Ecommerce influencer marketing is no longer a trend—it's a solid marketing tactic that’s here to stay.
The influencer marketing industry was valued at $13.8 billion at the end of 2021 and was expected to grow by nearly 20% in 2022. It's obvious: Your ecommerce business should be using influencer marketing to its fullest.
Bloggers, content creators, social media influencers, and YouTube and TikTok stars can help enhance the visibility of your brand and drive sales.
Whether you’re new to influencer marketing or looking to improve your existing program, I'll offer clear influencer marketing strategies and tactics to help you to boost your ecommerce sales.
What Is Ecommerce Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing where a thought leader, influencer, or celebrity is used to promote your products and services to a wider audience. These influencers typically have a following on social media and can influence the decisions of those fans.
Ecommerce influencer marketing is simply when this tactic is applied to an ecommerce business.
Influencer marketing has its roots in digital, but businesses and ecommerce brands have been using celebrities for years to help make their products or services more popular with their target audience.
Humans are social creatures, and we crave social approval. In the increasingly digital world, influencer marketing is replacing traditional word-of-mouth. Consumers look to people they trust both on and offline to help them make buying decisions.
What Are The Benefits Of Ecommerce Influencer Marketing?
It’s estimated that 17% of all ecommerce sales will be attributed to social commerce by 2025. The influencer marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $21.1 billion in 2023. To put it simply, implementing influencer marketing will drive revenue for your business.
The reasons for this are varied. For one, influencer marketing builds trust in your products or services. A trustworthy recommendation can influence potential new customers to take a chance on your business.
For a business that operates entirely online, those online forms of social approval are even more important. They add a human element to your virtual brand.
Influencers can also help attract new audiences. Take the investment banking startup Wealthsimple, for example, whose use of young celebrity endorsements in their marketing interested millennials in this dinosaur industry. Their novel approach proved investing is not just for retirees and yacht owners.
Selecting the right influencer can also build brand loyalty. Influencers themselves work hard to create loyalty among their fanbase—they rely on it to maintain their status as an influencer. Businesses can capitalize on that loyalty when they collaborate with the right influencer.
Aside from these benefits, it’s important to consider broader trends in marketing. Traditional ads and marketing are losing visibility. There was a 9% increase in the usage of ad-blocking tools in 2021, and Apple’s iOS updates in 2021 have wreaked havoc on email marketing.
Influencer marketing is a way for businesses to get around these issues. Influencers can share information about brands with their fans and followers who are actively seeking out their content.
Though owned social media is still a great marketing tactic for your business, keep in mind that the engagement rate on influencer accounts is typically higher than on a corporate account. This means you’ll get a higher return on investment (ROI) from your influencer marketing.
How To Get Started With Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is rapidly evolving into a powerful tool in the ecommerce space. To help you understand how you can use influencer marketing to boost your sales, we've broken down the process into a few simple steps.
Step 1: Define your audience
Before you can find influencers to work within your space, you need to know what that space is. You should already have a clear idea of your niche and your unique value proposition. If not, before you go any further, you’ll need to clearly identify your brand identity and values.
Factors such as the type of imagery or causes you support will help you choose influencers to work with later.
These same brand values will help you identify your existing and potential audiences. What values do your customers believe in? What other brands or causes do they support? Look at your competitors and learn more about who their customers are. What makes them different than your own?
Also, be sure to use your analytics to determine customer demographics. What is their average age? Where are they from? Look at other hobbies or interests that these types of consumers may have beyond your own business.
Then, think about who else shares these interests but is not a customer. What is different about them? You should be able to identify at least two audiences that you can target through influencer marketing.
For instance, an athleisure brand may find their consumers are Gen Z and typically live in medium-sized cities. Market research may show that these consumers are also avid gamers who enjoy watching online games. Both audiences are excellent potential customers that you can then target in your influencer marketing strategy.
Knowing your audience is a key part of knowing what influencers you should target in step two. Your ideal influencer will either share your audience or even be a part of it!
