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Here's How Fashion Influencers Are Helping Brands Go Global

July 30, 2018
Blogger, Brand
  
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As retail brands close their brick-and-mortar stores at record rates, commerce is rapidly becoming simply “eCommerce” – particularly for fashion brands. Global fashion eCommerce sales are expected to reach an astounding $713 billion USD by 2022, up from $418 billion, even as in-store purchases decline. In the US, online apparel and accessories sales are already outpacing sales made in stores.  As brands move away from establishing a physical presence in their target markets, influencers have become vital brand ambassadors, creating the buy-in local consumers need to engage with an overseas brand entering the market.


Going global? eCommerce Levels the Playing Field 

The trend toward eCommerce is leveling the playing field for brands looking to enter global markets. Breaking into a new region once meant hiring a team of real estate experts and a local PR team. Now, thanks in large part to influencer relationships, brands are grabbing market share on the strength of their online presence alone, even in competitive categories like department stores. MARKS & SPENCER is a great example. The iconic British retailer has no brick-and-mortar presence in Australia, yet its brand awareness, customer loyalty and revenues have steadily grown since launching a dedicated eCommerce website in 2016. The brand launchd with an influencer event that allowed key fashion and lifestyle bloggers to personally meet with key figures from M&S, learn the brand history, and see new products.


M&S engaged Shopping Links to create the guest list, which featured leading influencers Bec Judd, Nadia Fairfax and Kate Waterhouse, as well as 49 fashion bloggers and social influencers with strong followings in M&S’ key markets. The influencers generated 79 total Instagram posts, generating more than 55,000 likes and giving the brand a total potential reach of 2.7 million potential customers. 


Emerging brands are seeing similar success with influencers. Australian self-tanning brand Bondi Sands is sold only in select US retail stores, yet its products have achieved familiarity in regions where it has no physical presence at all, thanks to influencer content in key markets.


Google Trends reveals that Bondi Sands’ brand familiarity has dramatically increased over the past three years, despite little physical representation in retail stores.

To gain traction without foot traffic, successful brands are tossing traditional brick-and-mortar launch strategies and focusing instead on the long-term results made possible through new technologies and local influencer relationships. For a brand entering a foreign market for the first time, enthusiasm from real consumers is invaluable. More than any ad campaign or press release, cultivating interest among influential shoppers through targeted influencer campaigns will keep a brand poised for long-term success.



Bondi Sands has achieved this through influencers such as Shannon Jenkins, who engages local audiences in key sun-tanning regions such as Florida.

For brands entering new markets, establishing lasting relationships with local influencers is particularly valuable. Long-term collaborations allow brands to gauge various influencers’ results over time, then convert high-performing influencers into ambassadors, giving brands a long-lasting presence. M&S is an example of a brand that has approached influencer marketing with a particularly relationship-focused mindset, having built genuine connections with influencers over the course of not just months, but years. Influencers such as Australian blogger Jess Dempsey, featured below, have collaborated with M&S since the brand launched its eCommerce website in 2016. When her viewers see an M&S #ootd, they recognise the brand as one that she wears regularly. 



Applying this mindset to your own brand can help you gain a foothold internationally without relying on expensive ad campaigns. Here’s how you can leverage the power of influencer relationships to enter global markets with ease.


Want personalised advice? We love helping brands solve unique challenges. Request an intro, and let’s talk about how to take your brand to new markets.


Transparency is Key: Use Analytics to Verify Audience Demographics  

 

One of the biggest mistakes we see even veteran brands make with influencer marketing is to assume, without further investigation, that an influencer’s audience demographics will mirror the influencer. Our experience has shown that this isn’t always the case: some female influencers, for example, attract predominantly male audiences. Likewise, many male bloggers attract female followers. More than 60% of bloggers aged 26 to 30 have followers who are at least four years older than they are. We also find that nationality or residence aren’t always good indicators of a blogger’s influence in a particular region.

The only way to verify an influencer’s reach in a particular market is to check their analytics. Thankfully, this has become a far easier task than it was just a few years ago. We have integrated both Google Analytics and Instagram Insights into our Shopping Links blogger profiles, allowing brands to see follower demographics on a granular level by gender, age range, and area of residence, so you never have to guess. 

Google Analytics, shown above, has long been a part of our Shopping Links blogger profiles. Combined with Instagram Insights, this data offers the most comprehensive overview of an influencer’s audience across multiple social channels. The ability to verify audience demographics through Instagram Insights has been a game-changing development for brands, and we’re thrilled to be one of only a few platforms able to provide this level of detail.

Read More: 10 Data Points to Consider When Choosing an Influencer


We also offer detailed Collaboration Results, which are complimentary for three months with our Product Seeding collaboration type and available with any campaign. Collaboration results can help you select the right long-term influencers by allowing you to leverage a powerful advantage of influencer marketing: the data from every collaboration informs the next. When you can compare metrics such as reach, engagement and affiliate sales from one collaboration to the next for the same influencer, you can more easily track improvement without the bias of environmental factors.


Incorporate Local Culture & Landmarks   

 

Tying your brand to local culture and events is another powerful way to make an impact on potential customers when entering a new market. Links of London successfully utilized this tactic to strengthen brand awareness in the US and Canada while still running their operations from the UK.


