Every ecommerce site can profit from the advocacy of an influential voice in a given niche. In fact, if you put some effort into rallying influential members of a niche community to your cause, it can greatly benefit your bottom line. Today I'll explain why you, as an ecommerce site owner, should engage with influencers, find influencer collaborations, and the best strategies to do so.
Why Influencers are Important to Your Online Store
Plain and simple, consumers trust recommendations from other consumers. This is the same reason that testimonials and other user-generated content work so well in on-site marketing. These voices sound even louder when they belong to a trusted resource for brand information. Such authoritative voices are known as brand advocates.
To get an idea of how this might work, let's pretend you own a self-help ecommerce site, one that sells tickets to seminars and provides useful, inspirational content. Now imagine that your site gets a recommendation from Tony Robbins, the renowned life coach and motivational speaker. You'd probably get a healthy bump in your traffic, to say the least.
Influential recommendations can do a lot for your brand, including:
- Increase traffic to your ecommerce site.
- Encourage sales for individual products as well as your total inventory.
- Spread brand recognition.
- Boost conversions.
- Improve your reputation as an authoritative resource within your niche.
Now that you understand why an influential recommendation is something you should be seeking, you're probably wondering how you go about getting them, and from whom.
Which Influencers Should You Target for Your Ecommerce Site?
The different influencer collaborations you target will depend heavily on your chosen niche, and more importantly, your audience.
Like many other inbound marketing endeavors, this will begin with market research. More specifically, you'll want to allot some of your time to look for widely read blogs, search for expert analysis, and determine who or what your target audience is paying attention to.
One way to accomplish this is by measuring social influence.
Measuring social influence
Social influence is akin to the persuasive pull that an individual's voice has when distributed across various social media platforms. Someone can't truly be called an influential industry voice unless they have a great deal of this particular quality.
There are several ways of measuring social influence, and finding individuals who hold enough of it to be useful to you and your brand.
- Social influence tools such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex measure the influence wielded by users. These can be very helpful in finding industry experts and brand advocates. The screenshot above is taken from Klout, which allows you to measure your social impact over a 90-day period.
- Hashtag research is also a useful method for finding influencer collaborations. Look at which keywords your followers are using for hashtags (a hashtag looks like this: #selfhelp) and search them. Keep up with these conversations and you'll see who the most active participants are.
- Follow your follower's follows. See who your followers are following. If the same names keep coming up, you can bet that these folks wield a certain amount of social influence.
- Read blogs. Research the most widely read blogs within your niche. The authors of these will make excellent brand advocates if you approach them correctly.
Reaching Out to Influencers
There are several ways to reach out to influencers, but in general it's best to be forward, forthright, and polite. You need to have all your ducks in a row before approaching someone. After all, they won't just endorse anyone: These are passionate people with strong opinions about every aspect of their chosen niche. You'll want to be sure you have a brand worth advocating, and that it shows when you make your approach.
Methods of Approach
- Create quality content: This is the most important part. You need to establish yourself as a useful resource. If you don't, then no matter how hard you work at finding and reaching out to influencers, they won't want anything to do with you.
- Engage on social media: Follow influencers on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and connect with them at any given opportunity. This concept extends to other media as well: Don't forget comment sections on blogs, forum interactions, etc.
- Share content: Re-tweet high-quality blog posts, an influencer's advertisements, and whatever else may come up in your feeds that you find interesting and helpful. By curating the content of others, it lets them know that you're interested in what they have to say, and encourages reciprocal sharing.
- Pay them: If you've got the money in the budget, an industry expert's advocacy could be more than worth the initial investment. Big brands have been using celebrity endorsements to great effect for many years. This is no different. Proceed with caution though, and determine whether this is a worthwhile endeavor. A poorly chosen brand advocate will hinder your brand's legitimacy.
- Email: the most effective way to attract influencers' attention is to reach out them directly. Explain who you are, what you do, what you want from them, and how you'll reciprocate.
Remember to be tactful when taking a direct approach. You don't want to be off-putting by being a bit too friendly from the get-go. Instead, consider implementing some of the other communication strategies listed here first. Then once a rapport has been established, you can feel more comfortable reaching out directly.
Who are the biggest influencers in your industry? Tell us what the ideal endorsement for your ecommerce site would look like in the comments.