Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. For all the latest on developments in ecommerce, marketing, and design, check out her blog, Victoria Ecommerce. Victoria has a drive for helping store owners get the best return on their ecommerce businesses.
When you’re building your ecommerce store, one of the hardest things to do is growing your audience. Word-of-mouth marketing from current customers can only take you so far and it can be months before you see the fruits of your SEO efforts.
Maybe you’ve already considered investing in an influencer campaign. But influencers demand huge fees and there’s no way your fledgling ecommerce brand can afford it — can they? Enter micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are a great way to help you grow your audience, at only a fraction of the cost of macro-influencers. Here’s the rundown to help you on your way to growing your customer base through a micro-influencer campaign.
What is a Micro-Influencer?
If you’re reading this, the chances are that you’re already familiar with the concept of influencer marketing, the practice of getting a popular and well-known individual with a huge social following to sing the praises of your brand, product or service online.
However, you might not have worked with an influencer yet. You’ve heard how expensive they can be, and you’re not quite ready to shell out top dollar on an influencer marketing campaign when you’re not hitting the sales figures you’d like. And that’s understandable! But here’s where micro-influencers come in...
Where macro-influencers like Logan Paul or Lele Pons command huge followings numbering well above 100k, micro-influencers are individuals who have around 10-100k followers. They’re much smaller and much less well-known than your traditional macro-influencers, and as a consequence possess a more closely-knit network of followers.
Why Should I Use Micro-Influencers Instead of Macro-Influencers?
Right now, you might be thinking: if macro-influencers have so many more followers than micro-influencers, why should I even bother with them? Well, it all comes down to quality over quantity.
While macro-influencers do have a much wider following, their community isn’t necessarily significantly engaged with them. In fact, studies have shown that the ratio of likes and comments to followers actually peaks when an account reaches 1000 followers. And when someone gets more than 100,000 followers, the level of engagement starts to plateau. This is because as an influencer’s popularity grows, they’re perceived to grow more distant by their followers.
Micro-influencers, on the other hand, actually benefit from having such a small and intimate group of followers. Their audience doesn’t feel as distant because there’s relatively so few of them, and as a result they are more engaged with their social media output. The fact of the matter is this: a higher number of followers tends to equate to a lower engagement rate.
Micro-influencers also generally tend to operate in a specific niche — beauty, fitness, food, and so on — and so their followers will naturally connect more with their content because they fit into that targeted niche. And as a result of their smaller following, micro-influencers are often significantly more affordable than their macro counterparts.
Let’s crunch the numbers:
- Their campaigns return engagement rates 60% higher than macro-influencer-led campaigns.
- Micro-influencers have 22.2 times more weekly social conversations than the everyday consumer, meaning they actively contribute to and create buzz online.
- As a result, micro-influencer campaigns are 6.7 times more cost-effective per engagement than macro-influencer campaigns.
The numbers don’t lie: micro-influencers can be a vital asset when it comes to growing your ecommerce store’s customer base.
“Building relationships with "micro-influencers" is key to gaining visibility within your market and garnering credibility within your industry.
For businesses in the ecommerce space, developing mutually beneficial relationships with thought leaders who already have the attention of a smaller, highly engaged network can show much higher ROI than working to earn a shoutout from a celebrity with a large, but unfocused following.
Creating engaging, persona-aligned content with a micro-influencer (who serves as your subject matter expert/endorser, and distributes the piece across their own channels) or developing social media campaigns with shared assets, hashtags, and @mentions can yield fantastic results for both parties.” - Abby Thompson, Director of Marketing at Salted Stone.
A great real-world example of a successful micro-influencer collaboration can be found with online mattress retailer Leesa. As an ecommerce business, Leesa needed to gain unbiased social proof to encourage customers to invest in a product they weren’t able to experience in a brick-and-mortar store.
Leesa looked to connect with influencers who didn’t have huge followings, but had high engagement rates with their audience. By focusing on engagement rates, they knew they could create a targeted and cost-efficient campaign that would generate results.
Leesa hooked up with niche bloggers like Sleepopolis to provide genuine, unbiased reviews of their mattress. They were given creative license to deliver their review in their own unique style, which in turn played into the trusting relationship these micro-influencers had with their audience.
Where Can I Find Micro-Influencers in My Niche?
So you know the why, now here’s the where. There are a number of free or cheap tools available on the web that can help brands identify and connect with micro-influencers that are relevant to their niche.
For those on a budget, BuzzSumo offers free searches that can help you find the right influencer for you. It’s simple to use and you can get started with a free trial right away.
Simply enter your industry keywords into the search bar provided, then click Go. BuzzSumo will then return a list of popular content related to your search term.
You can filter each search by date, country, content type, publisher size, and so on. You can also sort by the number of engagements across various social platforms. By excluding large publishers, brands can create a list of micro-influencers who are creating content related to their industry.
To narrow down your list of influencers, be sure to consider the following:
- Social activity: do they regularly create and share content, or only once in a blue moon? Regular activity means they are dedicated to their followers and their work, making them a worthy choice for your campaign.
