January 18, 2022

Instagram Influencers: The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Ecommerce Campaign

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Wondering how to best leverage Instagram influencers for your next ecommerce campaign? Learn how to create a successful partnership with Instagram influencers.

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Kaitlyn Ambrose

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In the early days, Instagram was a trove of high-flash images of what’s for dinner, #sunset shots, and pet pics.

But if you open the app today, Instagram influencers dominate. And for good reason.

Partnering with Instagram influencers means building creative campaigns that generate brand awareness and, eventually, lead to conversions.

But with so much potential for your store to get in the game, it can be hard to know how best to leverage Instagram influencers.

In this post, we’ll cover:

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get to it.

What is Instagram influencer marketing?

An Instagram influencer is someone who’s created a personal brand or reputation in a niche on Instagram. They tend to promote products or services in their lifestyle content.

Consequently, Instagram influencer marketing is when ecommerce brands partner with these Instagram or even Shopify influencers to promote products, services, or initiatives.

Some examples of near celebrity-level influencers include Alexa Chung for fashion, Marie Kondo for design and organization, and Kayla Itsines for fitness. And this is the tip of the iceberg—Instagram influencers range across niches in follower size, brand aesthetic, and more (we’ll get into that later).

Does Instagram influencer marketing work?

A great deal of time, effort, planning, and money go into successful Instagram influencer campaigns. When done right, they can make a big splash for brands.

In fact, partnering with Instagram influencers yields a high conversion rate for ecommerce brands. For every $1 spent on this type of marketing, brands see a return nearly five times higher. 

However, even if a campaign doesn’t result in immediate sales, it establishes multiple customer touchpoints, which can lead to conversions down the road.

Take activewear brand, Fabletics, for example:

Fabletics wanted to raise brand awareness, communicate their values, and inspire customers to be their best selves. The #KickButtLookCute campaign was launched with 12 influencers—three with nano-size followings and nine with micro-sized followings.

(Source: @sarahvadnais)
(Source: @sam.joey)

Partnering with Instagram influencers of varying follower counts allowed Fabletics to maximize the campaign exposure—as different influencers carry different engagement rates.

This campaign wasn’t aimed at promoting a specific product, rather a state of mind aligned with Fabletics’ values. As a result, the campaign generated a 9.41% engagement rate, meaning nearly ten percent of people who saw the campaign interacted with it—a group of potential Instagram users who could become buyers.

This might not amount to purchases right away for Fabletics, but huge volumes of the audiences of the participating influencers saw the products featured, and may have Fabletics on their list of brands to try.

Such is the nature of these types of campaigns! Attribution is tricky and non-linear, but sometimes the brand awareness might be what you’re after.

#cta-paragraph-pb#Are you posting when your audience is online? Learn the best times to post on Instagram for better engagement.

The types of Instagram influencers

Not every brand can work with A-list celebrities, but luckily one of the biggest draws of working with ecommerce Instagram influencers is the variety.

A common way to categorize influencers—aside from industry, like beauty, fashion, and lifestyle—is by follower count. The number of followers usually dictates the budget (more followers = more exposure and often more expense).

This graphic from Mediakix puts the different tiers of Instagram influencers in perspective.

(Source: Mediakix)

As you can see, Instagram marketers fall into tiers like:

  • Mega-influencers: Mega-influencers include celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande, and more. These influencers (or their publicists!) typically have lots of experience working with brands and are the most expensive.
  • Macro-influencers: This includes public figures and other influencers who have skyrocketed in popularity. Be ready to fork over big bucks for these influencers but their follower base means tons of exposure for your brand.
  • Mid-tier influencers: This tier is a pretty big jump from the first two in terms of follower count, which ups your potential exposure, and includes variety of creators and public figures.
  • Micro-influencers: While this tier of influencers may have a slightly bigger reach than nano-influencers, they still have a highly-engaged follower base. Brands who want a more 1:1 feel for their campaigns look to micro-influencers.
  • Nano-influencers: This group consists of creators, hobbyists, and bloggers who occasionally promote a brand or product. But don’t underestimate this tier! Due to their smaller follower count, engagement rates are typically higher.

Each tier brings a unique offering to the table. Your brand’s goals with Instagram influencer marketing—and your budget—will inform the tier you should consider.

How much does an Instagram influencer campaign cost?

While every influencer charges differently, how much you spend will ultimately come down to how much you’re willing to spend.

For most marketers (38%), spending between 10-20% of their overall marketing budget is the norm. However, 10% of marketers plan to spend between 30-40% on ecommerce influencer marketing campaigns.

