Today’s buyers find digital ads to be intrusive, unpleasant, and outdated. Instead, businesses should learn to convert their existing customers into brand promoters.
Traditional e-commerce marketing is slowly becoming outdated as buyers increasingly enable ad blockers and ignore traditional marketing channels. To reach customers, e-commerce companies must find new ways to promote their products and services.
Today’s consumers are less influenced by traditional marketing channels such as television or radio. Instead, studies show that 31% of modern buyers read product reviews to make informed purchases.
Through my work at The Brihaspati Infotech, a leading web design, development, and marketing agency, I’ve helped e-commerce entrepreneurs grow their online presence.
In this article, I’ll share how e-commerce marketing has changed and why micro-influencer marketing is necessary for success.
What Are Micro-Influencers?
Micro-influencers are your everyday customers who can promote your brand to their family and friends.
As consumers increasingly rely on product reviews on social media, brands must realize that e-commerce success requires more than just acquiring new customers.
In fact, the best way to acquire new customers is to focus on converting existing customers into micro-influencers. Real customers who love your brand can then become your greatest brand promoters, encouraging new audiences to purchase your products.
To identify the type of customer who is most likely to become a micro-influencer, imagine the different channels your micro-influencers can use to promote your brand.
Valuable channels include:
- Social media
- Personal referrals to friends or family members
- Product reviews
If your existing customers are already highly active on one or several of these channels, you can begin to design campaigns that will encourage them to promote your brand.
Why Brands Should View Customers as Micro-Influencers
Brands should convert their customers into micro-influencers for 2 key reasons:
- Traditional advertisements are becoming more expensive.
- Customers provide more authentic promotion.
A recent survey by Statista shows that 42% of U.S.-based internet users dislike online ads.
Because shoppers have a hostile attitude toward sponsored advertisements, many enable ad blockers. In the United States alone, experts predict that around 30% of people will use ad blockers by the end of 2018.
Traditional ads might generate some initial traction for a startup. In the long run, however, they are unlikely to provide good ROI.
Today, acquiring new customers through paid ads is not only becoming more expensive, but it is also less effective.
Influencer marketing has shown positive results. According to a survey by Linqia, an influencer marketing SAAS platform, more than half of brands (51%) find that influencer-based brand promotions outperform their own, brand-created efforts.
Mobilizing your customers as micro-influencers helps promote your products in an authentic way. Reviews and testimonials shared by real customers serve as an organic way to increase brand awareness.
Additionally, you can gather valuable feedback from opinions posted by micro-influencers. You can then use this feedback to understand your audience’s expectations and areas that need improvement.
To convert your customers into micro-influencers, all you need is a reason for customers to promote your product. The outcome will be a no-nonsense, authentic, and organic promotion channel.
Why Do Customers Become Micro-Influencers?
Customers become micro-influencers when you give them a reason to purchase your products and deepen their engagement with your company.
When consumers purchase from your website, you are already providing what they are looking for – but your competitors could probably provide the same product, too.
When customers purchase from your company, they are typically purchasing more than just the product. This could be a smart deal, a last-minute delivery experience, unique discounts, post-sales customer support, or a generous return policy.
By identifying and honing the unique value your business provides, you can develop your customers into micro-influencers who are willing to tell others about why purchasing from your company is a wonderful experience.
5 Steps for Turning Customers Into Micro-Influencers
There are 5 key steps for converting your existing customers into micro-influencers:
- Implement referral programs
- Collect product reviews
- Enable social proof notifications
- Personalize UI and customer experience
- Turn brand citations into user stories
1. Implement Referral Programs
Referral programs let your customers earn credits or points as a reward for referring new customers to your e-commerce store.
You can also use referral programs to reward social media promotions. For example, we recently developed an influencer marketing solution called “Gatsby” that allows e-commerce merchants to set up a rewards program for customers based on social media shares.
Through Gatsby, e-commerce retailers can offer a 10% discount in exchange for a customer mentioning the brand on social media.
Referral programs are an effective way to encourage customers to promote your brand.
