8 Influencer Strategies for Retail Brands to Boost Sales
The state of retail has evolved. If your business has yet to make social a central part of your retail strategy, your business is not performing at full capacity. A social strategy alone, however, is no longer enough to keep you competitive in the online retail space. Mobile commerce (mcommerce) is turning to social influencers to drive sales and engagement online. Your business will greatly benefit from having these “social celebrities” on your side, as influencers impact every stage in your sales funnel.
Awareness – Influencers extend your reach to their loyal audience base.
Consideration – Influencers spark higher engagement online and increase the amount of qualified leads flowing into your sales funnel.
Decision – Through product reviews and recommendations, influencers drive conversion and increase sales.
Adoption – Influencers create positive brand sentiment as a trusted source to their following.
Advocacy – Through digital word-of-mouth, influencers inspire their followers to share your brand’s content.
Influencer marketing will be the best thing you do for your social marketing strategy. Here are eight influencer strategies for retail brands to boost sales, aligned with five common goals retailers hope to achieve through social media.
GOAL: Find Influencers That Fit Your Brand
Before you are able to utilize influencers in your social strategy, you must first find influencers that are compatible with your retail brand. Here’s how you can find your most influential advocates on social:
Strategy 1: Listen To and Monitor Your Audience to Discover Your Influencers
It is essential that you listen to what your audience is talking about on social. Not only will this allow you to create more relevant content that aligns with your audience’s interests, but you can also identify your influencers. Using social listening solutions, you can determine your audience’s topics of interest and identify those within your audience who are already brand advocates. These strong voices already serve as unintentional influencers, so why not leverage them?
GOAL: Generate Trust Online
Social media allows you to engage directly with your consumers. This is hard to do with other marketing channels. As a way to create meaningful dialogue with customers, social media can generate brand trust—especially with the help of your influencers.
Strategy 1: Train Your Influencers, but Maintain Influencer Authenticity
You may not have considered on-boarding your influencers, but having a conversation with your influencers on your brand voice, goals, and intentions on social can be very valuable. Product marketers will tell you that there are right and wrong ways to speak to your brand’s products and offerings. In short, word choice matters.
Give your influencers a cheat sheet to refer to in case your business does have specific branding elements that need to stay in place. However, be careful not to overpower the voice of your influencers. They are influencers for a reason, and their unique voice is responsible for building their following.
60% of global online shoppers say they shop at their favorite retailer because the prices are good, items wanted are in stock (32%), and they trust the brand (32%).
GOAL: Impact Consumer Path-to-Purchase
Strategy 1: Ask Your Influencers to Generate Unique Content
Influencer content has an 88% greater impact than brand content and 50% greater impact than user-generated reviews, according to Inpowered. Inevitably, consumers will view the content shared from your influencers as more reliable simply because neutrality is attractive. Sometimes it’s just plain difficult to convince your audience that brand-generated content isn’t always self-serving to your business. Luckily, influencers can come to the rescue with unique (or repurposed) content. And just like brand-generated content, you should continually analyze content shared by your influencers.
Strategy 2: Monitor Social to Develop Content That Converts
Which content engages your influencers’ audiences the most? Which content moves them to action? Keep in mind that every influencer’s audience will be different, depending on the frequency your influencer posts, the type of content they produce, and their unique voice online. In order for you to utilize your influencers to their greatest potential, you need to understand your influencer, the audience they serve, and the type of content that works for them – and that ultimately will work for your brand.
One influencer may produce videos more than any other type of content – meaning their audiences are engaged with videos and enjoy consuming that type of content. Make sure that what you ask of your influencers aligns with their current strategies to ensure that their voice remains authentic and their audience will remain engaged.
Sharing information with your influencers on your most popular types of content will help them produce content that converts, but again, allow your influencer the freedom to make the content their own, told through their voice. Remember: the goal is create brand trust, meaning content shared must be authentic.
Goal: Increase Traffic to Your Store
Retailers can use influencers on social media to direct social audiences to your business, whether your goal is to increase foot traffic at your brick-and-mortar store, or by driving traffic to your online store or website.
Strategy 1: Have Influencers Share Their Experiences at Your Store
74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions.
Source: Ogilvy Cannes
Influencers have loyal followings on their social accounts and are a trusted source for the best places to shop and buy. Your influencers can share their experiences at your store in a couple of different ways:
- Have your influencers document their visit to your store through pictures. Pictures are engaging and lead to high levels of audience engagement.
- Your influencers can live-stream their visit as they walk through your store, giving their audience an inside look at what the buying experience looks like at your business.
Strategy 2: Provide a promo code or exclusive offer through your influencer
40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube.
Source: Twitter and Annalect
Provide your influencers with a unique promo code that they can share with their audience. As they share these promo codes, they can be demonstrating or reviewing your product and include links to your website or owned social accounts.
Goal: Customers Take Action Online
As we track the success of our social marketing efforts, our focus is not only how engaged our audience is but whether or not they are taking actions that drive sales and increase revenue. Here are two strategies to ensure your influencers are able to move customers to action and impact your bottom line:
Strategy 1: Make the Connection Between Social and Commerce
Social networks are increasingly integrating commerce capabilities into their offerings, making it easier for retailers to connect the dots between social and commerce. Here are a few major networks making strides in social commerce:
- Facebook Marketplace enables peer-to-peer buying and selling.
- Pinterest introduced ways to seamlessly facilitate in-platform purchases.
- Instagram now has shoppable photos to buy products easily as you scroll.
Because networks are adapting to the needs of users to shop and socialize all in one place, influencers should become an immediate priority for retailers. Influencers can promote your products through social and make it easy for followers to make purchases, research products, and share your offerings with their friends – all through the social networks.
73% of those who’ve tried social ‘buy’ buttons would do so again.
Source: Sumo Heavy Industries
Strategy 2: Optimize Your Site for Mobile
Consumers are increasing the amount they are spending through mobile technology like tablets and phones. With the amount of mobile social users growing each year, having a mobile optimized website – that makes purchasing easy on mobile devices – is critical for retailers.
By the end of 2017, U.S. mobile users will spend $90 billion via mobile payments. That is a 48% increase over the $12.8 billion spent in 2012.
According to comScore, nearly 80 percent of social media time is now spent on mobile devices. If you plan on using influencers to drive sales by referring their followers to your website to make purchases, your website needs to be optimized for mobile, otherwise you could be missing out on potential sales.
For more information on how to start building your influencer program, check out our guide on how you can use social data to jump-start your influencer marketing program.
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Bryan is the Content Marketing Manager at Simply Measured. He spoils his dog, is a fitness fanatic, and loves research and writing.