10 expert tips for influencer marketing success

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Influencer marketing has fast become one of the most influential tools at marketers’ disposal. As the effectiveness of traditional advertising declines and more young people turn to the internet for content, brands big and small have turned to influencers to engage their audience.

First, let’s cover the basics. So what is influencer marketing precisely?

Influencer marketing is the relationship between a brand and an influencer. Influencers promote businesses, products or services through their online channels, which could include social media accounts, vlogs, and blogs.

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An influencer is an ordinary person who has built up a following online – don’t mix up influencer marketing with celebrity endorsements. Influencers can have a widespread appeal or specialize in a niche topic. Once they have the power to influence their audience and impact their purchase decisions, they are considered an influencer.

To help you start off on the right foot – or improve your approach going forward – we spoke to some pros with experience of working with influencers.

Covering everything from initial research to reaching out and tracking success, check out their 20 tips on how to improve your influencer marketing strategy:

Do your research and find the right influencer:

1. Choose an influencer that fits with your brand

Be sure that you thoroughly research the influencer you plan to partner with to ensure they are “on-brand” with your company – i.e. you share a common voice, have a similar target audience, have a similar aesthetic, etc.

You want to make sure the influencer you select for your campaign feels authentic and is a natural fit for your company or your brand, so as to not come across as an advertisement.

-Jill Caponera, Senior PR Manager at Promocodes.com

Learn More10 Advantages of Social Media Marketing for Your Business

2. Dig deep into the available analytics

Whenever I have to hire and work with influencers, I make sure to ask them for a few screenshots of their analytics. This way I can ensure that the account has an engaged audience and an acceptable CTR on the bio link, rather than just thousands of fake followers

I also go through their profile and do a simple calculation of the number of followers vs. the engagement they receive on their photos. Additionally, I’ll go through an analytics platform like Socialblade – which is free – to see their growth over the last several months.

3. Make sure their followers match your target audience

When vetting influencers on Instagram, be sure to ask them for a breakdown of their audience demographics, by location. If you find a relevant influencer with 300k followers, that’s great. But if only 20% of those followers are in the US, and you’re a US-based business, you’re not going to get a lot of bang for your buck. You should also be aware that many of their followers could be bots!

4. Try searching internationally for the right influencer for your market

Don’t limit yourself to local influencers for a local market. Influencers across the world can often reach a local market – and possibly for cheaper.

Be sure to do some thorough research. It’s no use spending a large amount for an influencer’s high follower count, only to find out the majority of their audience is based half-way around the world with no access to your product.

Instead, flip this around to your advantage – if local influencers are unavailable or pricing a little too high, look internationally.

For example, Irish YouTube channel ‘Facts’ worked on a video for a company called ‘MyHeritage DNA’, which vastly outperformed expectations.

Based in Israel, MyHeritage wanted to reach a US market and though Facts was based in Dublin, the majority of its nearly 1.5 million subscribers was based in America.

We were able to work together to create content that was in line with Facts’ style and highlight the features of the MyHeritage DNA kits. The video ended up going viral in the US. Initially, projected views were 200k-300k, but the video currently sits at 1.5 million. This just goes to show how reaching out internationally can work even when you want to reach a more local market – or even a separate market entirely.

5. Check out past campaigns and collaborations

One important strategy when targeting influencers for your campaign is to look at previous campaigns they have done… rather than solely focusing on the number of followers or press they’ve received.

It is important to focus on how they promoted products or services for other companies and to make sure that the content involved aligns with your own. A successful influencer campaign will focus both on relevance in addition to the popularity of the influencers they target.

-Tracy Julien, VP of Marketing at GuidedChoice

6. Make a final decision based on engagement metrics

When you are at the point of narrowing in on the right influencers for your campaign make your final selection based on their engagement rates. Some of the most important campaign measures revolve around engagement, including:

  • Brand recall
  • Website visits
  • Leads
  • Sales

Comparing influencers’ organic and sponsored post engagement rates will set your campaign up for success. Unfortunately, many marketers overlook this fundamental practice and concentrate too heavily on vanity metrics.

-Amy Baker, Digital Marketing Manager at Content Career

7. Find someone with expertise in your industry

We are using influencer marketing to introduce a new concept breathing sensor to athletes in a market that is eager to learn but skeptical of undue hype.

My advice to companies looking to launch an influencer marketing campaign is to look for influencers who are not just social media pros, but pros in a real area of expertise. We’re partnering with athletes and exercise science associations because our product is more than a gimmick…

While real subject matter experts may not have millions of followers, they will likely be more willing to promote new ideas they see potential in. Endorsement from them also carries much more weight than an Instagram star who will advertise just about anything. A true expert has their professional reputation to consider… So target established professionals who bring intelligence and credibility to the table when seeking out influencer marketing partnerships.

When reaching out to influencers:

8. Highlight the benefit you’ll provide to them

Influencer campaigns are a solid way to get your brand across to new audiences. I especially recommend influencer campaigns to new and upcoming brands since they are typically low on budget in the first year. Start off with about 25-50 influencers as a test… and create a value-added message.

It’s not recommended to just contact the influencer and ask, ask, ask. Think of creative ways you can add value to the influencer. Perhaps it’s a “work trade”, such as creating a video together or offering to reciprocate – i.e. I write a blog post about you if you write a blog post about me…

Once you have communicated with the 25-50 initial influencers and received feedback, make tweaks and scale this out.

9. Research, reach out, repeat

While I’d like to simply recommend Intellifluence, there is a myriad of ways to reverse engineer an influencer hunt using a combination of Clearbit, Dux-Soup, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Twitter.

Once you’ve done this, craft your pitch. No one wants to receive a longwinded, unclear, self-absorbed pitch that seems open-ended and non-reciprocal… In any pitch, open in the first couple of sentences with what you want to give the influencer and what you want to receive in return; don’t waste anyone’s time.

The next step is to follow-up… The average number of follow-ups required for sales during my own prospective process is 6; if you stop trying, you’ll stop growing.

-Joe Sinkwitz, CEO of influencer marketing network Intellifluence

using clearbit for influencer marketing
Clearbit pulls data on customers to highlight who could be an influencer for your brand. A sample of how the data appears via Clearbit

10. Consider enlisting the help of an agency

I recommend getting someone else to pick your influencer. With your first campaign, you’ll want to jump in and feel that you know your target demographic well enough to pick a great influencer. But the chances are, you don’t.

You’re probably working with a lower end budget. Short of Kim K, influencers cycle in and out all the time. Using agencies like Influences or Speakr can provide you with in-depth user behavior ensuring that your money is well invested in the right influencer for you, and not the most recent Insta celeb.

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