If you’re familiar with digital marketing, there’s no doubt that you’re familiar with influencer marketing. And if you’re planning to start working with influencers this year, you must first know everything about influencer marketing. You have landed at the right place to know the meaning, benefits, and tips on how to succeed with your brand’s influencer marketing campaign.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a strategy that identifies people who have a strong influence on a brand’s industry or target audience. In an influencer marketing strategy, a brand forms a partnership with the influencer wherein the influencer agrees to expose their audience to the brand’s messaging or content. Influencers usually have a large and engaged audience, so brands benefit when an influencer shares or mentions their content or messaging. The exposure allows the brand to get in front of their target audience in a positive, natural, and meaningful way. Influencer marketing is hands down one of the best marketing strategies you can use today. In fact, many experts will tell you that it’s the single-best method of marketing. Over the last few years, influencer marketing has become an immense and essential part of the marketing landscape. Anymore, it’s difficult to find brands that aren’t using it. It’s a powerful marketing approach that allows you to reach your target audience in a uniquely authentic way.
How and Why Influencer Marketing Works
Influencer marketing is like a third-party marketing channel, where a brand does not directly speak to customers. The current generation is not highly inclined towards traditional mediums of marketing and advertising. Projecting your messaging to this large audience through influencers allows your business to increase brand awareness and reach. To see how influencer marketing works, it’s important to understand these two different categories:
– Paid influencer marketing
This kind of collaboration includes monetary compensation to the influencer, free products, or sponsorship.
– Earned influencer marketing
This kind of collaboration does not involve any monetary transaction and is a mutually beneficial collaboration where both parties enjoy exposure to the other’s audience. Free gifts, samples, or products may be included.
Benefits of Working With an Influencer
Brand Awareness and Reach
When you collaborate with an influencer within your industry, you improve your brand awareness with a large audience. This helps you gain visibility, and can increase customer engagement and sales.
Focused and Relevant Audience
Working with the right influencer ensures that you’re targeting a relevant audience. The results are more focused, and the chances of getting more traffic to your website, or social pages, increases.
The main reason influencers are so popular today is because people trust them for their views and recommendations. You can harness this trust and credibility to your business’s advantage.
Search Engine Optimization
When credible sources and websites linking back to your website, your search engine rankings increase. Getting backlinks from other highly ranked sources not only optimizes your website but also increases your credibility.
The backlinks from an influencer’s social media account and blog can drive traffic back to your business and online platforms. Influencer marketing is a very affordable way of increasing conversions. Consumers are very receptive to recommendations made by influencers and will definitely be led to buy products or services based on influencer endorsements. Partnering up with influencers helps you increase user engagement metrics across all your brand’s social media platforms.
Unless you decide to work with a celebrity influencer, influencer marketing is cost-effective. Micro-influencers are the most wallet-friendly and deliver good results for small businesses.
Hacks to Create an Interesting Influencer Marketing Strategy
To create and launch an influencer marketing strategy for your brand, go through the following steps and download our free influencer marketing strategy template to guide you through the process.
Define Your Goals
As with any smart marketing plan, start by outlining your goals. Set your intentions for what you would like to accomplish with your campaign. Defining your goals in the early stages of planning will help you shape a consistent strategy throughout your campaign, and it will also give you an idea about the metrics you should track and monitor to measure your success at the end of the campaign. Some goals you may want to consider for your influencer marketing strategy include the following:
– Brand Awareness: Getting more people to know, recognize, and like your brand.
– Building Brand Identity: Getting people to see your brand personality and values.
– Audience Building: Getting more people to follow and subscribe.
– Engagement: Getting more shares, comments, and likes for your content.
– Lead Generation: Getting more people to sign up for your lead magnets and offers.
– Sales: Getting more people to purchase your products or services.
– Customer Loyalty: Getting people to stay interested and connected with your brand.
– Link Building: Getting more links directed back to your site.
