At around $29 on average, customer acquisition costs are only getting higher. Changes to Google’s search results page, Apple’s iOS guidelines, and the death of third party cookies are just some of the factors making it harder for brands to leverage sponsored ads.
For some, the price of acquiring new customers has become untenable. For others, they’ve found a silver lining in the world of influencer marketing.
Influencer partnerships are no longer a growth hack — they’re foundational to modern e-commerce marketing.
In this article, we’ll share tips for finding the right content creators to increase your return on investment (ROI) on influencer marketing.
Working With Influencers
- 5 Fast Facts About Influencer Marketing
- What Is An Influencer Marketing Strategy?
- The Pros and Cons for E-commerce Brands
- What Does An Ideal Social Media Influencer Partnership Look Like?
- Top Influencer Marketing Tools
- How To Choose The Best Influencers For Your Brand
- 5 Ways To Form Successful Influencer Relationships
5 Fast Facts About Influencer Marketing
- 1 in 4 people buy based on influencer recommendations
- Influencer marketing is a $21 billion industry — up 29% from $16 billion in 2022
- Over 80% of brands budgeted for influencer marketing in 2023
- 67% of brands are spending more on influencer marketing this year
- Influencer spending is expected to rise 3.5 times faster than social ad spending
What Is An Influencer Marketing Strategy?
An influencer strategy refers to partnering with subject matter experts and content creators to achieve a specific set of marketing objectives. The right influencers will authentically align with your brand’s vision and values, and deliver campaigns that resonate with your audience.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ long-term partnership with celebrity TikToker Charli D’Amelio is one of the best known influencer campaigns, earning the company a 57% increase in app downloads and 20-45% sales lift in the days following the release of her new drink, The Charli.
Other brands, like La Croix and Stitch Fix, have adopted micro-influencer marketing campaigns, deploying a community of nano-influencers and creators with a smaller number of followers to engage with more intimate groups of target shoppers.
The Pros and Cons for E-commerce Brands
|Cost||Depending on campaign and size of following, influencer marketing could mean higher ROI compared to paid ads.||Rates will likely continue to increase over time.|
|Collaboration||Matching platforms make it easy to find the right people for your niche and budget.||Finding, negotiating with, and paying multiple creators can get complicated.|
|Image||The right creators will engage authentically with followers to create meaningful connections.||If an influencer makes a wrong move, it could impact your brand reputation.|
|ROI||Influencer marketing can bring around $6.50 for every dollar spent.||KPIs can be hard to measure, especially on platforms where direct links aren’t allowed.|
|Competition||It’s easier to reach your target audience and avoid overspending on the wrong people.||Content must be engaging to win over fatigued consumers.|
What Does An Ideal Social Media Influencer Partnership Look Like?
Before you start your influencer hunt, get clear on your search criteria.
Do you want someone with more reach, or a lower follower count but higher engagement? Are you looking for slick content, or something more casual and accessible?
No matter your approach, there are a few fundamental qualities that tend to make a great partnership.
Popular With Your Target Audience
Just because an influencer is popular doesn’t mean they’ll be a great fit for your brand, especially if you serve a specific niche or values-conscious audience. For example, if you sell to exercise lovers, choose a qualified fitness professional — not a “fitspo phony”, who could hurt your image and potentially cause actual harm.
Loves Your Brand
Authenticity will be key to successful marketing in 2024. The last thing you want is for your campaigns to come off as fake. When you choose to work with an influencer, look closely at their past content and audience engagement to find parallels with or mentions of your brand.
Aligns With Your Mission or Values
Brand values carry more weight than ever as consumers grow more selective about the brands they buy from. As you build relationships with creators, consider how their mission or values align with your own. You may even find opportunities for more in-depth collaborations, like Kiehl’s and August Dewindt’s Feeding America TikTok campaign.
Fits Your Budget
Is that Bella Poarch endorsement outside your marketing budget? That may not be a bad thing in 2024 and beyond. Micro-influencers are more affordable, more relatable, and have higher engagement rates. With the right partnership, that could spell higher ROI.
Top Influencer Marketing Tools
Unless you choose to partner with an agency that takes care of all the details for you, you’ll probably need a few tools for successful influencer marketing.
