The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing for Shopify Merchants
by Johnny Keeley
In this Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing for Shopify Merchants, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about influencer marketing.
“Influencer Marketing can take your Shopify store not only to the next level but to the very top.”
So why aren’t you using it? Well, you probably have a few questions like:
- Why should I use influencer marketing?
- How do I reach out to influencers?
- How much do I pay them?
- What does an influencer campaign for my Shopify store look like?
- Where would I even start?
Do these sound familiar to you?
Brooke Mullen, a Shopify merchant and entrepreneur was asking the same questions. She’s also just beginning her journey into influencer marketing. Although she has lots of questions, she knows it’s the way to go.
Nielsen agrees. Their report of Global Trust in Advertising shows that 92 per cent of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they do not know, over branded content.
We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about influencer marketing specifically for Shopify. We’ve consulted experts and Shopify merchants alike to get you the most relevant and trusted advice available.
Let’s begin with the basics.
Table of Content
A simple way to explain influencer marketing would be “using a third, trusted party to promote your product on social media”.
However, influencer marketing is so much more than just business jargon. At the heart of it all, it’s about people and the ways they communicate with and inspire one another.
Let’s use our friend Brooke Mullen as an example. Her company, Sapahn, has an amazing story. While studying human rights in Thailand, Brooke wanted to find a way to help women who were victims of human trafficking.
Many of the women she wanted to help lived in rural areas, had income issues and needed jobs.
But, they also had a very special talent: creating beautiful garments. The problem was, they didn’t have any way to make money from their creations. That’s where Brooke stepped in. Seeing it an opportunity to mobilize and empower these women, Brooke opened a store where the workers could set their own wage, continue to create all sorts of fashion goods and build a better life for themselves.
Pretty great story, right? Sounds like something you’d want to tell your friends about.
And it’s true.
Sapahn has a dedicated following. But in order to grow, they need to build more awareness for their brand.
After hearing Sapahn’s story, you’re probably more likely to check out their store than if you saw a traditional magazine ad displaying their bags. Same goes for that new sandwich shop down the street. You’re more likely to check it out if your friend texts you raving about it, than if you saw a commercial with the owner telling you to try the loaded french fries because “they’re the best.”
This is what we call “word-of-mouth marketing.” You’re more likely to try or buy something that someone you trust vouches for than a brand who’s trying to sell you a product.
That’s where influencers come in. Influencers are people just like you or me who have amassed a large following on social media.
Macro-influencers are influencers who have a large following, usually more than 250k.
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Micro-influencers have smaller, usually more niche followings below 250k.
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They can be being fashionistas, home chefs and bird watchers; basically, anything people can be inspired by, you can find an influencer for.
When an influencer promotes your product to their following, it’s a lot like a friend telling you to try a new product. This is why influencer marketing works, especially for Shopify merchants.
Here are some great examples of how taking advantage of this method skyrocketed companies just like yours to the very top.
If you Google the words “Gymshark” and “influencer marketing” together, you’ll find numerous articles from news sources like BBC, Forbes and Birmingham Live about how the athletic clothing company used influencers to propel their brand.
Gymshark is one of Shopify’s many success stories and it was no doubt bolstered by their well-calculated influencer marketing strategy.
Here’s an excerpt from a BBC article:
“So how has the firm been able to grow so quickly? In short, it has been a very savvy user of social media.
More specifically Gymshark decided it would send free clothing to key “influencers,” prominent body-builders and other fitness fanatics – such as Lex Griffin and Nikki Blackketter.
The hope was that such stars would talk positively about the products to their followers on YouTube and Instagram.
The idea worked better than Gymshark could have dreamed, and sales soon skyrocketed.”and sales soon skyrocketed.”
Looking at Gymshark’s social media, you can instantly see the role of their influencers. Each post uses a catchy caption with a picture of one of their influencers in their products. With over 3 million followers on Instagram alone, you can see that influencers are crushing it at building brand awareness. It doesn’t stop there though as a recent report has found Gymshark in the top 3 of the entire UK in international sales. A great example of how influencer marketing can help you not only target new audiences throughout different countries but convert sales as well.
