As both the use of ad blockers and the amount of time people spend on social media continues to rise, the effectiveness of traditional advertising has taken a nosedive.
So how can your brand reach consumers, and convert them?
The answer lies in influencer marketing. Consumers tend to place the most trust in recommendations from people they know.
In 2016, 86% of marketers used influencer marketing, and 94% of them found it to be effective.
According to a study by Tomoson, influencer marketing yields a $6.50 return on investment for every dollar spent.
And the quality of customers acquired through influencer marketing is also better.
It’s no wonder that influencer marketing is considered the fastest-growing channel for acquiring customers online.
Influencer marketing can also help ecommerce websites increase brand exposure, acquire more leads and drive more sales.
Below, learn how to boost your conversion rate with the help of influencers, step-by-step. Here are 9 influencer marketing examples from multi-million dollar brands, exactly what they did, why it works and more.
Step One: Work with the Right Influencers
The most important part of influencer marketing is finding the right influencers. That is, having an influencer marketing strategy.
Your choice of brand influencers can have a huge impact on the success of your campaign.
Just think about what would happen if you decided to work with an influencer who’s not at all relevant to your business. Your target audience may have never heard of them. And the influencer’s existing audience wouldn’t be interested in your product because it’s not relevant to them.
In other words, you’ve wasted money.
Conduct Influencer Research
There are several ways to find influencers. You can conduct a normal keyword or hashtag search on social media, then check out the top accounts and top posts that show up in the search results. You can also use an Instagram analytics tool like Owlmetrics to see which hashtags drive the most engagement.
Additionally, there are a variety of tools, such as BuzzSumo and Influence.co, which can help you find influencers.
On BuzzSumo, you just need to enter a relevant keyword in the search field, and the tool will give you a list of the top influencers related to that keyword. You can easily view stats like:
- Follower count
- Domain Authority
- Average comments
With Influence.co, you can search for influencers according to category. The search field allows you to enter keywords which will then give you relevant categories to choose from.
The tool then gives you a list of influencers, and displays details like number of followers, location, etc. You can filter results based on number of followers and location if you’re looking for something more specific.
If you want to improve your conversion rate with the help of influencers, you need to choose the right influencers to work with. Here are some of the most important questions you need to ask when shortlisting potential influencers to work with.
#1: Are They Relevant?
The first characteristic to consider when looking for an influencer is their relevance. Does the influencer have a voice in an industry or niche relevant to your brand? Do they produce content that’s related to your industry?
If so, it’s likely that their audience is also comprised of people who have an interest in that industry. By working with relevant influencers, you’ll be able to reach the right audience.
For example, Natori promoted their line of sports bras through fitness influencer Sarah Dussault. Natori is a brand that sells luxury lingerie, women’s clothing, and home décor. If they were to promote any of their other products through this specific influencer, it wouldn’t be as relevant.
But in this case, the product they were promoting was a line of sports bras, so a fitness influencer like Sarah was a good choice.
#2: Are They Engaging?
A high engagement rate is another important metric to consider when choosing influencers. Many marketers make the mistake of prioritizing the size of an influencer’s following over their engagement rate.
Just because someone has hundreds of thousands of followers, it doesn’t mean they’re good at engaging those followers.
If you want to boost conversions through an influencer, you need to make sure the influencer can effectively engage their audience.
The formula for calculating an influencer’s engagement rate is:
Their average number of (Likes + Comments + Shares) divided by (Number of Followers).
For example, let’s say an influencer with 1,000 followers gets an average of 500 likes, 100 comments, and 50 shares for each post. In this case, their engagement rate would be:
(500+100+50)/1000 = 0.65.
This works for most social media platforms. On Instagram, use the same formula without the number of shares included.
In addition to the two characteristics above, you may also set up other criteria based on your specific needs.
For example, if you want to raise brand awareness, you can first filter influencers based on the two characteristics above. Then you can look at the number of followers each influencer has to see which will work best for you.
Similarly, you can also analyze the influencer’s content and tone to see if their voice will be a good match for your brand.
Step Two: Establish Strong Relationships with Influencers
A genuine relationship between your brand and an influencer adds authenticity to your campaign. In an age when people are questioning the authenticity of ads and sponsored content, this is crucial.
You need to establish strong relationships with the influencers you work with, right from the start. Here are some tips to help you out:
#1: Be Respectful and Straightforward
Influencers are human beings too. So even if you’re approaching them for a partnership, you need to be respectful and direct.
This doesn’t mean you need to idolize them. Just avoid talking to them like subordinates. Talk to them like you would a friend, or a peer, and respect their opinions and choices.
For example, if they’re having some issues with the compensation you’ve proposed, let them know that you’ll review it and see what you can change. Getting defensive, even if you can’t increase the amount of compensation, could leave a bad impression on the influencer.
Remember that influencers aren’t obligated to work with you.
