You can’t run a successful business without a working strategy for generating new leads.

And that’s not easy – each market is different, and therefore you need to find marketing methods that resonate with your audience and bring you measurable results.

What’s more, today’s consumers are more resistant to traditional marketing strategies – they have learned to verify claims and often rely on word-of-mouth to make their buying decisions.

That’s why social media has become an indispensable tool for building trust and establishing a relationship with your customer base.

The number of social media users grew to a staggering 3.196 billion in 2018, and this number will only keep increasing. So if an ecommerce business wants to stay relevant in their market, having a strong social media presence is absolutely essential.

This is where influencer marketing can be so powerful.

Consumers want to hear recommendations from people they trust. So, if you can get an influencer (a trusted and authoritative figure within your industry) to recommend your products or services, that can result in a huge boost to sales and even change the dynamics of the marketplace.

Many of today’s brands use influencer marketing as their main ecommerce strategy and achieve incredible results. If done correctly, it can become the most effective and reliable way to expand your reach and ensure sustainable growth.

But how to put together your own influencer marketing campaign?

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know in order to start reaping the benefits of influencer marketing for your brand.

Here’s what you’ll learn after reading this article:

  • What is influencer marketing
  • How to create the best influencer marketing strategy for your business
  • How influencer marketing can benefit your business

Ready to get started? Then read on below.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

There’s a lot of buzz around the term influencer marketing, and for good reason. If implemented correctly, influencer marketing can help to increase sales and ensure consistent growth, providing an ROI that just can’t be beaten with other marketing methods.

But with so much noise around the subject, it can be difficult to understand what the term even means.

Therefore, before we can delve deeper into what influencer marketing is, we must first identify what exactly constitutes an influencer.

What is an Influencer?

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In its most basic sense, an influencer is a personality or an individual who has an above-average impact in his field.

An influencer is usually a regular person who has accumulated a large following on social media because of the content that they produce, unlike celebrities, who usually become famous through traditional media such as TV or the radio.

That’s why celebrities don’t really fall into the same category as influencers, although they both can serve similar roles when promoting a business.

While celebrities can offer incredible exposure, promoting your ecommerce business through influencers can be more effective because you can reach a much more targeted audience.

Remember, these people built their entire following in the industry that you operate in, which means that all of their followers are already interested in the things that they promote.

What’s more, influencers are often very well connected with the relevant media outlets, communities, and industry associations, which is crucial when trying to increase brand awareness and establish your place in the marketplace.  

Leading influencers can actually be trend-setters, causing significant shifts in their industry by simply becoming associated with a certain brand or product.

As you can see, influencers hold a lot of power in their industry.

But how exactly can they help your business?

Well, here’s the exact process of how it happens.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work?

The reason why influencer marketing can be so effective lies in the fact that people today are less trusting of traditional marketing campaigns like ads and commercials.

Millennials already make up the majority of the U.S. workforce, and they simply do not like ads – up to 84% of millennials don’t like traditional advertising nor do they trust it.

Social proof is the name of the game in 2018, and brands have to adapt or risk losing their place in the marketplace to more innovative competition.

Forbes wrote back in 2015 that 62% of millennials want brands to engage with them on social media, and there probably isn’t a more authentic and trustworthy way to get on the radar of a young consumer than through a key influencer in the industry.

Here’s how the basic process behind influencer marketing might look like:

  • You identify your target audience and develop a buyer persona that you would like to reach.
  • You find key social media figures who have an authoritative status in your industry and can influence your target audience. These are people who have a following that’s built on trust and can influence people who do not respond well to traditional advertising methods.
  • You reach out to the influencer that you feel is a good fit for your business and agree on terms to develop a marketing campaign that promotes your products and brand.
  • You watch as you get a flood of new leads and gain ground in your marketplace because your company has been recommended by one of the most trustworthy sources in your field.

An important thing to remember when choosing an influencer to promote your product is that he or she needs to be able to actually influence his audience.

Some social media figures, while popular, may not have the right dynamics with their audience to be able to recommend products and have people respond.

Another hurdle that many ecommerce businesses face is figuring out how to come up with an influencer marketing strategy that’s right for their market, audience, and business goals.

Luckily, there are steps that can help to simplify the entire process.

How to Come Up with the Right Influencer Marketing Strategy?

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Developing an influencer marketing campaign that’s right for your company can be a daunting task – each company is unique, and without prior experience, putting everything together can seem very complicated.

But influencer marketing, in its essence, doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when you understand its underlying principles.

Basically, influencer marketing is a blend of testimonials and word-of-mouth marketing.

