Influencer marketing allows you to reach a broader audience by leveraging a thought leader's existing followers. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, and there's one for every niche.
Whether you're a B2B or B2C business, an influencer within your niche can discuss your products or services with their followers. As long as you have an effective strategy, your influencer marketing efforts can boost brand awareness while increasing web traffic and sales.
But what does it take to build an effective strategy? Here are a few tips to help small businesses owners build an influencer marketing strategy:
Define goals & budget
Every marketing strategy should have goals. For example, when using Instagram marketing, your goals may be to grow your audience or increase web traffic. Influencer marketing can have the same goals, depending on your brand's needs. You can and should use your goals to guide your campaigns and define metrics to track success.
Once you get more comfortable with influencer marketing, you can create several campaigns with different goals. For example, you can use an influencer to increase brand awareness and another one to increase conversions on your website. Whatever the case, influence marketing can be an effective way to grow your business.
In addition to defining your goals, you must determine your budget. Influencer marketing isn't free. While you can find influencers who already love your brand and would be willing to promote it for free, you'll have to offer most influencers money or free products to promote your products. Of course, every influencer charges a different rate, but you can expect to pay a fixed rate per follower count and to pay before publishing.
Identify your audience
Just like every brand, every influencer has an audience. Therefore, if you want your influencer marketing campaigns to be as effective as possible, you must find influencers in your niche. For example, if you sell cars, you wouldn't want to hire a beauty influencer because their followers are interested in beauty products.
Consider your business' target personas and its ideal buyers. Then, you can segment your audience depending on the brands you want to promote or stick to a single brand to make it easier to understand what you're looking for in an influencer.
Determine the campaign type
You can promote your brand in several ways using influencer marketing, but how you do it depends on your goals and target audience. The most common types of influencer campaigns include:
- Sponsored content
- Contests and giveaways
- Discount codes
Depending on the influencer, you may be limited to the type of campaign you can do. For example, some influencers may only do sponsored content, while others are open to different campaigns.
Consider having a rating system for qualifying influencers and comparing them to one another. There are several ways to find influencers, including using an influencer marketing platform, searching for them on social media, or going through an agency. What you choose will depend on your budget. However, if you can't afford an agency, we recommend using an influencer marketing platform to centralize your influencer marketing campaigns and metrics. These platforms also help you vet influencers, reach out to them, and create contracts.
Once you've narrowed down your list of possible influencers to work with, you can start reaching out directly to them. A few things to discuss with them are:
- Who you are
- What your brand sells
- Why you think they'd be a good fit for your influencer marketing program.
If interested, they might want to hop on a quick call to discuss the details, such as the type of posts you're interested in and compensation.
By the time you contact influencers, you should know how much you're willing to pay them and have any requirements for working with your business, such as reporting stats on posts.
One new trend in influencer marketing is partnerships with micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are generally defined as creators with less than 100,000 followers. Micro-influencers differ because their follower count may be lower, but their engagement is often higher because they can foster closer relationships with their audience.
Not only do micro-influencers often come with a lower rate for sponsored posts, but because they have closer-knit relationships with their followers, their recommendations tend to be more trusted over an influencer with millions of followers. In addition to a smaller follower count, micro-influencers tend to be more niche in their content when compared to influencers with millions of followers. Niche audiences benefit from your marketing efforts because they get your product in front of the eyes of people who are more likely to purchase since the product aligns with their lifestyle.
Search popular hashtags relevant to your business to find micro-influencers in your niche. By searching hashtags relevant to your niche, you can identify creators who discuss topics similar to your business. If your business is active within its community, see if any creators are popular in your local area. The beauty of social media is there are creators from all over the world, allowing you to target local marketing efforts. You should also review your own social media followers and see if there any micro-influencers following you. Not only will they be willing to collaborate with you, but who better to serve as a brand ambassador than someone who is already interested in what your business has to offer?
Lastly, while micro-influencers can help improve brand awareness, they are also a cost-effective avenue for marketing efforts. If your team doesn’t have the budget for a huge marketing project, a micro-influencer can lead to some big results for a lower price.
Many influencers will create their own posts and videos, but providing them with content and messaging can ensure they stick to your brand guidelines.
Additionally, your messaging must be consistent, so we recommend sharing a folder with marketing collateral, designs, and messaging with the influencers you work with to help them create their posts.
Promote your campaign
Promoting your new partnership can help attract more visitors to your social media channels, especially if you're working with a well-known influencer. Consider generating some buzz by sharing their posts on your social media platforms and website whenever possible. Of course, how you promote your campaign depends on your goals and budget. You can share an influencer's posts about your business for free on your own digital channels or use social media ads to expand your reach.
Continue to manage campaigns
You should regularly review an influencer's posts as part of your influencer marketing strategy. Of course, you should have final approval before any post gets published. However, you still want to ensure your influencers use the right messaging and don't paint your business in a bad light.
Influencers are not employees, so you must continue to manage the relationship throughout the campaign. Having a smooth onboarding process and providing brand guidelines as soon as they sign the contract will ensure they understand your expectations. You should also give them as much creative control as possible since they know their audience better than you do.
Track your metrics
Earlier, we mentioned you should always have clearly defined goals, but you must track metrics to determine whether your influencer marketing campaigns are effective. Monitor your campaign performance regularly to ensure your campaigns are accomplishing your goals.
For example, you might track website traffic or mentions to build brand awareness. Meanwhile, if you aim to increase leads, you might track website conversions and overall return on investment (ROI).
Refine your strategy
You should consistently refine your influencer marketing strategy based on the metrics of each campaign. Then, after a campaign has ended, you can look at the data to evaluate what worked and what didn't to refine your strategy and improve future influencer marketing campaigns.
This data can also tell you if working with a particular influencer was worth it for your business. For example, you might find that you spend thousands of dollars for a single post from an influencer and don't get any sales. Meanwhile, another influencer was less expensive and continued to promote your business to help increase your sales. In this case, you could choose one influencer over the other if you have a limited budget.
Growing your business with influencer marketing
A comprehensive influencer marketing strategy is crucial to help you plan your campaigns and work with a team to find and vet influencers. A plan can help you develop meaningful relationships with top-performing influencers in your industry while helping you determine which tools and tactics work best for your business.