4 Influencer Marketing Strategies to Bolster Your Brand Without Breaking the Bank
While personal recommendations may forever reign as the most trusted form of consumer marketing, 85 percent of respondents to a recent BrightLocal Survey reported that they now trust online reviews just as much as those personal recommendations. It's increasingly clear that retailers should consider user-generated content (UGC) an important element of their marketing strategies.
For consumers, authentic content is influential content. The 2017 Consumer Content Report from Stackla revealed that 86 percent of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Again, 60 percent of respondents consider content created by consumers as the most authentic, as opposed to the 20 percent who find brand-generated content authentic.
By enlisting the influence of brand advocates with big social media followings, companies can generate revenue-boosting social proof from highly visible users. This strategy, known as influencer marketing, also serves to multiply the power of UGC and spread the word about your e-commerce brand to a wider audience, without spending a fortune on traditional marketing.
Whether your marketing team is interested in working with an influencer to develop engaging content or is already experienced in handing over the reins for a total takeover, here are four strategies to facilitate the experience and grow your e-commerce brand — and its revenue — with influencer marketing:
1. Build relationships with the right influencers.
Building a lasting relationship with the right kind of influencer for your e-commerce brand is key. For example, an online jewelry company that uses recycled metals and conflict-free gems can bolster its brand by building relationships with jewelry designers, jewelry makers, and influential individuals that focus on sustainability and ethical practices.
Smaller online retailers or those with smaller marketing budgets don’t have to break the bank to get in on creating social proof with influencer marketing. As influencers become more commonplace, micro-influencers are popping up to fill this niche and offer more bang for fewer bucks. With some creative thinking, you’ll be able to tap into markets your competitors have missed to multiply the impact of your efforts.
To get the maximum boost for your e-commerce brand, you want to be sure you’re building relationships, not only with influencers you like but also with those whose audiences match your target market. Data-driven e-commerce tools can help you narrow down your ideal audience and identify your most engaging social channels so you’ll be armed with everything you need when choosing the perfect influencer to bolster e-commerce sales.
2. Help influencers produce entertaining content.
A 2018 study by HubSpot found that 75 percent of consumers would choose video over written content if given the choice. In addition, shoppers who watch videos are almost twice as likely to purchase a product than those who don’t.
Whether you’re undertaking influencer marketing for the first time or are looking to continue a winning strategy, it’s time to make sure you’re incorporating at least one of these video marketing tactics to grow your e-commerce traction:
- Live Videos: Live videos are by far the most candid way influencers can interact with your brand. Since you won’t be able to do much more than provide them with products and speaking points, live videos are best for influencers that you feel comfortable handing over creative control. Live influencer videos are a fun and natural way for loyal followers and new customers alike to learn about and engage with your brand in real time. Live streaming via Facebook, Periscope and Instagram often allows influencers to capture even more engagement and attention than polished, pre-recorded video.
- Virtual Reality (VR): VR makes a lot of sense for brands in the entertainment, action and sports industries. Influencers outfitted with VR-capable wearables and brands with top-of-the-line editing tools can create eye-catching, interactive entertainment that keep potential customers coming back for more.
- Sponsored Videos: Sponsored videos and social influencers were literally made for each other. They can be produced by your own marketing team or be given a more off-the-cuff approach in which an influencer exercises creative license in creating, editing and sharing the content. Sponsored videos can live anywhere, but it's especially powerful on video-focused social media channels like YouTube and those with newer video features like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
3. Create testimonials and reviews that feature influencers.
User-generated testimonials and reviews are vital for e-commerce retailers because shoppers aren’t able to touch and feel your products in real time. They provide that all-important social proof that today’s digital buyers rely on to make a purchase. In addition, they build trust and reliability while highlighting areas in which you excel — e.g., responsive customer service or having the most unique product selection in your niche.
If you choose influencers who are trusted experts in your industry, their testimonials and reviews can help persuade consumers that your product is the right choice. For example, watch brand MVMT relies heavily on Instagram influencers in its marketing and sales strategy. So heavily, in fact, that it features Instagram prominently on its website to showcase influencers who have chosen to purchase from the relatively young company instead of its esteemed competition.
4. Create discounts and early access for influencer audiences.
Exclusivity and scarcity can drive both shares and sales for your e-commerce brand. Help foster motivation by providing your influencers with unique discount codes and giving their audiences sneak peaks and early access to new products.
Unique codes will allow you to track which influencers and channels are driving the most conversions. Releasing products in limited batches helps you conduct on-the-fly quality assurance testing while racking up great reviews from your influencers’ highly engaged audiences.
There are many ways to bolster your brand, but personal recommendations still take the cake when it comes to marketing that captures the attention of consumers. To tap into that trust without spending an arm and a leg on marketing, use these strategies to become a leader in your niche by engaging UGC from influencers.
Erika Jolly Brookes is the chief marketing officer at Springbot, where she leads all brand, product, marketing campaigns and communications.