Whether it’s beauty brands like Jones Road Beauty going viral on TikTok with their makeup tips for boomers, or celebrities like Rihanna and Gigi Hadid launching their own beauty lines— the intersection of beauty and influencers is long-standing.
Consumers have a lot of choices for buying beauty products, but with the rise in cruelty-free products and emphasis on skincare, they think twice before purchasing a product used on their skin. Besides creating great products, beauty brands need to market their products in a way that helps them get closer to their target audience, build awareness and trust, and increase sales from a place of authenticity.
Would you buy an expensive concealer based on the brand’s own recommendation or by someone you follow, trust and see as an inspiration? Obvious answer.
Enter: influencer marketing.
Since beauty is among the three most developed sectors in influencer marketing, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to tap into this advantage and generate awareness and sales for their products.
Let's dive in!
What Is a Beauty Influencer?
A beauty influencer is a social media content creator who consistently creates content around beauty, has an engaged following, and works hard on building a relationship with their audience.
Beauty influencers' content can range from product reviews and how-to tips to lesser-known facts and tutorials. Their audience trusts them, given their knowledge and expertise in the area, and the skills they demonstrate through their content. This makes them the perfect avenue for beauty brands to reach their audience on a deeper level.
Brands collaborate with these influencers through different campaigns like sponsored posts, giveaways, tutorials, and events. Here’s how influencer Komal Pandey promoted Maybelline Pari’s new mascara and their launch event in this reel.
However, it all comes down to the content these influencers create.
Thuy Le is a case in point. She’s a London-based beauty influencer with over a million followers on Instagram. Her content is a mix of beauty, fashion and travel, and she often promotes brand products in a highly creative manner.
For example, her recent campaign with Rimmel London showcases her using their mascara in a very fun manner. The engagement on her post speaks for itself.
Why Should You Use Beauty Influencers To Market Your Products?
From emerging DTC beauty brands like Topicals experimenting with micro-influencers, to industry giants like Estee Lauder— who spend 75% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing— it’s safe to say beauty brands across sizes and budgets rely on influencers.
Here are some other reasons why you should care about influencer marketing for your beauty brand:
- Consumers trust influencer reviews more than brand reviews: 67% of beauty shoppers say they turn to influencers to discover new products, and 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations for their purchase decisions. This clearly shows the effect influencers have on consumer buying decisions.
- Influencer whitelisting gives brands more control over sales, content and data: There’s more to influencer marketing than giving influencers your products and asking them to create content on their channels. You can take it a step ahead with influencer whitelisting which gives you the controls to the influencer’s profile, allows you to experiment with the content, run ads, and even collect user data that can help inform your strategies further.
- Acts as a great avenue to generate more UGC content (aka less-salesy content): Influencer marketing is like UGC on steroids—with a wider casting net and powerful content. Lately, influencers have been creating content that looks less like a paid ad and more like an authentic review of the product they use and swear by. Unsurprising, but the authenticity does a better job at building trust than a sales-first advertisement.
- Helps address the gaps in your current content strategy: You can’t create innovative creatives by just throwing some beauty products on a flat-lay background and calling it a day. You need to show how the products need to be used, how they look on a consumer’s skin, and how to use them best. While you can do much of it with creative marketing, influencers can help bridge the gap with more personalized content.
How to Create an Airtight Influencer Marketing Strategy for Your Beauty Brand?
Since so many beauty brands swear by influencer marketing and too many influencers to choose from, it can get overwhelming to decide where to begin creating your strategy. We’ve done the legwork for you and listed a six-step roadmap you can begin following from today:
Also read: What do influencer marketing agencies do? All your questions answered
Step One: Understand your buyers and what they want with beauty content
Beauty buyers are not ones to impulse buy.
Why? Because if something you buy will impact how you look, feel and present yourself to the world, then you’ll probably think twice before hitting the purchase button compared to when you’re buying a pair of socks.
It’s important to understand your buyers before you move on to find influencers and create content. This way, you can mold your content and how you present your brand in light of your customers’ preferences, interests, and triggers.
Beyond basic questions like the demographics and purchasing power of your target buyer, aim to answer questions like:
- Are your buyers likely to embrace traditional beauty concepts or lean towards new and innovative beauty concepts and trends?
- How important is sustainability for them, and what role does it play in their purchase decisions?
- What kind of beauty content do they like to consume? What’s their level of beauty knowledge, and do they prefer educational or inspirational content?
- Which channels do they consume content on, and which is their preferred form of content consumption?
You can get this information by surveying to get a mass opinion or 1-1 interview to create a buyer persona—an ideal representation of your ideal customer. You can also use audience research tools like Sparktorro to know more about your buyer’s preferences. For example, a simple search here tells me what people who talk about beauty follow or visit the most on social media.
