Today’s shoppers trust their peers more than they trust brands. They turn to their friends for recommendations and seek out reviews before they even think about buying from a brand they’ve never heard of.
Bringing influencers onboard replicates this traditional word-of-mouth marketing by tapping into a pre-built audience. Even better, influencers–however big or small–have already fostered trust with their followers so you don’t have to.
If you want to tap into the power of influencer marketing (and, let’s be real here, why wouldn’t you?!), here’s a guide to doing it right.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a strategy that sees brands team up with relevant, industry influencers or experts to promote their products.
While a lot of influencer marketing takes place on social media (like Instagram, and TikTok), it’s not relegated to social feeds. It can also manifest in blog takeovers, real-life events, and even newsletter collabs.
Many ecommerce brands are using micro-influencer partnerships to promote their products for extra exposure and revenue without the need to build trust from scratch.
Why is influencer marketing important for selling products?
Consumers today crave genuine recommendations. It’s the reason 93% of shoppers read reviews before they purchase. Tapping into existing and established audiences can take your product marketing to the next level through increased visibility and brand awareness.
Here are some of the benefits ecommerce brands can get from influencer marketing:
- Increased trust: Trust leads to long-term loyalty and sales. It’s particularly important for new ecommerce brands to garner trust with shoppers–and influencers who have already spent time building solid relationships with their audience can help do this.
- Brand awareness and visibility: It’s a no-brainer that you’ll get more eyeballs on your brand and product if you have a team of influencers sharing your stuff with their followers.
- Reach the right people: 80% of content is targeted at the wrong audience. Avoid this by choosing influencers who have an audience you’d like to reach.
- Grow traffic and revenue: Influencers are good at influencing purchase decisions (the clue is in the name).
- Refresh your social feeds: Using influencers can be a great way to reinvigorate your TikTok and Instagram content marketing strategy.
When done right, this type of marketing can send more traffic to your store which can easily turn into more sales and revenue.
It’s easy to become a broken record if it’s just you touting your business and products. Influencer marketing brings other, trusted individuals on board to help spread the word for extra trust and more sales.
What are the different types of influencers?
Gone are the days where influencer marketing = paying millions of pounds to have a top-name celebrity promote your product for all of three seconds.
Influencers are anyone and everyone who has the ability to promote your products–it could even be your customers (who, for the record, can often be your most effective marketers).
There are four main tiers of influencers:
Nano-influencer: Nano-influencers have less than 10,000 social media followers and are often niche accounts. Take cutlercruising who’s a beauty therapist on a cruise liner. They recently partnered with luggage brand It. Nano-influencers often have smaller, more focused followings which will help you reach a targeted audience.
Micro-influencer: Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, like Isa Welly, who partnered with OHMG Water to promote their latest drinks. Since micro-influencers have large followings in a focused niche, partnering with them will help you get lots of exposure in your chosen industry.
Macro-influencer: Macro-influencers have between 100,000 and 1 million followers, like Dom Lever, who is an ambassador for the fashion brand Nova Men. Macro-influencers are well-known in their niche and often have a lot of clout. Collaborating with them can dramatically increase the visibility of your brand and products.
Mega-influencer: Mega-influencers have over 1 million followers, like Kylie Jenner, who regularly works with huge brands such as Balenciaga. Partnering with mega-influencers will create a huge buzz around your brand (and maybe even sell your products out in the process), but it’ll set you back a pretty penny.
The price of working with influencers will vary depending on their clout and follower count. As a general rule, marketers will pay around £80 per 10,000 followers. Expect to pay considerably more if you partner with macro- and mega-influencers. Kylie Jenner reportedly charges £1 million per Instagram post. 😱
How to find the right influencers for your target audience
Now you know the power of the influencer ⚡️let’s take a look at where you can find them. Where do you even start when 80% of all Instagram accounts have over 1,000 followers and TikTok has more than 50,000 influencers?
Here’s a guide to finding the right influencer.
1. Relevant hashtags
Hashtags provide the perfect opportunity to see who’s posting on what topic. Run a quick search on hashtags that are relevant to your brand or products and keep an eye out for accounts that regularly pop up or that have a lot of followers or engagement on their posts.
For example, a search for #beautypicks on Instagram revealed this top post by sincerely.betty that had a ton of likes and comments.
2. Influencer tools
Influencer tools automate a lot of the search process. They bring together influencers and brands and match up collabs based on budget, niche, and metrics.
