Advertisement is more prevalent in our society than ever before. As the internet has grown in use around the globe, so has the amount of noise coming from advertisers capitalizing on these channels to get their messages out to consumers.
However, there has also never been as much resistance to advertising as there is today. The customer of today is eager to tune out advertising as much as possible with adblockers.
While this is largely due to invasive ads, that irritated customers to the point of needing adblockers (we’re looking at you unclosable pop-ups), this has ultimately created the need for more subtle advertising through creative channels.
The rise of influencer, affiliate, and native advertising is the answer for many marketers who aren’t finding their audience from traditional paid channels.
Plus, these types of ads have an added bonus, as they rely on a trusted third-party (the influencer) to recommend or vouch for your brand.
In this guide, we’ll explain how influencer marketing can work for ecommerce, as well as the best practices for:
- How to plan an influencer marketing campaign
- How to choose the best influencer for your brand
- How to collaborate with an influencer
- How to track and measure your influencer marketing campaigns
With this guide, you’ll be able to better create your influencer marketing campaigns and boost their ROI.
How Influencer Marketing Campaigns Compare to Other Marketing Channels
Influencer marketing has some of the highest ROI compared to other paid marketing channels. In fact, according to influencer marketplace Tomoson, businesses are generating $ 6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
This is a huge return.
What’s more, customers coming in from influencer marketing campaigns tend to be of better quality.
According to the same study, nearly 90% of businesses claim that customers coming from influencer marketing campaigns are either of the same quality or better than those coming from other marketing channels.
At Divvit, we decided to put this data to the test against other paid marketing channels for our merchants.
We compared typical paid marketing channels with affiliate campaigns, as many marketers choose to work with affiliates when performing an influencer marketing campaign.
We found that customers coming from affiliate channels spent, on average, € 25 more than when they were coming from other paid marketing channels.
These campaigns also tend to have a higher ROI (by, seriously, a lot).
Affiliate campaigns had on average, an ROI of 121.3% while paid search and social didn’t make it to 1%.
There’s a few reasons this could happen: using paid social and search ads has a bit of a learning curve. If something doesn’t go well, your copy or image is off, or your targeting isn’t set up properly, the ROI drops significantly.
With influencer and affiliate marketing, you’re letting someone who is already an expert in their niche community do the marketing for you.
And it yields fantastic results.
These kinds of campaigns also tend to not require a lot of budget to get a decent campaign going. Hence the higher ROI: they give you a lot more bang for your buck than some of the traditional paid marketing campaigns.
But how do you get started boosting your ecommerce with a fantastic influencer marketing campaign?
Start by planning it out, and doing your homework.
How to Plan an Influencer Marketing Campaign
When conceiving an influencer marketing campaign, it’s important to start by defining tangible goals for your campaign.
Choose the KPIs to Track:
Be realistic for what you’d like to achieve: while there are many ways to measure an influencer marketing campaign, the biggest KPI that should matter to you is ROI. Measuring your campaign by ROI is beneficial for two reasons:
Easier to track:
Many influencer marketers try to track engagement, which is valuable, don’t get me wrong. But if you’re working a multi-platform campaign across different social media networks with several posts, it can be a hassle to track engagement across each of those campaigns, especially when working with an influencer’s own social media account.
While you’ll be able to verify things like likes, shares/retweets, and comments, you won’t be able to measure clicks, expands, and other valuable types of engagement.
Other marketers tend to measure based on clicks. This is useful because you do have control in tracking it on your side. However, clicks aren’t sales. If you’re looking for brand awareness, this is all fine and well, but most marketers are looking for getting something in return for their time and budget.
We already know to avoid vanity metrics when concerned with marketing campaigns, so measuring your influencer campaign by ROI means that it’s measured tangibly.
Define the Platform You Want to Use:
Not all platforms are created equally, and the platform you use for your influencer campaign will be critical to your success.
To choose the best platform for your ecommerce store’s campaign, ask yourself a very important question:
Where is my audience?