Today’s consumers are used to traditional marketing tactics and are no longer easily swayed by bold promises made by companies.

Instead, they rely on the experiences and stories of people they trust to form opinions about brands and products.

That’s what makes the influencer such an important figure.

They have already earned the trust of their followers and can recommend products without raising the defences of the buyer. In fact, the followers are eager to hear the influencers’ opinions and will enthusiastically buy what he offers because they know it will be of high quality.

When using influencer marketing, instead of focusing on selling your products as you would with traditional advertising, it’s much more effective to focus on making your message as clear as possible.

But to do that, you need to know exactly what you want to say.

Read on below to find out the exact steps you need to take to make influencer marketing work.

Identify Your Target Audience

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Just as with any other marketing strategy, influencer marketing requires you to have a crystal clear understanding of who your ideal customer is.

Without understanding your audience, it will be impossible to develop a campaign that brings results – you won’t be speaking to the people that would care about what you want to say.

What’s more, knowing who you want to target will enable you to set the right price points for your products and highlight the right benefits that will have the biggest impact for your prospects.

Your audience’s preferences should determine every single decision about your products, your message, and your marketing materials.

Suffice to say, this is a step that cannot be skipped or rushed.

Besides the obvious parameters such as age, gender, occupation, and location, perhaps the most important aspects to look into are your audience’s interests and opinions.

These key elements are what will enable you to figure out where they hang out online and who they follow on social media.

One of the best ways to better understand your audience it to talk to them. You can talk to your target audience in person, use social media or answer websites, or simply use a survey and quiz form builder to gain a deeper understanding of what your target customers believe in.

When you know that, you can not only choose the right influencers to get your message out there but can use that information to design your products and messages in a way that resonates with your audiences and generates the response that you want.

Define Your Brand or Product

If you already know who you want to target, you need to define your brand – that means figuring out your brand’s personality, as well as your company values.

These are things that allow consumers to relate to brands on a more personal level, which can lead to a loyal following of customers and an advantage over the competition.

If you have a clear and relevant image of what your brand is all about, it not only helps to form a deeper connection with your audience but can make it much easier for the influencer to present your brand in a way that resonates with their followers.

Start Looking for the Right Influencer

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Once you have the right audience and the right brand identity, it’s time to find an influencer that matches up with what you have to offer.

And this decision should go far beyond the number of followers or likes.

After all, it won’t matter how many people an influencer can reach if they won’t find your product relevant or interesting.

One way to see if an influencer is a good fit is to look at his past associations, particularly, the brands that he has worked with in the past. This will let you gauge their audience’s interest in products similar to yours and will also allow you to see if the response was positive.

Another thing to look at is the opinions and people that the influencers have aligned themselves with – when running influencer marketing campaigns, any controversy associated with your brand or the influencer promoting it could not only destroy the campaign but also cause irreversible damage to your reputation.

Sorting through countless posts and promotions of multiple influencers can be very time-consuming, which is not ideal for ecommerce businesses that are already short on staff.

Luckily, you can utilize the services of a social media assistant to do the necessary research and bring you concise reports that enable you to make an educated decision when choosing an influencer.  

As mentioned before, while it may be tempting to use a celebrity for your influencer marketing campaign because of their strong personal brand and wide reach, opting for an influencer can be much more cost-effective because their reach, while smaller, is much more targeted.

When you zero in on a particular influencer, it’s important to reach out to him in a way that gets you a response. Remember, these people are thought leaders in their field, so they probably get a lot of proposals every single day and have to weed most of them out.

You should create a professional and engaging proposal that gets read and entices the influencer to respond. You can create your own or use proposal templates if you want to save time, but remember to make it very clear why you are reaching out and what you want to accomplish.

It’s Time to Create Your Marketing Campaign!

Alright, so you have found the right influencer, now what?

Well, the next step is the actual nuts and bolts of the entire process – you have to collaborate with the influencer in designing a campaign that will accomplish your business goals while at the same time fitting in with the tone and style of the influencer.

That’s why it’s important to establish your campaign goals from the very beginning – once you know what you are working towards, it becomes much easier to lay out a path that accomplishes those goals.

Remember that the influencer has probably already done similar campaigns with other brands, so be open to his suggestions, especially when it comes to approaching his audience and presenting the message.

Once you establish your goals and take into account what the influencer’s followers might respond to best, it will become much easier to put together the exact messages that you want to send out, from Instagram posts to blog ideas.

When developing the message, share all the necessary information with the influencer – this includes your brand’s history, your values, your public image, and any resources such as product images or even the products themselves.