Benefits of working with Instagram influencers

Pairing up with creatives with a dedicated set of followers in a given niche has so much potential for ecommerce brands, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason why you shouldn’t go this route.

Let’s look at the biggest benefits of this kind of partnership.

Reach audiences you otherwise wouldn’t

If lifestyle influencer Sandra D from South Carolina has 7.4k moms between the ages of 28-45 watching her Instagram Stories, she can expose your brand to her followers.

Your gain access to these followers without them needing to be a follower of yours already. A first encounter like this feels more natural—like a friend telling you about a product they just tried—versus seeing an ad.

What’s more, data shows that 72% of marketers see a noticeable difference in the quality of their customers from influencer campaigns.

Scale campaigns quickly

Ecommerce brands can easily ramp up campaigns when working with multiple influencers at a time. Every influencer will add their own unique touch to the campaign (within your scope, of course), which gives you more exposure at scale.

Best of all, depending on your contract, you can share these campaigns to your brand’s Instagram channel for additional amplification.

Build trust with your customer base

Instagram influencer marketing (and really any kind of influencer marketing) can be a slippery slope in terms of authenticity. Customers want to see genuine recommendations from their favorite influencers—not irrelevant adverts that come across forced or awkward.

But when done right (e.g., you know the message you want to send and give the influencer autonomy to shape that message based on what they know about their followers) you’re in a great position to come off genuine.

How to create an Instagram influencer marketing campaign

Phew! There’s a lot to a successful Instagram influencer campaign. The question is: Where should you start?

Let’s look at the steps you can take today to launch a needle-moving campaign along with estimated costs, and common mistakes brands make.

Step 1: Define your goals and budget

First thing’s first: Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign.

Many brands look to influencer partnerships to do things like:

  • Promote a new product or service
  • Give back to their community
  • Run a contest or giveaway
  • Run referral programs

These are just a few of the big ones. Working with pro influencers means unlimited creative potential! It’s important to connect your goal to a key result. I.e. if you are promoting a new product as an ecommerce brand on Instagram with your influencer—what are some of the key performance indicators you’ll look at when the campaign is over to know whether this was a successful product launch? (i.e. maybe you’ll use a branded hashtag to track overall engagement or views of the product you can attribute back to Instagram as a source, for example).

Once you’ve locked in your goals, plan your budget. You can use an Instagram pricing calculator to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay to work with a specific influencer:

Instagram Influencer cost calculator
(Source: Inzpire)

Step 2: Identify the right influencer(s) to work with

Next, it’s important not to choose any willing and available Instagram influencer. You want to make sure their audience, values, creative vision, and budget align with yours.

While researching, take note of whether an influencer you’re interested in has experience doing a similar campaign or has the right follower fit for your brand.

To simplify this step, influencer marketing platforms like #paid and Grin match your brand with relevant Instagram influencers based on your goals, budget, and more. Plus, these platforms help manage the admin of working with influencers, like contracts, campaign feedback, and communication.

3 Mistakes brands make working with Instagram influencers

Working with an Instagram influencer for your next campaign is exciting no doubt. But make sure you avoid these mistakes:

  1. Not having campaign goals: Take time before anything else to get clear on the purpose of the campaign, what your ideal outcomes are, and your overall vision for the partnership. It’ll be difficult to measure success if you don’t have concrete goals outlined.
  2. Not researching your influencers: Certain influencers are in demand for a reason. But be sure to do your homework and make sure they’re right for your campaign. Working with the wrong influencer can have a negative impact on your brand.
  3. Not maintaining a relationship with influencers post-campaign: If you’ve established a great working relationship with an influencer, keep in touch! You never know what new, creative idea you’ll think of next together. Plus, as their reach grows, so will yours. You also want to be mindful not to treat an Instagram influencer as purely a means to an end. Relationships are everything!

7 Instagram marketing examples

These days, there are countless examples of Instagram influencer marketing in action. But here’s a look at some of the best we’ve seen.

TULA x Paula Alain

TULA is a probiotic skincare line that offers a variety of clean cleansers, moisturizers, and serums. Visuals are a major part of TULA’s brand—whether it’s product images, branded media, or user-generated content.

The brand has made a big effort to blend their bright, colorful brand imagery with influencer campaigns as well.

The #TULApartner program is a great example. The brand partners with beauty influencers of varying follower sizes, like Paula Alain, and asks them to share their favorite TULA products.

(Source: @paulaalain)

Paula Alain’s reach gives this campaign a more 1:1 feel, which resonates with her followers and gives TULA the chance to build a connection with a specific audience.