Dust off that marketing persona and bring it to the forefront of your campaign: who is your customer and where do they hang out online? This is probably the most critical aspect to choosing a good platform for your influencer campaign.
Think about it, it doesn’t make sense to campaign on Instagram if your target audience is on LinkedIn.
Narrowing down your platform is going to help you narrow down your potential influencers too.
Define What Kind of Campaign You Want to Create:
When choosing what kind of platform you’d like to use, think about the kind of influencer marketing campaign you’d like to do, as the two go hand in hand. For example, while video is going to work really well on one platform, it might underperform on another.
Influencer campaigns can be:
- Social media “shout out” posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Reddit, Quora, Mastodon, etc.
- Photos of your product being worn, used by the influencer on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc
- How-to videos, images, or blogs
- Blog posts on prominent news or blogging sites in your niche
- Video reviews of your product or service on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram
- Written reviews of your product or service
It’s possible to narrow down your campaign to just one of these kinds of posts or use a variety of them.
Chances are, an influencer has one primary network where their audiences are the most present (like Instagram) but also cross-post to Twitter and YouTube.
If your audience is present on several social networks, using an influencer that frequently cross-posts to those networks is a great idea.
Check Out the Competition:
If your competitors are using influencer marketing, this can be a great launching point for starting your own campaign.
Study what your competition is doing and make adjustments where you need to. While I wouldn’t recommend going after the exact same influencers (unless you have a product that might make coexistence easier), you would probably look into going for a similar kind of influencer.
Pay particular attention to the hashtags that your competitors are using for their campaigns.
While you would probably want to avoid hashtags that include their company or brand name, they can be useful for gauging where your audience is present and what hashtags interest them.
Once you’ve done these four main things, you can start looking into which influencers would be right for your marketing campaign.
How to Choose the Best Influencer for Your Marketing Campaign
It can be a challenge to find the right influencer for your ecommerce brand, but if you’ve done your homework correctly up to this point, you probably have a good idea of who you’d like to choose.
The Starting Point:
Using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram is a great start for these kinds of social media posts. Following accounts on Twitter usually gives you similar accounts to follow too, so you can do a bit of research this way.
Buzzsumo also allows you to look up influencers to find the most popular accounts in your niche. This tool is particularly good for finding great Twitter accounts, bloggers, and journalists.
Let’s say you wanted someone who was an influencer in fashion industry.
By the way, fashion is probably a terrible keyword to start with, but it’s just an example.
Some of the cool things you can do with Buzzsumo’s influencer search is that you can narrow down the kind of influencer you want. On the top left, you can see that you can filter by:
- Regular People
You can also apply a second set of filters to only search for active influencers, and verified influencers. You can ignore broadcasters and filter for accounts that also have Instagram profiles.
From here, you can filter the list by:
- Page and Domain authority: which is useful if you’re looking for SEO rich backlinks
- The number of Twitter followers the influencer has
- The retweet ratio they have on average
- The reply ratio on average
- Their average retweets
You can also search with your keyword by bio, or by the content that has been shared by these accounts.
You can do all of this for free with Buzzsumo, with the option to save lists, create influencer projects, and access more results with a paid account.
Regardless, this is already a great launching point to find accounts in the general vicinity of what you’re looking for. These accounts may not necessarily be the influencers you want.
But these accounts can help you find them. Use the hashtag searches from them to find other relevant influencers in your target niche.
Mega-Influencers, Micro-Influencers, and “Power Middles”
Influencers can fall into three main categories of sizes: mega, micro, and power middle. Each have their own pros and cons, and it’s up to you to decide which is the best for your ecommerce business.
Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to influencer marketing. Celebrity and mega-influencers mean a huge audience, but it also means considerably more budget.
Recently, there’s been quite a bit of fatigue in working with mega-influencers, as the rise of fake profiles and followers has affected the overall ROI of their campaigns.
