The Art of Influencer Marketing: Vivien Garnès, CEO & Founder at Upfluence, Talks About Building Brands From the Bottom Up

Kristina M.
Sep 19, 2018

Maybe you’re already using email marketing or social media marketing in order to promote your brand, but somehow you can't accelerate and facilitate your growth and capture more fans and customers. So, how do you cut all the wants and desires down to needs?  The answer lies in influencer marketing and it's time to get ahead of your competitors by working with relevant ones in your industry. It involves working with individuals who have a voice and significant following in their respective fields and niches. In other words, influencer marketing is when businesses work with influential people in their industry to produce content marketing that ultimately has a wider reach.

If you rely on building relationships organically, suitable influencers can be challenging to find (and it will be a time-consuming process to develop and nurture relationships)That is where the influencer platform can be the ultimate tool for simplifying your influencer marketing. 

Upfluence, the leading SaaS influencer marketing platform that helps brands tell their story with a powerful influencer and content marketing technology, includes tools for influencer identification, recruitment, campaign management, reporting, and payment. The all-in-one approach along with its proprietary tech is what sets Upfluence apart from competitors.

Recently, we had the chance to ask Vivien Garnès, CEO and co-founder of Upfluence, anything about the ever-evolving industry of SaaS and it's intersection with influencer marketing. So we’re going to let you in to a few of the top tips for businesses looking to get started in influencer marketing.

How did the idea for Upfluence come about?

Vivien Garnès: Funny story actually! Back in 2011, Kevin (Upfluence cofounder) and I started a necktie business on the side of our day gigs. We designed the products, launched an e-commerce website, found a manufacturer in southern Italy, and got a box of 1,000 shipped to my living room. Then, as we both worked in the digital marketing, selling them would be a walk in the park, right?


Turns out the necktie market in France is super fragmented. With plenty of small online stores like ourselves doing the exact same thing. This doesn't work well with bid-based advertising, as acquisition costs skyrocket.

So there we were, a box still full of unsold ties, and running out of options. So we tried a bunch of other methods (including "great" ideas like selling bulk to large central management companies), One of these methods was Influencer Marketing, and it worked!

Few lessons learned

  • influencer marketing works
  • influencer marketing can be extremely time-consuming done manually
  • influencer marketing can be prone to errors (without data, you can offer money to influencers that won't generate enough conversions to break even).

That's when the "AHA' moment happened: wouldn't it be great if we had a (i) scalable and (ii) data-driven solution to influencer marketing? Out of this mayhem came Upfluence :)

What features have your customers most enjoyed using with Upfluence?

From my experience, our search feature has the greatest "wow effect" with prospects, in the sense that it is one of the largest of the market, and our search feature is built in such a way that you can identify large numbers of spot-on influencers with ease, even on niche markets. Here's how it looks like:

That being said, after clients signed up, they discover and really enjoy our management feature. This is where the magic happens, where the relationships with influencers really take off, without taking too much time from marketing professionals. 

Personally, I love our Chrome Plugin. No matter how much I enjoy the Upfluence software, I often end up on social media directly, where I come across influencers manually, and get interested in their stats. In this case, the plugin really comes in handy! 

What are the top three marketing SaaS tools you’d recommend for a tech startup, something that you have tried and tested with Upfluence?

Some say that the best things in life are free. Being a data guy, I definitely recommend Google Analytics.

Then there’s Mailchimp. I used to work in Email Marketing, so I definitely have a bias towards email. But more specifically, I love the culture, love the branding, great tool, great content marketing, I could go on forever.

Finally, I recommend Hubspot (They have startup programs, which makes the suite virtually free) both marketing and sales suites are a great way to start your business. (disclosure: I don’t use it for Upfluence, but have with previous ventures).

What are the common mistakes startups make that often lead to failure?

When you look at the death statistics, 9/10 startups will close shop before they turn 5 years old. So clearly, most entrepreneurs haven't gotten that part quite right. So here are a couple of mistakes that I've seen happen to me and others. 

1. Being too idealistic.

Entrepreneurs are passionate about their work, and passion sometimes leads to being uncompromising and failing to listen to prospects, clients, employees, etc. It's essential to listen and to improve upon your offer/product as much as possible. Even if that means going against your ideal.

2. Spending too much time where it doesn't matter.

There are so many fires to put out, emails to answers, meetings to run, travelling, interviews to do, networking events, etc. all these can distract you from where you should spend the most time: your clients, your product, your people.

3. Not having the right people.

I have been lucky to have great co-founders and to have made great first key hires. I can't imagine we would have been able to do nearly as well with B players instead.

How does influencer marketing and SEO go together?

Back in the day (until 2013), it used to go hand in hand : Influencer Marketing was blogs and links were do-follow links. But then Matt Cutts said "Hold on, cowboys" and Influencer Marketing migrated to social media, where links do not necessarily carry SEO juice.

However, here's how it can still benefit your SEO efforts:

  • Influencer Marketing still generates inbound links.
  • Influencer Marketing produces unique content.
  • Influencer Marketing increases engagements (and adds credibility to your content.)

What are the different stages of an influence marketing campaign and what role does the role of influencers play in this setting?

I could talk/write about this for hours! I'll try to stay concise (not always my strongest suit ;) In a nutshell, stages of a typical campaign are as follows:

  • strategy (define goals, influencer profiles, value proposition, budget, write brief accordingly)
  • conversation (influencer outreach, activation, and negotiation)
  • creation (content drafting, submission, and approval)
  • publication (tracking, time and date, amplification etc.)
  • tracking, monitoring and planning the next campaign based on findings :)

To address the second part of your question, Influencers contribute the most to campaigns during the creation stage. But the choice of whom to work with impacts all stages. Hence working with a scalable solution to make sure to (i) address the right influencer (ii) in sufficient volumes to maintain a high bargaining power, lower prices, and higher ROI.