As the competition is growing, online ads on social media and other channels are getting expensive. Moreover, in some cases, it is not delivering the desired ROI as consumers don’t trust brand advertisements.
They trust people they admire. Movie stars and sports athletes used to be the most preferred personalities for brand endorsements.
But, things are changing, and now content creators are the new preferred brand endorsers or, you can say, “influencers.” These people create content on social platforms and regularly engage with their audience, which builds trust and a lasting relationship.
This is where brands implement influencer marketing to leverage this strong bond between influencers and their audience to promote their products & services.
If you are an eCommerce store owner or a marketer who wants to run an influencer marketing campaign for your business, this ecommerce influencer marketing guide is for you.
In this guide, I will walk you through every aspect of influencer marketing and help you build an effective influencer marketing strategy for your eCommerce site.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy where brands collaborate with popular personalities on social media and other platforms to promote their products and services.
eCommerce brands use this marketing strategy to promote their products through endorsements or recommendations from influencers or content creators.
The logic behind this strategy is that instead of investing in paid campaigns to target a random audience, you can leverage the influence or the authority of content creators from your niche to reach targeted audiences.
For example, if you have a skincare line, you can collaborate with well-known lifestyle influencers to try your product and tell their audience about it.
Similarly, if you sell skateboards in your store, you can collaborate with a popular skateboarder to recommend your board to their followers.
Since the recommendation comes from a person they trust and admire, people tend to prefer your products over others. In fact, according to a Rakuten Marketing Study –
- 65% of consumers say they find at least one new brand or product from an influencer weekly.
- 87% of surveyed consumers said they were inspired to purchase based on what they saw from an influencer.
This shows that influencers are valuable to brands and how “influential” they are to consumers.
On the whole, influencer marketing is a persuasive marketing strategy that eCommerce brands can use to psychologically impact customers’ buying intent and reach more customers.
Best Platforms for Ecommerce Influencer Marketing
Influencers are available on every platform, from social media to blogging platforms like Medium. The best influencer marketing platform depends entirely on three factors – the type of products you sell, your goals, and your target audiences.
For eCommerce influencer marketing, Instagram has been the top choice for marketers. Because of its growing user base and multiple content formats, content creators can showcase products in various ways.
You can say that Instagram has become the powerhouse of influencer marketing.
Further, if you look into the data, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube are also popular platforms among marketers.
There are so many platforms where you can find influencers for your products, but the question is – Which is the best platform for your brand?
To help you find the answer, let’s know these platforms better –
Instagram is a photo and video-sharing platform with over 500 million daily active user base. Most of its users are youth under 35 years old, making it an ideal marketing platform for brands targeting youth audiences.
Above that, Instagram offers various content formats which enable content creators to showcase products in multiple ways. Brands love this as it allows them to display their products in multiple use cases and connect with every type of audience.
TikTok is a short video-sharing platform with 650M+ daily active users as of January 2021. It is widely popular among youth both as content creators and consumers. In fact, it is reportedly one of the most popular apps for Gen Z.
The videos on this platform are generally short and filmed in a vertical format. Most of the popular content you will find on the platform are dance, comic, and dubbing videos.
TikTok is an ideal influencer marketing platform for lifestyle eCommerce brands targeting millennials and GenZ consumers.
YouTube is the second most used search engine and a video-sharing social platform. And, unlike TikTok, long-form videos are the most popular content format on this platform.
YouTube provides a huge potential for brands to run influencer marketing campaigns. Brands can collaborate with creators for product reviews, run giveaway contests, or sponsor popular web shows to create awareness.
Twitter is another great option for promoting your business with influencer marketing. It can be an ideal choice for brands to partner with authentic influencers to strengthen their brand voice.
A survey conducted by Twitter found that nearly 49% percent of Twitter users actively relied on influencers for product recommendations, and 40% of Twitter users have made a purchase based on their recommendations.
With more than 2.85 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the most popular social media worldwide. But when it comes to influencer marketing, it lags behind all other platforms due to its low organic reach.
However, if you have a budget, you can run sponsored ads from the Influencers page. This way, the audience will see the post as originating from the influencer rather than the brand.
Further, to avoid broad targeting, you can target the influencers’ page followers to boost your reach among their followers.
