Why micro-influencer marketing?
Micro-influencers are a great way for businesses of all sizes to reach new and relevant audiences. This new marketing strategy, especially for Shopify merchants, has been picking up steam in the past few years for several reasons:
- Most brands already have budgets for social media spend, so it’s easy to split and share between the platforms and the influencers.
- Micro-influencers generally have smaller but targeted and more engaged followers, so you’re getting more engagement from their posts.
- Micro-influencers also act as content strategists and content creators, not only do you get them posting, but they will also create beautiful content themselves which you can re-use as many times as you want.
- Micro-influencers with the right fit are more open to longer term brand ambassador-type relationships so their channels can be used consistently.
- They won’t shy away from engaging in 2-way conversations with their followers about your brand.
- And most importantly, from our conversations with merchants who are using micro-influencer marketing, they're seeing higher than average returns on investment (ROI) through this channel.
Examples of Shopify merchants using micro-influencer strategies
A hand-made ladies nightwear company based in India. They have used local influencers to launch new product lines and new collections with a significantly higher conversion rate from their instagram posts. They have also significantly decreased their top-of-funnel social media spend, and now use it mostly for retargeting, letting influencers drive their new top-of-funnel strategy.
This UAE based Arabic focused watch brand is the top choice for Arab buyers looking for watches that fit their culture and mother tongue. Their whole growth strategy from day one involved finding and converting local micro-influencers to get their word out, that finally a watch with their local language dials were available. They now consistently sell out of new collections thanks to influencer marketing.
This Ottawa based motorsports brand reaches out to YouTube channels that create content for motorsports hobbyists and pocket-bike enthusiasts. This tactic generated top-of-funnel awareness of their new brand, and they closed these sales through 1 on 1 sales channels like phone and text message. To learn more about Venom you can download our case study with them, featuring how their 1 on 1 customer support has helped grow their business.
This Chilean vintage digital watch seller uses micro-influencer marketing in a new and creative way. By encouraging customers to leave photo-reviews they have significantly increased their product page conversion rate. Their customers may not be influencers, but by crowdsourcing real life pictures of their watches on real-life customers’ wrists they achieve many of the benefits without the costs.
I understand the value, but how do I find micro-influencers?
There are several ways to do this ranging from the manual to the subsequently more automated tactics. I'll walk through each one below, ordered from the most manual (best for new stores) to the most automated (better for larger and fairly established stores).
1. Identify micro-influencers through feeds of your followers
Since marketing is all about finding out where your customers are hanging out, it makes sense to (digitally) follow where your customers are. Since we can confidently assume our generation spends a fair amount of our day in our social media feeds, an easy way would be to simply check who they follow on their Instagram, TikTok or YouTube accounts.
This is a tedious process of finding your customers, going through their follow list, and trying to locate interesting micro-influencers with high engagement that fit your brand. Furthermore, even if you find the right micro-influencer they may not be interested in branded or paid content. This tactic may be the only choice for a new brand getting started without large budgets or a customer list to fall back on. As we will discuss in the last section of this article, this could also be used as an early strategy to prove ROI, and then scale up using the next tactic in this list - using online tools and agencies like Tribe…
2. Find an influencer sourcing platform
A software like Tribe can automate the tedious task of finding relevant micro-influencers. Micro-influencers who are ready to do business have signed up to be discoverable through tools like this, where you can set up an account, fill out a business profile, post a campaign description (sort of like a job description on a platform like Upwork), and watch as influencers create content and proposals for a campaign.
The advantage over a tool like Tribe, vs. doing it manually yourself is speed to market. As the influencers submit their proposals, you just need to approve and they’ll immediately start posting. The software will also track results.
The best part about this is the creators and micro-influencers who are on Tribe have already indicated their willingness and intent to work with brands, so you won't have the challengers of cold-DMing someone.
3. Find which of your existing customers are micro-influencers
This method is my personal favorite because it uses your existing customers as micro-influencers. If a micro-influencer is already a customer and fan of your product, it will make it much easier to convert them to your cause (and potentially more inexpensive).
A great tool is Gatsby. Gatsby allows you to enable an email signup pop-up to collect Instagram handles as well. This will allow brands to collect not only email addresses of interested customers, but also their social handles to identify those with large followings. Since this list is of potential customers interested in your products, they may be highly likely to convert to promote your brand.