- Personal brand style: does their style, personality, tone of voice, and content match that of your brand? Ideally these would all be similar to what your brand is about, or at least complement your product or service.
- Follower engagement: this is particularly important. Do their posts regularly get likes and comments from real people? Does the influencer respond to them? Engagement goes both ways, so keep an eye out to see if the connection between them and their followers is genuine.
There are plenty of tools available online that can help you connect with micro-influencers, so do your research and don’t be afraid to use more than one to find the right person for you.
To further narrow down your list so that you find the perfect influencer to help communicate your story and drive targeted traffic back to your business, you'll want to use human insight. Become active in the communities that you're hoping to connect with to start building relationships with potential influencers as well as to see which ones the community actually engages with.
"Since our demographic is so niche, we have to dig a little deeper when it comes to influencer marketing. Most tools that brands would use to find influencers are not always helpful to us. We discover more influencers simply by being active in the rave community on a social media level as well as at the events that our customers go to. The events we attend with our customers and influencers give us a unique opportunity to get to know influencers on a deeper level than templated DM's. This genuine face to face interaction is the best foundation for a solid influencer relationship. " - Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager for iHeartRaves.
How Do I Build a Relationship With a Micro-Influencer?
Before diving straight into a campaign, it’s important that you first build a relationship with your chosen micro-influencer. Influencer marketing is people-centric, and how you connect with them serves as the bedrock for a successful partnership.
To start with, follow them on the platforms they’re active on. If you reach out to them and they notice you’re not even following their activity, you’ll come across as insincere. Additionally, look for ways to engage with their content. Like, comment, and share their posts to show you are aware of and connect with the social output. And be genuine! Speak in your own brand voice, and avoid generic, pithy responses such as “love this!” — stay authentic.
Once you’ve regularly engaged with them for a while, it's time to reach out to them directly. You can use tools like Hunter.io, Anymail Finder, or Clearbit's Gmail extension to help find an influencer's email address. Services like MailShake or Ninja Outreach are great for outreach to influencers.
Your opening email or social message should be friendly, informal, and most importantly personalized. Show them that you know who they are and what niche they fill. Then tell them who you are, what you want from them and (most importantly) how they can benefit from it.
“Craft your pitch -- No one wants to receive a longwinded, unclear, self-absorbed pitch that seems open-ended and non-reciprocal; those find the trash folder faster than my children find the candy I hid in the pantry. In any pitch, open in the first couple of sentences with what you want to give the influencer and what you want to receive in return; don't waste anyone's time.” - Joe Sinkwitz, CEO of Intellifluence.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a reply. If you haven’t heard back, make sure to send a follow up as influencers tend to get lots of emails, meaning that there’s always a chance that yours got lost in the clutter.
“If at first you don't get a reply, follow up. The average number of followups required for sales during my own prospective process is 6; It is no different in B2C microinfluencer prospecting because if you stop trying, you'll stop growing.” - Joe Sinkwitz, CEO of Intellifluence.
And remember: when doing your outreach, don’t focus on just one micro-influencer. A successful campaign, like Leesa’s, is built on a number of influencers with high engagement rates.
Here's a simple, yet effective email that Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager for iHeartRaves uses:
How Can I Use Micro-Influencers to Help Grow My Audience?
You’ve done your research, you’ve found the perfect micro-influencer, and you’ve built an authentic, trusting relationship with them. Now it’s time to get down to your campaign.
Product reviews straight from the influencer’s mouth
Micro-influencers have built an intimate and trusting network of loyal followers. Their word is gospel, and what they say goes. That means that when a micro-influencer endorses a product or service, their followers sit up and take note.
This relationship can therefore be a great way to grow your audience by getting your chosen micro-influencer to trial and review your product. A video, blog post, Twitter thread or Instagram post extolling the positive qualities of what you’re selling will be watched attentively by their audience. It acts as their own personal seal of recommendation for your brand.
Check out the example from beauty blogger Gloss and Sparkle, below:
She’s genuine, effusive, and really cares about the brand and products. As a result, it’s a natural, persuasive review that resonates with her audience.
To get started with this, give your chosen influencer your product or service for free, and walk them through the product if needed.
"The goal here is not to gain the post, but rather to start building a relationship with the influencer themselves." - Lindsey Myers, Founder of Concrete Blonde Consulting.
Brands shouldn’t force the influencer’s enjoyment of their product though. An influencer's response needs to be sincere, and their appreciation should be genuine. This will shine through in the review and will increase your campaign’s efficacy.
“Often times, we will send one of our products to an influencer for free, in exchange for an honest review that is posted to their blog or social media followers. In the case of Instagram, this leads to a ton of new followers for us, as well as sales.” - Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager for iHeartRaves.
It’s also important that you let them do the review in their own inimitable style, as this will help bolster the review’s credibility in their followers’ eyes.
Turn your customers into influencers
Why not create your own branded influencers to grow your audience as well? The British online fashion retailer ASOS did this themselves when they paired up with a range of style-conscious individuals from around the world to become ASOS Insiders.