Step 2: Find potential influencers
You may already have an influencer in your midst, promoting your brand without you even realizing it. It’s likely that some of your customers already have a social following or social circle that they can influence.
The classic customer referral or recommendation is still an important part of growing any business. The easiest way to start influencer marketing is simply to incentivize your existing clients to refer their friends or leave you a review.
Consider using marketing automation software to target customers with a review request after their order has been received. For referrals, you can either offer a discount code upon purchase or loyalty rewards, such as exclusive access to features, when your clients share your brand with a friend.
Look next to micro-influencers with a similar audience to your own. Tools like Buzzsumo or NinjaOutreach will help you to identify those with a sizeable following between 1,000 and 100,000 people. Look for the ones with the highest engagement on their posts, or use the tools to filter by your budget, industry, and more.
You should also consider looking to micro-influencers who are already fans of your brand. Their authentic connection with your brand will make working together even easier. Tools like Upfluence Live Capture integrate seamlessly with your ecommerce store to make the process even easier. You can get a glimpse of the size and engagement rate of every customer and use that data to identify potential best influencers.
Though follower count is important, in general, accounts with a smaller number of followers have higher engagement rates, so don’t overlook smaller influencers. For your ecommerce business, this means more social sales.
The only exception to this rule is YouTube, where accounts with over 100,000 subscribers tend to have the highest engagement rate.
If you do have a major influencer across any platform, however, consider finding ways to collaborate with them as well. Though the ROI of these influencers may not be as good as smaller ones, the (larger) influencer’s audience may still lead to more social sales overall.
Aside from their clicks and likes, you’ll also want to understand the audience's relationship with the potential influencer. Do they have a loyal following, for instance? How often are they posting new content? High-quality and frequent content will typically lead to more engaged followers.
The combination of these tactics should provide you with a thorough list of influencers you can begin reaching out to in the next step of the process.
Step 3: Approach the influencer
Once you’ve identified influencers, it’s time to start reaching out!
There are many ways of doing this, so use your own brand values as a guide. Do you tout yourself as a completely digital business? If so, you may want to focus on reaching out online, for instance.
The simplest way to contact influencers is to direct message them individually on the platform of their choice. If you identify an Instagram influencer, for instance, they’ll likely be accustomed to receiving and replying to many messages on the app.
If these influencers are also customers, you’ll have the advantage of having additional contact details. Don’t hesitate to use them! Send emails or try reaching out by phone to talk more about the opportunity.
For smaller influencer programs, this may be a great approach, but if you’re looking to work with many influencers, you should consider using tools to help automate the process. Marketing automation software can allow you to email a list of influencers in a few clicks.
Tools like Klaviyo allow you to split your influencers into different segments and send a custom email to each group, increasing your odds of hearing back. Better yet, it integrates directly with Shopify so that you can set up workflows to automatically email customers at specific times post-purchase.
If you don’t have email information for your influencers, consider a tool like Upfluence that allows you to DM influencers from different social media channels, all within the Upfluence platform.
When crafting your outreach messages, it’s important to be clear about why you want to work with the influencer and what they will get in exchange for the collaboration. Be sure to always show you’ve done your research and be specific and personal about why they are the perfect influencer for your brand. If they’re a customer, thank them for their loyalty.
Step 4: Campaign ideas
When working with influencers to promote your brand, it's important to create a strategy. This allows you to spend your money in the most effective way possible.
One of the best tips is to keep an ongoing relationship with your influencers. Once you’ve selected a few to work with, continue to stay in touch regularly, even between campaigns. Give them an insider peek at the goings-on at your business to keep them engaged.
This will save you from having to repeat steps 1 and 2 each time you plan to run a new campaign.
Influencer campaigns are the most popular way of promoting your brand. These campaigns can be ongoing or one-time promotional offers. Typically, an influencer is provided with an affiliate link or a coupon that allows them to earn a commission for every purchase they influence.
