This is our complete guide to Instagram influencer marketing.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn:
- How to find and research influencers
- How to contact influencers
- Top ways to promote your products
- How to negotiate price and schedule promotions
- Lots of advanced tips, strategies, and techniques
So if you want to boost your dropshipping store with digital influencers, you’ll love today’s guide.
Let’s get started.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing in which the advertiser reaches out to influencers and asks them to endorse a product.
This marketing strategy has grown massively over the past decade and is used by dropshippers as well as major brands.
If you’ve ever seen an influencer promoting a product on Instagram, YouTube, or Tik Tok, there’s a 99% chance they were paid to do so.
Here’s a basic rundown on how influencer marketing works:
- A brand wants to promote their new product
- The brand looks for Instagram influencers in their niche
- They contact the influencer and negotiate a deal
- The brand sends the influencer the product
- Influencer takes picture with product and posts it
- Interested followers will click the brand’s website or profile
- The brand starts generating sales
What are Influencers?
Influencers are people who have influence over a particular audience: their “followers” or “fans”.
In other words, influencers are usually Instagram accounts that specialize in a niche and have a relatively large (10,00+) following.
An example of a web influencer in the fitness niche is Jeff Seid.
Jeff specializes in bodybuilding and fitness, so promoting with an online influencer like Jeff would be great for any brands that sell workout apparel or supplements.
Most importantly, a digital influencer has influence over their audience’s purchase decisions.
As a marketer, you will be borrowing the influencer’s influence over their followers in hopes of generating sales.
Why does Influencer Marketing Work?
Influencer marketing is all about trust between the influencer and their followers. The influencer has taken the time to accumulate followers by posting high quality content the followers find relevant.
If they consistently post this content, their audience sees the influencer as an authority figure in that field. Moreover, when the influencer posts a product they like, the follower will buy the product on their recommendation.
Think about it like this.
Influencers are basically celebrities that their followers look up to. For this reason, their followers respect any product recommendations the influencer might have and look forward to using the same product as them.
Can I use Influencer Marketing for my Dropshipping Store?
You absolutely can.
We’ve been able to build a 7-figure dropshipping brand purely off influencer marketing and paid shoutouts. This has given us the opportunity to dive deep into influencer endorsement marketing.
The biggest takeaway we’ve learned is that influencer marketing can be fantastic if done properly.
Lot’s of people think its gonna be easy.
They just contact a niche influencer with a massive IG following and ask them to promote a product in a post, expecting money to fly in.
However, this sort of approach doesn’t work. We’ve seen many posts in our Facebook group where users spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on influencer promotions without any success.
The best influencer campaigns are all about having a fundamental understanding of the influencer marketing process.
And that’s exactly what we’ll show you today.
Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing
Potentially Fantastic ROI (Return on Investment)
The main benefit of influencer marketing is that it can help you generate profits. ROI is just a fancy way of saying a good ratio of what you made over what you spent.
Brand Awareness & Credibility
With so many new brands popping up everyday, influencer marketing can really help your brand stand out.
By promoting your product through social media marketing, influencer’s are putting their stamp of approval into your brand.
The influencer content that they provide can be reused on your landing page and website. This can help bring substantial credibility and trust to your brand.
Low Barrier for Entry
Influencer marketing has a lower technical and financial barrier for entry than other forms of advertising. The influencer marketing cost can be as little as $10 per sponsored post. Furthermore, you don’t need to learn any fancy algorithms like you need for other marketing platforms.
Influencer marketing can provide your Facebook Pixel with extremely valuable data. Therefore, we are often more than happy to just breakeven with our influencer promotions because of all the data we collect to make lookalike audiences.
Difficult to Measure Results
It can be difficult to accurately measure your ROI and campaign results when dealing with promotions from multiple influencers. Thus, it’s important to make a spreadsheet and schedule when using influencer marketing.
Need to Research Thoroughly
Not doing your homework can hurt your brand. You need to make sure the influencer’s profile is reputable with high quality traffic.
Finding a paid influencer who is willing to work with a dropshipping brand can be difficult. Influencers may be careful with what they post as they don’t want any backlash from their followers. This is why your brand’s profile and messages must be as professional as possible.
