The ultimate guide to influencer marketing for retail brands
Learn how retail brands including Big Box, Department Store, Grocery, House Brand, Category Specific and Direct-To-Consumer work with influencers to boost online and in-store sales, improve online presence, and drive storefront awareness.
The retail landscape is always changing. Modern brands use influencers to reach target customers wherever they are, both online and in-store.
How are retail businesses adapting and staying relevant? How are they continuing to promote their brick-and-mortar locations while growing online presence? By using the authentic and direct connection from influencer to consumer.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to leverage influencer marketing in order to:
What is influencer marketing for retail brands?
Retail influencer marketing: when retailers work with influencers who are relevant to their products in order to drive product consideration, boost online sales, and drive traffic to their website or physical stores.
What is the most powerful marketing strategy in retail today? Producing visual content like photos and videos and making sure it gets in front of your target customers. Influencers are the new word-of-mouth marketing, spreading awareness and recommendations to thousands of followers and potential customers.
With robust historical data to guide your influencer strategy, you can get your brand in front of just the right people.
Top influencer trends in retail today
1. Content-first creator campaigns and influencer boosting are accelerating as they outperform traditional ad creative.
2. Co-op creator influencer marketing is accelerating as retail media groups grow.
3. Influencer Benchmarking is increasingly informing influencer strategy.
4. Gen Z partnerships are a top priority.
5. Video drives greater engagement and conversions.
Today’s retail challenges
The future of retail is omnichannel. From marketing to buying, you’ll need to meet your customers wherever they are, including social media.
Top retail challenges include:
- Replicating in-store experiences, online
- Consumers relying heavily on online reviews
- Digitizing the customer experience
- Changing in-store formats
- Optimizing storefronts as customer service tools
With an influencer marketing retail strategy, you can overcome these challenges and:
Which retail brands can benefit from influencer marketing?
Whether you’re a department store, retail chain, supermarket, or discount retailer, your brand can benefit from partnering with the modern day best friend.
Helping small retailers brands grow
Smaller businesses are looking to maximize ROI at every turn, and influencer marketing by nature is measurable, as it’s built on data. As a smaller scale retailer, you may have a niche product or market, which means you need to reach specific customers who will be interested.
Influencers are in tune with their followers and know how to speak to niche products and services authentically. Influencer data tells us exactly how well they perform for your niche and industry. This increases the odds that you’ll reach prospects who are interested enough to purchase online or visit your physical store.
Influencer marketing can also help smaller brands make the most of their marketing spend through licensed influencer content. Over the course of your influencer campaigns, you’ll build a collection of licensed evergreen and reusable content that continues to convert across your owned channels.
Don’t have the budget for a full influencer campaign? LTK offers other placements at lower flat fees to help spread brand awareness.
Helping larger retail brands scale
Larger retailers, like Walmart, Target and Nordstrom already have their name established in the market. Still, it’s critical for these brands to remain relevant in a quickly evolving landscape.
Retail influencers empower larger retail brands in real time to expand their current strategy and go beyond what they’ve always done. Some retailers are so big, they can’t hear their customers. Influencers gather customer feedback directly and empower larger retail businesses with fresh ideas for influencer campaign expansion.
These skilled content creators keep larger brands in tune with current customers and help them think differently about new audiences for increased reach and revenue.
Influencer marketing management helps you develop and maintain partnerships with the right influencers through a layered, full-funnel approach.
This helps you:
- Scale your influencer marketing program with diverse influencers
- Test new channels, verticals, and audiences
- Create multi-channel campaign strategies
Honesty and authenticity
Consumers are looking for honest reviews and recommendations– they don’t want to be sold to. They trust influencers as lifestyle tastemakers and opinion leaders. Influencers are on the pulse of what buyers want from retail products of all kinds. Let them be the honest voice behind the reviews.
With the e-commerce takeover, brick-and-mortar stores are serving as customer experience tools. How can you use your store space to augment the customer experience with innovative features? First, think from a digital enablement standpoint (tablets and self-service). Then, think aesthetics (post-worthy visuals and displays) and interaction (conversations, not just customer communications). From there, let influencers show their followers what they’re missing.
Convenient delivery and pickup
After they pay, consumers want it, and they want it now. Many retailers are delivering on this growing demand, while providing a seamless order tracking experience, free shipping and returns. The ones who do it right are worth talking about across social media and with friends and family.
Customers want to purchase from companies that they can align with on their values. Be transparent about your business model. If you’re a sustainable retail brand, let the world know; there are many sustainable retail influencers who are willing to highlight brands doing good for our planet.
