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E-Commerce Guide to Influencer Marketing

In this article you’ll find out exactly how we make influencer campaigns that drive sales. This is the “Ultimate E-Commerce Guide to Influencer Marketing”.

Businesses report an average return on investment of 520% for their influencer campaigns – but even with these staggering statistics, we find brands are hesitant to engage and struggle to evaluate which influencers are worth spending money on.

With massive returns and tens of billions in revenue on the table for e-commerce brands, is your influencer marketing strategy performing to the industry standards? Are you setting benchmarks and pushing the bar of what is possible in this space?

This guide will show you how to turn your influencer marketing efforts into a revenue stream your competitors are envious of.

Why most influencer campaigns fail

The data tells us this isn’t true, but our hands-on experience with our clients tells us that most e-commerce companies have tried one or two influencer efforts and failed miserably.

Here’s how the story seems to go.

A brand approaches or is approached by an influencer with a large following and asks about a partnership. The brand owner quickly looks at their page, and they seem like an ok fit. Because of the sheer number of followers, they decide to send off their product to the influencer.

Later it’s found out that the influencer wants large amounts of money to post anything, and they own rights to the photos and videos they create. If they investigated further, they would have found that this “large” following is mainly bots and utterly irrelevant to their brand.

Essentially you’ve given away free product, potentially large sums of money, and gotten nothing in return—no usable content and certainly no sales.

If this story is you, remember the first time you rode a bike? You fell off and scraped your knee. Hopefully, that didn’t stop you from getting back on and figuring it out.

We’ll give you the tools here to increase the upside potential of your influencer marketing efforts and, most importantly, reduce your risk.

Benefits of Influencers for E-Commerce Companies

Cost-Effectiveness

Using the right influencers can result in the lowest Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) of any current platform. However, unevaluated influencers can result in the highest costs of any platform, so you must do your due diligence. Additionally, we recommend you test your resources with nano and micro-influencers, which are much less expensive than celebrities.

High ROI

As mentioned above, businesses report an average ROI of 520% on influencer campaigns. Given that Facebook ads are being reported at 152% ROI, this is no trivial matter.

Scale

Two primary ways your influencer efforts can help you scale your marketing.

The first is reach. If you select the right influencers, you have access to their following. The information comes from a trusted source with whom the audience has a pre-established relationship.

The second is content creation. Creating all of your content in-house is an incredibly cumbersome task. You always need fresh faces, which are difficult to find.

Targetting Relevance

If the influencer operates in the same space you do, chances are, some of their followers are your ideal customers. Do what you can to ensure that the fit between your company and the influencer makes for a highly relevant partnership.

Engaging Social Proof

88% of consumers trust user reviews such as personal recommendations (via. Optin Monster)

We suggest finding a large group of influencers in your industry and then asking them to deliver you a reel-style video review in your negotiations. You’ll then splice those recommendations into an extended video ad that you can use on your social pages, and website and even run as a Facebook Ad to your Middle-Of-Funnel audiences. 

Setting Goals For The Campaign

No different than a marketing campaign on any platform, the most crucial first step is identifying the purpose of your campaign. 

While these may seem overly basic, we’re continually shocked when we hear from businesses that didn’t conduct thorough due diligence or set specific targets when they partner with influencers. The results of these efforts are largely futile and put a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.

The more specific you can get in terms of the exact results you are looking for, the better you can create a marketing campaign. And no, “more sales” isn’t specific enough regarding influencer marketing; these objectives will not yield you a 520% return. 

Let’s look at what does work so you can see the difference.

For this, let’s say you are a skincare company that just released a new all-natural anti-aging product. You want sales specifically related to this product and additionally need some social proof you can put all over the place.

You’ve tested it on different audiences and found that women aged 25-42 that are ethically motivated when buying products, with a median household income of $80k-$200k, are your ideal customers.

Now you can find the influencers your prospective customers trust and follow with research vs. a spray and pray strategy.

In reality, many companies don’t collect or analyze their data thoroughly enough to know these details. But a quick review of your loyal customers should give you a good idea of where to start.

Finding The Right Influencers

Finding The Right Influencers

So far, we have spent a lot of time talking about “the right influencers.”

You know who they are; they’re the ones that are easy to work with, send you excellent content, and drive actual tangible results in your business. 

This section will show you how to find them and what to look out for.

To be able to find the best fit for your brand, the first thing you need to do is define your ideal customer in explicit detail. 

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Location, Gender, Age, Income, Occupation, Marital Status, 

Where the magic happens:

  • Who do they follow on social media? What books do they read? What organizations do they align with? Who are their favorite celebrities? What are their interests?

