Do you ever dream of having a star promote your products and getting thousands in sales as a result?
Many businesses have tried, most have also failed. So what did the successful ones do right? Today I’m very excited as I have a great case study filled with tips & tools to help you do it the right way.
I met Sarah through organizing MTL+ECOMMERCE and she’s since started a very interesting & fun project: La Boîte à Bonbons. A monthly subscription box for candy lovers and a pretty successful one at. Indeed, Sarah was able to quit her full-time job only 7 months after launching it.
In only 9 months, Sarah was able to go from nothing to over 7000 Instagram followers & 3000 Facebook likes. They have been featured in Salut Bonjour on TVA, HuffPost Québec, Montreal.tv or Journal de Montréal!
Having followed & encouraged La Boîte à Bonbons from its inceptions, I’ve been really impressed by Sarah’s ability, ability to ask for advice and constant hustle as well as how she was able to leverage Instagram influencer marketing as you’ll read about below!
Here is what we’ll see:
- Pick your Influencers Wisely
- Know Who you Want to Work with? Reach Out!
- To Pay or not to Pay?
- Is Influencer Marketing the Right Strategy for my Business?
Enter Sarah & La Boîte à Bonbons
Today, we would like to share with you about one of our key marketing strategies: influencer marketing. For those that are not familiar with the term influencer marketing, it is defined as identifying “the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orient marketing activities around these influencers, rather than the target market as a whole” (source). We can think of influencers as trendsetters, early adopters or well-connected people. You can have influencers amongst your customers as well. Note #2: this article is not about influencers the size of Kylie Jenner or the likes.
In this case study, we will specifically dive into social media influencers, most of the tactics and strategies will be based off Instagram influencers but can be applied across platforms. We will go over how to choose the right influencers for your product, how to approach them, what to offer (it has to be a win-win), and what to expect.
At La boîte à bonbons, even before we started contacting influencers, we had a few requests already lined-up! It is quite exciting to have people reach out because they have heard of your product and are eager to share about it on their personal feed! But you already have to select them carefully, there and then – not all influencers will fit your branding and strategy, at times you will and must say no (we declined a collaboration with an influencer that had over 50k followers!).
Choosing your influencers is very important, if not the most important part of influencer marketing. To do so, you have to define key things about your demographics: gender, age range, location, language, interests… If you already have a few customers, they will most likely put you on the right track to answer some questions!
Once you know who’s your target market, your research for the perfect influencer can begin. It won’t take long before you find a couple of people that keep coming back in the specific feeds you are investigating: your target market often interacts with their posts, they comment/share – you are onto something.
Next, you have to look at their engagement rates; that’s where most people make mistakes: followers count is not always the most important number. The engagement rate (number of interactions with a post over the number of followers) is the key ratio you should have in mind. While the number of followers does count, it won’t mean much if the influencer has a very low engagement rate. A good rate should be between 5 to 10% (more than 10% is exceptionally high), it means the followers really care about what the influencer has to say!
One of our recent collaboration with an influencer left us with pretty good numbers! Laurence had 10.3k followers at the time and the picture below gathered about 600 likes! If our math is correct, that’s a 5.8% engagement rate!
There are several tools you can use to visualize Instagram accounts and analyze various things to understand if indeed it’s a real influencer (hint: look at how many follow/unfollow they do). Start with Social Blade for a quick look at the numbers, then go with Iconosquare for both research and analytics. Another one would be Muses, although we haven’t tried it yet at La boîte à bonbons, the purpose of the tool is to bring together influencers and companies that wish to share their products with them!
Reaching out to influencers is usually quite simple. Most of them will have an email address displayed on their bio/about section; others you will have to send a direct message (Ambroise: or use techniques to find their email). Do not send a generic message you have used with dozens of other influencers, remember that behind that Instagram/Facebook account, an actual person is reading your message, not a bot. We all hate cold calls/emails – don’t be one of them! Be friendly and explain why you think a collaboration together could be a great fit. If you can get an introduction through a friend, even better; people are very receptive. (More on that here)
Your message should be very clear on what’s expected from both sides to avoid confusion or disappointment. Do not expect things you didn’t ask for, it puts pressure on everyone and it’s a waste of time.
The question of money will come up, you have to know what you’re comfortable with.
What to offer an influencer in exchange for visibility will vary from companies and from influencers. If you do not have the budget to pay the big guys, aim lower; you’ve got to start somewhere! Don’t waste time trying to reach out to the Kardashian of your segment when you know you can’t pay for the post, it will only deteriorate your image with that influencer. Instead, think of it as a game with multiple levels where each level represents a specific influencer size: the more influencers you have under your belt, the better equipped you are for the next ones! Before you know it, the big guys will come knocking on your door for a collaboration.
To decide on compensation, you have to analyze each situation separately: what are your objectives? Will this collaboration really bring the estimated visibility and/or sales? Is it worth it?
While we initially thought of this strategy as a way to increase our followers count on social media and overall visibility, we quickly understood that there was more to it than just followers. It’s an actual marketing tactic. Just like any marketing effort, influencer marketing has to be part of a greater scheme. You have to develop actual marketing campaigns that have defined goals and objectives, and are comprised of several tactics; influencer marketing will be just one of them.
Great news: all your efforts might even get you on TV, that’s exactly what happened to La boîte à bonbons! We’d been following key people that work for different media outlets and one day, we had a request to show our box on TV for Mother’s day! Influencer marketing is not just about sales or exposure, it’s about developing your branding with the help of people that embrace your company vision!
Since we launched our Instagram profile on October 1st 2016, we have steadily increased our followers count by about 200 per week to reach 7,000 early June; we get above 40,000 impressions per week and 1,000 people click on our website link every week! Traffic from Instagram accounts for about 15% of our sales. Not bad, eh? And that’s only counting visits from Instagram, not the tremendous influence it has had on our branding.
With La boîte à bonbons, we were lucky to work with the best influencers! We had great experiences and have met a few of them, it’s fun to take it to real life and actually get to know each other! It’s an actual human experience after all, you are sharing your product with somebody else who’s as excited about it as you are!
In conclusion, while most of the examples and tactics showed here were mainly tested on Instagram, you can apply them to other outlets; it really depends on what works for you! In our industry, we use Facebook for communication purposes and to run contests and giveaways – we still try to post once a week. We had been working with Youtube influencers as well, and what’s fun about videos is getting linked underneath the video – it’s a direct path to your online store!
HAVE YOU TRIED INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER MARKETING? ANY ADDITIONAL TIPS? SHARE’EM IN THE COMMENTS!