Looking to boost the marketing power of your eCommerce store? Want to target a new potential audience? I have two words for you – Influencer marketing!
What is Influencer marketing and how can it help you, you ask?
Well, in every industry, whether it be fashion, technology, athletics, or nutrition, there are influential personalities. People with widely read blogs, large Facebook followings, huge amounts of subscribers on YouTube. These people have massive potential to influence their readers.
That means that if you can identify an influencer with an audience that you are trying to target, form a relationship with that influencer, and get them to promote your brand in some way, you can see some pretty impressive results.
The idea is that not only can you get your name out in front of a larger audience, but that you can give your words more power by transmitting them through someone with a greater influence. It’s like word of mouth marketing on steroids!
How do I know this works?
How about because earned media (like referrals) produces four times the effect of paid advertisements, 90% of customers trust peer recommendations, and 74% of consumers use social media to inform them about their purchasing decisions (Simply Measured).
In this post we will explore the ins and outs of influencer marketing. Ready? Let’s get started!
What Exactly is an Influencer?
OK, so you should get in touch with an influencer. Great. But what is an industry influencer? Who qualifies for this illustrious title?
An influencer is someone with a devoted and active following. To put that into perspective, you’re not just looking for someone who has a lot of likes on Facebook, you’re looking with someone who has a high talking about number as well.
Take a look at the difference between Target and Walmart on Facebook. Walmart has over 10 million more likes, but target still has almost twice has many people talking about it. That means Target’s audience is much more engaged than Walmart’s.
Think about it like this, what brands or blogs do you engage with most frequently? Probably the ones that relate to your interests, that speak to you personally, and that give you some added value above and beyond what you could get anywhere else. And I’d be willing to bet that you would listen to the advice of your favorite brand or blog without thinking twice.
So if there is an individual with a high level of engagement, then that means that that person has formed a strong connection, like you have with your favorite blog, on a large scale.
That is what influence is.
How do you Find your Influencer?
Now that you have a general idea of what an influencer is, the next question is, how do you find the right one for your influencer marketing campaign?
Step 1: Make sure that you have a specific definition of who your ideal buyer is. You have to know what kind of person you want to target in order to find the right influencer.
For example, if you sell assorted coffee paraphernalia you might be looking to target young “hipsters” interested in coffee (obviously). But you can also target secondary interests, like organic food and materials, or just people who love breakfast!
Targeting based on a secondary interest could be really effective, because it will often introduce your product to a completely new audience.
For more on how to figure out who your target customer is check out How to Create a Buyer Persona.
Step 2: If you are selling something that you are passionate about, then chances are that there are blogs, podcasts, or websites that you follow religiously. If that’s the case, then it’s safe to assume that your customers and potential customers will also be following these people.
Step 3: Search for influencers that you haven’t necessarily heard of. There are many ways to do this. The simplest method is to just search on Google. For example:
If you want to get a bit more advanced you can try using Buzzsumo to discover popular content. Buzzsumo lets you type in any search term and returns to you a list of the most shared content that fits the search term. For example, I searched “Best Coffee.”
The first link that showed up had a lot of shares, looked like an interesting article, and was from a relevant website. So I clicked on the website to check it out:
Website looks good too. Now it’s time for the next step.
Step 4: Verify that your potential influencers are good matches. You have to look at a few things:
1) Does the content actually fit with your target?
2) Does the individual do reviews, or mention products in their content?
3) How many followers do they have. Although this is by no means the most important thing, it is important to make sure that the potential influencer has a large enough potential audience to make it worthwhile.
4) How engaged is the audience? This is far more important than the total number of followers, because this essentially shows how influential the person is.
Let’s take a look at Ilovecoffee.jp to see if the blog author, Ryoko, fits our needs:
1) Relevance: Here is the description from her homepage:
Her last three posts were, “Who Discovered Coffee,” “How Much do We Spend on Coffee,” and “10 Coffee Sayings that Express Perfectly your Feelings for Coffee.” So it definitely sounds like the content is right!
2) Reviews: There is a section on her homepage called reviews. Check!
3) Potential influence: I followed the links on her site to her social media accounts and found that she has almost 45,000 likes on her Facebook page! She also has another 6,000 followers on Twitter and 5,000 on Google+.
4) Level of engagement: To see how engaged her followers are I checked a few places. First I looked at blog comments – her posts usually get at least three comments, and there is often some back and forth between the commenters which means they are engaged, knowledgeable, and interested.
Next I looked at the share stats on her posts, and they looked quite good:
Finally, I looked at the interaction with her social accounts. On Facebook her talking about number was around 6,000 – or around 13% of her total page likes (which is quite good). Her G+ page also has a high level of interaction:
A great tool for checking Twitter influence is Riffle. This app gives you an outline of a user’s influence by showing you followers, average retweets and favorites, and top tweets. I Love Coffee’s Twitter stats look good too:
After analyzing I Love Coffee, I have determined that it is a good perspective industry influencer and I should pursue a professional relationship with the blogger.
Step 5: Make a list of all your potential influencers.
