How to Amass +110k Micro-Influencers on Instagram & Increase Referral Sales 300%

How to Amass +110k Micro-Influencers on Instagram & Increase Referral Sales 300%

Through an ingenious multi-channel strategy combining Instagram, a tiered referral program (powered by Refersion), email marketing, and Shopify Plus’ ecosystem of apps and Partners, Pura Vida Bracelets:

  • Increased sales from referral reps by 300% YoY
  • Lifted AOVs 11% compared to non-referral orders
  • Lowered customer acquisition cost by 7X

This is a special guest post from Griffin Thall, Co-founder & CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets.

BOOM! We’ve cracked the Instagram code …

That was my reaction when I saw our analytics dashboard blow up.

To date, we’ve amassed an army of 110,282 reps: over a hundred thousand ultra-motivated brand evangelists dying to promote our products.

Recruiting micro-influencers through Instagram hasn’t just helped us quadruple sales, but continues to reduce our CPA (cost per acquisition) and generate buzz online and offline around the globe.

Here’s exactly how we did it …

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Building an empire

Keep reading to find out how Pura Vida Bracelets is fueling their ecommerce empire through micro-influencers, Instagram, referrals, and brand evangelists.

But, if you’d like a behind-the-scenes look at how the company:

  • Converts at 5X the industry average
  • Leverages select Shopify Plus apps
  • And is growing 50% year-over-year

Then check out Griffin Thall’s recent AMA with Shopify Plus …


Watch the AMA now

Swag But No Sales

Within a few short years of launching, we’d already built a multimillion-dollar brand on social media …

But as the co-founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets, which delights customers with artisan-made bracelets, I totally botched the brand ambassador program I built initially.

To better understand our rep program, where we reward customers for selling bracelets to friends and those they influence, we analyzed all of the data we accumulated in 2017 and made a shocking discovery:

75% of our “reps” had never made a single sale.

That meant only a quarter of our reps were active and engaged.

Even worse, it also meant we were sending Pura Vida Bracelets swag to people who weren’t making any sales for us.

If we were going to build an army of reps who enthusiastically promote our brand on Instagram, we needed to completely redesign the program.

Let me break it down even further: only a sliver of our reps were active and we had people gaming the system for swag without making a single sale. Painful. It was painful.

To avoid tears … I needed tiers.

Motivating the Micro-Influencers Army

The key component of any successful rep program is motivation.

We never had any trouble getting people to sign up. But we did struggle with keeping people motivated after they got some swag for signing up despite the fact we’ve always offered reps a 10% commission on each sale they make.

So we structured the new program so that reps would have to make a sale before we would send them any Pura Vida Bracelets swag. To keep new reps motivated, we structured the program with tiers that offer rewards based on the number of sales reps make:

Tier 1

  • After a rep’s first sale, we send them five Pura Vida Bracelets, a rep sticker, and marketing cards

Tier 2

  • After a rep’s third sale, we send them an exclusive Pura Vida charm bracelet

Tier 3

  • After a rep’s fifth sale, we send them a special Pura Vida Bracelets Staff logo t-shirt

Not only does this structure make it easy for reps to understand and visualize themselves achieving relatively modest sales goals, but now they can also see tangible rewards they’ll earn at each level. The people we are targeting already love our brand and want to tell others about us.

Now they have the motivation they need to make it a win-win situation!

Here’s how we promoted the new tiered rep program on Instagram:

Example of micro-influencers on Instagram rep program

The response we got was absolutely amazing! In March alone …

Over 14,000 people signed up to be Pura Vida Bracelets reps.

Managing the Army Beyond Instagram

Nothing grows without a little TLC.

And the same is true for a brand’s ambassador program.

Besides motivating reps with a tiered reward system, we also purposefully manage the program in a variety of ways:

Email

Besides welcoming new reps to the program with the discount code they’ll use to make sales and earn commissions, we constantly follow up. For example, when a batch of reps earns its way from say Tier 1 to Tier 2, we send all of the reps an email highlighting the accomplishment which reminds and motivates them as well:

We also use email as a follow up to motivate reps and make it super easy for them to promote new products when we drop them.

Exclusive Rep Group

When you become a Pura Vida Bracelets rep you get access to an exclusive Facebook-Instagram group of brand fanatics.

The engagement we’re seeing in the group is off the wall! The reps are constantly trying to outdo one another when it comes to creatively showing off the rewards they’ve earned:

We resurface posts like these as UGC on our site and Instagram and are seeing two huge benefits:

  • It attracts new reps to the program
  • It inspires existing reps to sell more and move up

Think you can skimp on managing your army of reps? Don’t do it.

We actually hired an in-house rep manager to oversee the program, which is powered by Refersion, who makes sure we’re regularly nurturing the group via email, Instagram, and through our exclusive rep groups.

This extra bit of TLC is paying off huge …

The Radical Results

This 110k+ army we’ve built isn’t your normal referral program.

They’re micro-influencers with the unique ability to engage in grassroots marketing all around the world both online and offline. My co-founder Paul and I are the biggest Pura Vida Bracelets ambassadors we know, but we could never achieve what our army of ambassadors are doing worldwide.

This beast is scalable and it’s going international!

The truth of the matter is this: micro-influencers can actually be way more valuable than larger influencers that brands are constantly trying to bribe to post about them:

  • Micro-influencers lack the egos well-known influencers often have
  • Micro-influencers aren’t asking for $1,000 a post but rather inclusion in something special
  • Micro-influencers are truly passionate about your brand and have the trust of those they influence rather than the illusion of trust

It all adds up to a global army of sales reps you can trust with your brand and a program that is also producing lucrative financial results:

  • Sales from reps have increased 300% YoY
  • Average order values stemming from ambassadors are approximately 11% higher than non-ambassador orders
  • The customer CPA (cost per acquisition) associated with the rep program is just $3 versus a CPA 7X higher in other channels
It is soooo much cheaper to acquire new customers with reps that it makes no sense NOT to do it!


But the scalable grassroots marketing our reps do fattens our profit margins and might one day allow us to spend less on paid media!

Did I mention our reps actually wind up buying more for themselves as well?

Turns out becoming a motivated rep also results in becoming a more motivated customer.

It’s all phenomenal but there is one thing we didn’t plan for with the program that has us headed back to the drawing board.

The 4th Tier

We're so proud that Pura Vida Bracelets is the second most engaged jewelry brand on Instagram. Now that we’ve built out a robust rep program, we’re shooting for the top spot.

But as new as the revamped rep program is, we're already headed back to the drawing board to figure out what’s next because that’s the question hundreds of “super reps” are already asking me.

This Super-Rep Group has already made it to Tier 3 and wants more!

So right now we're already hashing out what a fourth tier for the rep program might look like; how many sales a rep might have to make and the appropriate rewards package for doing so. If the program continues to grow as it has been, we may never stop having to add tiers and creatively reward my army of micro-influencers.


About the Author

Griffin Thall is co-founder and CEO of Pura Vida Bracelets and a member of the 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Headquartered in La Jolla, CA, Pura Vida was founded after a college graduation trip to Costa Rica where Thall met some of the impoverished artisans who now make living wages hand crafting the bracelets Pura Vida sells. Since the company’s launch in 2012, Pura Vida has donated more than $1.4 million to various charities and now employs artisans in several countries.