No matter if you’ve just built your online presence as an ecommerce business or already have your local digital audience, you’ve probably thought about involving bloggers or something similar at least once. That’s quite reasonable. 89% of marketers confirm: brands that collaborate with bloggers receive better ROI than those using other marketing channels. Researches of 2019 showed that 64% of consumers will make a purchase after watching branded videos on social platforms. Video content works great in niches like fashion and travelling. But it’s the real king when it comes to beauty & health. In this article, we decided not to drift too far and check how online beauty stores can benefit from collaborations with video content creators.
While there may remain no hesitations on using influencer marketing one definitely doubts how to get started. How to choose an influencer? Is YouTube collaboration better than an Instagram one? Maybe it’s worth trying TikTok? How much do collaborations cost? How to understand if the collaboration is performing successfully? To answer these questions, we created a guide. Check it out below – for the sake of pure skin, fabulous make-ups and bringing your marketing to the next level.
Work with influencers: is it worth it?
We bet you are quite close to a “yes”, but just in case this is still a “not sure yet”, there are three obvious reasons, or better to say, aspects that will definitely experience transformation when you go into partnership with influencers. They are your brand exposure, audience and the money. So what are you going to donate and possibly receive at the end?
- Brand awareness
There are various reasons brands love working with bloggers. Some brands do it to interact with the blogger’s followers and grow their audience. Others chose bloggers as they know their audience so well and can advise what will work for them.
You provide: you start with giving your product.
You get back: your brand recognition spread across the region/ country/ world. What is good about influencer marketing is that it works both for a recently started home bakery and a brand with its small local authority. Either way, what you receive from partnering with an influencer is brand awareness increase.
Are you still creating banners of your online store to place at the bus stop? You’d better stop then. Because one of the main benefits you receive from a collab with blogger is a qualitative growth of your audience. Once selected a blogger who aligns with your brand values and is followed by the people who are within your target audience, you automatically gain recognition of potential buyers.
You provide: your existing followers’ base and a brand vision.
You get back: growth of your brand audience and possibly a new vision of your brand. In addition, this can result in mutual followers’ growth, since if a blogger is a match, they could also receive part of your audience.
You provide: Well yes, you give money. Prices differ and depend primarily on the number of followers a blogger has and their engagement rate. For an Instagram post, this is usually $100 for each 10k followers, Youtubers charge from $10 to 100 for every 1000 views of a sponsored video, Tiktikokers with 2.5 million of followers charge $500 to 800 per post.
You get back: your money! Businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Impressive, isn’t it?
East or West:
platform that works best
Being especially popular among women, Instagram seems to be a perfect match for a video collaboration to promote beauty products. Posts, stories and IGTV – the choice on how to collaborate on Instagram is all yours.
What’s most important about YouTube is that it has the highest coverage and therefore trust among different demographic groups. What is more, it’s considered a search engine and occupies the second place after Google when it comes to how-to requests and product reviews.
TikTok is a social video platform that’s rapidly taking the world of social media over. It applies to influencer marketing as well. The main characteristic and challenge is that one can upload and share videos up to 15 seconds in length. As mentioned above, people prefer videos to save some time. TikTok is all about it. You may find potential customers among those who scroll the feed and occasionally find a simple and glamorous make-up tutorial.
What is also good about TikTok is avoiding the hours spent on production and editing. That’s why the prices are significantly lower compared to Youtube, which provides a flow of long-form, high-quality, related content. TikTok in its turn enables users to view, engage with, and create content at a much higher rate. Compared to Instagram, TikTok gives the floor to a way more creative content. In addition, it moves the focus aside from the filtered, idle and “best version” of life, thus being well received by people who get tired of window dressing.
How to work with bloggers and influencers
The ways a brand can collaborate with opinion leaders are numerous. Of course, they can differ on the platforms selected, bloggers’ contracts and imagination of brands & content creators, but luckily there are several one-size-fits-all. We’ve figured out more about these and the examples are below.
1. Classic giveaway
Blogger launches a contest to give beauty items from a certain brand(-s) for free. Conditions include but are not limited to: follow, like, comment, tag a friend, share, mention in followers’ stories, create the best name/poem/idea etc. Brands are mentioned in the post. Once the contest is over, the winners are chosen either with a randomiser or the brand’s/ influencer’s choice. Giveaway works well as a promotional tool aimed to increase brand awareness.