Another Shopify success story is MVMT (pronounced movement), a watch company that’s exploded onto the scene by targeting millennials.
While some have thought this younger demographic wouldn’t be into high-end watches, MVMT has still carved a niche.
The company cut out the middleman by selling online and sell their watches at a much lower price than typical luxury watch companies. They’ve also hyper-focused on social marketing.
With over 1 million followers on Instagram, their content strategy that utilized influencers helped expand their brand awareness beyond their wildest dreams.
Here’s an excerpt from an article in Forbes:
“In an era when dozens of companies seemed to have come out of nowhere to get buzz and tens of millions (or more) in sales, MVMT was “the poster child of how to build a business on the dark arts of Instagram with influencers and micro-influencers,” says Gabriel Anderson, who runs VaynerMedia’s small business division.”
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities. Shane has shared his knowledge in over 100 publications including Inc, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post.
“Consumers today don’t just trust their social peers but also heed their recommendations,” Barker said. “That’s what makes influencer marketing one of the most effective ways to amplify your ecommerce sales.”
“Many ecommerce brands leverage influencer collaborations to promote their products, drive valuable traffic to their stores, and increase conversions. You can partner with influencers and ask them to create unboxing videos, share discount codes, or run giveaway contests for your brand.”
“However, you need to carefully choose the influencers you want to work with. The right influencers can help you significantly increase engagement and product sales.”
Tom Augenthaler is an internationally recognized influencer marketing expert that helps SME and Fortune 500 brands to leverage influencers to inspire, persuade and drive business. He’s the founder of The Influence Marketer.
“First, by working with the right influencers you can find your target market more easily than you can using any ad platform,” Augenthaler said. “You’ll be able to pinpoint them faster, more easily and less expensively. What people don’t tell you about online advertising is all the testing you have to do to find your audience and to find an ad that works. Both are costly and require time and experimentation. Also, by working with influencers you’ll have the confidence to hone your message quickly knowing you’re reaching the right audience.”
Michael Asen is the CEO of Blog Meets Brand, a pioneer in influencer marketing representing a network of 40,000+ influencers.
“I sum influencer marketing up as the best of both worlds – breaking through the clutter with brand awareness and then the success we’ve seen with near term sales. And there’s a lot of fun to be had through experiential campaigns in the e-commerce space with influencers putting together packages of products around a theme,” Asen said.
Now it’s time to get started.
For all its benefits and acclaim, influencer marketing can still feel intimidating. That’s certainly how our friend Brooke felt.
But that’s why you’re reading this article.
We’re going to break it down for you.
We’ll answer those big questions you have with simple answers and give you the know how to start your own campaign by the time you finish reading this. These are the strategies Daniel Troesch and Dennis Doerfl of Fourstarzz Media, an international influencer marketing agency use when dealing with influencers.
Deep breaths, you’ve got this. Getting started with an influencer marketing campaign is the same as starting off any marketing campaign. So let’s define exactly what it is you want to accomplish.
Here are some examples of what a solid influencer marketing can do for your Shopify store:
- Generating brand awareness
- Broadening your social proof
- Enhancing your SEO
- Creating an affiliate program
Let’s go through a few of these campaigns objectives and see how influencer marketing can help.
When it comes to creating brand awareness, influencer marketing shines. Each influencer has their own following of people that pay attention to what they’re posting. By using influencers, your collaborative posts will tap you into communities who already view their content regularly.
Furthermore, if these communities feel compelled to share that content, you have an opportunity for an even greater reach. You can build brand awareness by choosing a target audience, then working with an influencer whose following matches said audience. This is one of the most simple and effective ways to use influencer marketing.
When it comes to creating brand awareness, influencer marketing shines.
