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Influencers and E-commerce: Unlikely Relationship?

“What’s up, guys!” Have you ever heard this line by a vlogger on social media or YouTube? If so, you’re not alone. Vloggers are increasingly popular forms of entertainment. And vloggers with a huge following are called Influencers.

Influencers can be vloggers, bloggers, social media personalities or more – and they’re on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. They’re entertaining and interesting and each of them has a discernible content focus.

You may already be following a few influencers on your personal social media. But did you know that influencers can be helpful for your Shopify store?

Influencers may just seem like kids pretending to live large for their social media but they are far from that. Most of them are very responsible, timely, professional and business-minded individuals who can help your company reach a bigger audience.

What are influencers?

We already explained this before on our blog post aptly named What the Fuck is a Social Media Influencer. But to get you up to speed, influencers are like celebrities 2.0.: Internet personalities.

You can also think of them as the popular kids in school. The cool guys who are on the football team, the ones on the talent show, the smart kids in your class. They have clout yet, at the heart of it, they are just people in your classes that you can interact with.

There are different kinds of influencers. They could be industry leaders, specialists in their fields or just your everyday funny guy or gal. One thing unites them, though: Their platform is the internet. They could write blogs, produce videos or even just post memes. Whatever their niche is, they have people that follow them and consume the content they produce.

What makes them effective?

Two things: Trust and relatability.

They have a loyal fanbase or community that enjoys their content. Many of them are actually experts in their fields.

The expertise and value they give to their audiences for free through their content inspires trust. In turn, that trust makes it easier for influencers to give opinions about products or services that their followers will take seriously.

Since they are mostly everyday people rather than mega-famous, they are very relatable. Their followers love them because of this. They also serve as a reminder that anyone can make it, which charms and inspires people.

All the above positive emotions they represent to their audience are big contributing factors to their influence and their ability to divert leads and purchases to your products.

Influencer marketing pros and cons

Influencers are often able to convince or influence their audience to buy products or services. So, it will definitely be a worthwhile investment to put your marketing budget toward, right?

We’ll let you decide. Here are the pros and cons of having influencers market your store’s products:

Pros of using influencers to market your e-commerce store

Influencers can drive new customers to your store, engage with them on your behalf, and convince them that buying your products is a good decision

These steps are inspired by the marketing flywheel by Hubspot, which is a marketing process to replace the traditional marketing funnel. Essentially, it explains that people have different stages of interaction with a business, and the stages are not entirely linear.

influencer shooting a video

Here's a basic example of how this works:

A young man has just finished a day of shopping and now is starting to get hungry. Then, he smells a food truck cooking burgers nearby. He becomes attracted to the business by the smell.

The food truck owner notices this and calls the customer over, “Hey man! You hungry? We give free testers so that you’ll know what’s the perfect burger to order.” The young man’s interest is piqued – he was engaged by the owner.

The young man then tries a tester, picks a burger and loves it. He’s delighted. Because of the good experience he had, he will recommend this food truck to his friends, which resets the cycle.

Ideally, the types of content your produce or partner with an influencer on will be determined by the stage the customer is in. For example, a customer will be turned off if you keep engaging them when they are already buying from your store.

Influencers can create content that is applicable to customers within each stage. It’s like having an inside joke that no one ever feels excluded by.

Launching or expanding your product range? Reach a specific audience with influencer marketing

Influencers already have super specific niches with sizable audiences. This means, if you enlist their help, you don’t have to spend more money on your brand awareness campaign to gather new audiences. Influencers already have an audience built in.

This is important especially if you have a very specific audience that you want to target for your customers. Let’s say that your store sells fishing equipment to fathers that want to teach their kids how to fish. If you see an influencer that has an audience of outdoor-loving fathers, then a partnership will likely lead to a lot of interest in your products.

Influencers boost engagement and relevance

If you are having difficulty engaging with your audience, influencers could do that for you. They could organize multiple activities to promote engagement with your brand. It’s like having a great wingman.

Another aspect that influencers help with is relevance. The internet never forgets but is easily distracted. Influencers can be a constant reminder that your brand exists, especially if they market your brand extensively.

Be easily visible with SEO

One of the main things that greatly help SEO are backlinks from credible sources. Credible sources are those that have been around for a reasonable amount of time and have plenty of regular visitors. Most influencers have excellent credibility. Every click generated by a link from an influencer, especially from notable social media platforms, greatly boosts SEO.

Influencers are a one-stop-shop content studio by themselves

Content production companies have different departments and people for different tasks. That’s why traditional commercial ads cost so much.

man editing video

However, for influencers, it’s the contrary. Setting up the shot, shooting, editing, distribution, and promotion are usually done by themselves or just a small team. This means influencers are generally less expensive than large content production firms.