Harder to Scale
Scaling your business means increasing ad spend to generate more revenue. This may be difficult using influencer promotions as you’ll need to find multiple influencers that can generate a positive return.
However, all of these cons can be mitigated with the right approach. We will teach you how to setup your influencer campaigns properly so you have a higher chance of getting results.
Instagram Funnel Strategy – Customer Journey For Typical Promotion
Having a thorough understanding of the customer journey for a typical influencer promotion is extremely important.
The customer journey or Instagram funnel refers to the entire customer’s experience: from seeing your product on an influencer’s page to purchasing on your website.
Influencer marketing has a different funnel then other paid advertising methods. For this reason, you need to make sure your offers and landing page are in line with the customer’s journey.
- Customer sees promotion from a great influencer they follow
- The customer visits your Instagram profile
- They click the link in your bio to go to your website
- The customer purchases a product on your website
As you can see, the customer’s two main points of contact are your brand’s Instagram profile and website’s landing page.
For this reason, you want to focus on these two aspects.
For normal Facebook advertising, the customer rarely checks on your Facebook page. They simply click on the advertisement and visit your website directly. In this case, we usually don’t put any time into making our brand’s Facebook page look good.
However, since people visit your IG page first during influencer marketing, you’ll want to make sure it’s properly filled out.
Instagram Profile Set Up
A common mistake advertisers make is not putting effort into creating a professional looking Instagram profile.
Nevertheless, it is a necessity for social media influencer marketing.
Both potential customers and influencers will view your IG page to determine the credibility of your brand. Influencers are unlikely to respond if your page is empty or looks amateur.
Luckily, it’s not too difficult or time consuming to make a professional page.
Importance of Good Instagram Content
Influencers will always check your content/IG page to see if it’s high-quality and relevant to their niche. Furthermore, posting consistent and high-quality content will help your organically grow an audience and your own fanbase.
As far as good content goes, it depends on what your niche audience resonates with.
To find good content, view the engagement on successful profiles in your niche to see their top content and what your content should resemble.
Regular Content Updates
Having a consistent posting schedule on your page shows the influencer you’re invested in your business and are actively engaging with your own audience.
Moreover, content updates are great for your own follower-base. People love following profiles that actually drop content regularly.
Standard Content Posting Guidelines:
- 1-2 posts a day is a good balance
- Focus on quality
- Avoid posting 30 times in one day and then not posting for a long time
Furthermore, we recommend building a solid follower base before performing influencer outreach. At a minimum, 500 followers should work well.
Having some followers before reaching out to an influencer for a promotion can boost your page’s credibility.
Also, never buy any followers. Bought followers leads to poor audience quality and engagement.
How to Get Instagram Followers?
Use niche specific hashtags on all of your posts. You can use All Hashtag to find relevant hashtags for your niche.
Another way to build followers is by using the follow-back method. Go to your competitors’ profiles and click on who is following them. Follow their followers in hopes of them finding your page interesting as well.
It may take 2000-4000 follows to get 500 follow backs.
Influencer Marketing Strategy
At this point you should have a fundamental understanding of influencer marketing. Now it’s time to get into the actual marketing system.
The social media influencer strategy is split up into 5 steps that are intended to be executed in order.
Step 1) Finding & Researching Influencers
Any niche will have thousands, if not tens of thousands or even millions of influencers that you can reach out to. It is important to know how to find and properly research influencers so you can maximize your chances of launching a successful campaign.
As a dropshipper that will utilize Instagram influencers, there are primarily 2 types of social influencers.
Type 1: Page Influencers
Page influencers are profiles that don’t focus around a single person. These pages generally have content that is reposted from other IG profiles.
An example is the profile @fashionforever_men.
This profile contains a collection of men’s fashion photos where each post shows a different model. You can also see that each photo has a tag that links to the actual model.
All the pictures are borrowed, typically with approval from the original poster.
Another example is @yogalooksgood.
This page’s posts consists of infographics and various videos of different people doing yoga.
In other words, page influencers are niche profiles that curate a variety of posts.
Type 2: Individual Influencers
These profiles are actual people posting on their personal accounts.
They have at least 10,000+ followers and their ratio of followers:following is going to be much greater than 1.
An easy to understand example of a individual influencer is Kendall Jenner. Boasting 226 million followers, she’s one of the biggest mega influencers on the planet. Her niche is beauty, cosmetics, and fashion.
