Affiliate Marketing Case Study From DMi Partners

2020-11-15 by JamesD

At Everything-PR we like to review successful campaigns, and today, an interview with Kristina Nolan, Vice President of Affiliate at DMi Partners on a successful campaign.

Set up the situation for us: who is Rastelli’s and what did they task your agency with?

Rastelli’s started out in 1976 as a small New Jersey butcher shop. They evolved into one of the largest producers of organic beef in the U.S. and a leading distributor of high-quality meats and seafood to a wide network of restaurants. 

In 2019, they wanted to expand to an online, direct-to-consumer model, which is where DMi Partners stepped in to help reimagine their brand identity and develop an ecommerce website.  Because the DTC model lacked brand awareness, Rastellis needed a way to reach new consumers and inform that audience about their new product offering. They decided to engage with DMi’s affiliate service.

What was your approach to accomplish that affiliate coverage?

Our affiliate team leveraged relationships with trusted media outlets to promote Rastelli’s services and products.

As your audience of PR professionals will be extremely familiar with, consumers put more stock in these third-party testimonials than traditional advertising, as they came via independent journalists in trusted and respected publications. This lent Rastelli’s solid credibility for quality products and top-notch customer service.

The affiliate partner sites where we had success included a number of leading publications, including Food & WineRolling StoneCNNUSA Today and other big names.

Our web development team had engineered and built an ordering system from the ground-up for Rastelli’s that does incredibly innovative things with a la carte and subscription shopping. We wanted to ensure that affiliate reviewers were aware of, and covered, the ease of shopping and innovative subscription technology, so they were sent promo codes to experience the process themselves rather than receiving product samples. Because the Rastellis.com site was so intuitive, publishers saw high conversion rates which led to more potential earnings for them, which encouraged them to continue to promote the brand. 

What were the results of the affiliate campaign?

The affiliate program garnered more than 120 placements, performing successfully as a tool to introduce the brand to a new consumer audience and drive traffic to the website.  We secured placements on a pure commission basis that had a media value of over $250,000 if they were to buy the placements on a flat fee.

How did the pandemic affect Rastelli’s business and what did that mean to the overall marketing strategy?

We can all recall the sight of empty grocery store shelves. And consumers were increasingly wary of in-store shopping. With the need for quality meats, demand surged and Rastelli’s was uniquely positioned to serve as a reliable source for protein and their customer base quickly grew.

From an affiliate perspective, there was a surge in interest because of the situation. Of the 120-plus placements that I mentioned, about half were executed in Q2. For the overall business, the result was an increase of over 1000% in orders and revenue between March and April 2020. 

That is stunning growth, what are the marketing challenges to fulfilling such a quick change to demand?

To ensure they were able to ramp-up online orders, the DMi team laid the groundwork for a range of important logistical and marketing changes.

The immediate priority was to let people know that Rastelli’s was open and fulfilling orders. This provided an opportunity to introduce Rastelli’s to new customers as well as remind existing customers of their offering through paid search and paid social channels. It also proved to be an area they could gain customers away from their competitors, as many of their competition were facing inventory and logistic issues.

Email marketing proved to be a vital tool to communicate availability and provide shipping and deliverability updates. The team was able to have success by focusing the messaging on transparency around the shift of the shopping experience to fit the new needs of the customers. 

As a result, the email list grew significantly, exceeding 5% increases weekly. More importantly, it consisted of active subscribers with impressive open and engagement rates.

Were there any unplanned marketing tactics that the DMi team implemented in response to the situation?

Strategic collaboration is an area that we are always interested in pursuing but is not always viable.

When the pandemic began, we recognized that there were a number of opportunities to work with complementary brands. In response, we formed partnerships with non-competitive food delivery companies that could supplement the Rastelli’s line and provided opportunities to cross-promote Rastelli’s meats.

For these partners, the relationship provided an opportunity to offer their customers a much-needed dietary ingredient and rounded out their overall product offering. Ultimately, having access to a single source for multiple fresh groceries increased the revenue of all parties. 

Additionally, as travel companies saw a decline in revenue from travel bookings, they started to expand their advertising efforts. Rastellis partnered with American Airlines to be featured in a newsletter to their audience, giving consumers a discount to a relevant product, allowing American Airlines to get a profit share in the sales and generating new and high LTV customers for Rastellis.