Remember: As a beauty brand, how you present your content matters more than what you present because you’re setting some beauty standards with every piece of content you publish—sponsored or not. So, ensure you’re aware of your audience’s pain points, insecurities and vulnerabilities to ensure you’re mindful of them to avoid a faux pas.
Esmi Skin Minerals is a great example. The skincare and beauty brand largely targeted Australian beauty shoppers because over 5.3 million Australian women purchase cosmetics in an average of six months.
Further, instead of just using influencer marketing to drive sales, they used it to promote brand advocacy by collaborating with Australian tennis player Ash Barty and Australian wellness YouTuber Sarah’s Day. Thus, they understood which audience segment they wanted to target, who inspired them and focused on building brand advocacy, which led to greater reach and, thus, sales.
Step Two: Find (and shortlist) beauty influencers
In an ideal world, you could go on Instagram or TikTok, make a list of the most popular beauty influencers, reach out to them and call it a day. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works (such a bummer).
After understanding your buyers and target audience, you’ll realize they have certain expectations from the kind of content you publish. Since there’s such a positive correlation between beauty brands and influencers, it’s important to create an eligibility checklist and cherry-pick who you want to work with to ensure they align with your brand ethos.
Here are some things you should consider while choosing beauty influencers:
- Audience: Whether you want to reach a different segment within your target audience or expand your reach within your primary audience, it’s important to know who exactly your chosen influencer caters to. For example, if you want to promote anti-aging beauty products, an influencer with a mostly Gen Z audience would not be the right choice.
- Engagement: More than followers, you want to work with an influencer with an engaged following. Their followers-to-post engagement ratio should be good enough, and their audience (not consisting of bots) should engage with their content. This will ensure your brand reaches people interested in beauty who would consider buying the products.
- Platform: You can’t choose the same beauty influencer for your Instagram, TikTok and YouTube campaigns because most influencers will dominate one platform. So, based on your strategy, evaluate which platform you’re focusing on and choose a platform-specific influencer with an engaged following and authentic reputation.
- Budget: The more engaged their following, the more they’ll charge for sponsored posts. So, before you begin the hunt, decide on your influencer marketing budget and use that to filter the best influencers for your campaigns.
- Content quality: Perhaps the biggest factor you need to consider while choosing an influencer is evaluating their content quality. You need someone who looks at beauty standards, spreads knowledge the same way you do, and does a great job of plugging in beauty products in their content narrative rather than explicitly promoting the product. Ideally, they should also be a subject matter expert their audience trusts and looks up to for beauty and lifestyle inspiration.
Today, beauty influencers don’t just create makeup tutorials with products gifted by a beauty brand. They also share their day-to-day life and wellness content to appear authentic and share their life beyond makeup products. The audience appreciates this intersection of lifestyle, beauty and wellness, which helps them trust a more raw version of the otherwise picture-perfect lives of influencers.
So, incorporate variety and diversity in your influencer roster by including influencers who create different types of content from different genders and cater to different audience segments within a larger audience set, distinct backgrounds, ethnicities and colors. This will also help your audience see how your products look on different skin types, thus making your brand more inclusive and a winner in the user’s eyes.
Once you’ve noted down your criteria, begin finding influencers. Here are some methods you can follow:
- Do your RnD: The best way to scan the map and see what options you can consider is to do a simple keyword search or hashtag search on the social media platform you’re targeting, along with Google. You can also go on beauty forums and communities to see which influencers consumers are talking about and create a spreadsheet with your findings.
- Influencer platforms and agencies: There are many influencer platforms and agencies like Kynship that can help you match with the right influencers, assist in content creation and get you closer to your goals.
- Turn to your customers: If you want to take a slightly more innovative approach to find influencers, look at your customers who are also influencers. These people use your products, know it inside out, and love them enough to endorse and partner with you. This is exactly what Ulta Beauty did, and they entered into partnerships with influencer customers who gave a more raw and real look to their collaborations than celebrities ever could.
Step Three: Create a personalized outreach strategy
If someone was pitching to work with you, would you directly call them or send a super standardized email they sent to 50 other people? Probably not; so don’t do the same with influencers too.
Here’s what you should do to reach out and effectively get a response from a beauty influencer:
- Find out if they have a personal manager, are managed by a talent management agency or their email ID through Google, social media platforms or email-finding tools like Hunter.
- Research well about the kind of audience they have, how they interact with them, what type of content they create, how exactly your brand values align and how your collaboration can add value to their profile and audience.
