When you decide to buy something online, do you have an impulse to buy after you visited the product page or was it after you saw a picture of an influencer posting a picture of the product online?
In a Mediakix survey, 89% of marketers said the ROI from influencer marketing was better or comparable to other channels. The bottom line is that, true to their name, influencers are influential. People follow influencers who have the same interests as them and love the same products that they love.
So how do you use influencers to boost your ecommerce sales? You can ask influencers to create content featuring your product. Better yet, ask them to post product reviews. But how do you find the right influencers and launch a successful influencer campaign? Below, we’ve outlined the steps you need to know to help you craft an effective influencer marketing campaign that can help you boost your ecommerce conversions.
1. How can I find an ideal influencer?
To start an influencer marketing campaign, the first thing that you need to do is find the right influencer.
The perfect influencer should be popular in your niche. If you’re a beauty brand, then find a pool of beauty influencers interested in makeup. If you are a fashion brand, then find a fashion influencer that reflects your brand’s style.
Here are some questions you’ll need to consider to identify your ideal influencer:
Would they love your brand?
Are they advocates of your brand?
Does their personality reflect your brand’s personality?
Would their creative style suit your brand?
Can they create high-quality sponsored posts?
Would it be easy to work with them?
Are their subscribers or followers potential customers?
The answers to these questions will help narrow down your search, which should also include looking for influencers that rank high in keywords in your niche.
Let’s say you have software that helps improve online stores. One thing you can do is reach out to influencers who rank high in the keywords that you want to target. For example, start a Google search with the keywords “how to start an online store.” In the search results, you can find thought leaders in your niche.
You can also find potential influencers by using brand-related keywords to search on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms. For example, let’s suppose you’re selling paleo bars in your online store. You can search “paleo bars” on YouTube – or on a platform like Emplifi – and find influencers who are already interested in your products. Just make sure they’re not working with your competition. And a couple of other tips:
Find influencers who are already brand advocates: If you’ve found an influencer who already loves your brand, then you’ve hit the jackpot. They already know and understand your brand. So, chances are, it’s easier to work with them. You can search for reviews or user-generated content about your product across social media, or you can even find popular posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Compare influencers based on metrics: Once you’ve come up with a short list of influencers, you can narrow down your search by using metrics. Look at follower count, domain authority, average comments, and retweets. How many followers does each influencer have? What’s the average number of comments or likes they receive on YouTube or Instagram? If they post a YouTube video featuring your product, can you estimate the number of views based on their subscribers? If they post a picture of your product on Instagram, how many people will see it? The answers to these questions will help narrow down a list of potential influencers.
One of the biggest benefits of working with smaller influencers is the flexibility and approachability that they offer compared to the mega influencers. Ecommerce brands that wish to work with mega influencers often have to go through several steps before they can even get in touch with the right person.
Take, for example, YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee. His Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube channels have that great personal touch. However, the business offers on his official website go through StartUs Insights, a data science company based in Austria. For a company trying to approach the influencer with an offer, this can mean long wait times, strict collaboration rules, and, ultimately, a high price per post.
With micro-influencers, on the other hand, you can often get in touch directly. Most will have a direct contact address on their social media profiles. This means you can send them an email, a DM, or even call them about possible collaborations.
Of course, there are a few things you should keep in mind when getting in touch. For example, you shouldn’t:
Send out spammy emails or DMs to hundreds (or thousands) of micro-influencers. This will only lead to you being blocked or reported as a spam account.
Develop an influencer marketing strategy that relies on your brand ambassadors being your only customers.
Reach out to anyone based solely on follower numbers. While the number of followers does matter, a successful influencer marketing strategy takes planning, analysis, and, of course, mutual values that will resonate with your audience as well as the influencers.
2. How to build effective relationships with influencers
Now that you have a list of influencers, the next thing you need to do is reach out and talk to them. Here’s how you can jumpstart a great working relationship:
Step 1: Introduce influencers to your brands and products: The first thing that you need to do is introduce influencers to your brand. Even if they already know your brand, share your own point of view and brand values. Highlight what makes your brand unique and talk about your competition and how you differentiate yourself in the market. If you want influencers to introduce a new line of products, then highlight the “big benefit” of using these products.
