How to Boost Ecommerce Sales with Influencer Marketing

  1. Sending products for free (including free trials for software) and hoping to be featured on their channels;
  2. Arranging an official contract with or without compensation in return for either promoting a specific product or product line, or simply providing education or entertainment.

Why is influencer marketing for eCommerce so effective?

Influencers are incredibly powerful for eCommerce sales because followers implicitly trust whatever they say.

Types of influencer marketing

While the bulk of this post provides guidance on identifying the right influencers, building relationships, and approaching the process, it’s worth noting the different types of influencer campaigns you can run. The influencer marketing strategy you choose will depend on your product and the specific influencer, but here’s a quick overview of what you might try.

Discount codes

If you’ve watched a YouTube video or listened to a podcast in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with the “Today’s content is brought to you by…” and “Today we want to talk to xx about…” lines.

Giveaways and competitions

The way these work is simple: the brand will offer up a product or service (free of charge) and pay the influencer to run a competition to win these as a prize. The competition can be structured endless ways, but common ideas are:

  • Tagging a friend (and usually following/subscribing to the brand on the platform)
  • Commenting what you’d do with the prize
  • Sharing the post on their own page/channel/account
  • Submitting a creative idea (new name, logo, drawing, product concept)
  • Submitting a photo of yourself doing something related to the product
  • Write the best explanation of why you deserve it

Brand ambassador

When an influencer becomes the face of the brand (usually for a limited time) they are a brand ambassador. This will often evolve from a more traditional influencer relationship, with a partner who truly embodies your brand and has a great connection with your target audience. While we recommend most brands to hit up smaller influencers, a brand ambassador agreement is usually reserved for bigger, better-known stars.

Product collaboration

This is a less-common approach where the brand will work with an influencer to create a new, or newly branded, version of a product.

How to build your influencer campaign

Now you’ve got some context, it’s time to think about what you’re trying to achieve. Influencer marketing is like any other channel: you don’t just throw money and products at someone famous and watch your bank balance. You need to carefully plan for success — but this doesn’t need to be complicated! Simply answer these questions:

  • What is your specific goal(s) for this campaign?
  • How will you measure the success of each goal?

Find the perfect influencers for your campaign

When thinking of which influencers to approach, it’s crucial that you don’t just choose one you like; they need to firmly align with your brand’s voice and tone, mission, and audience. And of course, they must be able to produce top-quality, engaging content to help drive conversions:

  • Would they love your brand?
  • Are they already advocates?
  • Does their personality reflect your brand’s personality?
  • Do they have creative and original ideas in their content?
  • Can they create high-quality sponsored posts?
  • Do they post high-quality content?
  • Would it be easy to work with them?
  • Are their subscribers or followers potential customers?
  • What level of engagement does the channel seem to get?

Choosing a channel relevant to your niche

When it comes to advertising and marketing, it always pays to know your customers. If you know your average customer is 50–60 years old and only uses social media to look at photos of their grandkids, you’re probably burning money with a 19-year-old Instagram influencer.

Use audience size as a yardstick for cost

As a rule of thumb, a bigger following means a higher fee for the influencer. This is fantastic when you’re spending big to earn even bigger in return. However, for many companies the risk of a failed campaign is too high to splash out over $1,000 per Instagram post.

  1. Many micro influencers will use the association with your brand as a platform for self-promotion. Since both parties directly benefit, it’s always worth asking the question.
  2. Influencers of all sizes will occasionally endorse products, movements, or campaigns which strongly resonate with them.

Examples of successful influencer campaigns

Brilliant, revenue-driving influencer campaigns can be found all over the internet. We’ve picked out 3 examples to share with you, each with their own unique goals and execution.

Chris Martin and Cisco

As part of their “Teachers: Our Everyday Heroes” campaign, global tech giant Cisco engaged Chris Martin (lead singer of Coldplay, one of the world’s most popular bands) for virtual get togethers with school kids and teachers. Martin shared his experience and perspective on education, learning, and music as a career, and answered loads of questions from the pupils.

Brian Fanzo and Buffer

A few years ago, celebrated Futurist and keynote speaker Brian Fanzo (aka iSocialFanz) took over Buffer’s Instagram stories for a full day. The goal was to get Brian sharing brilliant advice on social media and online community building. It was a bold move from Buffer that generated a ton of buzz and social media engagement.

Serena Williams and Nintendo Switch

In a much more “traditional” influencer campaign, Nintendo engaged Serena Williams (one of the biggest sports megastars on the planet) to film some ads of her playing their Switch console. While Williams undoubtedly commands one of the highest fees in the industry, the reach, appeal, engagement, and eventual revenue will almost certainly have dwarfed the cost.

Actionable tips for working with influencers

Having a clear goal and finding the right influencer are the most critical parts of the process. From there, it’s a matter of meeting up, seeing what they can do, and figuring out the details! But to round this post off, we wanted to share some tips on things we’ve figured out during our years managing influencers.

Prioritize engagement over volume

Micro-influencers with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers have been shown to have significantly higher engagement rates than any other influencer category. Yet as we’ve said, many influencers charge based simply on audience size.

Find influencers who are already brand advocates

If you’ve found an influencer who already loves your brand, then you’ve hit the jackpot — they will already know and understand your ethos, motivation, desire, and voice! To root them out, you can search for reviews or user-generated content about your product across social media or search popular posts on Twitter and Facebook. If someone fits the bill, consider reaching out.

Use metrics to compare influencers

With influencer marketing, things can get a little airy-fairy. However, it is absolutely legitimate to use cold, hard metrics to influence your decision.

  • How many followers does each influencer have?
  • What engagement rate do they have?
  • What’s the average number of comments and shares they receive?
  • Can you estimate the ROI for a product-placement post?
  • What rate is their channel growing at?

Do not send templated or spammy enquiries

If you really want an influencer to work with you, take the time to send them a personal message showing why you think their channel matches your brand, how it can benefit both of you, and so on. Copy-paste outreach does not work and will burn bridges before you’ve even started walking.

Trust the influencer to provide creative direction

The creative execution of your campaign cannot be overlooked. Whether this is delivered entirely by you, the influencer, or as a collaboration, effort needs to be put in to ensure top-quality output. The more creative and visually enticing the promotion, the more likely it is to catch attention.

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