eCommerce Influencer Marketing – Will It Help Your Business?

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eCommerce Influencer Marketing for Your Business

Let’s talk about influencer marketing for Shopify and other eCommerce businesses. There are a lot of social media influencers out there today. We’ve seen our customers ask about influencer marketing to drive sales. But is it really worth it? In this post, we’ll go into detail about what influencers do, where they fit in the marketing funnel and look at how influencer marketing vs. advertising. Influencers are mainly used by eCommerce businesses, but you can really use influencers regardless of your niche.

As you’ve probably experienced, there is no magic bullet when it comes to online marketing. We are all vying for customer’s eyes in a highly competitive attention economy. While the stakes are high, adopting strategies that speak to your customer base is the key to making it in the online marketplace.

Working with influencers is a great way to generate brand awareness, but does it increase your sales? While influencer content can generate more website traffic than you ever dreamed of, there’s no guarantee you’re getting qualified prospects who are ready to purchase. For those of you running an eCommerce business on Shopify, BigCommerce, Amazon, etc., you’ve probably looked at using influencer marketing for your online store.

Simply put, influencer marketing works as a great secondary marketing strategy, but not as a strong, primary strategy. A strong primary marketing strategy is trackable, repeatable, has a strong return on investment (ROI) and just works to bring in revenue. Advertising meets all those conditions, so it’s a great primary strategy.

Useful Link: Shopify SEO: How to Hack Organic Search Traffic
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What are the best primary and secondary marketing strategies? Let’s look at the table below at what we consider to be primary and secondary marketing channels:

Primary Marketing Channels

  • Advertising (Facebook & Google)
  • Facebook Posts
  • Email Marketing
  • Instagram
  • Referrals
  • Blogging/Content Marketing
  • SEO

Secondary Marketing Channels

  • Influencer Marketing
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Forum Posts

Before we begin, here are some of the common things we hear from our customers about influencers. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • “The influencer’s post brought me a lot of traffic, but no sales”
  • “How do I choose the right influencer?”
  • “I didn’t get the results I expected from the influencer I hired”
  • “An influencer reached out to me, but I don’t know if they’re the right fit”
  • “There’s a lot of hype around influencers, but I don’t see the value in it”
  • “How do I know if an influencer’s followers are real or bots?”

What is eCommerce Influencer Marketing?

By definition, an influencer (or social media influencer) is a user on major social networks who has established credibility in a specific industry. An influencer has access to a large audience of social media users and can persuade others because of their authenticity and reach. A celebrity endorsement works too. And don’t worry. There is no transaction fee for sales attributed to influencers. They only get paid for posts.

What are influencers doing for brands who use them? How exactly do brands and influencers learn about each other? Are they simply posting ads that were created for them? Do they have ads sent to them with instructions on what to post? Or are they coming up with their own posts after they learn more about your product or brand? The answer is…it depends!

For some influencers, they receive a post telling them exactly what to post on their social media accounts along with a caption. But for influencers who are more hands-on or have large followings (like the Kardashians), they often times come up with the post and captions themselves. Once it’s approved by the brand they’re working with, they’ll post it on their social media profiles with the appropriate links and hashtags. For eCommerce businesses, an influencer’s goal is to get people to visit your site and purchase your products.

Where are Influencers in the Marketing Funnel?

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Looking at the image above, influencers have a clear role in generating brand awareness and interest in your products. As we said earlier, influencers are great at brand awareness, but not that great for sales. Working with influencers can bring you some sales, but it shouldn’t be your primary marketing strategy. It’s a secondary strategy at best. When working with influencers, it’s important to know their following is a good match to your target audience. We know it sounds obvious, but it definitely needs to be noted. Remember, it’s easy for an influencer to exaggerate their ROI.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?

Instagram Influencer Marketing

Instagram is widely considered to be the king of influencer marketing platforms. Studies show Instagram engagement is much higher compared to other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Since followers tend to connect more with influencers because their posts feel so “real,” a lot of businesses benefit from having influencers mention their products with the relevant links in their posts.

There’s definitely a lot of opportunity to work with people who can help drive sales for your business, especially if you’re an eCommerce business. It’ll take time to build your own huge Instagram following, but you can definitely work with influencers while building your own page’s followers.

You can use tools like Revfluence and Shoutcart to help you find Instagram influencers.