Our own app is super useful here as well. Using Shop Phone, you can set VIP customer and Repeat order alerts, along with many others. The app lets you configure customer alerts for several behaviors, so for example if a customer just spent made their 7th order from your store, or spent a total of $5,000 (examples) the app will send you a push notification about this customer so you can reach out to them and ask if they’d like to join your invite-only ambassador program.
Once you’ve been using Shop Phone and Gatsby for a while, another tool you can use is called Dovetale which is similar to Gatsby, but specifically for building a community of your brand ambassadors. Whereas Gatsby just helps you identify micro-influencers, Dovetail lets you manage and track them.
It’s always best to find micro-influencer ambassadors that are already your customers because it will make for authentic and genuine content, which always tracks better for the ultimate goal: sales.
4. Call or email your best customers and offer them membership to your program
Along the lines of the tools above, you can simply run an email campaign targeted to your best and more repeat customers asking them if they would like to join your ambassador program. In this email make sure you outline the benefits of your program, be they heavily discounted/free products, early access, promoted posts to increase their reach, affiliate revenue, or just straight cash payments.
To do this you can sort your customers in your CRM, all ecommerce platforms allow you to filter customers, so look for customers are in the top 20th percentile of order frequency (checkout this post, and this post for details on the RFM Segmentation method which will help you). Once you do this, export those emails into your favorite email management tool like Klaviyo, MailChimp or Omnisend, and create an email sequence asking these best customers to participate.
This works best for stores that already have a large customer base they can tap into, if you don’t have a large customer base already you can use Shop Phone for the immediate alert. Shop Phone will alert you as soon as a “best” customers is born, so you can reach out with 1 on 1 channels like phone, text, and/or WhatsApp which will have a higher response rate than a bulk email.
5. Use review apps like Loox and turn them into ad content
My final way described here isn’t exactly about converting micro-influencers but it serves a couple of the main benefits: creating social proof, and turning user generated content into content for social media.
Loox is my favorite review app because it encourages customers to leave a photo review of the product, as described in the Dando La Hora example at the top. Once customers make a purchase, Loox can send an automated email asking for a photo review which is automatically posted to the product pages. These photos show other potential customers how your products look on/with real customers which creates substantial social proof.
Additionally, these photos and reviews can also be converted into social media posts, and ads, to act as top-of-funnel lead generation as well.
Agreeing to Deal Terms
Once you’ve found the micro-influencers you want to work and start a relationship with the next step is agreeing to the terms. At the surface it may seem to be just about money or free products, but brands should think much deeper than this to come to more creative solutions.
It would serve brands well to have a pool of potential influencers to pick from. By comparing ratios like followers to average post engagements between micro-influencers you’ll be in a better position to determine the best value for your marketing budgets.
In addition to the fees, it would be prudent to source campaign proposals from these influencers. What kind of lifestyle, settings, style and content will these influencers portray? Additionally, will they allow the brand to own the content they develop? Content lives on even after campaigns and relationships end, so owning the content, for example the series of photos in their photoshoots should be a priority.
The important thing here to consider is each micro-influencer will be different from the next. Many may be completely agreeable to simply free products, some may also want payment for their time and creativity, others may want you to promote their handles on your social media and email newsletters as well. Since you’re not dealing with mega-influencers who will have strict pre-set terms, you have much more leeway to get creative with an understanding.
Scaling this Strategy
Another important thing to consider is the minimum viable experiment (MVE) approach. What’s the minimum viable micro-influencer campaign you can run quickly to prove this strategy will work for your brand? Maybe it doesn’t work on Instagram, but it works on YouTube? Maybe it doesn’t work for a particular collection of yours, but it works better for another type of product collection? By testing different products with different influencers on different channels, you’ll learn what has the needed ROI and can scale as needed using the paid tools like Tribe, Gatsby, and Loox.
In the end, just like any new marketing strategy it's going to require experimentation. Don't "one and done" it. You'll need to set aside enough budget to run a test with at least three influencers, each across a different channel and for a different product. After the campaign is done you'll need evaluate what worked and didn't work. Even if something doesn't look like it worked, it would be wise to dive deeper and see if there is "signs of life" or some "pulse" to the campaign that you can build on.
You can contact Ahmad at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/WhatsApp him at 1-833-600-0071.
Shop Phone is a mobile app for Shopify stores owners designed to alert you about important customer events. Merchants can configured alerts such as high value abandoned checkouts, low inventory, VIP and repeat orders, follow-up reminders and specific product purchases. This gives merchants the ability to be alerted about any customer behaviour they want, with action buttons they can take to resolve or connect with customers.
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