It’s important to figure out how many of the influencer’s followers are fake accounts before you agree to pay some astounding fee to work with them. As this kind of business model has gained popularity, more and more people are purchasing followers to increase their earning potential.
While that’s well and good for their own vanity, it does nothing for your campaign.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go after influencers with a huge audience, just understand that the larger the audience, the lower the engagement rate, which is completely normal.
Micro-influencers don’t necessarily have a large audience, but their audience is usually tight-knit and engages regularly. These are regular people, perhaps even former customers, who post about products regularly.
These people, your promoters, can be a valuable source of UGC for your ecommerce brand, and shouldn’t be discounted as influencers of their own right.
Regular people are a great category to peruse for your influencer search. According to a study by Collective Bias, 70% of millennials prefer product endorsements by non-celebrity bloggers.
As opposed to celebrities, regular people have more authenticity than huge mega-influencers. The consumer can look at this Average Joe and see themselves with your product or service. It’s a powerful way to show the customer what their life could be like with your product.
Advertisers have been using this tactic for decades-and you can tap into it by looking for the micro-influencers among your customers. Reach out to them and offer some free swag or a discount for a review on social media.
While there’s some debate about what classifies an influencer as a power middle, the general consensus is between 10K-250K followers on any one social platform. These influencers may not have the reach of mega celebrity influencers, but their communities are more intimate and curated.
These influencers are typically more involved with their communities and tend to drive upwards of 16x more engagement rates than paid media.
These are the kind of numbers you want.
So for example, if you were looking to promote your high-end gaming computer mice with a power middle influencer, you might look for YouTubers who specialize in reviewing computer mice.
Like Rocket Jump Ninja for example.
Rocket Jump Ninja is a great example of a power middle influencer. He reviews gaming mice and other tech related to gaming, so his niche is rather specific, which is ideal for a campaign. He provides detailed tutorials and reviews that help his audience choose the best gaming mice for them.
He publishes about once a week or so, meaning he delivers consistent content to his audience.
Like many power middle influencers, he’s got a channel that’s his main source of influence, which is YouTube.
But he also has over 13K followers on Twitch, 7K followers on Twitter, and 2400 followers on Facebook, where he shares his video content regularly. While those secondary channels don’t have a crazy amount of followers, they still add up to a large number of eyes on his content.
This is just an example of someone who does these kinds of reviews that you’d want to look for in a power middle influencer.
Brand Image: How Your Influencer Fits In
When choosing an influencer, it’s crucial that this influencer fits into your brand image. For example, if you promote a wholesome brand image, going for a really edgy influencer isn’t going to mesh well with your campaign.
The wrong influencer campaign can completely break your brand- because no matter what anyone says, there is such a thing as bad publicity.
Ask yourself a few key questions about the influencer you’d like to work with:
- Does their image reflect the image you’d want for your brand?
- Does the influencer share your brand values?
- What does their post history look like? Are there any skeletons in the closet? Make sure you check all of the platforms where they’re present, and not just the one that interests you.
- How do they engage with their followers? Do they respond often? How do they handle negative comments and trolls?
- Are their reviews accurate? It does you no good to get an amazing review that promises more than you can deliver. Honesty is perceptible by your target audience, so a phony review will do more damage than good.
- How often do they publish? Sporadic posting means less engagement generally. While some platforms have a longer publishing time and post shelf-life, like YouTube, consistency is important when looking for a good influencer.
These questions can help you avoid bad publicity when choosing your influencer.
It’s important to remember that an influencer is akin to a business partner. They have no interest in seeing your brand fail by producing bad content because their audience has likely been curated with great attention.
With that said, getting the right fit of an influencer is the most important part of choosing one. The partnership helps both of you, so it’s important to be careful in your selection.
One of the biggest things you want to look for is the engagement ratio. This is the amount of engagement a social account has in regards to the amount of followers they have.
The engagement rate is what you really want to look at for the account. Averages depend on the amount of followers an influencer has (typically, anyone with more than 1000 followers is an influencer on some kind of level).
