Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy for Your eCommerce Brand

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As the proud owner of an eCommerce website, you should never underestimate the importance of marketing your business effectively. There are lots of marketing strategies you can try to help increase your store’s revenues. One method you can use to capture the attention of your target market is to create an influencer marketing strategy.

Before we dive deeper into the subject of creating an influencer marketing strategy, let us first understand what influencer marketing means.

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What is Influencer Marketing?

In a nutshell, influencer marketing is when a company leverages the popularity of an individual in order to achieve a specific marketing goal. If you engage in influencer marketing, you are using the popularity of one person to boost your brand and drive awareness to a specific market of consumers.

The term “influencer” is used to describe someone who encourages others to act in a specific manner. An influencer is often a trusted individual that people look up to. Basic examples of such people include parents and teachers. These figures can influence the way people think and act.

Studies have shown that influencer marketing works. In fact, based on the 2019 Influencer Marketing Global Survey conducted by Rakuten Marketing, four out of five surveyed consumers admitted they’ve made a purchase based on the recommendations of influencers. 

In the past, the term had very little usage. Its rise in popularity began with the proliferation of social media sites in the early 2000s when celebrities began using these platforms to reach out to their fan base. In fact, it was only in 2019 that the word “influencer” was officially added to Merriam-Webster’s English dictionary.

Nowadays, a social media influencer is defined as someone who has cultivated a loyal audience and has the ability to influence that audience through content creation on social media, videos, or blogs.

Some people believe that influencer marketing is something new, but in reality, it isn’t. The act of encouraging people to buy something or to patronize a brand has been around for ages. The question of when this practice began has been subject to debate.

One story states that influencing can be traced back to the Middle Ages when the established influencers were people in powernamely the King, Queen, and churchmen.

Another take on when influencers first made their appearance was in 1760. This was when Josiah Wedgwood of the now-popular Wedgwood brand (which makes high-quality porcelain and china), gave Queen Charlotte a custom tea set. Wedgwood used that event to publicize himself as the “Potter to her Majesty,” giving the brand the royal stamp of approval he was aiming for.

The Importance of an Influencer Marketing Strategy

Having a marketing strategy that leverages the popularity of well-known personalities can be crucial to the success of a brand or product. You have to remember that almost half of the world’s population is on social media. If you don’t harness the power of influencers to help boost your brand, you are losing out on numerous opportunities. 

In eCommerce, you have to realize that competition is fierce. To help you understand the scope of this industry, keep in mind that there are approximately 7 million retailers online all across the globe. Now, don’t let that number discourage you. There are over 7 billion people on the planet, which means that only 0.1 percent of that number is selling online.

Your main challenge now as an eCommerce brand is to capture the attention of your target market and to get them to choose you over your competitors. This is where an influencer marketing strategy comes in. Getting an influencer to promote your brand will help boost your popularity and your revenues.

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Benefits of Using an Influencer Marketing Strategy for Your Brand

Now that you know the importance of creating an influencer marketing strategy for your eCommerce brand, the question you need to answer is: will it be beneficial to you and your brand? Is it the right marketing strategy for you to try? To answer these questions, here are some of the benefits that one can gain by tapping influencers:

Brand Awareness

One of the main reasons why online sellers invest in influencer marketing is to increase brand awareness. If you want your brand to rise above those of your competitors’, having a well-known and respected influencer promoting it might just do the trick.

Increased Revenues

This is the main reason why most eCommerce stores invest in influencer marketing. Since most of their followers emulate them, having an influencer use and promote your products can increase your sales.

Better Online Visibility

Another good reason why you should think about influencer marketing is to make your site rank better on search engines. One of the key metrics that search engines consider when they rank sites is the number of authoritative links a site has leading back to it. If you have links leading back to your store coming from influential and authoritative sources online, your store can benefit greatly from this.

These are just a few of the benefits you can gain from tapping influencers for your marketing strategy. If these are your goals for your online business, then the answer to the question “Should you use an influencer marketing strategy for your brand?” is a resounding yes. 

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What are the Different Kinds of Influencers?

To find the right person for your influencer marketing strategy, you should first know the different kinds of influencers you can choose from for your campaign. These are first broken down according to reach and then according to niche. While a majority of influencers use a lot of different kinds of platforms to communicate with their base, some of them choose one medium for their initial post.

