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The Lobby
The Lobby is an influencers marketplace that helps brands manage their influencer gifting, paid partnerships and UGC – all in one place!
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A Beginner’s Guide To Influencer Marketing For D2C Brands

Most D2C founders and leaders know that influencer marketing has the potential to be one of your largest and highest ROI growth channels. 

Despite that potential, building successful influencer marketing programs – from strategy to operational execution – has historically been no small undertaking. 

Overcoming that complexity is why I started The Lobby Influencer Marketplace. As a former Google PM and someone who has spent nearly 15 years working in Advertising and E-Commerce, I wanted to help bring the magic of influencer marketing to the masses. 

My mission was to make the power of influencers accessible and effective for every brand, by demystifying strategy and simplifying partnerships and scale. 

To support that mission, along with our core pillars of community and transparency, I’m excited to share our beginners guide to influencer marketing with the broader D2C community. If you read this and want to get started on or revamp your program, shoot me an email at

Figure Out Your Influencer Marketing Goals

This may seem like an obvious first step, but having worked with 100s of D2C brands, I can confidently say that this is the foundational step where many brands get tripped up. 

Before you embark on your influencer marketing journey, you have to choose a goal and make sure your team, from leadership to whoever is executing the program, is tightly aligned on it.

When new brands come onto our platform we help them pick the right goal for their brand given the broader goals of their team and company and their resources. From our experience, most brands have one of these three goals:

Awareness: Increasing the number of people who know about their brand/product 

Revenue: Increasing sales that are directly attributable to their influencer marketing activities

Content: Getting video or image assets that can be used on their own channels (organic social, ads, etc.) to build brand awareness or sales 

Choosing The Right Influencer Marketing Goal For Your Brand

Helping you figure out the right goal for your business and the strategy to achieve that goal takes more than just a short article, but I can share some thoughts on goals and strategies from what we’ve seen working with 100s of brands on The Lobby

From there, choosing the right goal for your brand and team takes some introspection and real honesty about what your team has the resources to do. 

Choosing Awareness As Your Goal 

If you don’t already have large-scale awareness of your brand or product, Awareness is a great place to start. We also think it is the foundation of any great influencer program, so our platform is built around helping brands scale awareness with ease.

When we work with D2C brands on this goal we suggest they optimize for growing social views across different audiences by making lots of influencer connections, usually with nano and micro influencers. And although we recommend some common sense targeting, this approach is more about getting in front of lots of people who are authentically interested in your brand and letting them share your story in a way that is authentic to them and resonates with their audience.

On our platform, we enable this through two standardized partnership types for driving awareness: gifting and performance-based (we call them “view bonus”) partnerships. To start, we recommend you build a foundation of large-scale gifting to help get your product in the hands of lots of influential people. We then suggest you pair that with view bonus campaigns that incentivize viral content and pay out when content gets lots of views. 

The one big call out is having success with awareness requires a commitment to scale and a comfort with relinquishing creative control. It’s also important to keep in mind that a few partnerships will be extremely successful (i.e., go viral), while many will be moderately successful and some will be (or seem on the surface) less so. 

And that’s not just ok, that’s important. This strategy is more about the cumulative impact than any one partnership. 

A way to get comfort with that is reminding yourself that virality is not something you can easily predict. You have to take enough shots to get those big winners. And the good news is that with this strategy usually even the smaller-impact partnerships are positive ROI. 

The hardest part about this strategy is managing the scale. Building out a large-scale awareness program typically takes several full time people to manage all the operations from influencer sourcing to getting orders in your system and then tracking the progress and impact. You can do this all manually or leverage a platform like The Lobby that automates all the operational parts of partnership so you can manage 100s of partnerships in just a few min a day. 

Choosing Revenue As Your Goal

I usually suggest revenue as a goal *after* you’ve built a foundation of awareness. If you want to directly drive sales, it’s easier when you start with some foundation of influencer relationships and already have data around which influencers are able to drive traffic and sales for your brand. 

If you don’t already have that data, don’t just start spending left and right on big ticket influencers. Instead walk before you run with a similar approach to awareness, meaning going wide first to get as much initial data as possible. Functionally that generally looks like doing lots of gifting along with providing unique affiliate links and discount codes for every influencer you work with. 

