5 things to know before utilizing influencers for e-commerce

Influencers have been a thing for quite some time now. And they still will for the foremost future. Like it or not, there are three times more kids having an aspiration of becoming a content creator than an astronaut, study finds. And the disproportion will only rise. This is one of the reasons why the means of marketing have changed rapidly in the last decade, making influencer marketing one of the most popular ways to lead your brand to the top.

Klaidas Gevorkian
by Klaidas Gevorkian, a month ago, December 15th, 2021
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Influencers have been a thing for quite some time now. And they still will for the foremost future. Like it or not, there are three times more kids having an aspiration of becoming a content creator than an astronaut, study finds. And the disproportion will only rise. This is one of the reasons why the means of marketing have changed rapidly in the last decade, making influencer marketing one of the most popular ways to lead your brand to the top. Here are some statistics on the rise of influencer marketing market size to prove you right:

Influencer marketing market size worldwide from 2016 to 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)
Influencer marketing market size worldwide from 2016 to 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars)

If you haven’t heard the term yet (where have you been???) or aren’t sure about the meaning of it, here is a plain and simple explanation by TapInfluence:

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.”

And while your skepticism might make you think that it is just a trendy buzzword, we wouldn’t be so bold to declare an opinion of such kind. Every single source, study, research, and other materials we had our hands on have proved us otherwise – influencer marketing is rapidly rising in every marketing measurement category possible.

Here is a list of some other numbers if you are still not convinced:

  • 61% of purchasers have interaction with an influencer at the least as soon as an afternoon while 35% engage with influencers multiple times a day;
  • 80% of consumers made a purchase suggested by an influencer through clicking on a link or image that was shared;
  • 66% of purchasers agree they are impacted by influencers and social media in general when deciding whether it’s worth buying a brand’s product or not;
  • 58% of people surveyed say they have become more interested in a brand/product after seeing it in social media stories;
  • 89% of marketers state that ROI (Return-On-Investment) from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other means of marketing.

Reasons to use influencer marketing for e-commerce businesses

Now that we’ve set up some statistical benchmarks, let’s shortly talk about the outcome influencer marketing has on e-commerce businesses and why it’s a unique way to market yourself to the top of the industry:

  • Forget the ad blockers, a.k.a. buzz killers. Global stats show that nearly half (42.7% to be exact) of internet users, aged 16-64 years old, use ad-blocking tools at least once a month, while the most popular age group of 16 to 24 years old records for even a higher number – 46.2%. Having that in mind, influencer marketing is like a panacea for every e-commerce brand, as adblockers are not smart enough to block influencer content yet!
  • Reaching out to niche audiences is known to be time, money, and HR consuming, as a lot of researching and testing needs to be done, but not with influencer marketing! The best part of every influencer on social media is the unique personality that’s being conveyed to the followers, meaning that the follower base of every influencer is niche. Therefore, influencers are the best way to reach a specific target audience.
  • Influencers are trusted, so their follower base is usually loyal and committed. Data by MuseFind shows that 9 out of 10 consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. Hence, followers often turn to their most loved influencers for product recommendations on, for example, skincare. This is a sign of consumer loyalty and commitment that is very hard to attain by traditional methods of marketing.
  • Influencer marketing, just as many other means of marketing, is easily measured and optimized. Personalized discount codes, trackable links, tag builders, and some other tools let you track and optimize the results for different influencer campaigns.

We hope we managed to convince or persuade your opinion on the effectiveness of influencer marketing. Without further ado, let’s dive into 5 things to know before utilizing influencers for e-commerce.

5 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE UTILIZING INFLUENCERS FOR E-COMMERCE

1. Influencer discovery and selection process.

Discovering the influencer base and selecting the right content creators can be a frustrating and painful process. However, with the latest technologies and available tools, it was never that easy to find the right influencers that could promote your products or services. Crawling through social media profiles manually is known to be tiring, time-consuming, and HR demanding. Fortunately, you don’t have to do that anymore, as there are tools that provide e-commerce businesses with the ability to develop a network of influencers out from an already existing customer base of your e-com store. There is no better promotion than an organic and authentic one when the promoter uses the product or service by itself. Moreover, working with content creators that already love and truly understand the nature of your brand is always easier while the outcome is better as well. The key benefit of such a partnership is that the advertisements produced will actually feel like a genuine recommendation which will definitely resonate better with your target audience.

So far, the most popular and advanced tool to discover these influencers is created by Upfluence. Their tool is AI-driven and is capable of not only finding influencers who love your brand already but also searching for ones that’d be in line with your desired target audience. Don’t dwell on the idea of influencer marketing and just reach out to them – we are sure they will answer all of your questions! 😊

Influencer marketing tool by Upfluence
Influencer marketing tool by Upfluence

2. Always-on influencer marketing.

Looking at the past, influencer marketing has been more of a short-term choice of expanding your brand awareness before an upcoming holiday, for example, Black Friday or Christmas. Usually, the campaigns would last for a week or two and sometimes even less, e.g. two or three days. However, the trends of influencer marketing are seen to be changing for quite some time now, switching from campaign-based influencer marketing to an always-on strategy. And, to be fair, the always-on approach seems to be dominating the field of influencer marketing lately.