Get closer to your audience through your influencers

Influencers can work hand-in-hand with you to give their audience feedback about your products. They get direct comments, and since their audience trusts them, the comments will be honest, whether praise or criticism. This means that you’ll get to know your audience and what they want from your product at a deeper level. Cons of using influencers to market your eCommerce store

Be careful about hype because it can backfire

Influencers are powerful. They often have a strong influence on their audience’s spending habits. Of course, as the Spiderman quote goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Sometimes, influencers can get careless with what they choose to promote. For example, recently, many influencers promoted the now infamous Fyre Festival which was, as it turned out, a scam. If someone who promoted a scam also promotes your products, it can reflect badly on your company’s reputation.

In the case of the Fyre Festival, influencers’ lack of due diligence resulted in some of their followers buying expensive tickets to the festival but receiving nothing that was promised. This is a devastating blow to the audience’s trust of influencers.

Influencer backlash could reach your brand

Internet audiences can be a source of growth or they could turn into a deadly mob out to destroy your brand. The culture of the internet is impatient, emotional and easily angered.

Even though influencers are separate from your brand, their potential controversies could affect your store’s reputation. Any backlash could be extended to you as well if you don’t pull your affiliation in time.

Regulations need more support

Since the events of the Fyre festival, people want more transparency from influencers. There were also regulations made because of this. Influencers now must have explicit disclaimers if their content is sponsored.

filming on set

However, even with regulations, due to the sheer size of the platforms, it’s almost impossible for regulators to keep up with all of the content. In addition, almost anyone has the possibility to be an influencer, even if they have no expertise.

Another regulation that is badly needed is one that holds influencers accountable to deliver the content they were paid for by a business. Currently, this is a hot topic, with multiple discussions popping up in all corners of the internet. Most people are in agreement: There are still laws and guidelines that need to be ironed out.

How to pick influencers

Even with the drawbacks, influencer marketing and e-commerce results in one of the best, on average, returns on your digital marketing expenditure. We’re talking about a $5.20 return for every dollar spent. If you want to start influencer marketing for your Shopify store, here’s how to pick the right influencer for you.

Start with your audience’s preferred platform

Often, influencers specialize in one platform, such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or any other platform. They may also have a presence in other platforms, but they are usually big in one. Try to determine where most of your audience is and pick an influencer who has a large following on that platform. This way, your target audience has a high chance of knowing of your prospective influencer or may already be following him or her.

Explore individuals or agencies

You can reach out to individual influencers, or you can enlist the help of influencer marketing agencies or influencer marketing platforms. Having help from agencies or platforms has benefits like more security and accountability... but it would cost more. Explore each option first before settling with one.

Check their content and audience

You can figure out if an influencer fits your brand based on their content. But it’s even better to check their audience interactions, comments and reactions to see how engaged their audience is. The more engagement, the better for you.

Start small

Small influencers have a proportionally larger influence on their audience. It’s not always true, but often, the bigger audience an influencer has, the less powerful their influence will be.

Therefore, it is recommended by many prominent marketing channels, e-commerce blogs and business news media that you tap into the potential of micro-influencers. These are influencers that have audiences no more than 5k. The biggest benefit of using a micro-influencer is that smaller influencers are perceived to be more authentic than larger ones. Plus, it will cost less.

The best influencer is your target customer

If an influencer is delighted by your products or services, they will have no problem promoting your brand, they will be more genuine and authentic, and they will be very relatable.

Make your Shopify store influential

Influencer marketing is on a strong upward trend. We recommend influencer marketing for your Shopify store if you have the budget.

Just make sure that you pick the right influencer for your brand. Brand fit is the most important thing to the influencer’s audience. This synergy is responsible for how much return you get on your investment.

Keep in mind that you should be clear about the message you want to portray but never meddle with an influencer’s creativity. Their audience will smell shilling from miles. As much as possible, you should also have a contract to make sure that your agreement is legal and binding.

video production

Finally, we would just advise you to be very careful. There were some big influencer fails last year. Partnering with an irresponsible influencer could hurt your brand. In addition, there are some who claim that the “influencer bubble is bursting.” Yet, other influencers and news sources dispute this and speculate something else entirely. Still, we advise you to be very careful.

Even with this risk, our recommendation stands. Influencers can help boost your store’s brand awareness and engagement while pulling in new customers and retaining existing ones. It’s a very powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal, and we think it’s worth the risk.

Influencers’ and e-commerce’s relationship isn’t all that unlikely after all.