Influencer marketing is intrinsically linked with modern e-commerce.
Influencers can make a huge difference to the success of a product or a business, and nowadays, many e-commerce brands will make space in their marketing budget for working with influencers. But is this new partnership as perfect as we believe it to be? Are influencers really behind the growth of so many e-commerce brands?
Below, we investigate the perks and the downsides to influencer marketing and e-commerce, and try to establish whether this really is a match made in heaven.
- The perks
There’s a reason why so many e-commerce brands are partnering with influencers to boost their brand and shout about their products. Here are some of the top reasons why influencer marketing is such a success for e-commerce businesses:
Increasing brand awareness & engagement
Of course, one of the biggest reasons that e-commerce brands work with influencers is the huge increase in brand awareness.
In this digital age, consumers are used to adverts popping up on their social channels or on websites they are visiting. They can skip adverts at the start of YouTube videos and block annoying pop-ups ads. It’s hard to get people to sit up and pay attention to adverts on the internet now.
To help your marketing stand out and actually engage your customers, you need to pull something special out of the bag.
That’s why influencers are so great — they’re engaging, interesting, and charismatic. Above all, the message they send out about your product is personal and genuine. And that counts for a lot when you’re trying to engage with potential customers.
Influencers do the initial engagement groundwork for you.
Driving traffic and sales
And of course, the main reason that e-commerce entrepreneurs are turning to influencers to do their product marketing for them: it drives traffic to your website and results in sales.
Influencer marketing just works. Even on Twitter — one of the more underused platforms for influencer marketing — there is a 5.2 x increase in purchase intent when users are exposed to influencer tweets.
Consumers trust influencers and will buy as a result. Take online Aussie swimwear brand: Triangl. They were doing relatively well as a brand and bringing in good money. But when they started using influencer marketing, their profits skyrocketed. Triangl went from $5 million worth of sales in their first year to $25 million in the second — pretty impressive.
This is all because they reached out to Instagram influencers to tap into their huge amounts of followers. Celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé — all with audiences of millions of followers — shared photos of themselves wearing Triangl’s bikinis. It drove traffic to Triangl’s social pages in droves — they grew to 3 million followers on Instagram.
And once there, consumers continued onto the Triangl website (created on Shopify and pictured below) where they were greeted with immersive, vibrant visuals — ultimately creating a seamless marketing and sales environment that bridged their store and Instagram profile:
Needless to say, the influencer collaboration was a hit, and resulted in huge sales. Triangl took the world by storm; other brands even started copying their distinctive color-blocked, geometric bikini designs.
Customers tend to trust other customers a lot more than they will trust advertising.
Think about it: of course you are going to say that your product is great and works well and that everyone should buy it. But why should potential customers trust you? So far, they have no reason to.
People want social proof — a recommendation from a friend, an honest customer review, an endorsement from someone they admire.
Influencers help you to transcend this trust barrier because they’re doing the shouting instead of you. And their followers follow them for a reason — they like (or love) them, they admire them, they respect them. So in turn, they will respect their opinion and an endorsement.
As an e-commerce business owner, you know that regularly producing and posting content is a key factor in generating leads and keeping your audience interested, not to mention improving your SEO.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy to slip when it comes to keeping up with continuous blogging and social media activity. If you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur, chances are you’re probably juggling the millions of different tasks it takes to run an online business, as well as trying to maintain some sort of life outside work.
Influencers can constructively contribute to your content queue — their posts, photos, videos or guest blog posts can help to make up fresh, unique content for your brand. A new, exciting voice and some diverse content will help to freshen up your profile.
Young e-commerce brands are the perfect candidates for this low-key growth hack; if you’re thinking of setting up a new online store or want to grow an e-commerce store organically as a side hustle, then collaborating with influencers can be super beneficial. Don’t waste essential budget creating content, when you could be curating it!
These are the main perks for e-commerce businesses partnering with influencers. Now we’re going to look at some of the more negative aspects of using influencers in your marketing strategy.
- The downsides
The relationship between the e-commerce industry and influencers isn’t all rainbows and kittens. There are some negative aspects to using influencers in your market too. Here are the main downsides to paying out for influencer content:
It will come as no surprise that influencer marketing can be extremely expensive. If the rumors and online articles are to be believed, Kylie Jenner currently makes an estimated $1 million per sponsored post on her Instagram.
Of course, this is at A-list celebrity-level. Social media stars like Jenner, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Cristiano Ronaldo can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per Insta post. This is because every post they send out is seen by millions of follows. And it works — Bieber’s collaboration with Calvin Klein earned the brand over 3.6 million followers across its social channels in just 2 weeks, and a 13% rise in sales.
Obviously, not all influencers are this expensive — influencer platform Ifluenz allows companies to find different levels of influencers like micro-influencers with creative content and highly engaged audiences for the fraction of the price of Insta celebs.
So if you’re worried about a limited budget, you can partner with micro influencers who are cost-effective but still have high levels of engagement. Perfect for local businesses looking to build trust and long-lasting customer relationships.
Using influencers is a tricky business — gone are the days where a celebrity could endorse your product or service without mentioning that their post was paid for (and the words weren’t their own…).
It’s now about balancing a successful advertising campaign with transparency and full disclosure. Influencers have to disclose that they are posting a paid ad (by writing “AD” or “sponsored post” etc in their post).
While this clarity is important for the consumer, it can sometimes dilute the feeling of authenticity you are aiming to give by using an influencer in the first place. After all, one of the points of teaming up with influencers is to get away from traditional advertising and try to reach people in a less obvious, non-spammy way.
That’s why it’s important to find an influencer that matches well with your brand, so that you don’t lose the organic, natural feel of promotion that you really want.
Loss of control
Once you start using influencers, you risk losing intellectual property of your product. Your message can be skewed or construed in a way that you don’t want it to, and this could possibly be read by huge amounts of people.
Using an influencer platform like Ifluenz that uses an influencer screening process can help to protect you. This way, you can ensure that you are matched with the right influencer for your campaign, and can review content and negotiate proposals before posts go live.
As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to using influencers if you’re an e-commerce brand. Saying that, the potential benefits for your business far outweigh the negatives. Influencer marketing will increase brand awareness, engagement, and build trust in your business. It will also drive traffic and sales. What’s not to love?
Overall, we’d say that influencer marketing and e-commerce is definitely a match made in heaven.
Author Bio: Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer and campaign designer for MicroStartups — a website supporting micro-businesses and spreading the word about hard-working solopreneurs. With years of experience in the marketing and creative industries, Kayleigh has an in-depth knowledge of how to grow a business from scratch. Visit the blog or check out Twitter for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories @getmicrostarted.