Marketing Influence


Influencer marketing has long been a tactic of large and small brands alike when trying to raise product and brand awareness, drive sales, and establish credibility with target audiences. In recent years, it’s become easier than ever before to start your own e-commerce business through tools like Shopify, and we’ve seen a large shift in the industry. More brands are centering their marketing efforts on influencer relations and are increasing their spend on partnerships with creators.

I spoke with Anand Kishore, CEO of Aspire — a Shopify-preferred influencer marketing platform that works with 800+ e-commerce brands like Ruggable, Glossier, and Bombas — about influencer marketing in the Shopify era and how brands and creators can work together to drive strong campaign performance and higher ROI.

Gary Drenik: What has changed in the way of Influencer marketing over the past 12-18 months?

Anand Kishore: The whole marketing landscape is evolving.

Marketers are faced with rising costs, ad blockers, and the end of IDFA (among other sweeping new privacy changes), and they are looking for new ways to get in front of their target audiences – influencers are the answer.

Influencers remain the best way to reach your target audience on social media, especially as more and more users are shopping directly through the platforms. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey on media behaviors and influence by generation, 25% of Gen-Z and 21% of Millennial respondents said social media platforms influence their buying habits for the most common consumer products like apparel, beauty, grocery, and electronics, compared to 15% of Gen-X and 8% of Boomer respondents.

Prosper – Social Media Influence On Product Purchases

Prosper Insights & Analytics

Younger generations are rejecting ad content for influencer content that feels genuine and authentic. Creators are able to cultivate a following of people that trust them and look to them for recommendations, and successful brands are leveraging this with their creator partnerships to drive not only engagement but ROI.

These partnerships then provide brands with first-party insights that can inform full-funnel marketing initiatives ranging from allowlisiting to affiliate programs with a laser focus on driving revenue.

Drenik: How can brands best work with Creators to improve campaign performance and drive higher ROI?

Kishore: Brands should provide guardrails, not guidelines to their creator partners. Allowing for creative liberty is the most crucial step in ensuring that the content created for your brand resonates with the intended audience. The biggest mistake we see brands make is over-directing the creator, providing too many talking points and image restrictions, and ultimately leading to content that does not feel authentic or natural in the creator’s feed. When brands understand the importance of relinquishing a bit of creative control, their content is able to drive campaign performance and tangible ROI.

Another tactic brands can use is to add trackable links to campaigns with their high-performing creators, creating a win-win situation for both brand and creator. Brands should also look to allowlisting to scale the impact.

The key to unlocking higher ROI is looking at multiple data points from your influencer campaign and using those to optimize your other channels. For example: if your CPM for Facebook Ads is $10, use the insights from your influencer efforts to drive CPM down below $7. You now have a channel that is highly efficient for CPM, and by adding a paid component to it (allowlisting or affiliate), you’ve unlocked a high-performing, multi-touch campaign.

Drenik: What are some great examples of Brand / Creator partnerships that are worth highlighting?

Kishore: Outer is a luxury outdoor furniture brand that’s effectively using influencer marketing to drive sales and brand awareness. Before onboarding Aspire in April 2021, they worked with about a dozen influencers with loose agreements and no reportable tracking of deliverables or noteworthy attributed sales. Since onboarding, their influencer program has proven to have the highest return of all marketing channels, having increased affiliate sales by ~2100% in less than 18 months. All of their partnerships are long-term, and they plan to continue collaborating with their influencer partners for years to come.

Another example is Ruggable, a machine washable rug brand. In the beginning, they saw success with influencer as an organic channel and were able to build buzz around their new (and revolutionary) product offering. Organic word of mouth contributed to so much of their early growth as a business that they evolved their strategy to impact paid (including allowlisting) as well, ensuring that top-performing content gets in front of a broad audience. Their strong community of customers and fans creates influencer-generated content (IGC) that boosts brand awareness, increases customer loyalty and retention, and differentiates itself from competitors.

Drenik: What platforms perform best and why? Any successful tips for creating engaging and authentic content?

Kishore: It’s really more about the content and taking an omnichannel approach. Brands see success when they start with a focus on their goals and target audience and create content that suits the demographics and unique characteristics of each platform. Right now, video is winning, so video content across all channels is critical.

Drenik: How has the Shopify Era impacted brand campaign strategies in the last 12 months?

Kishore: As Shopify retailers have grown in popularity and number, so has the use of nano influencers in brands’ marketing strategies. While partnering with a creator that has 100K+ followers can contribute to growth and ROI, smaller, e-commerce brands often need to build credibility, trust, and awareness from their audiences first. To do that, we’ve seen many turn to nano influencers (creators with followings of 100-10K), which is one of the most highly effective tactics in reaching the above goals.

This is because consumers trust nano influencers more than they do celebrities or marketers who don’t establish a personal connection. Contrary to endorsements from major celebrities, part of the appeal of influencers – especially nano-influencers – is that they are, in many ways, ‘just like us,’ where their endorsements are viewed more like recommendations from a friend.

Additionally, shrinking budgets have forced e-commerce brands to look for more cost-effective ways to reach audiences, and influencer marketing programs are attractive because when done right, they have a higher ROI than traditional advertising vehicles. The good news is that with Shopify-enabled plug-ins and resources, it’s never been easier for DTC brands to get started.

Drenik: What should marketers know about Gen-Y and Gen-Z values when making decisions on their next influencer campaign?

Kishore: It’s become a well-known fact that younger generations would rather purchase a product recommended to them by a person they can relate to over a celebrity endorsement or highly curated and overly produced advertisement.

This also applies to the type of content being promoted. If the ad isn’t aligned with the influencer’s content or personality, younger users are more likely to see through that and opt out of purchasing.

The bottom line is that authenticity is key.

We’ve transitioned to a world where everyone has influence and this represents a fundamental shift that brands need to be attuned to if they want to market effectively.

Drenik: Thanks, Anand, for your insights on how to best leverage influencer marketing, the ways brands and creators can better work together, and how the Shopify era has impacted the popular marketing tactic.

By Shopify

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *