With the rise of Social Media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok along with bloggers came the influencer, a person or business with a sizeable following and while it took a while, ecommerce businesses soon began to realize the potential of partnering with them.
But how can you add Influencer Marketing as part of your store’s marketing strategy? Well, we created a guide to help you get started with this as EcommerceGold is technically an influencer website/YouTube channel so we have a good idea as to how the business works.
And we cover everything from how to start developing a campaign, to finding the right influencers to work with, so let’s get started…
- What is Influencer Marketing?
- What are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce Businesses?
- How to Create an Influencer Marketing Campaign
- How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Brand
- How to Pitch Your Brand to Influencers
- Tracking the Success of Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns
- Best Practices for Influencer Marketing
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that involves promoting products or services through the use of individuals or organizations who have a strong presence on social media or other platforms, and who are able to influence the purchasing decisions of their followers.
What are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce Businesses?
Before you jump into reaching out to influencers to promote your product, it can be useful to understand a few of the ways that influencer marketing can benefit your ecommerce and we have listed some of the main ones below:
Increased Brand Awareness & Credibility
One of the main benefits of partnering with influencers is that you can significantly increase your brand awareness as influencers usually have a wider audience that you may not be able to reach by some other marketing methods.
And partnering with the right influencers can also give your brand additional credibility as they are effectively endorsing your product, even though they are being paid to do so but in the eyes of their audience, it makes your product more legit.
Influencers generally have a highly engaged following that is receptive to the products that they promote and influencer posts or videos can often have higher levels of engagement than you may be able to achieve with your posts or videos.
Social Media Growth
Partnering with the right influencers can often lead to growth of your own social media accounts as people will check you out and if they like the product that you are selling, then they will follow you directly.
Increased website traffic
A pretty obvious one is that influencer marketing campaigns can lead to a short-term increase in traffic to your site, especially if the influencer includes a link to your site in their content.
This may surprise some but influencer marketing can be beneficial to your site’s SEO as you may get links from their social media profiles or websites if they have one. Another benefit could be that people start searching for your brand, especially if the influencer puts focus on mentioning your brand in their posts and as it is easier to rank for branded terms, you can start generating more organic clicks.
Higher Conversion Rates
People are more likely to buy products that are promoted by people they follow and trust and this is why traffic from influencer marketing campaigns can have higher conversion rates than those from other marketing methods, which can result in better ROI.
It Can be Cost-Effective
Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to reach a highly engaged target audience for your business and when compared to some other marketing methods, it can be a cost-effective way of doing so.
How to Create an Influencer Marketing Campaign
The first step in influencer marketing is to start planning your campaign as this is going to make it much easier to find and also work with influencers that you think are going to be a good fit for your business.
Setting campaign goals and objectives
If you don’t have any goals and objectives in place for your campaign, then it is destined to fail from the start and will be a waste of time and money for your business.
But as each business is different, there can be many different types of goals that you can set, such as:
- Increasing Brand Awareness – One popular goal for influencer marketing is to make more people aware of your brand or the products and/or services that you offer
- Grow Website Traffic – Another popular goal is to generate more website traffic and this can be directly from your chosen influencers or people searching for your brand directly
- Boosting Sales – The one most people think of is increasing the number of sales that your business makes
- Establishing Credibility – If you are struggling to stand out in a crowded marketplace, then being seen as a credible product by influencer endorsements can help you stand out
- Grow Your Own Following – What better way to grow your own following than to piggyback off someone elses and as this means you can then reach them directly, it can be a good goal to aim for
When setting your goals, it can be very beneficial to be more specific with your goals as ‘Growing your own following’, for example, is very broad but ‘Increasing our Instagram following by 50% in 6 months’ is a much clearer goal to work towards and it is also a lot more measurable!
Developing a creative brief and guidelines for influencers
Once you have decided on the goals and objectives that you want to achieve from your influencer marketing campaign, you want to develop a creative brief that outlines the details and expectations for the content that the influencer will create and doing this before you reach out to influencers can make the process much easier.
When it comes to your creative brief, you want it to include important aspects including:
- The campaign’s overall objectives and desired outcomes
- The target audience, including and any key demographics
- The tone and style of the content
- What you want covered, such as any specific themes or topics
- The format (Instagram post, YouTube video etc) and length of the content (for videos and blog posts)
- The schedule of the content
- Whether any branding or logos are to be included
- Any legal or compliance considerations
In addition to the creative brief, you also want to create a set of guidelines that the influencer should follow when creating the sponsored content and this can include things such as avoiding any topics or language, making sure that the content fits with your brands messaging and values and making sure you approve of the content before it is published.
