You can only tout your brand’s products and benefits so often. Imagine how much more powerful that messaging can be if it comes from independent experts and voices that your audience trusts.
That’s the gist of influencer marketing. Done right, it’s a powerful way to expand and maximize not only your brand’s reach but also your credibility and customer interest.
Of course, you do have to do it right. Join us for an in-depth exploration of influencer marketing, from the power it has to supercharge your strategy and execution to the steps you can take to build an influencer marketing strategy designed to succeed.
The Potential Power of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has the potential to be immensely effective. How effective? Just look at these trends and statistics from recent surveys and studies:
- 70% of teenagers, and 4 out of 10 millennials, trust influencers more than traditional celebrities or brands
- 53% of all women have made a purchase specifically influenced by an influencer
- The average influencer campaign returns $5.78 on every dollar invested initially
- 51% of marketers say that influencer marketing results in not just more, but better customers
- 63% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing spending in the coming year
All of those stats combine to a single but crucial point: influencer marketing is here to stay, and its effectiveness won’t slow down anytime soon.
By tapping into authentic third parties that your audience trusts, you can supercharge your earned media strategy for the social media age. That means spreading your message through more channels, more voices, and more touchpoints to increase your reach and conversions.
To get there, of course, you need a comprehensive and consistent influencer marketing strategy. These 7 steps can help you get there.
1. Identify Your Influencer Marketing Goal(s)
Naturally, and as is the case with any type of marketing strategy, the first step is to identify the exact goals you’re looking to achieve by working with influencers. Defining your goals early means that each of the following steps can be adjusted to focus on exactly what you’re looking to achieve.
Among the most common goals for influencer marketing are:
- Brand Awareness: Increasing your reach and unlocking new audiences
- Identity and Credibility Building: Associating your brand with voices your audience trusts and has defined by distinct personalities
- Engagement: Pointing influencers towards your existing content to share with their audience
- Sales: Building promotional product campaigns with your influencers
- Customer Loyalty: Especially when engaging with current customers as micro-influencers
Don’t limit yourself to a single goal. More than one of the above might apply to your efforts and be relevant to your overall marketing strategy.
However, it pays to be specific. For example, the more you can define what, exactly, brand awareness means for you in numerical and time-based terms, the better you’ll be able to track the results of your campaigns.
2. Define Your Audience for Influencer Marketing
The next step should feel natural if you’ve built other types of marketing campaigns: defining the target audience for your influencer marketing.
This might be as simple as reviewing your brand’s overall target audience. But often, the audience for this type of campaign is a bit more defined, focused specifically on segments of your prospect base who tend to listen to and trust influencers.
During this step, it also helps to identify what channels your influencer-focused audience prefers, along with some common influencers and accounts they follow. Take a look at resources like Influencer Marketing Hub, whose reviews of tools in this marketing niche can be invaluable if you’re just starting your research.
3. Clarify Your Brand Voice and Personality
Part of the reason influencer marketing can be so successful is that you’re amplifying not just your content or product, but also your brand personality. That voice and personality is likely a key differentiator between you and your competitors, and influencer marketing can help you focus on that uniqueness.
To get there, of course, you have to make sure you know exactly what your brand voice and personality look like in the eyes of your audience.
If you don’t already have a brand messaging architecture set up, now is the time. If you do, make sure you know exactly what you stand for, and how your content expresses that architecture. It’s the foundation for finding influencers who speak within the same tone and cadence, maximizing overlap and brand congruence when your audience pays attention.
4. Find Influencers Who Match Your Audience, Channels, and Brand Voice
Now comes what is, in many ways, the crux of your influencer marketing success: finding the people you can partner with for maximum credibility, reach, and audience attention. All the steps you’ve taken to this point, from your goals to your audience and brand definition, can help you find that overlap you need for a consistent, coherent strategy and execution.
Finding influencers, of course, is its own complex process, the nuances of which go beyond the scope of this article. This guide can help you with some core steps to take to maximize your chances of success.
The best way, of course, is to use some of the online databases available to brands. As influencer marketing grows, the availability of those tools increases as well. From GroupHigh to TapInfluence, research the platforms available to you to find the individuals your audience is most likely to listen to.
5. Reach Out to Potential Influencers for Partnerships
Once you’ve found a group of influencers that make sense for your audience and brand, it’s time to develop your outreach strategy. Standardizing this step can help all parties involved.
It all starts with a specific outline of exactly what you expect from your influencers, which can include:
- The types of content you will share with them for promotion and amplification
- Your brand voice and guidelines for reference, including any relevant logo and graphic files
- Any legal compliance requirements in your industry when it comes to third-party promotion of content and product
- Specific product promotions, like affiliate links or influencer-specific promotional codes to share with their audience
Compile this information into an influencer package, but let your contact with influencers shape the information you share over time. If you keep receiving the same questions, you can expand the content you share proactively for a more productive relationship.
With an initial package in place, reach out to potential influencers for help in promoting your brand. Gauge their willingness to work with you, and their expectations from you. Some may expect to be paid, while others are happy with affiliate links. And of course, it’s all about building those relationships over time, continually sharing new products and content for them to engage with and promote.
6. Turn Loyal Customers Into Micro-Influencers
Traditionally, most brands think of influencers as accounts with massive followings and the potential to influence thousands of potential customers. But while this more “glossy” part of influencer marketing is undoubtedly crucial, it isn’t your only opportunity to leverage third-party content for brand reach and promotion.
The other half of the equation is your current customers.
If they’re happy, they have the potential to become hugely influential to their own micro-communities of families and friends. You just have to know how to engage and encourage them.
A few steps can help you get there:
- Identify customers who are happy with and loyal to your brand
- Reach out proactively, thanking them for their loyalty
- Provide early access to new content and products
- Offer referral and affiliate opportunities to prompt promotions to their own networks
In this strategic approach, attention to detail is vital. It’s only effective if you truly work with happy customers and remove them from your efforts at any sign of oversaturation or annoyance. That way, you keep your efforts focused specifically on those customers you know are likely to promote your brand and products.
7. Standardize and Track Your Influencer Marketing Efforts
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of treating influencer marketing not as a one-off lucky chance, but a systematic approach designed to continue succeeding over time.
That means standardizing your planning efforts, especially if multiple people are involved in the process. A marketing project management tool designed to optimize your campaign planning and execution can go a long way towards systematically taking all necessary steps and iterating over time.
These steps also include tracking your success. According to Welcome research in collaboration with Sirkin, marketers’ second most common bottleneck is reporting marketing performance as it pertains to overall goals.
Tracking influencer marketing is most effective through UTM codes or custom product promotional codes but does require some significant setup. Of course, that doesn’t make tracking your influencer marketing ROI less important.
Over time, as you continue to standardize your campaigns and track your ROI, you can integrate influencer marketing into your larger promotional efforts. That way, it becomes a part of a larger whole, designed to drive reach and marketing success not in isolation but as part of your overall marketing strategy.
Welcome can help you standardize those efforts through more effective campaign planning and project management.
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