Don’t you just hate when companies use photo/video editing techniques to make it seem like their products work? But, if you actually try it, the result is nothing like the advertisement!
With awareness about these duping techniques spreading, more and more people are looking for recommendations from authentic sources. In fact, people are very sceptical about advertisements presented by brands. They need confirmation from someone they trust. So, if you know your product is great and works the way it should, you need social proof for your product to sell.
Today, these social proofs come through influencers advocating for your product or service. So, let’s get into how you can use influencers and influencer marketing to add to your bottom line.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Before we can get into building a strategy, we need to understand what influencer marketing and influencer mean.
Influencer marketing all is combining celebrity endorsement and social media campaigns. Now, here celebrity doesn’t just refer to film stars. It includes all the people who have an above-average engaged following, can effectively influence their audience, and have the authority to talk about the topic.
So, an Instagrammer with 10,000 actively engaged followers, talking about beauty products is an influencer for a makeup brand. But he/she is not a good fit for a software company. Here note, the use of the phrase “actively engaged followers.” Anyone with a large following and low engagement isn’t an influencer. This is because without people engaging with their content, he/she can’t really influence anyone.
The 6 Step Influencer Marketing Strategy
Now, that we are clear on what influencer marketing and influencer are, we can start working on building a successful influencer marketing strategy.
I have divided the strategy into 6 simple steps so that it’s easy to follow.
- Set your goal and budget.
- Research influencers.
- Reach out to influencers.
- Negotiate terms with the influencer.
- Build a plan and put it to action.
- Analyse the results of your campaign.
1. Set Your Goal and Budget
As with any strategy, the first step here is to set goals and budget. The best thing to do would be to write down clear and specific goals as you can refer to them in the last step.
While most of the time the goal is going to be to directly impact sales, there are other goals you can achieve through influencer marketing. Some of them are creating brand awareness, strengthening or repairing brand image, improving social media engagement, etc.
So, whatever your goal is, write it down in clear and quantitative terms.
The reason I am specifying quantitative is because it makes building a plan and analysing the result easier. If you simply state your goal as “increasing sales” and in the end, you increased sales by, say, 200 orders, you have technically, fulfilled your goal. However, 200 more orders might not be enough to justify the cost of the campaign depending on your product and profit margins.
Instead of such a general goal, a goal saying “increase sales by 2x” is much more effective. Since you know what your goal is, you can choose a relevant strategy. For example, if you want to double your sales, affiliate marketing campaigns are a good option. You encourage influencers to support your brand, and influencers encourage their followers to buy the product. You earn by an increase in sales, and the influencer earns from a kickback per sale that is, they get a pre-determined percentage of campaign profits.
Taking another example, if your goal was to increase brand awareness, unboxing videos, how-to videos, sponsored blogs etc. are some good strategies. In this case, you would probably not want to enter an affiliate marketing scheme as your aim is not to directly increase sales. This would mean the influencer won’t earn enough to actually want to work for your brand. You will need to offer some other type of compensation.
This brings me to my next point, setting a budget. Before you start reaching out to influencers or even researching them, determine how much you are willing to spend on the campaign. This will help you narrow down your options and choose the right influencer for your brand.
It is recommended that initially, you have a small budget and try out different strategies. Once you know which one works the best, you can invest more into that particular strategy.
2. Research Influencers
With your goals and budget set, you can start looking for the right influencers. Unlike the common misconception, influencers are not just people with a million followers. They are also not just movie stars either.
Based on the followers we can divide influencers into 3 categories.
1. Nano or micro-influencers –
These people have up to 10,000 followers. These followers are usually genuinely dedicated. This is a huge advantage, as the followers will be more likely to buy your product. However, these influencers may lack experience.
2. Mid-size influencers –
These are influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers. These influencers also generally provide a good return on investment. But these influencers usually also earn from such campaigns. So, they are more likely to ask for monetary compensation. If you planned to pay the influencers in some other way, they will probably not accept.
3. Top-tier influencers –
These influencers have at least 100,000 followers. Their endorsement will have an immediate and significant impact on your campaign because of their high reach. However, their connection with the audience is low because of the high volume of people.
While influencers can be divided based on the follower count, that is not the only factor to consider. Other things you need to consider are the age group of followers, their demographics, and preferences.
For example, if your product is for 35 to 38-year-olds, Instagram influencers are probably not what you are looking for. A better strategy would be to target Facebook and Twitter influencers. On the other hand, if you want to reach out to 18 to 23-year-olds, Instagram is the place to be.