Useful Link: 5 Reasons Your eCommerce Store Needs a Shoppable Instagram Feed

Facebook Influencer Marketing

Facebook Influencer Marketing generally begins with you finding influencers on Facebook via tools such as Simply Measured or through influencer agencies. After finding the right influencers, you’ll reach out to the influencer and negotiate an offer with them. They can promote your brand or products via videos (or Facebook Live), sharing stories, or posts sharing their experience through their Facebook Pages. They can also help promote your Facebook page. Since Facebook has a large audience, think of it as word of mouth marketing.

facebook influencer marketing ecommerce pollen advertising An example of Facebook influencers via Socialix

Useful Link: eCommerce: 5 Simple Ways to Promote Your Brand In 2018

Useful Link: eCommerce Facebook Advertising: Why Your Brand Should Start Today!

Twitter Influencer Marketing

Finding influencers via Twitter is pretty easy to do. To get started with Twitter Influencers, you need to identify the influencers that are associated with your industry at first. To find the influencers that can help you out with your campaign, you can either search them them by using  hashtags relevant to your niche or you can use Twitter’s Advanced Search feature. Other tools like Buzzsumo and Buzzstream help you find influencers (for a cost).

After making the list of influencers that you want to target, try to get in touch with them. Don’t be boring by sending them cold emails. Start following them, retweet their content, and then get in touch with them. You can also offer to send them free samples of your products to make them want to work with your brand.

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An example of Twitter influencers via Followthehashtag

After managing to convince some influencers, provide them all the necessary information, such as the company’s objective, target audience, hashtags, strategies, goals, and so on. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter only allows 280 characters in Tweets. Provide the influencer the info they need in order to successfully promote your offers and products.

Also, make them aware of the Federal Trade Commission’s endorsement guidelines, so they can promote the product without any fear of breaking the law.

YouTube Influencer Marketing

YouTube is the most popular video-sharing platform on the internet. According to Statista, around 400 hours of content are uploaded every minute on YouTube. There are YouTube Creators who can have up to millions of subscribers. At first, the brand must assign Key Performance Indicators, such as cost per view, cost per conversion, and so on.

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An example of YouTube influencers via AdAge

Before reaching out to influencers, create an inclusive budget and decide how much are you willing to pay to YouTubers. You can decide the amount like $0.04 per view.

To find the right influencers, start outlining a “brand match”. A brand match should include every single important detail like influencer’s location, age, level of engagement, geographic details of influencer’s audiences, and so on.

The influencers will promote the offers, products, and services in a creative way via their videos. Leave the task to YouTubers on what types of stories and videos they want to create because a rigid and scripted video can hamper the performance of the video. Also the video can come across as an advertisement, which you do not want at all.

Should You Use Influencer Marketing?

Short answer? Advertising on Facebook and across the web is a much better and effective option to drive sales. Once you have some spending money, work with influencers to create brand awareness.

Long answer? Advertising on Facebook is a better option than influencer marketing. Tools like Pollen enable eCommerce businesses to acquire customers on Facebook and across millions of website simply and cost effectively by developing highly targeted advertising campaigns. Pollen also allows you to launch acquisition and conversion driven campaigns all in a two minute setup process. Each campaign is automatically adjusted as it runs, optimizing campaigns of all budgets to outperform the competition.

There are definitely instances where people have success with making sales off of influencers, but those are few and far between. If you’re going to use influencers, you should work influencers that have high engagement.

What defines a high number of followers and high engagement? You want influencers who have at least a total of 20,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, with at least an average of 5% engagement on their posts. How do we define engagement? Let’s do the math:

  • Your potential influencer has 50,000 followers
  • 5% of 50,000 is 2,500 likes, comments and shares
  • Go look at a few recent posts and tally up the total amount of likes, comments and shares
  • If the influencer only has a couple hundred engagements, there’s a good chance most of their followers are bots or their followers aren’t engaged at all
  • Do not work with this influencer

Make sure influencers don’t rip you off with pricing either. Most influencers will offer a base price, but they can be negotiated down pretty easily. If you’re going to use Instagram influencers, check out Instagram analytics sites like websta.me to find accounts and hashtags that are in your niche. Also, you can see the page analytics to see if they even get much engagements on their posts.

Influencer Marketing vs. Facebook Advertising for eCommerce 

Most small retailers can really only afford advertising or influencers in the beginning. They can’t do both until more sales come in. Remember, a strong primary marketing strategy is trackable, repeatable and has a strong ROI. That’s why we recommend advertising, especially if your brand is new or rapidly growing.

Influencer marketing has one major weakness. That weakness is technology. While it’s true we live in a tech-focused world, the tools used for tracking influencer social media campaigns are behind. Since influencers are still pretty new, it’s hard for small brands to track their results without spending hours collecting and analyzing data. There are plenty of tools out there that let you know the exact results of your ad campaigns without having to do any of the heavy analysis work yourself.

