Itai Bengal is the Director of Product Partnerships at Yotpo, the eCommerce marketing platform providing tens of thousands of brands with a full suite of data-driven solutions that build customer relationships and boost retention, including Loyalty & Referrals, SMSBump, Subscriptions, Reviews, and Visual UGC. Yotpo's customers include Steve Madden, Princess Polly, Away Travel, Brooklinen, Bob's Furniture and many others.
Yotpo has reached massive scale by accelerating DTC growth for eCommerce brands by developing highly synergistic and innovative products while integrating with hundreds of other marketing solutions in the mar-tech ecosystem. We sat down with Itai, who leads Yotpo's integrations strategy and app marketplace, to hear more about Yotpo's approach to eCommerce partnerships and social impact. Topics include:
- Yotpo's criteria for a high-impact integration partner
- The top three growth metrics for eCommerce brands, driven by social impact tech
- How ShoppingGives and Yotpo joined forces to benefit society, brands and buyers all at once
"Yotpo and ShoppingGives share a mission to help eCommerce brands increase customer lifetime value and create unique shopper experiences that drive brand affinity and advocacy, while doing good in the world. We are incredibly proud of our close partnership and unique product integration that allows brands to do exactly that."
What creates successful integration partnerships?
When selecting tech partners to build product integrations, the Yotpo team seeks three criteria:
- Mutual customers -- To ensure both parties work in the same space and several client brands will be able to benefit from an integration and share feedback immediately.
- Similar "ideal customer profile" -- To ensure the partnership can expand over time.
- Product synergy -- According to Itai "Two tech companies trying to partner without a meaningful product synergy is kind of like two teams trying to play basketball without a ball".
When it came to considering ShoppingGives as Yotpo's first donations partner, explains Itai, the platform easily fulfilled those needs. He highlighted two areas in particular:
1. Meeting Our Customers Where They Are
Aside from both companies being focused on serving eCommerce merchants in the Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento and Salesforce ecosystems, both companies have set out to solve needs for small and large businesses alike.
ShoppingGives was specifically well-aligned with this mission for several reasons:
- The platform was simple and intuitive enough for brands to get up and running with donations in no time.
- ShoppingGives was willing to offer the integration at a very low 'pay as you go' cost to help introduce merchants to social impact, and included the integration for no extra charge for merchants already on their "impact plus" plan.
- Yotpo's customers are always looking for more ways to provide value to their loyalty members and reduce the amount of outstanding loyalty points that merchants have not used. Many merchants have specifically asked for loyalty perks that are not product discounts, but rather "something that really makes someone fall in love with a brand". By partnering with ShoppingGives, Yotpo could solve all of these needs for its customers.
2. Common Interests in Social Good
Much like the DTC players they service, the Yotpo team was stirred by the early months of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations to incorporate larger-scale impact efforts.
The company had already been working on initiatives such as:
- Yotpo Grow-- A year-long accelerator program for small, Black-owned Shopify brands.
- Amazing Women in eCommerce-- A year-round program and network that raises money for Girls Inc. and honors dozens of annual change-making honorees.
The Yotpo team knew it was time to incorporate the same values in their product, but the donations space was too complicated -- with endless financial and legal implications -- for an in-house built solution.
In Itai's words, they needed a pro to do this right. They vetted a number of potential partners before arriving at ShoppingGives.
"More than anything we appreciated the willingness of the ShoppingGives team to offer the integration with the fewest possible barriers for merchants. They genuinely care to make 'giving' part of everyone's everyday life."
Key Benefits for Both Brands & Buyers
In terms of the explicit benefits of the integration, Itai describes the mutually beneficial results for both eCommerce merchants and their end consumers.
From Purchase Value to Social Values
With ShoppingGives' core functionality, the end consumers can choose the exact causes that receive their funds -- as compared to pre-determined campaigns likely propped up for the corporate write-off.
On the flip side, merchants can easily leverage giving histories to gain insight into which causes are most important to their consumer base as a whole or based on user demographics and segments. They can then keep these customers updated on the total donations made to these same causes and other activities they have done to do good for similar groups.
Building on these two aspects of the ShoppingGives product, the integration with Yotpo was designed to allow brands to reward customers who chose a cause with loyalty points, incentivizing them to simultaneously donate more, share a meaningful experience with the brand,, and engage with the loyalty program, which ultimately helps bring them back to the store and even refer their friends.
No More Wasted Loyalty Efforts
With the huge rise of loyalty programs in the last several years, many consumers end up accumulating points that they never end up taking advantage of. From the merchant's standpoint this means outstanding financial liability that is not fulfilling its purpose -- saying thanks to their most loyal customers and keeping them engaged with the brand. Discounts for more purchases won't always do the trick, or might not be aligned with the brands policies or high end narrative.
Through the integration between Yotpo and ShoppingGives, brands can engage their customers more effectively and drive point redemption for donation opportunities -- building a different type of brand advocate, one that shares interests and common causes with the brand.
"By allowing users to turn unused points into giving opportunities, brands can take their loyalty program far beyond a way to get more discounts and free products. That kind of emotional interaction can have a much greater influence on the brand's revenue goals, not only the social ones."
Quant Impact: How Combining Social Impact & Loyalty Drives Growth
Itai identifies three main growth points that merchants can anticipate after implementing the Yotpo-ShoppingGives integration.
1. Increased Customer LTV
When it comes to building customer loyalty, Itai considers ShoppingGives the ideal strategy for enacting a customer journey that ends in an emotional brand-buyer connection.
With a flooded market for every DTC niche you can imagine, a clear alignment of brand-buyer values could be the factor that sets a brand apart and keeps users coming back.
As such, customer LTV is the overarching benefit that ShoppingGives users can expect.
2. Boost Marketing & Loyalty Engagement Rates
Returning to ShoppingGives' ability to breathe new life into user loyalty points, Itai names solid marketing and loyalty engagement rates as a sign of overall brand health. For instance:
- If a user with low open rates blows past typical email attempts, they may react to a reminder to not let their reward points go to waste by donating them, or a promotion of a "double points for donation" week.
- By finding different ways to drive engagement with the loyalty program, such as aligning with their customer's personal interests, merchants are more likely to drive referrals and other forms of social and word of mouth marketing. These alternative marketing channels are becoming more and more valuable as customer acquisition costs continue to rise and ads effectiveness is decreasing.
- As regulators and large corporations take action to better protect user privacy, the power of first party data, such as donation causes or loyalty campaigns they've interacted with, becomes more and more critical to a successful marketing strategy and execution.
Case in Point
As an example, Itai points to one of the first merchants to use the ShoppingGives and Yotpo integration - TomboyX, the gender- and size-inclusive underwear brand.
- By leveraging the integration, TomboyX enacted a unique loyalty program with the aforementioned points-for-donations capabilities.
- Users then redeemed multiple thousands of points to support various nonprofits.
For successfully driving TomboyX member activity through impact engagement, ShoppingGives was even awarded Yotpo's 2020 Partner Award for Best Integration. Since it was first released for Shopify merchants, the integration between Yotpo and ShoppingGives was expanded to support all eCommerce platforms and the two companies are seeing a growing amount of shared merchants deploy this unique strategy.
"The intersection between business and social impact has always been close to my heart, and it seems to be becoming the norm with younger consumers, so I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of it. I'm truly glad I had the opportunity to take part in building a solution that makes it easy and affordable for brands to do more good and grow their business at the same time."