How to Create Value Through Influencer Marketing and eCommerce
by Ruthie Carey
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Influencer marketing has earned a spot among the top go-to eCommerce marketing strategies, including SEO, content marketing,email marketing campaigns, PPC advertising, and the like.
The reason for its inclusion among such elite tactics is the high engagement rates it produces, the ability to strategically target online audiences and its impressive ROI. As Influencer Marketing Hub reports in its2020 influencer marketing benchmark report, for every $1 spent on such campaign types, brands are generating an ROI of $5.78.
Part of what makes influencer marketing so effective is that this type of promotional strategy leverages the credibility of online personalities to promote sponsored endorsements. In fact,the power of influencer marketing has enabled many now-popular brands to launch their business, such as Naked Juice and Audible.
The fact of the matter is that influencer marketing is the perfect vehicle for generating engagement, sales and creating value for brands and consumers alike.
To help retailers leverage influencer marketing in 2021 and to bring valuable content and information to potential customers, today, we will explore precisely how sellers can use this marketing modality in a profitable and advantageous manner.
But first, let’s take a look at why sellers should consider folding influencer campaigns into their overall marketing strategies.
Why Use Influencer Marketing?
We have already mentioned the substantial ROI that influencer marketing can produce, but the question is: Why is influencer marketing such a profitable endeavor?
Plainly put, social proof matters to people. This is precisely whyusing user-generated content is such an effective tactic as well. This type of content clearly shows other potential buyers that others have purchased the item and found it to be worthy of their dollars and praise.
Therefore, influencer marketing (much like user-generated content) is useful in overcoming common hurdles in developing trust with target audiences. This is important as nearly all buyers trust recommendations from individuals over brands, even if they don’t know the person endorsing the product or company. Proving this point, when examiningonline review statistics, Search Engine Journal reports:
“BrightLocal’s local consumer survey shows that 91% of consumers between the age of 18 to 34 are big believers of online reviews, trusting them as much as personal recommendations… While online reviews are seeing a rise in consumer trust, the same can’t be said for traditional advertising. According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, fewer people are trusting advertising, with 3 in 4 consumers saying that they avoid advertising altogether.”
Speaking specifically to influencer marketing, Digital Marketing Institute influencer marketing statistics reveal that:
“Not only do 49 percent of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, 40 percent had purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube or Instagram… Over half of women made purchases due to influencer posts, with Facebook and Instagram being the preferred platforms.”
Ultimately, what this all means is that influencer marketing can be a far more effective sales strategy than traditional advertising as online personalities provide a brand with credence, thereby overcoming significant barriers that a business would have trouble breaking down on its own.
With that said, let’s go ahead and explore how brands can create a valuable campaign for themselves, consumers, and influencers alike.
Laying the Groundwork for an Influencer Marketing Campaign
Before merchants can launch a campaign that brings useful products, information, and the like to consumers, it is necessary to lay the foundation of the campaign by:
Defining the Audience
Before retailers can start seeking out influencers for their campaigns, it is first necessary to get a clear picture of the target audience.
For this step,creating eCommerce customer personas will be a necessary step as this will not only help to define the buyer but the type of influencers they are likely to follow and content they are likely to enjoy as well.
Determine Campaign Goals
Prior to selecting specific influencers and determining the type of influencer marketing campaign to run, it is necessary that sellers first determine what they aim to achieve with the campaign. Goals merchants might strive to achieve include:
By defining a campaign’s aim beforehand, sellers will be more likely to produce fruitful collaborations.
Establish Social Platforms
Much likebuilding an effective social media marketing strategy, it is important to determine which platforms will be best to use for the campaign. This can partially be determined by finding out which platforms are most popular among the target audience, which should be uncovered when creating buyer personas.
Since that time, platforms like Twitch, Snapchat, and TikTok have likely supplanted Twitter and blogs as each of these platforms has seen substantial growth in the past couple of years.
Choose a Campaign Type
With the foundation set, merchants can now turn their attention to selecting a type of campaign to run. The chances are that retailers already have a good idea of which format to utilize, as this can often be determined by the type of goal(s) sellers have selected for the promotion.
Product discounts and influencer-led affiliate marketing campaigns are a couple of the most popular types of influencer marketing pushes.
Through this tactic, merchants will provide influencers with a dedicated URL to which they can send consumers to purchase a product at a discounted price or sign up for a brand’s services.
Similarly, discount codes can serve a similar purpose as each is easily tracked and can be embedded in graphics, video, or shared through podcasts.
No matter if using a discount code or dedicated URL, launching this type of campaign enables sellers to easily track the promotion’s ROI.
Competitions and Giveaways
Competitions, contests, and giveaways are other immensely popular influencer marketing campaign types that are great for increasing exposure, generating buzz, acquiring new email subscribers, and elevating engagement levels.
When running these types of influencer campaigns, the prizes must be exciting or lucrative enough to get people excited, as well as specific to the target audience.
Alternatively, whenrunning a social media contest or competition, an easy way to drive engagement is to include stipulations on entering the contest, such as:
Liking specific brand posts
Following the company
Signing up for the company’s email list
Creating and sharing original content
However, no matter which route is selected, be sure that the rules are completely transparent and straightforward so as to encourage the most engagement possible and not turn folks away as a result of convoluted terms and conditions.
Social Media Takeover
Social media takeovers are one of the more recent types of campaigns to emerge in the influencer sphere, quickly gaining popularity and momentum.
