Influencer marketing, also known as influence marketing, is a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from people or organizations with knowledge or influence in their field. Influencer content is similar to advertising; you’re paying an influencer to promote your business.
In just a few short years, the concept of using an influencer to market your business has exploded. Working with high-profile social media users to promote your products or services may seem intimidating for a small business owner. But the right strategy and execution can increase brand exposure, build authority, and connect you with a wider audience.
According to a recent study, 56% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product after they see a positive image of it. Additionally, the study showed that 49% people said they were more likely to purchase a product if is endorsed by a real person they like or respect.
SmartBiz customers Shari Bisquera and Carey Klein own Off-Road Vixens, a popular female clothing brand for women who embrace the outdoor lifestyle. They successfully use an influencer strategy to elevate their brand and offer free product to active women influencers.
From the Off-Road Vixens website:
“We are looking for respectable, influential bad ass chicks to represent our company. Weekend warriors that are out there doing what they love, whether you backcountry snowmobile, snowbike, surf, dirt bike, UTV, hunt, fish, archery, barrel race or anything in between; we want chicks like you. Our Brand Ambassadors are very important to us because you are the ones out there in everyday life doing what our company represents. Our brand gives you the opportunity to define who you are in whatever industry you enjoy!”
Check out the Off-Road Vixens Instagram to see how they use influencers. This marketing strategy has worked well for them and their brand is sought after on line and at events across the U.S.
Here are steps you can take to shape this unique marketing approach.
8 steps to create an influencer marketing strategy
1. Outline clear goals
Don’t jump into any marketing program without having your goals nailed down. Once you have your goals defined, you can move forward with finding influencers and putting tracking in place to determine the success of your campaigns. Your goals might include:
Increasing brand awareness
Whether you’re in a highly competitive industry or a small niche, you need consumers to be aware of your brand and what you offer. Establish a personality for your social media channels using copy and images to encourage engagement.
Are your fans and follower numbers increasing? An influencer strategy can help up your numbers, exposing your brand to those outside of your core followers.
Social media engagement measures the public shares, likes, and comments for an online business' social media efforts. Engagement has historically been a common metric for evaluating social media performance. Note that engagement doesn't necessarily translate to sales but does keep your brand top of mind when consumers are ready to shop.
In marketing, lead generation is sparking consumer interest in your products or services. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building or for sales leads.
In the end, it’s all about sales and increasing revenue. The right influencer campaign can successfully encourage consumers to spend their hard-earned money on your products or services. Influencers can introduce sale-boosting strategies like discounts, product bundles, or buy-one-get-one deals. An influencer can grab attention better than a standard ad can.
Find an influencer with a loyal base of followers to promote your business. Loyal customers will consistently buy your products regardless if they are on sale or not and recommend you to friends and family. Keeping this audience large enough to keep you afloat is vital to the overall success of your business. There are several other benefits associated with having loyal customers, including positive online reviews and free word-of-mouth advertising.
Link building results in value building, brand building, and increased brand awareness. Websites in the online world are always competing with each other over increasing their rankings. This is because a higher ranking in search engines increases the chances of the number of visits to the website as well as the chances of conversion.
2. Determine type of influencer campaign
There are several ways to get the most out of an influencer relationship. Options include:
An influencer receives a commission on sales generated as a result of their actions. Affiliate marketing is a great way to track ROI, and also encourages the influencer to actively support the product as they receive a benefit every time a sale is made and attributed to them.
Competitions or giveaways
Be creative, especially with the entry requirements, and get your target audience engaged with your brand. Competitions and giveaways can increase followers, growing your email marketing list and capturing consumer data.
Long term partnerships
Long-term partnerships are like an Ambassador Role, where the influencer becomes the face of the brand for a period of time, or indefinitely. Ambassador roles are much like traditional celebrity endorsements, where a brand attaches their name and image to a well-known personality.
Sponsored blog posts
Influencer blogs and websites can provide serious SEO juice. Blog posts are indexed on search engines, so they have a longer lifespan than a single social media post, which only has traction for about 12-hours.
Social media mention
A mention is when a brand is referenced, or "mentioned" on the web. When a business is tagged on Facebook, tweeted at, or linked to, it is factored into the brand's organic search value. Positive SEO leads to increased visibility, which can then prompt more mentions and additional increased SEO value.
Form relationships with loyal brand fans. They’ll get exclusive offers, free products, or being featured online in exchange for using and promoting your brand. It can be a win-win for an influencer eager to build their audience.
3. Identify your audience
Before you research influencers who can help you move the needle, you need to know who your target audience is. Create a buyer persona for each type of customer you want to reach and include ages, genders, locations, etc. Once you’ve identified your audience, you’ll have a much easier time finding influencers for that demographic.
4. Search for the right influencers
There are a lot of different types of influencers including bloggers, social media stand-outs, celebrities, industry experts, and more. Once you determine the influencer type, start researching that space to find your perfect fit.
5. Qualify the audience
Don’t look at influencers based solely on their audience size. It’s better to work with an influencer with a smaller audience that matches your ideal customer than to go with one who has a very large audience that doesn’t include your target.
6. Create great content
Work on your copy and images to appeal to both your target audience and influencers. Creative and clever copy along with high quality photos can increase shareability.
7. Monitor performance
Promo codes can be a great way to track influencer campaign performance. All you do is have the influencers distribute their own unique promo codes to their followers. You can then track how many sales are influencer-generated and which influencer brought in the sale.