For years, companies have been using ‘faces’ to help market their products. From radio spots, print ads and TV commercials, creating affinity and demand with the help of a real person is nothing new. As we’ve moved into an age of increasing online commerce, brands are adapting to include ‘influencer marketing’ in their overall business strategy.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a way to amplify your brand message, targeting those with engaged audiences to access new leads, customers, and eventually, brand loyalists.
As an online boutique owner, you’re always on the hunt for someone else to buy from you. Influencer marketing puts your products front and center for new eyes to engage with.
Whether they create original content, distribute branded content or collaborate in other ways, influencers are bridge to new eyes because they already have what brands online are seeking to develop: trust.
Their experiences and opinions go a long way as consumers consider purchases.
What are Micro-influencers?
Micro-influencers are brand advocates who have a deeply engaged, niche audience between 1,000 and 20,000 followers. While they don’t boast Kardashian levels of social influence, they offer opinions that are deeply trusted by their followers, who are generally like-minded folks looking for real talk.
For Micro-influencers, every one of their followers is a friend. The clout and trust that they carry allows you to derive the same benefits as a friendly referral — higher purchase price, less negotiation, shorter sales cycles, longer life cycles — while tapping into a larger network of people in your key demographic.
84% of consumers trust peer recommendations over brand advertising according to a recent Nielsen poll. And with over 70% of consumers consulting social media before making buying decisions, it’s no wonder why influencer marketing has been on the rise across various industries.
Not only do micro-influencers have more conversations, their unique position somewhere between average joe and thought leader lends itself perfectly to brand endorsements that don’t feel forced. This unique ethos makes them more able to be direct in their recommendations with 74% using a “buy it or try it” call to action in posts.
Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing channel for acquiring customers online according to a Tomoson study.
Climbing up the Google page rank or being discovered on Facebook isn’t as easy as it used to be with all the changes in algorithms. Only influencer marketing is delivering the year over year growth that brands need to make an impact in a crowded marketplace.
Here are 7 questions that every online boutique owner should ask themselves before embarking on an influencer marketing campaign.
1. What budget do I have for this influencer marketing campaign?
Free traffic is a thing of the past. In order for your influencer campaign to be successful, you’ll have to invest something: the cost of making and shipping products, paying for online ads to leverage content, or even paying the influencer’s rates.
Working with a micro-influencer will be more affordable than working with someone who has upwards of 50K followers.
You should set a max budget and be sure to measure the results of an influencer’s campaign.
2. How much lead time do I need to give this campaign a shot at success?
Failing to plan is planning to fail. You should know how much time you’ll need to coordinate the effort, from shipping products to the influencer, giving them time to create content and planning when it will all be distributed.
Most influencers have content calendars that are planned 30 to 90 days in advance.
3. How long will my campaign be in market?
You can collaborate with an influencer for a single post (posted at the time when their audience is most engaged) or create a long term arrangement.
More often than not, influencers would prefer longevity over short stints. That gives them a chance to build with a brand, gather data for case studies and be more credible to their audience. After all, who would trust a different recommendation every ten seconds?
Entreat and reward them for loyalty by offering a longer-term engagement (monthly, quarterly) or even more in-depth collaboration like creating an exclusive product.
Knowing how long you plan to engage with an influencer will give you an idea of how long the campaign will be live and what resources you should use to bolster it.
4. What does success look like for my campaign?
Do you want more sign ups to your email newsletter? Would you like to boost your social media followers? Is there a sales goal you want to hit by the end of the campaign? What’s the end goal for you?
Having clarity on what success looks like for your campaign will help you plan more efficiently and give you benchmarks to measure the campaign so that everyone is not only aware but executing what they need to.
5. What type of influencer am I looking to align with?
This is HUGE! Choosing the right influencer starts with having an clear profile of your target customer that will set the standards for your search.
The influencer should have something in common with your target consumer, something that links them and would make a recommendation much more of a no-brainer than a marketing ploy.
Do the research necessary to find the best fit for your business–actually read what they post, find out what brands they’ve worked with before, look at the engagement (comments & likes) under sponsored posts, etc.
6. How will the content be distributed?
Do you require a blog post, Instagram post and an Instagram stories mention? Three Instagram posts about your products over a span of 2 weeks? A YouTube haul style video? Do you want them to mention your products on all of their social media channels? Be clear on the deliverables that you desire.
7. Are there any influencer marketing campaigns that you’ve been impressed with and want to emulate?
Seeing what some of your main competitors have done give you a more direct guideline but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and add a fresh spin to what’s currently out there.
And don’t just stick to your industry!
There are so many examples of successful influencer partnerships from video product reviews, pop-up shop appearances, private dinners, product collaborations—the sky is the limit.
In the new connection economy, brands win when they have the right partnerships.
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