Launching Your Campaign

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After you go through the above process, the only thing left to do is to launch the campaign.

But your job doesn’t end here.

You can’t just sit back and wait for new customers to start pouring in – the entire campaign needs to be closely monitored so that you know exactly what worked and what didn’t.

No matter how well you think you know your audience or how well the influencer fits with your product, influencer marketing is by no means an exact science.

That’s why you need to get as much tangible and measurable data from the campaign as possible, tracking every aspect of the campaign’s performance so that you can improve on your next campaign.

Since keeping track of advanced metrics and making sense of them requires technical knowledge and experience, your best bet is to hire a professional to take care of that for you.

This way, you’ll be able to track numerous advanced metrics such as user reactions, traffic, conversions, and much more. Most importantly, you can gain a deeper understanding of the social triggers that work best for your audience and use it to refine your future influencer campaigns and make them even more effective.

Measure Your Results and Adjust

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If you identified your campaign goals and developed your message accordingly, you should be able to accurately measure how your campaign performed and draw clear insights that allow you to make improvements in the future.

For instance, if your goal was lead generation, you would want to measure the number of new prospects that come to your ecommerce site.

If you’re running a campaign that involves affiliate marketing and multiple influencers promoting your products, you should analyse which influencers generated the most sales and what messages worked best to improve your campaigns in the future.

Even if you’re just running the campaign to raise brand awareness, it’s important to track social reactions and impressions in order to get a feel for what types of messages get the attention of your target audience.

In time, once you get more data from your influencer marketing campaigns and develop relationships with the industry’s leading influencers, influencer marketing can become your best marketing strategy, generating consistent growth and a great ROI.

What Are the Key Benefits of Influencer Marketing?

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Influencer marketing is no longer reserved for multi-million dollar companies with deep pockets and wide-reaching connections.

Even if you’re a relatively small ecommerce business, you can still achieve great success with influencer marketing and propel your business to new heights.

In fact, if done correctly, influencer marketing can help you become the dominant force in your marketplace and provide you with all the leads that you can handle.

The reason why it works so well is simple:

  • People want to hear recommendations from people whose opinions they trust.
  • Influencers have earned that trust through years of reliable information and advice.
  • By getting in front of an audience through an influencer’s recommendation, you are immediately setting yourself apart from the competition and positioning your brand as the best choice, without the need for pushy sales tactics.

But how exactly can influencer marketing help your ecommerce business?

Well, here are a few of the most prominent benefits that you can expect.

Boost Your Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is essential for an ecommerce business – online shoppers are very careful when choosing a product and do extensive research, so having trusted figures in your industry vouch for your products is essential.

Luckily, that’s exactly what influencer marketing can provide.

It can not only raise your brand awareness and help you reach new audiences but can simultaneously make your brand appear more authentic and trustworthy.

Build a Trust-Based Relationship with Your Audience

As mentioned before, trust is everything when trying to sell online.

There are a ton of scams and false claims in online advertising, so consumers have become much more careful when making any purchase online, even on trusted sites.

That’s why influencer marketing will continue to become more popular as more brands see its effectiveness. By getting a prominent figure in your industry to recommend your products, you are instantly bypassing a lot of trust issues that you’d face trying to sell your products directly.

When you’re being vouched for by an influencer, people don’t have the same fears of being scammed and can be more trusting of your brand because they trust the person that’s making the recommendation.

If it weren’t for influencer marketing, you’d have to spend years carefully nurturing the relationship with your customers until they would finally trust your brand.

With influencer marketing, you can establish a trust-based relationship with your audience from day one.

Improve SEO

While SEO might not be the first thing you think about when putting together influencer marketing campaigns, the truth is that it can have a very positive effect on your search engine rankings.

You see, influencers are the ‘royalty’ of the web – they produce the best content, have the biggest audiences, and are therefore trend-setters not only in their industries but on search engines as well.

They usually have their own high-authority websites, as well as access to other high-authority sites that spread their messages online.

So, when they make a recommendation for your products and point a link to your website, it serves as a very powerful backlink in the eyes of Google, which can give you a huge boost in rankings.

What this means is that while your primary goals of an influencer marketing campaign might be raising brand awareness and generating leads, the long-term SEO effects might bring powerful results as well.

Final Takeaways

Influencer marketing is here to stay, and if you don’t start using it to its full potential, your competitors will.

If done right, influencer marketing can help you:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Build trust with your audience
  • Improve SEO
  • And much more

What’s the main issue holding you back from trying influencer marketing for your ecommerce business?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Dave Schneider

Dave Schneider

Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.