Influencer marketing is the hot topic in digital marketing right now, but the underlying ideas of influencer marketing are older than time. You are leveraging the trust and authority of someone else so that their tribe will purchase your product. The marketplace has developed many new tools to help people identify and interact with influencers in their niche.
As with any form of search engine marketing, there’s the caveman way and then there’s the right way to create a successful influencer marketing campaign. Before we get into some of the specifics of influencer marketing campaigns, let’s take care of some of the basics.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing relies on gaining the attention of influential people within your niche, developing a relationship with them, and using their influence to persuade their audience to take actions which are beneficial to you.
Your job as an influencer marketer revolves around identifying these influencers, approaching them, and then cultivating mutually beneficial relationships. You might do this through the exchange of goods, services, or money.
Why is influencer marketing an important tool in your digital marketing toolbox?
At the heart of influencer marketing, you’re basically getting another person to vouch for you.
It relies on the concept that if you trust someone I don’t know and I trust you, then I can trust the person that I don’t know. That idea alone is incredibly powerful, and recommenders recognize their role. Effective, authentic influencers seem to understand their responsibility.
Influencer marketing capitalizes on trust:
- 86% of women turn to social networks before making a purchase
- 57% of beauty and fashion companies use influencers as part of their marketing strategies, while an additional 21% are also planning to add this strategy to their campaigns in 2017.
- Influencer marketing delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional marketing
There is a distinct lack of trust for advertisements, but people are incredibly receptive to the idea of having a trusted member of their circle, an influencer, offer their opinions and advice. So, instead of looking outward and going to the search engines, we are turning inward to those whom we already know and trust.
Who can use influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing can work with every niche if it is done right. Even an accountant can find influencers in related ‘shoulder’ fields to help their cause.
It’s not limited to simply big companies who have the money, nor is it limited to just smaller niche companies who are proving their worth as the scrappy underdog. It can work on a small 1-on-1 scale or an international level (think celebrity endorsements.)
All kinds of businesses can use influencers to promote their brand, generate more customers, and get the well deserved exposure to the right people.
You think influencers would be too expensive for you? Of course not, now you have to understand that all influencers come in different shapes and sizes.
Some big ones have followers above the 1Million mark. They will surely charge more considering the demand they might have. The micro or mid sized influencers who have followers ranging 100-500K are more attainable. With room to negotiate and probably a more focused audience, they will be the best bet for your business.
Now that you know influencer marketing is something you can definitely afford, let’s move on to the actual process of how to do it.
How to use influencer marketing for your own marketing efforts
Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is a matter of approaching the people you want to be influencers and providing them with an offer that gets a mutual win for both of your companies.
In some cases, this is done through the exchange of money. However, follow the example of other campaigns that swapped product or promotion.
There are several steps you need to follow to get this done right and make certain you are not spending more than you should:
- Make your influencer corporeal – give your influencer a face, think of who do you want to see representing your brand: an authority of an industry, an activist or an informer who just needs to deliver the info to your desired audience
- Choose a Genre – it doesn’t have to be just one, you can choose 2, 3 or more depending on the type of your product. It could be technology, health, yoga, wellness or health in general. Understand who can potentially benefit from your product and choose the genre accordingly.
- Identify a niche: Niches also can be chosen more than one, you can pick either 2 or 3. Since we are talking about product marketing, you’d probably want to go for PR and marketing influencers.
- Think about your goals – what do you want to achieve by doing influencer marketing? Increase traffic, increase the number of likes, followers? Or you just want your brand exposure? Answer to those questions carefully to understand how to succesfully craft your marketing campaign.
- Explore the topics – if you have already envisioned your ideal influencer, follow a couple of them, see what topics are they discussing. Having the info as reference will help you a lot when explaining in the email why you and the influencer might be a perfect business match.
Identifying the right influencers for your campaign is crucial, as it is upon these people which your campaign is centered. The easiest place to start looking for influencers in your area is to try to find online gathering places for your audience. These might be Facebook groups, blog posts, on YouTube, in LinkedIn, etc. There are many tools out there that can help you identify influencers as well.
There are also helpful tools dedicated to finding the right influencers for your market. And if it’s a matter of connecting with like-minded writers or business owners in your niche, this SpyFu tool can help you manage those connections.
Once you find someone who is potentially an influencer for your group, study them. See whether there are people who are engaging with them. What kind of tone does that engagement take? This is key because you need the influencer to have the right kind of interaction. They are a potential candidate to be tied to your brand. Treat that role cautiously.
Here’s a warning. Huge brands aren’t necessarily where you want to look for influencers. There seems to be a tipping point between people and brand. Once a brand gets large enough it’s hard to relate to the people that make up that brand.
Read the potential influencer’s marketing material to see if their brand and your brand are compatible. If you’re in the exact same market that could turn into a dead end. Neither one of you is contributing much value. If you’re in completely disparate markets (which is most often the case), their opinion will be irrelevant. Your message will fall flat. This will turn into a waste of time and you will have blown the shot.
After you have found your influencer, think about what you can offer them
Influencer marketing isn’t just about guest posts or offering product reviews. At its very heart, your two brands develop a mutually beneficial relationship. You’ve got a lot more on your side than money. (They do too). Nothing that’s legal is off the table. Money is fine but consider other methods to make the agreement worthwhile. Some examples include:
- Trading content
- Trading product/service reviews
- Trading actual products and services
- Teaming up for a joint venture
Make the approach
Approach your influencer with a custom-created approach that appeals to their sensibilities. This cannot be a basic mass-mailer email. Tailor your pitch specifically to their needs (and their audience’s interests). That gives you a higher chance of capturing their attention. Don’t try to do this in big batches, either. You’re trying to start a relationship. Influencer marketing, when done right, isn’t scalable in this phase because it comes down to personal interactions. You can scale other elements. Resist the urge to attempt it here.
Tailored letters also receive a higher response rate. When you do it right, you can expect to see responses ranging in the high double digits. Because of that, you don’t have to send out as many letters, nor do you have to spend as much time searching for influencers. While you may want a LOT of influencers on your side, it really only takes a few of the right ones to get a lot of notice.
Once you have established your relationship, make sure that you follow through on whatever you have negotiated. Influencer marketing campaigns that go sour can be devastating.
If you say that you’re going to pay your influencer, pay your influencer and be on time about it.
Remember that the whole reason that you approached them was that they have sway over an audience you want to reach. An influencer’s opinion can swing opinion about your brand in a negative direction if you don’t follow through!
Influencer marketing is simply the art of developing mutually beneficial public relationships with people and brands and should be a part of your marketing campaign. When you approach an influencer, make sure that they are appropriate to your brand and that you can form a solid relationship.
If it can be, then the sky’s the limit as to what you can expect from your influencer marketing campaign.
This guest post comes from the SpyFu community. Author Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in AdWords to Get Back on Google.