The ecommerce world is becoming increasingly saturated, forcing brands and retailers to come up with creative ways to stand out.

There’s been a surge in social selling, an uptick in subscription services, and an increase in incredibly targeted email marketing campaigns — but nothing is quite as effective as a recommendation from a trusted source.

In the past, this would come in the form of word-of-mouth marketing, where a friend or family member would recommend a product. The advent of social media has created a new form of word-of-mouth marketing: influencer marketing (or influencer partnerships).

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer partnerships have been such a huge success for brands that the market is projected to expand to $16.4 billion this year.

It’s not just big-name influencers like the Kim Kardashians of the world, either.

In the U.K., research from Statista shows that Instagram nano-influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers enjoy a 4.4% engagement rate, making smaller accounts some of the best partners.

The Value of Influencer Partnerships

Teaming up with a well-known figure or an industry expert comes with plenty of benefits:

Boost Brand Awareness

The more people talk about your brand online, the wider your reach will be. Influencer partnerships expose your products and services to a pre-built audience.

Increase Conversions

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing today. According to a poll by influencer marketplace Tomoson, brands generate an average of $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. In Germany, Statista research shows that 22% of consumers follow product recommendations from influencers.

Instill Trust

According to an IZEA Research report, 62% of social media users trust influencers more than celebrities. When a trusted source recommends your offerings, that trust is transferable to your brand as a whole.

Encourage Engagement

The same report by IZEA Research revealed that 60% of social media users have engaged with a sponsored post. And, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, 60% of marketers say that influencer-generated content drives more engagement than branded posts.

3 Examples of Powerful Brand and Retailer Influencer Partnerships

Influencer partnerships come in all shapes and sizes — some brands and retailers choose to partner with one big-name celebrity, while others opt for multiple partnerships with smaller, niche accounts. Here are three companies seeing success with their ongoing influencer partnerships:

1. Aerie and Busy Philipps

Aerie is renowned for promoting body positivity. In fact, influencer partnerships are such an important part of the brand’s image that it has won awards for them in the past.

The ongoing #AerieReal campaign shows a selection of influencers promoting the brand’s swimwear line through unretouched social media images, meet-and-greets, and in-person talks.

Over the years, the brand has partnered with top accounts in the fashion world, as well as a number of big names, like Busy Philipps.

The aim of the campaigns is to “keep it real” and onboard influencers like Philipps who are well-known for vocalizing shared values — which has dramatically increased Aerie’s engagement and customer base.

In an interview for Glamour magazine, Philipps says that the partnership is “much bigger than just getting to appear in some ads — it’s about endorsing the brand’s underlying philosophy of representing women and celebrating their diversity.”

2. MVMT and Sam Kolder

Partnering with influencers who share your values is crucial, and that’s exactly what watch brand MVMT did. The brand partnered with filmmaker, traveler, and adventurer Sam Kolder to create a collection of watches.

As a high-end watchmaker, the brand wanted to reach a new audience of adventurers — Kolder’s partnership helped to infuse a sense of curiosity and wildness into their new line.

Video Source: Sam Kolder

MVMT and Kolder didn’t just create a new collection; they also produced a series of YouTube videos celebrating life and time while exposing the brand to his 1.2 million followers.

3. Lowe’s and Jenn Im

Lowe’s new “House of Style” series involves a partnership with a different influencer each month to curate a selection of products. Jenn Im recently took the helm of the campaign to promote her collections, “Sunlit Sanctuary” and “Artful Modern.”screenshot of Jenn Im's Instagram post in partnership with Lowe's to show her curated home collection | influencer partnerships

Image Source: Jenn Im

For the partnership, Im has cherry-picked a number of featured products, created a YouTube video suggesting home decor ideas, and developed Instagram posts to bring the curated collections to her 1.7 million social media followers.

4 Tips for Successful Influencer Partnerships

1. Choose Influencers With Shared Values

Aerie chose to partner with Philipps because she regularly posts about body positivity. Ideally, the influencers you partner with share your values to further support your brand identity.

According to the “Consumer Culture Report” from 5W Public Relations, an average of 72% of consumers agree that it’s important to them to buy from brands that align with their values. Shining a spotlight on your principles through intentional partnerships will help you reach the right people.

2. Tap Into New Audiences

Watch companies are often associated with high-powered business types and the corporate world. When MVMT partnered with Kolder, they had the chance to tap into new audiences that could also make use of their products: travelers and creatives.

If you want to tap into a new audience, try partnering with an influencer who has a following made up of the people you’d like to reach.

3. Create an Entire Campaign

The success of the Lowe’s campaign hinged on the fact that Im wasn’t just posting to her social channels. She also curated an entire collection promoted on the website — and created videos showing customers how to style their Lowe’s purchases.

Instead of encouraging partners to pump out social post after social post, consider how you can create additional content that will help your audience. Turn it into an entire omnichannel campaign with multimedia elements for your website and social channels. You can even extend partnerships to include meet-and-greets and in-person talks like Aerie does with its #AerieReal partners.

4. Promote a Deeper Message

While influencer partnerships are a good opportunity to promote your products to different audiences and increase your brand reach, the most successful campaigns tend to focus on telling a story instead.

For example, MVMT’s partnership with Kolder celebrated life and time through a series of beautiful videos. Instead of just asking influencers to snap a picture of your product and share it with their audience, think about ways you can weave a story around your brand and your partner’s values.

Influencer Partnerships Present the Perfect Opportunity

Influencer partnerships provide a powerful opportunity to promote your products and brand values to new audiences. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg — highlighting how brands and retailers can work closely with relevant figures to increase awareness, boost engagement, and capture more conversions.

Check out Salsify’s “Consumer Research 2022” report for more insights into what today’s shoppers expect from ecommerce brands.

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