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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Inside influencer shopping platform LTK

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ocial media influencers have been a stable part of the online advertising space for some years now and this has been growing more rapidly over the last few years, particularly in the fashion and beauty sector.

LTK, which now represents both RewardStyle and LIKEtoKNOW.it, is one of the largest online influencer shopping platforms in the luxury and beauty sector, and it was just valued at $2 billion after the SoftBank Vision Fund took a $300 million stake in the company.

“Society has just gone through a tremendous transformation in the way we consume and today, everything is truly at your fingertips,” comments Amber Venz Box, co-founder and president of LTK. “The choices are endless and overwhelming, and consumers are leaning on creator-guided shopping to inform their brand preferences and purchase decisions.

“Creators have a unique ability to put products into context for niche consumer groups. When a product is contextualized by a creator that a consumer has chosen to follow, it puts that product in a light that is native and meaningful to that micro-community; this is the future of retail and marketing,” Venz Box continues.

“Through LTK Creator Shops, creators host their own flagship stores online to deliver a more elegant shopping experience to an audience of people who are in the mindset to shop,” she explains. “They have quite literally expanded to become the new retailers, and curators of the internet, with their LTK Creator Shop serving as the best, most comprehensive destination for shopping their favourite items across every category.”

LTK recently took a number of influencers to Oxford Street for a whole new shopping experience. Fans of the influencers were able to buy tickets to listen to them talk about styling clothes and shop products through the app. “Our recent takeover of retail space on Oxford Street, with LTK Creator Shops, was a conceptual installation that demonstrated the shift in the retail paradigm and celebrated creators as the ‘new storefronts’.”

LTK has been scaling influencer marketing for the world’s leading brands, as well as building the most successful influencers since its launch ten years ago. It has grown a competitive customer base of millions of high-intent shoppers as a result.

Just as there’s been a demand for creator-guided shopping experiences over the last 18 months, there’s also been a rise in the volume of creators seeking out earning opportunities with LTK. UK managing director of LTK Dave Murray says he has seen 10 per cent growth in the number of new UK influencers joining the platform (4 per cent YOY increase in London alone). Globally, the LTK community is made up of over 150,000 fashion, beauty, fitness, home, and lifestyle influencers and 5,000 retailers of varying size and budgets. In the UK alone, we work with 20,000 influencers.

Earnings and revenue differ between creators based on how long they have been active on the LTK platform, how consistently they post, where they are in their creator lifecycle, the quality of their content, and how well they’ve conditioned their followers as shoppers. For example, a creator with a total number of 450,000 social followers who joined LTK in 2016, has earned £300k annually through their commission on organic sales alone. Similarly, a creator who joined in 2019 and currently has 50,000 total social followers could anticipate earnings of £50k. This is solely through organic posting and doesn’t take into account their LTK collaborations or sponsorships, which are incremental earning opportunities that can be very lucrative and frequent if they show LTK brand partners their audiences shop that brand organically.

Through LTK, global brands have invested more than $1billion in creator content through their brands, commissions-on-sales, and collaborations to date. LTK Creators have generated $3 billion in retail sales through the LTK platform in the last 12 months. Since Covid-19, this has resulted in a 10 per cent increase in UK brands committing to investment in LTK collaborations. “Our brand partnerships team plan and execute sales-led influencer marketing at scale, which we anticipate continuing to grow as we head into 202,” says Murray. He points to a partnership with Missguided, which he says has seen “outstanding results” – with 16 per cent increase in sales month-on-month. By introducing influencer marketing as a core part of its marketing approach, LTK nearly doubled Missguided’s sales in 2020, with a 92 per cent year-on-year revenue growth.

We caught up with a number of fashion influencers to get their perspective on selling online.

