Travis Jamison has founded a dozen online businesses, including a few e-commerce businesses. As founding director of Smash.vc, he provides investment and strategic growth help to bootstrapped, online companies.
Influencer marketing is one of the most popular ways for companies to get the word out about their products. Considering its effectiveness, that’s no surprise.
First off, over 25% of internet users now use ad-blocking software. This means that even with a hefty budget, you might find yourself falling short of your advertising goals.
Secondly, more and more people are turning to social media for advice on purchasing decisions. They’ll seek out YouTube unboxings and reviews, support a brand based on the Twitter activity surrounding their name, and look for buying inspiration on Instagram.
With these two factors in mind, the role of social media influencers becomes cemented in the modern marketing journey.
However, the unusual thing about the state of influencer marketing is that an increasing number of companies are turning to people with smaller followings. According to a 2019 LINQIA survey, 77% of businesses want to work with micro-influencers instead of celebrities.
So, how can you get started with micro-influencer marketing? And how should you define the goals of your cooperations if your main objective is boosting conversions in your ecommerce store?
The following are the best strategies for boosting ecommerce sales with the help of micro-influencer marketing.
1. Research and Connect
The first step towards building a winning marketing strategy is going to be the research phase.
Unfortunately, many businesses make the mistake of going for a social media personality based on their number of followers. Then, after they’ve spent a big chunk of their budget, they realize that the strategy didn’t bring the results they were after.
If you want to use micro-influencers to boost ecommerce sales, you’ll need to know how to choose collaborators.
First and foremost, take a look at your business plan and the buyer personalities you’ve developed. What age groups are you targeting? Where are your potential customers located, and what are their interests?
By paying attention to these details, you’ll be able to find an influencer who is the right fit for your brand.
To take the guesswork out of the process, it’s not a bad idea to employ software such as HypeAuditor. The Discovery tool could allow you to identify collaborators based on the location, gender, and age of their audience. Moreover, each potential associate is ranked based on their potential, and you get an estimate of how much it would cost you to work with them. Of course, once you’ve found a quality prospect, you will still need to take a look at their feed and see how it fits in with your brand’s objectives and values.
As an example of a brand whose influencer collaborations reflect a high level of research, take a look at GILI Sports. The stand-up paddleboard manufacturer started a partnership with Instagram influencer Alex Chovanak, whose interests and aesthetics lined up with their own in a near-perfect way. Then, they organized a giveaway as a way for both parties to maximize engagement, as well as to boost brand discovery.
And, sure, the giveaway only had one winner. But, it exposed the brand to thousands of potential customers who commented, liked, and shared the photos.
image source: instagram.com
2. Start Conversations, Support, and Engage
In social media terms, a celebrity is anyone with over 7 million followers. Lower tiers of social media fame include:
- Mega-influencers with over 1 million followers.
- Large influencers with 250k+ followers.
- Medium influencers with 100k to 250k followers.
- Small influencers with 25k to 100k followers.
- Micro-influencers with 5k to 25k followers; and.
- Brand ambassadors with up to 5k followers.
As you can see, micro-influencers fall in that sweet spot. Their reach is big enough to benefit a brand without actually sacrificing engagement.
In fact, research has shown that the average engagement rate for these users tends to fall around 2.4%. Compare this number to the 1.7% engagement for more sought-after categories. It quickly becomes apparent that working with multiple smaller ambassadors provides a better ROI.
Take a look at what Elemental Labs is doing with their social media marketing strategy. You’ll see that the brand chose to collaborate with small-scale influencers who create highly-engaging, valuable content. These brand ambassadors are predominantly fitness coaches and martial arts athletes who offer followers insights into their daily routines, along with product reviews and recommendations.
image source: twitter.com
As they’re people who are in constant communication with their audience, there’s a higher likelihood of their message being heard by the Elemental Lab’s potential buyers. This way, the brand is minimizing losses and maximizing ROI.
The cost-effectiveness of the micro-influencer marketing method stands out additionally when you look at the divide between what large and small-scale social media influencers charge for marketing.
On average, a post will cost you about $10-$25 per 1000 followers. This can add up if you work with more than a single person and plan on doing more than one post. After all, remember that the main rule of marketing is that it relies on consistency. With this in mind, you need to take a look at your budget and determine what it is that you can afford.
Micro-influencers are often easier to connect to. They’re less demanding and may even be open to talking about your brand in exchange for free products. Is your business still in its early phases? Is your goal to boost your brand image and raise awareness? Then it definitely may be more affordable (and smarter) to go to these individuals.
3. Create Personal Stories
The beauty of working with micro-influencers lies in the fact that these profiles are bound to come off as more genuine than if you collaborated with celebrities.