Relatable IRL demonstration
Since consumers are in-store less, they have to find other ways to see your product. Influencers not only give consumers the clarity they need around a product’s look and feel, but how they work for them and their lifestyle. For example, clothing brands work with influencers of different sizes to show customers how their products fit on all bodies. With access to a robust retail influencer network, your retail brand can align with many influencers of diverse backgrounds.
When influencers offer brand discount codes and promote quality guarantees and return policies, it’s even more likely consumers will buy. Once their followers become customers, it’s more likely they’ll come back for more.
Key characteristics of a retail influencer
The retail influencer is well-known in their niche. They have an established following based on their lifestyle preferences and offer their followers catered content they’re likely to be interested in.
As their followers look for new products to make their lives easier and help them self-express, they look to their favorite influencers for what to do and buy.
Influencers in the retail space:
- Genuinely use the products and services they promote
- Are in tune with their followers’ tastes and preferences
- Create excellent visual and written digital content
- Offer consumers aesthetic inspiration and entertainment
- Are skilled public speakers and live event promoters
- Demonstrate products effectively and in real time
- Act as guides to help followers live their best lives
- Are more influential than paid advertising according to LTK’s national shopper study
- Easily adapt to changing trends and consumer demands
As the most agile, cost-effective, and trackable sales channel, store influencers can help:
- Make the most of traffic lulls in-store
- Build a trustworthy library of reviews and social proof
- Effectively promote sales, discounts, and offers
- Make consumers feel at ease about in-store events
- Amplify the buzz around in-store events
- Encourage consumer engagement with your online store
- Build positive brand associations
- Produce reusable content for owned channels
Retail influencer content
Consumers are less interested in perfectly polished photography and put much less stock in commercial content. Effective retail content must be engaging to watch and listen to and not overly produced.
Influencer marketing is a great way to break down superficial barriers between a brand and its customers. Usually raw and unrehearsed, influencer content is based on the influencer’s true thoughts and feelings as they go about their daily lives.
Influencer content for retail store marketing includes:
Consumers are looking to their favorite influencers before making big and small purchase decisions. Whether you sell expensive luggage or healthy, organic meal plans, the right data-driven influencer content can help you scale.
What retail influencers want in a brand
Influencers have made a career out of following their passions and interests, which form their personal brand. They must stay loyal to that brand in order for their followers to remain loyal to them (and by default, you).
Here is what retail influencers are looking for before they sign with a brand:
Influencers work with brands who embrace their personal aesthetic and values. This helps them remain authentic and effective in selling your products. Working with an expert in influencer management helps you sift through the vast retail influencer network for a well-aligned partnership.
Influencers are content creators, but they know that you have preferences for your brand. A mood board, along with any helpful messaging, can inspire the influencer to bring the content to life in a way that represents your brand identity.
Unique, trending products
Influencers are looking for the next trend to act on. Where possible, tap into your most unique services, products, and offerings to highlight across your influencer marketing campaigns.
Just as consumers are hyped about sustainable retail, influencers are too. Influencers can spread the word about how you’re impacting the world. This helps improve your brand perception and sets your retail business apart.
Influencers want freedom to interpret products through their creative lens. Allow your influencers to interpret campaigns and create content that balances your brand identity with their personal aesthetic.
Clear terms and conditions
Your contract is the start of a collaborative partnership. Provide your influencers talking points, brand information, and helpful tips for deliverables without being too prescriptive.
Choosing the right retail influencers for your brand
Casting influencers is a complex process. These tips should get you started on the right foot.
1 Don’t focus on followers
Micro-influencers, who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, are known for their high engagement rates. The micro-community is often underestimated by brands, but they are highly effective in their niche.
When choosing influencers for your retail marketing strategy, don’t ignore the impact micro-influencers have across critical communities.
2 Don’t sacrifice your brand
It takes time to find influencers who are a match– but they’re out there. Understanding what makes your brand stand out will make all the difference in casting.
What is your retail category or niche? Who is your target audience(s)? What problems do your products solve in their daily lives? When you have a deep understanding of your brand, consumers, and goals, you reach the influencers who will help you succeed.
3 Embrace diversity
People buy things they can relate to and see themselves using. In such a diverse world, brands must work with influencers of all gender identities, races, and backgrounds to truly relate to the world we live in and not alienate consumers.
