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Influencer marketing has quickly become one of the most efficient and cost-effective forms of advertising available today. Why? Because it works.
As one study reveals, the ROI of influencer marketing averages $6.85 per dollar invested – and is particularly impactful in the fields of food, retail, and travel. By targeting specific influencers, brands can define their image, develop credibility, and raise awareness.
Traditional online advertising requires a slow and arduous process of writing blog posts, sharing social media updates, and connecting with potential customers one at a time. Meanwhile, influencer marketing gives the brand immediate access to thousands, or even millions, of potential customers – from a voice they trust.
What is influencer marketing? According to one of the leading influencer marketing platforms, Upfluence, influencer marketing is defined as:
Influencer marketing is the act of identifying trusted individuals with an engaged audience and directing marketing activities towards these influencers to receive publicly visible endorsements of a brand, service, or product.
In other words, rather than paying to access customers directly, brands spend their money to gain access to influencers – who in turn share their experiences across their large, primarily online, networks.
How to Create an Influencer Strategy that Works
Just because influencer marketing is a popular trend that can deliver a fantastic ROI doesn’t mean that you should throw money at bloggers and YouTubers aimlessly. A poorly executed influencer marketing strategy will quickly become expensive without delivering any of the desired results.
If you pay too much for low-level influencers, or if you target influencers with the wrong audience, you’ll burn through your marketing budget without seeing the necessary results.
In order to developing a winning influencer outreach strategy, all you need to do is follow the steps below:
1. Define your marketing goals before beginning the campaign
Before reaching out to influencers it is essential to have a firm understanding of your campaign goals and the KPIs that will be used to measure success.
At the end of the campaign, what will success look like? Does it mean greater brand awareness, higher sales, a larger social following or email list, or something else entirely?
If you launch a campaign without knowing exactly what you want for the end goal, it will be very difficult to determine whether or not the campaign was a success. Furthermore, with a clearly defined goal it becomes easier to target the appropriate mediums and influencers to maximize success.
After you understand what success looks like, it’s time to define the campaign KPIs for measuring progress. Will you track social media shares, article views, link clicks, etc.? Once you determine which KPIs to focus on, you can shape your campaign around those objectives.
2. Find and select the right influencers for your campaign
Finding influencers to broadcast your message can be a bit tricky. Although there are many small spammy websites that will happily take your money in exchange for a sponsored post, this isn’t what you’re looking for.
Instead, look at influencers as business partners and brand advocates. You want to find people who will truly get excited about your brand and the value it provides. When these bloggers and YouTubers are truly excited about your product or service, they will be authentic in their promotion – and that authenticity will show through to their audience.
Additionally, if the influencer is already excited about your brand, paying them for promotion will only make them more excited about what you have to offer. This, in turn, results in these influencers going above and beyond in their promotion – which ultimately results in an even greater ROI for the campaign.
Which influencers should you target?
Upfluence divides influencers into four categories:
- Celebrity: The traditional movie star or athlete who is recognizable across industries.
- Top 5%: High-ranking influencers with an Alexa rank lower than 100,000 whose website usually receives +250K monthly visits.
- Top 10%: Influencers with between 250,000 and 25,001 recurring monthly visitors and an Alexa rank between 100,001 and 200,000.
- Power Middle: The power middle is an influencer of “average” influence. They have between 2,500 and 25,000 recurring monthly visitors and their Alexa rank is above 200,001. Their audience is highly targeted and highly engaged. They create a lot of value for brands.
Obviously, celebrity influencers will cost substantially more to engage with than a power middle blogger. However, the visibility will be greater with the celebrity status as well.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to quality or quantity – and don’t assume that one is always superior to the other. The decision should largely be based on the goal of the campaign and your industry.
If your campaign’s objective is to raise the status and credibility of your brand, then a celebrity sponsor may be the right choice. But, if the goal is to develop backlinks to improve your website’s visibility – or to find long-term brand advocates – you may want to target influencers lower on the list.
Think seriously about your goals and objectives when making this decision. Will spending $10,000 for a single celebrity endorsement really be worth more than 100 blog posts from up-and-coming influencers? Sometimes the answer is yes, other times, it’s no.