Step 2: Give them the details of your campaign: Will influencers play a role in your next marketing campaign? If so, make sure they know what you want. Do you want a product review? Will they vlog about an event? Will they post photos on Instagram? Be sure to iron out the details from the beginning to prevent future misunderstandings. A good tip is to let influencers use their creative freedom. If they’re making a video, then discuss the creative direction of the project. But don’t hover over them or stifle their creativity.
Step 3: Provide fair compensation: Most brands compensate influencers by providing free products. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you want to build long-term relationships, then provide them with monetary compensation. After all, it’s not easy to create videos or reviews. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes – and influencers play a role in getting you more conversions. So it’s only fair that you give them fair pay.
Let’s talk a bit more about compensation. Yes, working with influencer superstars comes with a long list of benefits for ecommerce businesses. But it also comes with a hefty price tag.
According to Fox Business, mega influencers (those who have more than a million subscribers) can charge anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000 per sponsored post. For superstars like Kylie Jenner, this figure goes as high as $1,000,000.
It's safe to say that most ecommerce brands can't afford this type of advertising. There is the alternative of sending branded products and hoping that the influencer will mention them on their feed/channel. But, technically speaking, that's more of a bet, not a marketing strategy.
When working with micro-influencers, however, brands have the initial advantage of much lower price tags. According to WebFX, the average cost of a sponsored post falls from $10 to $25 per 1,000 followers, depending on the platform. So, a collaboration costing you about $250 (or sometimes nothing but the price of the product) could make for an excellent deal.
Moreover, spreading a smaller budget over several delivery channels opens up room for wider reach than focusing all your efforts on a single person on one social media platform.
For example, let’s look at Runners Athletics' influencer marketing strategy. The brand chose to partner with lots of small-scale social media users.
Their posts offer intimate insights into their training routines. With brand ambassadors like @elaina_runs, @barefoot_mother_runner, @drewgrahamfitness, and @martinmichelius, they're maximizing their exposure, reaching multiple niches of the fitness industry, all the while keeping costs to a minimum.
3. Ask influencers to review your products
One of the most popular influencer marketing tactics is product reviews. This isn’t surprising, because when consumers buy a product, they often rely on the feedback of past users. They scour Amazon reviews and social media comment sections to determine whether they’re getting their money’s worth. So, chances are, getting influencers to review your products is a good way to establish credibility.
For example, on Youtube, backpacking influencer Chase Reeves reviewed more than a dozen barefoot shoe brands.
For Chase's followers, this provides valuable insight into all these shoe brands, so they can select one that meets their needs without having to do hours and hours of research on their own. And for each of the brands, it's an opportunity to reach Chase's nearly 100,000 subscribers. Chase already has built the connection with his audience, so this is transferred by proxy to the brands.
In addition to creating a connection with your audience, the right influencer collaboration can also help you deliver your unique proposition value. That’s something that’s far more attainable with smaller influencers.
One potential problem with an influencer like Kylie Jenner (or any other Kardashian of your choice) is that their lives aren't actually relatable to the average person. And the same goes for mega influencers in any industry. Sure, they're excellent spokespeople for luxury and high-street fashion brands. But for small- and medium-sized ecommerce stores trying to boost sales? Not so much.
So, instead of trying to paint a picture of exclusivity at all costs, most ecommerce businesses need to look for more effective ways of building a relationship with their potential buyers. One powerful way to do this can be to appeal to people who share your brand's values, interests, and cause.
For example, let’s look at GILI, a sports brand invested in the hobbies and lifestyle industry. They do a great job of collaborating with micro-influencers who lead an outdoorsy lifestyle and use their products. Showing off user-generated content on their social media feed, GILI presents examples of real-life uses for its products.
Moreover, by choosing the right collaborators, the company is offering product insights to many small (if a group of 10,000-plus people can be called small) groups. This way, they're not just investing in awareness but are actively developing a brand personality as well.
4. Encourage influencers to create entertaining content
Tired of product reviews? No worries! There are a ton of influencers who can create entertaining content that features your brand.