Other platforms like Twitch and Snapchat can also be leveraged for influencer marketing, but it is not relevant for eCommerce brands.
Types of Ecommerce Influencers
Influencers range from a small-sized follower base to a large following globally. To pull off successful influencer marketing, you need to pick the right type of influencer based on your goals, budget, and target audience.
Here are the five common types of social media influencers –
1. Nano Influencers
Nano influencers are those social media influencers whose follower base ranges between 1,000 to 10,000.
Though their audience base is small, they have a highly engaging audience base. Such influencers have a stronger connection with their followers as they interact with them consistently via comments, live videos, or direct messages.
Micro-influencers have an audience base of 10,000 to 100,000 on a social platform. They are popular and have a considerably high engagement rate. These influencers have gained a loyal following by being industry or topic experts.
Macro influencers have a large following base from 100,000 to 1 M followers. These influencers may not have gained celebrity status, but they are credible and influential content creators on the platform.
Macro influencers are a perfect match for brands whose goal would be to strike a balance between high reach, brand awareness, and conversion.
4. Mega Influencers
Mega influencers belong to the high-grade category as they are massively popular in their niche with a 1M+ follower base. Such influencers are usually famous TV personalities, athletes, or thought leaders with a global presence.
If you want your brand to get global recognition, then collaborating with mega-influencers can be a great choice.
5. Celebrity Influencers
Celebrity Influencers are usually movie stars, sports athletes, etc., who are considered to be ‘A’ grade and have a huge follower base with more than 10M followers.
They are highly popular among audiences of all age groups and demographics. This makes them relevant for brands targeting a vast audience base from every age group.
How Much Does Influencer Marketing Cost?
The cost and budget of an influencer marketing campaign are based on the influencers you choose to work with. The higher their influence in the market, the higher they will charge to promote your products.
Additionally, there are several other factors that add up to the overall budget of the campaign. The generic formula to calculate the influencer marketing cost can be as follows –
Total cost = Influencer Fees + Extra Factors
Here, Influencer fees are the charges the influencers ask to share a branded post or create content. And the extra factors include –
- Agency fees
- Content production fees
- Campaign types
- Content Usage rights
- Campaign length
and other factors that play an important role in campaign management.
The cost of extra factors entirely depends on your approach to executing the campaign and the type of influencers you choose to work with.
How to create an eCommerce Influencer Marketing Strategy?
Next, to help you start with influencer marketing, in this section, I will show you the exact steps to build an effective influencer marketing strategy for your eCommerce brand.
Ready? Let’s get started.
1. Define your Goals & KPIs
As usual, whenever you decide to implement a new marketing strategy, start with clearly defining what you want to achieve from it. This helps you stay focused and make rapid decisions regarding anything related to the campaign.
Think about how influencer marketing can contribute to your marketing funnel and create SMART goals that you can report and track.
Some of the top goals for brands using influencer marketing are –
- Reach new target customers
- Increase product consideration
- Communicate brand values and purpose
- Drive sales
You can consider these or define your own goals based on your business needs. The idea is to choose one goal and not try to achieve everything from one campaign.
You can build multiple influencer marketing campaigns for different goals but never mix them all in one campaign.
Next, based on your goal, you need to define some metrics you will track throughout the campaign. These metrics are called Key Performance Indices (KPIs).
For instance, if your goal is to reach new target customers, your KPIs can be –
- Number of new customers
- Number of Unique visitors
- Conversion rates (No. of unique visitors/No. Of customers)
Similarly, if your goal is to communicate brand values and purpose, an increase in social media followers, brand sentiment on social media, and similar metrics would be more relevant.
2. Define your Audience Persona
Influencer marketing can be fruitful only if you can reach the right audience via the right influencers.
That’s why the next step would be to define your target audience for the campaign. For this, you can develop an audience persona, a detailed description of the audience with the characteristics of your best potential customers.
The idea behind this is to define the type of people you would like to reach through the campaign. This will guide you in finding the right influencers and creating content with the right marketing messages.
Further Reading – How to create audience persona for eCommerce
3. Estimate your Budget
Influencer marketing is all about money- the more you are willing to spend, the more influencers or popular influencers you can collaborate with.
