Rachel Butts discusses the transformation of the Mabel Label’s influencer gifting program, emphasizing the shift from repetitive collaborations to curated packages that generate authentic and valuable content. Rachel also highlights the importance of long-term influencer partnerships, tracking success through revenue and organic coverage, and predicts a booming creator economy with consumers increasingly relying on peer-to-peer reviews.
Transforming Coverage: Rachell Butts On Mabel’s Labels’ New Approach To Gifting Campaigns
Can you provide an overview of your background and how you became involved with Mabel’s Labels?
Rachel Butts is the Public Relations and Partnership Manager of Mabel’s Labels and has worked with them for five years. She started working with the agency right after she graduated from college. After graduating, she was looking for her first job and started working as a marketing assistant. She was covering someone taking maternity leave.
Rachel did a lot of administrative work but also worked closely with the agency’s PR then. This allowed Rachel to work with content creators and media opportunities and facilitate them from an administrative perspective.
Rachel attended school for communications and multimedia and worked as a teaching assistant for the PR program at her university. She was always interested in the field and was happy that her first job enabled her to dabble more in it.
She was eventually promoted to a PR associate, so he got to work a little closer on strategies with PR with the agency. Unfortunately, when COVID hit, the agency had to let Rachel go, but this wasn’t the end for her. The director at the time asked her to take on the role of becoming an in-house PR strategist and manager for the team, and Rachel accepted.
“I just learn as I go, and I think that’s been the best experience,” Rachel shares. After accepting the offer, Rachel has been able to develop a PR team. Today, she oversees the agency’s social media manager, and partnership coordinator, among others.
Could you tell us a bit about Mabel’s Labels and its mission? What sets it apart from other labeling companies?
The core mission of Mabel’s Labels is to make life easier for parents and create a product that makes their lives easier from an organizational standpoint. Mabel’s Labels have been doing it for 20 years and is one of the oldest in the business of children’s labels.
Mabel’s Labels have the experience, know what they’re doing with their labels, have extremely high-quality standards, and are customer-focused. “I think the customer being at the core of our values sets us apart from everyone else,” Rachel adds.
They listen to feedback and are constantly improving and innovating on their products and labeling solutions for families. They also strive to foster a community as the team behind Mabel’s Labels are parents and understand what parents need.
Even in their social media channels, promotions, and marketing, Rachel takes pride in working with an agency that’s 100% customer obsessed. They want to have that relatability factor to let their customers know they understand what they’re going through as parents, no matter which stage they are in parenthood.
In terms of your influencer gifting program, can you elaborate on the changes you made in 2021 and how they contributed to the increase in coverage?
Previously, Rachel worked with an agency that enabled her to foster great relationships with tons of content creators, influencers, and celebrities. But they were working with the same people over and over again, which resulted in their audience getting fatigued about hearing the same brand repeatedly.
Over time, this loses the appeal and novelty of a new product and other offerings. When Rachel was able to bring PR in-house, they lost a lot of contacts and had to start from scratch. They still had other relationships but didn’t have that direct mailing list that they were accustomed to having.
They had to go back to square one and create their own gifting and contact list from their existing relationships. They were able to control the messaging of the gifting in-house and create beautiful packages with stories to tell. It wasn’t long before they started seeing more than just a picture on a story — those 30- and 60-second stories became mini advertisements that lasted for about two to three minutes.
These contents were invaluable. “And if you were to equate that to an ad value, I’m sure it will be a thousand dollars,” Rachel adds. People making videos on Instagram and other social media platforms also pushed Mabel’s Labels to create new packages and partner with amazing brands.
Rachel wants people to know that Mabel’s Label is a fun brand. They want to ensure that sending gifts will make customers feel they received something from their best friend.
How do you identify and select influencers to collaborate with? What criteria do you consider when choosing them?
Since Mabel’s Labels caters to parents, they choose influencers who are also parents. They want to support influencers regardless of their parenting journey, as well as influencers who have the same core values. They aim to develop long-term relationships with influencers, which is why they don’t choose influencers based on the number of their followers.
“We work with people with an audience who wants their advice. We want to work with people who want to work with us just as much, so it doesn’t come off as false or fabricated,” Rachel adds. At the end of the day, she just wants relationships to be genuine.
What specific goals do you aim to achieve through influencer partnerships at Mabel’s Labels?
Mabel’s Labels love long-term relationships and would love to see having long-term partnerships with influencers and creators, not just a one-off video. They want to work with someone for a longer capacity and show their labels throughout the duration of at least a year.
How do you measure the success of your influencer marketing campaigns? Are there any specific metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that you track?
One way Mabel’s Labels track the success of its influencer marketing campaigns is by checking the revenue, which is usually done through affiliate marketing and affiliate links.