FP Movement x Roca Moons

FP Movement is the athletic wear arm of fashion retailer Free People. FP Movement has collaborated with influencers to build a great library of workout videos as part of their FP Movement Club membership.

FP Movement partners with wellness influencers for fun, engaging content that resonates with their customer base, like this quick workout video from wellness influencer Roca Moons.

(Source: @fpmovement)

Roca Moons integrates FP Movement content with her own (she posts her own at-home workout videos, fitness challenges, and more), which makes the campaign that much more impactful.

For FP Movement, this is a great way to go beyond the static influencer partnership post, and create content that not only features their products but adds immediate value for their customers. Content like this positions the activewear brand as a go-to for all things fitness.

Chaco x Pattie Gonia

Chaco is a premium footwear and accessories brand for outdoor lovers. Their partnership with Pattie Gonia, an LGBTQIA+ and outdoors activist, is a perfect match.

For example, this post is rooted in both Chaco and Pattie Gonia’s values—funding organizations that support and advance diversity, equality, and inclusion. They partnered to raise money and awareness for five nonprofits that support these values.

(Source: @chacofootwear)

This is a great example of a big brand genuinely showing where their heart lies without making it about them or their products.

Blume x Danita Shari

Blume is a skincare line that makes products free of harmful ingredients like alcohol and parabens. Blume partners with influencers like Danita Shari (a lifestyle influencer) and offers discount codes with a commission.

(Source: @_imdanita)

This type of influencer campaign may be simple but because of Shari’s smaller audience and the discount code incentive, followers are more likely to try Blume because of their trust in Shari.

Olipop x Gabby Thomas

Olipop is a soda-alternative offering tonic crafted with prebiotics, botanicals, and natural plant fiber. Olipop partnered with Olympic athlete, Gabby Thomas (and a few other brands) for a giveaway.

(Source: @gabbythomas)

Partnering with influencers and other brands is a great way to supercharge a campaign and expand your reach to other audiences.

Califia Farms x Carla Hall

Califia Farms makes innovative, healthy, and great-tasting beverages like plant-based milk, creamers, and cold brew. The brand’s Instagram is a hub of delicious recipes customers can go to for inspiration.

Califia Farms partnered with pro chef Carla Hall to promote their holiday beverage flavors.

(Source: @carlaphall)

Hall, a major voice in the culinary space, shares a unique twist on how she’d use the Holiday Nog Almond Milk and the post comments say it all—people were thrilled, which is a big part of what makes Instagram influencer campaigns so impactful.

Partnering with creatives like Hall means you not only get access to an audience but you get creative genius, too.

Chobani x Cody Rigsby

Chobani is one of the biggest Greek yogurt brands in the US. They also make other products like plant-based creamers, milk, and post-workout shakes.

The partnership between Chobani and beloved Peleton instructor, Cody Rigsby, was a wild success. The two paired together for a series of Instagram posts featuring Cody’s limited edition Chobani Complete Mixed Berry Vanilla post-workout shake.

Source: @codyrigsby

Not only is Chobani using a tried and true method out of the Instagram influencer playbook (partnering with an influencer to promote a product) but by developing a limited edition product with Cody, they’re upping the ante on exclusivity and reach.

How to measure the ROI of your Instagram influencer campaign

Whether you choose to work with nano-influencers or go big with a celebrity endorsement, expanding your brand’s reach on Instagram means you’re bound to see a return.

And the numbers don’t lie: A whopping 89% of marketers say the ROI from influencer marketing is better than other marketing channels.

The thing is, calculating the ROI of an Instagram influencer campaign isn’t super clear.

A single post or Instagram Story can receive lots of engagement but it can be difficult to tell just how successful the campaign is without knowing which numbers to monitor.

Like any other marketing campaign, one single metric doesn’t tell the whole picture. Some of the most important to pay attention to include:

  • Click-through rate
  • Cost-per-click
  • Conversions and sales directly attributable to the campaign
  • Engagement rate on the individual posts from the influencers

Together, these metrics will help you see the overall return on your campaign and what could be improved for next time.

Is your site ready for Instagram influencer success?

With the uptick in site activity you’re sure to see from a campaign like this, it’s crucial to ensure your site is ready.

Customize your landing pages to set your Instagram influencer campaigns up for success and track results. Tools like Shogun Page Builder make it easy to iterate on your page designs, build new pages quickly, and ship faster.

#cta-visual-pb#Create a dynamic ecommerce experienceDIY your store design with the best page builder tool by creating stunning store pages and landing pages that drive conversions.Get started today

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