Apart from age, you also need to look at the demographics. If an influencers majority of followers live in Australia and you only ship to countries in Asia, partnering with this influencer won’t help meet goals.
To get information about an influencer’s audience, you can use sites like Dovetale.com, FollowerWonk, and BuzzSumo. Alternatively, you can also directly ask an influencer to give you this information. Don’t worry, you won’t be overstepping your boundaries. Influencers are asked to provide such information regularly.
You would also want to keep in mind the type of influencer you need for meeting your goal. This infographic from Smart Insights clearly sums up the different types of influencers.
To pick the right influencer for your product, you need to answer questions like –
- Does he/she create the kind of content you want?
- Do they have any experience working with a brand like yours?
- What is their engagement rate?
- Are they already promoting a competitor? This will create a conflict of interest so avoid selecting such influencers.
3. Reach Out to Influencers
The next step in your influencer marketing strategy is to reach out to the selected influencers. When reaching out keep the following things in mind –
- Show confidence in yourself and your product. Keep your tone friendly and clear but firm.
- Give them your company’s social media handles so that they know you are genuine.
- Avoid being vague or overly promotional. Instead, clearly explain why your product is something the influencer would want to endorse to his/her audience.
- However, when reaching out, don’t mention any terms of the contract. Just present the opportunity and let the influencers respond. Only once they respond the negotiation process will start.
You might also want to consider following them and engaging with their content before reaching out. This will show that you really are interested in working with them.
4. Negotiate Terms with the Influencer
Once you get a reply from an influencer of choice, you can start negotiating the contract terms. This is when you will give details of your plan for the campaign. You need to tell them things like how much compensation they will receive, what form of compensation they will receive etc.
Make sure to inform the influencer of both the monetary and non-monetary benefits of endorsing your brand.
To ensure you have specified everything you can create a campaign proposal. This document will introduce your brand, specify campaign goals, campaign message, and campaign hashtags. It will also include what you plan to pay the influencer, the time commitment, and the government guidelines specific to your country.
Here is a template you can use to get started with your proposal.
Once you send this proposal to the influencer, you will probably have discussions. Make sure to have a paper trail of all the negotiations so that any disputes in the future can be resolved without complications.
Different Ways to Compensate Influencers
- Monetary payment – This can be a fixed amount or a percentage of profit from sales made through the influencers affiliate link. (Make sure to give the influencer a special link called a UTM code or a discount coupon specifically for their followers. This will help you keep track of where the customers are coming from.)
- Invitation to special events – You can invite influencers to grand openings or any other kind of event.
- Collaborative product line – If your budget allows, you can create a custom product line with the influencer.
- Product or Service – You can also give the influencer the product or service you want them to endorse as payment. Note that this will usually not work with mid-size influencers as they earn through influencer marketing campaigns.
5. Build a plan and put it to action
The next step is building a plan. This step will depend on what your goals are and what the influencer can do for you. So, refer to the document you made in the beginning and build a plan in collaboration with the influencer.
While doing this, keep in mind that it’s okay to have a little bit of control over the campaign’s direction. But you need to give the influencer enough creative freedom to get the best results. Influencers know their audience. They know what their audience will like, dislike, respond to etc. So, it’s best to let the influencer take the lead in building the plan.
But, of course, if you have certain brand guidelines and campaign messages you want the influencer to follow, communicate that.
Once, the plan is made, it’s time to put it to action and wait for the results.
6. Analyse the Results of Your Campaign
The last step in the influencer marketing strategy is analysing results. For this, you can use tools like Google Analytics.
When analysing results, pay special attention to the cost per engagement. This can be measured in terms of money spent per click, like, comment, brand mention etc. In fact, try to measure cost per engagement at least in terms of clicks, shares, and likes.
The number of clicks will show the level of interest of the audience in the content. The likes will show which content should get a boost. These results could also be used in future campaigns where you can prepare content similar to the most popular one. The shares will show the level at which that people are resonating with the campaign. When people like a campaign, they will share it, and the content will reach the untapped territory. This, in turn, will increase awareness about your brand, its products and services, build consumer trust, and get more traffic.
Except for these numbers, don’t forget to also check if you reached the goal you decided upon in the beginning.
If you did reach your goal, analyse your campaign for what went right so that you can use the same techniques or even better techniques in future campaigns. On the other hand, if you weren’t able to achieve the desired results, look for what went wrong and how you can improve on those points in the future.
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