People become influencers when they have a following of admirers on social media who pay attention to what they post. Your store is associated with that influencer and shown off to all their followers when they promote your product. This right here is one of the most simple and effective ways to use influencer marketing.
You’ve got a great product, but as a store on Shopify, it’s hard to persuade people to trust you over the internet. Customers have to take your word for it that the product works, looks good, and is worth their hard-earned money. When you’re in a small shop, that trust isn’t always there.
You can use influencers to bridge that gap. They can make posts and videos on their social channels vouching for your product and proving that your cheese grater not only works but grates cheese better than anything they’ve ever seen.
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For SEO Purposes
In today’s digital age, the SEO of your website has become more important than ever. Staying on top of Google’s ever-changing algorithms is crucial for keeping your site high in their rankings.
Influencers can help by writing relevant blog posts that have backlinks to your webpages, which boosts your page’s performance in Google’s search engine while also giving you sponsored content to repurpose and market with.
You can also work with influencers through an affiliate program. These influencers aren’t getting an upfront payment but instead are given a special link. They put this trackable link in the content that they create for you, and for each sale, the influencer earns a sales commission. This is a tactic that works well in the fashion and consumer goods industries. However, most macro-influencers won’t be as interested in doing an affiliate program, so targeting micro-influencers is a must.
Whichever objective you choose will have a huge impact on which influencers you’ll use and the channels you’ll ask them to utilize. Picking the right influencer can make or break your campaign, so next, we’re going to show you how to find the perfect influencer for your brand.
The companies that found success on Shopify didn’t stumble upon it haphazardly. They have a strategy that guides them through their sales process from beginning to end.
Having a solid sales strategy is the key to finding success when selling products digitally. Many Shopify store owners use what’s called a digital sales funnel.
A digital sales funnel is a blueprint that outlines a customer’s entire experience with your shop, from when they first notice your product to when they’ve become a loyal, repeat customer. This is especially important for digital retailers because it helps you visualize exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
At Fourstarzz, Troesch and Doerfl have spent three years putting together a digital sales funnel exclusively for influencer marketing.
Here’s a brief overview of what they’ve been working on:
Awareness Stage: Generate traffic for your shop by collaborating with influencers, and more specifically, micro-influencers. Awareness is at the heart of the influencer marketing funnel and where everything gets started. By using influencers, you have access to everyone who follows them as well, generating mass awareness and leading more people to your shop.
Interest Stage: An important part of the Shopify influencer marketing experience is building a landing page for visitors to arrive at. This page should differ from your shop and should present your brand in an interesting and engaging method. Ideally, it should include a short and sweet description of what your company is and what you do in order to grab the visitor’s attention. It is here that you’ll build interest and “tease” potential customers with a key insight about your product, otherwise known as a “secret.” The secret you reveal will be a solution to a specific problem, which can be something as simple as a unique product feature or the benefit of a service.
Desire Stage: This vital step involves building a bridge page that does exactly what it sounds like. It bridges the gap between interest and action through a 1-2 minute video on this page where you’ll thank them for their interest and reveal the “secret.” You also create a personal bond with the customer that positively impacts sales conversions later on.
Action Stage: Visitors will now be at your Shopify store and ready to make a purchase. Here, you convert the work you’ve done in your funnel into the sales you need to generate.
Repeat Action Stage: The journey doesn’t end here. To build a loyal customer base, you need to keep your audience engaged. Through email campaigns and social ads you’ll be able to retarget them, while coupons, promo codes and influencer posts offer incentives to keep the relationship with your customers alive and active.
Seems simple enough, but how do you pick your influencers?
Right off the bat, there are tons of influencer discovery platforms out there that you can use to discover influencers. You might have used one already. The problem is that most of them ask for a considerable monthly subscription fee, however, we’ve got good news. You have other options.
Contacting an influencer marketing agency is a great way to take a lot of the guessing and hoping out of the influencer discovery process. They’ll guide you through the procedure of picking influencers and answer all the questions you may have.