It’s worth researching some tools to see which ones are a good fit for your needs (I ran a quick Google search for “influencer tools” that brought back over 63 million results, so there’s plenty to choose from). One of our faves is Mini Social, which focuses on connecting ecommerce brands with niche influencers.
Brands like Native use Mini Social to get paired up with nano- and micro-influencers on the regular.
3. Lists of influencers
There are loads of “best influencer lists”. Trawling through these lists can be a great start to your influencer research, but we recommend narrowing down your searches so you get focused results.
It’s worth noting that these lists will often only tell you the top influencers in those niches, so you’ll have to some extra digging to find smaller accounts.
4. Your customer base
You don’t have to look far to find your ideal influencers. In fact, they might already be on your radar. After all, who better to influence future customers than your current customers?
Start by identifying who your best customers are. These could be people who have bought multiple products from your store, those who have left good reviews, or customers who regularly shout about how much they love you on social media.
You can even set up a branded hashtag and encourage customers to share their pics so you have a library of user-generated content (UGC) to draw from. Why not turn it into a challenge or reward customers while you’re at it?
💡You can then use Dash to store all that UGC content to repurpose in the future.
Papier encourages shoppers to share their brand-related content under the hashtag #lovepapier.
5. Recommendations and listening to your customers
The best influencers are the ones that resonate with your target audience–but this might not always be obvious. Really research the influencer you’re interested in partnering with. For example, a beauty influencer might look good on paper but if it turns out most of their looks are high-concept fantasy looks it might not be the best fit for your everyday foundation brand.
Instead, listen to your customers and explore who they’re following. Who are their favourite influencers? What are their go-to accounts on social media? Try tools like Brandwatch and Agora Pulse to find out which influencers your target audience is following and who they’re listening to.
You can also use these tools to figure out whether an influencer is a good fit. Agora Pulse shows you the latest content from an influencer and how engaged their audiednce is.
Ask your customers for recommendations–then you’ll know that you’re choosing influencers who have a follower base that you want to reach.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
If you don’t have a strategy, influencer marketing can feel like throwing spaghetti at a wall. When you know what you want to achieve with your efforts it’s easier to identify the right influencers and measure your results.
Here are the basics of a successful influencer strategy ✨
1. Determine your goals
Think about the outcomes you want to get from your influencer campaigns. This will determine what metrics you should keep a beady eye on.
If your objective is something relatively simple, like increasing your follower count, then you’re in luck. Lots of social management tools offer dashboards to properly monitor this. But if it’s about getting conversions and sales, you may need to put in some extra work before you start launching, like making sure you have the right data and tracking sources in place.
2. Identify your influencer channels
The channels you use for influencer marketing will depend on your audience.
Want to reach Gen Z? TikTok is the perfect place for that. But if you’re looking to reach 25-34 year-olds, Instagram might be a better bet.
Consider the type of content you want your influencers to create, too. Both Instagram and TikTok have recently released a suite of creator tools.
Instagram’s professional dashboard has extended Reels and made link stickers available to all accounts. TikTok’s just launched live streaming features, a creator portal, and a Q&A option to bolster engagement levels. And YouTube has partnered with Shopify so you can create live shopping experiences and have people buy your products within the app.
Finally, identify your best-performing platforms. If you have a ton of followers on Instagram, it’d be a shame to write that off as a key channel.
3. Get the right tools in place
Instead of scrambling to get your tool arsenal in place after you’ve identified your influencers, get ahead of the game. Consider what tools you need to find the right influencers, connect with them, and manage your campaigns from start to finish.
Here are some tools you’ll need:
- Influencer tools: Use a tool like Mini Social and Dovetale to match with relevant, niche influencers in your industry.
- Social listening tools: Tools like Agora Pulse and BuzzSumo will help you identify relevant influencers and research their content and engagement levels
- Tracking tools: You’ll need a tool to track the results of you influencer campaigns, like Google Analytics and Modash
- Digital asset management (DAM) tools: Use Dash to collect and approve influencer content in one central place
4. Create a shortlist of influencers and get in touch
Use the avenues above to create a shortlist of relevant influencers you’d love to work with. During this stage, it’s important to:
- Know who you’re trying to influence
- Research micro and macro influencers
- Check engagement levels and account stats
Not every influencer you reach out to will want to work with you or be a good fit (it’s the nature of the game), so it’s worth adding a few more names to your list to give you a better chance of finding the perfect fit.