4 Embrace platform diversity
Work with influencers who produce content of all formats across many platforms and channels. While a live stream may drive engagement in one scenario, a single static image with a clever caption may get the shares you’re looking for.
5 Consider user-generated content
User-generated content is highly effective in promoting retail products from all industries. Work with lifestyle influencers who inspire followers to interact, repost, share, and tag content.
6 Leverage influencer data
You need influencer data to determine who will be effective for your revenue-focused strategy- and it’ll inform how to pay your influencers. Gain the highest level of influencer transparency about how they perform for your products by working with an influencer marketing management platform. LTK was founded by a creator to give creators a significant tech advantage to be a brand’s power partner.
7 Work with couples
Couples influencers are growing in popularity across platforms, and creators are sharing their spouses and families on social. LTK helps creators make their everyday lives shoppable, making it easy for creator couples and families to deliver more opportunities to shop in their posts.
8 Video, video, video
Video is the dominant content format for promoting all industries. But even more so, video is critical for capturing the function, uniqueness, and quality of an everyday product. Leverage influencers who value video in their storytelling to help your brand stand out in a saturated industry.
In-house influencer marketing programs can suffer from:
With substantial influencer data from an influencer marketing platform, the right lifestyle influencers can help you regularly reach niche audiences, improve brand perception, build brand identity, and set your brand apart in the marketplace.
Tips for your retail influencer marketing strategy
Consider these tips as you’re strategizing your first influencer campaign.
1 Budget early
Set aside enough for a budget that will allow you to meet all your campaign goals. Don’t stretch a small budget, or you may not get the results you’re looking for.
2 Give generous incentives
Give your influencers a way to incentivize their followers to risk leaving the brands they know to try your product: discount codes, free offers, affiliate links, giveaways. Anything to get consumers on board. Just as important: let your influencers experience your products for a period of time before they’re scheduled to promote it.
3 Keep track of retail trends
Retail influencers have a direct connection to shoppers not only online, but also in your store. Shoppers connect with creators while in your store on their phone for reference and opinions. Influencer campaigns answering questions for customers about events and displaying multiple products work well for shoppers in your store.
4 Plan in-store events
As a retailer, a large part of your identity is your branded environment. Make your store post-worthy and bring your influencers in to promote the real thing.
5 Grow influence
When managing your influencer marketing campaign, return on ad spend and results don’t always happen instantly. Lifestyle influencers help you build your reputation and influence via evergreen data-driven strategies.
6 Consider geo-targeting
Geo-targeting branded content can be very beneficial for retail brands, especially those with physical stores.
7 Promote collaborations
Retail businesses are constantly collaborating with other retail businesses. People love to see it, so make these collabs a part of your campaign strategy. Your influencer and product partnerships will appreciate it. And with a second (or third) brand involved, it will lead to more engagement opportunities.
8 Promote your “community hub”
Humans value social connection- which is why social media marketing is so effective. For retail brands with storefronts, build a community around your brand and let influencers promote that in-person connection and interaction, online.
If you want success, you need to:
At LTK, we help you and all of your departments every step of the way. As an influencer marketing platform designed for creator management, we help you do it all in-house, so you have the influencer intelligence to run effective influencer marketing campaigns without completely outsourcing to an agency.
LTK Most Loved Product Awards
As the global leader in Creator Commerce™, we used our proprietary benchmarking technology to evaluate billions of Creator-linked products and compile our annual list of top performers. Check out the 2021 award winners to see what products—from fashion to fitness and family—everyone is crazy about now.
Start your influencer marketing journey
You have just taken in a lot of information. If you're still not sure where to start, ease your way into influencer marketing with a test campaign. Influencer data should always guide your influencer strategy from the start; otherwise, iteration is impossible.
As the leading influencer marketing hub for the last 10 years, LTK has solved influencer marketing challenges through:
- Amplified distribution through the largest creator shopping channel, the LIKEtoKNOW.it app (which has 5 stars and 8M+ shoppers)
- Full-service creator programs that deliver on your unique objectives
- Strategic planning based on historical brand performance data
- Expert brand consulting, planning, executing, and reporting
- End-to-end campaign execution and influencer casting
- Access to the most successful influencer platform in the world
- Licensed imagery from premium creators for your own marketing channels
- Conference and event integration to build long-term relationships
- Access to real-time measurable results on the top influencer campaign management software
During your test campaign, you’ll likely discover best-match lifestyle or other industry influencers who convert for retail in your product space. Consider our influencer marketing platform to help secure those influencers as your ambassadors.