If you use ad blockers and follow certain people on Instagram or YouTube, then you could become a potential target for influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is all about building connections with people and presenting your product in an honest and transparent way. For eCommerce, this is especially important. With tight competition and declining impact of paid ads, the industry has to come up with a brand-new marketing strategy that is persuasive for shoppers. Influencer marketing seems to be the perfect fit.
Influencer marketing 101
Influencers differ from celebrities in the following way:
- Smaller audience
- More authenticity
- Better engagement
The main point about influencers is that they share the same values and interests as their audience and therefore are perceived as honest and reliable.
Image Source: Instagram
Today social media platforms contribute to revenue generation and audience reach significantly. 30% of online shoppers are willing to buy from a social media platform and 23% of the shoppers say they are influenced by recommendations from social media.
Social media is the natural habitat of influencers so it’s a great opportunity for a brand to reach the correct audience in a natural and non-obtrusive manner. Don’t forget the fact that more and more people are getting annoyed with sponsored ads and actively use ad-blocking technology to avoid seeing an unwanted advertisement.
Summing up, influencer marketing is:
- Not annoying.
- Corresponding with an audience’s values.
For eCommerce specifically, social media is a new marketplace with vast opportunities for growth and promotion. Considering the level of customization of certain eCommerce platforms (Magento, mostly), the incorporation of social media in a store is a piece of cake. So once you have everything ready, you can go ahead and outline your influencer marketing strategy.
Before you start planning how to reach influencers and what kind of campaign to launch, there are some steps to take.
Groundwork: prepare for big deeds
Ok, so you want to collaborate with influencers in order to reach your audience and sell your product to them. From there comes a question: do you have a clear portrait of your target audience?
The first thing to do when approaching influencer marketing is to identify your target audience because it will dictate the choice of social media platform. If you have multiple target audiences, choose in accordance with the campaign goals.
Once you have a clear and defined portrait of your audience, you can:
- Send surveys to learn about their preferences.
- Do research about the social media behavior of your shoppers.
- Have a closer look at the competition and its strong and weak points.
It is important to know exactly what people like and need because you are launching a marketing campaign for them. And if you miss the target, you may not only lose money but hurt your reputation too.
Alongside the audience research, set your goals. Influencer marketing can serve one of the following:
- Drive customer acquisition
- Build awareness
Every goal requires a different social media platform for better results. So we are gliding towards the next step in your influencer marketing campaign, which is the platform choice.
Choosing the best social media platform
Below you will find an overview of the most popular social media platforms used by eCommerce businesses. Each of them helps achieve different objectives and serves a different audience so choose what will be the best for your business.
Last year, Instagram claimed to have approximately 1 billion active users and the number seems to grow in a steady manner. Here are the main takeaways on Instagram:
- Audience: 35 years old and younger; the majority of the users are female.
- Great for: growing awareness, expanding audience reach, communicating with your audience.
- What’s awesome about it: Instagram Stories are gaining immense popularity and now offer an option to tag products so they are shoppable on the platform.
YouTube is a powerful social media platform with about 2 billion monthly active users.
- Audience: millennials and boomers between 25-44 years old; the majority of the users are male.
- Great for: both branding and traffic acquisition.
- What’s awesome about it: it works efficiently at every part of the marketing funnel, offers engaging visual content and, at the same time, drives traffic to your site.
This platform caters for the youngest audience among them all but is a force to be reckoned with.
- Audience: between 18-24 years old; the majority of the users are female.
- Great for: creating a buzz in real time.
- What’s awesome about it: the spontaneous nature of posting on Snapchat can help your brand gain incredible audience reach, if the post is crafted well.
Since you want people to learn about your products and buy them, these platforms are the best for posting reviews and holding competitions or giveaways.
Fantastic influencers and where to find them
Finding the right influencer for your brand may seem challenging but it’s actually easier than it sounds. There are a few ways to find the perfect match.
The most obvious place to look for an influencer is the list of your existing followers.
That’s right – sometimes, the most dedicated fans of your brand already share your products in their feeds. As Laura Lindsey (blogger and YouTuber) says, “It always amazes me when brands miss out on opportunities right under their noses. The people posting about you are loyal to your brand already. They’ve already established legitimacy in their follower’s eyes. Nurture those relationships, and your message will blossom!”
This is an easy one: just Google the top bloggers/YouTubers that share the same lifestyle as you promote.
