I like pretty things, who doesn't? Personally, I spend hours researching every purchase decision I make, and so I constantly seek inspiration and expert advice. As we are now over six months into this Covid world where remote working and schooling is a new way of life, I am missing the walks through SoHo or Fifth Avenue, popping into stores to learn if the SAM. coat I have been eyeing is actually waterproof, or getting a sense if the overpriced candles I always end up buying have too strong of a smell.

Shopping has now become a complete online activity (or therapy) of mine, and that's in line with what we've witnessed—mobile app usage grew 40% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020. It's no wonder that retailers are working hard to transition to becoming mobile-first and help users discover products and still have a delightful purchasing experience.

I sat down to virtually chat with the expert of influencers and all things shopping (who has amazing style and taste to boot), Alexis Caldwell, Head of Brand Development at rewardStyle, to get insights on brand strategy and how rewardStyle is driving more mobile sales than ever before.

Laura: To kick things off, you are so well known in the performance marketing space. Tell us about your career journey—how you came to discover affiliate marketing and how you landed your current role.

Alexis: I was lucky enough to fall into affiliate marketing after college. Spent a solid seven years or so on the publisher side in the deals and coupon space, transitioned to the vendor side for a brief period before I got an offer I couldn't refuse at rewardStyle where I now oversee all of our brand side partnership strategy, sales, and account management. 

Laura: From where you are sitting, especially being so close to the brand strategy overall, how has COVID-19 changed rewardStyle's strategy, if at all, and any challenges that you guys are trying to overcome? 

Alexis: The pandemic has had interesting effects on influencer marketing. We are seeing it impact retailers and brands differently. People know rewardStyle as sitting more in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle space, but we work with brands all across the spectrum from travel to electronics. It's given us a broad view of the consumer. A key challenge that we have is making sure we are supporting our brand partners. It has been really challenging for a lot of brands who had to jump fully into e-commerce. The rewardStyle platform has been a natural transition for brands who had to transition away from having salespeople on the floor to online. 

The digital version of salespeople in that in-store experience is influencers—they know the products inside and out, and are such big fans of the brands and products they are sharing.

We are also supporting brands with content creation for their site because they weren't able to have model shoots done so we are able to contract influencers to help support them in that way as well.

Pivoting is the name of the game in this new world, and it's important that we pivot fast. It's about identifying what the market is looking for and connecting that with what our brands are able to offer. Our influencers have a unique line of sight into what their audiences want to see or would get value from seeing.

Laura: Tell me more about that and how are you using that information?

Alexis: Influencers are able to poll their audiences to see what they are most interested in. For example, asking their followers if they're more into summer dresses or lounge wear. We are able to have a finger on the pulse of what consumers are looking for and what they are actually purchasing from all of our transactional data. We are using that to help brands gain more insights on what is performing well or what users are looking—to improve their own marketing strategies.

Laura: What a powerful tool to get real-time consumer feedback! We know that the pandemic has sent app usage soaring—they have really become our channel to the world. Why is it more important now than ever before for brands that think holistically about their growth strategies to include app tracking and acquisition?

Our brand partners, especially now more than ever are really looking closely at every single dollar that's coming in and out, making sure they're using those dollars wisely.

Alexis: The fact that everyone has moved to mobile commerce has forced brands to have an even more granular view of where their investments are yielding. If they're unable to measure mobile transactions or app installs to see which app publishers they are getting valuable consumers from,they won't be able to optimize those dollars.

Laura: rewardStyle works with some really big brands who have invested in their app to make it an optimal user experience for shopping. What trends are you seeing in terms of spend in-app?


Alexis: We love working with our e-commerce partners who have apps and app tracking in place. It allows us to optimize the partnership by showing them insights on which influencers are driving valuable app traffic versus which influencers are driving repeat purchases on desktop. It's really important for our business because more than half of the sales that are being driven across the entire rewardStyle platform now originate from our app - LIKEtoKNOW.it. It's become very important for brands who are working with us to be able to see their app sales. Additionally, influencers want to see the ROI on the content they produce. If sales are not being tracked properly, the influencer will not get recognition for that improved performance and therefore will not invest in promoting a brand as much.

Laura: Makes a ton of sense, thank you for that! Last question, if you could be any button what button would you be?

Alexis: This week, I would be the snooze button...but normally the start button of a really sick car.

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