That’s what Brooke did with Fourstarzz.
When picking your own influencers, it all comes down to knowing your target customer and developing an influencer marketing campaign design. The better you know your audience, the easier it’ll be to find the perfect influencer.
First, create a customer persona. Who exactly are the people you’re marketing your product to? Ask yourself, what are their average ages, geographic regions, interests, personalities, jobs, etc.
Based on that, you can create a more detailed influencer marketing campaign design.
Bonus Tipp: Check out our Campaign Navigator to define your campaign design. If you start with influencer marketing you need a map to navigate, to get an idea about the budget and possible influencers. The Campaign Navigator provides you exactly that information in an automated way – no need to read blogs or talk to people.
Once you create your target customer’s persona, you can start looking for influencers. The best influencer for you is someone whose followership matches that of your customer persona.
Here are some easy ways to find them on your own:
- Hashtags: You use hashtags to find influencers just like how you use hashtags on social media to find content that interests you. Search through hashtags that reflect your customer persona and start making a list of people you’d like to contact.
“What keywords are to SEO, hashtags are to influencer marketing,”
- Competitors- Do you know another shop that targets the same audience as your customer persona? Look through their list of followers and try to pick out any that have a significant following. It is not guaranteed that they are already paid followers, so you can approach them about influencing their followers in favor of your brand. This can give you some great insight and inspiration during your own campaign.
- Google: Using Google Advanced Search is a fantastic way to find influencers. What’s important to remember when using Google Advanced Search is to be specific. Use as many keywords that apply to your customer persona as possible.
Now that you’ve found some influencers, it’s important to keep your list organized. We recommend using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
As you’re listing each influencer in a spreadsheet, it’s a good idea to sort them by their engagement rate.
The engagement rate of an influencer will tell you how effective they are at engaging their audience. The higher the better. An influencer’s engagement rate is the average number of likes, shares and comments they get on a post divided by the number of their followers. We recommend looking at their last 30 posts to get an accurate measurement. You then divide this number by the number of followers the influencer has on that social media platform.
An engagement rate between 1% and 3% is good and anything above 3% is great.
Unfortunately, people have found ways to fake engagements as well, as this Forbes article explains.
You want an influencer with an engaged community. Take a look at your potential influencer’s posts and see what their comment section looks like. Does it seem like their followers are genuinely engaging with the post or is it full of comments like ????, ???? and “Great post!”.
It’s not good if a majority of their comments look like that. This usually means that this influencer isn’t actually as engaging as they lead on.
So you have a list of potential influencers you’d like to work with and an idea of what you’d like them to do. Now it’s time to contact them.
The best way to do this is by reaching out through email or direct messaging them on a social platform. Here’s a good example of an opening message.
We love your creativity and how you’ve created such an engaged community. If you’re interested we’d love to work with you. My name is __(Brooke Mullen)____ from ___(Sapahn)____. Pleasure to meet you, we just launched our brand new ____(Card Holder)___ (and include the link)___ and we would love to be able to share our amazing products with such a wonderful community like yours through sponsored posts and other great content.
If they say no, no big deal. Just move on to the next one.
It’s also a good idea to have a brief proposal written up so you can reply as promptly as possible when they say yes.
Your proposal should include:
- Specifics about your product
- What you’re looking to get from them and what they’ll receive in exchange
- What hashtags and links they should include
- The call to action
The more information you can give them, the better. However, remember that they’re the content creators, not you. You don’t want to constrict their creativity. Be sure to give them opportunities to include their own personal touches.
That being said, you also want to see your products in action. An influencer just posting a photo of your product is good, but not good enough. Be sure to say that you want them to appear in the post specifically as well. Their followers follow them because of who they are. It’s important to have them in the posts you’re paying for.
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Overall, having a collaborative state of mind is the best way to enter conversations with influencers. You’re in it together to create the best content possible, so your partnership should be authentic and beneficial for the both of you.
Your business partnership with an influencer is unique but it isn’t that different from anything you’ve done before.
