Influencers have revolutionized the world of marketing. Instead of drab advertisements, these professional content creators turn small e-commerce businesses into household brands by telling your story to their followers via social media.
The most significant benefit of influencer marketing is how it transforms the influencer’s experience with your brand into word of mouth marketing (WOMM). According to a report by McKinsey, WOMM is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. However, the pervasiveness of social media has allowed e-commerce stores to amplify their reach through a digitized form of this communication to create immersive branded experiences. As researchers at McKinsey noted:
Word of mouth is no longer an act of intimate, one-on-one communication. Today, it also operates on a one-to-many basis: product reviews are posted online and opinions disseminated through social networks. Some customers even create Web sites or blogs to praise or punish brands.
Many of these “customers” become influential because of their opinions, thought leadership, review processes, and presentation style. Organically, these content creators earn an avid following, one that trusts their judgment, seeks out their new material, and makes purchases based on their recommendations.
Thus professional influencers can break down the barriers of skepticism, educate a target market, and reach new consumers for e-commerce brands. Increased awareness of your brand, increased site traffic, and boosted sales are all measurable benefits of working with content creators.
FINDING YOUR INFLUENCERS
Let’s start at square one: finding the content creator(s) with whom you would like to work. There are two main ways to discover influencers:
- Search manually on your preferred social media platform(s)
- Reach out to a specialized influencer marketing agency
If you decide to do the legwork yourself, you’ll want to consider your demographic carefully. By deliberating with your team about your ideal customers, you’ll have a better sense of what platform is right for your influencer campaign. For instance, Instagram will give you access to millions of millennial users, whereas Facebook will reach across generations.
It’s vital that you examine each influencer’s profile for fake likes, followers, and comments.
Your next step is to find influencers on that platform. You can start cutting through the noise by using hashtags that indicate a specific kind of product (e.g., #fitness, #comfy, #health). To narrow your search further, you’ll want to find content creators who have used #ad, #partner, or #sponsored to see if they’ve participated in collaborations previously.
From here, you’ll want to pay attention to how many followers they have. In the world of influencer marketing, more isn’t always merrier. In fact, after 100,000 followers, audience engagement starts to plummet. That’s why most companies looking to get the most for their money are partnering with micro-influencers. These content creators generally have fewer than 100,000 followers and have sky-high engagement rates, some as high as 15%.
Furthermore, while Instagram and other social media sites are doing a pretty good job of eliminating inauthentic content from their platforms, it’s vital that you examine each influencer’s profile for fake likes, followers, and comments. Should you partner with a disingenuous content creator, you’ll not only risk losing your investment in the campaign, but you may also jeopardize brand perception.
After you’ve found the influencer(s) with whom you’d like to work, it’s time to reach out. Be clear about what you’re looking for through the duration of the campaign, what they’ll be endorsing, and how you plan to compensate them.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. What’s more, brands reaching out to influencers directly can see highly variable posting rates. If your time is already limited, speed up the process by reaching out to an influencer marketing agency that can do it for you. The premier firms will activate partnerships across multiple platforms with the best content creators in your space. However, the advantages of working with a micro-influencer marketing agency don’t stop there.
You’ll gain access to a highly qualified campaign team, build genuine relationships with content creators, receive reports about the campaign’s outcome, gain customer insights about your products and services, work within your budget, and—if you work with the best companies—be guaranteed results.
WHAT KIND OF RESULTS?
While the exact return on investment (ROI) is challenging to measure without the help of an agency, the benefits are crystal clear. From building trust to increasing time-on-site, this digital-storytelling style has redefined what brands thought possible with advertising.
1. Builds Trust
Unlike a blatant advertisement, influencers’ content is viewed out of a follower’s own volition. Through exceptional storytelling, sound advice, and an oftentimes enviable (yet relatable) lifestyle, content creators can forge trust between brands and consumers by endorsing the products and services they genuinely enjoy. It should be noted that authenticity is vital to a successful influencer campaign. If an Instagram star recommends everything that comes his or her way, their audience will see them as a sellout.
Because the audience of an influencer often shares a similar set of interests, styles, and beliefs, consumers trust that the brands they’re promoting must be good. In fact, a study by BrightLocalfound that 91% of 18 to 34 year olds believe online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.
consumers engage with about 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase.
2. Generates Content
Research by SalesForce suggests that consumers engage with about 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. This fact means that companies need a robust content marketing strategy in place to stay competitive in their industry.
A study by Nielsen suggests that social media is the top information source in a consumer’s decision process. But influencer marketing goes beyond just social posts. In essence, it seamlessly combines reviews and engaging content. In many ways, influencer marketing has become the newest wave of user-generated content (UGC), or, in other words, content generated by those who have used the product.
Because influencers’ posts contain both positive reviews and high-quality UGC, consumers are attracted to the post and then linger to learn more about the product(s) the content creator is touting. What’s more, brands get to repurpose their influencers’ content on their website, social channels, and even within their traditional media campaigns (be sure this is part of the agreement when you work with an agency).
3. Amplifies Reach
You may have the best products and services in the world, but it won’t matter much if no one sees it. Henceforth, having something—or in the case of influencer marketing, someone—to amplify your brand is critical to a successful marketing campaign.
The best influencers will ignite your organic reach, or rather, the number of unique accounts that have seen your post. However, by tapping into these content creators’ followers and networks, brands get more than typical reach, they receive highly-engaged reach, meaning social media algorithms are going to carry it even further than a typical piece of branded content.
4. Increases Relevant Site Traffic
While many social media platforms are opening up the option of shopping right on their networks, you still want consumers to drop by your actual website—and influencer marketing can help you do just that. When content creators tag you in a post, be sure to optimize your bio website link. This simple placement can lead to a wave of new traffic.
However, it gets better: many of these influencers also have a website and multiple social channels, meaning there is a multitude of traffic sources. When campaigns are optimized both contextually and at scale, brands will experience significant returns. According to Lift Metrics by ApexDrop, brands see up to a:
- 68% increase of time-on-site
- 39% increase in page views
5. Improves Conversion Rate
When implemented correctly, social media content creators can quickly transform browsers into buyers. This is because influencers have such a niche following that the traffic that comes to your site is more likely to find what you have to offer appealing.
Domain-level link features and page-level link features are the two most heavily weighted thematic elements in Google’s algorithm.
In the aforementioned ApexDrop study, the company noted that their clients had seen up to 73% increases in website conversion rates! Additionally, they saw a 17% increase in average order value and a 48% increase in revenue per visit.
6. Optimizes Site
While it’s pretty clear that social media links provide a rather weak SEO signal, backlinks from influencers’ blogs can boost your search ranking and authority in a flash. In fact, SEO leader, Moz, found that domain-level link features and page-level link features are the two most heavily weighted thematic elements in Google’s algorithm.
This is to say, backlinks boost your search authority.
In this way, influencers who blog become a e-commerce store’s secret search engine optimizers. They not only write great reviews, but they also provide a contextually relevant backlink to the brand’s site. That being said, if your link is on a poorly written blog, the backlink could actually hurt your ranking, so be sure you’re working with high-quality influencers.
When it comes to running a successful e-commerce business, you need to build trust with your clientele. Without a sense of comfort, you’re just one more sales-focused e-commerce brand in the eyes of the consumer. However, if you show that you’re brand is trusted by thought leaders and trendsetters, you’ll laying a foundation of trust. To learn more about content marketing and how to connect with content creators, contact ApexDrop today.