Most people think of social media personalities when they hear the word “influencer.” While a lot of them did get famous on social media platforms, an influencer can be anyone who can make followers do what they suggest. Since being an influencer can bring in money, famous people like athletes, actors, and politicians have become social media influencers, too.

Influencer Types According to Reach

There are four types of influencers you can choose from according to their reach. The more people they can influence, the higher your chances of having a successful marketing campaign. But then again, the number of people they can reach also dictates how much they charge for each post.

Nano-Influencers

These are influencers who have between 1K and 10K followers. They are usually highly-engaged with their base and can be found reacting to replies and comments made by their followers on their social media pages. More often than not, they are found on Instagram.

Micro-Influencers

Influencers who belong to this category have between 10K and 100K followers on their social media accounts. They have a similar attitude towards their base as nano-influencers, with most of them interacting and engaging with their followers. They are also found mostly on Instagram but a lot of them also use other influencer marketing platforms like YouTube to expand their reach.

Macro-Influencers

The next level of influencers is called macro-influencers. These are those who have between 100K and 1 million followers. Sometimes called social media stars, these are people who rose to fame because of the Internet.

People who belong to this category increased their number of followers and gained fame following months or even years of engagement. Macro-influencers tend to consist of vloggers, podcasters, bloggers, and social media celebrities who appeal to a wide base. You can find these influencers on a number of platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and their own websites or blogs.

Mega-Influencers 

These are considered influencer royalty and can be reality TV stars or actual celebrities. Mega-influencers often have upwards of 1 million followers. This means they have an extremely wide reach.

Mega-influencers rarely engage personally with their public except via new posts. You can expect such influencers to have social media managers handling their accounts for them. They can be found on all relevant social media platforms, have their own websites, and are featured on the news from time to time.

Influencer Types According to Niche

Let us now talk about the many different niches of influencers. While they can promote almost anything, there are a few relevant niches that a majority of them occupy. Here is a list of some of the top ones. 

Gaming

If you’re familiar with PewDiePie and Jacksepticeye, then you’re probably a gamer. These are two of the many gamers who’ve gained popularity online by posting videos of their gameplay and videos of themselves playing. The former has a whopping 106 million followers, while the latter has around 24.7 million followers on YouTube.

Most of these gamers use YouTube as their portal but some of them use Twitch as well. Their content ranges from game reviews to console reviews and tutorials. They are the go-to influencers of online gaming and console companies when they launch influencer marketing campaigns. 

Travel

A lot of people love exploring different parts of the planet, and to maximize their experiences, they look to travel influencers for ideas. You can find travel influencers who have a global following and those who have a local following. The number of followers these influencers have can range from a few thousand to a few million.

Examples of travel influencers include Chris Burkard, who has 3.5 million followers on Instagram, and Murad Osmann, who has 4.1 million followers on the same platform. These two travel the world and share pictures of the places they visit. The latter gained popularity because of his images that show his wife leading him by the hand to iconic tourist spots worldwide. 

Parenting

Another top niche that is inundated with influencers is this one that offers followers insights on parenting. Excluding celebrity parents, you will find that there are hundreds of parenting influencers online. Some of them specialize in parenting tips geared towards their own culture, while others aim for an international audience.

There are some parenting influencers who like to share funny images and anecdotes about parenthood. There are others who focus on serious parenting issues. These influencers can promote products meant to make the job of parenting easier and demonstrate how to use these items. 

Beauty

This is one of the most saturated niches around and is one that a lot of online sellers utilize. Some of the top influencers that occupy this niche include Huda Kattan, owner of beauty-company Huda Beauty, and James Charles, a self-taught makeup maven. Both have over 20 million followers on Instagram, with Huda having 47.9 million and James with 26.4 million.

These influencers either sell their own line of cosmetics or promote brands that tap them to use their products in their videos. One of the most popular activities that beauty influencers do is the makeup tutorial, which a lot of people watch. They also do product reviews, share tips and tricks, and even do product comparisons. 

Fashion

This is another niche that has both a lot of followers and a lot of influencers. Products that such internet celebs promote on their social media accounts range from clothing to jewelry to shoes to watches to other fashionable items. These are individuals who either have a unique sense of fashion or are proponents of certain fashion ideals.