A good first step is calculating the value of the influencer you’re using. For a single social post, a good rule of thumb is $7 to $9 per 1,000 followers and for a single video, $20 to $25 dollars per 1,000 subscribers. Here’s an example.
Let’s say Brooke has found the perfect Instagram influencer for Sapahn’s new card holder purse. This influencer has 20,000 followers on Instagram and 10,000 page likes on Facebook. Brooke wants two posts on Instagram and one on Facebook and she plans on paying them $9 per 1,000 followers.
[(9 dollars x thousands of Instagram followers) x number of posts you want] + [(9 dollars x thousands of Facebook followers) x number of posts you want] = payment per post
That equation would look like this:
[(9 x 20) x 2] + [(9 x 10) x 1] = $450
Brooke would end up offering $450 for 3 social posts from this influencer.
You don’t only have to use money to compensate the influencer either.
Sapahn’s card holder is $45. Brooke could offer this influencer 4 card holders (which is 180 dollars in value) + $270 as well in order to save some money.
You could also strictly compensate the influencer with your products. It’s up to you.
- Instagram is the way to go if you’re in the fashion industry. Your customers want to see what your clothes look like on an actual person.
- Twitter is great during live events. For example, having an influencer tweet something relevant about your product during some kind of large sporting event or social event that people are following online is a great strategy. It could even go viral!
- Youtube works well if your product falls more into the food or do-it-yourself industries.
- Blog posts work well with crafting and do it yourself products too. We actually have a saying for this. “The more complex the product your selling, the more likely Youtube or a blog post will be the best way to have an influencer market it.”
- Facebook post is a hub for all sorts of social content. It can host short-form content and live video just as well as Twitter, while also being able to have long-form content such as blog posts and Instagram content. Instagram even makes sharing the content to Facebook incredibly easy by making it a one-button process.
- Pinterest is an often underutilized platform that can offer big results. That’s because it combines the best of Instagram and Google shopping. When customers are on Pinterest, they’re usually actively searching for something. If a customer is actively searching for something, that usually means they’re much closer to making a purchase.
So now you have the influencers you want and know which social channels you want them to post on. The last thing you need to do is to put a bit of strategy behind what your influencers post.
When it comes to ideas for the strategy behind your influencer’s content, the sky’s the limit. A good place to start is looking back at your goals for this campaign. This can help you determine how to market your Shopify store with influencers. Here are a few proven ideas for you to consider:
- A product review campaign is a simple but effective strategy. In this campaign, an influencer writes a blog post about their favourite products on your shop and why they like them. Then they share this post across their social channels. It’s a great way to highlight certain products you’d like to push traffic towards. Then you can also give the influencer a discount code to give out on their social channels to help push sales.
- An unboxing video is similar to the product review but with a visual element. Your influencer shoots a video of themselves unboxing your product and then reviewing it. It allows the influencer to show off your product, review it and promote it all in one. Then, after they upload it to YouTube they’ll share it across their social platforms.
- Having a raffle is a great way to drive social engagement. Your influencer creates a social post, describes what their followers can win (usually your product) and how they can enter the contest. We recommend the qualifications being that you have to like the post and tag 2 friends in the comments to enter the raffle. Not only will the post have a great engagement rate, you’ll be getting your brand out in front of more even more than the influencer’s following when their followers tag their friends.
Shopify stores have a distinct advantage by living in the golden age of digital marketing. By using influencer marketing, you can better harness that advantage. Many Shopify owners like Brooke are learning how to best utilize this tool just like you. She believes in her product, the story behind it and the people who make it. At the end of the day, influencer marketing is about people.
“And I think this is why influencer marketing will take off really well for us because I think people now know that what they’re buying is an extension of who they are,” said Brooke Mullen.
Do you want to get started with Influencer Marketing?
Start with our Campaign Navigator to get an actionable plan and a list of fitting influencers.
Watch the video or click below to learn more about this innovative tool.