2. Brand sending items for free, PR packages
Brands often send PR packages to the influencers they work with. These could be thematic boxes like for Christmas and Mother’s Day, distributions timed to a new make-up line launch or just a regular sending-out of products. The aim of those is to engage bloggers to try them on public and share impressions, thus letting brands gain more credibility and increase awareness.
3. Influencer’s creative
The name speaks for itself. We’ll further mention how important it is to give a room for a blogger’s imagination. This is also true for promo-campaigns of a different type. These could be challenges, backstages, hilarious videos or personal blogger stories. Anything that could be useful in terms of collaboration and look natural for a blogger’s audience.
This is definitely not all brands can afford. Anyway, if budgets permit, launching a thematic event works nicely to increase brand awareness. Companies usually send invitations to bloggers, who can highlight what’s going on there. Influencers go live, share impressions, make stories and go vlogging. All under the brand’s name.
5. Sponsored posts/ videos
Opinion leaders can and even must openly state if a video/post/story is sponsored. Although this type of collaboration often meets prejudicial feedback from the audience as being paid content, it still works for macro-bloggers and brands alerady having some popularity.
6. Brand ambassador
This type of integration has long been considered the one used with celebrities and top influencers only. However, times have changed and the floor is more often given to micro-influencers. Brands sign a contract with an active mom-blogger, lifestyle Z-generation opinion leader and regularly provide products they need to review and mention to the audience.
Speaking of formats, we still refer to YouTube as the most traditional way of distributing video content. Statista discovered that apart from film campaigns, which are sure a good option for brands with a name and budget, beauty favourites and makeup routine (i.e. tutorials) videos work best.
How to approach influencers to work with your brand
Okay Google, how do I collaborate with a blogger? The search results page will return a scheme similar to the below one. We are not authorised to argue with the king of search engines but would like to make it as clear as possible.
Step 1. Research
You may check who your competitors involve in promoting their products, go contacting the channels/ profiles you personally follow and consider appropriate or address an influencer agency. A good idea is to make a survey asking your target audience about the channels they watch most often. Anyway, it’s you who decides where the treasurous advocate of your brand is hidden.
Step 2. Make your choice
When it comes to making the choice, it’s mostly about deciding between micro- and macro-influencers. Well yes, size matters.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with any influencer type, but one should focus on the needs its business currently has. To gain credibility and acquire the trust from local audiences, micro-influencers definitely work best, while if time & budgets are on your side and what you are trying to achieve is bringing the existing popularity to broader audiences, macros are a win-win.
Another important aspect to take into account whenever you go into collab with a blogger is the data about their profile, namely demographics and profile stats. This way you will be able to:
- select the best among several influencers
- understand if their audience is ready to buy from you
Ask your candidate to show the results of their previous integrations with brands, check which of them were successful. Check the age, gender and budgets of his audience and compare with your offerings on the online market.
If you feel like your audience resembles yourself much (for instance, you produce and sell eco-friendly vegan skincare cosmetics), you can even foresee their desires, needs, taboos and way of thinking, meaning you actually know what can encourage them to buy more from your brand. Try asking yourself:
- Would you trust recommendations from this blogger?
- Does the blogger resemble your target audience and/or the people who usually visit your offline stores?
- What’s on his/ her mind? Can their life, daily routine and environment be compared to the way your product speaks of these things? In other words, if you produce eco-friendly gentle face powder, free from being tested on animals, make sure your influencer doesn’t shoot the “5 ways to cook roast beef with blood” videos or make “Cut of beef” tutorials online. Remember: you select a brand advocate. Whereas the individual should be a real human with all the inherent disadvantages and imperfections, aligning with your brand values is a must.
- Could you make friends? Would you be able to discuss your new shampoo bottle design or how collagen changed your hair till midnight? As the business owner or product creator, you know best what it is about and can tell about your brand better than anyone else. But can your influencer do the same? Go through his posts or playlists to check how long you could watch them until you are bored. If you really like the content you see and would trust the recommendations instead of being annoyed with the sponsorship present in the profile, that’s your perfect fit! Select a companion, whom you will not need to be monitored. This is how creativity is born and this is how the content he/she creates becomes native to your audience.