Always-on influencer marketing is actually very similar to brand ambassador marketing, just differing by some technical nuances. Both marketing techniques have the same goal – to establish brand awareness through a consistent presence on social media. Regular marketing campaigns are usually more drifted to reach more conversions in a short period of time while always-on or brand ambassador marketing is more of a long-term approach. The idea is not only to ensure that your brand pops up on times when a customer is most likely to purchase your product or service, e.g. during Black Friday or before a friend’s birthday, but also appear often enough so you are at the top of the mind when it comes to a brand choice within the concrete industry.

An example of an influencer marketing partnership between the brand of MyProtein & fitness industry content creator @motyvuotiatletai
An example of an influencer marketing partnership between the brand of MyProtein & fitness industry content creator @motyvuotiatletai

Considering the fact of brand loyalty being at its all-time lowest since the year 2015 and regularly decreasing, converting prospects was never as easy as it is now. That is one of the reasons why always-on influencer marketing became so useful and popular, as one-time campaigns are not able to reach the same outcome.

There is no doubt the trend of always-on influencer marketing will only rise in the year 2022, you can trust us on this one! Having data as one weapon and an always-on approach as another grant you the ability to measure and optimize your influencer marketing up to the limits you could not imagine before.

It’s actually very similar to the process of getting a university degree. You have all the equipment and tools needed – books, computer, lecturers, library, other students you can discuss with, etc. However, going for an exam after completely skipping the lectures but trying to make it for by having a one-nighter will probably not get you far. And what if you consistently studied for a full semester and then had the same exam? Most definitely you’d pass with an excellent grade! The always-on approach in influencer marketing is basically the same.

3. Different influencers for different networks.

Another important thing to keep in mind is cross-channel campaigns. Not only the number of people using social media in general is rising but the average number of platforms every user is on has been regularly increasing for the last decade. In 2014, an average social media user had 4.8 accounts. 7 years after, this number has increased by 75% and now is equal to 8.4 accounts per user. This obviously indicates that cross-channel influencer marketing will be (or already is?) inevitable for brands.

Percentage of worldwide population using social media (2021 data)
Percentage of worldwide population using social media (2021 data)

There is an often mistake that businesses do when it comes to cross-channel influencer marketing. They often think what works on one platform undoubtedly will work on the other one as well. Well, it is not the case when it comes to social media, as the audience between the platforms varies a lot. What might seem alike at the first glance is actually completely different when we take a better look at it. Let’s give it an example. Both Instagram and TikTok are platforms of short-form dominated content mostly. While Instagram is filled with hundreds of millions of stories a day and TikTok has a format of 15-second videos, an average consumer within both platforms is completely separate even though the content requires a comparably low attention span duration. Simply put, content on TikTok has to be rawer and attention-grabbing within the first seconds of it while Instagram is more of a place, where interaction and relevance are those key factors that decide the success. Considering the differences detailed, it would be naive to expect identical content delivering the same results.

However, the identity of a business shouldn’t be harmed when trying to stay relevant with a platform. There is a thin ice businesses walk on when it comes to combining brand awareness and platform relevance. You should try to keep the balance somewhere in between.

The best option for creating successful cross-channel influencer marketing campaigns is to find different influencers for different platforms that are the experts at their craft. This ensures that content on your social media is not only platform-relevant but brand-aware as well.

4. Choosing the right reward.

Another important aspect to have in mind when it comes to executing influencer marketing is choosing the right reward for the influencers that promote your brand. There are 3 main options to choose from when deciding what offer to propose in change of brand promotion. Each of them has its pros and cons and is more suitable according to the situation. Let’s discuss those 3 options:

a) Paying in products.

This is one of the most popular ways to pay your influencers for brand promotion campaigns. Not only it is cost-efficient but also somewhat of a more moral way to promote your products, as the content creators get an opportunity to try the products themselves. A great idea would be to offer the same product that’s considered of being promoted, as the influencer could express an honest opinion on the advantages of a product.

When it comes to cost efficiency, this is probably the best way to reward your influencers. One of the reasons is the organic marketing aspect of it. What we mean by this is that the influencer might be genuinely happy with your product and use it in the long term, which automatically converts to organic advertising and mouth-to-mouth mean of marketing.

There is a great example by Ironside, which uses Twitch streamers as influencers and rewards them with an ability to build up a PC of their needs that’d be used for gaming, streaming, and other inquiries. Not only does your brand and product get deliberately advertised but also organically promoted by mouth-to-mouth marketing of both viewers and the influencers themselves.

