There's no doubt that influencer marketing is an innovative solution to reaching a wide, targeted audience in the e-commerce world. With 84% of marketers planning to employ influencer marketing in 2018, we can conclude that something's working. Influencer marketing has the potential to create strong brand awareness and engagement in the form of 'likes' and 'comments'. However, there's a critical gap that this form of marketing is struggling to cover - conversion and real sales. Brands need to be able to maximise the power of influencer marketing on social media to continue enhancing their sales and growth.
Here are a few pointers that the Persollo Team has found useful:
KEEP THE CONTENT STRONG
So, we know that businesses have truly embraced the boom of influencer marketing. Over $570 million was spent on Instagram campaigns alone in 2016, and 80% of the involved marketers confirmed an increase in company awareness and engagement. Yet, having great influencers comes only second to having value-driven, company-owned content.
Businesses know themselves and their customers best. For this reason, it's often best that companies keep in control of the content that influencers are posting on their behalf.
This leads us on to the fact that strong content will build stronger, long-term audience relationships. Consumers have proven to engage closely with campaigns that tell authentic stories. Not only will the business benefit from increased credibility, internal ideas and content will dramatically grow a company's influence and spread of audience. Ultimately, consumers tend to respond strongest to, and buy from, companies which give them access to meaningful and valuable content - whether it be in the form of a campaign or a simple blog post.
CREATE EXCLUSIVE OFFERS
Creating exclusive offers for customers on social media has the ability to take personal branding and targeting to a whole different level. By marketing deals as 'fan-only offers', a business is able to generate a higher number of sales clicks on their campaign. Customers tend to be enticed by the opportunity to take advantage of exclusive offers.
Moreover, when employed correctly, exclusive offers generate large amounts of consumer hype. In this sense, by 'exclusive', I mean 'available for a limited time'. These types of campaigns are extremely successful when selling high-demand beauty, fashion, or luxury goods. For example, when launching our campaign with New Balance, a selected 72-hour availability timeframe was a major force behind the selling of 60% of all pre-sale stock. In this case, our Influencers were prompted to highlight the exclusivity of the product - ticking both boxes of controlling content and promoting its exclusivity.
HAVE A FOCUS ON CUSTOMER SERVICE
As many consumers understandably find the online shopping experience less engaging than walking into a physical store, many businesses are able to enhance sales and loyalty by simply directing attention towards service. Whether businesses are employing influencer marketing over Facebook, Instagram, or their own blogs, a fast and reliable response rate is paramount when establishing customer loyalty and perceptions. In this way, when a consumer sees a campaign from a more 'trustworthy' and customer-centric company, they are more willing to turn their online engagement into a real-life sale.
As a secondary point, excellent service optimises the ability of a business to indirectly use reliable, personal customer testimonials. Now, I say this from a 'word of mouth' point of view rather than a 'quote on your website' point of view. A Forrester Research Report has concluded that ''70% of online adults trust brand recommendations from their friends and family" in comparison to a "10% trust rate towards online ads and testimonials". In many ways, a strong focus on customer service is more likely to foster these sorts of responses.
CHOOSE THE BEST INFLUENCERS
While it stands true that influencers provide a targeted audience, this is only effective in the case that they fall into the business's specific demographic. There is little to no value in marketing Coca-Cola in partnership with an Influencer with 20 million followers ... if they are primarily interested and accustomed to seeing products related to health and fitness.
In this way, the best influencer is not necessarily the one with the most followers. Careful research must be taken to scope out the demographics of their primary followers, and their expectations. A campaign promoting an electronic gadget is more likely to be successful if marketed from a tech blogger, rather than a food photographer.
To go deeper than this, campaigns by more established brands are also able to target specific regions and countries via influencer marketing. It all comes down to the choice of platform, person, and the research done before launch.
MAKE BUYING EASY
With our previous experience and research, Persollo has found that a key reason for the generally low ROI in social selling is related to a poor and exhausting buyer experience. This is the key e-commerce issue that we've been striving to solve. Our instant checkout technology embedded straight into an influencer's post or bio has proven to increase conversion by over 300%. By adopting this sort of innovative technology, businesses will truly be able to harness the maximum potential of selling via social media in partnership with influencers.