How we worked with Instagram Influencers to GENERATE $120,000 in REVENUE in 3 months.
When we opened our flagship eCommerce store - we couldn’t afford to spend money on advertising where results seemed ambiguous. We didn’t have the capital or knowhow to invest in Facebook ads, so paid Instagram Influencer promotions seemed like the way to go.
Influencer promotions combined cheap ads, massive social proof, and “cherry-picked” audiences.
After a bit of trial and error - we were consistently generating $30-40K/MONTH through Instagram Influencers alone, with 6x to 8x ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) on average.
Below is our strategy for researching, contacting, and promoting with Influencers.
Note: The process relies heavily on understanding aesthetics and “vibes," so certain explanations may come across as pseudo-science. If this doesn't resonate with you, you can ignore and just focus on the technical steps.
Pixel Integration: Pixel Perfect (We use this app because it apparently tracks pixel data more accurately than the built-in Shopify Integration)
Industry: eCom - Niche Fashion
Item + Fulfillment Integration: Oberlo & AliExpress
We only promoted Fashion/lifestyle-related products on Instagram - these tend to do well because because they “fit the vibe” of the platform (cute girls, “look at my awesome life,” “look what i’m wearing,” etc)
This is how we set up our Instagram:
- Have 2 Accounts (one main account, and one account for our influencer/business relationships. This keeps the inboxes manageable and might look more “legit”)
- Have at least 25 Posts (for trust and credibility when people arrive at your profile from the Influencer promotions).
- At least 500 followers (also for trust and credibility) - you can hit this number by visiting your “competitors” on Instagram, look at who they follow, then follow those people. There’s a limit to how many people you can follow per hour without getting your accounts blocked temporarily. I forget the exact number. Google!
- Link to Website in Bio with a Call to Action
B. INFLUENCER RESEARCH
We promoted with "Tumblr-style"/re-post page influencers over personal influencers because they’re more likely to promote products without physically receiving them in the mail.
Tumblr-Style pages are usually a collection of lifestyle images that are attached to no specific individual. Mainly reposts - similar to Tumblr. I’ve included an example of a Tumblr-style attached to this post.
This saves time and allows you to get a lot of promotions up within a couple of days.
If you’re NOT dropshipping - you can also promote with personal/individual influencers to build credibility in your niche.
If you ARE dropshipping - Don’t promote with individual influencers unless you’ve vetted your product and have your own custom packaging. It will definitely hurt the influencer’s reputation if they promote low-quality items (I haven’t tested this - but guessing many wouldn’t promote them), and may make it harder to for you setup a niche presence (depending on the size of your niche).
C. INFLUENCER CRITERIA
Here are some KEY points to look for when doing influencer research:
- Do they have product images, and/or lifestyle images that highlight a product?
- Do these product-centered photos have REAL engagement?
We avoid promoting on accounts with a lot of fake engagement (“Wow!” “Amazing!” “Cool” ← these basic one word comments. You can dig deeper by viewing the accounts of people who post these. You want active, relevant people on these pages). I’ve attached a few visual examples to this post.
- Do they have at least 20K followers? This is just to be conservative. Typically aim for at least 50K followers.
NOTE: It’s more efficient to do this research on a computer instead of your phone - allows you to quickly compare multiple accounts at once. This tends to be the most time-consuming step (at least for me)
D. METHODS - FINDING INFLUENCERS
In the Instagram Search bar, start typing in different “niche words” used by your target audience.. For example, if you sell streetwear, try searching for “lit”, “Swag”, “hype”, etc.
Once you’ve found an influencer that meets your criteria, click on the little arrow next to the “Follow” button at the top of the page. It generally will display similar influencers. Go down the rabbit hole of pages.
Similar Influencers will sometimes be following each other. Once you’ve found a criteria-meeting influencer, see who follows them. Check out any pages that sound like a relevant influencer. Just go down the list and right click open all of the pages.
Follow this criteria and find as many influencers as you can - ideally at least 100-150 to start. For me this is the most time consuming and mundane aspect of Influencer Advertising, but crucial.
E. HOW WE CONTACT INFLUENCERS
We use a business Instagram account separate from our main account to message influencers - this keeps our inbox manageable and easy to navigate.
Once we find a potential promotion partner, we send the influencer a TEMPLATE message with something like:
“Instagram Promotion Inquiry
Hey [Influencer Name], love your [relevant blurb about their content] [relevant emoji]. We’d love to pay you for a promotion of our products on your feed.
Please let me know your rates and thoughts
Our Store Name
The purpose of formatting the initial message like this is to:
- Connect with the Influencer using language they’re familiar with. We want them to feel like we’re on the same page.
- Get straight to the point while keeping it professional. We also want the influencer to feel like they’re in the position of power, and validated for having a great page and following.
The “Inquiry for Instagram Promotion” line is like the email header.
**NOTE: If the influencer has an email available, we’ll send a similar message to their email using our business email (don’t use a gmail account). Subject line: “Instagram Promotion Inquiry” or something similar.
About 1 in 5 Influencers will respond (in our experience).
F. PROMOTION AD + COPY
For the Ad, we select product images that “match” the vibe of the influencer’s page. Take some time to look over their page and get a feel for it. The promotion image should "line up well" with their current posts and look consistent.
This is easier if you are in the Niche's demographic. If you're not, just see which items/products receive the most comments. This will give you an idea of what will sell on their page. Promote a similar product.
Make sure that your post is clearly an advertisement (not in a spammy way) - it’s too easy for potential customers to see your post, “like” it, and move on.
Individual product images against a plain background are fine as long as it fits in with the overall profile vibe.
There’s not really a “scientific” way to determine which posts/items match a profile - requires paying attention to what their audience resonates with.
We format our copy like this:
“[Niche-Relevant Blurb]. A call to action about the product + the benefit (40% off, etc). Then we include a call to action to visit the link on our account’s bio.
** Relevant Emojis are spread throughout - typically 3 Emojis - 1 emoji to break up each section.
G. DETERMINING PROFITABILITY
We include influencer-specific discount codes for each promotion. This doesn’t give a 100% accurate idea of how the promotion went, because the codes are optional. We look at the entire ad spend to revenue for a single day.
It’s also useful to view the engagement on the post. You can use your own post engagement as a benchmark for future Influencer research.
If we’re profitable, then we’ll continue promoting with the influencer.
If no one has used the promotion code after 2 or 3 promotions, and there’s very little engagement on the post, we may stop testing with them unless it’s clear that it ’s profitable.
Good influencer campaigns typically range in the $10 to $40. Anything above that is probably not worth it unless you’re confident it will go well. Ask yourself how many products you need to sell in order to be profitable. We don’t mind breaking even because we use Instagram to test products and receive Facebook Pixel Data.
We schedule with most influencers 2-3 times per week. Promoting more than this might cause their page to become oversaturated with ads and reduce their profitability.
We use a Google Spreadsheet to keep track of which influencers we promoted with, items, dates, and any other relevant information - organization is key.
We also keep our Instagram page updated to build trust with promotion visitors. Aim to post at least 1-2 times per day (lifestyle and product photos mixed, with emphasis on lifestyle photos)
It’s also good to have at least 500 followers before running Influencer promotions.This is to give your Instagram page some credibility. You can get relevant followers by finding your competitor’s IG page, see how who follows them, then follow those people. It may take around 2000-3000 follows to get 500 follow-backs.
Anyway - that’s the general idea. Influencer promotions are pretty straightforward. This is the general strategy we used to generate $120,000 over 3 months. Thanks for reading!