Using the Instagram Explore feature, enter the most relevant hashtags to your company.

We recommend that anyone new to influencer marketing start with nano and micro-influencers. As a general rule, the more followers the influencer has, the more they will ask for in return for the content and promotion.

Nano-influencers: 2000 – 10,000 Followers

Micro-influencers: 10,000 – 200,000 Followers

The next thing you need to do is dive into the data to determine if the influencer is who they say they are. We want to make sure that all your marketing dollars.

Note that the software that allows this type of analysis is often costly. A few good ones are Upfluence, HypeAuditor, or Influence.co.

When evaluating an influencer’s data to determine if they’re a good fit for you, here are the key things you should look at:

  1. How many followers do they have on each platform?
  2. What percentage of followers are fake?
  3. What gender is the audience?
  4. Where does the audience live?
  5. What engagement rate do they get on standard vs. promoted posts?
  6. What hashtags do they frequently use?

Negotiating With Influencers

E-Commerce Guide to Influencer Marketing

Once you have found the influencers, it’s time to start contacting them. If they’re open for promotions, finding an email address on their page shouldn’t be too hard.

You must evaluate your efforts and have a price in mind for the influencer before you reach out to them. You’ll need to look at smaller influencers to do a simple product exchange for content and a post. The majority of influencers will want compensation in exchange for their efforts.

We always ask the influencer to set the first price in the negotiations as you’ll quickly find out if they are reasonable or not.

A quick equation you can use to help determine if the influencer is asking for too much. 

The average reach on Instagram is about 5-10%; we like to err on the side of caution and use the 5% figure.

The equation then becomes:

Followers X Reach (5%) = Impressions

(1000 X Cost) / Impressions = Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

You can then cross-reference your CPM with what you are paying for your Facebook Ads. The CPMs will generally be more expensive than a Facebook Ad, but they will give you an idea of what your experiments should start as.

You may be willing to pay significantly more for influencer impressions than Facebook ads. Still, we wouldn’t recommend starting with a 10-20X ratio as it will likely fail.

When you’re brand new to influencer marketing, we recommend looking for direct product exchange agreements as it will make your inevitable learning curve less expensive. 

One of the critical principles of Real Estate investing plays true in influencer marketing: you make your money on the buy. In this case, what you’re buying is attention.

Once you have the price you are willing to pay, send them an introductory email, and you are off to the races.

Always be pleasant, and ask the influencer for their pricing sheet. If you want to work with a specific influencer and believe they are asking too much, ask them to send along case studies to help you determine if the campaign will be profitable for you.

Managing Deliverables & Ensuring Positive Results

Like any business arrangement, the key to ensuring a positive experience between your brand and the influencer you work with is clear expectations.

Create a brand guideline that you can share easily that illustrates how you want your company positioned. Discuss how they should speak about your brand and what companies your branding aligns with.

The biggest tool in managing the deliverables is a clear contract.

What exactly do you want in return for your investment? An Instagram Reel, Carousel Post, Cross-Platform Outreach, TikTok Post, Testimonial (written or video)? 

Be specific, and then hold the influencer accountable to deliver. If you’ve set the expectations clearly and aligned your company with a good influencer, they should be easily able to provide what you are looking for.

Best Practice Tips | E-Commerce Guide To Influencer Marketing

Influencer Best Practices
  1. Always, and we mean always, ensure your contract is written so that you keep exclusive rights over the content that’s created.
  2. Give your influencers a promo code to give to their audience. You’ll use it to track sales and the campaign’s overall success.
  3. If you don’t immediately see a 520% return (which you most likely won’t), try and learn; don’t just give up on it.
  4. Nano and micro-influencers are the lowest cost attention at the moment, and we believe they are the best buy with sound research.
  5. Find and cross-compare tools and online resources to get the best statistics on any influencer you are evaluating.
  6. A fake following or bot ratio of over 30% is generally something you should avoid.
  7. Look for your influencer’s engagement ratio to be above 5%, and you’ll see the best buy-in from their customers.

Now, go get that 520% ROI on your Influencer Campaigns.

You now have the tools to set up your Influencer Marketing Campaigns for success properly. 

Following these steps will help you gain social proof, develop new and engaging content, and, most importantly, push the needle for your business.

Want our help managing your influencer campaigns?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. You can do so on our contact page or email us directly at: hello@mtnstone.ca.

If you found value from this article and want to learn more about how to profitably advertise your e-commerce business here are a few more articles that will help you out.

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