It's a harsh reality for D2C brands that haunts them every day. They pay a premium fee for presence on online channels, and then they must fight to make themselves visible among thousands of endorsed brands vying for customers' attention. Even if brands approach social media platforms and prominent influencers to reach the target audience, they do not guarantee great conversions for them.
This can be due to changes in social media algorithms that affect the output of marketing campaigns for D2C brands. Additionally, when big influencers endorse multiple brands, it can affect users' trust, resulting in lower conversion rates.
The low conversion rate and lack of a performance-based model lead to a poor ROI for the brand. In addition, brands often need help finding the right influencers at a reasonable cost. They end up paying upfront for trial-and-error user-generated content.
Meghna Bansal and Sarabmeet Kallar are building Youshd, a platform that helps D2C brands generate positive ROI by allowing social media users to monetize their networks of friends. Youshd is working to democratize the global influencer market, which is growing at a rate of 20% per annum and is currently worth 14 billion dollars. It offers brands a performance-based solution that has no upfront cost and gives them access to authentic customer reviews.
Meghna has always been interested in entrepreneurship and creativity. Even in business school, she knew how jobs could get monotonous after a while. So, in August 2021, she started brainstorming startup ideas to see what the future held for her and her business ventures.
Meghna discovered that the best ideas don't come from Excel sheets or whiteboards. So she met with people to discuss potential ideas, but nothing came of it. Despite getting offers from prominent brands in the financial sector, and the surrounding pressure of getting a job, she stuck to her decision. She believes that a job can provide a sense of safety and stability, but it can also keep people from discovering their true passion. 9-to-5 job as a routine can be comforting, but it can also stifle personal growth.
While Megha was scrolling through social media, she posted pictures of shopping on social media platforms. She realized her friends and network had asked for the link to the brand's website, from which she had done her shopping.
The idea stuck with her. If the brand had incentivized her to post the product link to their website, she would have done it happily. It can create immense value for brands that are dependent on costly advertisements.
Meghna believes that when a customer posts about a brand, it is more effective than the brand targeting the same demographic itself. She says, "There is value when brands can get their consumers to post." That is especially true for D2C brands. If they make their consumers feel special, customers will reward them with loyalty. And that is how a promising idea for creating a new marketing channel was born.
To get deeper into the game, she communicated and collaborated with influencers and creators to understand how their content builds audiences. She also spoke to multiple brands to understand how their brand ROI was impacted by working with influencers.
It was found that D2C brands can benefit more from collaborating with creators who focus on organic and niche content creation. These creators may not have such a large audience, but their followers take a specific interest in what they are creating.
Meghna's business school roommate visited her with her husband, and later Youshld co-founder, Sarabmeet Kallar, in early March. Meghna shares that Sarabmeet wanted to build something to help brands advertise cheaply and efficiently through social media. He ran an experiment comparing the performances of a small creator with 1,000 followers and a prominent influencer with a million followers. The results debunked the myth that said influencers with a million followers give better ROI and conversions than smaller influencers.
After discussing their research, the co-founders decided to work together. They shook hands on March 28th.
Sarabmeet came up with the name Youshd. He had read that a company's name should be a trigger word. So he chose Youshd, which breaks down into "you should." This great call to action (CTA) points out how loyal customers can generate excellent ROI for brands.
Youshd is a powerful B2B2C marketing tool that can be integrated with Shopify brands. It allows brands to get customers to post about their shopping experiences on social media in exchange for cash. This decentralized marketing approach provides tremendous value for D2C brands.
The current brand-influencer model everyone is aware of:
When a brand wants to work with influencers, they will look for creators who fit their brand and meet their needs. Then, they will send these influencers free products and request that they post about the brand on social media. In some cases, creators can also collaborate with the brand directly, taking upfront payments for posts.
But brands are unaware of the ROI of brand-influencer collaboration despite dedicating a vast marketing budget.
Here’s how the new Youshd discovery-based model helps D2C brands.
Youshd uses a discovery-based model to identify customers using a brand's products and incentivizes them to post about the brand on social media. That helps brands reach new potential customers and maintain a strong relationship with existing customers.
Brands can discover the right influencers among the consumers readily listed on the platform. Then they can collaborate with consumers in exchange for an incentive that brands will only pay when the customer publishes the post.
The Youshd model empowers existing customers to be their brand ambassadors and attract new customers by incentivizing them for their social media posts.
As a B2B2C product, Youshd is currently working with 2 million Shopify-based D2C brands in the United States.
According to Meghna, these brands are part of Shopify's $300 billion market. Youshd offers brands a more cost-effective way to advertise and the ability for consumers to monetize their social media presence.
Meghna explains how Youshd works: "Even if consumers only get three website clicks from the brand, it covers the cost of the purchased product, which becomes free for the user." During an experiment, consumers gained 30-50 clicks for a brand. So, compared to running expensive advertisements on social media, the brand secures up to 30 to 50 times more ROI via decentralized influencer marketing."
Brands are excited about the Youshd application as they can capitalize on building an organic business from an entirely new channel of existing customers who are loyal to them.
YouShd's beta launch is right around the corner in Q4-2022. With 18 US-based D2C brands already on board, they are looking to make a big splash in the market with over 35 million creators in the US.
As per a CNBC report, almost 86% of GenZ would post on social media for money, which shows Youshd is out to crack a bigger pie of the advertisement market and has enormous potential to make a significant impact on growing ROI of D2C brands post-launch.