If you have something that is above average, this is generally a good sign. This tells you that the audience of this influencer (and the people you want to target) engage with this account.
There are a few different calculators you can use to gauge engagement ratio for accounts that interest you:
Influencer Marketing Hub has an interesting calculator because it shows you the estimated earnings that the influencer might have per post:
Tanke also has an interesting engagement ratio calculator that doesn’t show you monetary value, but it does show you average comments per post which is interesting if that’s the kind of engagement you’re going for.
Influencer Fee has probably the most interesting engagement ratio and fee calculator because it gives you more detailed analytics on the comments and likes per post over the last 15 posts.
You can run the accounts that interest you through one or more of these calculators to get an idea of how engaged their audiences are.
I would be wary of the “earnings per posts” amounts however. How much you pay per post (or whether you pay at all) will largely depend on how you negotiate with your influencer.
I’ll touch more on that later.
How to Collaborate with an Influencer
I said before that an influencer marketing campaign is a partnership. So it’s important to have a good line of communication with your influencer to make sure that the campaign goes as smoothly as possible.
The first thing you want to do is to create a campaign brief and outline all of the details of your campaign in it. This should include:
What the Influencer is supposed to do:
How will the influencer perform the campaign?
What results are you expecting?
Is this a post mention or tweet, a full review, or simple product placement?
What aesthetic are you going for?
Your influencer marketing campaign should resemble what the influencer does on their own. If it’s too obvious as a sponsored post, or it’s too far out of the influencer’s wheelhouse, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.
Remember that your influencer’s audience is accustomed to their normal posts and reviews. Anything that strays too far from their original creative license isn’t going to be well received by their audience.
Defined Campaign Parameters:
Whether it’s just one post, or several, or a whole review video, it’s important to nail down a timeline for your campaign.
Depending on the platform your influencer uses, post frequency can differ:
- Twitter: Post several times a day, as the average lifetime of a tweet is only a few minutes.
- Facebook: One to two posts per day is maximum frequency, as Facebook’s algorithm won’t show all of your posts to followers.
- YouTube: 1-4 posts per month is the typical frequency for this platform, as it usually takes a bit of time to make a quality video.
- Blogs: The frequency completely depends on the blog. Some publish every day, some publish once per week. It’s important to take this into account when choosing a blogger.
- Instagram: There is no set frequency for Instagram, but consistency is key.
Remember that your influencer has their own defined content creation frequency. It’s best to stick to your influencer’s schedule to make it as native as possible.
An Agreement on How the Content Should Be Used:
While you might be sponsoring this content, it’s important to understand that your influencer is the content creator.
Who retains rights to the content after the campaign is over? Will the influencer be able to delete or remove the posts?
Think about negotiating reuse of the campaign to obtain the best results. Influencer marketing posts make great ads for the future, and can be cross posted to other platforms to pack a bigger punch. Featuring the post on your site can add a certain level of trust to your online store, and a good review of your product can be evergreen content that never dies.
You want your campaign to have as much impact as possible, and being able to reuse and repurpose your content is key.
An Agreement on Compensation:
As the influencer marketing sphere has yet to be standardized, there is a lot of flexibility in how influencers are compensated for their efforts.
Especially concerning content creation from their side, you would not expect the same compensation for a high quality video review as you would for a simple tweet shout out. It’s not the same amount of work going into that content.
What you decide for your campaign will ultimately influence what the compensation is.
Influencers can be compensated in a variety of ways:
- Free Products/Samples: Sometimes, you can pay for your campaign in free products. If you choose your influencer well, they may accept free products and do a review of your products in return. However, as these influencers are not officially “sponsored,” you need to prepare for an honest review.
- Up Front Payment for the Content: Obviously, there’s the option to pay your influencer in cash. If you’re not working with mega celebrity influencers, this doesn’t have to be expensive. While compensation is largely going to depend on the size of your influencer’s audience, the kind of content you want them to create, and the influencer’s preferences, there is a lot of flexibility.