Start with a list of 10 or so names you really want to work with and go through those before compiling a secondary list if those names don’t work out.
Next up is the nail-biting stage of getting in touch.
Most influencers will be used to brands sliding into their DMs. They might have tons of brands in their inbox every day, so it’s crucial that you keep things short and to the point.
When messaging them, make sure to mention:
- Who you are and what you sell
- What you’d like to achieve with your campaign
- Your expectations of each influencer (like how many posts you’d like them to publish or whether you want them to create Reels)
- Why you’ve chosen them (because your audiences align, you love their content, or something equally as flattering)
Here’s an example email for some inspo:
“Hey [influencer name], we’re [your brand] and we sell [your product]. We’re looking to partner with [niche] influencers like yourself to [what you want to achieve] through [your expectations/content output]. You seem like a great fit because [why you’ve chosen them]. Is this something you’d be interested in?”
Influencers are busy people, so if you don’t hear back after 3-5 days send a short follow-up.
This could be something as simple as:
“Hey [influencer name], just wanted to follow up on my last message and see if it’s something you’d be interested in. Would love to collab!”
5. Decide how you’ll manage influencer relationships
Securing a contract with an influencer is just the first hurdle. Now you’ll have to manage the relationship and make sure you get the outcomes you’re after. The more up-front you are about expectations, the better, just so everyone’s on the same page and there are no nasty surprises.
Here are some ways you can manage your relationships with influencers the right way:
- Discuss expectations up front: Lay out exactly what you’d like each influencer to produce and the cadence you’re hoping to achieve.
- Send a contract: Get the legal side of things tied up so everyone feels safe and secure. Include payment processes, expectations, deadlines, and any other critical information in your contracts.
- Consider communication channels: How will you communicate with your social media influencers? Will you add them to a communication platform like Slack, or will you do everything via email? Think about what works best for you and your influencers.
- Manage content: Use Dash as a central dashboard to collect influencer content before it goes live. Your influencers can submit their images or videos to Dash and you can quickly decide if you want to keep or discard the content. It’s also a great way to keep everything in one place for easy future use.
6. Track and measure results
Most social media platforms have built-in insights or branded content tools that automatically track your efforts. Go back to your campaign goals to determine which metrics you should be tracking and stay on top of them. Weekly is ideal, but monthly is probably more realistic.
If you want to track who’s bought what from which influencer, use tactics like coupon codes and unique links. These will track the results from each individual influencer, which is particularly useful if you’re working with a handful of influencers on the same campaign.
4 ecommerce influencer campaign examples
1. Athleta on TikTok
Athleta partners with influencers to promote its clothing. In the video, fittybritty shares outfit inspiration using Athleta clothing with her 259,000 followers. It’s generated over 7,500 likes and started a convo about the clothing brand.
@fittybritty #salutationstash Tights from @Athleta = my daily uniform these days! Perf for errands, walks w/Mango, & a sweat sesh! #powerofshe #athletapartner ♬ I Can Feel It v3 - Nick Sena and Danny Echevarria
2. Lazy Oaf on Instagram
Clothing brand Lazy Oaf partnered with Marzia Kjellberg for a guide to Brighton. With 8.3 million followers, it’s clear that working with Marzia was going to get the brand some serious reach. The post received over 7,500 likes.
3. Barefoot Dreams and MeUndies on Twitter
Barefoot Dreams and MeUndies paired up with the Merrell Twins for this influencer post on Twitter. The duo has over 230,000 followers on Twitter and this post about their cosy evening in generated over 1,000 likes and 50 retweets for the two brands.
4. Tower 28 and Foreo on YouTube
Unboxing videos are huge on YouTube, with tons of influencers sharing their latest “hauls” wither their audiences. In this one, mega-influencer Laura Lee shows off products from brands like Tower 28 and Foreo.
Create successful influencer marketing campaigns every single time
Like any marketing campaign, influencer campaigns work best when they’re planned in advance and align with your overall business goals.
Remember: influencers don’t have to be big-name celebs. They can be small, niche accounts with followings that align with your brand, or even your very own customers. Explore different ways of working with influencers to determine what method works best for you, your brand, and your audience.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to use Dash to approve influencer content and create a library of images and videos to use across channels and future marketing campaigns. Happy influencing!