Shapermint’s May 2020 revenue grew roughly 100% year over year, thanks in part to its influencer marketing campaigns. The shapewear apparel retailer's latest #MakeTheCall campaign urged consumers to celebrate Mother's Day by calling their moms instead of visiting during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the number social media influencer ads have decreased on Instagram during the coronavirus pandemic, web-only retailer Shapermint has kept its marketing dollar allocation for brand ambassadors and influencers steady—a strategy that co-founder and chief marketing officer Massimiliano Tirocchi says has been successful.

The number of Instagram influencers using “#ad” in their posts declined to 11,341 in March 2020, down from nearly 15,000 a year earlier. This is the lowest since August 2019 when the hashtag dipped below 10,000, according to a study of ad campaigns by social media management vendor Socialbakers. The study included an undisclosed amount of ad campaigns of the company’s more than 2,500 clients. The ad hashtag is one way influencers can comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s rule on disclosure.

SocialBakers' graph shows that #ad usage has been relatively low for Q1, when the coronavirus hit the United States.

Socialbakers’ graph shows that #ad usage has been relatively low for Q1, when the coronavirus hit the United States.

For Shapermint, however, the use of influencers has actually increased. Tirocchi says that since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S., both the television and influencer advertising budgets for the shapewear and undergarments retail have increased.

Shapermint (No. 433 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000), which typically takes a pro-body confidence angle in its advertising, has proactively adjusted its campaign messages to better fit the current climate, such as with its recent Mother’s Day #MakeTheCall campaign.

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“Initially, we had aligned another campaign—the real shapers—in which we were celebrating the shapers of our lives,” Tirocchi says. “Then at the beginning of March, we got the COVID news… and realized we had a role to play in that.”

So Shapermint aligned the initial “real shapers” campaign with the stay-at-home orders across the United States and produced the #MakeTheCall campaign, which urged sons and daughters to not visit their mothers for Mother’s Day but instead call them.

To promote the campaign, Shapermint partnered with more than 100 influencers and brand ambassadors—the difference between these two categories depends on how Shapermint engages with them. For instance, Shapermint generally contacts influencers to promote a product or the company as a whole, but brand ambassadors typically come through an agency. More than 10 of those Shapermint partnered with for Mother’s day were considered “high” influencers, which have more than 200,000 followers and a high engagement rate.

Across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the #MakeTheCall campaign generated more than 2 million views, 20 million impressions and reached almost 10 million unique people, Tirocchi says. More than 4 million of those impressions were a result of only influencers, he adds.

Shapermint's #MakeTheCall campaign for Mother's Day was considered a success by the online retailer.

Shapermint’s #MakeTheCall campaign for Mother’s Day was considered a success by the online retailer.

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YouTube is an important channel for Shapermint, as new customers often go to the social platform to review products, Tirocchi says. Shapermint keeps some ongoing relationships with YouTube influencers as they are an important part of the “customer journey,” Tirocchi adds.

“A lot of people that have engagement with our brand will go to YouTube,” he says. “They want to know more so they go to YouTube and then [the influencers] can close the purchase.”

But not every influencer campaign is about completing the purchase for Shapermint.

Depending on the social channel and campaign, Shapermint will sometimes focus on creating a shared community around the brand instead of a specific product. This includes starting discussions around body-positivity and positive messages.

“Most of the people [the influencers] reach already know about Shapermint,” Tirocchi says. “But they might not know about the community.”

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Shapermint grew revenue 40% year over year in April, Tirocchi says. “And in May, we are closing onto 100% revenue growth year over year. Influencers are an important part of the marketing mix, but not the only one,” he says.

Founded in 2018, Shapermint has grown to more than 3 million customers in two years with 500,000 of those customers acquired in April and May of this year, Tirocchi says. It increased its overall marketing budget 70% and continues to acquire new customers at a profitable rate.

“We adopted our communication in April to be more relevant and invite growth while keeping profitability,” Tirocchi says.

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