Individual influencers’ content is geared to promote and grow audience. Furthermore, they have posts promoting various products/services and use a lot of hashtags.
Differentiation between page and individual influencers is really easy. Simply scan through the influencer’s profile and see what their content consists of.
Individual influencers will usually have their face on most of their posts.
Is one type of influencer better than the other? What type should I use?
This heavily depends on your product and niche. However, either one could work well if you can execute your promotion properly.
We recommend beginners to start with page influencers.
Page influencers are more likely to promote your product without physically receiving it in the mail. For this reason, they can post any type of standard advertisement which makes the process quicker.
When using individual influencers, you will need to send them custom packaging with your product.
Sending the influencer low quality products in standard Aliexpress packaging will almost never work.
After you’ve chosen with type of influencer to go with, it’s time to jump into the influencer research system.
Influencer Research System
The influencer search process is very straightforward and easy to perform. You don’t need access to any expensive tools or exclusive influencer lists.
The goal of the Instagram research system is to generate a list of potential influencers that will actually work with you and get results.
So how do you find an influencer?
1) Influencer Search
Think about where your target audience is on Instagram. The best places to look are pages that are most related to your niche.
To get started, open up Instagram on a non-mobile device. Using a laptop or desktop is easier to work with because you can open multiple tabs. Furthermore, Instagram stopped showing likes on mobile devices in some countries.
Now with Instagram opened up, go to the search bar and start typing in different niche words used by your target audience.
- Streetwear Niche – “lit”, “swag”, “hype”
- Yoga Niche – “yoga”, “stretching”, “poses”
Type in any jargon or specialized terminology in your niche. Take some time to test a variety of keywords and open any interesting profiles in a new tab.
Repeat this process until you have 20-30 candidates.
2) Investigate Profiles
After you’ve generated your influencer list, you will need to scan each of their profiles.
There is some key criteria to look for when investigating the profiles:
Follower Count – 10,000 (micro influencer) to 750,000 (macro influencer)
Profiles with less than 10,000 followers are risky since they most likely haven’t been around for too long. Furthermore, pages with more than 750,000 followers will usually have inflated prices.
Audience Quality & Engagement Rate Percentage
You can analyze the influencer’s audience quality by checking their engagement rate percentage. This will show what percentage of the follower base is actually engaging with the page.
ER% = (# of likes + # of comments) / follower count
Use this formula for their last 5-6 posts to see if any were fake boosted or an outlier.
A good engagement rate is 5% or more per post.
Furthermore, you can perform more in-depth audience quality check by checking the comments on their posts.
Look for one-word comments like “wow”, “cool”, and “amazing”. Also, look for sentences that are similar in nature with poor grammar and spelling. Fake comments are usually pretty obvious to see.
If both the engagement rate percantage and engagement quality look good, add the influencer to your final list.
3) Perform Risk Management Calculation
Before contacting the chosen digital influencers, you’ll want to perform a quick risk management calculation. This will give you a rough estimate on how much you should spend on the promotion.
Risk Management Formula
(Traffic x Engagement % x Estimated Click-Through Rate x Estimated Conversion Rate x Profit) – Cost of Promotion
50,000 followers x 10% ER x 15% CTR x 3.5% CR x $12 Profit = $315
For this example, you can spend up to $315 for the influencer promotion to estimate a break-even point. Furthermore, $315 minus a $200 cost of promotion will net you at least $115 in profit.
This formula doesn’t predict actual revenues or profits, it just gives you a guideline to help assess your risk.
Also, the numbers in the equation depend on your own metrics you find through testing. So it will require you to test a few influencers before generating a CTR, CR, and profit.
We recommend that you stay away from meme pages. Although these pages have a high engagement rate, the conversion rate is very low when compared to other types of pages.
Step 2) Contacting Influencers & Building Trust
One of the biggest bottlenecks when trying to set up promotions with influencers isn’t actually the negotiation, it’s the contact phase.
Many dropshippers complain about influencers not actually responding. In our experience, you should expect about 1 out of 5 influencers responding to you.
However, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to improve the chances of influencers responding.
There are a few key elements you need to make sure are present when contacting influencers.
