What is influencer marketing for eCommerce, and why should you consider it?

Influencer marketing for eCommerce is the process of using word-of-mouth credibility from an ‘influencer’ for your retail business. An influencer can be anyone with proven expertise in the domain in which you’re selling.

For example, everyone from a celebrity movie star to a YouTube blogger can be an influencer. Usually, an influencer’s reach is measured in terms of how many followers they have, what their past conversion rate is and so on.

Why are influencers a popular choice for eCommerce marketing? People love to emulate and seek guidance from people they admire and regard in a position to give advice on good authority. It is human nature. Such people, especially on social media, are “influencers.” They can sway public thought towards a particular opinion, service or product.

Some typical influencers hired to market eCommerce brands include

  • Celebrities; the original influencers
  • Hair, makeup and styling professionals
  • Makeup mavens and fitness gurus
  • Industry experts, top analysts, and award winners in their domains
  • Youtube or Instagram stars
  • Ordinary social media users with many followers, or who are more active than the average individual and have reasonable, dedicated followership.

From a doctor or a daycare to a product or service, people are used to seeking recommendations from friends, family or colleagues. This exact psychological tendency is what makes influencer marketing for eCommerce so successful.

How do influencers impact the market and product movement?

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Besides gathering enviable six-or seven-figure fan followings, who rely on their judgment before making their next purchase, influencers have several ways of exerting their influence.

  • They receive products to try out from various companies, try them, analyze them, and blog/ Tweet/ post about the product. They are more believable if the post/ tweet was not sponsored, but posted by the influencer’s own accord.
  • Preferred by association effect: When the right influencers align themselves with an up-and-coming brand, they can do wonders for the brand.
  • They can generate a “ripple effect” among other influencers who also try the product or service and broadcast their own experience with it.
  • Influencers who post declaration or disclaimers about sponsored posts, for transparency, earn credibility.
  • If they really like your product/service, they continue their endorsement past sponsorship’s end. 

How to eCommerce success with the help of influencers

  1. Select the right platform or social media channel

    First, you have to pin down the exact medium on which the influencer is active, which will help fulfill your goals. For instance, if you are looking to sell, try Youtube. If you are looking at outreach and awareness, try Instagram. Bloggers rate the highest, followed by Facebook marketers.

    You should have a sense of the target audience and which platform they are on the most. All of this data should feed into your campaign objectives.

    You also need to consider if the audience that typically engages with an influencer is also one most likely to buy from you. For example, if you are a luxury retailer, influencers who primarily target those under the age of 25 may not work for you.

  2. Find the perfect eCommerce influencer

    The next step is finding the right influencer to associate with your brand.

    The influencers that genuinely identify with your brand identity, have been a user of your product, or are eager to align with your cause, are the ones you should consider.

    Technology can help.

    Use social listening tools like Mention, Famebit or Hypr to gather information on upcoming and established influencer’s follower stats, sponsorships, and to help you shortlist your candidates. Famebit also enables in-platform campaign creation.

    Establish the veracity of an influencer by filtering out fake accounts. Keep an eye out for red flags like contrived-looking comments, stock images, scarce video views, and such.

  3. Numbers aren’t everything in eCommerce influencer marketing!

    In influencer marketing, the number of followers is simply one criterion and not necessarily the guiding principle. Influencer types have actually been classified by the influencer marketing agency Viral Nation into nano, micro, and macro depending upon not just the number, but the type of following they have garnered.

    This helps marketers estimate a social media star’s sphere of influence, and advise campaign strategies.

    For instance, the nanostars may have a small following of 5000 or less. But their followers see them as experts in a particular niche. They have a very loyal and eclectic fan base. If you are selling a very unique, nuanced product or service, you can reach out to such an influencer.

    Micro-influencers boast counts fewer than 25,000 but a usually hyper-engaged audience. Plus, smaller numbers mean they have a better opportunity to actively drive conversations. A 2016 study found that micro-influencers have about 22.2 times more weekly conversations of the “what to buy” type. Also, 82 percent of consumers reported being “highly likely” to shop according to what the micro-influencer recommends.

    A recent Markerly study analyzed engagement levels for over 800,000 Insta accounts with at least a 1000 followers. They found that as follower counts rose up, likes went down.

    So nano or micro-influencers just might be the way to go for your eCommerce brand and it is likely that they will charge you much lesser for a post than a celeb influencer.

  4. Don’t micromanage your influencer!

    Besides giving the influencers the necessary high-level brand information, guidelines, etc. it might be better to step back and let them do the content generation. This is what they are best at, what has built their credibility and yielded so many dedicated followers.

    Too much scripting beats the purpose of hiring an influencer in the first place. You, as a brand, are entitled to do some course correction. This is applicable if the campaign is turning out very differently from the way you had envisioned or agreed upon, going beyond budget, or if the creatives don’t send the right message.

    But for the most part, if influencers are keeping things on point, you can let them take the creative and interactive lead.

These tips can help you get maximum mileage out of influencer marketing. What should you watch out for?

Always hire and work with influencers who are professionals and you can see that they have done successful endorsements in the past. When in doubt, use a platform that certifies and checks influencers before hiring one. Be careful what you negotiate for- lay down the terms clearly as to what can and cannot be said.

Have a system in place to track conversions from such a campaign- tell the influencer what tags to use and how you will be measuring success beforehand.

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Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.