Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies available for online stores. People simply pay more attention and trust recommendations from friends far more than any other source, including traditional advertising. Influencer marketing is one of the newest trends that has developed in word-of-mouth marketing.
Research shows that 83% of customers are willing to refer products or services they are satisfied with. However, only 29% of them are actually ready to refer. Setting up referral incentives for these customers is a great way to encourage them to talk to their friends (of follower base about your products or services). This is when influencer marketing kicks in.
According to a poll by Tomoson, businesses are making on average, $6.85 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is also the fastest-growing customer acquisition method, exceeding traditional digital marketing channels (paid search, Facebook ads, email marketing, organic search, etc). A recent survey found that 22% of all customers are acquired through influencer marketing.
Here are some ideas on how to choose the right influencers for your business, and how to turn your existing customers into influencers.
How to choose the right influencers
Blenders Eyewear is a San Diego-based sunglasses company that converted themselves into a $2 million dollar business by working with Instagram influencers.
In an interview with ReferralCandy, Chase Fischer, founder and CEO, explains how they initially approached influencers and gave away free pairs of sunglasses so they could start sharing pictures of them with their follower base. This was a very cost-effective advertising strategy, since these influencers were producing high-quality pictures and copy (otherwise they would risk losing followers) and Blenders was not paying them in cash but in inventory.
However, Chase did not want to work with just any influencers. He selected the influencers carefully. He wanted to work with people who: 1) were going to post really good photos, and 2) were easy to reach out to. Number 2 is especially important because as a small, young company, you can’t go straight for the big fish. Chase initially focused on influencers with 10-15 thousand followers (micro-influencers), who are just getting started in the business.
Chase also took advantage of their physical location, San Diego, where there were luckily already many Instagram influencers based. Their strategy was about keeping their relationship with these influencers as personal as possible, meeting up with them in person to tell them about their project and how they could contribute to it. This also allowed them to shortlist those influencers who were truly excited about being part of this project from those who were not interested in building a long-term business relationship with the brand.
Blenders currently have an influencer program featured on their website, where individuals with at least 10 thousand followers on Instagram can apply to become a Blenders influencer:
How to turn customers into influencers
Hawkers is another example of a sunglass company that relied on influencers during their early days in business. Hawkers is a company that was originally started by four young entrepreneurs out of Spain that have made their way to become an over 100-employee company.
A crucial part of their growth has relied on their influencer strategy which they followed from the very beginning. They first started running Facebook ads targeting young people with large friend and follower bases, to give them free pairs of sunglasses so they could post pictures of them on social media.
Once they started getting traction and increasing their sales, they decided to identify potential influencers within their customer base, and set up incentives for these influencers so they could start spreading the word through their social accounts:
On top of their existing influencer program, Hawkers is also running their Campus Reps program, a community with more than 5,000 university influencers that act as brand ambassadors on their campuses. These college students are in charge of spreading the word about Hawkers at their universities, through co-branding actions with other brands, events and parties. In exchange, these students get perks like gifts, plane or festival tickets.
There is a reason why influencers are one of the best ways for brands to get in touch and communicate their value proposition with their target market.
Influencers represent a crucial part of word-of-mouth marketing in the 21st Century. People trust recommendations from friends and family and are already fed up with celebrities promoting products. Influencers, however, are regular people who have built credibility from their reviews and have established themselves as industry experts in their field.
ReferralCandy is an app that helps eCommerce stores run customer referral programs, boosting their word-of-mouth sales.