When you see influencers that show early signs of success (driving traffic and/or sales), you want to chase those leads by building deeper relationships and offering paid partnerships to the influencer to further and more regularly promote your brand. Finding and building more and more of those relationships is the key to unlocking consistent sales and growing direct and provable revenue from influencer marketing.

The biggest call out for this goal is that when you choose it, you have to make sure you have the resources to accurately measure impact. Influencer marketing is generally higher up in the conversion funnel as it is and without things like affiliate links, unique influencer promo codes and post purchase surveys you will not be able to prove your revenue impact. 

In addition this is an approach that also requires a commitment to scale. Brands come to us all the time wanting to build successful influencer programs “like Mejuri or Glossier” but with a gifting budget of 25 or 50 units a month. The reality is that best-in-class influencer programs are gifting 1000s of units per month. And if you want influencer marketing to become a top channel for you, you’ve got to be prepared and have the leadership buy in to scale.

Choosing Content As Your Goal

If you are just starting out and you don’t have the budget (dollars or units to gift) for an awareness or revenue-driving strategy, content is a great way to get your feet wet.

This goal usually coincides with a strategy of doing fewer partnerships (< 25 per month) but going hyper-targeted on who you work with, focusing on influencers who are pros at creating original, engaging content. 

To get great original content, we encourage brands to do three things. 

1: Come up with fun campaigns to get influencer creative juices flowing around the specific types of content you’d like to see them create

2: Do performance based compensation for out of the box viral content, using our view bonus partnership type

3: Reach out to and build relationships with creators who create content that resonates with your brand to collaborate on content that is more tightly defined

This strategy overall requires a more considered review of every partnership and relationship building along the way, but it helps brands get content they can use to drive sales, awareness and reputation via their own channels on a smaller budget.

Whatever You Do, Pick Your Lane and Stick To It

The most common mistake we see is not picking a lane out of a belief that you can achieve all goals at the same time. However, the reality is if you try to optimize everything, you’ll optimize for nothing. So although the goals above aren’t mutually exclusive, I always strongly urge teams to be clear on their primary goal so they make sure their actions drive impact.

Best Practices for D2C Influencer Marketing

You have to fully commit

As with pretty much every marketing channel/initiative, you have to fully commit to see meaningful impact. Even though The Lobby can help you turn hours of work into minutes, I always remind brands that you need a considered strategy and thoughtful execution over a series of months to see business changing impact. And if you aren’t willing to put real effort and resources behind it, you will most likely be unimpressed with the impact.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Especially when you are starting out, make sure you are diversifying your partnerships. Way too often we’ve seen brands that are just starting out spend $5k on a couple partnerships and then been disappointed with the results. 

Bigger ticket partnerships can absolutely have impact but they are also risky when you first start out, especially if your budget is limited. If you don’t yet know who performs for your brand, don’t make assumptions. Instead go wide and learn and then double down on what is working. 

If your product is a cheap consumable, don't sleep on gifting 

If you have a great product that’s cheap to gift, your highest ROI marketing strategy is almost certainly large scale gifting. Instead of spending thousands per month on Facebook ads, try putting that budget toward no-strings gifting to any influential person (nano to mega) who is interested in your brand.

To help understand the math behind the strategy, let’s take an example. If your product costs $10 and shipping costs $10, every influencer you gift costs $20. If they or even one of their followers becomes a customer (and spends ~$50), the cost of the gift more than pays for itself. And in many cases you’ll see a much, much greater return than that. 

Try running the numbers for your business and if they are in the neighborhood of my example above and you aren’t gifting 100s or thousands of units per month, it might be time to sit down with your team to discuss a revamp in strategy.

Remember influencers are businesses too 

Finally, as you embark on your journey with influencer marketing, make sure to do an empathy check. Influencers are businesses, too — and many of them are in high demand. Make sure your asks and expectations are aligned with what you are offering in return. And just like not every influencer is a fit for your brand, not every brand or partnership is a fit for every influencer.

Approach your relationships with honesty and transparency and try to build relationships through empathy and understanding in both directions. The more you understand each other the more successful relationships and partners you will have.

Parting Thoughts 

This article is really just the beginning, but if it got your gears turning and you want to learn more about The Lobby platform, get help with strategy or request another topic you’d like me to dive into here on 1-800-D2C, shoot me an email at

Excited to learn about your story and help your D2C business grow!