But going ahead without setting a fixed budget, you may set up a campaign that you may not be able to afford in the long run.
So, it is very important to fix the budget upfront to decide the type of influencers you can afford to achieve your goals.
For example, if your budget is low, you can collaborate with nano or micro-influencers. Such influencers charge low fees and can even collaborate in exchange for free products (if your product is expensive).
On the other hand, with a heavy budget, you can hire popular influencers with a huge follower base, run sponsored ads from their profiles, and more based on your strategy.
So, before going ahead, sit with your team and decide on a budget that the company is willing to invest in the campaign.
4. Find the Right Influencers
By now, you should have fixed a budget for the campaign. If done, you can now decide on the type of influencers you can afford to work with.
So, start finding the influencers from your niche on social media. You can search manually or use the following tools to connect with quality influencers –
- Facebook Collab Manager: A free tool from Facebook where brands can connect with pre-screened influencers on Facebook and Instagram.
- Trufan: Helps brands connect with nano and micro-influencers.
- Upfluence: Helps brands find credible influencers and manage the campaign.
Remember, there are “so-called” influencers using bots to grow their follower base and boost fake engagement. To avoid such influencers, access the profiles carefully and, if necessary, ask for the analytics report from influencers.
While assessing the profiles, you should ask the following questions to determine if they are suitable for your campaign –
- Relevance: Is their content relevant to your products?
- Engagement Rate: Do they have an engaging audience base?
- Content-Type: How often do they publish sponsored content?
- Creativity: How creatively do they share organic posts?
After accessing the profiles, create a list of all the influencers that are fit to be your partners. You can score each influencer based on the above factors, making it easier to shortlist the best one.
5. Reach Out to Influencers
Once you have shortlisted a set of potential influencers, you should reach out to them with your proposal to collaborate.
The way you communicate with influencers makes a difference – a direct message is a great place to start, but you can also communicate via emails to sound professional.
In the message, try to provide as much information as possible about your brand and the campaign so that they can access the opportunities and respond accordingly.
Here’s how your email or DM can be structured –
- Start by introducing yourself. Be clear, friendly, and direct
- Tell them about your business
- Give compliments for their works
- Let them know why you see them fit for your brand
- Communicate your goals and objectives with the collaboration
- Tell them how they will benefit beyond the paycheck
- In the end, leave your contact details so that they can get back to you soon with a response
And, for god sake, don’t send a mass email or generic DM. That won’t work!
Writing personal messages or emails may take a little extra effort, but it will help you build a genuine relationship with influencers. With such a small effort, you will see an increased response rate and get a good deal.
6. Collaborate to Develop Content
Rather than giving your own ideas for content, I think brands should become co-creators with the influencers and brainstorm ideas.
After all, influencers know their audience, and you know your customers better than anyone. So, be open to ideas from your partners and let them showcase their ideas and skills.
Who knows, they may come up with ideas that your marketing team might never have thought of.
Also, as you get started with content creation, you should share the brand guidelines and assets like logos, banners, etc., with the content creator. This way, creators will have a clear idea of how to present their products and keep their brand values intact.
7. Analyze Performance
Finally, once the campaign is live, you have to measure the campaign’s performance and optimize it to improve the results.
There are a few ways of measuring the performance of your partners. You can create a specific hashtag, like #ecomsutra, to track your influencers’ social media actions and how audiences engage with the posts.
Besides, if your goal is to drive sales, you can use tracking URLs or provide exclusive promo codes to each influencer to see how many sales they generate.
Here, you can leverage your affiliate program to provide unique affiliate links & coupon codes to easily track the performance and release the payouts.
Apart from measuring the performance of influencers, it is also important to keep your eyes on the overall campaign performance. So, track the KPIs you have selected in the first step and analyze if the campaign is going in the right direction.
Influencer marketing is not something new. Earlier, brands used to hire TV stars to endorse their products, and now they collaborate with creative content creators across channels from social media to blogs.
So, influencers are always there and are here to stay for a long time. So, without delay, start implementing influencer marketing for your business and see how it impacts your business.
I hope this guide helped you get an overview of eCommerce influencer marketing and build a strategy to run a successful campaign. You should read our eCommerce marketing guide for more tips and strategies to grow your business.