Working with influencers is valuable. But for more indirect reasons. It helps with publicity and improves your brand’s credibility. It’s a low ROI strategy.

Yes, these influencers can directly generate sales, but you have to set that as an expectation and hold them accountable for it. Free or discounted stuff in exchange for some forced FB and Instagram posts doesn’t cut it these days. Influencers need to understand they are expected to personally advocate the your brand when possible.

There are many businesses who have benefited from influencer campaigns, and we cannot deny that. And you may have come across influencer marketing stats that claim that influencer campaigns can generate a massive return on investment. To some extent, those claims are true.

But is everyone getting a massive rate of return on their influencer campaigns? There are many cases of failure. But you won’t hear about failures from the influencers.

Useful Link: eCommerce Facebook Advertising

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Here are some of the reasons why you should consider using Facebook advertising as a primary marketing strategy, instead of influencer marketing.

1. Facebook Ads are Cheap

According to a survey conducted among marketers, only 12% of marketers told that they spend less than $10k per influencer marketing program. The rest of the marketers spend over $10k per influencer campaign.

Among those marketers, over 78% of the marketers told that calculating ROI from influencer marketing campaign is the biggest challenge for them. And, 61% of the marketers are measuring their ROI based on the reach of a campaign, which can be very easily falsified by purchasing fake followers. If the ROI calculation is so difficult, then how can you say that influencer campaign is a key to success?

With Facebook Advertising, you reach thousands of potential customers for practically nothing. See why your brand should start using Facebook advertising today.

There was a study conducted to find out the cost of reaching 1,000 people via various mediums. It revealed that the cost of reaching 1,000 people via Facebook was far cheaper than other mediums. With only $0.25 in an average, you can reach 1,000 people. If you have great content, it might go viral and the cost could be even lower than that.

cheap facebook ad campaign ecommerce pollen advertising

The above screenshot is a demonstration of how powerful Facebook ads can really be. It shows the results accurately, and there are plenty of tools offered available to accurately calculate your return on investment.

Would you spend a fixed amount to influencers who may or may not help you increase your increase your sales, or would you rather go with Facebook ads with just $5 a day and reach a huge number of potential customers? And here are 5 can’t miss Facebook marketing updates you should be aware of.

2. Exceptional Targeting Capabilities

The targeting capabilities offered by Facebook are exceptional. You have an option to reach out to people by behaviors, interests, demographics, languages, age, genders, your target market and much more. It will help you make sure your posts are seen by the audience you know will buy your products.

One may argue that influencers can also help you reach to them as well, but the fact is that they can only market your brand effectively to their fanbase.

Furthermore, a study shows that the Facebook net organic reach of pages is slowly declining. That means influencers’ pages are being seen less and less since they’re not paying for views. What’s even worse for influencer marketing is that the cost of influencer marketing is going to get even more expensive in upcoming years.

3. Facebook Advertising is Easier to Track

Remember, one of the key components of a strong marketing strategy is that it has to be trackable. With influencers, you have no control over who you want to reach. The posts published by influencers only reach their fan base and you’re reliant on the influencer to provide the data you need.

That’s not the case with Facebook Advertising. The custom audience feature allows advertisers to reach people who have already visited their website in the past. You don’t even need to be a web design expert to generate highly-converting landing pages.

These people are already aware of the product and have some interest in the products. This technique allows the marketers to convert those audiences who were not converted before. Another smart feature offered by Facebook Ads is the “Lookalike Audiences” feature. It allows the marketer to reach audiences that were similar to previous audiences who were interested in your product and service. It can be easily built with conversion pixels.

What if an Influencer Reaches Out to You?

Let’s be honest here. A lot of influencers buy fake followers. Why? Because they know the higher their follower count is, the more brands are willing to pay for posts. You’ll run into situations where an influencer with ~20k – 500k followers reaches out to you. They’ll reach out saying they have X number of followers along with an offer of how much they’ll charge per post.

Do your research when someone reaches out to you. Look at their posts and see if they’re related to your products or niche. If they have over 100k followers, but only a few hundred likes per post, they’re either fake followers or the followers don’t engage with the influencer. If you feel that person is just looking for free stuff, don’t take their offer.

If you’re willing to test them out, here’s a suggestion. Have them do one post for $20 and track the engagement metrics. If you get the engagement you’re looking for, then the influencer might be a good option after all.

