“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde would have been a great digital marketer. More than a century ago, he understood what modern business-owners are just now beginning to realize: peer recommendations lead to more sales than traditional advertising.
More businesses are seeing how effective influencer marketing is. For proof, look no further than the data (compiled in a report from TapInfluence):
- The return on investment for influencer marketing is 11x higher than traditional advertising.
- Ecommerce companies earn an average of $285 for every 1,000 impressions on social media.
- After seeing promotional content from influencers, Twitter users are 5.2x more likely to make a purchase.
- 49% of people say they rely on the influencer recommendations for purchasing decisions. 40% have actually made a purchase after reading an influencer recommendation.
The problem is that influencer marketing is still relatively new. For many ecommerce brands, it’s not that they don’t want to implement influencer marketing, it’s that they don’t know how. For those new to influencer marketing, we have three simple steps to get started:
- Target Accurately
- Build Rapport
- Send Gifts
How will those three steps lead to more sales, more exposure, and a better brand reputation? Let’s explain…
1. Target Accurately
The first step, and arguably most important, is to target the right influencers for your ecommerce business. All the effort you put into influencer marketing is wasted if it targets the wrong audience.
There’s more to consider than choosing who has the most followers. You want to choose influencers that…
- …are the most respected by their audience.
- …share your ecommerce niches and micro-niches.
- …post frequently.
- …have a follower base of your target customers.
Naturally, finding the right influencers for your store requires a little digging. We recommend these three approaches:
- Search for influencers using your hashtags and keywords. Chances are, if you developed your own content strategy, you already know the best tags for your market. Find influencers who use the same tags andarget the same market.
- Try new social media channels. You may have an impressive presence on Instagram, but that means nothing if your target customers are using Snapchat. Search for your tags and keywords on every platform you can and compare the top influencers on each.
- Take advantage of influencer marketing tools. Luckily, you can enlist the help of paid tools like BuzzSumo or Tribe. These tools index influencer performances so you can choose influencers based on platform, style, and industry.
Once you’ve made a short-list of influencers, the next step is to reach out.
2. Build Rapport
Unless you’re using a paid service that connects brands to influencers, you’re going to have to build rapport the old-fashioned way.
Building rapport with influencers is the same as building rapport with anyone else on social media. First, you interact with their posts. Specifically:
- Tagging them
This may seem simplistic, but there’s another layer under the surface. You see, influencers are business-owners as well, and they pay attention to people who help their business. By regularly interacting with their content, you’re helping them; an influencer who’s serious about their job takes notice of their top supporters.
Of course, you don’t want to be a “stalker” about it. You don’t have to interact with every post on every platform — just enough to be noticed.
The amount of time it takes varies, depending on how responsive an influencer is to followers. But once they recognize your name (or username), it’s time to contact them directly, with a gift under your arm.
3. Send Gifts
It’s the oldest trick in the book. If you want a favor from someone, you give them a gift. With influencer marketing, it’s not as subversive as it sounds; that’s just how it works. You can’t expect influencers to go out and pay for every product they promote.
Sending the influencer a free gift offers plenty of benefits:
- Discovering new products is part of the influencer’s job, so you’re helping them accomplish that goal.
- With one of your products in hand, they’re more likely to write about it.
- It’s a great ice-breaker to initiate a professional partnership.
- Everyone likes free gifts! It’s a good way to make a nice first impression.
However, there is one crucial rule of thumb you must be sure to follow: the gift is not a binding contract, it’s just a gift. In other words, don’t expect the influencer to write about you just because you gave them something for free. Think of it as your bid to work together, but whether they take it up or not is their decision.
Another vital factor is how you introduce yourself when contacting them. The standard choice is a polite email introducing yourself and explaining your intentions. While your email should be personalized in your voice, if you’re having trouble getting started, feel free to use a template. We recommend using one from this Entrepreneur article by Aaron Agius. Ecommerce companies should use the template for #5, “Invitation template.”
Conclusion: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship…
Getting featured on an influencer’s feed isn’t the end, but rather just the beginning. The influencer-brand relationship can go as deep as you want, with the potential for even more collaborative campaigns such as joint promotions, commissioned sales, or even a specialty collection curated by the influencer. That’s why setting up the groundwork is so important; if you take care of the above steps early on, you’ll be able to grow a strong — and profitable — relationship with the influencer in the future.