Influencer marketing is effective and can be lucrative, but it isn’t magic. You have to learn the business.
10 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
By the end of this year, roughly 30 percent of all internet users will use an ad blocker. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of Generation Z, which is currently comprised of teens and young adults, take active measures to avoid ads.
These numbers are particularly notable considering that marketers have relied on online advertising for decades, and that Goldman Sachs recently released a report showing that Generation Z is the single most important generation for most businesses.
So if online advertising doesn’t work, what does? The answer, as you may have guessed, is influencer marketing. The marketers behind brands like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola already know that influencer marketing is a critical strategy that must be employed if brands are to thrive in this new digital world.
Here is a collection of 25 strategies savvy marketers employ to ensure their influencer marketing campaigns are successful.
1. Give your influencers creative freedom.
Never try to keep your influencers on too tight a leash. After all, many of them have earned their followings because they’ve always stayed true to themselves.
Trust that your influencers know what their audiences want. Give them room to express themselves and follow their instincts. You will get more interesting and innovative content as a result.
2. Develop marketing personas.
A marketing persona is an archetype: a detailed representation of your ideal customer, including demographic and psychographic data. If you have a deep understanding of your target audience, you’ll be able to develop an influencer marketing campaign that speaks effectively to that cohort.
3. Use enrichment tools to learn about your website visitors.
Let’s assume you’re a marketer at a B2B company and you partner with an Instagram influencer. Presumably, the influencer will use a tracking link in his or her profile, so you’ll know how many people visited your website thanks to the influencer.
However, you won’t know much about your website visitors unless you use a traffic-enrichment tool. Products like Clearbit Reveal and Terminus use technology like IP lookup to determine who visited your website. If you pair a tracking link with a traffic-enrichment tool, you’ll be able to identify the types of people who were referred to your site, making it easier to know if an influencer reached the right audience.
4. Experiment with different social networks.
Not all social networks are created equal, and different networks will perform differently depending on the influencer and industry in question. Just because Instagram is a hot social network doesn’t mean it’s the best platform for your brand. Develop measurable experiments to determine which social network will work best for your influencer marketing campaigns.
5. Set up remarketing ads specifically for visitors referred from influencers.
As mentioned earlier, online advertising is increasingly less successful as people grow weary of traditional ads. But that doesn’t mean online advertising is completely ineffective. In fact, remarketing ads can be both effective and inexpensive when used properly.
Develop a remarketing ad campaign to target those who visit your website from a tracking link shared by an influencer. That way you can develop ads that speak directly to this audience and will be able to amplify the results of your influencer campaign.
6. Create an affiliate program and partner with micro-influencers.
Just because micro-influencers have small social media followings doesn’t mean they can’t make a big impact on your business. Consider developing an affiliate program in which influencers are paid for each customer they refer to you.
Using a tracking link and a simple form, you can create an affiliate marketing program that will quickly yield new customers.
7. Offer value to the influencer’s audience.
It can be challenging to motivate a social media user browsing an influencer’s posts to take a bottom-of-the-funnel decision like making a purchase or requesting a demo.
Consider developing an influencer campaign in which you offer value to audience members. For example, having an influencer promote an ebook, blog subscription or webinar will likely receive better engagement than a hard sell.
8. Ensure you have specific and measurable goals before launching.
It’s important to create measurable and realistic goals that are shared with the influencer before your campaign goes live. Doing so will give your influencer an added layer of motivation, and may even inspire him or her to do some extra promotion in order to ensure you hit your campaign goals.
9. Monitor competitors to accelerate your learning curve.
Influencer marketing is growing in popularity. Monitor competitors to see if they’ve employed an influencer marketing strategy. If they have, pay careful attention to learn from their successes or mistakes.
If competitors have not yet launched an influencer marketing campaign, that’s notable as well. You may have a first-mover advantage that can improve campaign performance.
10. Speak with references before hiring an influencer.
Always speak with at least one reference before hiring an influencer. Though they may talk big, you will want to contact prior clients to ascertain whether the influencer is reliable and is able to deliver the results promised.
11. Enrich your contact database to learn more about existing prospects and customers.
In order to learn more about your target audience, you can start by learning more about the contacts already in your CRM or marketing automation platform database.
Use a social media enrichment tool (there are many to choose from) to append contacts with social media information like platforms on which they have profiles, follower count and favorite topics. In so doing, you’ll get a better understanding of the types of influencer marketing campaigns that may appeal to existing prospects or customers.
