Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce: A Complete Guide
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Influencer Marketing Best Practices
Consumers spend trillions of dollars each year shopping online—$5.54 trillion, to be exact.
For marketers, those figures prove that there are more than enough revenue opportunities. But it also means that the competition is stronger than ever.
To stay relevant, brands need innovative ways to navigate our dynamic digital landscape. And as social media platforms continue to evolve and optimize for ecommerce, influencer marketing for ecommerce has proven to be their ticket to a winning strategy.
Why influencer marketing for ecommerce brands works
Influencer marketing has become an essential strategy for ecommerce brands looking to cut through the noise in a crowded digital environment. By telling a brand’s story and sharing experiences with its products, influencer recommendations often become the deciding factor for consumers who aren’t able to “try before they buy.”
But this strategy doesn’t work with just anyone. To be successful, brands must partner with creators who share the same values and have completely bought into the vision. By connecting with aligned influencers and their like-minded audience, ecommerce brands can generate the social proof necessary to drive purchase decisions and form long-term relationships with consumers.
5 essential influencer marketing tips for ecommerce brands
1. Don’t get distracted by follower count.
Influencers come in countless shapes, sizes, styles, voices, and content types. With YouTubers, bloggers, Instagram celebrities, product reviewers, podcasters, TikTokers, LinkedIn thought leaders, and more, you can (and should) incorporate a broad mix of talent into your influencer marketing strategy.
Initially, influencer follower counts are what stick out most to marketers. But just because an influencer has a million followers doesn’t mean they are the best for your brand.
Macro (100,000 to 1 million followers) and celebrity influencers (1 million+ followers) can be a great way to boost brand awareness by blasting your name out to a massive audience. But they can get quite expensive and don’t always have the best engagement with their audience.
On the other hand, nano (1,000 to 10,000 followers) and micro influencers (10,000 to 100,000 followers) make up for their shorter reach with the highest engagement rate of any other group. That means your brand and product appear in front of a captive audience that has a close connection with their favorite creator.
It’s also important to note that influencer rates are increasing across the board. But smaller creators (particularly nano influencers) are still more likely to accept free products in exchange for content, lowering overall spend while nurturing stronger relationships with your target audience.
2. Be selective and negotiate.
It can be tempting to go with the influencer who charges you the least or is the first to reply to your outreach message. But being too eager is a mistake that could permanently damage your ecommerce reputation.
Recognize that your brand doesn’t just sell a product—it improves the quality of life for specific groups of people. That said, it’s always best to partner with niche influencers who represent the specific needs of your target audience.
After examining a thousand influencers, you may find that only a handful meet your standards. No worries! You’ll achieve a much higher ROI with five influencers that fit your brand perfectly than 50 influencers who are “hit or miss.”
After creating a shortlist, the next step is to approach them. If an influencer hasn’t used your product before, consider sending them a sample. After all, you’ll need creators who actually know and use your product to get the honest endorsements you’re looking for.
Once you’ve confirmed that the influencer likes your products, discussing a partnership is next. The influencer’s standard rate may not fit your budget if you’re a small business or startup. But don’t give up just yet. There are many different ways to negotiate with influencers.
Some creators are happy to do product seeding campaigns. Other influencers assume an affiliate role when you can pay them a commission on sales. Either way, remember that a mix of cash and perks can “seal the deal” with your favorite influencers. Once your influencer program is at full speed, you’ll have more opportunities to pay your creators flat rates or retainer fees.
3. Establish goals and select the right channels.
Most influencers are active on multiple platforms, but you don’t need to target your audiences on each one. In fact, less is more when you’re just getting started with creator collaborations.
When ecommerce brands think of influencer marketing, they usually only think about the big names like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. But solid returns can happen anywhere.
For example, Schell Games is a video game brand that generates enormous influencer success on Discord. Pinterest is also widely popular for ecommerce brands in nutrition, DIY, and fashion (among others) and provides its creators with a full arsenal of innovative tools to choose from.
Here are a few tips to consider when deciding where to focus your influencer marketing campaigns:
- Be present on channels your audience uses. If your target audience is primarily on Instagram, then that’s likely where you want to start. The same is true for any other channel.
- Choose the platform(s) that make the most sense for the type of content you want to use. Another consideration is the type of content that will best showcase your products. Some products do well in images or unboxing videos, while others work better in blogs.
- Discuss your campaign goals with your creators. Even if you’re not a social media expert, your influencers are. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with them on types of content and the best social channels to use.
The platform you use to promote your products with influencers is critical. Taking your time to decide where to promote your brand will only make your campaigns that much more effective.
4. Make sure your product integrates seamlessly with your influencers’ content.
An influencer’s audience primarily loves that influencer for their non-sponsored content. And while consumers don’t usually mind a clear product endorsement, they don’t appreciate inauthentic brand mentions.
