Why this startup dining app is spending all of its marketing dollars with influencers

Illustration of two people standing back-to-back in colorful clothing and taking selfies.

While most companies are looking to diversify their media spend, Skorch dining app is spending it all in one place: influencer marketing.

With more people using social media today than ever before, influencer marketing has seen steady adoption across the industry and its fair share of ad dollars — $4.14 billion by the end of this year, according to eMarketer.

As a seven-year-old startup, Skorch sees influencers as a cost-effective way to stand out and get in front of shoppers in an increasingly crowded digital advertising marketplace, according to CEO and founder Lane Petrauskas.

“It feels word of mouth in that way. Even if it’s a paid campaign, it feels organic, word of mouth when you’re hearing about it from an influencer who genuinely loves it,” Petrauskas said, of the California-based company.

It’s unclear exactly how much Skorch spends on influencer marketing efforts per month as Petrauskas declined to offer specific details, but Petrauskas said it was into the thousands of dollars. At least 60% of it is dedicated to influencers on Instagram. Meanwhile, 20% goes toward podcast influencers, 10% to TikTok influencers and 10% to YouTube influencers.

To reach its target audience of traveling millennials and Gen Z women, the startup says it finds the most success in working with lifestyle influencers. For the past year, Skorch has worked with Hannah Godwin from The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise, who has more than 1.5 million followers on Instagram. 

“I wouldn’t say this would be our permanent strategy. It’s working now. But as we grow, brand awareness efforts could become more of a priority,” Petrauskas said.

Across podcasts, Skorch has advertised with The Skinny Confidential, which is hosted by Lauryn Bosstick, and Marianna Hewitt’s podcast, Life with Marianna. 

“We tend to like to work with influencers longer term on campaigns,” Petrauskas said. “So it’s more of an ambassadorship rather than sort of spreading our budget thin on one or two off posts.”

Prior to deploying its current strategy, Skorch experimented with paid ads on Instagram and considered out-of-home advertising, finding customer conversion rates to be better with influencer marketing. 

“Something like out of home for an app might be great for awareness. But one thing that we’ve learned is it’s not necessarily as easy as you might think for someone to influence someone to download an app,” Petrausaks said. She added that influencers are a direct line to the app for customers, with less friction and clicking around than other media channels.

Nearly 75% of U.S. marketers are expected to leverage influencer marketing in their strategies this year, up from 70% in 2021, according to eMarketer. It makes sense that many are investing in the space as influencer content often outperforms brand-generated or product content in display and paid social, according to Maggie Malek, CEO of MMI Agency.

“… influencers can deliver on all aspects of the marketing funnel given the potential to deliver not only engaged audiences and custom content but also trust and credibility to brand partnerships,” Malek said.

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