12. Ensure your website is mobile optimized.
Social media browsing primarily takes place on mobile. As a result, you must make sure that your website is mobile optimized. If it’s not, the prospects sent to your website via an influencer will simply leave the moment they experience an issue.
13. Standardize UTM links to improve the measurability of influencer campaigns.
Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) are a method of tracking URLs. They are used by most advertising and analytics tools.
Create a spreadsheet that outlines how “source,” “medium” and “campaign” should be entered when creating a UTM link. If you standardize your UTM parameters, it will make it easier for you and your team to track the performance of various influencer marketing campaigns because the data will be clean and thus easier to interpret.
14. Tie influencer compensation to campaign performance.
You want to motivate influencers to do as much as possible to ensure your campaigns are successful. One way to do that is by tying their compensation to campaign performance, even if that compensation is a bonus on top of their flat fee.
15. Consider working with an agency if influencer campaigns aren’t initially successful.
Influencer marketing can be time consuming. If you don’t have much time to run influencer campaigns it will be hard to produce consistently successful results. But lack of time or lack of experience shouldn’t prevent you from investing in one of the most successful marketing strategies in use today. Consider working with an agency that specializes in influencer marketing.
16. Interview influencer followers.
To understand the depth of influence influencers have over their audience, consider interviewing a few of their followers. In doing so, you may also learn more about your target audience, making it easier to craft winning campaigns in the long run.
17. Implement a social listening tool.
Brand sentiment can be dramatically influenced by influencer marketing campaigns. But the only way you’ll know how it has been influenced is if you invest in some sort of social listening tool. Products offered by Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy for marketers to keep their finger on the pulse of brand sentiment through powerful listening and messaging tools.
18. Ask influencers for feedback about your social media content and strategy.
Assuming your relationship with an influencer is good, you may find it helpful to have him or her review your social media strategy. Since influencers are usually masters of understanding their audience and creating engaging content, your team might pick up a few tips that can transform your approach to social media.
19. Mix influencer marketing with other marketing strategies.
Influencer marketing is often a successful strategy, but it is usually even more successful when paired with strategies like content marketing or online advertising. When you diversify your marketing strategies you protect your business from risk while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of each strategy.
20. Ask your audience to choose an influencer for you.
When marketers at the popular health brand BodyBuilding.com were searching for an influencer, they asked their audience to select the influencer through an Instagram competition. In so doing, the marketers ensured that they selected an influencer who resonated with their audience. At the same time, their audience was engaged and felt that their voices were heard.
21. Align internal stakeholders before hiring an influencer.
Though it may seem that influencer marketing is all the rage, be aware that it is still a fairly new technique. Because of this, senior stakeholders may be unfamiliar with the influencer campaigns. So, before you invest in an influencer, be sure to take time to educate internal stakeholders. Otherwise you may need to cut a successful campaign short due to misalignment within your organization.
22. Develop an influencer strategy that lends itself to organic amplification.
The best influencer campaigns use paid promotion as a spark to ignite an online conversation that burns organically. The trick is devising a campaign that can be amplified through organic means, like hashtag use or user-generated content.
23. Avoid hiring an influencer based on follower count alone.
It may be tempting to hire the influencer with the most social media followers. After all, the more followers the more your message will be amplified, right? Wrong!
Instead, opt for the influencer with a dedicated following that is most aligned with your brand and goals. Simply having many social media followers is no guarantee that those followers will be engaged, and engagement is crucial for your campaign to succeed.
24. Monitor influencers you’ve partnered with even after your work is done.
Just because your partnership with an influencer is over doesn’t mean that you should stop following them on social media. Keep tabs on past influencers. For instance, check whether they partnered with a competitor. Establishing good relationships with influencers can often earn you a free occasional promotion.
25. Attend a social media marketing conference to pick up helpful tips.
One of the best ways to quickly master social media marketing is by attending a social media marketing event. Social Media Marketing World hosted by Social Media Examiner and INBOUND hosted by Hubspot are good conferences to attend if you’re interested in learning more about influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is one of the most effective advertising strategies in today’s digitally oriented world. The world’s top brands are developing sophisticated influencer marketing campaigns that improve reach and drive sales. Keep in mind the tips outlined in this article, and you too will see stellar results from your next influencer marketing campaign.