Fashion influencers range from women who push for body positivity to those who promote earth-friendly fashion. Some fashion influencers come in pairs, with a few mother-daughter and best-friend pairs gaining a lot of popularity on Instagram and Facebook.

Fitness

If you’re selling fitness products, or anything that has to do with sports, health, and exercise, then fitness influencers are the ones you need. This niche has a lot of sub-niches since there are a lot of sports and fitness programs out there. Who you choose will depend on what type of sport or fitness products you are selling.

Some of the more popular sub-niches that influencers occupy include yoga, crossfit, weight loss, and trendy diets like paleo and keto. Popular influencers for this particular niche include sports personalities and fitness gurus. Examples of these include Venezuelan fitness coach Michelle Lewin and American health influencer Jennifer Selter. Both of these women have over 10 million followers each.

Criteria for Choosing an Influencer for Your Marketing Campaign

The abovementioned niches scratch only the surface of the influencer pool. There are a lot of smaller niches that can be tapped for an influencer marketing strategy. The first step to creating a successful campaign is to find the right influencer for your niche.

Influencer marketing hinges on trust. Your target market should trust the influencer you choose. The influencer you choose should also be a perfect fit for your brand. 

To ensure that you find the right person(s) for your campaign, you have to set the criteria for your selection: 

Reach

This is the number of people that follow an influencer. If you want to reach millions of people, you have to find a macro or mega influencer.

Relevance

For you to reach the right audience, the relevance of an influencer to your brand should be carefully considered. You need to check an influencer’s niche to determine this.

Resonance

Does an influencer resonate well with their audience? Not all influencers engage on a personal level with their audience. This is when “less-is-more” works since micro and nano influencers are better at this than those with more followers.

Budget

Before you can ask an influencer to work with you, you first need to know how much they will cost. As expected, mega influencers can cost millions of dollars to hire. If you have a limited budget but don’t want to pass up on the chance of reaching more people, you can opt for a nano or micro-influencer.

Target Market

This goes beyond merely checking an influencer’s niche. You need to check the demographics of their followers to determine if they fit the market you are targeting. For example, if you are looking to work with a fashion influencer and you are selling clothes for babies, you might do better working with a parenting influencer than someone who posts about the latest trends for teens or young adults.

Trust

This goes hand-in-hand with resonance. An influencer can interact and engage with their followers as much as they can, but if their followers don’t engage back or agree with anything they say, this can be a sign that they are not as trusted by their base as you expected.

Saturation

The term “overexposed” is apt here. If an influencer is promoting too many products or brands at the same time, your company might no longer be noticed by your target market. Find an influencer that is popular enough but isn’t saying yes to every brand that knocks on their door. 

Tips on Finding the Right Influencers to Work With

Having criteria for choosing an influencer doesn’t automatically guarantee that you will get the right one for your strategy right away. You still need to weed out the wrong people from the right ones in your search for who to tap for your influencer marketing strategy.

Here are some tips that can be helpful:

1. Find influencers by engaging in influencer discovery

What is influencer discovery? It is when you try to find influencers with the help of tools that scour the Internet for well-known personalities that fit your needs. Take your pick from dozens of influencer discovery tools that allow you to locate who you need according to expertise and content.

There are tools that help you search a variety of platforms and some that are geared towards specific social media portals. There are also options that are free and some that are paid. Your best bets when it comes to influencer discovery tools are those that have filtering capabilities for reach, content type, and engagement.

Some of the tools that may prove useful for influencer discovery include the following: 

BuzzStream

BuzzStream is an influencer research tool that allows you to not only find influencers but to also build relationships with them. This is a great tool to have in your arsenal if you’re targeting bloggers for your influencer marketing plans. To find who you need using this tool, you can use keywords that are related to your niche and sort them according to your criteria for influencer selection. This same tool helps you contact your chosen influencers and to send follow-up messages.

Screenshot of BuzzStream page
Screenshot taken from BuzzStream

Aside from finding and contacting influencers, BuzzStream also helps you manage your strategy by tracking your outreach efforts and marketing performance. The tool has a 14-day free trial but if you choose to continue using it, you will have to pay $24 a month for the starter plan. 

Buzzsumo

This is a great tool if you want to find a variety of influencers on a variety of platforms. One way to find the people you need is by scouring the web for popular content that is tied-in with your niche. This tool can do that for you.

