Influencer marketing is no longer a new concept, but influencer marketing strategy remains murky. Brands and influencers are still working out the best influencer marketing strategy to bring authentic, persuasive branded content to consumers.
Brands are unsure of how to connect with influencers, and what methods of highlighting their products are best. They want to clarify ROI on influencer marketing and make sure that they’re building an authentic connection with their influencers and their influencers’ audiences.
Influencers want to build their business, so it benefits their readers and viewers by feeling like a natural extension of their brand. They don’t want to seem pushy about highlighting sponsored content or items and want to maintain the integrity of their recommendations and their content.
Without a blueprint, how does influencer marketing strategy meet in the middle?
A secret weapon to building an effective influencer marketing strategy for influencers and for businesses is image to image technology. It takes some of the biggest pain points out of influencer marketing for brands, influencers and consumers alike.
What is image search and how does it work?
Image to image search is a technology that allows a computer to process an image and find similar images on the web. (If you’re not familiar with image and search technologies, you can find out how this works in this brief overview of image search.) A classic example of this is Google’s reverse image search, but you might have run into this feature on other apps or sites such as Pinterest as well.
For example, if you upload an image of a black dress into an image to image search, you’ll get back images of black dresses that look very similar. This means consumers can go straight from something they see on a friend, on a vlog or on a blog to similar items without having to think up search terms for it. Take this shoppable example from Syte’s Facebook Messenger tool that identifies a dress with a scalloped top, nipped in waist, full skirt and off-the-shoulder sleeves:
Now imagine trying to type all those features into a store search for that dress, and you’ll start to see how useful image to image search is for ecommerce companies.
For websites with clothes, accessories, furniture, home decor — anything that can be visually matched — image to image search takes the frustration out of limiting parameters and pages of results for terms like “black dress” or “blue square lamp.” Companies like Pinterest and Target are collaborating on image to image search because consumers quickly get to the items they want since they can use any image they see online or IRL as a reference.
This is huge for influencer marketing strategy because it digs into the heart of what it means to be an influencer. Anyone you see who is wearing something you want can be an influencer with image to image search. If your friend has the cutest pair of shoes, you can upload a picture of her shoes. If a co-worker you follow on Instagram wears stylish gym shorts, you can upload those shorts.
The personal brand amplifies in power when influencers and ecommerce companies invest in this huge potential.
Images and Influencer marketing strategy for: Influencers
If you’re an influencer, monetizing your blog while still giving your audience authentic, relatable content is your sweet spot. It’s tough to walk the line between presenting sponsored products — even ones you believe in wholeheartedly — and coming across as an annoying #ad #spon #paid product pusher. And when you’re linking products, tags at the bottom can lead people away from your site and look disorganized. The blog platform is not set up to robustly support your needs as a business.
But nailing this will make you more attractive to your audience, who will be more likely to click and give you commission on pieces. And it will also make you more attractive to businesses that will see you have an engaged audience who regularly shops products you recommend.
When you use image to image technology on your blog, you can make any image instantly shoppable. With Syte, unobtrusive tags pop up when a user scrolls over an image and, when clicked, the tags pull up shopping links that display the item you’re wearing or showcasing. This means that you can build sponsors and shopping into your posts and stop linking away from your blog whenever you want to let your readers check out what you’re wearing.
Never Go Out of Style
Another advantage to tagging items in your posts is that your links are always up-to-date. No longer do you have to spend your own time searching for products similar to what you’re wearing to provide lower-cost options or to keep older posts up-to-date when items go out of stock. If you posted the outfit on January 1st and you want to use it in your year-end favorites, image to image search will keep the shopping and product information links for all your posts accurate.
It’s proactive to give readers alternate links like Estee Lalonde does, but if her posts were shoppable with image to image search, a host of identical jackets would have popped up from the post itself — just like it does with the shorts above. And when that Topshop link no longer works, but she wants to wear her favorite jacket again, she won’t have to search for another link for readers.
Seamless Product Plugs
Instead of trying to talk up every product in a description or putting a research bibliography of links at the bottom with your sponsored content in bold or asterisked, shoppable posts feel a lot more authentic and streamlined.
Imagine if effortlessly elegant Anh’s beautiful outfits and blog posts didn’t end with a slew of links and options, but instead those products were seamlessly integrated into her posts?
