Social Media—Instagram in particular—is often seen as a saturated wasteland flooded with self-proclaimed fitness experts, washed up C-list celebrities promoting products they’ve never used, and more motivational speakers than one can handle. But it’s also the same platform that helped drive an additional $30k in revenue for one of our e-commerce clients. Now I know I just said some awful things about Instagram, but I promise, if you stick with me, I’ll show you how you can maximize the app’s reach and start generating revenue. 

Where to Begin?

Our client, an online-only home décor retailer, created an Instagram page in early 2014 but was inactive on the platform until May of 2018. We recommended that our client make social a priority, but we also suggested Influencer Marketing due to the potential to reach a highly targeted audience through established users who have already cultivated a loyal following. 

First we put our research caps on and generated a list of influencers that had an aesthetic that aligned with our client’s brand – country and farmhouse decor. And while many influencers in the home decor space can post beautiful photos of our client’s products, we looked specifically for those who were decorating their very own farmhouses.

Once we had our target list, we needed to craft the outreach strategy. Instead of contacting these influencers directly ourselves, we asked our client to create an email address for us on their domain. Approaching influencers as the company (instead of a representative from an agency, particularly an agency that starts with the letters SEO) allowed us to develop connections with the influencers directly as the brand.

From there, we put together three different tiers of pitching. Each tier included a different dollar amount of product to send, along with a pitch tailored to a specific influencer based on their following and engagement levels. 

Quick recap; so far, we…

  • Identified potential influencers, and built a list that included follower counts and contact information
  • Put together a pitch and (optional) product tiers to offer
  • Had the client give us a branded email address

Fortunately for us, it didn’t take too long to find a dancing partner. Our first collaboration began in May 2018, and the influencer we worked with agreed to publish a blog post on their website and share photos of their updated bedroom on Instagram.

 

Reviewing the Early Results

While the blog post didn’t drive much traffic to our client’s website, we were able to secure a relevant backlink with some link value, and we saw two transactions directly from Instagram traffic, generating $136 in revenue:

Our client’s follower-count didn’t increase much from this partnership; however, the revenue validated our initial efforts, and it’s been game on ever since. 

Initial Success

Between May 1 and December 31 of 2018, we generated $937 on 15 transactions from Instagram visitors directly related to additional partnerships we formed during that time:

Continued Growth

After tasting some success in 2018, we were hungry for more, and 2019 is when things got serious. We formed relationships with a couple of Instagram influencers who promoted multiple times for us, along with a handful of other first-time Instagram influencers and bloggers. This led to a steady stream of revenue from Instagram throughout the year:

We finished 2019 with nearly $29k in revenue on 342 transactions directly from Instagram:

When we factor in the cost of the products, plus shipping and any fees that were paid out (around $10k total), we were able to achieve a 1.9x ROI. Although the direct ROI was modest, we’ve seen our client’s follow-count grow from 1K to over 20k:

Our carefully crafted outreach program helped us cultivate an engaged following that continues to grow. By putting time and effort into creating a list of influencers that shared the same style as our client, we were able to attract the right audience, which resulted in rapid growth and a strong ROI. 

And since the brand’s awareness has increased, bloggers and influencers now reach out to our client directly for partnerships – we haven’t had to send a pitch out in months! 

We added a ‘Media Partners’ page to our client’s website that lists all our partnerships. It also displays some of the photos that were used across different websites and Instagram accounts. This page serves as an example to prospective influencers, showcasing what types of partnerships we are looking for and how influencers can get in touch if they want to become a partner. 

Takeaways

  • Be specific in who you want to represent your client’s brand
  • Embrace the small victories
  • Play the long game and don’t expect an overnight success

We took the quality over quantity approach for this project, and by working with a carefully crafted group of influencers, our efforts paid off exponentially. Our client’s following and brand awareness continues to grow, and Instagram remains a steady stream of revenue for them. To learn more about using influencer marketing to grow your social media following and increase revenue, feel free to contact us!

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