Fashion and retail have been at the forefront of innovating influencer marketing since social media first presented the opportunity for brands to collaborate with influencers to reach highly engaged audiences.
Today, social media platforms are working to serve both brands and creators with the best possible e-commerce tools to transform creator collaborations and outstanding content into a seamless shopping experience for consumers.
In our latest webinar, we spoke to industry experts to get their insights into the current state of social commerce, specifically how fashion and retail brands can use this powerful tool to achieve unprecedented sales numbers, as well as the future of influencer marketing and where brands should be going next.
If you’d like to watch the full webinar and join Head of Shopping Partnerships at Instagram, Aditi Banga, Trade School’s Performance Director Summer Munger, and Hypeach CEO Brian Hovis, you can access it on demand here.
For takeaways on the biggest trends affecting fashion and retail influencer marketing right now, read on.
Full-Funnel Strategy and Impact
Influencer marketing has grown far beyond top-of-the-funnel brand awareness play. At present, the brands who do it best focus their strategy across the whole funnel, with an increasing focus on bottom-of-the-funnel impact and advancing sales attribution.
When constructing a full-funnel strategy, use tools to find and segment influencers based on the strength of their content and audiences. Some creators are better at driving huge sales through affiliate links, promo codes, and social commerce, while others may be great at using their platforms to spread educational content, improve brand visibility or sentiment. As a general rule, smaller influencers, including nanos and bloggers perform very well at the bottom of the funnel, while larger influencers and celebrities perform better at the top. However, in many instances, the reverse may be true, making it important to continue to analyze and benchmark influencer performance.
Pro Tip: The key to success in segmenting creators based on these strategies is a test-and-learn approach. Use benchmarks to identify the performance of individual creators against different KPIs and make sure you use the right creators for the right strategies. Move around or remove underperforming creators, and build a relationship with those who do well for your brand.
Earlier this year, eMarketer predicted over 90 million social commerce shoppers by the end of 2021, up more than 12% from the previous year. As social commerce and consumer trust in social media shopping continues to grow, platforms are hard at work trying to hone the optimal in-app shopping experiences for both brands and consumers.
Instagram, for example, continues to introduce new features to make access to social commerce easier for everyone, such as the Instagram Story link stickers rolled out last month. Aditi Banga predicts live shopping to be the next trend in social commerce and recommends brands start planning influencer marketing campaigns that include live video content.
E-commerce and affiliate marketing continue to play an integral role in influencer strategies in 2021 beyond, as their link with social commerce remains strong.
Advanced Data Strategy & Measurement
Seeing as social commerce sales and influencer marketing performance in general are not linear, measuring results and attribution still remains very complex, creating the need for advanced data capabilities. From research and strategy to campaign building, down to relationship management and ultimately measurement and optimization, a data-driven approach is necessary for a successful, robust influencer marketing program.
“One of the greatest opportunities we have and challenges we face is serving the right content to the right person on the right platform. So we have to be able to strategize with efficiency,” says Trade School’s Summer Munger, who brings years of e-commerce experience to some of the largest retail brands in the US, including The Home Depot
A test-and-learn approach to a full-funnel strategy, with comprehensive benchmarks and a deep understanding behind the data and attribution will secure a scalable influencer strategy for years to come, as the space continues to fine-tune its approach to sales and effective measurement.
As influencer marketing continues to mature, specialized experts in data and measurement will emerge on the market and in the teams of some of the most successful brands in the space. Experts expect influencer marketing to take a similar trajectory and SEM and social media marketing, moving toward a data and optimization-driven approach.
Long-Term Creator Partnerships
As the Creator Economy continues to grow in strength and numbers, so does the power of creators. The best-performing creators have the freedom to be very picky about the brands they work with and about the nature of their collaborations. This is why brands need to build long-lasting partnerships with their top performers, so they remain top of mind when these creators are open for collaborations.
Treating creators as creative partners, business partners, and integral parts of the team will yield better, more scalable results than approaching them as one-off transactional relationships. Both marketers building new brands, looking to amass clout, a following, and sales, as well as large established brands, benefit from the loyalty of their most influential brand ambassadors.
Pro Tip: Identify your most influential customers and turn them into brand ambassadors and creative partners. Sometimes the best creator partnership you will have is with creators who already love your brand before you even start paying them. In other words, take a proactive approach to finding brand ambassadors, as opposed to a reactive approach, and nurture the quality relationships at the source.
Content and Customer Journey Mapping
As the Creator Economy matures, so too does our understanding of which content performs best at different phases of the funnel. Here are some top content tips for mapping your customers’ journey:
Top-of-funnel content should be quick, short, snappy, and beautiful. Recommendation: static Instagram post
Middle-of-funnel content should be “longer form”, pairing information with entertainment. Recommendation: TikToks, Instagram Stories, or Instagram Reels
Bottom-of-funnel content should be long-form blogs or videos paired with complementary teases from previously posted images. Recommendation: pair an Instagram Reel with a YouTube video to drive conversions
As platforms continue the race to provide the most comprehensive social commerce tools to brands, and to provide creators with the most ample opportunities to grow their businesses, the creator economy continues to grow and present infinite opportunities for brands to achieve a full-funnel impact with influencer marketing.
To learn more about how best to take advantage of the new social commerce features and how to develop an ironclad strategy with strong creator partnerships and advanced data, be sure to watch our latest webinar on demand.