2019 has been a big year for influencer marketing. This year, two-thirds of marketers have plans to increase their influencer marketing budgets and the industry is set to reach a whopping $10 billion by 2020.
The why is clear: influencer marketing is an incredibly effective channel when it comes to building trust, growing brand recognition, and driving sales.
Nowhere is this truer than in the fashion industry with 78% of fashion brands already working with influencers or have plans to do so over the next year.
If you want in on the action then you’re in the right place: we’ve put together an in-depth guide on how to work with fashion influencers to grow your brand – let’s get started!
Why use influencers?
Influencer marketing seems to be made for fashion brands. Think about it: for hundreds of years, fashion has evolved around people. We’ve always looked to those we admire for inspiration about what to wear and when to wear it.
A couple of centuries ago, consumers would have looked to figures like the Queen for the next hot fashion trends. These days, it’s bloggers, vloggers, celebrities, and Instagram idols that influence our wardrobe choices. But even that doesn’t mean that it’s the right marketing strategy for every brand and the last thing you want is to invest time and money into a campaign only to have second thoughts further down the line.
Advantages of working with influencers
Numbers don’t lie and the data says that influencer marketing offers a much better return on investment than other marketing channels:
- Influencer marketing generates 11x better ROI than banner ads.
- Almost 90% of businesses report that their ROI from influencer marketing ROIs is similar to or greater than other marketing channels.
- Influencer marketing strategies that focus on driving engagement or brand awareness generates 8x ROI.
Influencer marketing allows you to really zone in on your target audience. By working with the right fashion influencers, you can generate highly-targeted traffic with greater purchase intent.
Influencers fight hard for their followers and the result of this is a built-in trust factor when it comes to what they post. As a brand, this is a huge part of what you’re paying for: you’re getting access to a warm audience that is far less sceptical of an advertisement compared to traditional channels.
There really is an influencer for everyone and it’s never been easier to scale campaigns. For example, if you’re running a successful campaign with a micro influencer, it’s pretty simple to test the same campaign on a larger audience – you just need to find a bigger influencer.
Disadvantages of working with influencers
All that being said, influencer marketing isn’t perfect. Here are some of the main drawbacks:
YOU HAVE TO GIVE UP SOME CREATIVE CONTROL
Working with influencers means putting a big chunk of your marketing efforts into the hands of someone outside of your business. Not everyone is comfortable with giving up this creative control.
SCANDALS CAN BE DETRIMENTAL
Your fashion brand’s image is tied to any influencers you work with. If your influencer becomes tied up in a scandal, your reputation is on the line.
Take fashion and beauty influencer Olivia Jade, for example, who was caught up in a scandal over an alleged college-admission bribery scam. Prior to the scandal, she was working closely with big-name brands like Sephora, Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs Beauty. These brands cut ties with Olivia shortly after to distance themselves from the negative press but the damage was already done.
IT TAKES TIME TO SET UP
Influencer marketing takes longer to set up than many other campaigns. Even after you’ve found an influencer to work with, there’s a lot of back-and-forth that has to happen before you can roll out your campaign. If you’re looking for quick results, other marketing channels may be more effective.
How to work with fashion influencers
PART 1: DESIGNING THE CAMPAIGN
All successful marketing campaigns start with a clear, well thought out plan of action and we’ve broken the process down into several mini steps – make sure to carry out each of them before you start reaching out to influencers.
Define the goals
First, define your goals. What is it you want to achieve by working with fashion influencers? Are you looking to promote a new fashion line or product? Drive sales? Improve your brand identity?
According to this report, the top three most common goals are:
- Increase brand awareness
- Reach new audiences
- Generate sales
Your goals will have a big impact on the type of fashion influencers you’ll target, so it’s important to have a clear idea in mind of what they are. Any goal you set should be SMART, which means:
To make sure they’re measurable, start thinking about your KPIs right now. How are you going to track the performance of your influencer campaign? How will you know if you’ve met your goals?
Also, make sure you put reasonable deadlines in place. Set targets by which you intend to achieve your goals.
Set the budget
Once you’ve decided on your goals, you need to set a budget. If you’re a small to medium-sized business, you probably won’t have the same kind of budget as a huge fashion chain.
That’s okay – you don’t need it. Influencer marketing is suitable for small budgets too – you just have to choose the right influencer and that starts with being realistic about who you can afford to work with.
For example, if you’re a cash-strapped start-up or a small fashion brand with a turnover of $200,000 or less, you’re not exactly going to be able to afford to work with Kim Kardashian, who supposedly charges $250,000 to post a photo on Instagram.
Instead, you’re probably going to want to work with micro-influencers (those with a following of less than 100,000).