While you still have to disclaim your sponsored items or posts, embedded shoppable links are less obtrusive than trying to plug *and *disclaim every time you put a sponsored link in. Plus, your sponsors will be happy they’re linked right in your post, not in a list of content at the end.
Know Your Audience, Know Your Influence
If there’s one thing that companies want from their influencer partnerships, it’s proof that they’re going to reach the right audience and proof that their partner’s reach is effective. For you as a content creator, having data like the kind you can find on Syte’s personal dashboard helps you as a business.
On that dashboard, you can find all sorts of key information about your Syte setup, including impressions, clicks and conversion rate. This is a customizable space that you can tailor to help you put together the information that you want on your audience.
Not only does this make a persuasive case to any potential brand partnerships, it also helps you understand what your audience is going for. This can help you tailor your content and your brand pitches to nail the fit between your business interests and your reader’s product interests.
Images and Influencer marketing strategy for: Businesses
Besides the tightrope walk of identifying and building relationships with the right influencers to reach a brand’s target audience, companies want to make sure that their content is getting its day in the sun. They want plugs that feel authentic and links back to their content that people will actually click on. But businesses need to work with tools that influencers can use to easily resolve the company’s hesitations.
Attract Qualified Shoppers
One big thing that businesses want to know is that their influencers are actually generating serious leads. While an influencer’s audience might be big, only a certain number of their followers will purchase based on their recommendations on any given day. What’s great about an embeddable link is that you are guaranteeing that people who are coming from your influencer’s pages are serious shoppers.
With embeddable links, shoppers can see stores, prices and comparisons. This means that any shopper coming through that Syte link is going to be a better-qualified customer. They’ll know exactly what they’re getting and be more likely to purchase — not just browsing to see if something is in their price range. Compare that to a tiny list of links curated by fashion blogger Emma Istvanffy: What is the price of the items from this beautiful outfit and are they still available or available in my country? Not sure!
Those who do click through might bounce quickly when they see the dress is $188, if that’s above their price point. Shoppers who saw the cost of the dress and clicked through anyway are more likely to purchase that item or another item in that price range on your site. Another example is Senstylable, who uses Syte’s image matching technology to make their Instagram posts shoppable. Take this shirt, that appears at three price points:
A shopper clicking on one of those links has already comparison shopped and decides what fits with their aesthetic and budget without even leaving your influencer’s site — they’re not googling all over to see if there’s something else available, they’re turning themselves instantly into a qualified buyer.
Getting Creative With Influencers
More creative uses of image to image search can give you a great way to better engage influencers’ audiences and draw people to your site based on the strength of an influencer.
For example, using image to image search on your site can also be a good way to feature your influencers — you can take the content that they build around your sponsored product and demo how you can “re-create the look” with the items right on your site. This is great exposure for influencers and for you, plus it puts the shopability that their audience expects from your influencers on your site.
Or maybe you can customize the copy on landing pages for items that you’ve sent out to an influencer when they make a big push to wear your clothes for a prominent event or holiday. Because you know that influencer will be linking to the exact product page for the item, you have the freedom to get a little creative.
Start Getting ROI
When companies build partnerships with influencers, there’s an understanding that part of the equation is exposure and building a new audience.
But there’s also a desire to see the ROI that you’re getting from your influencer partnerships in terms of actual sales numbers. With Syte, you can track conversions, spend and more on a customizable dashboard. You’ll get data on your customers that come through your influencer partnerships, providing more visibility to your influencer ROI.
The rise of influencers, micro-influencers and peer reviewers, and a strong predilection for online shopping all make building an influencer marketing strategy key to building an ecommerce business today. Technology for shopping online is making it easier for people to be directed to the products they love, but that is happening in conjunction with a boom of online content. Bringing the two together is the way that your business can set itself ahead of the trend for this new generation of shoppers. With sites like Pinterest and eBay already adopting these technologies, the time is now for you to bring image search to your company.
Today, we’re happy to share that Syte raised $21.5 million in Series B Funding. Viola Ventures lead the investment, alongside high-profile investors Storm Ventures, Commerce Ventures, Axess Ventures, and Lyra Ventures. The total funding to date is $30 million.