Step 3. Initiate a conversation
Start with genuine interest and give feedback. Tell about yourself. What do you feel about the conversation with the blogger you’ve chosen? Remember that he/she will be communicating with your potential customers the same way as your sales team, customer care agents or you personally do. Make sure the tone of your interlocutor is not friendly, check if he/she is literate and open-minded enough. Don’t hesitate to give feedback on what you like and even don’t like about his profile. Of course, be constructive and don’t criticize too much. At the same time, make sure the reaction is positive. Ask for the feedback about what you do and suggest working together. If you go for micro-influencers, do not hesitate to make friends with them. They have more time to spend on companionship, moreover, this way you can create a more realistic image of cooperation, the one customers love and trust.
Bloggers usually have their media packs. This is a so-called press kit, usually a document outlining the key facts about the influencer and reflects the statistics about his blog. Feel free to ask for it when you feel you could be mutually useful to each other. A good media pack contains:
- Profile: A description of what the channel/ page is about and who the person helps
- Profile stats: Includes links to profiles on other social networks & statistics of the primary channel(-s) including monthly views, number of followers, and subscribers
- Demographics: An overview of the demographics of the page/ profile/ channel. All that a brand like yours might need to know about his/her audience: the age, gender, marriage status, profession etc
- Author bio: A short description outlining the area of expertise, ecommerce niches he/she works with and maybe some statuses, awards and things like that
- Packages: Includes the types of partnerships the influencer offers like ads, sponsored blog posts, or product reviews. Pricing is optional
Each blogger has his analytics available. It comes handy when choosing an appropriate influencer to your campaign. This is another important thing you, as a brand, need to take into account before going to the next steps of your collaboration.
Step 4. Send products for review
Now it’s high time to introduce your products to the ambassador you’ve chosen. This is usually done for free. Include a short letter or cute postcard and put into a package of items you consider appropriate. Personal approach is a must. Make sure you know what could be useful/interesting to your addressee. If there is a newborn at home, it’s appropriate to offer some hypo-allergenic products, if in their profile he complains being sensitive to the cold weather, include some lip balm or a protective hand cream. Mind that trying a new product takes time, so don’t be pushy about the feedback and go predictive, meaning late July is late to send an SPF tan oil.
Step 5. Ask for a frank opinion
Remind yourself and be sure to ask if your package arrived safely at your addressee’s. Bear with him some time and let him know that his opinion matters to you. Don’t go into business from scratch. You risk to be percepted as a money maker and forever lose objectiveness and a non-biased point of view you seek for. It’s great if your product was accepted warmly. At the same time, there are a million reasons why you might not be a fit for the blogger or vice versa, he/she might not fit your brand. In the niche of beauty products you can’t foresee everything. Even if you performed a deep analysis of the influencer’s preferences, you still can predict how one’s skin reacts to calendula or glycolic acid being among the ingredients. At the same time, you may find out it being impossible to communicate with the blogger’s rude manager and it’s simply not worth it. Each of these takeaways makes sense for a successful collaboration and they’d be better figured out at this stage.
Step 6. Discuss paid collaboration
This is where the money talk begins. We advise to get acquainted with the pricing at the stage of getting in touch with your blogger, but in case you are not sure about the services you receive at a certain price or consider several people to promote your product, here you have some of the offerings at the influencer market.
Step 7. Monitor Performance
Alright, here you go with the first collaboration. Congrats now! No, hold on a sec and put your champagne glass aside – there remains an important part of work to be done before celebrating success.
