A-Z of Influencer Marketing: How to develop an effective influencer marketing strategy
March 10, 2021
Is influencer marketing as effective as they say it is?
Is it wise to stick to the good old marketing that we know and love?
Is there any merit in influencer marketing, or are we wasting our time with it?
If you are seeking answers to any of these questions, you have landed in the right place.
Advancing your business in the 21st century means staying updated with the latest trends in marketing. So in this blog, we will cover everything you should know about influencer marketing so that you get into the influencer marketing business – the right way.
What is an influencer?
An influencer or a social influencer is someone who has the potential to sway consumer decisions. Anyone who enjoys the ability to affect or ‘influence’ others’ purchasing decisions is called an influencer.
If you’re wondering ‘what is the meaning of influencer?’, then read on to learn some key distinct features of an influencer:
- An influencer can be an authority in their niche, but this is not a prerequisite: Many influencers are influencers because they are well-liked by their followers, not because they are experts in their niche or know more than others about a specific topic. However, we also have niche-specific influencers today who enjoy undisputed authority in their niche.
- An influencer is a charismatic figure who enjoys their audience’s admiration: A distinct characteristic common to all influencers is the attention, loyalty, and respect they command.
- An influencer may or may not have a massive following on social media: An influencer is not necessarily someone who has a large fan following. Instead, it is someone who can make people buy products or services because they trust the influencer’s judgment and hold their recommendations in high regard.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a new form of social media marketing that relies on an influencer’s social media endorsement of a company’s products or services. It leverages the reach of an existing influencer to achieve the company’s immediate goals.
Building brand awareness is the guiding principle that governs influencer marketing. Many startups and emerging brands have started resorting to influencer marketing as a viable means to connect with their target audience on social media.
What are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?
A study by Tomoson reveals that influencer marketing yields a $6.50 return on investment (ROI) for every dollar spent. That’s 6X the profit, so if you’re a brand that is not engaging in influencer marketing, you’re already missing out on valuable money minting opportunities.
Here are some of the benefits of influencer marketing:
- Helps you reach your target audience: Any brand or business that is hoping to break big on social media should engage in influencer marketing. After all, influencers have earned the respect and admiration of their followers. By involving them in your brand promotion strategy, you get the chance to reach your target audience without having to do the heavy lifting.
- Helps you build brand awareness: Building brand awareness is a major benefit of influencer marketing. When influencers actively promote your brand, you come in the radar of thousands of people who might have never heard of your brand before. Given the trust factor that is involved between influencers and their fans, it has a real potential to help you meet and exceed your sales targets too!
- Builds lasting partnerships: Having an influencer in your team can revolutionize your brand and its reach. But most importantly, it helps you develop strategic partnerships with people who enjoy social media clout. An influencer can endorse your products, engage in joint ventures, and participate in live events with your brand. In the long haul, it means that an influencer’s audience becomes your audience as they’ll grow to trust your brand the same way they trust the influencers they follow.
- Attracting new customers: The ad fatigue is real. Modern consumers want authentic voices, not faceless sales reps. In the midst of all this, influencer marketing has emerged as a viable means to attract new customers. According to an Adweek Article, around 40% of people have reported that they purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer on YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter. This implies that the modern consumer, especially the younger generation, are starting to trust the recommendations of influencers. So if you’re not engaging in influencer marketing, you’re losing out on a lucrative business opportunity.
- Increasing repeat purchases with increased customer loyalty: What makes influencer marketing a sustainable advertising strategy for brands is their potential to win customer loyalty – not just drive brand awareness. When followers see their favourite influencers using your product and actively promoting it, they are more likely to trust your brand and purchase from you. Moreover, they are also likely to stick to your brand if they like the results, thus increasing repeat purchases. So while customer acquisition is important, customer retention is even more significant. Engaging in influencer marketing has the potential to give you both.
What is an Influencer Marketing Platform?
An Influencer Marketing Platform is a platform or software solution that helps brands and businesses with their influencer marketing campaigns. Such platforms run on smart AI-based algorithms and provide tools for discovering the right influencers for a particular niche or industry.
In rare situations, some influencer marketing platforms may reach out to a potential influencer on behalf of the company for an additional rate. This task would include influencer vetting, officially approaching the influencer, and negotiating the rates with the influencer.
How does Influencer Marketing work?
An influencer marketing campaign works very much like affiliate marketing. The difference here is that while affiliates get a commission on every item they sell via a link provided by them, in influencer marketing, the influencer might have a flexible arrangement with the brand they’re endorsing. Moreover, influencers are not responsible for guaranteeing sales. Their role is limited to promoting products and building brand awareness for the company or brand they are representing.
As such, we can say that an influencer’s role is limited to helping a brand build its identity on social platforms.
Here’s how influencer marketing works:
- A brand, agency, or business representative reaches out to an influencer. In some cases, they hire an influencer marketing platform to do the outreach for them.