Find influencers with overlapping audiences
Finally, establishing brand awareness is essential before any sale will be made. The more that a consumer comes across your brand while going about their day, the more likely they will be to buy.
If a consumer visits one of their favorite blogs and reads about your brand, and then see’s a YouTuber discussing your company later that day, the message will be more likely to stick. This is why you want to retarget the same customers from different influencers. The more they come across your content in a given time-frame, the more likely they will be to actually make a purchase.
3. Determine the best compensation model for your objectives
There are two primary ways that brands compensate influencers for their activities: through sponsored content and affiliate programs.
The benefit of paying for sponsored content is that the brand has much more control over the message. Afterall, because you are paying the influencer directly, they will ensure that the message, although honest, fits with your goals.
The drawback to sponsored content is that it usually begins and ends with the content that you’ve paid for. In other words, most of the time the influencer won’t continue to promote your message after the campaign has ended.
Because of this, it’s absolutely essential to agree upon the terms of the sponsored content before making the payment. What will you receive? Is it just the sponsored post, or will the influencer also tweet the message several times, post it to Facebook for the next two weeks, and mention it in a YouTube video?
Influencers promote their own content heavily – make sure that they are going to do the same with your sponsored content.
Influencers love sharing affiliate offers from brands they support because they receive compensation for every sale that they refer. While a sponsored blog post results in a one-time payment, and affiliate link can provide residual income.
However, when initially launching a new brand or attempting to access influencers who are unfamiliar with your product, affiliate advertising has limited worth. This is because there is no guarantee of payment on the part of the influencer. If your product or landing pages convert poorly, it doesn’t matter how much traffic the blogger sends your way, their compensation will be minimal.
The hybrid approach
Often times, one of the best methods of gaining content and ongoing promotion from the right influencers is to use a hybrid influencer outreach strategy. Find key influencers and pay them for sponsored content, but also develop an affiliate program.
The benefits of this are two-fold. First, the influencers who have paid for sponsored content will continue to share the message because they receive ongoing financial incentives for this activity.
Second, as other influencers notice the mentions and shares from their peers, and discover that your company has an affiliate program, many of them may write articles discussing your brand for free – willing to receive affiliate commission exclusively.
4. Participate in content creation and promotion
It’s essential for influencer content to be developed through the voice and style of the influencer – while still sharing your message accurately.
Therefore, don’t simply give the influencer an article to publish under their name. In contrast, don’t just let them publish whatever they want – especially because you’re targeting specific KPIs.
Instead, tell the influencer what your goals are, provide them with content and media that can assist in the content creation process, and then let them develop the content on their own. This will ensure that the key points are visible in the content without limiting the voice and style that is so valuable to the influencer’s audience.
And when it comes to review, allow them to be honest. If a review piece only shares positive information about your brand, it will come of us a very biased post and readers won’t take it seriously. However, if the influencer includes flaws and suggestions for improvement in the article, readers will recognize the product is not perfect, but it was still worth the influencer’s time to review. This creates a much more authentic message.
Finally, once the content has been developed, help promote the content yourself. Share it across your social media profiles and even invest in paid advertising to further expand the reach of the message in Google search results and across social media platforms. Not only will your paid advertising further establish your brand’s credibility, but it will also further enhance your relationship with the influencer.
5. Track and monitor campaign results
Every online marketing strategy you implement should be carefully tracked and analyzed – and influencer campaigns are no different.
Keep track of posts, social media updates, and links to evaluating what worked and what didn’t after the campaign. What landing pages seemed to work the best? Which platform offered the greatest response rates? Which influencers seemed to deliver the best results?
Gather all of this information and evaluate it at the end of the campaign. Now, compare this to what the results would have been if you had simply spent that money on paid advertising options on Google or social media platforms. This is how you can ultimately determine the level of success garnished from your influencer marketing campaign.
An effective influencer marketing strategy can results in a tremendous ROI when implemented correctly. By following the five steps listed above you can ensure that your next influencer marketing campaign provides the impact and results you want.
If you’ve used influencer marketing in the past, how has it worked for you? Is there anything that you would add to the content discussed above?