Screenshot of Buzzsumo page
Screenshot taken from Buzzsumo

Aside from popular content, you can also find Twitter influencers using Buzzsumo. It has a specific tool for this. It even has a filter that helps you find influencers according to category. Examples of these are bloggers and journalists.

While you can try Buzzsumo for free, you will have to subscribe if you want to use more features. The lowest-priced plan costs $99 and the price goes up when you add more pro features. 

NinjaOutreach

This is another tool that you will want to consider for your influencer discovery needs. It is similar to BuzzStream since it lets you find viable influencers based on content and niche. The one thing that takes this a step further than its competitor is its ability to let you locate influencers on both Instagram and Twitter.

Screenshot of NinjaOutreach page

The platform lets you list down your prospects and filter them according to your specifications. You can also send emails to your prospects and track them at the same time. There is even a feature that lets you automate certain processes, like sending your initial outreach email and follow-ups.

Much like other influencer discovery tools, NinjaOutreach can be used for free for two weeks but will require a subscription once you decide to continue using it. Plans start at $69 a month for the most basic offering. 

2. Qualify the influencers you’re targeting

Before you start contacting the influencers that you find using discovery tools, you should first qualify them. This move helps you find the ones that are the best fit for your goals and niche early on. The criteria could include:

Reach

How many people are you targeting to reach with your influencer marketing strategy? Your marketing goals can dictate which influencer to choose. To qualify their reach, check how many followers they have based on what they call themselves (nano, micro, macro, or mega).

Authority

While numbers are important when it comes to the influencer strategy game, you also need to check if they are indeed an authority in their niche. Check who their followers are and gauge their audiences’ trust level by examining the responses to their posts. For websites and blogs, you can check for authority using Alexa’s Site Overview. Here, you will see not only metrics that pertain to page activity, but also their Alexa Rank.

Audience 

To qualify your influencer’s audience, you first need to find someone who fits your particular niche. You have to make sure that your influencer’s followers fit the demographics of your target market.

Messaging

Another thing you have to check is the influencer’s messaging. Do their tweets and posts resonate with your brand? Are their messages in line with your brand’s ideology and your company’s vision?

Content type

Along with their messaging, you also need to find out if their content is in line with the image of your brand. Are they posting images and content related to your niche? Are their posts relevant to your marketing strategy?

Content quality

You will also need to assess the quality of the content that an influencer puts out. Quality and relevance are important when checking the content of your shortlisted influencer. Are their images of good quality? Are their captions well-thought-out? Is their messaging something you’d want to be associated with? 

3. Avoid Fake Influencers

In the lucrative world of influencer marketing, you will find people who pretend to be influencers. Making money and getting free stuff from such an activity is, after all, rather difficult to resist. People who don’t have the patience to develop a loyal following in order to be called influencers resort to buying followers to increase their reach quickly.

To avoid these fake influencers, you’ll have to dig deeper. Find out by taking a closer look at the people following them. What are they posting in response to the posts? Are they engaging meaningfully with the influencer? What do these followers do? Who else are these followers supporting on these social media platforms?

Finding out more about the influencers you are targeting for your campaigns will help you avoid wasting money on the wrong ones. Some fake influencers can be easy to spot but there are others that require more work to uncover. Do your due diligence and you won’t have to worry about throwing good money away on your influencer marketing plan.

Types of Influencer Marketing Campaign Strategies

The success of your campaign is dependent not only on the influencer you choose, but also on the type of campaign you choose to use. To give you an example of what kinds of strategies you can use to help increase your eCommerce brand’s digital footprint and revenues, here are some of the top campaign types you can try:

Sponsored Content

This strategy requires that you pay your chosen influencer to feature your products on their social media channels or blog. You can choose to create the content yourself or your chosen influencer can do this for you.

Competitions, Contests, and Giveaways

With this choice, you put together a contest for your brand and you get the influencer to plug the contest for you. You have to provide not only the contest details but also a link that the influencer’s followers can click to join.

Product and Content Collaborations

As the name implies, this is a strategy that puts your chosen influencer in a decision-making position for your brand. You partner with your influencer for this campaign and have them brainstorm with you on what might be a good post to help boost your brand.

Brand Ambassador

This is an alternative to paying your chosen influencer for working with you. More often than not, this influencer marketing strategy can be handled as an exchange deal. The influencer is featured on your website and pages as a brand ambassador and they get to promote your brand on their pages. In addition to this, they also get exclusive deals and free products.