Sponsorship application for Twitch streamers by Ironside
Sponsorship application for Twitch streamers by Ironside

However, keep in mind that higher tier influencers most often seek monetary rewards so be open to offering a combination of both products and money.

b) Paying in gift cards.

Another great way to reward your influencers is by paying them in gift cards which they’d use to purchase any products from your store. This works well if the objective of a campaign is to promote the brand and store as a whole and not a product, bundle, or group of products/bundles. Apart from this, paying in products and paying in gift cards actually don’t differ at all.

A great idea many brands use when it comes to influencer marketing is asking them to list and present the most favorite products from the store. This fits perfectly with the gift card reward option.

Here is an example of a campaign, where Finnish influencer @emskipihla lists personal top options:

A marketing campaign by Finnish influencer @emskipihla
A marketing campaign by Finnish influencer @emskipihla

c) Paying in money.

No matter the high quality of your products and the generosity shown through beneficial gift cards, paying influencers in money is still the most common option in the market. And that’s fully understandable, as money is and will always be the most valuable asset. There are a few ways to pay your influencers in money. Let’s talk about them.

  • Well, the first and most obvious way is just directly paying the content creator for an agreed number of promotional posts. Usually, the brand that’s ordering influencer marketing services has some kind of a vision of what needs to be said by the campaign that consists of a series of social media posts. KPIs, deadlines, thematic features, post formats, channels to use, and so on, are the factors that need to be considered. All of these factors depend on the agreed goal of the campaign – whether it’s more of a brand awareness oriented objective or sales revenue boosting goal. Both campaign options are possible when directly paying in money.
  • Another option is to use promotional codes, a.k.a promo codes. This has numerous benefits, such as converting tentative customers, tracking sales attribution, understanding your audience better, enhancing the shopping experience, developing returning customer base, and many more. Because of that, more and more influencer marketing campaigns rely on coupons and promo codes. If you are not sure about the capabilities of an influencer or you are simply a starting business, rewarding a content creator with a proportion of income generated through promo code marketing might be a thing to try, as you’d basically rely only on the success of planned campaigns without risking your own investments. Unless you value your time very much, there is nothing to lose by choosing this option!

Here is a great promo code collaboration example between @nadymoz & @iherb:

@nadymoz & @iherb promo code campaign post
@nadymoz & @iherb promo code campaign post

5. Let the creativity spark.

There is an often mistake many brands do with approaching influencer marketing. Content creators are masters of their craft that understand their audience better than your marketing department. That’s why providing influencers with creative freedom is an essential aspect to know before approaching influencer marketing.

As for a brand, the influencer discovery process is probably the one that is most important for you. Choosing a content creator that fits your brand’s style is the path to take instead of shaping the influencer and audience according to your brand. There are many influencers to choose from so doing the job thoroughly during the first stage of influencer marketing is crucially important. After all, the collaboration does have to make sense not only for both sides of the table but, most importantly, to the audience and potential customers. If you are selling kitchen tools & everything else that’s related to cooking by yourself, then it probably wouldn’t be wise to cooperate with an influencer that’s known for promoting fast food restaurants and has never posted a photo on Instagram of his self-made meal.

After choosing an influencer(s), another aspect to know is to not overflow the content creator with rules and unnecessary needs that’d limit creativity and bring no business value. Usually, discussing the campaign goal & main message, analyzing possible strategies, and setting up some benchmarks as well as KPIs is enough to make it a success. Any other details can be provided in a form of question answers, as influencers most of the time ask at least a few of them. At the end of the day, it’s the content creator that knows what matters the most, so expect them initiating on questions that’d contribute to reaching the goal.

Here is a creative example by @coco_pinkprincess of a successful influencer marketing campaign post on Instagram:

@coco_pinkprincess & @gucci cooperation – creative example of a campaign post
@coco_pinkprincess & @gucci cooperation – creative example of a campaign post

SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS…

Influencer marketing without a doubt is a rapidly growing mean of marketing that is going to be even more crucial in the upcoming future. More and more brands collaborate with influencers as the benefits are indisputable. And that won’t change anytime soon. In fact, the collaborations evolve from one-time campaigns to long-term sponsorships, which indicates that e-commerce businesses turn their attention to influencer marketing more and more often.

And while you’d think there is soon to be a lack of influencers to supply the needs of businesses, the surveys show otherwise. In the United States and the United Kingdom, there are more children aspiring for a content creator career than an astronaut one! So, there is nothing to worry about, let us assure you.

Nevertheless, plainly jumping on a bandwagon is not enough. It is important that you have in mind these 5 tips we’ve written about in the article before starting collaborations with influencers. Once you’ve mastered our recommendations, we are sure you’ll find more to improve. If not, you are always free to reach out to us – we will help with whatever you need 😊

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