This can be very helpful to have when looking to work with influencers as while you want to allow them creative freedom (it is their platform after all) but you also want to make sure that the content works for your brand.
It can also make life easier for the influencer as it helps them understand the purpose of your campaign, which can help them produce their content.
Get a Contract Template Created
When you work with an influencer, it is a business deal and to make sure everything goes according to plan you want to have a contract in place that can be amended for each influencer that you work with.
This helps to protect both parties should anything go wrong on either side (it shouldn’t be just one-sided to protect your business!) but as this is a legal document, you want this to be drawn up by a lawyer so that it would stand up in a court of law should it come to that and ideally, each individual contract should be done by a lawyer so that once again the contract is legal.
Yes, this is an added cost but one that could potentially save you a lot of money.
How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Brand
Once you have got the outline for your campaign set up, it is time to start looking for influencers and for this you want to create a shortlist as you aren’t going to be able to work with everyone that you want to, so how do you go about finding the right influencers?
Knowing your Target Audience
This one is really important and as an ecommerce business, you should already know who your target audience is, for example, if you sell car accessories, then you know that your target audience is people interested in cars.
But you want to narrow it down a bit more than this as people interested in cars is a very broad selection of people, so you want to figure out some specific demographics, such as:
- Age range
- Specific Interests (using the car example, are they into specific brands or types of car such as tuners, muscles, exotics etc)
By doing this, you can start to narrow down the platforms where your target market is likely to be and sticking with the car example, people in their 50’s, who live in the USA and are into muscles cars are more likely to be viewing content on blogs or YouTube than they are on TikTok and knowing where your target audience is likely to make the next step easier.
Researching Influencers in Your Niche
Now it is time to start finding influencers within your niche and this is where knowing where your target audience is likely to be, makes this a lot easier because if you know which platform/s they are on, then you can start searching for influencers on that platform.
You can do this manually by searching through these platforms and while this can produce a good list of options, you can speed up the process by doing things such as:
- Searching Google for the most popular influencers such as the best YouTube channel for muscle cars etc
- Using online groups and forums such as Reddit and Quora to see if there are people who are commonly mentioned
One of the great things about the algorithms of most of these platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok are that they start providing recommended content and this can help you find even more potential influencers.
When you find an influencer that you feel might be a good match, make sure to spend some time looking at their content, whether its videos, blog posts or social media posts as this will give you a better idea as to whether they would be a good match or not as just basing a decision of a single video or post can backfire!
Evaluating the Reach and Engagement of Potential Influencers
Before you start sending out your pitches to these potential influencers, you want to do some research into their reach and engagement as a common mistake many people make when they first start looking for influencers is that they just look at the size of the following but in most cases, this is nothing more than a vanity metric.
What really matters is the reach of their content and how much engagement they get and with most platforms you can check this without having access to their analytics and using YouTube as an example, you can see:
- The number of subscribers they have
- How many views they get on their videos
- The number of likes they get
- How many comments they get on their videos
The higher the number of views, likes and comments they get on their video shows that they have good reach and are getting good engagement. There are also tools you can use, such as VidIq for YouTube that can give you a bit more information regarding their channel and videos.
If you are a small ecommerce business with a small marketing budget and are relatively unknown, you are not going to be doing deals with huge influencers, sorry to burst your bubble but it simply won’t happen and this is why you need to be realistic and could you deal with an influx of customers and orders if you did work with one of these?
Instead, you want to work with influencers that have a relative size to your business as:
- They are going to be more likely to work with you
- Their fees are going to be considerably smaller
- They may have a very targeted audience
This means that as a small ecommerce business, you want to be looking at working with influencers that might on have a few thousand followers but could be a great fit for your business.
How to Pitch Your Brand to Influencers
Once you have got your list of potential influencers, it is time to start doing some outreach to potentially get the ball rolling but before you do that, you want to do a little more research as many influencers try to make things easy for companies by having a media kit or a work with me/us page available on their website.
This can provide some really valuable information about their business, including the size of their following, reach etc but also contact information, what type of sponsored content they are prepared to do and some even include a fee schedule so you know what you can expect to pay.