The advantage of a commission model is that it encourages the influencers to take initiative in promoting your business. It incentivizes them to sell and gives you a shared objective that can build your professional relationship.
If you don’t have an affiliate marketing program set up, you could consider offering influencers a flat fee or a free product or service for promoting your business. For instance, they may earn $100 each time they share information about your brand on their Instagram account. In other cases, they may receive trial access to your app in exchange for their role as a brand ambassador.
Though 50% of companies still offer free products and services to influencers, this model is losing popularity. If your offerings are as good as promised, then consumers expect they’re worth paying for.
Product reviews, user-generated content (UGC), or content marketing like how-to videos and blog posts are great ways to promote your business with your influencers. These types of promotions appear more authentic to consumers and offer them insight that can help them make an informed purchase.
From the influencer’s point of view, they’re able to provide honest feedback and helpful tips to their followers, making this a win-win campaign idea.
Encourage influencers to consider video content when it comes to a review since 72% of consumers prefer learning about a product or service in this format. This means that your campaign strategy should also be informed by the type of content influencers produce and the social media platforms they use.
YouTube influencers are ideal for these types of campaigns, for instance, while Instagram may work better for giveaways and special offers.
These giveaways are another great campaign idea for your influencer marketing program. You can either promote an existing offer or create an exclusive discount or giveaway for an influencer’s following.
The one you choose will depend on your overall marketing strategy. You may choose to run both campaigns at different times of the year, for instance, based on traffic and engagement trends.
For instance, the holiday season is ideal for large-scale sales, while the off-season can be an ideal time to leverage your influencer’s following.
The takeaway here is that there is no formula or template that can fit every business. You need to decide which influencer marketing strategies work best for you.
Step 5: Measure ROI
Regardless of what tactics you choose, you’ll need to measure your return on investment to ensure your campaigns and influencers are successful.
The main objectives of any influencer campaign are brand awareness and conversions.
To measure awareness, you should look at the impressions or views of the influencer content as well as the engagement. Though thousands of people may have seen a post, the likes and comments are a better indicator of how many people took the time to read it.
If you’re working with a blogger, measure traffic to the blog and time spent on the page.
Be sure to also keep an eye on how often the content is shared or, if you’re using a hashtag, how often it’s being used. More shares mean more views and more potential sales.
Every brand awareness campaign will involve an action—whether it’s signing up for a newsletter or visiting your ecommerce store. So, be sure to measure KPIs like the number of conversions or clicks and the overall conversion or click-through rate (from view to click).
The best conversions are sales, and these will be the best indicator of an influencer’s success.
If you’re using affiliate marketing software, you’ll easily be able to track sales made using your influencers’ custom coupons or links. You should also be able to track the conversion rate—how many people who clicked the link completed their purchase?
Referral traffic or other types of tracking links and the resulting sales is a decent substitute if you’re not yet using an affiliate marketing tool.
Once you’ve got a clear idea of the social sales generated by a given campaign or influencer, be sure to measure your ROI. Subtract the amount spent to launch the campaign or hire the influencer from your overall revenue.
It may take a few campaigns before you see an ROI, so don’t panic if your return isn’t great. Just keep in mind you’ve likely gained new followers or quality content that offers long-term value.
Influencer marketing is always a winning strategy.
Influencer Marketing Works For All Types of Ecommerce Businesses
Startups, ecommerce giants, and big-box retailers alike are starting to see the value of working with influencers, and it's important to be involved in this growing trend.
Influencer marketing efforts are essential for promoting your ecommerce business. Influencers are a relatively untapped resource that can be used to create a buzz around your online store. By tapping into their network to target new audiences, your brand can reach thousands—even millions of people.
If you are looking for a way to grow your customer base, consider using this article as a guide to launching your own influencer marketing program. It’s a cost-effective way to drive traffic to your site and boost sales.
As mentioned above, influencer marketing tools can help you source, contact, and manage your influencer marketing campaigns.
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