Specify the field of interest and look for the lists like “Top-10 beauty bloggers on YouTube” or “Top-20 best reviews of product X”. By making your search narrow-focused, you will not only see huge influencers (like PewDiePie, for example) but local or smaller influencers that may be easier to reach.
Image Source: Google
Influencer marketing tools
There are a number of available tools that help you search for influencers, compare them and manage your campaigns. Since the majority of these tools share similar functionality, you can test them and see what will work the best for you.
- Buzzsumo – Offers a search for influencers and an analysis of the content they share. You also have the option to follow your chosen influencers and contact them.
- Peg – This platform is designed specifically to power influencer marketing and has an array of corresponding features. Peg helps you find the perfect influencer for your brand with the help of advanced filtering and provides deep insights into a campaign’s performance.
- Reachbird – This is very similar to Peg and offers great insights, an option for content planning and a powerful keyword-based search engine.
- Deep Social – This platform is powered by AI and offers advanced search of influencers and the insights about their audience and content.
Choosing the perfect influencer for your brand
Once you have a list of influencers (up to 100 potential candidates), pitch them and ask more about their values, what they think about their audience and whether they are interested in a collaboration. After that, you will normally end up with a few people who fit perfectly within your strategy and brand and are ready to collaborate with you.
However, there are some red flags to know before pitching influencers.
Amount of sponsored content
Followers love authenticity and personal opinions and views of their favorite influencer. Thus, if an influencer has almost all of their content as sponsored, this might be a warning sign that this person works for brands only.
Engagement vs. followers
What you need from a collaboration with an influencer is a response from their audience. So when choosing an influencer, look at the engagement from their followers but not at their number.
You might have come across Instagram profiles with +100K followers that only have 10-20 likes on their posts. That means the majority of the followers are fake. If that’s the case with the influencer, that means the audience will engage with neither an influencer nor your brand.
There are a few important things to keep in mind when communicating with an influencer:
- Be genuine and honest.
- Make sure to provide enough information about your brand.
- Build a relationship and establish trust.
An excellent example of a terrible relationship with an influencer is the infamous promotion of Bootea by Scott Disick. Though Scott deleted the photo almost immediately after posting, some people managed to take screenshots. What happens in the photo is the worst nightmare of any marketer: the influencer simply copy and pasted the caption that the brand sent him, without adjusting it all.
This displays perfectly why you have to make 100% sure the influencer is on the same page as you and is willing to display your brand in a positive and engaging manner.
Working with an influencer: do’s and don’ts
The practices below will help you organize the working process with your influencer that will result in a mutual win-win.
The influencer already has their loyal audience and that’s the primary reason you approached them. Here is what you can do to make your relationship blossom:
- Compensate financially: the influencer has to be paid for their work so respect that. Free samples are nice but don’t forget about the payment.
- Let them be creative: don’t set strict guidelines on content creation.
- Outline the main points that you’d like them to mention: an announcement of a sale, discount, or a new product line.
Important: make sure the post will be labeled as sponsored or will have this caption. Transparency is vital and sponsored posts that don’t have a corresponding caption may be banned or will bring negative results.
Image Source: Instagram
The most common pitfalls of marketers who work with influencers are:
- Providing strict guidelines on what to say and how to act.
- Asking to talk too much about the product and its unique selling proposition.
- Limiting the time for the video/amount of photos.
- Focusing on the product’s features instead of its value.
Campaign types and efficiency tracking
There are a few campaign types depending on your goals and the product.
Product reviews work so well because they are similar to reviews from family and peers. Since shoppers rely on reviews heavily and make their purchase decisions based on feedback from other shoppers, a review from an influencer can boost your sales immensely.
Image Source: Instagram
Another great way to promote your product is to host a giveaway or a contest, announced on the influencer’s page.
Such contests often ask participants to like, comment, or follow the brand and the influencer and actively engage with posts. In this manner, a brand can drive a great number of new followers and expand its audience significantly.
One more campaign is simply featuring the product in content. This may be an entertaining video or a shoutout post.
Content like this does not describe the product in detail but mentions it, with a link attached.
Metrics to measure
These are the metrics that help measure the success of your campaign:
- Increased organic search traffic
- Engagement (likes, shares, comments)
- Number of sales
- Conversions from users.
Influencer marketing can boost your brand recognition and sales greatly if done right. Considering the popularity of social media and its ability to drive conversions, it is a perfect marketplace for tech-savvy brands that recognize the importance of genuine feedback from the audience and are ready to establish a relationship with it.