Some of the most popular tools for influencer marketing include:
These softwares can do everything from connecting you with target influencers to tracking the effectiveness of campaigns. Whether you’re looking for tools that help with social listening, influencer discovery, or outreach, don’t just go for the latest or most buzzed about.
To identify the tools you’ll actually use, make sure you set aside some time to get to know how the product works, experiment with different use cases, and understand where it may fit within your current e-commerce tech stack.
How To Choose The Best Influencers For Your Brand
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, how do you actually find the right influencers to work with?
Here are a few strategies to help you get started:
- Focus on the right social media channels: Instagram is the most popular overall choice among marketers, while TikTok comes in a close second with the highest engagement rates. Facebook can be a great pick for older demographics, while YouTube still rules for long-form influencer content like product reviews and unboxing videos.
- Explore your industry, competitors, and audience: Search relevant hashtags for your industry and take note of the creators who are already talking about you or your competitors. You can also look for overlapping or complementary audiences with micro- and nano-influencers.
- Review your existing fan base: Unless you’re new to the world of social media marketing, you already have an unrivaled resource at hand: your followers. Search through or use social listening tools to pinpoint any existing brand ambassadors or growing influencers who have already raised their hand in favor of your brand by liking, sharing or commenting on your content.
- Try an influencer marketing platform or agency: There are a variety of platforms designed to help connect brands with influencers — some are even free (like Influence.co or Klear). If you’ve got the budget, working with an agency may help you see results faster.
- Evaluate metrics: Data is critical when selecting an influencer partner. Key metrics like follower count and engagement rate can give you a true idea of an influencer’s audience and reach. If you’re working with an established influencer, be sure to ask about verified web traffic.
5 Ways To Form Successful Influencer Relationships
As the business of marketing and selling on social media has grown, so has the role of influencers. 79% of influencers are looking for long-term brand partnerships, which may also drive increased ROI for brands.
Follow these five steps to get your influencer partnerships started on the right foot:
1. Compensate Influencers Fairly
If you want a strong long-term relationship, monetary compensation is the only way to go. However, remember that fair compensation also includes deliverables. This is why it’s important to define goals and expectations with the influencer as well.
If you’re earlier in the process of working with influencers, you could consider offering a “lower” base compensation, and then a commission or referral bonus once they reach a certain threshold that you define. That way, it’s also an incentive for them to do a bit more for your brand (since they’ll have the opportunity to earn more).
2. Define Campaign Expectations
Whether it’s user-generated content to fuel your digital marketing or a targeted giveaway to win more leads, you need to establish clear goals and expectations for your influencer campaigns. Will they share an honest review? Post a photo or video? Use your product during a livestream? How many posts will they be expected to share? Get specific.
Set clear timelines and take time to outline any additional guidelines or requirements leading up to major events like Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM).
3. Give Influencers the Tools to Succeed
Provide a brand dossier or company profile to help the influencer understand your message and products better.
Include details like your origin story, brand values, key differentiators, notable competitors, and more. All this can help the influencer create more powerful content and highlight the most attractive product features and benefits.
4. Encourage Creative Freedom
Empower the creator with useful information, but don’t be too restrictive unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Influencers are simultaneously building their own brand while promoting yours. Remember, no one knows their followers better than they do. Give them the freedom to create content that will resonate.
Would you be interested in a brand who wrote scripts for 100 people to say verbatim to their audiences? Probably not.
5. Be Upfront About Evaluating Performance
If you’re going to invest in a long-term relationship, you want to know you’re getting a solid ROI, which means you’ll need to track performance.
Marketing metrics are notoriously difficult to track, especially in the more sticky areas of brand awareness and attribution. Some platforms, like Instagram, don’t even allow clickable links in post captions and comments. So, what’s the workaround?
Provide influencers with a personal affiliate or discount code to help identify any sales that came through their channels. Be clear about the fact that you’ll need to evaluate performance and which KPIs you’ll be looking at, for example: engagement, increase in followers, traffic, sales, etc. before initiating a campaign. This provides an opportunity for both parties to pull towards the same goals.
Sell Authentically For Greater Marketing ROI
The best sponsored content is always authentic. But producing truly compelling campaigns requires a commitment to doing your due diligence with influencer marketing.
Give your brand a strong start by taking the time to assemble the right tools, create the right resources, and set the right expectations with your influencer partners. With a little extra care and attention, it may even become your top-performing channel.
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