People look for role models to follow. For this reason, popular students in colleges and universities often act as unintentional advertisers. E-commerce marketers picked up the idea and turned the phenomenon into an effective ad technique — influencer marketing. Rated as the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel, influencer marketing has beaten such e-commerce marketing strategies as organic and paid search as well as email marketing (Tomoson).
What’s the secret of this promotional technique gaining momentum? Its main power is consumer trust. To make online purchases, people want to see and hear real-life experience coming from a social media trendsetter instead of traditional advertising praises. Still, development of a cost-effective strategy requires following certain rules. Let’s explore how e-commerce companies can do influencer marketing for profit instead of simply investing in a famous name.
1. Find your influencer.
The idea of advertising an online store via an influencer with the largest possible audience is good only on paper. In fact, relevance is the key. A small niche blogger who has established a trust relationship with his or her audience can be a great choice.
When Tom’s of Maine, a manufacturer and online retailer of organic personal care products, decided to increase its social media engagement, it refused the idea to promote via top bloggers and opted for everyday consumers — a community of micro-influencers with 500 to 5,000 followers each. The strategy proved beneficial. Tom’s of Maine boosted consumer engagement by 600 percent.
2. Avoid fake influencers.
The size of the Instagram influencer market is currently $1 billion, and the number is predicted to double by 2019. No wonder that the space is highly competitive, with huge amounts of money at stake. Some people can’t resist a temptation to make a fast buck and alter the rules of the influencer marketing game. They purchase followers and engagement, which makes the whole idea of promoting a web store to their audience irrational.
Wondering if the fake can succeed, influencer marketing agency Mediakix created two fictitious Instagram influencer accounts completely inflated with purchased followers and activity (i.e., likes and comments). In fact, the fake succeeded. Each “influencer” was offered two paid deals. This is a wake-up call for merchants to protect their marketing budgets from fake influencers.
A closer look at an account helps to reveal fraud. Here are possible indicators:
- low engagement rate;
- few video views;
- spam comments (for example, “cool!”, “nice!”, “beautiful!”); and
- meaningless content that has surprisingly generated high public activity.
3. Entrust content creation to influencers.
Marketers are skilled in writing commercial content, but influencers share a common language with their followers and can inspire them to visit an online store and make a purchase. Here, they have an important advantage — a unique personality that has attracted people, and trust they've built with their subscribers. Influencers know their audience and understand what style of advertising would better resonate with it.
4. Measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
Critics say it's hard to evaluate the influence. In fact, the efficiency of an influencer marketing program can be measured. A key performance indicator to track derives from an initial business goal. For example, if the aim is to announce the launch of an e-commerce site, the number of impressions will show how many people the information has reached. An increasing number of new subscribers will indicate social media growth. Here, difficulties may arise if several influencers are engaged. Following the number of new subscribers closely, marketers can associate jumps with influencers’ posts.
5. Be creative.
A cliché formula of influencer marketing used by most e-commerce companies implies creating advertising content for profit or free samples. But always keeping to the beaten track, you might fail to find the idea that will make your online business stand out.
Online fashion giant Asos moved away from a traditional concept and created its own way to engage influencers. It didn’t buy blog posts but sponsored accounts for influencers. Called "Asos insiders," these influencers show daily looks with Asos apparel and provide links for a quick buy. Asos followed the idea that customers don’t always trust staged photoshoots with professional models. They want to see real people with their unique taste and vision, and get inspired to experiment with fashion.
Influencers have much to offer to e-commerce businesses. Having built trust with their audience, they can significantly contribute to wider company awareness and its promotion to a loyal audience. Following our tips, marketers can ensure that investments in influencer marketing programs will pay off.
Igor Goltsov is a certified Magento developer. With eight-plus years in Magento development and 13-plus years in PHP development, Igor now applies his deep insights in e-commerce and expert skills at ScienceSoft. As a senior Magento developer, he contributes to complex projects involving implementation of non-trivial platform’s features.