Walker has been influencing for over five years and has more than 668,000 followers on Instagram. She posts about fashion, beauty and skincare, and during the pandemic shared more content around her home to promote interiors. “People come to us to shop, they trust our recommendations,” Walker says, adding that she focuses on timeless pieces rather than jumping on trends, for example blazers knitwear and denim. Platforms like LTK help influencers get insight into behaviour of their consumers. “It’s really handy to see what audiences are looking at and what they are buying,” she says. “People can go into a shop and look at products but they don’t how to style them. The ease of online shopping has made it so much easier I rarely go out to a physical shop now. We’ve become the shops in a way,” she continues. Cyber week is the busiest time of year, when she typically sees a big increase in sales. She works with fashion brand Farfetch from whome she receives a discount code. Her most asked question is when is the next Farfetch code coming. One of her best collaborations was with Topshop. “It’s so sad to see it’s not there anymore. I only ever work with brands I use myself and love.”

Campsie is a digital creator with over 150,000 followers on Instagram and a background in plus size modelling. She specialises in fashion, beauty and lifestyle, and says being an influencer transformed her life from working in a telesales call centre. Now she works with lots of brands, like Nasty Gal and ASOS, creating Instagram, TikTok and YouTube content. Campsie saw a gap in the market for styling tips for curvier women, given most influencers don’t cater to this market. “A lot of people say I am quite refreshing as I even talk about thigh chaffing balms,” she says. “I love solving those little problems that people have. I am nearly 30 and it seems comfort is taking precedence over style. So when you get the two that mix, well it works really well. The feedback from your audience is unparalleled with almost any other type of retail.”

Louisa Hatt is based in Edinburgh and has a growing engaged audience over 12,000 on Instagram. She specialises in personal styling and fashion and has been influencing for two years. “I think it’s very important to educate my audience on what affiliate links are and not assume they know it,” she says. “My following has come to trust me for that. As an influencer I get sent a lot and I will only share a small percentage of what I get and only what I believe in.” Hatt says that as so many high street shops have closed, ,following an influencer is just “a more efficient way for consumers to get what they want.” “Influencers help bring products to life, humanise them. It’s so important for brands to work with a diverse group of influencers. When I worked with an English Heritage brand, it went down so well with my audience with amazing comments like ‘it’s really incredible to see you working with this brand’ and ‘I have never seen anyone with this brand that’s not white.’ Another comment was ‘seeing you with this brand has made me want to shop there.’ I made sure I fed this back to the brand too and have since worked with the organisation a number of times since. It’s such a shame that more brands don’t take this onboard more because they are missing out on a huge potential audience.”

Josie, aka the Fashion Mumblr, started her journey 10 years ago and has since amassed a following of over 250,000 followers on Instagram and over 510,000 subscribers on YouTube. “As influencers sometimes we can be quite wrapped up with our own audiences. Letting my audience know how to shop my posts is super important. I think people’s shopping habits are changing. Shopping now can be done so easily from your phone. I think people are so time poor and if they can find someone that is going to make their life easier, whose content resonates with them, why would they not shop through an influencer? And 9 per cent of the people that follow an influencer do so because they like that person,” she says. YouTube is Josie’s biggest sales driver and her videos can be up to an hour long. Long-term partnerships are the key to a great collaboration, she adds. “It takes years and years to build up your audience’s trust but it takes one bad collaboration to lose it.”

Anisa Sojka is a London-based influencer focusing on hair styling and haircare. She also has her own brand of hair accessories and jewellery. Tips and tricks on hair are her thing and she now has over 54,000 followers on Instagram, having started eight years ago. “You need to be true to yourself,” she says. “I like to make sure the brands are a good fit for my followers, in other words, I would use it myself. I like to share products that cater for different needs, for example, to hydrate your hair. I love to hear that a product has transformed their hair. The success of my own brand is largely credited to influencers. Good influencers know other good influencers – we are all in the same game and have each others back. We work alone so they are like our colleagues and we can bounce ideas off each other which is really useful.,” she says. Sojka is about to start collaborating with a content creator, Juliet Angus, previously from Ladies of London, on her own collection. “Influencers offer amazing value, not only do you get an engaged audience but a brand would pay a photographer, a model, a videographer and an editor, all of that you have in one content creator plus the exposure, it’s the way forward in terms of marketing.”



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