You’ll want your backend setup properly to stay organized when dealing with a large number of messages.
We recommend creating an additional Instagram account solely for influencer outreach. This will help keep your messages organized by separating messages between potential customers and influencers.
When creating your new account, use your main account’s name and add “_sales” or “sales” at the end.
For example, if your main Instagram account was “verumecom”. Your new account should be “verumecom_sales” or “verumecomsales”.
In the sales account bio you need to indicate that this account is only for business inquiries. Also make sure to link the main account and provide a business email in the bio.
Furthermore, upload 6-9 brand-focused images on the new account.
Examples include screenshots of your store’s collection pages, about us, images of products, or lifestyle photos. Once you have the 6-9 images uploaded, you don’t need to ever update the content on the sales account.
We will now show you how to contact influencers in a way that will maximize response rates. If you have an extra $100, we recommend hiring a VA to do the contacting for you. This will save you a lot of time and mental energy.
We structure our messages the same way every time we contact an influencer:
Instagram Promotion Inquiry
Hey [influencer name], we love your [relevant blurb about their content][relevant emoji].
We’d love you pay you for a promotion of our products on your feed.
Please let me know your rates and thoughts.
Your Store Name
Why format messages like this?
This type of message connects with the influencer using language they’re familiar with. Our goal is to make the influencer feel like we’re on the same page and build some rapport and mutual trust.
Simply put, we are straight to the point while keeping it professional.
We want to influencer to feel like they’re in a position of power and validated for having an awesome page.
If the influencer has an email available, we’ll send the same message to their email. However, make sure to use your business email and not a standard Gmail account when emailing them.
Lastly, we’ll go their most recent photo on Instagram and leave a comment:
Hey @influencer, I just sent you a paid promotion inquiry – please check your message requests!
Most influencers read their comments, but don’t often check their message box.
With every message and comment you send the influencer, make sure to use proper grammar and don’t go overboard with emojis.
You should expect 1 out of 5 people to respond after you’ve messaged everyone on your list. Create a tracking spreadsheet on Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to easily keep track of everyone who’s responded. Accordingly, you can also use the spreadsheet to track which step they are at in your promotions funnel.
Step 3) Instagram Promotion Creative & Copy
Once you start to hear back from influencers you’ll want to prepare the promotional content that’s going to be featured.
If you’ve never used Instagram influencers before, you might not be sure what good quality content looks like.
Luckily, it’s not that complicated.
Just stick to a few of our key principles and use your own intuition.
Next, you will need to provide the influencer with the content they will promote. The content will vary depending on the nature of the promotion, product, and niche.
Here’s the standard content steps:
- Image – the main content that grabs the audiences attention
- Caption – adds additional detail about the product and funnels interested people to the store
- Link in influencer’s bio – a link to your website’s homepage or product landing page
Now, we will the discuss the best practices for each of these content pieces.
If using a page influencer, make sure your image will be perceived as an offer and not another lifestyle post on the page. Furthermore, your goal is to encourage people to stop scrolling, check out the image, and view the caption.
You will need to accomplish this without making the post look spammy and too promotional. Never put a price tag on the image post.
Our favorite way is by using an image where the product is visible, but is incorporated with the lifestyle that the niche represents.
In summary, your image should be a combination of a lifestyle photo and product image.
Here’s a good example of a promotion on a yoga/women’s fitness page. The product is the yoga towel that the model is sitting under. As you can see, the product is incorporated well with the overall theme of their page.
Another important trait is to make sure your image doesn’t blend in with the influencer’s page. Your post needs to stand out from the rest of the influencer’s content.
As you can see, the promotional image is unique when compared to the other photos surrounding it.
Viewers will usually scan the page and identify content they deem interesting and then check it out. Moreover, it’s usually not that difficult to stand out. Think about doing the opposite of whatever is on the page.
However, your image does need to match the overall vibe of the page: both visually and in terms of image content.
Most importantly, the image content rules are not set in stone. You can test a variety of different photos and be creative when creating your promotions.
After you’ve gotten people to view the post, you need them to take action by providing effective promo copywriting in the caption.
You can simply provide them with an offer, and then encourage them to take action. Furthermore, you should include a little blurb relevant to the niche, followed by a discount code and your Instagram page.