Before you even approach planning your influencer marketing strategy, it's crucial to define the goals of your actions. Are you going after exposure, not caring about how many sales you walk away with? If that's the case, then mega influencers are the way to go, assuming you can afford them.
But, if you're after increased ecommerce sales, you need to generate interest and trust. And that takes engagement.
Research reveals that engagement rates widely differ according to industry. What's interesting, however, is that micro-influencers repeatedly show higher engagement rates than social media stars with 100,000-plus followers. In fact, an influencer study found that the average engagement rate for micro-influencers in the beauty industry was 3.3%, while for celebrities it only comes to 2%.
Of course, there is a significant difference in numbers between 3.3% of 25,000 and 2% of one million. But considering the associated cost and the amount of meaningless engagement with some of the bigger accounts, the ROI can prove to be much better for businesses that invest in multiple small channels.
This shows the power of influencer marketing campaigns. You can collaborate with creatives who have a huge following and benefit from their creative vision of your brand or product.
5. Offer a discount code through your influencers
Another effective strategy is to offer discount codes through your influencers. Ask influencers to feature your products in their blogs or videos, and give them a discount code they can share with their followers. This strategy is most often used by retail and fashion brands, but it applies to all brands.
Influencers can include the code in their Instagram bio, as @hegsonrapozofit does for Transparent Labs. Alternatively, they can contribute indirectly by tagging you in their posts or stories, as done by superstar strongman @thornjornsson for the same brand.
Either of these methods can yield excellent results. Still, a direct link, such as in the first example, ensures that your target audience lands on your ecommerce website, instead of having to go through an additional step and potentially losing interest along the way.
It’s a simple strategy, but it’s a win-win scenario for both you and your influencers. Your influencer’s network will see the product in action, then it’s easy to click the link in the description and check out your store. And, with a promo code, influencers feel that they’re giving something back to their followers who supported them.
6. Build brand loyalty and awareness with influencers
Social media plays a key role in branding, and associating your brand with the right people can cement your position in an industry.
Firstly, it offers a space where you can continuously show off your company's visual identity. Secondly, social media platforms also give you room to communicate your message in a voice that's unique to your brand.
For ecommerce stores, this is a particularly important aspect of boosting sales. Branding, both visual and non-visual, achieves what is called the mere-exposure effect. Simply put, this is a psychological phenomenon where people presented with a choice will tend to go with the option they're more familiar with.
The way micro-influencers can contribute to branding, familiarity, trust, and, consequently, ecommerce sales is to support your efforts of having your brand associated with a specific product or service in a particular niche.
Take, for example, what LMNT is doing with their Instagram account. The brand started a gym partnership program, and its main collaborators include health and fitness coaches who focus on martial arts. While the followings of these accounts tend to be modest, they're still contributing to Drink LMNT's efforts. They're doing this by defining the brand as the go-to hydration product for martial arts athletes and enthusiasts.
Working with micro-influencers in any other niche can have similarly positive results. By restricting their reach to a core audience, ecommerce stores can boost sales without wasting money on targeting the wrong people or having to compete with more generic big brands.
A good influencer marketing strategy can lead to a ton of sales when done right. But it’s not that easy to pull off. You need to find the right influencer who embodies your brand’s voice and personality. You also have to ensure that their creative style will work well with your brand once they start creating content.
But, before you get into executing your strategy, you'll need to do thorough research and find the right people to collaborate with. Finding the right collaborators and aligning your values will ensure that sales increases don't happen as a one-off thing. Instead, these preparatory actions help you reach the people who will have a real need for your products. In the end, they will be the ones with the potential of growing into a loyal customer base.
After you’ve chosen a few influencers, you also have to build relationships with them. Make sure that they understand what makes your brand unique and the benefit of using your product. Discuss the details of your campaign to avoid future misunderstandings, and don’t forget to pay them properly.
Micro-influencers offer numerous benefits to ecommerce stores that want to boost sales. In addition to being easier to negotiate with, they can also better support your branding efforts. Are you ready to start your influencer marketing campaign? Who are the influencers you want to work with? Request a personalized demo with Emplifi to help you find just the right influencers that you’re looking for.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.