you're the influencer... I don't know how many influencers are for Kynship, but hopefully, this is a cool way to get the brand out there. And we appreciate you sharing your insights and knowledge and great success. Hopefully, things are looking good for... I'm sure the holiday season's really busy for you. So, just taking some time today to talk with our audience and learning some stuff. Now, friend of the show, Cody Wittick, Kynship.

Cody Wittick: Thanks, Ryan. Appreciate it.

Ryan Cramer: No problem. Thank you, Cody. And then thank you everyone else who joined in on Crossover Commerce. We appreciate your time today. Awesome Friday conversation that we had here on Crossover Commerce. So, if you like what you hear, obviously, go ahead and follow us on social media, share this with your audience as well, and on tag either Cody, myself, or PingPong payments. And it will love that following as well. We talked about organic following. This is how you do it. You build a podcast and you put out content, you build that consistent muscle and you share with your audience as much as possible. If you liked what you heard, just let us know what you liked and what you didn't like, what your thoughts are. We'd love to hear from you as well. That being said, this is Crossover Commerce, my corner of the internet. We'll be back next week with lots of great content. Make sure you guys tune in and subscribe to us on social channels to be notified of future episodes of Crossover Commerce. We'll catch you guys next time. Have a good weekend. Take care.


Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Cody Wittick of Kynship one-on-one as they discuss growing your eCommerce business through influencer marketing.


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Today's Host

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🎙 Ryan Cramer - Host

|Partnership & Influencer Marketing Manager

Today's Guests

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Cody Wittick

|Co-CEO at Kynship