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7 Tips for Launching a Successful Influencer Marketing Strategy for Your Subscription Ecommerce Brand

Brad Hoos’ influencer marketing tips can help you get sticky subscribers with high LTVs.
August 15, 2022

A successful influencer marketing strategy will do more than build brand awareness. It will impact revenue.

Especially for subscription ecommerce brands.

Brad Hoos, CEO of the influencer marketing agency The Outloud Group said that “new subscribers who come from influencers tend to have a higher lifetime value and tend to be stickier than the average subscriber.” 

Getting those kinds of results requires a thoughtful strategy. That’s why Brad joined us on an episode of Subscription Ecommerce Live to talk about launching a successful influencer marketing campaign.

He left us with 7 key tips subscription brands can use. We’ll highlight them below with a few examples.

Brad Hoos, CEO of the influencer marketing agency The Outloud Group said that “new subscribers who come from influencers tend to have a higher lifetime value and tend to be stickier than the average subscriber.”

#1 Know What You’re Looking For

‘Influencer’ can be a fuzzy word that means different things to different people, but Brad keeps his definition pretty simple. He says an influencer is “someone who has developed trust and meaningful rapport with their audience.”

Trust is the main thing that drives influencer marketing. It goes beyond familiarity. That’s why Brad draws a distinction between a celebrity and an influencer. Lots of people know celebrities. Only a specific group of people trusts influencers. 

The actual size of an audience matters less than you’d think, depending on the kind of influencer you’re considering. Brad points out that people often use terms like micro, macro, or nano influencer. However, he says these are not well-defined in the industry and that his agency looks for people with 25,000-30,000 average views and above on a single piece of content.

An influencer is “someone who has developed trust and meaningful rapport with their audience.”

Why Influencer Marketing Works: People Trust People More Than Brands

Companies have worked with influencers for years. Have you ever heard a talk radio host endorse a product during the show? That’s influencer marketing. It works because the audience trusts the person speaking.  

According to Brad, the difference is that now we can do it at scale through social media. He compares influencer marketing to a sophisticated word-of-mouth strategy, where you have someone advocating for your brand or product(s) to people who trust them. That’s what makes it stick. 

Brad suggests that people don’t like being sold to by brands, but they will listen to influencers because of something called “the halo effect.” He explains it like this:

“If someone is known to be trustworthy and smart in a particular domain area, then we, as people who know them, actually apply that same trustworthiness and knowledge to other areas outside of their domain expertise.”

Why Subscription Ecommerce Brands Have a Unique Opportunity with Influencer Marketing

This halo effect works well for brands in any industry but has a unique advantage for subscription ecommerce companies.

The Halo Effect: “If someone is known to be trustworthy and smart in a particular domain area, then we, as people who know them, actually apply that same trustworthiness and knowledge to other areas outside of their domain expertise.”

Brad explains that creators establish long term connections with their audiences. When a creator becomes an influencer and recommends your product, their audience is more likely to trust the relationship enough to try the item and stick with it. These recommendations get treated like a reference from a friend, which can lead to better LTVs and subscribers that don’t bail after the first shipment goes through. 

#2 Find the Right Influencers

Finding a trustworthy influencer is one of the most critical pieces of your influencer marketing strategy. Follower count and subscribers aren’t good enough metrics to consider alone, so how can you know what works?

Brad suggests two paths forward: analytics and experimentation. 

The first option, he suggests, should be used by more mature brands that have a clear idea of how to maximize the reach of their influencers and want to partner with a more established person with a large following. When these companies make selections, he says, “the best predictor of future performance is former performance.”

On the other hand, subscription ecommerce brands starting with influencer marketing can experiment with smaller influencers as they learn what works and what doesn’t. 

The Most Important Factor? Genuine Love For Your Brand

Brands should be careful about finding influencers who will promote anything. The value of influencer marketing comes from the audience trusting the person advocating for your brand. If that person is willing to push any product that’ll pay them, their audience will eventually stop trusting them. 

Brad calls this ruined credibility “the greatest potential risk” for influencer marketing. Brands can help stay ahead of the issue by finding influencers who genuinely love and use their products instead of looking for the person with the most followers. 

#3 Keep Things Exciting and Fresh

Influencer marketing goes beyond simply acquiring influencers. It’s a content play, and content needs to stay interesting and relevant to those consuming it.

It’s also a relational play. If you find influencers you like working with, you’ll want to find ways to keep that partnership alive. 

Both of these require creative thinking.