A sponsored post or video contains a clear call-to-action prompting the user to take action. When your goal is to get direct response from customers, you need to check for the specific actions a user takes in response to a campaign. When it comes to a beauty brand, KPIs could be:
- cosmetics sales
- CTR or the number of times consumers click on a suggested link in a promotional post
- signups to social media pages, channel or newsletter
- number of accounts created on the website
- sentiment, i.e. what exactly potential customers say about the new reconstructing hair line
If you aim to gain online recognition and increase your digital audience, this is a more tedious thing to measure when it comes to success of your blogger collaboration. Anyway, metrics might include:
- social reach like followers, subscribers, impressions
- engagement expressed by likes, comments, shares, mentions (not only number of engagements but CPE is a good thing to measure)
- website traffic
- traffic generated by the mentions in media in press
- hashtags consisting of the brand name
- referral traffic
- sentiment represented by the content of consumers’ comments and mentions of your brand
Tools to be used
Old school and simplicity with spreadsheets. If you are just getting started, you can afford spending time on a detailed manual analysis of the channel you selected. Check how many people saw your brand’s message looking at likes, shares, bookmarks and whatever reflects how a campaign reached its audience and the engagement rate. Craft a dashboard or use excel spreadsheets to compare.
Google Analytics offers a great number of reports, including those useful in influential marketing. Those are helpful to measure demographics, quantify social leads and evaluate the social channels generating the most potential leads. We recommend paying attention to the Demographics, Acquisition and Overview reports.
UTM parameters, affiliate links and promo-codes. Affiliate links are helpful to measure ROI in terms of sales and show CTR to your site, the number of sales, and the average value of each purchase. Promo-codes are beneficial for both parties: distributing them showcase a blogger’s loyalty to its audience and demonstrate how brand’s indicators changed over the time it worked with the influencer. To help measure if an influencer is generating a worthwhile number of sales Google offers its own URL builder. UTM tags are useful not only to monitor a PPC ad campaign but to track which of your collaborations with bloggers performs best.
Internal measuring systems. To figure out how each sponsored post/video influenced the indicators of your ecommerce business, platforms like YouTube and Instagram have their own embedded analytics utilities. With their help admin users can see real time data, request reports like Earning, Watching Time and Engagement. Moreover, when it comes to YouTube, it can be integrated with Google Analytics to get an enhanced picture of how your campaign is performing. Pictures like the below ones are visible to account admins, meaning you need to agree on the time range and ask your influencer to provide you with the analytics of his profile.
Instagram watches the Activity, Content and Audience, providing some essential data about who watched and interacted with a sponsored post, types of interactions like website clicks, profile visits etc.
Third-party online services like Ahrefs, BuzzStream, BuzzSumo, Social Animal, Ninja Outreach etc. Some of them are free, the others will cost you $49-$999 per month. All of them group data in the way you mean it and help to collect the KPIs of your influencer marketing campaign.
Things to keep in mind
- To be noticed, create a really good product to help people. Find someone, whose opinion matters to your target audience. Make them an advocate of the values your brand brings and involve them into helping them by means of your product.
- Before going into a collaboration, make sure you’ve built a firm online presence. Be clear about the mission. Design matters. Spread the magic all over social networks. This will let influencers see why they need you.
- Start local. True ambassadors are your and your customers’ neighbours. They live similar lives and even visit similar places.
- Plan beforehand. There are two things to keep in mind when sending your products for review. The first is that for an objective opinion about cosmetics, one needs enough time for testing. The second is that bloggers usually receive lots of beauty stuff for review, meaning that will not be able to put on four layers of different moisturising serums at once.
- Be open and let the blogger have the room for experiments. After all, they knows his audience better. This way, you might be sure that only 35+ audience is interested in Vaseline, but your influencer has an idea why 20 + should need it also. That’s a great chance to increase your audience.
- Never permit anything that crosses out your brand primary positioning. On the contrary to the point above, it’s only you who knows better what your brand is all about. Listen the arguments the opinion leader has, but always decide on your own.
- Voice of your brand matters, as well as the tone of your personal voice. Be polite, write personally. No matter if you reach out to opinion leaders or get someone to do this, make sure your greeting doesn’t start with “Dear Friend!” or something similar. The style of communication should differ from the one you use with business partners and investors, avoid using any templates. Opinion leaders are people after all. Try to make friends and show genuine interest towards the way an influencer helps businesses like yours.
- Make sure the influencer is polite with you and their audience. Go check comments to see how he/she speaks to his audience. From now on this is how your brand will speak as well.
- Don’t keep it just money making. If you like the way an influencer speaks to his audience and the content he/she creates, be generous to the thumbs up and active in comments to his posts and videos. Do this both before and after your collaboration happened and regardless of the impact it had.