More than a few companies have been burned by the wrong approach. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Influencer marketing is becoming a fundamental part of many e-commerce brands. In fact, in a recent survey, 92 percent of marketing agencies confirmed its effectiveness. So if nearly everyone agrees it’s important, what do e-commerce brands need to know about this hot topic so they can best take advantage?1. Influencer marketing reaches further.Traditional marketing channels have brought success to many companies for decades, but as times change, those channels do not reach as far as they use to. Influencer marketing is able to connect to customers on a deeper level than traditional marketing was ever able to. Even better, it’s capable of accomplishing this on a limited budget.Customers are unlikely to pay attention to advertising that they believe to be inauthentic. They are much more likely to trust a real person over a brand. This trust is important to build, because many customers will leave a brand they believe is disingenuous.The price tag for an influencer partnership can vary, but there are options for any budget. In the past, a company could spend millions of dollars to create an advertising campaign that connects with customers. Unless your influencer is a high-profile celebrity, you will not need that kind of cash. If you’re trying to keep costs down, there are many low-profile influencers that can be hired for a fraction of the cost of an ad campaign while still effectively bringing in customers. The ROI for influencer marketing is significantly higher than traditional marketing.Related: Influencer Marketing Really Is the Game-Changer for Business2. Influencers must be relevant.When finding an influencer to partner with, you must find one with relevance in your industry. It doesn’t matter if a potential influencer has a million followers if their audience is not connected your products. Find someone that resonates with people who will also resonate with your brand.One individual who certainly understands the principle of finding relevant influencers is Josh Elizetxe, founder and CEO of Snow. Elizetxe is an entrepreneur and internet advertising veteran, and during a recent email conversation about influencer marketing, he told me, “Finding the right partnership lets small companies take on big companies. It allows tiny startups to become lucrative, long-term businesses. It’s all about using the internet to your advantage.”3. Micro-influencers reach targeted audiences.The best strategy for using micro-influencers is to segment your customers and choose which segment you want to target, increasing the efficiency of your marketing efforts. Dunkin’ Donuts used the micro-influencer partnership strategy this past year. They also used nano-influencers, which are people with even smaller followings but high influence among that following. Dunkin’ was able to generate $300 million in coffee sales alone with this strategy by capturing the attention of younger audiences and appearing more relatable to highly targeted groups.4. Authenticity is key.In influencer marketing, authenticity is the number-one priority. It’s important to find influencers that truly believe in your product. Customers can see through an influencer who’s promoting a product for a paycheck. This kind of promotion won’t drive sales, and it may even give your brand a bad name.In 2016, Bootea, a weight loss-shake brand, partnered with Scott Disick, a reality star with a large Instagram following. Unfortunately, Disick copied and pasted the instructions from the brand into his post, and his followers immediately knew the promotion was sponsored. It’s important to find an influencer who will not only appear authentic, but also be authentic.5. Platform choice is strategic.There are many platform options for influencer marketing, but it’s imperative to choose one that’s right for your industry and your product. You must understand what platforms your target audience is using and which people on that platform they trust.Most brands think of Instagram when talking about influencer marketing, but any platform where you can build a large following can be a good choice. Many influencers have gained large followings through YouTube, blogging, Pinterest and, more recently, TikTok.The most popular platforms are not your only option, though. In fact, sometimes you can reach customers more effectively through less-popular outlets with less competition. Related: Are Influencers Worth Your Money?6. Quality matters.Younger companies, especially new e-commerce brands with small budgets, are frequently tempted into partnering with the least-expensive influencer. Be cautious when doing this, however, because the quality of an influencer’s following matters. Newer influencers sometimes are not as influential as they seem.Impostors are one of the biggest issues businesses have encountered when looking for low-cost influencers. It’s common for aspiring influencers to buy followers, which makes them appear to have a high level of influence when they don’t. To avoid this problem, read through potential influencers’s content. If engagement levels are lower than expected, some of the followers may be fake or simply unengaged. And in e-commerce, credibility and active engagement are, quite simply, everything.