Influencer marketing has become a bit of a buzzword in the marketing industry as of late. Merriam-Webster defines influence as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect ways.”
From my perspective, influence, as it relates to marketing, is someone who resonates with an audience, makes an impact and provides value.
Why Should Marketers Invest in Influencer Marketing?
A recent study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute found marketing campaigns that include influencers show a 10x increase in conversion rates. Think about that in terms of return on investment (ROI).
That’s a potential return of over $9 for every dollar invested. Why wouldn’t you make a sound investment like that? And according to McKinsey, those customers who do convert have a tendency to stick around. They’ve reported that influencer campaigns achieve, on average, a 37% increase in retention. The numbers don’t lie.
Marketers should explore how to engage influencers throughout the year. In this blog, we’ll examine what it takes to get an influencer engagement strategy started.
Things to Consider
What should brands consider when building an influencer engagement strategy?
- Resources: Determine what it will cost to implement and integrate a new influencer engagement program. And in addition, what it will cost if you don’t secure relationships with the top influencers in your industry—and the competition does.
- Targeting: Research the top influencers you want to engage with and how you want to collaborate. Outline the where and when, types of engagements (webinars, speaking engagements, tweet chats, live streams, podcasts, etc.)
- Sustainability: Think about how you can continue building the relationship beyond a single engagement. Create a long-term strategy that outlines future engagements to maintain consistent touch-points and a cadence of collaborations.
- ROI: Identity what you’ll get by investing in an influencer program. Clearly define the impact an influencer program will have on your marketing, brand, and business.
Get Your Targeting Right
One mistake I often see marketers make is thinking of influencer engagements as a one and done strategy. However, in a digitally connected world, where individuals are following and engaging with influencers on a daily basis, aligning your brand with those influencers consistently is becoming more important than ever. Let’s dig a little deeper into how to determine the best fit for your brand.
How should brands start to identify influencers?
- Observation: Look at who your target audience is following. This is a quick and easy way to identify who your audience is listening to and engaging with.
- Understand Impact: Determine who will be impactful and provide the most value to your audience. Most influencers are creating and publishing new content on a regular basis. Research and review their top content to determine if what they’re creating is relevant, consistent, and helpful.
- Understand their Voice: Ensure their tone and style matches, or complements the brand.
- Credibility: There are a plethora of qualified, knowledgeable professionals out there who would be happy to work with your brand. Why waste your time on somebody who isn’t genuinely knowledgeable and engaging?
Who Runs the Program?
Once you’ve developed a strategy and identified who you’re looking to build a relationship with, you’ll need to think about how to collaborate with the key stakeholders involved in managing an influencer engagement program. These roles will differ from company to company, but you may want to consider:
- Social media managers will be on the front lines interacting daily. Involving the influencers in tweet chats, live streaming, quotation templates, live tweets at events.
- Content marketing managers to create content that incorporates influencer responses and views in blogs, ebooks, etc.
- Corporate communication managers to negotiate contracts for event appearances, videos, commercials, 3rd party publications, etc.
- Analyst Relations interact with a decidedly different set of influencers, but they still fit the definition and should have a plan for ongoing engagement and relevant touchpoints.
- Customer marketing should always be involved. Your biggest, most impactful influencers are your very own customers. Sure maybe they don’t have 170,o00 followers on Twitter, but they do have the first-hand experience to share with their peers—who are often your target audience.
- Employee advocacy to include your own internal influencers in the program and amplify the activities that you are doing with external influencers.
- A single point of contact that continues to build a personal relationship.
Make Your Program Sustainable
According to the report Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing by Traackr and TopRank Marketing, 55% of marketers plan to spend more on influencer marketing next year, and for those companies that already spend more than $250,000 on influencer marketing, that percentage jumps to 67%.
But whether you have a big, small, or non-existent budget, it still makes sense to start influencer marketing now.
If you have a team of influencer stakeholders like I listed above, work with them to map out your big initiatives as anchors throughout the year, then craft activities and engagement points across the year.
Don’t be afraid to be scrappy! Focus on making sure there is a value exchange and not simply continual asks of your influencers. You will find that as you gain momentum and success you can argue for more resources.
Measure the Impact
Let’s dig into how to measure the ROI of an influencer marketing campaign. Early-stage metrics would include an increase in social media reach and impressions. You can also take a look at mentions, share of voice and new followers during the duration of your campaign.
Later stage metrics can include UTM parameters that allow you to keep track of how many users are visiting your website from influencer referrals, and then further down the line convert.
Another way to track the effectiveness of an influencer campaign is by using a unique discount or coupon codes and then track how many of each are redeemed or submitted.
Ultimately, influencer marketing will boil down to one thing at the end of the day, relationships. Getting the ball rolling can be as simple as reaching out, introducing yourself and your product, meeting them face to face, shaking their hand and chatting about how you can create alignment between your business goals and their goals.