We talked to Andy Kieffer on how VoxFeed has made collaboration between content creators and brands simple.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andy Kieffer: Thank you for asking. We’ve actually been doing pretty well, given the current climate. The situation requires the whole family’s efforts in terms of organization, but we have got into new habits, and we found our path to go through this pandemic. Let’s hope it’s back to normal soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded VoxFeed.
Andy Kieffer: I am the founder of Agave Lab Ventures – a seed-stage venture capital fund and accelerator located in Guadalajara, Mexico, of which VoxFeed is part. Before moving to Mexico, I spent over 15 years working with silicon valley startups that spanned all phases of the venture-capital-backed startup world. That includes an IPO followed by a secondary offering that raised several hundred million dollars (USD), several successful acquisitions, and more than a dozen investment rounds with some of the most recognized names in Venture Capital.
Now, at Agave Lab Ventures, our goal is to help entrepreneurs in Mexico focus their idea down to something that can be tested quickly, cheaply, and scalably. Besides VoxFeed, we have incubated companies such as EasyLex, Digitt, FondiMex, and Lobbyfix.
How does VoxFeed innovate?
Andy Kieffer: At VoxFeed, innovation happens by figuring what works and why. Generally, people tend to think of innovation as arising from a single brilliant flash of insight, but the truth is that it is a drawn-out exercise.
As a tech-marketing company, we approach innovation both on the technological and marketing aspects. We make sure that we have product-to-market fit, with continuous experimentation and development of new features. The constant feedback from our customers and the open channels for support are also an important source of new ideas.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andy Kieffer: The pandemic has completely changed the landscape for most businesses, but for us, the virus has not changed much of our work habits. We already had a strong use of remote work.
Business-wise, it was an excellent opportunity for us. We doubled-down on our bets and braced the uncertainties of the pandemic. The market shift in investment to e-commerce and digital businesses allowed us to capitalize on the growing trend of digital advertising and influencer marketing. Not only that, it made us do some “soul searching” regarding the state of digital marketing and our role in it.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andy Kieffer: We actually ended up doing a lot of research. Crunching the numbers, we have noticed that the actual return on investment for most paid digital marketing is dismal. There are too many advertisers, and we’re all competing for the same consumers, using the platforms, and the same techniques. COVID has driven most off-line marketing to online channels, making the saturation worse. In the end, no one is clicking on ads anymore, and the return on marketing spend is low and getting lower.
Influencer marketing was a response to this, but its effectiveness has likewise been dropping. Of course, it has its place – it is a great way to drive visibility and create buzz – and being VoxFeed, an influencer marketing platform, it got us thinking: “How can we cut through this incredible wall of marketing noise to actually connect with people?”
Out of this grew a new mission: we could use VoxFeed’s platform to convert a company’s actual customers into a community of Brand Sponsors who can create and share content that authentically shows why they are fans.
Our premise was that:
-Because it’s coming from a trusted source, people would respond to the content better.
-Also, because these sponsors are just regular people, rather than “professional promoters”, they could deliver real sales and customer acquisition at a fraction of the cost.
-Finally, we wanted to track whether this type of content could deliver actual, measurable results (signups, actual product sales, in-store visits, etc.)
And, so far, it’s been working great. We’ve tested it with customers ranging from fintech services to e-commerce to music promotion, growth in sales, marketing ROI, and a decrease in customer acquisition costs.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Andy Kieffer: Talking with friends and family. It gives me all the perspective I need to get through difficult times.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andy Kieffer: Mostly is the paid media. It has become a victim of its own success – saturating the consumers with ads. While digital ad spend has gone up over the past 10 years, the CTR rates have gone down and are hovering around zero. This means that, through time, advertisers are getting less and less value for every dollar spent on the main advertising platforms.
That leads us to double-down our bet to offer advertisers a new way of doing marketing. Give them a tool to connect with consumers in an authentic way that strengthens the brand and delivers reliable results. All of this by increasing marketing ROI and tangible results to businesses.
Your final thoughts?
Andy Kieffer: These are truly interesting times for businesses. For companies that have built a bit of a war chest and can use this time to refine their business models and boost their unit economics will be in a great position afterward.
At VoxFeed, we used this opportunity to supplement our influencer marketing platform with Brand Advocacy and shifting our focus to a clear, measurable return on investment metrics.
It feels like we’ve cracked the code on this. Of course, it’s early days, but we’re extremely excited about this new path and are eager to see where it leads us.