Can you share any success stories or notable experiences from working with influencers that have had a significant impact on Mabel’s Labels’ brand awareness or sales?
Mabel’s Labels celebrated its 20th anniversary last March. They hosted a hyper-localized influencer event and invited people from their local area. They brought about ten local content creators to their newly renovated office and hosted a fun birthday event for them. It was the first time they had been able to host an event like this, so they wanted to prove to themselves that they wanted to continue doing this.
The event also has a couple of activities. They let everyone decorate their own cupcakes because moms don’t usually get to do that. They also toured guests to their top-secret production facilities, where they saw a little behind the scenes.
Everyone also had the chance to sit down, introduce themselves, and talk about their families and daily lives. Even Mabel’s Label’s co-founder, Julie Cole, talked about the brand, what it is about, and how creators who recommended the brand paved its growth and success.
“It was a heartwarming moment where everyone just felt like a community of moms at that moment,” Rachel recalls.
Everyone they invited wasn’t required to post anything about the event or the brand; no one was paid to be there, and it was purely an organic invitation for everyone to come. But they were surprised that they got amazing organic coverage from the attendees about the event. It was just content on content, as a lot were reposting, and the team felt very proud of their hard work.
This is the biggest reason why Rachel continues to be an advocate for creating these free relationships because although it seems cold and empty, it allowed the team to create a beautiful environment and community.
With the rise of the creator economy, how do you see the landscape of influencer marketing evolving in the future?
When Rachel started with her role in Mabel’s Labels, she honestly didn’t think that the world would take creators seriously. She thought it was just a phase, but today, it has become a real job and career for many. Influencer marketing is now a real stream of income for many people.
“And as consumers, we love seeing it. We love watching it. We all take recommendations from people we see online,” Rachel adds. She believes influencers have become the new reviewers, and consumers love listening to them.
Given the status quo in influencer marketing, Rachel thinks that the creator economy will continue to boom, and more consumers will want peer-to-peer reviews. And because influencers need to make an income from their work, brands must compensate them properly and see them as partners.
What are some challenges you have encountered when working with influencers, and how do you overcome them?
Working with a limited budget is one of the challenges Rachel had when working with influencers. She understands that influencers are skilled at what they do but admits that the price isn’t always right.
Because of this, brands must be honest about the work available, and if that doesn’t match their budgets, they need to change the scope of who they’re working with at the time.
If brands want to build a good relationship with creators and influencers and they’re genuinely interested in working with the brand, there must be flexibility in terms of budget. For instance, brands can change the scope of the project to match the budget they have to work with.
Brands shouldn’t be afraid of being honest upfront and telling creators and influencers their budgets. By being open from the very beginning, parties come together and decide which works best for the budget. “It’s a partnership and relationship. Don’t hide or don’t be scared to have that money conversation, and you just have to work with what you got,” Rachel advises.
At the end of the day, brands and influencers have goals, and meeting in the middle is the best place for both parties to achieve those.
Have you noticed any emerging trends or shifts in influencer marketing that you find particularly interesting or exciting?
Rachel finds it interesting that many creators and influencers who have been in the industry for a while have started diversifying themselves. They’re no longer present in one platform only — they’re writing a book and doing online classes based on what they’re known for.
“We’re starting to see creators in different spaces and creating different models for themselves. And as brands, we should support the people we like working within their new ventures,” Rachel states.
Can you share some insights into how Mabel’s Labels measures influencer gifting campaigns’ impact and return on investment (ROI)?
Mabel’s Labels don’t require anyone to post anything about their influencer gifting campaigns. They genuinely want influencers to receive these gifts as gifts from their best friends. “If they don’t post about it, that’s okay; we still love you,” Rachel comments.
The agency just wants to send a little something to the influencers and creators to celebrate, say, the back-to-school season, the holidays, or even summer camp.
Their biggest measurement tool for the campaign is quality rather than quantity. If they send packages out to someone and they post the experience in a video, that’s how they know that their efforts are a success. They look into the quality of the stories, posts, or content the recipients make after receiving the packages.
For Mabel’s Labels, it is all about genuineness, being real, and being relatable.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for Mabel’s Labels’ influencer marketing initiatives and gifting programs in the coming years?
Mabel’s Labels is expanding, with its own director and top-tier managers seeing the importance of content creators and influencers. As the team expands, they’ll have the capacity to gift a bigger group of people and expand their network of relationships.
Rachel just wants to see her team focus on building relationships and partnerships with everyone they work with and give them the time and dedication necessary to foster a positive environment. They will continue supporting content creators and influencers across all tiers — regardless if they have 5 or 5 million followers.