And when you email an influencer, make sure you directly tell them why you’re reaching out to them. For example, you could say something like,
“We thought you’d like to try our new product”
“I’m reaching out to you because you’re the perfect person to promote our new range of products.”
#2: Provide Influencers with Fair Compensation
According to Influence.co, the majority of influencers report that less than 50% of brands offer them monetary compensation.
Another study conducted by Altimeter and TapInfluence found that not offering adequate compensation is the biggest mistake brands make with influencer marketing.
To establish a strong relationship with influencers right from the start, offer them fair compensation. Consider your budget, and come up with a fair compensation model for influencers before contacting them.
You can mention your willingness to compensate influencers in your initial email outreach, and then offer to discuss the details with them later, (by email, chat or phone).
Avoid proposing your maximum compensation amount right from the start. Leave some room for negotiation.
For example, if you’re willing to spend a maximum of $500 per post, you could offer an influencer $300 per post. Then be open to negotiating with them until you reach a fair amount that works for both of you.
#3: Give Influencers Creative Freedom
One of the biggest complaints from influencers is that brands can be too controlling during the content creation process. They feel that most brands have restrictive editorial guidelines, which can impact the quality of content.
For one, the influencer will no longer be producing content in their voice, and this can easily ruin the authenticity of the campaign.
Since the influencer’s ideas are ignored, the content may no longer be engaging for their audience. The influencer may also develop negative feelings about your brand if you’re too controlling.
A Julius Works study found that 63% of influencers wouldn’t work with a brand for a second time if the brand had restrictive editorial guidelines.
And according to the previously-cited Altimeter and TapInfluence study, this is the second biggest mistake brands make when working with influencers.
Give influencers basic guidelines that you need them to follow, and then allow them to create something original.
For example, you may tell them what type of content you expect, based on your goals, such as a how-to video to educate consumers, or a product review to gain trust.
For example, when Maybelline launched their new line of mascaras at Walmart, they decided to work with a network of beauty influencers. The influencers had to create content featuring or using the product. But each influencer had the freedom to create what they thought would best promote the product. They all provided unique beauty tips and tricks implementing the product.
Kelly Baum, of A Thing of Beauty blog, for example, created a blog post that provided readers with tips to create a makeup look for any Halloween costume.
Kimberley Pavao, on the other hand, provided her followers with tips on how to get a natural look using the mascara.
Each influencer put their own ideas into the content creation, and produced content that was natural for them.
The campaign saw more than 10,000 blog page engagements, according to a Collective Bias case study. The influencers generated 73,700 content views. And the total impressions from the campaign was 35.7 million.
Step Three: Have Influencers Create Authentic, Engaging Content
Whether you decide to execute your influencer marketing campaign via blog posts, social media or both, the content should be authentic and engaging. Authenticity is important for both influencers and marketers alike, according to the TapInfluence and Altimeter study.
As mentioned earlier, you can easily achieve this by providing influencers with creative freedom. Ideally, the content should also contain eye-catching visuals, or be in a visual format for higher engagement.
Here are a few types of content you can partner with influencers to create.
#1: Content Featuring Your Products or Services
Even a simple piece of influencer content featuring your product or service can boost your conversion rate. People look up to influencers, and often emulate them. So when consumers see an influencer using a certain product, it can affect their purchase decisions.
In fact, a Twitter and Annalect study found that almost 40% of Twitter users have made a purchase resulting from an influencer’s tweet.
You could send free samples of your product to influencers, or provide them with free access to your service in exchange for a social media mention.
Some micro-influencers may not charge you anything extra for the promotion if you give them free products.
Otherwise, you may have to pay an extra amount of money to get influencers to feature the product or service in their content.
Josie Maran Cosmetics worked with lifestyle blogger Kira Paran of Northern Style Exposure to promote their brand. This influencer has a massive Instagram presence, with more than 40,000 followers.
She posted a photo of the brand’s products, and enthusiastically talked about her love for the eco-conscious brand.
The photo has already received more than 500 likes, and several positive comments during the first week after it was published.
#2: Product or Service Reviews
Consumers look to influencers for product recommendations because they’re considered experts in their respective niches. In fact, the previously-cited Twitter and Annalect study found that recommendations from influencers are considered almost as trustworthy as recommendations from friends.
One form of product recommendation is a product review, which can help consumers make informed purchase decisions.
To ask influencers for reviews, you can send out samples of your products to them. Or you can provide them with free access to your service. Some brands may have an agreement for monetary compensation in addition to free products or free access.
You should make it clear in your communication with each influencer that you want their honest review. Let them know that they’re not obligated to write only positive things about your product or service, and that you want to maintain authenticity.
An excellent example is Hello Subscription’s detailed review of their experience with Di Bruno Bros. Hello Subscription is a blog dedicated to promoting and reviewing subscription boxes.