Reviews

Your chosen influencer can review a product that you send to them for free. Examples of this kind of strategy include unboxing, comparison videos, and outright product reviews that include videos of the influencer using your product.

Social Media Hashtags

This is the easiest to use and involves the use of a custom hashtag that you want your brand to go viral for. The hashtags used for this particular campaign often include your brand, your influencer’s tag, and what the campaign is for.

Social Media Takeovers

This requires that you totally trust your influencer since you will be giving them access to your social media accounts, albeit for only a short period of time. This allows them to post on your accounts and entice their followers to visit your pages.

Discount Codes

This is often used by brands that work with a lot of influencers at the same time. An influencer gets a commission for every sale that uses their exclusive discount code. They post this discount code along with information and details about your products on their social media posts.

Affiliate Marketing

This is one of the oldest methods for getting people to help increase your sales. This is similar to discount codes but may not necessarily be found on their social media posts. This can be used on their blog, videos, and other similar portals.

How to Put Together an Influencer Marketing Strategy That Works

Now that you have an idea as to what is involved when it comes to developing an influencer marketing strategy, it’s time for you to put together a campaign for your brand. How do you do this? Here are the steps that you can do to create an effective influencer marketing campaign:

Determine the goals of the campaign

Setting your objectives from the get-go will help determine your overall strategy. What goals do you want to achieve with such a campaign? Are you trying to increase brand awareness or is the campaign for a better relationship with your audience? After you set your goals, you can then move on to the next step.

Define your audience

Once your goals are set, your next step is to figure out who your target audience is. Will the campaign be for return customers or are you targeting new ones? One good way to prepare for these campaigns in advance is to create audience personas. This will allow you to not only identify the different demographics your brand caters to but it will also help you put together a dossier of influencers you can tap for each demographic and campaign.

Determine the kind of campaign you will use

Determining the campaign you will use at the onset will help you with content creation and planning. For example, if you’re going for content collaboration, you will need to come up with your own content and have your chosen influencer post this for you or share a link to your content. You can also opt to choose a campaign before choosing an influencer for better alignment.

Find your influencer

If you already have audience personas and influencer dossiers, you can easily partner these with each other based on your campaign goals. Finding the right influencers for your strategy requires careful scrutiny and planning. Choose the right niche then find the right person based on your budget, your chosen reach, and use the qualifiers as well as disqualifiers mentioned above to find the perfect fit.

Contact your influencers

The next step is to contact your influencers and to pitch your strategy to them. If you are using any of the influencer discovery tools mentioned above, you can easily do this. If you choose to discover your influencers by simply using your browser and social media accounts, getting in touch with them will require a bit more effort.

When you contact your chosen influencer, you can expect them to ask you for particulars such as frequency of posts, the timing of posting, and other similar concerns. They will also ask what types of posts you want from them and whether it will be collaborative or if they have to create their own content. The negotiation stage will also be part of this step, so be ready with a great offer for them.

Track your progress

You should track the progress of your influencer marketing strategy from the moment you choose your influencers and when you send them your first email. This will help you streamline and refine your process. Doing this will allow you to determine where your strategy needs improvements and which parts worked great.

To ensure that you know which influencer is giving you the most traffic and revenues (assuming that you are using more than one), you should have a custom tracking URL or UTM that they can use with their posts. This will help you measure and track where your traffic is coming from.

Measuring your influencer marketing results

The reason why you’re tracking your progress is to determine if the campaign is worth your investment. To calculate your influencer marketing ROI (return on investment), follow these steps:

    1. List down your goals
    2.   List down the metrics you will use to measure the performance of your strategy. The KPIs (key performance indicators) can include the number of mentions, clicks, and conversions. You can also add engagement rate, user-generated content, and revenues to this list.
    3.   Track performance either manually or with the use of a tracking tool.
    4. List down which influencers are bringing in more traffic and revenues with the use of their individual UTM or tracking URL.

Repeat and refine your strategy

Once you’ve gone through all these steps, you can then assess the merits of your efforts. If you find a few aspects that need improvement, reassess these and rework them to make them more successful. This step will help you learn what will and won’t work for your brand and your niche. This will also help you get rid of campaigns that aren’t doing you any good, and in effect, will help you funnel money to other campaigns that are actually working.

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