Influencer marketing is a business strategy of using popular people or leaders to drive your product or brand to their audiences. They act as a trusted intermediary between the company and the target audience to increase the probability of sales conversion.
The advantages of influencer marketing compared to using advertisements (ads) are quite compelling for any company looking to expand their brand awareness and lead conversion ratios.
No revenue lost to ad blocking
Many content consumers on the internet prefer to have uninterrupted experiences as they surf the internet. This includes choosing what they see and hear at any given moment. However, marketing ads on free platforms pay to be a part of this experience. In response, many users employ ad blockers that lead to a lot of lost revenue on the advertisers’ part, estimated at over $12 billion in 2020 across USA and the UK. Influencers are generally creators so unlike ads, their content is readily consumed by their followers, providing a better return on investment than ads in many cases.
Higher engagement than ads
Following on the heels of blocked ads, even those that make it through blocking filters can suffer from low engagement figures due to the lack of the connection with the audience. Influencers, on the other hand, tend to have consistent likes, follows and click backs on their affiliated links and content creating large engagement metrics.
Transfer of trust and meaning from influencer to brand
Meaning transfer is the imprinting of the social value of an influencer to a product in proximity to them. In purchasing this product, the consumer feels closer to the influencer. This can create very strong brand loyalty as can be seen in the relationship between Nike and Michael Jordan through the line of Nike Jordan sneakers. According to a Nielsen survey from 2015, the more aware the audience was that they were consuming ad content, the less likely they were to trust the information served to them.
Types of Digital Influencers
Macro influencers are accounts with larger follower counts, typically in excess of 100,000 with relatively high engagement rates of over 1%, which is fairly high in this category. These are influencers who are great for brands that seek to create awareness to large diverse audiences with several intersecting interests. Depending on the platform the follower number may need to be higher than the value defined here for the desired effect by the brand.
Micro influencers are accounts with relatively small follower accounts, typically in the 5,000 to 50,000 range that have a much higher engagement rate with their audiences, reaching highs of 8% or more. This is usually because they are firmly fixed in a niche and create content that is trusted by their followers through engaged discussions with followers in comments and posts. Brands aiming for high lead conversion would do well to work with such influencers because they have been shown to generate highly loyal customers.
Leverage influencer marketing for your Shopify store
When done right, influencer marketing has proven potential to increase the engagement and sales conversion for a brand and when done wrong to totally tank it. Here is an overview of how to do it right.
Define your influencer marketing strategy
The first step is always beating out what your specific goals are for the business depending on the product type and intended audience. Brand awareness, audience reach and lead conversion goals help to define the scope and budget available to spend on influence marketing. With these in mind, the list of required influencers can be narrowed down easily. Finally, create a key performance indicator (KPI) analytics plan so that you can identify your customers’ place in the decision journey (awareness, purchase, consideration, preference or loyalty) for return on investment (ROI) assessment.
Invest in an ambassador program for your Shopify store
This is the one the most hassle free to recruiting influencers to market your product. It depends on enlisting people who are already using and enjoying your product to sign up for a program where they can earn a commission for marketing it on their social media channels. Placing the ambassador program on the store’s landing page will attract your current customers to the benefits they can share with the brand for promoting it. Such methods generate a loyal marketing team that is only paid when results are achieved.
Identify the right influencers for your product
Leveraging the search engine optimization techniques used by influencers for visibility can ease the effort of finding those with the niche interests that align with your brand. This can be done manually using keyword lookups in search engines such as Google and Bing or automating through web scraping software. However, these influencers still need vetting through personalized contact such as phone calls or email. Key metrics to look out for include engagement of >1% and social media messaging that is consistent in style and tone with your brand.
Use influencer marketplaces to find a niche fit
In cases where there is minimal expertise searching and vetting influencers, brands can go to market places. Here, influencers are aggregated by follower and engagement metrics as well as product niche. The variety available means you need a clear strategy to select the right influencers.
Platforms like Shoutcart provide only shout outs or one-time social media posts about your brand. On the other hand, Whalar is a mature influencer marketplace that will help your Shopify store generate organic user generated content (UGC) through your influencer of choice. Remember to cross post the social media campaign to your store to increase conversion through social proof.
Generate the right content for awareness and conversion
Having selected the right influencers for the job, negotiate and agree on content with the following criteria in mind.
The brand story of your Shopify store should be clearly represented in the campaign so that there is a transparency and a certain ‘wow’ for the audience that will engage with the posts. A brand story that shows shared ideals with the target audience helps give a product some background and grounding so that content consumers feel more attached to it.
The interests of the influencer’s audience will heavily affect your sales conversions from a campaign. It is therefore very important to identify the niche fit with the influencer who is likely to have a mix of audiences who follow and engage them. The campaign should be targeted at the largest group possible through content curation.
The influencers perspective and content medium should be compatible with the brand message as well as the product your Shopify store is trying to push. This can be longform video on YouTube for reviewing the product experience or lifestyle photos on Instagram with fun filters.
Capture the spillover value of a campaign
After an influencer campaign is over, there is usually a lot of UGC that can be collected and reposted over time to maintain engagement with the brand. Additionally, this content can be repackaged in ads and reviews if permission is granted by the original creators.
Use analytics to maximize milestones
It is all well and good to find the right influencer whose campaign will generate high quality leads to your ecommerce store. However, at the end of the day, you still need to optimize your strategy so that you maximize return on investment. For example, Instagram posts for micro influencers typically cost around $250 while those of macro influencers cost around $750. How can you justify the cost?
Metrics to measure to determine ROI
Post engagement and Cost Per Engagement (CPE) are essential metrics to track if you want to know what value the influencer is delivering to your brand. Engagement is basically how much a post is viewed, liked and shared on a social media platform. After paying an influencer for a shout out or to run a campaign, CPE will help you determine whether it was a worthy investment.
Click-through Rate (CTR) is the next metric after CPE that you must track as it tells you how many people actually followed the link back to your Shopify store. This can be done by creating a tracked link that will tell you the origin of the site visitor.
Conversions or Sales are the most important metric because this is where you are actually generating revenue. Following the tracked links helps you calculate how many conversions came from your influencer marketing campaign or shout outs.
Tools to help measure value of an influencer campaign
Google and Facebook analytics are invaluable tools for tracking influencer metrics within the YouTube and Facebook/Instagram platforms. The total engagement, likes and shares can be easily tracked through the internal analytics platforms. The sites additionally provide plugins that can be copied into your Shopify store’s backend code to track CTR and thus CPE.
Hyperauditor provides 3rd Party (unbiased) influencer metrics on millions of indexed Instagram profiles where it generates AI driven reports on the potential earnings from engaging a particular influencer based on their profile history. It uses a unique pay-as-you-go model where users buy tokens which they spend on influencer reports.
SYLO applies private and proprietary algorithms to aggregated public social media data from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram to generate what they call the SYLO score. This metric can be used by businesses to gauge the potential ROI on working with different influencers across the mentioned platforms.