You can’t expect your influencers to post the same content repeatedly. They’ll need to come up with ways to keep things exciting. Brad suggests looking for new use cases and stories the creator can utilize, like:

  • Highlight improvements over time. How does the creator’s energy improve after 1 month of using a vitamin versus 2 or 3?
  • Telling stories where they found a new way to apply the product they didn’t know before. For food brands, that could be something like a unique recipe with a product. 
  • Showcasing different products they’ve added to their subscription. This could be a post about trying a different lotion they didn’t use before to compare and contrast skincare products. 

Bringing up these various use cases allows the influencer to explore your brand for themselves and their audience so you can retain the relationship and continue to get great content from them. 

#4 Trust the Influencers’ Creative Voice

As you work with your influencers, you’ll want to remember that they are creators. They have gained a following because of the content they produce, so don’t try to control them. Or, as Brad puts it, “take your hands off the wheel and let the creator drive.”

Doing this can be difficult since you want to retain control over your products and how you market them. But part of the value influencers bring is that they know what their audience likes and dislikes. If you want them to maintain that trust (you do!), it’s often best to let them take the lead on content creation. 

They have gained a following because of the content they produce, so don’t try to control them. Or, as Brad puts it, “take your hands off the wheel and let the creator drive.”

#5 Time Your Influencer Marketing Strategy Well

Brad believes there’s a time and place for influencer marketing. It’s not something you do to launch a product or create some mild buzz. It’s what you do when you’re ready to build a brand. 

Influencer marketing works best after you’ve maxed out primary acquisition channels first. Reach the limits of your SEM and paid social campaigns before you take on this strategy. 

The Starting Point for Influencer Marketing

When you get going on this, you’ll want to start small. Brad says the best launching point is with influencer-paid social spots.

These essentially work as paid ads but come from the influencer’s account instead of your company’s. You can use these as a bridge into more traditional influencer marketing as you learn what it’s like and what works for your brand. It can also be a fantastic way to test influencers whose relationships you want to develop over time.

Influencer marketing works best after you’ve maxed out primary acquisition channels first. Reach the limits of your SEM and paid social campaigns before you take on this strategy.

#6 Identify a Clear Goal

Like any marketing plan, you’ll only know you’ve succeeded if you set a clear goal that you know how to measure. What exactly are you trying to achieve with your influencer marketing strategy? 

Brad points out that “influencer is a full-funnel program.” The ultimate goal isn’t just awareness. It’s to gain more subscribers. Keeping that in mind will help you stay focused. 

#7 Understand What Success Looks Like

The best way to understand successful influencer marketing is to see it in action. We’ll take a quick look at two pieces from the vitamin and powder subscription brand Care/Of, a client of The Outloud Group.

On Instagram, the brand uses a variety of influencers with a small but engaged following. Take this post from Watsongirls143 as an example. She explains why she’s excited about the vitamins because they will help her goal of “putting myself first in 2022.” You will want to take note of a few aspects of this post.

  • The post is an original one from the creator.
  • The creator has a relatively low number of followers (less than 10,000) but high engagement (several comments on every post).
  • The creator explicitly notes the customized packaging as something she appreciates (it also gets mentioned in the comments a lot!). Most influencers operate on a visual medium, so it makes sense to prioritize your packaging and images.
  • The creator has a clear CTA with a unique discount code that allows the brand to track success. While some campaigns won’t be that direct, this is a great way to track success for those that are.

Another example comes from the Youtuber Claudia Sulewksi. Claudia is a long-form vlogger who focuses on health and wellness. In this video, she walks through what she eats daily, including Care/Of’s protein powder, and even shouts out their vitamins, too. Consider how well she handles the product during her video.

  • It’s a small part of a larger vlog.
  • She weaves it into the video by offering a recipe (something her viewers would want).
  • She mentions the customized packaging.
  • She promotes the brand’s quiz that helps customers find a protein powder that fits their lifestyle. 

Both examples clearly show how brands can work with influencers to create content that promotes the brand while maintaining trust with their audience.

Conclusion

Subscription ecommerce brands have an excellent opportunity to grow their brands through influencer marketing. This strategy relies on trust between the creator and their audience, as well as the creator and your brand. Success comes when influencers are free to create content their audience will benefit from while also promoting the brand with whom they partner. 

Hear more about how you can create a great influencer marketing strategy in the rest of Brad’s episode of Subscription Ecommerce Live, and subscribe to the show to get more insight from industry leaders. Subscription Ecommerce Live and this article are brought to you by ARPU. We help Recharge merchants (Shopify and BigCommerce) create amazing subscriber experiences with upcoming charge notifications that offer subscription modifications (such as adding upsells, delaying a delivery, or swapping a product) in as few clicks as possible, no portal login required. Start sending highly customized messages today.

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