Influencer marketing is an increasingly popular marketing tactic for online retailers. It’s important to understand what this powerful strategy is and what it is not. Pixelshop’s 10 Commandments of Influencer Marketing are the golden rules you should familiarize yourself with if you plan to use this tactic in your marketing mix. Influencer marketing can be extremely effective when the following rules are followed.

Honor thy brand and the personal brand cultivated by the influencer. The most effective influencer marketing initiatives happen when a brand or product aligns with the personal brand developed by the influencer. The influencer has built an audience based on trust and shared interests with their followers. Make sure that the influencers you work with are a natural fit for your brand and products. If you’re an established brand, look for influencers who already love you. If you are a new or emerging brand, look for influencers who will love your brand and products. If they aren’t sincerely excited about you, neither will their followers be.

Thou shalt involve influencers in campaign strategy. Influencers are simply a mouthpiece for your brand. They are experts in building trust. Influencers have social followings because they have tapped into the needs and desires of their community. They are uniquely positioned to help brands figure out what will work best for their audiences. Benefit from their insights by involving them as a partner in developing the right strategy.

Thou shalt use influence marketing to optimize for trust. The power of influencer marketing for online retailers is that it is the ultimate trust signal to customers. When utilized in the right ways, influencer marketing acts as a strong third party testimonial for your brand and products. Run your strategy through the lens of trust. Ask yourself, how will this initiative promote and develop trust with prospective customers?

Thou shalt not evaluate influence on numbers alone. Influence and reach are not one and the same. Reach is the total number of unique people a brand could expect to REACH with their message. Influence is the ability to have an impact on the mindset or behavior of someone.

Remember that influencer marketing is not advertising. Many e-commerce brands mistakenly look at influencer marketing as just another advertising channel. It’s not. In fact, influencer marketing is only effective because it is not advertising. Today’s online consumer doesn’t trust advertising. 96% of people believe that the advertisers do not act with integrity. Your influencer marketing initiatives will fail if they are overtly promotional.

Thou shalt not look to influencer marketing as a magic bullet. If you are looking for an easy way to drive sales and you believe influencer marketing is the answer, you will be disappointed. Influencer marketing must be part of a larger strategy. You can pay for someone with a large social following to blast out your brand message but without a comprehensive program including email marketing, social media marketing, website optimization and exceptional customer service, your efforts will not have a lasting impact

Thou shalt not treat influencer marketing as simply a business deal. Influencers are not ad reps and you shouldn’t treat them like they are. Smart influencers are particular about the brands and products they represent. Recruiting the right influencers is about building relationships. It’s just as important for you to understand their brand and relationship with fans/followers as it is to communicate what you are looking for from them.

Thou shalt identify objectives to reach specific business goals. Successful influencer marketing campaigns begin with a clear objective and a focus on achieving real business goals. Unless you have money to throw around, planning how to drive results is critically important. You can have more than one objective but you must have at least one. This is the reason you are employing an influencer relations strategy. Business goals that can be accomplished through influencer marketing include: brand awareness, engagement, growing your social audience, customer retention and loyalty and sales.

Thou shalt develop a plan to extend the impact of influencer initiatives beyond the initial campaign. Don’t think of your influencer marketing campaign as a one-time event. Look for ways to extend the impact for the long term. One simple tactic is to leverage influencer and user-generated content from the campaign on your e-commerce site, in emails and through your social channels. Make sure that your agreement includes the right to use such content for promotional purposes.

Thou shalt measure and evaluate influencer impact. Plan how you are going to measure results before launching a campaign. In large part, the metrics you track and measure depend on your objectives. For example, if sales are your goal, measure online sales, order values, return customers and conversion rates.