For new e-commerce businesses, influencer marketing campaigns are a fantastic way of building brand awareness, reaching new audiences and growing website traffic.
Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C sector, collaborating with influencers to promote your products or services is a practical and cost effective way of creating brand ambassadors who will evangelise about your brand to their large network of followers. Read our guide to learn how to select key influencers for your brand ambassador program, encourage user generated content from influencers and be inspired by e-commerce brands that have influencer marketing down to a fine art.
1# Target influencers by launching a brand ambassador program
There are several ways to find and target the most relevant influencers for your brand, but the main challenge for most e-commerce startups is how to fund a brand ambassador program. Certainly if you have a bottomless fund, you can secure world famous Instagram influencers who will reach hundreds of thousands of followers but there are plenty of non-financial ways to reward and incentivise influencers if you think creatively.
If you are in the corporate sector selling software online, you could reward B2B influencers on your program with promotional merchandise, VIP invites to business networking events and opportunities to contribute thought leadership content.
What about B2C?
For those selling online in the B2C sector, whether that’s a service or product, there are several ways to engage influencers and make them feel like they have a real stake in your brand. Give them a chance to front an ad campaign, curate an influencer only Facebook community, arrange for them to interview industry experts or ask them to co-host a special event for customers.
Ultimately the hallmark of a successful brand ambassador program is one that effectively engages influencers and motivates them to promote your products and services willingly. By carefully targeting and hand picking influencers for your program, they will feel a sense of pride and self-importance at being asked to represent a brand that has gone out of its way to make influencers feel appreciated and valued.
2# Use content from influencers as a cost effective way to drive brand awareness
As a start-up e-commerce brand, it can be difficult to find marketing budget to launch your business and compete with the other big players. Additionally you may also be struggling with a lack of resources when it comes to creating content for your campaigns, so why not save both time and money by encouraging key influencers to help create rich content instead?
Enable influencers to submit photos of themselves using your products or services along with honest reviews so your brand appears genuine and credible. Influencers could be invited to share blog content like style guides, recipes and video tutorials that will help keep your blog fresh and engaging. Finally, put your influencers centre stage in all your marketing campaigns where possible.
Collaborate on major content ideas like infographics, white papers and interview features where they will be the face of the campaign and will benefit from any additional PR or social media coverage your brand secures.
Why should you collaborate with an influencer?
There are endless reasons why your brand should try and source user generated content from influencers. Customers are much more likely to respond to an influencer they relate to than a brand who is trying too hard to make a sell. A mummy blogger sharing a warts and all video tutorial of how she gets to grip with the latest baby buggy, is much more effective than a glossy big budget advertisement from a brand about said buggy.
By attaching an influencer to your product, customers can have a more human and personalised interaction with your brand that is real, honest and most importantly non-biased.
3# Replicate influencer campaigns from the experts for guaranteed results
So what are some examples of influencer campaigns from the experts that you can apply today to your online business? For fashion retailers, ASOS Insiders is an example of an influencer marketing campaign executed flawlessly. The fashion e-commerce giant has taken the principles of user generated content and built a brand ambassador program that all fashion influencers dream of being selected for.
Insiders are carefully handpicked by the team at ASOS and are given fabulous privileges such as backstage access to new collections, private visits to ASOS HQ, glitzy makeovers for fashion shoots and invites to exclusive fashion shows. All ASOS asks for in return is that influencers share images of themselves wearing ASOS products, post regularly about ASOS on their social media profiles and help curate style edits on the ASOS website.
Is the process the same for B2B sectors ?
Can this success also be replicated for e-commerce brands in less glamourous B2B sectors like law, property or IT software? Take your cue from leading software brand SAP who collaborates with influential business consultants, academics and authors who are well respected in their industry. SAP actively co-creates content with influencers as well as involving them with SAP’s annual business conference Sapphire, which attracts over 20,000 attendees.
To extend the reach of the conference to virtual audiences, SAP partners with influencers to create live video content using Facebook Live enabling them to reach more than 80,000 viewers online. SAP works hard to build long lasting relationships with their influencers whom they treat almost as clients to ensure they feel fully invested and engaged with the brand.
Your brand could replicate this on a much smaller scale by inviting key influencers to participate in a panel discussion with your CEO at an event your company has been invited to. You could even go the extra mile by printing sales and marketing collateral for influencers to distribute to attendees if your budget allows.
These ideas should help your brand develop influencer marketing campaigns that result in increased brand awareness and traffic for your business. Take inspiration from the big players and look at how you can implement a brand ambassador program that engages and motivates influencers to actively promote your brand and extend its reach to new yet relevant audiences.