Choose a Type of Influencer Marketing Campaign
Once you know your goals, it’s time to start thinking about the type of influencer marketing campaign that will help you accomplish your mission. Influencer marketing campaigns usually involve three types of relationship triggers: inspire, hire, or a mix of both. You can inspire an influencer to share your content or messaging on their own. You can pay them to promote your brand. Or you can create a situation that uses a little bit of both. Influencer marketing relies on three types of relationship triggers – inspire, hire, or a mix of both. Here are a few types of influencer marketing strategies you can consider:
– Gifting: Giving free products and services to an influencer in exchange for a review or mention.
– Guest Posting: Creating and contributing content for an influencer’s blog.
– Sponsored Content: Paying for your brand to be featured on an influencer’s blog or social channel. You may or may not create the content for the post.
– Co-Creating Content: Partnering with an influencer to create content that is featured on your website, their website, or a third-party website.
– Social Media Mentions: Getting a social media marketing strategy going with a personality or brand to mention your brand, share your content, or post about you.
– Contests and Giveaways: Running a contest and asking an influencer to share your giveaway event with their followers or readers.
– Influencer Takeover: Allowing an influencer to take control of your social media accounts for a set amount of time.
– Discount Codes: Giving an influencer a unique discount code for your product or service that they can promote and offer to their audience.
– Brand Ambassadors: Forming relationships with loyal brand fans wherein they mention or promote your brand, products, and services in exchange for exclusive offers, free products, or being featured by your brand.
– Livestreaming: An influencer here livestreams their experience with your brand’s product or service at a designated time and place.
These influencer marketing ideas aren’t set in stone or required to meet certain criteria. They are all flexible and meant to be general ideas for what you can do with your influencer marketing strategy. As you create your plans, use one or more of these ideas to create a customized influencer marketing strategy that works for your brand and audience.
Identify and Define Your Audience
Once you have an idea about your goals and the type of influencer marketing strategy you want to implement, you still aren’t ready to start looking for influencers. Before you can identify who will help you connect with your target audience, you need to know who your target audience is. Before you start looking for influencers, spend time outlining specific details about who you want to connect with through your campaign. Create a buyer persona that includes both demographic and psychographic segmentation. Once you know your audience, it will be easier to identify the top people they follow and the websites they use.
Find the Right Influencers
Coming to the main part of your influencer marketing strategy – finding the right people to work for you. With your audience clearly defined, you can finally start seeking out the influencers who will help you reach your goals and connect with your target market. As you consider your options, explore the following types of influencers:
Social Media Stars
Once you determine the type of influencer you want to use, start researching individuals or brands in that space.
How to Find Influencers?
We will tell you how to find the right people for your influencer marketing campaign.
Find Influencers that Share Your Audience
To find influencers that can reach your audience, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool. Enter your website or the URLs of websites you know have the audience you want to reach. The tool will report back with dozens of other websites that share a similar audience. This report presents dozens of guest blogging opportunities, as you know these sites have the audience you want to reach and would, therefore, be great places to share or seed your content.
Find Influencers Using Backlinks
Another way to find potential influencers is by using Alexa’s Competitor Backlink Checker. Enter up to 10 sites that reach your ideal audience. (Use the Audience Overlap Tool to find similar sites if you don’t already know them.) Then, run the backlink checker. The report will show all of the links pointing to your list of sites. You can use this list to find sites that will be likely to work with, mention you, or link back to your site because they have already done this for your competitors.
Find Influencers by Topics
If you don’t know any competitors or sites that have an audience you want to attract, you can use Alexa’s Keyword Share of Voice Tool to find influencers. Enter a term related to the industry or topic you want to gain influence in. The report will show a list of sites that have a high share of voice for that term, meaning they have a lot of visibility online for that phrase. To find brands and companies that are authoritative in the leadership space, you could use the Share of Voice Tool to find a list of sites that are driving a lot of traffic for that keyword.
There are other tools and methods you can use to find influencers. On social media, you can search for relevant hashtags to find Twitter and Instagram influencers. And the following tools are also helpful for identifying social media and blogging influencers.