To help you get an idea of what kind of influencers would be suitable for your budget, here are some rough numbers of what each charge per post:
- Micro-influencers – $100-$500
- Blog influencers – $500 – $5,000
- Social media influencers – $100 – $500,000
- Celebrities – $5,000-$1,000,000
As you can see, some of those prices vary widely and the exact price really depends on the influencer.
You should also start thinking about your payment structure. Would you prefer to pay a flat fee or pay based on results? Many influencer campaigns work based on an affiliate model, where the influencer is paid based on the number of sales. You could also consider cost-per-click or cost-per-engagement models.
If you have a really, really small budget, you might be able to avoid paying a fee entirely. Some smaller influencers may be willing to promote your product for free in exchange for a product freebie. You could also consider sending your new product to an influencer and hope that they’re happy enough with it to review it and share it with their audience without a fee.
Swedish brand Fjallraven did just that when promoting their hugely successful line of fashion backpacks and saw great results. As you can see, this YouTube unboxing video alone had a reach of 165,000 and generated a ton of likes and comments.
Managing an influencer marketing campaign is a big job and you’ll want to assign a team of people to ensure it goes smoothly. Your influencer will be the driving force behind the campaign, but you’ll also need to think about support roles.
For example, you might want to task someone with ‘looking after’ the influencer to help them to create the content, such as by providing them with brand information, providing input on the design of the post, and generally communicating with them.
Who’s going to track performance and measure results? Who will set up tracking links and affiliate codes? And who’s going to reshare the content your influencer publishes across your own social platforms? Outline all of this and more in your strategy.
PART 2: FINDING INFLUENCERS
After you have a clear strategy, it’s time to connect with some fashion influencers. The first step is to locate some potential candidates:
How to find influencers
Here are five methods that you can use to find fashion influencers to work with:
- Use Google – search for keywords that align with your fashion brand and scan the results for content from creators that you might want to work with.
- Look on social media – If you’re looking to work with social influencers, search for hashtags or keywords related to your industry and see which creators are influential in the space, then reach out to them.
- Spy on your competitors – look at your competitors; are they working with any influencers? If so, consider whether they might be a good match for your brand too and get in touch.
- Utilize influencer software – software like BuzzStream and Scrunch allows you to find influencers and get an insight into their statistics and engagement metrics.
- Contact influencer agencies – there are agencies out there that work directly with a talent pool of influencers and they can help pair you up with an influencer that is a good match to your brand.
How to vet influencers
Before you establish a working relationship with an influencer, you have to do your research to make sure they’re a good fit for your brand. That means performing some basic vetting procedures to separate those that are worth investing in from those that aren’t.
There are three key things to look for when you’re vetting them: reach, relevance, and resonance. In other words, how big is their audience? Do their audience and content align with your target audience? And how much trust do they command?
It’s important to remember that the size of their audience isn’t everything. Those 10,000 followers on Instagram might have only been gained through follow-for-follow tactics and won’t respond to their posts.
You want to look at their posts and try to get a sense of their engagement statistics. If they’re a social influencer, here’s a simple formula to calculate their engagement rates.
Also, make sure they make sense for your budget and have an overall image that matches your brand.
When you initially reach out to them, ask about results from previous campaigns and for any data they have. Also, make sure that you can communicate well – nothing is more frustrating than an influencer who takes forever to respond.
PART 3: MANAGING THE CAMPAIGN
After you’ve made contact with your influencer, it’s time to launch your campaign. Make sure that both you and the influencer are clear about expectations and draw up a clear agreement.
Make sure you clarify things like:
- Payment structure (i.e. cost-per-click, cost-per-engagement, cost-per-post, etc.)
- Duration of time you’ll be working with each other
- The type of content you want them to share
- Disclosure agreements
- What your expected results are (make sure you both agree that they’re attainable)
- How often and through what channels they’ll share the promotional content
- All other necessary contractual agreements
Throughout the process, it’s important to maintain a good working relationship and communicate in the right way. Celebrity influencers are going to want to communicate in a very different way (probably through an agent) than micro-influencers, for example.
Examples of awesome influencer campaigns
Before we finish up, we wanted to leave you with a little inspiration. Here are three fashion brands that have had great results through influencer marketing.
Fashion Nova went all out on their influencer marketing strategy to build brand awareness and boost their Instagram following. They’ve worked with pretty much everyone who fit’s their aesthetic. Alongside a host of insta-models, big names like Kylie Jenner, Carbi B., and Amber Rose are just a few of influencers that have been a part of their campaign. Apparently, this strategy worked, as the brand has climbed to an incredible 6 million followers in only 3 years.
High street fashion powerhouse H&M utilized both celebrity and blog influencers to promote their Fall Studio Collection and had great results. They carefully selected women who reflected their brand values, including blogger Julie Sarinara and Ela Velden.
Here’s a post from Julie’s popular fashion blog Sincerely Jules promoting H&M’s new collection.