How Elemis fine-tuned its ‘always-on’ influencer strategy

When skin-care brand Elemis was looking to adopt a more consistent and ongoing influencer strategy in its marketing mix, the team knew it had to approach it differently from the past.

Instead of relying on new product launches or campaigns as a reason to engage with influencers, the British brand wanted to evolve to an always-on strategy. Hannah Sheahan, head of social content at Elemis, said the brand takes a full-funnel approach to influencers, meaning influencers serve multiple uses for the brand. Still, in May and June 2021, the team wanted to focus on driving new customers and website traffic to Elemis.com.

For a campaign that ran in May and June 2021, Elemis worked with six paid influencers for two months alongside another nine paid influencers for only one month. The cohort of influencers included Gemma Louise Miles (@_GemmaLouiseMiles; 255,000 Instagram followers) and Chloe Rose (@AllChloeRose; 294,000 Instagram influencers). Influencers received complimentary products and personal discount codes for Elemis.com to share with their Instagram and YouTube followers. Sheahan said that Elemis took a relatively hands-off approach to its content briefs for influencers. It did instruct influencers to show the products in action, but allowed them to pick products and craft content based on their selections.

Influencer commerce firm LTK helped select the influencers and craft the brand-ambassador program. During the two month period, it also facilitated additional ad-hoc gifting requests from the influencers around holidays like Father’s Day, to receive additional unpaid Instagram mentions. Ultimately, the campaign experienced a reach of 2.8 million people, with Instagram having a 2% engagement rate and YouTube having a 25% engagement rate. There were 1.9 million Instagram Story impressions.

“The freedom of product selection and content production was a nice way to empower the influencers to create content that they felt would perform the best,” said Sheahan. “There was a mix of morning routines, evening skin-care routines, favorite roundups, one shopping guide, and people sharing tips on how they use the products.”

The two-month campaign also helped the brand achieve 29% growth in revenue year-over-year and a return on ad spend of 140%. Seventy-six percent of those who used the influencer’s codes were new customers to Elemis.com.

Since the spring 2021 campaign, Elemis has worked with LTK three additional times, replicating the same approach with different influencers. Sheahan said that, from the Elemis perspective, the always-on system helps strengthen the brand’s authentic relationships with influencers, which has a halo effect on an influencer’s audience. Additionally, Elemis can examine which types of content, such as a morning versus night routine, perform best and how that translates to what an influencer’s audience buys. For example, Elemis has seen occasions where people buy a suite of products featured by an influencer because that person has mentioned several products within their content over time.

“Brands increasingly understand the benefit of that ambassador-style approach [to influencers],” said Robin Ward, LTK head of sales for Europe. “Performance metrics and conversion rates improve with ambassadorial campaigns. And brands can tap into that trust and authentic authenticity a lot better through [these] campaigns because [the brand] becomes part of an influencer’s day-to-day, and it feels a lot more natural for their audience.”

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