Their Co-Editor, Tom, reviewed a “House of Cheese Pairing Club,” box from Di Bruno Bros. The review included more than 20 images, and detailed descriptions of the contents of the subscription box, about which Tom also shared his honest opinions.
#3: Promote Giveaway Contests
One of the most effective ways to engage an audience is through giveaway contests. And influencers can be a great way to promote your contests. The reason giveaways are so effective is because people will willingly engage with content if there’s a chance for them to win something.
There are no set ways to run a giveaway contest, and you can customize the rules according to your specific needs and goals.
For example, you could have influencers promote a contest in which users have to create their own content, and tag it with a unique hashtag. Or they could encourage their followers to tag their friends in the comments for a chance to win.
Either way, influencers and their followers can help bring your brand more visibility, which can pay off in a boost in conversions.
When The Body Shop wanted to promote their new range of Fuji Green Tea products in Belgium, they decided to do so through an influencer-promoted contest. With a goal to increase social media engagement, the brand challenged influencers and fans to share their #HealthyMoment on social media. And they could win the complete Fuji Green Tea product line and a mindfulness workshop.
Blogs like BEAUTYMINDED promoted the giveaway contest in posts that featured the product line.
The #HealthyMoment hashtag became a hit on Instagram, and generated 50,000+ likes, according to a 3sixtyfive case study. There was a 200% increase in engagement for the hashtag.
The campaign was executed through Belgian influencers, which increased the engagement in Belgium to 22%.
Overall, the brand was able to reach 225,000 people through this giveaway contest.
Step Four: Offer Discounts to Drive Conversions
After reading an informative review about your product, some people may buy it right away. That may not always be the case, however, especially for high-priced products.
Even if they have a strong desire to try your product, many people may hesitate to buy it because of the price, or because they’re waiting for a better deal.
You can encourage them to take action by promoting a discount code, or a free trial link through influencers. Ideally, have the influencer promote the deal along with a product review or post featuring the product.
Here are two types of deals you can have influencers promote:
#1: Unique Discount Codes
Discount codes are an excellent way to drive conversions for consumer goods. And when an influencer promotes one along with a review or content featuring the product, it can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.
OshKosh B’Gosh was able to get a lot of return on their investment by promoting a discount code through influencers. The kids’ clothing brand wanted to target parents who wanted to buy new clothes for their kids for spring break. They worked with 75 bloggers, who created content that provided tips on planning and packing for spring break.
Bloggers like Carly Anderson of Lipgloss and Crayons was part of the campaign. All the influencers in the campaign promoted a generic spring-related discount code for 25% off.
According to a case study by Everywhere Agency, the campaign generated 500+ photos, 740+ social posts, and 15,000+ engagements.
The #BreakforSpring hashtag generated more than 42 million impressions. The virality of the coupon code helped the brand get a return on investment of 8,000%.
Measure Influencer Discount Code Effectiveness
You can also assign a unique code to each influencer to help you keep track of their individual conversions and performance. You can then reassess your campaign based on their performance.
For example, you may want to renew or continue your partnership with the influencer who drives the most conversions.
#2: Custom URLs for Free Access
You can also have influencers promote free, limited-time access to your service. This type of deal is designed to give something valuable to an audience, and provide them with an experience that they’ll likely enjoy.
After enticing them with a limited-time experience, you can encourage them to sign up for your full service once the trial period is over.
Crunchyroll, for example, promoted a free 30-day trial of their premium service through influencers like Game Grumps.
The YouTube influencers, who have more than 3.8 million subscribers, created a video in which they promoted, and explained Crunchyroll in a hilarious sketch.
In the video description, they provided viewers with a unique URL through which they could get a 30-day free trial of Crunchyroll Premium. To date, the video has received more than 1.8 million views, 51K likes, and 4,600 comments.
Ecommerce retailers can apply a similar tactic, and instead provide a link to a discount code or an offer page. That’s what Dorot did when they wanted to promote their frozen cubes of herbs.
They partnered with more than 60 influencers in the food and lifestyle industry. Each of these influencers created a unique recipe implementing the Dorot products, and showcased the recipes on their blogs. They then encouraged readers to try the recipes too. They provide readers with a link to a $1 off discount coupon to purchase the Dorot products.
Here’s an example from the Eazy Peazy Mealz blog.
You can further optimize this strategy by assigning a unique, custom URL for each influencer, which you can then use to track performance.
According to a Linqia case study, this campaign resulted in almost 66,600 online engagements. The company also experienced a 15% increase in sales as a result of this campaign.
You now have a step-by-step guide and 9 influencer marketing examples on how to work with influencers to increase your own conversion rate.
Remember: it all starts with finding the right influencers who can help you reach the right audience.
- Do you have any questions about the influencer marketing strategies mentioned above?
- Have you worked with influencers before?
- Do you have any tips or advice to share with other retailers interested in partnering with influencers for their next marketing campaign?
Please share them in the comments below.
This article originally appeared on the BigCommerce blog; reprinted with permission.