- Make yourself visible in front of the influencer by engaging with their content, commenting on posts, replying to stories, and appreciating and celebrating their wins. Do this through your personal profile as an influencer marketing specialist than the company profile.
- Use your research to write a crisp, super personalized email stating why you’re reaching out, the type of collaboration you want to do, deliverables from your end and expected deliverables from them, how they’ll benefit from it and end with a call booking link.
- Follow up within 5-7 business days if you don’t get a response. Alternatively, you can find them on LinkedIn or Twitter and reach out on a professional platform too.
How you structure your outreach email or engage with their content says a lot about your brand. Be mindful of the brand perception and first impression you’re establishing, as this will play a key role in converting a one-time collaboration into a long-term partnership.
Step Four: Govern the scope of the collaboration and nurture the relationship
Once you’ve received a response from a beauty influencer and ensured you’re on the same page with the collaboration, it’s time to set some rules.
It’s no secret that influencer partnerships are a two-way street, and to start the relationship on the right foot and retain them for future collaborations, you need to involve some legalities, like a contract and set a workflow to work together.
Create an airtight contract
Unfortunately, email exchanges or a virtual handshake isn’t enough to call it a done deal today. Nothing is airtight unless signatures are involved, so create an influencer contract (template inside).
Your influencer contract should include:
- Type of relationship
- Duration of contract
- Deliverables—from both ends
- Payment amount, schedule and method
- Content delivery terms
- Asset ownership
- Product sampling and usage terms
- Collaboration terms and agreements
- Non-disclosure and termination clauses
While it may sound like an unnecessary formality, especially when you’ve just started doing influencer partnerships, it’s very important to maintain a track record and reference it to settle disputes or save yourself in case things go south.
Setup a collaboration workflow
There’s no need for the entire marketing team to get involved with the influencer. They should have one point of contact who can manage everything from onboarding, answering questions, assisting in content creation, helping with ideas, and getting the creatives approved by the marketing head (or whoever is responsible) before the content goes live.
This will help avoid the constant back and forth and smooth the content collaboration process, thus ensuring a great working experience from both ends.
Step Five: Prepare campaign briefs and begin content production
You can’t get significant results with your influencer marketing campaigns without giving influencers the proper directions.
This includes an extensive campaign brief that guides them on creating the content, so they don’t have to spend a lot of time editing or re-shooting the content to perfection. It also speeds up the content creation process and helps get the campaign live within the decided timeline.
Besides, the more specific you are with the campaigns, the better it will help influencers create content according to your requirement, so you get results faster.
Ideally, a campaign brief should include:
- Brand style, tone of voice and messaging guidelines
- Product knowledge guide (i.e give specific use cases for products)
- Campaign objectives and goals
- Product usage and referencing in the content
- Reference videos or mood boards for inspiration
- Recommended content types and formats
- Creative or storyline suggestions
- Call to action
- Caption or narrative ideas
Remember: this campaign brief is meant to give influencers a starting point to think about the kind of content they should create, not specifically dictate what they should shoot or how they should create the content.
Giving the influencer their creative freedom and space is important to ensure their knowledge, expertise and authenticity can shine through, and they’re using their voice, guided by your directions, to produce the desired result.
Step Six: Set up an influencer marketing tracking framework
Unless you have a method to track the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaigns, you’ll just be shooting darts in the dark. You need to know how your campaign efforts are faring, what kind of results they’re bringing in, and how the audience reacts to this content to eliminate what’s not working and double down on what’s working.
For this, you need to set some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before you start executing the campaigns. These vary with your campaign goals and objectives, but standard ones include reach, clicks and sales through UTM links, visitor-to-customer ratio, bounce rate, and post engagement.
You can use social media tracking tools like Hypeauditor to evaluate the performance of your tools or leverage advanced techniques like influencer whitelisting to get access to first-party user and campaign data.
Then, you can convert this data into insights to iterate on your influencer marketing strategy to change the way your products are presented to the audience, the content is created, the way influencers speak to the audience or how you communicate your brand values.
Glam up your marketing strategy
While the digital world is constantly evolving, social media is here to stay.
Every day, platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are building on the audience’s capacity to consume content and introducing more ways for creators and influencers to engage with their audiences.
The global cosmetics market is projected to reach $463 billion by 2027. Given the rise of beauty brands and the choices available to the customer, you need a way to stand out from the noise, build trust and drive sales through social media—and influencer marketing can help you do that.
Use the roadmap and strategies mentioned in this article to create an influencer marketing strategy for your beauty brand, spread awareness about your products, reach the right audience through people with the most influential following in your industry, and generate revenue while building trust.
And of course, if you need help with any of the above; we're always up for a chat!