- Affiliate links: As opposed to paying a fixed price, you could go for the option of profit sharing with a performance based model. Many marketers tend to opt for this method, as it credits the influencer with the sales they drive. However, depending on your attribution model, you could end up paying too much or not enough to your influencer for their work. I’ll touch more on this later.
How you compensate your influencer is going to depend on what you’re asking of them, what kind of audience they have, and whether or not they’re a “full-time” influencer.
Negotiate fairly with your influencers, and remember, the partnership benefits them just as much as it benefits you.
How to Track and Measure Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Regardless of how you agree to compensate your influencer, tracking your campaign is the most important part of the process.
At Divvit, we focus heavily on attribution because a great attribution model can be the difference between investing in the channels that give you the highest ROI, and potentially wasting money on underperforming channels.
With influencer marketing and affiliate campaigns, attribution is critical to making sure your influencer is compensated fairly for their efforts, and also that you’re not overpaying.
In fact, according to our research, affiliate and referral campaigns can be overvalued by more than 8.3% when using obsolete position-based attribution models, like last click attribution.
Why does this happen?
Because most affiliate campaigns use discount codes as an added incentive to purchase. Customers have a tendency to add things to their cart and then search around for any discount codes that might exist for the purchase.
That means that the last click always comes from an affiliate link when a customer finds that code.
While that’s well and good, it wasn’t the affiliate that drove that campaign and sale for you.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use affiliate links and discount codes, au contraire. You absolutely should do anything that means more sales for you.
But understand that this system promotes affiliate links in a way that's disproportionate in regards to the channels that actually provided value to the sale. And it means you could pay too much in compensation for that affiliate.
In this example, I’ve compared last click attribution and Divvit’s Data Driven attribution model. Our model uses a Machine Learning algorithm that bases attribution on the individual value of each visit, as opposed to the visit’s position in the customer journey or the last click before sale.
We can see that for each of these affiliate and referral channels, last click overvalues their contribution to the sale. The total real value that they contribute is 38% less than what last click attributes.
On the flipside, if there isn’t a discount code attached to your influencer marketing campaign, it’s completely possible that an influencer’s review had a huge part in the decision making process for your customer, but the customer ultimately came through a different channel to complete their purchase.
When tracking influencer campaigns, I like to set it up by channel. I’ve filtered to show only affiliate campaigns in this example so you can get a clear view of them. I’m also using the Divvit Data Driven attribution model so we know that we’re getting the real value behind these channels.
I used the following KPIs:
- Marketing Cost
- Order Count
- Marketing ROI
These will show you exactly how profitable your influencer marketing campaign is. The biggest KPI is ROI because it gives you a concrete view of whether your campaign is performing well or not.
I like to add things like costs, and cost/order because it helps keep things in perspective. You can also add AOV so you can see how much ROI you’re getting per individual order.
As we’ve seen, influencer marketing campaigns have a phenomenal ROI for retailers, so these numbers aren’t shocking. Make sure you’re keeping regular track of your influencer campaigns, especially short term campaigns, so you can use that data as a benchmark for your future campaigns as well.
Influencer marketing campaigns can be extremely profitable if done correctly. As marketers, we have to constantly innovate to find new channels where our customers are present, and we need to find creative ways to keep their attention.
In a world where AdBlock is a thing, the ideas that we come up with to get our products in front of our customers is always going to be at the top of our strategies.
When tapping into the potential of influencer marketing, as long as you do your homework and choose an influencer whose audience is your target market, corresponds with your brand values, and works well with you, your campaign is sure to be profitable.
Tracking your campaign from that point forward means that you’ll be able to analyze and improve your campaigns over time. Finally, using an attribution model that assigns true value to your channels will assure that you don’t over or under compensate your influencer partners.
Did we miss anything? What are your biggest influencer marketing tips for ecommerce? Let us know below!