How do you Reach Out to an Influencer?
The next obvious step is to try to form a relationship with the influencers who made it through your analysis. The question though is how?
Get Yourself Noticed
One thing is certain, you do not want to simply message one of your influencers and ask them to write about your product or brand. An email like that will probably just be discarded.
Remember, these influencers are people too. The same way you wouldn’t call up the CEO of a company out of the blue and ask them for a favor without offering something in return, you shouldn’t do that on the internet either.
Instead you should take time to actually form a relationship. Start following the people on your list, subscribe to their email lists, leave comments on their blog, share their posts through your social media accounts.
By doing this you will make yourself familiar to the influencers. Just like you notice returning customers, they notice consistent engagement (and appreciate it too).
Learn Their Styles
While you are doing this, you should also learn the style of each person on your list. What type of content do they generally share? How do they promote products/brands? Do they run competitions ever?
By getting to know your possible influencers as well as possible you can tailor your offer to them in a much more personal manner.
Make an Offer
Once you feel that you have put yourself on the radar of your influencer, it’s time to move forward with your offer.
Why do I say offer and not request?
Because that is the key to a higher response and success rate! Even after forming an online relationship with someone, you still don’t want to send an email like this one that I received:
What’s wrong with this email?
It’s all about her! Essentially this email says, I will give you nothing in exchange for you taking time out of your day to promote my product.
See what’s wrong now?
Good! So here’s what you should do.
Incentivize: Come up with an appropriate incentive to offer the influencer:
- You can give them free products in exchange for the review. Often it will not be enough to give just the product you want reviewed, so consider adding in some extra bonuses! If you are very familiar with the influencer (as you should be at this point) you can even come up with a personalized gift based on their preferences.
- Obviously you can offer a monetary incentive.
- Reciprocal marketing can also be a fantastic incentive. Online influencers are always looking to expand their audiences, so when you approach them to ask them to promote you to a new audience, you can offer the same thing to them in return – you will promote their blog or website to your audience.
Flatter: A little flattery never hurts. Don’t overdo it, but you can definitely soften up your potential influencer by throwing a few compliments their way.
Be creative: Try to stand out, whether it be with the tone or wording of your email, or the offer itself, it is always a good idea to make yourself different from other requests. That way you will have a higher chance of getting a positive response.
For example, if you know that the influencer runs competitions from time to time, you could come up with crazy competition idea that will promote both your product and their blog. This way there will be reciprocal marketing, promotion of their blog, and you will get what you want as well!
Coffee Shop Example
Here’s an example of an offer I could make to I Love Coffee:
I have been following your coffee blog for a few months now, and I absolutely love it!
In the coming weeks my company will be coming out with a brand new French Press that I think your readers would love. We thought it would be really cool if we sponsored a competition on your website with the winners receiving a free French Press. We would promote the competition to our customers as well in order to increase its exposure.
Does this sound interesting to you? I’d love to chat about details with you.”
Why is this a good email?
- Use of flattery
- Creative idea for partnership
- Partnership idea that is mutually beneficial. Through this competition, the influencer can gain new email addresses and other followers all by offering a prize that they aren’t paying for. That is a great plus for them.
Use Services to Connect With Influencers
Another option at your disposal is to connect with influencers through paid services like FameBit. This service connects you with YouTube celebrities in your industry who can create promotional videos for you.
The advantage of this service is that it does the hard work for you. The disadvantage is that it takes the personal aspect out of this process.
Track the Results of Your Influencer Campaign
In order to see which campaigns were most successful and which least, you should track your campaigns. You will do this in different ways depending on the type of campaign, but here are a few options:
- Request the influencer to share the visits and click-through data from their site with you.
- Create an optimized landing page for the product you are promoting and track sales from that page.
- Provide the influencer with a trackable link (made in the Google URL builder) so you can track clicks.
Build an Ongoing Relationship
The ideal situation at the end of your influencer marketing campaign is to have formed a good working relationship with your influencer, because that means that there is the option of more collaboration in the future.
For this reason you should try to work well with your influencer, respect their time, and try to connect with them on a slightly more personal level.
A Real Example of Influencer Marketing
In 2012 Acura released a new car, the ILX – a car designed for young professionals. The problem was that when Acura launched the car with the standard advertising techniques – ads, billboards, etc., it didn’t really catch on.
In order to try to boost its new car, Acura analyzed its target market and came up a few different key interests that fit its ideal buyer. Acura then contacted an influential blogger or personality from each interest group and provided them with an ILX car for one week in exchange for their posting about their adventures with the car under the hashtag #WeekWithILX.
What kind of results did Acura have?
750% ROI, 2400% social amplification, and 18 million people reached daily! That’s a pretty darn successful campaign if you ask me – and all by using influencer marketing.
So what are you waiting for? Find an influencer and start building a relationship now!
P.S. Check out the free Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing below!
Zack is a social media enthusiast who loves all things digital. He is the inbound marketing manager at StoreYa where he spends his days searching for the newest social marketing scoop. If you’d like to chat with him, feel free to connect with him on any social platform.
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