2. Collect Product Reviews
You can also transform your customers’ experience into brand promotion through product reviews.
According to Google’s consumer barometer, “19% of brand advocates share their experiences online in their networks – twice as many as non-brand advocates.”
Google also found that 14% of brand advocates post a review online, compared to only 8% among non-brand advocates.”
To gather more product reviews, start by reaching out to customers who have recently purchased a product, especially those who are repeat buyers. You can use tools that automatically reach out to customers to give them options to review their purchases.
There are several CRM tools available, as well as extensions available for various e-commerce CMS. Dotmailer, Activecampaign, Salesforce, Zoho Mails, and HubSpot are few such tools.
These tools make it easier to distribute requests for product reviews. Activecampaign, for example, features an automation flow for sending automated reminders to clients.
CRM tools like Activecampaign provide a drag-and-drop editor, allowing you to set up automation flows using triggers, if-else conditions, and actions.
You can use tools and automation to drive more customer reviews.
3. Enable Social Proof Notifications
Social proof store notifications are when a store displays store data – in most cases, real-time purchases – with prospective customers. Social proof notifications allow e-commerce merchants to generate impulse purchases by establishing a fear of missing out (FOMO) around purchasing a product.
By setting up social proof notifications on your website, you can increase your sales conversion rate. Your buyers will act as micro-influencers as their purchases trigger a social proof for prospective consumers browsing on your website.
Seeing other shoppers purchase goods in real-time establishes trust and possibly sparks a sense of scarcity, driving impulse purchases.
For example, the Shopify app has a demo that demonstrates how social proof notifications can inspire impulse purchases.
This demo uses popups on the product detail page to notify prospective customers when sales occur, generating social proof.
Establishing social proof can help drive sales while turning shoppers into promoters.
4. Personalize UI and Customer Experience
Word-of-mouth marketing works best when your store delivers a completely personalized experience.
User interfaces (UI) and customer experience represent two opportunities to personalize interactions with your customers and ultimately convert them into micro-influencers.
To personalize UI, install browser cookies on your website. You can use browser cookies to identify a store visitor and greet them with personalized messages and deals.
To take it up a notch, you can use the customer’s geolocation to assess the areas demographics and weather conditions for unique product recommendations.
Additionally, you should track past product impressions, purchases, and wishlist data to target your customers with customized deals and products.
To personalize the customer experience, use the same customer data to provide faster delivery through localized warehouses, send free product samples, or set up an easy-to-reach support channel to be there for your customer when they need help.
A personalized store has a better chance of receiving positive feedback from customers and ultimately converting them into micro-influencers.
5. Convert Brand Citations Into User Stories
Once your customers start talking about your brand, you’ll have ample content that you can share as user stories or testimonials.
You don't need to write lengthy case studies or whitepaper-style client testimonials. Instead, you can establish an emotional connection with your audience by sharing their user stories on your social media pages.
By doing this, you will directly engage your audience with social proof of your business while showing how much you care about your audience.
For example, Planet Fitness shared an image of a mother-daughter duo dedicated to running to engage other fitness enthusiasts and establish an emotional connection with them.
Planet Fitness shared real-life pictures of their clients on social media to generate a positive emotional connection with their followers.
Users are already posting about your brand on social media, and amplifying these posts can fuel your content strategy.
Your Business Can Benefit From Micro-Influencers
To convert your customers into brand promoters, you should never pressure them to perform an action they don’t want to engage in.
Instead, you should always be subtle and modest in your approach. Give your most loyal customers incentives to voluntarily represent your brand online.
Potential customers are more likely to respond to micro-influencers because they can provide personal, authentic endorsements of your products. This can, in turn, win new customers and sales.
Because micro-influencers provide value to your business, you should reward their loyalty by providing a personalized experience with your brand.
About the Author
Kunal Khullar is a co-founder at The Brihaspati Infotech, a leading IT consulting & service provider. He holds 10+ years of experience with providing software services, development, and team management with diverse offshore software consulting firms all across the globe. He is passionate about technology and believes in serving today’s diversified business world with his knowledge and expertise.