How to Use Influencers to Drive Sales for Your Online Business

Our independent research projects and impartial reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Learn more

If you want your business to drive sales, there’s one key marketing tool you simply can’t afford to overlook: influencers. 

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and are the rock gods of the next generation. With engaged audiences who hang off their every word and make purchases based on their recommendations, the right influencers can drastically boost the sales of your online business. 

Influencer marketing boosts brand awareness and is a key sales driver for the online generation, so if you’re wondering how to use influencers to drive sales, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we’ll explore the key ways you can implement an influencer marketing strategy for the benefit of your online business. 

What is Influencer Marketing?

First things first, you need to get to grips with what influencer marketing actually is.

Influencer marketing is a great way of creating long-term relationships with relevant influencers and their audience. But let’s break it down clearly.

Influencers are online content creators who have an engaged audience on their platform(s) of choice. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and usually have a niche that they create content around, such as beauty, food, or travel. 

The best influencers have grown a targeted audience who are interested in their niche and are engaged with their content. And those at the top of their game have massive audiences – we’re talking millions of followers! 

Influencers operate across various different platforms. Some create content on social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, others make YouTube videos, and some focus on creating blog posts. Many use a combination of these platforms to reach as wide an audience as possible. 

Influencer marketing, therefore, is the practice of utilizing certain influencers to promote your brand and products to their followers. This could be in the form of product reviews, brand mentions, or campaigns… we’ll discuss the ways in which you can use influencers later on in this article. 

Creating an influencer marketing strategy opens up your brand to a large, engaged, and targeted audience. People who follow influencers tend to trust their opinions, and a recommendation of your brand from an influencer can see sales skyrocket. 

How to Choose the Right Influencers

In order to implement influencer marketing into your wider marketing strategy, you need to find the right influencers for your brand. 

Influencer marketing is a big business and there are thousands of influencers online to choose from. So how do you know which ones will have the best results for your online business?

When choosing an influencer to work with, it’s important to think about the following:

  • Relevance
    • You need to select an influencer who creates content that’s relevant to your niche. If you sell beauty products then find influencers who have positioned themselves within the beauty niche. Working with an influencer who usually creates tech reviews to promote your new haircare range is pointless because their followers won’t be interested in the content.
  • Audience size
    • Audience size is important when it comes to choosing the right influencers, but it shouldn’t be the main thing you look for. Of course, you’re going to want to choose an influencer who has a large audience you can reach. An influencer on Instagram with seven followers probably isn’t going to provide much benefit. That being said, micro influencers, those who have smaller audience sizes, can be super beneficial too. What they may lack in follower numbers they make up for in engagement and quality. 
  • Engagement
    • One of the key things to look for when choosing an influencer to work with is a high engagement rate. Engagement refers to the actions taken by their followers in response to their content. This could be anything from liking and commenting on a photo, to clicking on links, following recommended accounts, and placing orders. Some influencers may have large audiences but their engagement rates are low, meaning the benefit for your brand will be small. The best influencers to choose are those whose audiences are super engaged and act upon seeing their content.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Take a look at our guide to micro, macro, nano, and mega influencers to help you work out which type of influencer is the right choice for your online business. 

Need help with Instagram influencer marketing? Read our guide on how to work with micro influencers on Instagram.

How to Use Influencers to Drive Sales

Let’s look at how to use influencers to drive sales with the five key strategy ideas listed below. 

#1. Provide Free Products for a Review

Product reviews are one of the most popular ways of using influencers to drive sales for your online business.

A glowing review from a trusted influencer with an engaged audience can do wonders for your product and brand, driving multiple people to your website to make a purchase. 

So how can you encourage influencers to review your products? Many brands choose to send out products to influencers for free in return for a review on one or more of their platforms. 

Sending out free products is relatively low cost, but it can have massive results for your brand. Often, the money you spend in issuing a free product is made back tenfold by the sales the influencer generates. 

Baby Jogger affiliate product featured on an influencer's website
Baby brand Baby Jogger provides parenting influencers, such as Lucie’s List, with a free pram in return for reviews.

#2. Provide Unique Discount Codes

Everybody loves a discount, especially when it feels like you’re a member of a unique club with access to the best deals. 

Providing influencers with a unique discount code to share with their audience can be a great way of boosting sales. 

A unique discount code for each influencer creates a sense of exclusivity. Their followers will feel like only they have access to this deal, which will encourage them to make a purchase. 

Unique discount codes also allow you to closely track and monitor how successful your influencer strategy is. By giving each influencer a unique code, you can see how many people are using it on your website, and therefore know how many people your chosen influencers are encouraging to make a purchase. 