- The representative approaches an influencer with a guideline of what the influencer would do for the brand. It is here that active negotiation takes place.
What is a Social Media Influencer?
A social media influencer is an influencer who enjoys an established presence and authority in specific social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube.
- Instagram Influencer: Who or what is an Instagram influencer? They are influencers whose platform of authority is Instagram. While celebrities were all the hype on Instagram in its early days, a generation of regular people slowly started outshining their peers and creating an army of ‘influencers’ who are #InstaFamous today. These followers would look forward to content posted by the influencer and treat their recommendations as gospel. As such, Instagram Influencer Marketing has emerged as a highly effective advertising strategy.
- TikTok Influencer: TikTok is a platform where people upload short 60-second videos of themselves doing what they like doing best. This platform soon became a massive success among today’s youth. As of today, many TikTok influencers are followed by millions and make a lot of money because of their trending videos on the platform.
- YouTube Influencer: YouTube is one of the first known platforms where people started uploading videos. Influencers on YouTube come in all shapes and sizes. From tech geeks to make-up gurus, YouTube has many influencers who are YouTube famous and are now making a lot of money based on the number of views and engagement they get.
These are three of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing. The concept of a Facebook influencer has not emerged despite the platform’s unchallenged popularity over the years. As such, we would recommend you to focus on the three social media platforms we have listed above to explore the benefits of influencer marketing as a viable marketing strategy for your business.
Seven Types of Influencer Marketing Campaigns
You can explore different types of influencer marketing campaigns to scale your reach and meet your business goals. We have listed some of them below:
Type 1: Brand Ambassador Programs
A Brand Ambassador Program is a unique marketing campaign where a brand establishes trusted partnerships with an influencer who enjoys authority in their niche.
Based on the partnership terms, the said influencer or brand ambassador gets specific incentives from the brands. Be it product discounts, free goodies, or monetary incentives for each post shared by the influencer to promote the brand – the incentive can encompass anything.
Some brands are pretty serious about their brand ambassador programs. As a result, they include specific clauses which prohibit the influencer from endorsing other brands in the same niche.
Brand ambassador programs are often more permanent and sustainable as the brand ambassador is required to promote the brand over an extended time consistently.
Type 2: Discount Codes
Many brands have started making unique discount codes for the influencers they partner with.
A brand gives discount codes to its influencers who further share this discount code with their followers. Influencers might or might not make a cut with every purchase made by their followers based on the terms & conditions of their partnership. Through this discount code, an influencer’s followers can buy products at cheaper rates.
This is a win-win for both parties as the influencer is able to build their public profile and win the goodwill of their followers while the brand/company is able to find an eager audience without digging deep into their marketing budgets.
Type 3: Competitions & Giveaways
You might have seen many of your favourite influencers on social media doing free giveaways and holding competitions. You might have even noticed that they mention ‘in partnership with xyz’ or ‘sponsored by xyz’ in their posts.
If you see these, it means that the competition is sponsored by a brand. Brands build brand awareness through such competitions while influencers get monetary payments or free goodies in return for their endorsement of the product.
As a brand, you can drive more engagement with these competitions by having rules for contest entry. Here are some tips:
- Ask the contestants to follow your page, like and share the post, comment in it, and send a screenshot of it to your Instagram page. You can also ask them to sign up for your newsletter.
- You can encourage contestants to participate in the competition by clicking a selfie with a relevant caption that resonates with your product and tag your brand in the post. This is an excellent idea that you can work wonders for you.
Such giveaways are mutually beneficial for both the brand and the influencer. An influencer can get more social shares, likes, exposure, and visibility. Thus, they can branch out to a wider audience. On the contrary, brands can easily reach out to a larger pool of audience at a fraction of their marketing budget. This is ideal for new brands that are yet to establish their market visibility and build an audience of their own.
Type 4: Social Media Takeover
When a brand allows a social media influencer to take over the brand’s Instagram page for an agreed number of days, it is called a social media takeover.
Many old and new brands have started exploring this tactic to scale their reach and target new audience. When brands engage in social media takeover partnerships, an influencer can access the brand’s account and use their discretion to curate and share content as they see fit.
Generally, a social media takeover happens as a promotional strategy. Brands use it to drive attention to upcoming events and announce new product launches.
Such partnerships have shared benefits for both parties involved. A brand’s Instagram followers get introduced to the influencer, and the influencer’s followers get introduced to the brand.
This means more followers, more engagement, and more avenues for making money for both parties!
Type 5: Gifts
Sending gifts to an influencer is another influencer marketing tactic you can explore. What happens here is that you – the brand, sends free gifts to the influencer in hopes of free publicity.
When the influencer endorses your brand on their social media page, you can hitchhike their popularity and get exposure for your brand page on Instagram and other platforms.
