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What the #$@!% Is Affiliate Marketing?

You’ve probably heard about affiliate marketing, but think it sounds too technical, confusing or even irrelevant. In today’s world of rising marketing costs and disrupted ad targeting, it is anything but. Thanks iOS14!  Affiliate marketing is actually a natural evolution of digital marketing, media and commerce which every brand needs to explore to attract and win more customers. If done correctly, affiliate marketing should produce greater Lifetime Value (LTV) per consumer at a lower Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Here’s why.

Affiliate Marketing–Defined 

Affiliate marketing is nothing more than working with digital publishers large and small to feature your product and link back to an e-commerce site or page. The publishers, from the New York Times to micro-influencers, generally take their cut when a sale is made. So it works for brands and businesses. Unsurprisingly, it’s become an increasingly popular channel with affiliate marketing spend growing 10.1% annually since 2015 (trulist). 

Affiliate Marketing Networks

How do you find these partners? In most cases, the best bet is to start with an affiliate network, such as Impact, Rakuten or ShareASale, to name a few.  The networks let you choose affiliates whose content and style fit your brand, product or service. Affiliates then create news and review content about your product and brand tailored for their audiences–often highly curated communities more likely to engage with the brand and buy than those you could reach with broader social media campaigns. 

In some cases, affiliates with larger platforms may charge an upfront fee as well as a commission because of the guaranteed exposure to such ideal audiences. If the platform is a match with your brand, it can be an effective way to drive traffic to your site and deliver a higher conversion rate.

Influencers as Affiliate Marketing Partners 

Affiliates are more than just content platforms. Many are individuals: influencers, reviewers and others with idiosyncratic voices and compelling lifestyles shared across the digital and social web. For these relationships to work for a brand, the influencer or critique must be able to make an authentic and engaging pitch for your mission and product. It has to feel real. That’s what truly drives conversion and lower cost-for-acquisitions. Remember: affiliate is a channel that should reduce your CAC and drive LTV in a world where costs are rising and targeting is declining.

Why Authenticity Matters More than Celebrity

Take Jennfier Aniston. She’s a brilliant pitchwoman and a beloved personality. But when you see her promote many products, you wonder… What are her motives? Does she really believe in a product, such as Aveeno? While we all wish we had her skin, is it really because she uses Aveeno? Can we be confident it’s part of her daily routine? The answer is, we don’t know for sure, and the message is too mass market to allay our doubts. It’s really an expensive brand campaign. 

While certainly a valid strategy, the campaign costs put it out of reach for most growing brands. When done well, affiliate marketing produces an opposite, cost-effective and powerful impact. Say you’re scrolling through Instagram, watching the lives of influencers you’ve been following for years. You know about their day to day lives, families and values because they choose to share it all with their audience. They are almost like friends. They have authenticity. 

When they are actively using a product, explaining why it’s part of their routine, and providing a link and a discount code, you’re simply much more inclined to click and buy this product immediately. “Since April 2020, more than 30% of online shoppers who made their first purchase from a brand used an affiliate link” (Awin, 2021).

Which Sounds Better Financially for Your Business?

Hiring an entire team that you would pay hourly/salary/benefits to create content, build your brand and scale your business… or … Hiring a handful of affiliates that you would send free products to with a commission code to create and promote your content for you? 

You decide… 

Are You Ready To Start?

Our hope is you now have a better understanding of what affiliate marketing is, why you need it and feel more open to implementing these strategies for your business. Not quite ready to manage it yourself? Contact us at



SMS Marketing Platforms — Klaviyo vs Attentive

SMS Marketing is becoming quite important for most Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) brands. In fact, whenever I sign up for a brand’s product nowadays, I tend to see more SMS notifications than in the past.

SMS text messages to existing customers can have an open rate in excess of 80% and conversion rates north of 20%. When you think about the typical 1% conversion rate of social media ads or the low open rates of email marketing, you can understand why SMS is now perceived as a vital channel for repeat orders / abandon carts, etc.

The two leading platforms for SMS are Klaviyo and Attentive. Most young companies have a hard time deciding between the two, so I wanted to give a quick summary of the way I look at SMS tech platform decisions.



1. White glove on-boarding. One of the best experiences on any tech platform in terms of how detailed and complete the Attentive team is on making sure every aspect is covered when you join the platform.

2. The Attentive team will custom design your pop up windows and signup forms for you.

3. They provide an on-boarding specialist to walk through the process.

4. They provide a 30-Day free trial

5. SMS-first company. Their focus is solely SMS, so they are more advanced with certain features such as A/B testing, sign-up forms, and various product features.


1. Integration with Klaviyo: If you’re using Klaviyo for email marketing, then the integration with Attentive is a bit weak. You can understand the importance of having your email and SMS integrated. You don’t want to be overly communicating with your customers on both Email and SMS if the two systems are not talking with each other.

2. Attribution: Attentive does integrate with Klaviyo, but not perfectly. Because they are two different platforms, each will have their own reporting and this will lead to duplicate attribution. Attentive has a 30-day attribution window for anyone who received a text. Klaviyo has a standard 5-day attribution window for anyone who opened an email, so this can lead to both Attentive and Klaviyo attributing the same purchase to their platform.

3. Lists: The pop-up forms on the website to capture a phone number / email will be in an Attentive format, which then send email addresses to Klaviyo; however, the result is that email addresses are not assigned to a list, as would be the case for Klaviyo. There are manual workarounds for, but it is not automated, which would be the case if you were working with just Klaviyo.



1. Email and SMS all housed in one platform to allow for more seamless reporting (i.e. attribution mentioned above) and messaging plan. We can create a singular physical “flow” within Klaviyo that includes email and SMS messaging and then segment within that flow based on customer actions (i.e. if someone did not open an email, we can trigger sending them an SMS, if they did open an email, we can re-target with another email vs. an SMS). Using Attentive, we wouldn’t be able to segment that way because SMS would be running on a different platform.

2. Lower Costs. Attentive is $300/month + 0.02/SMS (we could probably get them down in per SMS price here) for 25 messages/second delivered. Klaviyo is $2/month + 0.01/SMS for 3 messages/second delivered. It is $299/month + 0.01/SMS for 25 messages/second delivered. Klaviyo is currently “pay as you go”, but will likely be switching to a subscription model soon, where you choose your billing plan for X number of SMS “credits” per month, similar to how their email plans are set up.


1. Text to subscribe option currently creating duplicate profiles within Klaviyo, so while the functionality is an option, it’s not recommended because it creates issues with profiles in Klaviyo. Sign-up is then done via pop up form.

2. Less support during the on-boarding process.

3. Design templates available that can be customized with images and colors, but no design support.

4. Less features — Klaviyo is historically an email first platform that is investing heavily in SMS this year. There are a number of features that are slated to roll out this year that are not yet available (2-step forms, better A/B testing functionality.

5. To get started on Klaviyo, you first need to get a toll-free number, this takes about 7–10 days to approve. From there, you’d update your sign up form to include phone numbers. All phone numbers must be double opt in, meaning that once people sign up, they’ll receive a text that they must reply Yes to, to confirm SMS consent. Every SMS is required to have opt-out language as well.


Overall, I have been recommending Klaviyo to brands that are already using Klaviyo for their email marketing. The integration and reporting attribution features of having both your SMS and Email in one platform are too important to ignore.

However, Attentive is just the best-in-class SMS platform out there. I have worked with over a dozen SMS systems and for pure SMS, Attentive is hard to beat in terms of features, support, deliverability, reporting, etc. If you are doing your email marketing in another system (non-Klaviyo) or doing email marketing in-house, then I would hands-down recommend using Attentive.