The ultimate goal of marketing is to drive revenue for a business, but too often, it's hard to directly tie sales to marketing efforts. While influencers can both liven up and simplify the customer journey, attribution can be difficult to track in the digital age. Instagram's new ecommerce capabilities, plus some old standbys like affiliate links, give marketers powerful ways to leverage influencer marketing to drive sales.
Shoppable posts and tags
Instagram recently debuted several features to improve its ecommerce capabilities. The introduction of shoppable posts have made it easier for you to work with influencers to advertise products and convert sales. Shoppable posts and tags allow Instagram users to purchase directly from the app. Posts can be shared on an influencer’s page, promoted in newsfeeds, or shared in stories, leading directly to a product page. As many have described it, “Instagram hopes to become your own personalized digital mall.”
Before shoppable posts and tags were unveiled, users had to follow external links off Instagram to complete a purchase. Until swipe up links were implemented, influencers would have to put links to a product in their bio, where only one link could be listed, and usually in a shortened form.
In the time it took for links to load in the browser, users could change their minds about the product or feel so put off by the inconvenience, they close the window. In contrast, This new experience takes users from post to purchase with just a few taps of the screen.
Affiliate links and storefronts
Shoppable links are not the only way ecommerce has found its way into the toolbox for influencers. Affiliate links, which give influencers a small percentage of sales, were some of the first tools of influencer marketing.
Affiliate links take users from an influencer’s page, whether it’s on Instagram, Pinterest, or elsewhere, to your brand’s storefront. The links have a user ID embedded in them so you can track their referral and dole out commissions.
Operating on the same concept, but with different execution, are influencer-specific storefronts. Amazon and Walmart, among others, created landing pages for influencers on which they can list their favorite product recommendations.
Depending on the program they enroll in, influencers can receive a commission on products sold, or have an online store for their own products. Commissions, in addition to the legitimacy granted with a household name storefront, give influencers ample opportunities to advertise meaningful products to their audiences. Some brands will feature an influencer on their own storefront in the form of a curated collection, but those sales are not necessarily attributed to the influencer and are often negotiated differently.
Discount codes and giveaways
Another commonly used strategy is to send influencers products to give away through contests. While it’s not necessarily converting a sale, it is distributing your product. The other commonly used form of this concept is discount codes. Influencers provide their followers with a coupon for a product in a post or in their bios, as a “gift” to their followers. While driving sales with discounts works for some and can be a great way to launch a new product, it might not be a sustainable way to promote in the long-term. If a customer is only willing to buy your goods at a discount, there’s a chance they won’t return for full price.
Don’t neglect the customer journey
Ecommerce for influencer marketing is about more than just converting sales – it’s a surefire way of getting ROI on an influencer campaign. While the prospect of easily trackable ROI is seductive, influencers are more than just digital salespeople. Ecommerce, is one of many tools in the influencer marketing toolkit.
Not every influencer can or should be selling products with shoppable links or through trackable storefronts. The future of influencer marketing is, before anything else, connectivity through storytelling content. A list of product recommendations on an Amazon storefront may mean something to the followers of a beauty blogger or a video game streamer, but not necessarily for other industries. Nonetheless, commodifying influence undermines the purpose of influencer marketing – they’re neither salespeople nor loudspeakers, they’re people with stories to tell and minds to change.
All that being said, adding ecommerce to your influencer marketing strategy can make a huge difference for your bottom line. If your influencer content can get potential buyers invested in your brand’s story, having seamless access to your products can reduce the time between awareness and purchase. With the help of Ecommerce, compelling influencer content can now, quite literally, hand-deliver your customers.