Instagram post from a fashion influencer to share a discount code for the fashion brand Shein
Fashion brand Shein provided fashion influencers with unique discount codes to share with their followers on Instagram.

#3. Start an Affiliate Program for Influencers

Starting an affiliate program for influencers is a great way to not only drive sales but to build ongoing relationships with your influencers of choice. 

Affiliate programs work by encouraging influencers to share bespoke links to your website. If a customer uses that link to make a purchase, the influencer will earn a commission. 

Affiliate programs are a great choice as they provide incentives and benefits to everyone. Influencers will be encouraged to share your links and products thanks to the prospect of making a commission on sales; meanwhile, you can benefit from the boost in traffic and sales they will generate. 

This is absolutely a long-term strategy. Once an influencer has signed up for your affiliate program, they can share affiliate links with their audience for months and years to come. 

3 steps of how Amazon Affiliates works
Amazon Affiliates is one of the most popular and successful affiliate programs in the US.

#4. Collaborate on a Giveaway

Collaborating with influencers on a giveaway is a great way to boost your brand awareness and encourage sales. 

If you choose to run a giveaway with an influencer, you’ll offer them the chance to give one of your products to a follower – for free!

You can provide the giveaway prize to an influencer along with a list of requirements for the winner, such as ensuring they’re following your social media accounts. 

Giveaways can help to drive sales since those who enter the giveaway but are unsuccessful may be tempted to make a purchase after being exposed to your brand and product. Similarly, the winner of the giveaway may be more inclined to make future purchases. 

A giveaway is a great way of boosting your brand awareness and growing your online following which are two key components of driving sales. 

Instagram post from makeup subscription service Ipsy, detailing its latest brand giveaway
Makeup subscription service Ipsy ran a giveaway with beauty and lifestyle influencer The Life of Clarissa for one of her followers to win one of the brand's “glam bags”.

#5. Ask Influencers to Use Campaign Hashtags

Using specific hashtags on social media can be a great way of reaching a new audience and increasing website traffic and sales. 

There are various opportunities where you can use a special campaign hashtag, such as when you launch a new product or when you run a seasonal marketing campaign. 

You can then go one step further by collaborating with influencers on content for social media. Your influencers of choice will create content relating to your campaign and share it on their channels using the campaign hashtag. 

This creates a dedicated area online for all of your campaign content to sit. If you get enough influencers – and their followers – using your campaign hashtags, you have the potential to trend online and reach huge audience figures. 

The more an influencer uses your campaign hashtag when talking about your products and brand, the more it will encourage their audience to use the hashtag too, helping to generate an online buzz for your campaign. The bigger the buzz and interest, the more people you’re likely to encourage to make a purchase. 

Instagram post of a woman sitting in front of the Disneyland castle, taking part in Disney's #ShareYourEars campaign.
Disney launched a #ShareYourEars campaign where the brand wanted people to share photos online at Disney parks wearing the iconic Disney ears.

How to Use Influencers: Summary

Influencers have a large and loyal following that can be incredibly beneficial to your online business. No matter what your industry and niche, the chances are that in today’s world of digital heroes, you’ll be able to find the right influencers for you. 

But choosing the influencers you want to work with is only half of the battle. You also need to find the right strategies to implement so your business can create meaningful relationships that are beneficial to both your chosen influencer and your brand. If you get it right, the results can be amazing. 

Try to implement some of the techniques we’ve mentioned in this article and come back to let us know in the comments what results they provide for your online business. 

More information

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether or not you pay the influencers you work with depends on the type of collaboration you decide on. Brands can “pay in kind” and offer free products/services, or you can offer to pay influencers a direct fee to promote your brand. All influencers have different rates so be sure to negotiate this at the very start of your relationship. 
Not necessarily. Of course, influencers with massive audiences can be beneficial to your brand, but they’re also often the ones with the highest fees too. Smaller influencers, whose audience numbers may not be as large, still have super-targeted and engaged followers that can provide a major boost to your sales.
Brands are quickly realizing the importance of working with influencers which means you might face competition when it comes to encouraging influencers to work with your business. Be sure to offer incentives to your chosen influencers, such as payment or free products, and take the time to build a meaningful working relationship with them. 
Written by:
Black and white headshot of Lucy Nixon smiling at the camera
I’ve been a content writer for Website Builder Expert since 2021. Through almost a decade in the digital marketing industry, I’ve built up knowledge on everything from growing ecommerce businesses to building websites. I love breaking down tricky topics into digestible and engaging content for readers. Breaking down the jargon and uncovering the best platforms, tools, and strategies, I’m a meticulous researcher who’s committed to providing our readers with tips and advice that’s tried and tested.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *