It’s hot, fast-moving and is projected to take a serious chunk of marketing budgets this year. It’s taking over the gap left by the decline of print advertising. Almost 40% of all Twitter users make a purchase based on recommendations in this strategy. What is it?
A hot new buzz word in marketing circles, influencer marketing is seeing strong growth and increased prospect quality. But how do you find influencers and use their popularity and perceived leadership to boost your ecommerce store’s bottom line? Here’s a quick look to help you get started.
What is Influencer Marketing and Why is it Important?
Influencer marketing involves recruiting leaders in your niche to push your brand’s message to their audience. It often takes a word-of-mouth approach, similar to network marketing, but also has aspects of social media and content marketing. It’s different than word-of-mouth, advocate or network marketing because you’re focusing on the actions of a few select people who have proven themselves as leaders in the industry, and whose audience is one you’d like to reach.
But why does it matter? A study by eMarketer found that 84% of marketers are planning to launch a minimum of one influencer marketing campaign this year and that 81% of marketers found it an effective strategy to boost brand awareness and conversion. BrightLocal found that 92% of customers trust online reviews from strangers just as strongly as they did recommendations by friends. Almost 40% of all Twitter followers have made a purchase based on a recommendation by someone they follow. And if that didn’t get your attention, consider that Tomoson sees influencer marketing as the fastest-growing sector in the online prospect development channel, passing up organic searches, paid search advertising and email marketing campaigns.
How to Find Influencers by Researching Online
Sounds great, right? But how do you find the right influencer to promote your business? You can use BuzzSumo, Follower Wonk or a similar tool, but it can also be just as easy as Googling “find influencers” followed by your industry or outreach focus.
Looking for influencers on a specific social media site? Include that site in your search. For example, Googling “find marketing influencers on LinkedIn” brings up page after page of results. If you’re short on time and energy, companies like SocialFabric can automate the process for you, making the process of reaching out to your potential influencers much easier.
When you’ve found a number of influencers in your industry, try to choose a few influencers who are best aligned with your brand. If you sell natural mineral makeup, you don’t want a diva who believes in using harsh chemical treatments to represent your company. If you do use that diva, her followers won’t necessarily be interested in what you have to offer and you’ll see lower conversion rates because of the poor focus.
What to Say to Your Prospective Influencer
But once you’ve found your potential influencer, how do you approach them? Many ecommerce professionals find the thought of approaching an influencer with the same level of anticipation as a root canal or doing their taxes. Fortunately, in today’s social media world, even industry leaders have become more approachable.
Follow them, make strategic comments to get their attention, then send them a message or drop them an email. But what do you say to get their attention in a positive way? Here’s a sample template you can use to reach out:
<Re-establish your link to them, such as the social media page you found them on or a conversation you had with them>.
<Mention their status as an influencer, such as, “I really enjoyed reading through your (blog, specific blog post, instagram feed, etc) and would love to discuss the possibility of working together.”
<Tell them what you want, including why it’s important to your business and why they should work with you. As an example, “We’d like to see if you’d help promote our <random product or service> because it <has some benefit to them, like promoting fair-trade chocolate picked by purple monkeys they posted about on their social media page>”.
<Ask them to help. This can be something like, “If you don’t mind, could you share this link and make three tweets mentioning it on July 1?”
<Offer your product or service in return, or offer to pay the influencer for their time. Asking for free promotion is very often a waste of time.>
<Thank them for considering your offer. Close with your name, title and social media links for your company.>
How to Measure the Success of Your Campaign
Once you’ve started the influencer marketing campaign, how do you track its reach, impact on conversion rates and increases in brand awareness? One of the easiest ways is by using one of the tools you probably already have available – Google Analytics. By seeing where your referral visitors are coming from, you can determine which campaigns and influencers are the most effective.
But what if your campaign isn’t that specific? If you’re trying to spread awareness rather than conversion rate improvement, you’ll have a harder time determining the effectiveness of your efforts. Instead, try using a tool that tracks brand or product awareness such as SocialMention or Trackur.
Some Potential Threats to Your Marketing Efforts
If influencer marketing sounds easy, remember that there are some areas to consider before proceeding.
Many influencers will mention that they received some form of compensation for their endorsement. Depending on that form of compensation, it can benefit or detract from your brand. Giving that influencer a free sample, or access to a service or a product typically goes over fairly well, as they’ve had an actual product or service to base their post on, though most marketers and consumers agree that the exchange should represent roughly equal values between your offer and the influencer’s services. It’s also usually considered more than acceptable to provide a similar level of coverage on your social media posts for that influencer, helping them grow their influence at the same time that your company benefits.
However, if they’re receiving money either for the initial mention or as a portion of proceeds, which comes close to affiliate sales, prospects may discount their post or push for your brand. For these reasons, it’s important to carefully consider how to handle compensation and be ready for any issues that can arise from it. Some people consider financial compensation acceptable if the influencer is already a passionate fan of your products or services, but some may find the same behavior less than genuine.
Influencer marketing is seeing serious growth, and by getting in early, you can take advantage of the opportunities it presents. But what if you need more information about how to market your ecommerce website and promote your business? Download our E-Book 70 Ways to Market Your Ecommerce Business!