This post was contributed by Ryan Gould, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing. From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.
Are you more likely to buy a product or service after seeing an advertisement, or based on a recommendation from someone you trust? What if the person recommending the product or service to you had an solid reputation, and a large social following? What difference would that make to the level of trust you place in your purchase decision? According to Nielsen, approximately 84% of consumers prefer to buy on the basis of word-of-mouth recommendations from their social network. That’s the power of word-of-mouth marketing. And today, word-of-mouth often comes via the influencers we follow on social media. Influencer marketing utilizes the social reach of influential people to build your brand’s image, reach a larger audience and attract new customers. Research indicates that every $1 invested in influencer marketing can produce up to $6.50 in revenue, so it's no surprise that it’s one of the fastest growing marketing channels.
Source: Influencer Marketing for Business[/caption] It's not hard for businesses to tap into the benefits of influencer marketing and create greater brand awareness - but to do so, they need a clear-cut strategy for effective campaigns. Here, we'll discuss the steps involved in creating, implementing and measuring successful influencer campaigns for your ecommerce business.
Step 1: Identifying the right influencers for your business
The most important first step for an influencer marketing campaign is discovering the right influencers to promote your business. The ideal influencer should be someone who relates well to the product or service that your business offers. The deeper the connection, the more likely it is that the influencer will promote your product or share your content in a compelling, authentic way. Also consider prospective influencers' audiences. If your content, product or service is relevant to an influencer’s audience, you’re on the right track. For example - if you’re in the business of selling pet products, an influencer who maintains a blog about pets is a much better choice compared to a Hollywood celebrity.
Who's really an influencer?
For your influencer marketing campaign to work, you need to choose the right person to bond with your target audience. You can reach out to potential influencers based on the preferences of your target audience or the tastes of your existing customers, and influencers can be everyone from local bloggers to mega-celebrities. But while you're choosing the right influencers, it's important that you not focus too much on one thing in particular: followers. Even influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers may not get the kind of engagement you want - or may be completely irrelevant to your industry. In addition to the size of an influencer's following, consider everything that the influencer could bring to the table for your business: their audience demographics, how they connect with their followers, the type of content they create, and their overall brand. This will help you focus on the influencers who connect with your target audiences in the most productive, engaging way.
Step 2: Build a relationship
The next step? Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with your prospective influencers. You can interact with them on social media, reach out via email, or use one of several platforms designed to help brands connect with influencers. To develop an authentic relationship, consider organic, meaningful engagement like commenting on their blog posts or social media or contributing to their forums. You could also ask for a guest contribution by the influencer for your company’s website or podcast. Once you have your ideal influencers engaged, you can work on creating a mutually beneficial agreement.
Step 3: Find the best way to work together
Once you have a relationship with your influencers, you can ask them to help you spread the word about your business’s products or services as a part of a marketing campaign. If it's done right, this can help you generate awareness - and new customers and sales - for your brand. Here's a few ways you can do this:
- Send products and ask influencers for product reviews, or for photos or videos of themselves using your product on social media
- Co-sponsor giveaways of your products on social media
- Ask them to do an Instagram Stories takeover
- Have them write a sponsored post on their blog
Keep in mind that influencer marketing is becoming more highly regulated, so it's important to have an influencer agreement in place to go over things like compensation, content expectations, exclusivity, approvals and disclosures - and remember that all sponsored content needs to be clearly marked to avoid penalties from the FTC or social media platforms.
Step 4: Measuring your success
Last up - and maybe most important? Evaluating the success of your influencer marketing. This isn't always easy to do, especially since some of the goals of influencer marketing, like brand awareness, are hard to measure. But no matter what you sell or what influencers you're working with, you likely hope your campaign will lead to a few things:
- More new customers
- More sales
- More revenue
And if you have an ecommerce analytics platform, it's not difficult to track those things - even down to the individual channel and influencer level. Just make sure you're tagging your links appropriately so you can know where to attribute sales - whether they're coming in from Instagram posts, sponsored blogs or something else.