For those who are unaware, social media takeovers are a type of influencer campaign wherein online personalities take control of a brand’s social account(s) for an agreed-upon period of time as a means of increasing exposure and interest in the company.
Under this paradigm, retailers must enable influencers to curate content for the brand, post using their distinct voice and personality and essentially make the channel their own.
Some activities that might occur during such a campaign are question and answer sessions, selfie sharing, contests, and the like.
Brand Ambassador Programs
Brand ambassadors are folks who utilize a company’s products and enjoy them so much that they are willing to help promote the organization. Many businesses are collaborating with ambassadors as a means of taking influencer marketing to the next level.
Since these influencers already love what a brand is doing and has to offer, it shouldn’t take too much convincing to get them on board.
With a brand ambassador program, influencers share images, posts, articles, videos, and similar assets relating to a company’s product on an ongoing basis and regularly promote the brand via social media.
Seek Out Suitable Influencers
With the foundation set and campaign type selected, it is time to start seeking out influencers who align with the audience and campaign types selected.
There is a significant chance that a seller’s follower list possesses a handful of enthusiastic, loyal consumers who are already promoting the brand to their own followings, participating in campaigns, commenting on posts, and engaging with the company in various ways.
This loyalty should be nurtured to create a lasting relationship with them as there is a chance that they are (or soon could be) a micro-influencer.
More on micro-influencers shortly.
Using Google Search, retailers can simply look up the top influencers within a given niche. From there, merchants can go to their social media pages and separate the wheat from the chaff based on who aligns with the company’s personality, values, and campaign objectives.
Influencer Marketing Platforms
As it stands, there are a ton of tools that retailers can leverage to find industry-specific influencers. Platforms like BuzzSumo, Followerwonk, and others are quite popular.
However, there are also a bunch ofinfluencer marketing platforms where sellers can sift through influencer profiles and pitch to them with the explicit intent of partnering on a promotional effort.
While the latter doesn’t really enable businesses to develop a relationship with influencers prior to the campaign, it can help in uncovering micro-influencers and cutting down on the leg work for finding the right folks for a campaign.
Find Micro-Influencers on Social Media
Influencer marketing campaigns don’t always need to be led by social media superstars. In fact, numerous studies have shown that the larger the influencer’s following, the lower campaign engagement. This is often the result of large followings having more diverse interests. Therefore, campaign targeting is diminished by massive social followings.
However, the remedy to this ismicro-influencer marketing. Micro-influencers are those who possess between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. These folks tend to enjoy much higher engagement rates due to the refined, tight-knit nature of the audience.
Therefore, seeking out social media influencers, retailers should turn to use the search function on various social sites to seek out these types of personalities as a small group of them can often prove to be more effective than partnering with a significant social celebrity.
Create and Launch the Campaign
At this point, retailers have just about everything ready to go as they have already established their objectives, the social networks they will be targeting, the type of campaign they wish to run, and the group of influencers who will be participating in the campaign.
From here, merchants and influencers must collaborate to put in place the actual nuts and bolts of the campaign, including details such as assets to be created and shared, dates the campaign will be run, cross-promotional efforts, and the like.
It is crucial to keep in mind during this stage that the influencer has likely participated in a similar effort before and to provide them with the creative freedom necessary to cultivate content that will resonate with their follower.
Moreover, if an influencer feels that some campaign elements should be changed, it is wise to be open to suggestions as they know their audience best.
After working together to refine the details of the campaign and to create the assets needed for the promotion, it is time to launch the push.
Launch the Campaign
After going through the process outlined above, the only thing left to do is actually to launch the campaign and measure the results.
However, as with most any other marketing campaign, influencer campaigns are not a set it and forget it type of deal where retailers can sit back and wait for the customers to start pouring into their store. Instead, the campaign must be closely monitored to determine which tactics worked and which did not.
The fact of the matter is that influencer marketing is not an exact science. Therefore, while sellers might think that certain tactics will be a hit or that a specific influencer will reach the ideal buyer, this may not always be the case.
Therefore, merchants must harvest as much tangible, measurable data from the campaign as possible, tracking its performance as it unfolds so as to improve upon future endeavors.
Since there are a variety of advanced,must measure metrics to track and analyze, it is best to procure a professional who will be able to monitor and examine the data points for the business.
Measure Results and Adjust
If the brand identified its campaign goals and developed its message successfully, it should be able to accurately measure how well the campaign performed and draw clear, actionable insights that will unlock future improvements.
For instance, if the goal of the campaign was to generate new leads, sellers would want to measure the number of new prospects gained from each influencer and social media channel used to determine which were most fruitful.
Alternatively, if the goal of the campaign was to promote a product, retailers will want to pinpoint which influencers generated the most sales and which messages were most resonant with target audiences.
Over time, by continuing to refine campaign messaging and develop relationships with specific influencers, retailers can turn influencer marketing into one of their most fruitful and lucrative promotional strategies.
Influencer marketing can be a powerful tool for eCommerce retailers, assuming that they plan their campaigns to deliver maximum value. When done right, influencer marketing efforts can boost brand awareness, elevate traffic levels, increase conversions and generate tons of sales.
By utilizing the formula laid out above, retailers can open up their business to new groups of consumers, increase their brand’s bottom line and generate a significant ROI.
A graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, Ruthie joined Visiture in 2020 with a liberal arts degree steeped in writing, editing, and content marketing. Interests include hiking with her black labrador Derby, spinning front row at CycleBar, and frequenting Cava.
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