These were fashionable people with big social followings that regularly receive ASOS products for them to share on their Instagram feeds. It’s a great way to naturally create buzz around a brand.
Want to get in on this too?
Reach out to your regular customers or ones that already have a big social following and request a collaboration.
Contently highlights the difference between simply identifying your top customers and activating them. Giving them the VIP treatment encourages brand loyalty, and they will be only too happy to contribute towards your campaigns with guest blogs, video testimonials, and more
Promote and share special offers
When you’re convincing someone to make a purchase from you, especially someone who’s dithering about it, one of the best ways to encourage them to convert is through a limited time only special offer.
There are plenty of ways you can get the word out about these offers, but using your micro-influencers to promote them is easily one of the most effective. When they spread the word about a sale or discount offer for your ecommerce store, they are implicitly endorsing your brand too.
Liaise with your influencer to create an appealing image that features your product to create a compelling visual advertisement for your store. Add a discount code for their followers to use in-store, ideally one that incorporates the influencer’s name. This will help show their followers that this is a special offer created especially for them, adding exclusivity to the discount — and remember: exclusivity sells.
Share the love with guest blogging
Guest blogging is a tried-and-tested method of growing your audience that works, and works well. By contributing your own content to your micro-influencers’ blog, you can reach a whole new audience of potential customers.
On top of driving new traffic to your store, you can also raise your brand awareness and get more social shares across Facebook and Twitter. And it goes both ways too. Get your micro-influencer to guest post on your store’s blog and share it across each of your social channels for extra coverage.
Firstly, create a list of potential micro-influencers and organize by their site’s domain authority to help you choose more easily. This can be done with a research tool such as Ahrefs, and the higher the rating, the better ranking the influencer has. In the example below, Ahrefs uses a self-developed domain rating (DR) metric instead of domain authority.
Evaluate their stats and content to see if they’re a good fit for your store, then check if they have any guest post guidelines. This is important, as they won’t accept your content if it doesn’t fit in with their usual output.
Finally, before you reach out to them, do your research and read through their content. When you contact them, it’ll show that you’ve done your work and you care about what they do and the relationship you’ll have with them.
Create buzz around competitions and giveaways
Giveaways are a great way to build an email list. People will do almost anything for the chance of winning a freebie, and that includes handing over their email address.
To generate hype around your giveaway or competition, get your influencers to promote it across their social feeds. Consumers are often apprehensive about entering a competition directly from a brand, but when a trusted influencer promotes it, they’ll be more likely to engage with it.
Combine this with an influencer’s review of the prize, and you’ll see your email list grow in no time!
Create a social media takeover
Takeovers are also very popular ways of working with influencers. They’re easy to do and can be hugely effective. They serve as special events that generate buzz around a brand or product launch, and they’re fun to do!
The premise is simple: your micro-influencer has full reign over all of your social media channels for a few hours, a day, or longer. They post, comment, and engage with your followers in their own personal style, creating and sharing content that fits with your goals.
A great example of a social media takeover is beauty blogger Tamanna Roashan’s takeover of makeup brand Sephora's Instagram account:
Cross-publicizing the takeover across her own channels and sites, Tamanna helped promote her own brand as well as helping Sephora sell their own products to a wider audience as well.
Don’t be afraid to hand social media control over to your micro-influencer either. Set boundaries of course, but let them deliver content in their own unique way to really connect with audiences in an authentic way.
And you can turn your takeover into a sales event by making your posts Shoppable. If you’ve made your store with a builder like Shopify or BigCommerce, you can use an app like Snapppt or Soldsie to embed Shoppable Instagram galleries across your blog posts too. In this way, you can use engagement generated by a social media takeover to really drive sales for your store.
Tell a story around your brand, product or service
Micro-influencers specialize in having real conversations with their followers, by being genuine and authentic in their output. As a consequence, they have an open and trusting relationship with their audience.
Consumers today are very marketing-savvy, and when a brand talks about its values and ethos, they probably switch off. But when influencers talk about a brand, their followers listen.
You can use this to your advantage by getting your micro-influencer to talk about why they have decided to use your product or work with your brand. They can talk in depth about why you’re different from your competition, and what sets you apart from the crowd. Having a trusted influencer extol your virtues will be significantly more effective, thanks to their relationship with their audience.
When it comes to boosting your ecommerce store’s web traffic and growing your audience, it can be taxing. In the crowded ecommerce marketplace, everyone is jostling for a bigger piece of the pie. Numerous businesses sprout up everyday, increasing the competition your store will face.
Many ecommerce entrepreneurs will look to paid ads or SEO to grow their customer base. But they have their disadvantages: PPC ads can be expensive, and it can take months to see your web traffic grow with SEO.
But savvy business owners will turn to influencer marketing to expand their reach online. Micro-influencers in particular can be an affordable and effective way of growing your audience in the digital age. Do your research and find the right micro-influencer for you, and follow the tips above to create a campaign that shoots your brand up into the stars.