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A post shared by Kristina (@dear.november.days) on


The well-timed collaboration with Kristina Williams, the blogger behind Dear November Days, ran about six weeks ahead of Mother’s Day for these regions and featured influencers in diverse markets, from Chicago to Alberta. This timely influencer campaign allowed plenty of time for moms to hint at what they wanted for their holiday.

Leveraging familiar landmarks, be it a popular restaurant or a famous street corner, can also help to strengthen the local, personalised connection between your brand and a new market. Utilizing the geo tagging feature available on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube can boost post engagement by as much as 79% — a good reason to make location-specific local settings and geotagging a requirement in your creative brief.



Australian swimwear brand Bondi Bather demonstrated the power of geo-tagging after capturing attention in the American market with Aussie influencer Milly Bannister geo-tagged in San Jose, California, shown above. Using the #SanJose hashtag garnered further attention. 


When looking to leverage the power of a place, communicate with influencers about their travel plans so you don’t miss out on the opportunity. We also encourage working closely with influencers on your key messaging to make sure it resonates with a local audience. Allowing influencers the freedom to craft the right message will help you learn more about your market – and potentially save your brand from culturally missing the mark.

 

When incorporating locations and landmarks, video-focused platforms such as Instagram Stories, Snapchat and YouTube are particularly powerful tools. These platforms allow you to add local language and culture in a way that can be hard to capture through a single image. With Instagram Stories, you also have the benefit of the traffic-driving swipe-up feature, available to users with more than 10k followers. The effectiveness of swipe-ups for converting viewers into shoppers is part of the reason we require influencers to have a minimum of 10k Instagram followers to apply for Product Seeding collaborations.

Read More: How to Plan the Perfect Instagram Video Campaign  

  

Generate Buzz with Micro-influencers  

 

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, bigger isn’t always better. This is partly because engagement often drops as audiences grow – but, just as importantly, it’s also because brand alignment matters as much as overall reach. The most effective influencers for your brand are those whose personal style, content aesthetic, and audience demographics match those of your target audience.

Swedish fashion brand Monki is particularly effective at generating buzz across multiple markets with niche influencers. In a recent collaboration for the launch of exclusive denim styles, the brand offered influencers the chance to create a personalised outfit from the denim collection, giving each a chance to express their personal style with Monki. By selecting niche influencers in different markets, such as Paris and Glasgow, the brand was able to assess differences in how audiences in these markets responded.  



By selecting influencers who travel, Monki also had the advantage of comparing how engagement differed for the same influencer between cities. Sheri Scott, the blogger behind @foreveryoursbetty, geotagged posts from both Glasgow (above) and Budapest, Hungary (below) — both target markets for Monki. Although her followers reside primarily in the UK, the geotag expanded Sheri’s potential reach for her second post to potential Hungarian shoppers. 



It is worth noting that neither of Sheri’s posts reads like an advertisement. We have found that genuine content - the kind that paints an authentic picture of a blogger’s thoughts, as these posts do - has a greater impact than promotional content. Notably, the second post and more personal of the two, garnered nearly 800 more “likes” than the first. Each post received comments directly about the Monki pieces, demonstrating that influencer content need not look like and advert to be effective.


Leveraging the power of multiple bloggers can also help you achieve what advertisers call effective frequency, or the repetition required to spark brand recognition. When shoppers see your brand on multiple Instagram accounts, it creates the feeling that your brand is on-trend – an effect that becomes amplified as bloggers share their content across multiple channels, including Instagram Stories, Pinterest and personal blogs.


The power of amplification is one reason we created our Product Seeding collaboration, which allows brands to gift influencers at scale and generate multiple conversations about your brand within a fixed budget. Through this collaboration type, you can select 10, 25 of 50 influencers with at least 10k Instagram followers for less than $90 USD per influencer. All collaborations include delivery details for each influencer and a guaranteed Instagram post tagging your brand within 90 days of the blogger receiving product. Many influencers also choose to add an Instagram Story, which can drive further traffic to your eCommerce site.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know about Micro-influencers

 


Want to find the best micro-influencers for your brand? Schedule an intro to learn how to find niche influencers in a new market who want to work with you!     


Final Thoughts: Managing Influencer Relationships    

 

Whether you’re just starting to think about global markets or you’re looking for more effective ways to expand internationally, influencer marketing is a powerful strategy for making an impact beyond your borders. 

One question we often receive from brands going global with influencers is whether to manage relationships directly or through an agency. We recommend managing your relationships in a way that allows you to engage personally with each influencer and monitor their results long-term. When you can immediately tie your results to the relationships you have built in a particular market, you will not only see a much higher return on investment, but you’ll also have the tools to track that return. We have built Shopping Links to give you control of your influencer history and data, no matter what agencies you engage, or how your strategies might evolve over time.


If you want to enter new markets with ease, Shopping Links can help! Our personally vetted network of 15,000+ bloggers represent 117 countries, and our seamless platform makes it easy to find the right bloggers for your brand, submit your brief and securely submit payment in multiple currencies. To request a demo, contact us at hello@shoppinglinks.com or follow us on Instagram at @shoppinglinks

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