When it comes to deciding how to spend their money, most people trust their own experience first and foremost – if they know that a brand can be trusted to deliver the kind of quality they need, they will buy from it again and again. The next in terms of trustworthiness comes advice received from friends, family and other people they know personally. Traditional advertising trails far behind – today’s shoppers are too jaded and cynical to take it seriously.
However, the web offers yet another level of trustworthiness that almost immediately follows family and acquaintances – we are speaking about online influencers. Bloggers, vloggers and other types of online personalities are people who consistently produce high-quality content and thus have managed to earn the trust of their audience – according to a study by Twitter, 40% of users report making purchases based on influencers’ opinions. Another study states that 33% of millennials claim to make purchases based mostly on the blogs they read.
In other words, retail brands and bloggers need each other. Bloggers can provide a personal touch and social proof, retail companies will be more than happy to pay for it. Here are some interesting ways to organize such cooperation.
Promo Codes and Special Offers
Ask a store you cooperate with for a unique promo code to share with your subscribers. What is especially good about this approach is that works both ways: the store gets your stamp of approval, which may convince your audience to make use of the code and purchase something, and you get an opportunity to attract the attention of people interested in promotions of this kind. If you offer a promo code (and the likelihood to run a similar campaign in future), you will get new subscribers. Although most of them will be in it for special offers alone, some may become regular readers.
It is probably the most traditional approach to blogger/retail cooperation – a store provides a product for a blogger to review. However, if you want to retain the trust of your audience you should understand that even the bloggers who habitually cooperate with a brand cannot be said to have jobs in retail. That is, a blogger who cares about his credibility shouldn’t write a favorable review simply because he received a freebie from a store. If a product is a piece of trash and you sing praises to it, you risk losing your following and not being taken seriously in future. If you write a negative but honest review, you may lose an opportunity to work with this brand in future but won’t compromise your credibility.
But what can one do if a store doesn’t offer brand-specific products? You can, for example, offer to record the overall experience of being at their location. It is especially effective if your blog mainly serves as a trustworthy source of information on where to go for the best shopping experience, and nothing is better to help your audience make a choice than an outright demonstration. You can document your visit to the store through a series of pictures accompanied by text, or write a review of the entire store for those less visually-oriented.
One of the most powerful ways of promoting a retail brand on a blog is publishing a guest post written by the brand’s representative. First, however, you should carefully prepare your guest post guidelines to make sure the person who ends up writing the post knows what is acceptable on your website, what he should pay attention to and so on. Study guest posting guidelines on other blogs in your approximate niche and write something along the same lines. Make sure to discuss what the post is going to be about before you agree to publish it so that there won’t be a need for rewrites.
Becoming an Authentic Brand Advocate
If you are sure your values and those of the retail brand you work with go hand in hand, consider becoming their long-term brand advocate. Like any other good cooperation strategy, it is beneficial for both parties. On the one hand, the brand gets a dedicated promoter and an advocate who points out its advantages to his audience over and over again. On the other hand, you retain your authentic voice (that made you attractive for your current following in the first place) even though you comply with the guidelines provided by the brand. As a result, this continued advocacy doesn’t look forced and unnatural – at least if you know your job.
Bloggers and other online influencers have the kind of impact on other people’s financial choices that can hardly be found anywhere else – so why not put this power to good use? No matter how well-known you are, there are businesses out there you can work with to mutual advantage.