Are influencer marketing campaigns part of your brand strategy? If you want to increase sales, grow brand awareness, and reach a larger audience with your product or service, then keep reading to learn why influencers should be considered in your next marketing plan.
What is influencer marketing? Why should your brand consider it?
An influencer is simply a trusted, authoritative figure. A parent influences their children, a coach influences their players, and a boss influences their employees. As the term is used in modern marketing, an influencer has a well-established following on social platforms that are already being used most often by the target audience. Depending on the budget of the brand looking for an influencer and the goal of their campaign, the number of followers the influencer has can vary from the thousands to the millions.
Those with a large following on sites like Instagram and YouTube can generate buzz for new products and help ecommerce brands blow out entire product lines. The key is to match the right influencer to a product and create great content together.
Influencer marketing is about finding the right influencer who already has an established following and who’s brand matches well with the product or service they will be endorsing, creating content for, and ultimately, driving sales for.
Ecommerce brands use influencer marketing to get results, often more quickly than they can with others forms of advertising. If an athlete, blogger, or other influencer has a large following, a well-designed post or campaign offers vast numbers of potential views, shares and engagements that can be easily measured to determine the return on investment (ROI) of the campaign.
Building influencer ecommerce strategy
The two key questions to ask in all of your marketing efforts are:
What is the goal?
Define the goals of your marketing efforts as much as possible. Knowing your goals allows you to measure a campaign’s success and make spending decisions for future campaigns. Marketing costs money, but successful marketing either directly or indirectly drives sales. Sales makes money, grows the brand, and creates value within the company.
Who is the audience?
- Build a persona for the ideal buyer. Who are they? Where do they shop, eat and vacation? What do they wear? Find an image or photo that represents your ideal buyer and have them in mind as you are making spending and content decisions. What social media platforms are they active on? What are their interests? Find the influencers who already have your ideal buyer as their audience.
Importance of choosing the right influencer
There are many ways to use an influencer to meet your brand goals. Choosing the right influencer is key to not only meeting those goals, but to protecting your brand in the process.
You should consider an influencer as a highly visible extension of your business. A balance between the influencer being themselves—which earned them the following you want to capitalize on—and being a spokesperson for your brand is essential for the success of the relationship to both parties.
When choosing an influencer, a few considerations are:
Who follows them?
Your ideal influencer already has a strong following within your target market. One of the main reasons you are considering influencer marketing is to get your product in front of those faces, so make sure they are the right potential customers.
How many followers do they have?
The more followers they have, the more potential views your product gets or leads you are able to generate. However, don’t be afraid to look at micro-influencers. A micro-influencer is one with a much smaller, but possibly more loyal or engaged following who can still drive conversions.
How do their followers engage with them?
As Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence is known for saying, engagement leads to outcome. There’s no value in a social media personality with an audience who doesn’t engage with them. Look at previous posts and check for likes, shares, comments, and replies. You want to see an audience that is interacting with the poster.
Are they a good match for your brand?
Your goal is not simply to increase your bottom line, but to only partner with people who will help protect your brand. It is imperative that you consider whether the influencer would be a good representative of your company. Look closely at past posts they have made and the type of comments being left by their followers. Vet the influencer by searching their past work to make sure no surprises arise that could taint your brand.
How does influencer marketing work?
You have found the right influencer and agreed on partnership terms. Now, you and your influencer will set expectations on frequency and timing of the content that will engage their current audience and generate new business or conversions. Although we stress the importance of the influencer as a good representative of your brand, if you choose the right person, their creativity and voice should be primary in your collaborations. They built their following on their personality and should be given license to look and sound like themselves in the work they do for you.
Providing a custom UTM or tracking URL for the influencer’s posts is a simple way to track engagement and is discussed again in the section on Measuring Results.
Other content strategies and tools are:
Coupon/ discount codes
Special codes are created and included in the content to allow for easy tracking of the success of the campaign
A more traditional “spokesperson” campaign where the influencer speaks highly of your product or service
Younger buyers are skeptical of traditional advertising but place high value on reviews of everything from where to eat to which car to drive.
Provide free product as prizes for the influencer’s audience for tangible actions like tagging friends, following a page, sharing or liking a post, or signing up for a newsletter
Measuring your results
Track everything you are able to track to measure results against the goals you established at the beginning of the campaign. The custom UTM URL discussed earlier can be used to tally site visits attributed directly to the influencer and their efforts. You can build your own custom UTMs with this free tool from Google here. Using a link shortener like Bitly can cleanup the URLs as well and will still pass the source, medium, and campaign values to Google Analytics.
At the end of the day the number one metric in eCommerce influencer marketing is sales. Every other metric is a “nice to have”, but revenue is purpose behind it all. Tools like Google Analytics will be able to help you pull back the curtain on revenue contribution from influencer campaigns. Some CMS platforms (like Shopify) can track this data directly within a dashboard on the site.
Other measurables include:
- Conversion rate – percentage of people who engaged with your content and turned into revenue producing customers
- Reach – number of people who saw the content
- Engagement – number of people in the audience who took an action from the content
- Follower growth – increase in followers on your social pages
- Remarketing list growth—new additions to segmented remarketing lists
- Email list growth – new captured opted-in email address for newsletters and marketing content
Athletes as influencers
Sports fans are extremely loyal to their favorite teams, coaches and players, giving athletes a unique opportunity to be influencers across many brand categories. They have real followers who trust them and feel like they have relationship with the athletes.
Savvy brands want an influencer with not just a large following, but also an engaged following. Posts from athletes drive an almost 11x higher engagement than posts from brands. Athletes have a unique connection to their home towns, the city where they went to college, and the city in which they currently play. They possess the ability to drive engagement and outcomes at the local, regional, national, and even international level. Fans crave a connection with the athletes they follow, and often times a shared experience with a brand is the perfect way to do that.
What does it all mean for your eCommerce brand?
Influencer marketing is an important strategy to consider in this era of ubiquitous social media. Capitalizing on the social following of a well-chosen influencer can increase sales, grow brand awareness, and reach a larger audience than a brand may be able to do on their own. Results should be measured and compared against goals, informing and shaping future campaigns. There are many types of influencers to consider, but athletes often have a unique advantage over other personalities due to the unique loyalty of their fans and followers.
Want to include athletes in your next campaign?
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