The biggest problem with ads is that people have become almost immune to them. In addition to the widespread use of ad-blockers, it’s important to remember that most people’s way of viewing pages has adapted to ignoring old-school ads. On Facebook, for example, the average click-through rate is a mere 0.9% while, depending on targeted keywords, CPC can go as high as $50. For most businesses, that’s too big of a spend.
Micro-influencer posts, on the other hand, don’t get blocked or ignored. They take up the same space as every other genuine piece of content on people’s feeds. And, when done right, they come off as personal experience or friendly advice.
As an excellent example of a company going in the right direction with social media, take a look at Live Like Louise, an online fitness business promising long-term results. Through research, the company found Lucy Williamson, a micro-influencer with the right type of following.
image source: instagram.com
After Lucy went through the company’s program, she created an inspirational post showing off her fitness progress. It was complete with “before and after” pictures. The caption also included a description of how the service worked for her personal needs.
This strategy proved to be even more than a good ad for the fitness company. Lucy’s followers got something great out of this collaboration as well – an honest recommendation of a program that showed excellent results. Naturally, this only strengthened her rapport with her audience.
4. Strengthen Your Brand
What’s the philosophy behind your company and your products? And what are you doing to strengthen your brand as an authority in your niche?
Well, in addition to well-developed content marketing and customer experience strategies, you should aim to add social proof to your branding efforts. Although user reviews on your product pages work great, you can also turn to social media and user-generated content.
The thing about micro-influences is that they don’t necessarily have to be lifestyle bloggers or popular social media users. You can also choose to work with well-established professionals in your field who will share their expertise and testify to your brand’s worth.
For example, you can take a look at Zoma, a sports mattress company. Their objective was to create a product that would speed up athlete recovery and improve performance.
On their product pages, they have a “Trusted By Athletes” section, where they feature images of professional athletes in their homes, posing with newly delivered Zoma mattresses. Now, note that the average number of followers for these brand ambassadors falls well-below the 25k line. Despite this fact, there’s no disputing that positive mentions by pro-athletes help boost the brand’s credibility and position Zoma as the leader in an otherwise competitive industry.
image source: zomasleep.com
5. Build Trust & Loyalty
If you want to boost ecommerce sales, it’s not a bad idea to think about customer lifetime value and the ROI you get from different marketing methods.
When it comes to the best long-term driver of profits, customer loyalty definitely takes the prize. In fact, it turns out that repeat customers are nine times more likely to make a purchase in your ecommerce store than new ones. And using micro-influencers who are already loyal customers might just help you generate trust and encourage retention.
By writing a blog post about your services, filming a video, or posting a picture on social media, these trendsetters can share the reasons why they appreciate your products. Even more, they can describe the experience they had as your customers and thus validate your unique value proposition claims. Their followers, who are likely to look to them as reliable sources of information, will, in turn, get a beneficial image of your brand. This, in itself, is reason enough to go with micro-influencers above celebrities or paid ads.
But the best thing about using an influencer marketing strategy to boost customer retention (and ecommerce conversions) is that it’s easy to measure performance. All you need to do is use dedicated landing pages. Or, alternatively, have each of your collaborators give out a trackable discount code.
With the information you gain from this type of approach, you’ll have in-depth insights into the exact sort of content that resonates with your audience.
From there, you can modify your content and social media marketing strategies. And, you can reach out to new partners who’ll raise additional awareness of your brand. Finally, you’ll be able to see what it takes to turn your one-time buyers into returning customers – the ultimate goal for any future-oriented business.
6. Drive Traffic to Your Store
The last strategy for using micro-influencers to boost ecommerce sales is to make them a part of your sales funnel.
Most businesses will see influencer marketing as a way to raise brand awareness. Nonetheless, collaborating with well-known social media users could help you lock in the customers who are in the consideration, intent, and evaluation stages of shopping.
If your audience is searching for your products online, micro-influencers could provide them with the content they’re after. For example, take a look at what the company SomniFix is doing. A simple search on YouTube brings up dozens of videos made by both small-scale and large-scale channels. Potential customers can choose which of these to watch and get an in-depth, personal review of the product. If they’re convinced, they’ll be able to go directly to your store and make their purchase.
image source: youtube.com
The micro-influencers work on an affiliate basis – they get a small commission for every sale they send your way. What you get, however, holds much greater value. This type of system will not only boost your traffic but also ensure that you get site visitors who are more likely to convert.
Getting Started with Micro-Influencer Marketing
If you’ve decided to get started with micro-influencer marketing, you’ve definitely made the right choice. This is an affordable strategy that offers multiple gains, from raising brand awareness to actually boosting ecommerce sales.
What you should keep in mind, however, is that choosing the right collaborators takes work. That being said, make sure you equip yourself with the tools and insights needed to make the right decisions for your brand. With just a little bit of research, you’ll be able to maximize your chances of boosting ecommerce sales. Moreover, you’ll be avoiding the common traps of influencer ad campaigns that could harm your company’s reputation.
One of our experts will get back in touch with you soon.