In most cases, the influencer promotes the gifts on their own, putting in a positive review of the product on their page. By gifting them, your advertising objectives is half achieved.
This shows that the traditional practice of gift-giving is a success not just with friends and family, but with influencers too!
Type 6: Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is not strictly part of an influencer marketing campaign, but they’re related.
As you may already know, affiliates generally earn a commission for every sale a company makes through the affiliate link shared by the affiliate marketer.
Since most influencers also blog on the side, they tend to get into affiliate partnerships to earn passive income through their blog. The percentage or cut an influencer makes depends on what they mutually agree on at the beginning of their business collaboration with the brand.
Type 7: Sponsored Blog Posts
Like we discussed in the above point, many influencers have their own blogs. In fact, many influencers have scaled their social media followers because of their prolific blogging and writing skills.
So if you have an influencer in your radar with a high traffic blog, you can approach them with a sponsored blog posting request. This is a business opportunity you cannot afford to miss, especially if you’re a business keen on scaling your company’s website traffic.
There are two types of sponsored blog posts:
- You write the blog post and pay a fee charged by the influencer. The price they charge may depend on their website DR (domain ranking). The higher the DR, the more you might have to pay.
- You ask the influencer to write the blog post and pay them a flat fee. This might be a more expensive alternative to the first option. So make sure that you do your research and revisit the wisdom of paying for a sponsored blog post if you’re not sure of a guaranteed ROI.
How to Develop an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Developing an effective influencer marketing strategy requires proper planning and execution. Read on to learn what you can do to establish a success-driven influencer marketing strategy:
Step 1: Create a budget and management strategy.
First things first, make sure that you have an established budget and management strategy in place. The idea is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your anticipated spend and the results you’re hoping to gain through your strategy.
In this stage, you need to figure out how to:
- Make a clear strategy on how you want to disburse payments: Do you want to give a one-off payment for x number of endorsements & promotions or do you want to pay on a per endorsement basis. Ensure that you and your team are on the same page about these nuances before you approach an influencer with a proposal.
- Make a dedicated team to approach the influencers: Having flamboyant executives who are skilled in the art of introducing your brands can prove highly effective. So make sure that you make your most promising and well-spoken employees to do the outreach work for your brand.
- Make a dedicated plan for influencer relations & expected activities: It is not enough to have an influencer on board and pay them for impromptu work. Most influencers might be great at steering audience opinion but may not necessarily be equipped with the technical know-how and representation you might hope to achieve. For example, if you’re a vegan cosmetics company, you would want your influencers to follow a specific guideline regarding the promotional content as the lack of it can have you looking like a fool. So make a list of policies to be followed if you’re strict about your brand’s public image and the idea you want to convey.
Step 2: Find the right influencers for your brand.
Choosing an influencer whose authority lies in a niche that contrasts your own will not help.
To ensure that your influencer marketing strategy is impactful, you need to understand your target audience. It would be best if you have a clear idea of who your ideal market segment is. If you don’t, figure it out.
Once you get clarity on this, all that’s needed is to find the right people to do your brand endorsements for you. But before you approach someone, ensure that you and your team are on the same page about the type of influencers you want to work with. There are two options:
- Micro Influencer: These types of influencers generally have less than 2k followers.
- Celebrities: These types of influencers have a massive fan following running in thousands.
Whether you engage in micro influencer marketing or large-scale influencer marketing depends on the nature, niche, and budget of your business. So once you have identified which ‘type’ of influencer you want to associate with, do your research and find your ideal influencers. Once you find them, vet them thoroughly to ensure that they’re the right fit for your brand.
Step 3: Review & Refine your Strategy.
Once you know what your strategy should broadly look like and have forged affiliate partnerships, it is essential to review and rework your affiliate marketing strategy on a timely basis.
Your estimates could be wrong. The influencer you have chosen might not be right for your business. Or you might find gaps in the approach you have taken. Perhaps you need to endorse your brand a different way. Perhaps you are not getting enough return on your investment.
The possibilities are endless. Just because you have taken a calculated approach to influencer marketing does not mean guaranteed success. While the immediate goal of influencer marketing is building brand awareness, the ultimate goal is sales.
You might want to revisit your affiliate partnerships if it costs you more than you’re making.
Even influencers with millions of followers might not have the charm it takes to convince their followers to buy your products & services. It is better to let go of the influencer if the problem lies with them in such cases. Or you can rework on your products and make them better for your audience if the problem lies with your products & services.
The importance lies in conducting timely review and rework. Without it, you might be left spending more money than anticipated in your influencer marketing initiatives.
Additional Read: Content Marketing Tools
In this blog, we have discussed the A-Z of influencer marketing. For those of you who are hearing about this for the first time, we hope that we have educated you about this topic. For those of you who are contemplating the merit of engaging in influencer marketing, we hope that we could help you get into the influencer marketing business in an informed manner.