Useful Link: Shopify SEO: How to Hack Organic Search Traffic

eCommerce Influencer Marketing

We have a lot of customers who have success with influencer marketing for their eCommerce business. What’s their secret sauce for success? They use influencer marketing and retargeting ads together to generate sales. How does it work? It’s pretty simple:

  • A Shopify store setups an ad campaign in under 2 minutes with Pollen
  • The influencer will then posts on social media platforms with links to the Shopify store
  • The store will see a massive traffic boost and get some “window shoppers”
  • Because the store uses Pollen, our super awesome machine learning technology will capture them with a retargeting pixel
  • The visitor will leave the site, but sees retargeting ads as they browse Facebook and other websites reminding them of the site the influencer pointed them towards
  • As the visitor sees more retargeting ads, they’ll go ahead and become more likely to purchase a product
  • Products are then purchased and sales go up!

Like we said before, it’s pretty simple. Shopify influencer marketing and retargeting advertising offer you an easy way to generate sales that result in a great ROI.

If you’re running your eCommerce business on Shopify, check out apps like LeadDyno that help you track influencer marketing campaigns. Shopify offers a bunch of great apps to use. Remember, Shopify influencer marketing (or any eCommerce platform) generate amazing results when paired with retargeting ads.

Useful Link: Shopify eCommerce Marketing: How to Get Started with Marketing (includes a list of recommended Shopify marketing apps)

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Influencer Marketing Best Practices

Like we said, influencer marketing is a good strategy. If you think it’s better for your business than Facebook ads, then start using influencers. If you do decide to work with influencers, here are 9 best practices we’ve seen for influencer marketing:

1. Send Emails to Influencers

When reaching out to influencers, email them instead of sending direct messages on Facebook or Instagram. Remember, this is a business transaction. Legitimate influencers will have an email address for you to reach out to.

2. Match Influencers to your Products

Select influencers based on the products you’re selling. If you sell children’s clothing, don’t work with a fitness influencer whose posts are all fitness-related.

3. Smart Small, Then Scale Up

Work with a small group of 3-5 influencers (aka micro influencers) in the beginning. Aim for influencers with around 20k-100k followers so you can test what works and what doesn’t. In general, try working with a set of small to mid-sized influencers instead of only a single larger one. This has a number of advantages including:

  1. Higher engagement rates
  2. Stronger connection between the influencer and their followers
  3. More authenticity
  4. Fewer bot (fake) followers
  5. Higher conversion rates

4. Track Engagement

Always keep an eye on how engaged people are with the posts influencers post for you. If you notice posts with your products aren’t getting engagement, work with the influencer to update your messaging and to redo any photos that aren’t getting enough attention.

5. Ask Influencers What They Want from You

Don’t send a random product to influencer and ask them to promote it. Show the influencer your catalog and ask them which product(s) they want. Be honest too. Tell them which products you want increased sales for (like products with higher profits). They might ask for a different product for themselves, but they should be willing to promote the product you want to increase sales for.

6. The Timing of an Influencer’s Posts is Crucial

Discuss what time of day the influencers will post your products. As a test, ask the influencer when they feel the best time of day to post is. A serious influencer will have this data readily available and also shows they know their audience.

7. Use Attention Getting Pictures

Attention-getting pictures tend to get more engagement. Rather than asking an influencer to write an article on your products, ask them to post pics wearing/using your products and include a link to your website in the caption.

Useful Link: How to Boost Average Order Value for your eCommerce Store

8. Research Hashtags Relevant to Your Products

Instagram marketing is all about hashtags. Make sure you and your influencers use the correct hashtags for your products and niche.

9. Create a Sense of Urgency

When your main goal for an influencer campaign is to generate sales, it’s generally a good idea to throw in a bit of scarcity/urgency. For example, issue personalised discount codes to the influencers you’re working with. Offer codes are only valid TODAY, THIS WEEK, 24 hours,  etc. This not only allows you to track which influencer performed best in terms of sales generated, but typically increases conversion as the influencer is sharing access to a unique deal that is only available for a limited time.

Useful Link: How Leveraging Product Reviews Can Increase Sales

Influencer Marketing Advice from the Experts

Like we said earlier, combine influencer marketing and retargeting advertising together to get better results.

If you had to pick between influencer marketing and advertising, our advice is that you stick with advertising as your primary marketing channel. Make influencers a secondary priority. Once you’ve generated sales from your ad campaigns and have extra cash on hand, then you can start working with influencers. We’ve helped thousands of eCommerce businesses generate successful performance from Facebook ads. Check out Pollen on the Shopify App Store and start a 7 day free trial today!

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