– Deep Social
Reach Out to Influencers
This is another easy step, but this requires personal outreach. Usually, the direct approach is best. The SEO pro will send the influencer an email or call them on the phone. Influencers are approached by a lot of brands. You need to offer them something worthwhile. A free product for review purposes is often an effective approach. After all, the influencer needs content. They can publish a review of your product on their site. Of course, you want to create a quality product in the first place. Only a positive review is going to help your brand. You can also offer to create guest content. This could be an article about a topic related to your industry that the influencer will publish on their site. While the article won’t push any specific products, simply appearing on the influencer’s site can help increase brand awareness. Often, influencers can be contacted through direct messages. But before you go messaging them, take a look at their bio section. They may have a specific email for marketing inquiries. To maximize your productivity, you can make an outreach template, but be sure to add a little bit of personality before you hit send.
Create Your Brand’s Guidelines
While influencers should always be given creative freedom to represent your brand, it’s a good idea to create some general brand guidelines for your influencers to follow. These guidelines will outline the kind of content that you want to be associated with your brand. You’re basically making a style guide for your brand. Mainly, you want to make sure that influencers are representing your brand’s values and communicating in a way that’s consistent with your brand voice.
For instance, Alienware’s brand guidelines offer an excellent example. The brand has built its reputation on the high-end gaming computers it offers, and its guidelines are written to maintain that brand. The emphasis on performance-driven, innovative technology is clear. The guidelines also go into extensive detail on the brand’s design philosophy. While most brands don’t need to spend 12 pages on design guidelines, this shows Alienware’s commitment to consistent branding, and that’s definitely something to consider when making your own guidelines. When you’re developing your guidelines, keep in mind that you also have to follow guidelines.
Track and Analyze Your Outreach
When you start influencer or guest blogging outreach, it’s essential that you keep your correspondence organized. You don’t want to lose opportunities to work with influencers because your process was annoying or unprofessional. For example, you don’t want multiple people on your team reaching out to the same influencer, and you don’t want to send the same email over and over. Develop a system for following up and following through. Create a checklist that tracks:
– Who on your team reached out
– When they reached out
– Who they contacted
– Notes about the communication
– Plans for follow-up communication
– Status of the outreach
When you complete an influencer marketing strategy campaign, it can feel like a victory just to see the brand mentioned or shouted out on social media. But just getting an influencer to promote your content or messaging isn’t a sign of success. The real success is determined by if you’ve reached your goals. To find out if you’ve reached your goals, track and measure your results. Use metrics to measure your success depending on the initial marketing objectives you set for the campaign.
– Brand Awareness Metrics: website traffic, page views, social mentions, time on site, site users
– Building Brand Identity Metrics: social mentions, PR coverage (number of articles or links)
– Audience Building Metrics: opt-ins, follows
– Engagement Metrics: shares, comments, and likes
– Lead Generation Metrics: opt-ins
– Sales Metrics: new sales, revenue changes, price per ticket
– Link Building Metrics: number of links, quality of links
Track the data for each of your influencer marketing campaigns so you can look back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Use the data to guide your next influencer marketing strategy. Repeat your successes and halt efforts that don’t produce results.
Influencer marketing may be a relatively new strategy in the digital space, but it continues to be a valuable and viable solution for brands to reach out to their target audience. This is mainly because consumers trust word-of-mouth marketing over any other type of advertising. Several brands have leveraged the power of Influencer marketing with top campaigns executed in the last 4-5 years. There are many benefits of influencer marketing, but it can be a confusing and complicated strategy to set up, launch, and manage. It’s a time-consuming project. And the hurdles of getting started lead a lot of markers to stop before they actually start. To help you get over that hump and execute an effective influencer marketing campaign, we are ready to serve you. No matter which niche your business falls into, we are here to provide you with complete influencer marketing strategies so that you can focus on the core of your business while we do the magic for you. Get in touch with us so that we can take it ahead together.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.