But when it comes to your initial outreach email, there are a few things you want to do and as most influencers get quite a few requests from companies looking to work with them and you need to get their attention and the following simple things can make a difference:
- Find the name and email address of the person you want to contact, whether the influencer directly or their business manager etc
- Address that person by name, it shows you’ve done your research
- Make the subject line clickable
- Introduce yourself, your business and your product, so they know what is being pitched to them
- Don’t make stupid claims or demands in the opening pitch email as it will just get deleted
- Have a good sign-off that encourages a conversation
Even if you do all the things right, you still might not get opens or replies to your emails and this is to be expected but you can increase the chances of getting a reply by sending 1 or 2 follow-up emails so that you hopefully get back to the top of their inbox.
Negotiating Terms and Agreements
If you do get a reply from the influencer and they are interested in working with your business then it is time to enter the negotiation stage and this is going to vary each time but some of the things you want to agree on are:
- What is going to be published
- How long the partnership will last (number of posts, videos etc)
- The fee, will it be a one-off fee, a free product/service, affiliate commissions etc or a combination
- What information you will require once the content is live such as views, likes etc
Once you have come to an agreement that both parties are happy with, it is time to get the contract for this deal drawn up and as mentioned earlier, it is best to get them done by a lawyer.
The contract will then be signed by both parties and once this is done, you can both begin moving forward with getting the content created, approved and published.
Building Long-Term Partnerships with Influencers
If you find an influencer who you feel is a good fit for your brand, you want to set the foundations for a long-term partnership and it can be useful to mention this when you are in discussion with the influencer that if the campaign works out well and you are both happy that you would like to potentially work with them again in the future.
This makes it much easier to work with them again in the future depending on circumstances, you could opt for:
- Recurring sponsorships – where you sponsor their posts once every few months
- A fixed-term sponsorship – these are usually a few months up to a year where you agree to a number of posts/videos to be published in that timeframe
- Brand ambassador – this is the next level to a fixed-term sponsorship as they become an ambassador for your brand
- Affiliate Marketing – this is where they continue to promote your product and earn a commission for every sale made via their link
These can be really good if you manage to partner with an influencer who is on the rise as they may be able to help your business grow over the long term.
Tracking the Success of Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns
In order to know whether your influencer marketing campaign has been a success or not, you need to have some data and one of the best ways to do this is to provide the influencer with a unique link that can be tracked and it will provide you with valuable information, including:
- The number of clicks the link got
- Where those clicks came from
- The conversion rate of those clicks
You can then use this information to calculate the ROI of the campaign.
For data relating to goals that aren’t related to sales, this can be a bit more difficult to manage and may require the use of specialist software but some things you can manually monitor are:
- Did your number of followers increase following a post being published?
- Was there an increased number of searches for your brand name?
- Was there a general increase in traffic to your site following a post being published?
As part of your agreement with the influencer, you can request that they provide information in response to the sponsored posts they published, including:
- Number of views
- Average view duration (for videos)
- Number of likes and comments
They can also give you an idea as to the comments in relation to the post as to whether they are mostly positive or negative.
All this information can then be analyzed to show you whether or not the campaign has been successful.
Best Practices for Influencer Marketing
We’ve covered a fair few points in this post but here are some best practices to adhere to when it comes to running influencer marketing campaigns.
Disclosing Sponsored Content
Any paid-for or sponsored content always needs to be disclosed so that the person consuming the content knows that it has been paid for and this isn’t just an ethical thing as there can be serious consequences for not disclosing it as there are strict rules and regulations in many countries regarding advertising guidelines.
So as part of your agreement with the influencer, you need to explicitly state that they need to disclose to their audience that it is a sponsored post and if you provide them an affiliate link that their audience needs to know it is an affiliate link.
Staying within Advertising Regulations
This very much follows on from the point above but check with the advertising guidelines of any relevant countries to make sure that the post falls within these regulations, so make sure there are no false claims being made about the product or service as both parties could find themselves in trouble if there is.
This is why it is important as the brand to approve all sponsored content before it gets published so that you know that it is ok as some influencers (and brands) can be a bit loose with the truth!
Providing Value To Both Parties
A big point and one that many brands fail to realize is that this is a business partnership and both parties should get value from it, as the one conducting the campaign, you know what you are looking to achieve but what is your potential partner looking to gain from this?
It may purely be financial but there may be other considerations when it comes to value and this is where good communication between both parties can be very important, especially if there is the potential for a long-term partnership.
Influencer marketing can be a great way to grow your ecommerce business as you can get your product and brand in front of an audience that you may have struggled to reach otherwise but knowing how to go about this can make a big difference as to whether your campaigns are a success or not.
And while we have covered many different points in this guide, it basically comes down to:
- Knowing what you want to achieve from the campaign
- Finding the right influencers to work with
- Working together so you both get an outcome that you are happy with