Standard Caption Structure
[niche relevant blurb] + CTA (call to action) about the product + the benefit (40% off, etc.)
Call to Action to Visit Link in Bio
Here’s an example of a promo image and caption we used for a store selling a neck brace.
Link in Influencer’s Bio
Getting the influencer to put a direct link to your store in their Instagram bio is extremely beneficial. However, some influencer’s may require an additional fee or refuse to do it. It’s perfectly ok if the influencer is unwilling to put your store in their bio, you can still promote with them.
That’s about it when it comes to creating your promo creative and copy. If you take the time to think about what you want your post to look like and also apply these rules, you’ll be in great shape.
On the contrary, one thing to note is that a single piece of creative might not be optimal for every influencer. We recommend going through the post creation process with every influencer you plan on promoting with.
Step 4) Negotiating Prices & Scheduling Promotions
Now that you’ve contacted your influencer list, you should start getting some initial responses. You will get a mix of yes and no answers.
Nevertheless, you will need to start the negotiation process with the interested parties.
But you may be asking yourself:
How do you determine a reasonable rate for a promotion with a particular influencer?
What are you supposed to do if they already have a rate in mind, and it’s a little higher than expected?
What terms should you include with regards to your promotion?
These are all great questions that you probably have.
Now it’s time to discuss our process when receiving responses from influencers.
Let’s discuss how to filter out the candidates you heard back from to determine who you want to negotiate with.
You only want to negotiate a rate if the influencer’s rate is slightly outside your own budget.
If the influencer’s rate they respond with fits into your budget, you can accept their offer and promote with them.
Great beginner influencer campaigns typically range from $10 to $40. Ask yourself how many products you need to sell in order to break even.
We use Instagram traffic to test products and build Facebook ads Pixel data, so we don’t mind breaking even.
As far the promotion details go, here’s what we usually ask for from the influencer.
- Request a 24 hour feed post – this means the influencer will keep your post on their page for at least 24 hours
- Indicate that you will provide the caption
- Ask for them to include your store’s link in their bio
The influencer may request additional payment to include your store’s link in their bio. In this case, we are willing to pay up to $10 to $50 for the link because it removes one step from the sales funnel.
Rather than the customer having to visit your page then clicking into your website, they can go to your store directly from the influencer’s page.
However, if the influencer refuses to include your store’s link in their bio even for payment, you can still proceed with the promotion.
Scheduling a Date
As far as actually scheduling the post, we have a few guidelines you can follow.
- Avoid posting on Thursdays – based on our own sales data
- Post on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday
- Avoid scheduling promotions with the same influencer on consecutive days – this will fatigue their audience
- Track the days you have promotions scheduled in a spreadsheet
- Keep track of which products you’re promoting – you always want to be cycling products for promos to keep it fresh
- For one product dropshipping stores, test multiple creatives
Step 5) Measuring Results & ROI
If you’re only testing one influencer at a time without any additional ads, it will be easy to track the campaign results.
However, it is much more difficult to track your results if you’re using multiple promotions and influencers.
One way we help keep track of things is by including influencer specific discount codes for each promotion. This way, each influencer’s audience will have a different promo code. You can then see how many times the discount code was used in your Shopify backend.
If no-one uses the promotion code in 2-3 promos and there’s low engagement on the post, we’ll most likely stop testing with that influencer.
Another way to track your results is by looking at the entire ad spend to revenue for a single day. Furthermore, you can look at your website traffic on the days of the promotions.
When starting out, restrict your initial promotions with different influencers to different days of the week. Use one influencer at a time and see if they are profitable.
If the influencer generates a profitable return, you can continue promoting with them until their audience is saturated.
Concluding Influencer Marketing for Dropshipping
Influencer marketing can work extremely well for your dropshipping store if executed correctly. A carefully planned social media influencer campaign can bring many benefits to your ecommerce business and drive conversions.
Working with influencers can help your company see results in branding, sales, data, and trust with your audience.
As a final reminder, we believe it’s necessary to create a spreadsheet for influencer tracking and influencer analysis.
You should always keep track of:
- Which influencer’s you’re negotiating with
- What day the influencer will post on
- The total influencer cost of the campaign
- Which product the influencer is promoting
- The total revenue on the day the influencer promotes
- Daily website traffic