How It Started
“After living in Japan, founder Danny Taing couldn’t give up the delicious snacks he had discovered.” That is how Bokksu describes its origins in 2016. Originally a one-person team (with Danny packing snacks in his living room), the company had grown to 10 employees by the time they first reached out to Makrwatch in 2020.
Originally, Bokksu tried to tackle influencer marketing with the same approach they have used for the rest of their marketing efforts: doing an in-house campaign, maintaining a personalized approach in order to create long-lasting relationships. However, they were faced with challenges such as the time-consuming manual tasks involved in finding and negotiating with creators, as well as their lack of know-how in the influencer marketing field.
“We had tried and failed multiple times over the first 4 years of our business to scale influencer marketing, but it wasn’t until we got connected to Makrwatch that everything changed for us.”
Bokksu reached out to Makrwatch in order to find out, once and for all, whether YouTube could be an efficient acquisition channel for them. Previously, their team had had a hard time “negotiating partnerships with creators and, more importantly, scaling as many partnerships as possible with more creators in a resource-efficient way”.
Their first trial with influencer marketing in-house involved sending free boxes to creators and paying them through an affiliate model and had seen some success, but took too much time and wasn’t an efficient process.
After sharing their goals with Makrwatch, we set up a pilot program for Bokksu, aiming to find top-notch creators within their niche. They specifically wanted to work with creators who talked about Japan or Japanese culture and food, a smaller niche by YouTube standards.
“We look for creators that are aligned with our customer demographic, have a strong audience connection, and are passionate about our product to help drive sales and brand awareness.”
Our technology was a game-changing factor when it came to finding these creators and contacting them. During the first month of partnership, we found 336 creators who fit Bokksu’s general goals. We used a mix of technology and human approaches to qualify these channels and choose the best ones for the program. After reaching out and negotiating with the creators, the team closed the first 11 deals.
But that was hardly enough. We knew we were working with a limited niche, so we approached the Bokksu team with a proposal. Keeping Bokksu’s target customers’ characteristics and details in mind, we went back to YouTube to find other creator niches we could experiment with.
We used a categorization approach to classify creators into 3 categories, from being the ideal fit in terms of strong correlation between the creators’ content and the brand’s target customer to creators whose niches did not seem like an obvious fit, but whose content had potential to be experimented with. This allowed us to go beyond a black and white view of channels and incorporate some tests, as well as pitch alternative niches to the brand. We chose to experiment with creators based on how engaging they were, the quality of their videos and whether they had ever mentioned an interest in Japan or Japanese culture, pop-culture or even characters.
Through this approach, we were able to expand the niches we were working with, and found that some alternative niches, such as History, Literature and Gaming all produced great results and were then incorporated into our main target niches.
“Makrwatch was able to help us partner with channels of all sizes and test multiple platforms to figure out which channels and strategies were most effective for our audience.”
Another challenge that appeared during our pilot program was the complex logistics of delivering boxes from Japan to creators worldwide. One of the factors delaying the creation of videos was the time that the creators took to produce the mentions given that they had to wait for their boxes to arrive. Makrwatch worked with Bokksu’s Operations Manager, Kelan, to redesign the process for creators to order boxes, and how that information could reach Bokksu’s team more efficiently.
Using Makrwatch technology to boost information sharing, we were able to decrease the amount of time it took for creators to receive their orders, thus producing videos faster and avoiding budgets being pushed month over month. This also helped us respond faster to sudden changes, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that Bokksu’s relationship with creators was preserved even in the face of shipping delays.
“The team itself is truly top-notch. They are professional and polished while also being friendly and personable. Most importantly, whenever we had to make sudden strategic changes (which do happen with some frequency at startups), the Makrwatch team was always ready to adapt and figure out the best solutions to help reorient towards the new goals.”
Scaling the Program
Bokksu’s first program with Makrwatch yielded 43 videos, posted over a period of 4 months. Creators generated double the amount of new clients Bokksu had originally set as a goal, validating the efficiency of the channel. Bokksu then faced a new challenge: how scalable is the channel?
By leveraging our technology and experimenting with niches and performance strategy, Makrwatch managed to help them scale and discover high-performing creators of multiple sizes and niches, which positioned YouTube influencer marketing as their #1 channel when it comes to customer acquisition, driving efficient growth to Bokksu.
“Makrwatch was able to successfully guide us through the dynamic and sometimes mystifying world of influencer marketing by exploring opportunities of all shapes and sizes while always being a complete pleasure to work with.”
Creating a Basis for Scale
After analyzing the results of the first program, we were happy to find that some of our creators brought high amounts of conversions, becoming top performers in terms of new customer acquisition for Bokksu.
In order to ensure we could scale the program successfully, but also keep our approach to experimentation, we offered long-term contracts to the pilot’s top performers, signing them for 3 to 6 months, depending on their initial results. By resigning creators months ahead, we were able to achieve better prices, and foster relationships with them, which turned into fun, innovative videos. And, because Bokksu’s monthly subscription boxes had a unique theme each time, the videos were always fresh and fun for the audiences.
Throughout the partnership, 176 channels completed more than 1 video and 45 channels completed 6 or more videos for Bokksu. The top-performing channel in the campaign completed a total of 36 videos throughout 26 months of partnership.
Using Tech to Scale
Of course, manual processes alone would not allow us to scale the program efficiently. Our outreach technology allowed us to not only source creators at a massive scale, but also send personalized, mass outreach emails, testing out wording for different niches and taking a scalable, but still personalized approach.
“Makrwatch’s tech-enabled influencer management really sets them apart from other agencies in the industry. It offers a unique set of capabilities and opportunities that are difficult to coordinate manually.”
Our proprietary technology also made it easier for creators to sign contracts, using our unified platform to accept deals with one click, submit their videos for review and even choose their publishing dates. This made it possible for Bokksu to work with a myriad of channels of different sizes, from micro-creators to channels with millions of views.
Additionally, because all of our processes are assisted by technology, Makrwatch was also able to respond to campaign changes faster and work on its continuous improvement at the same time. In Bokksu’s case, this was especially relevant when it came to predictability on end-of-month spend.
Our adapted processes became an extension of the Bokksu team, making spend more predictable and transparent. Performance tracking, video reviews, and data gathering were all done via our tech, sharing valuable analytics with the brand, so they could monitor their campaigns as videos went live!
Between February 2020 and April 2022, 1,162 videos were published via Makrwatch, making influencer marketing on YouTube became Bokksu’s biggest channel for new customer acquisition, with 70% of new acquisitions coming from YouTube creators In total, 212 videos were published in 2020, 886 in 2021 and 121 in 2022. Bokksu was able to work with creators ranging from 1,000 average views per video, all the way to creators with over 5 million average views per video, hitting a variety of audiences.
We helped Bokksu successfully uncover a powerful marketing channel for their business, as well as guide them through the work done with YouTube creators. Bokksu was also able to work with creators within a large selection of niches and sizes, testing out different hypotheses when it came to video topics, audience size and type.
For Bokksu, YouTube was a big success and working with creators allowed visibility to both their delicious snacks and the stories of the makers behind them. By partnering with a wide myriad of creators worldwide, Bokksu’s influencer marketing program generated positive results acquisition-wise and took their mission one step further.