That’s why your creators need to know your brand, use your products, and believe in both.
Once you achieve brand love with your creators, you’ll have true brand champions who can educate their audience, tell your story, and integrate you into the tight-knit community they worked so hard to build.
Remember, influencer marketing campaigns should be a win-win for you and the creator. By ensuring that any product mentions fit neatly within that influencer’s greater content collection, audiences will be more inclined to engage and convert.
5. Use the right tools to launch, scale, and track your program.
The more data you track, the easier it will be to manage your influencer relationships and know whether your campaigns are working. When you’re just starting, creating a collection of spreadsheets is a good idea to keep track of influencer information. This could include social media handles, emails, posts, addresses, product preferences (shirt sizes, favorite colors, etc.), and any influencer-specific data you feel you need to be successful.
But spreadsheets can take hours to manage for brands with multiple creators in their program. That means, at some point, you’ll need to upgrade to a creator management platform that lets you streamline your workflow and free up time to continue building relationships with your influencers and focus on big picture goals.
Keep an eye out for the following features when selecting a platform to help you reach your goals:
- An extensive creator database with detailed filtering options to help find the perfect partners
- Complete workflow management from a single, user-friendly platform
- Advanced influencer program analytics, including comprehensive campaign, creator, and content metrics
- Email integrations and custom landing pages to simplify outreach and manage inbound requests
- Ecommerce integrations to automate product fulfillment, generate discount codes and affiliate links, and track revenue attribution
- A custom CRM to track payments, manage product fulfillment and create, send, and store creator contracts
- Social listening tools to find, organize, and leverage user-generated content
Use the right influencer and campaign data to track success. As you grow, invest in an influencer-specific management platform that allows you to do more in fewer clicks.
Ecommerce trends brands should watch out for
‘Viral commerce’ is becoming the goal.
Many brands are now creating their marketing campaigns around the idea of shopping and sharing. Thanks to algorithms like TikTok’s For You page and the Instagram Shopping tab, creators of every size can reach massive audiences and create viral moments.
Resale and sustainability are here to stay.
Experts predict resale ecommerce to rise more than 46% and become a $15.5 billion industry by the end of 2022. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are the catalyst behind this recent trend that forces modern ecommerce brands to implement more sustainable business practices and become more energy-efficient.
As the demand for more eco-friendly practices increases, influencers in the sustainable fashion niches are becoming essential partners for brands as they reevaluate their missions and create content that resonates with consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Subscriptions keep customers locked in.
Subscription services like Stitch Fix, BarkBox, and Kiwico have proven tough to quit. A recent GRIN survey found that more than 70% of consumers have tried a box subscription service, and more than 65% say they renewed their subscription after its first use. These services are a great way for brands to curate unique product hauls for their customers and for influencers to connect with their audiences through engaging “unboxing” content.
AR technology helps consumers visualize purchases.
Advances in augmented reality technology offer ecommerce consumers the closest possible thing to a try-before-you-buy experience. Snapchat and Pinterest are two platforms leading the AR charge, enabling users to visualize how a product will look on them to make a more informed buying decision.
Data shows that products advertised with AR content converted 94% better than those without. Additionally, 40% of ecommerce shoppers said they would even pay more for a product if the platform enabled them to test it with AR technology.
Examples of brands killing it with ecommerce influencers
@aubreywagnerr #ad Dress like a material girl for much cheaper with @Curtsy 💖💖 Use code AUBREY15 for 15% off ! #curtsypartner #styledbycurtsy #fyp #outfitinspo #ad ♬ love me like you do – Thalia <3
Curtsy is a thrifting app that helps women monetize their closets and shop for the perfect piece. The brand drives app downloads by leveraging creators to show off their Curtsy hauls and the money they can save shopping for name-brand items on the secondhand market. By partnering primarily with Gen Z influencers, the brand caters to an audience that craves both style and sustainability.
Gainful provides personalized protein powder supplements and hands-on nutrition support from in-house dieticians. Its diverse team of nano influencers helps spread awareness to their communities while creating valuable user-generated content the brand repurposes across its paid and organic channels. Through its influencer marketing efforts, Gainful has built a strong brand community that trusts its products to help reach their fitness goals.
Nutpods is one of the fastest-growing plant-based companies in the U.S., offering a variety of dairy-free creamer options. Recently, the brand saw massive success with influencer marketing by forming a team of affiliates and ambassadors to help drive sales and brand awareness. The “nutpodsquad” campaign was so successful that it accounted for one-third of all customer acquisitions on its website and helped the brand become the top-ranked non-dairy creamer on Amazon.
Key takeaway: To paint a full picture, partnering with authentic influencers is a must for ecommerce brands.
Content creators aren’t just a luxury for ecommerce brands anymore—they’re a necessity. By partnering with influencers who can give their audience a comprehensive look at your products and services, you’ll generate the social proof needed to nurture long-term brand love.
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