The influencer marketing industry is expected to hit $13.8 billion by 2022.
So what is influencer marketing exactly? How do you utilize it to generate sales for your business?
Surprising to a lot of small business owners, influencer marketing is actually not hard to get started with and can be worth the investment.
Influencer marketing campaigns earn $5.78 for every dollar spent.
49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.
And, 86% of women use social media for purchasing advice.
So in this post, we’re giving you a simple 8 step process that will take you from never having worked with influencers before…
…to having a full-fledged influencer marketing strategy in place.
Definition Of Influencer Marketing
“Influencer marketing involves a brand collaborating with an online influencer to market one of its products or services.
Some influencer marketing collaborations are less tangible than that – brands simply work with influencers to improve brand recognition.”
So essentially, a regular person who does not work for your company but does have a large following- be it thousands or millions of followers…
…is sponsored by you to promote your product or service to your audience.
Why Does It Work? What Makes Influencer Marketing So Effective?
At its core, influencers can feel like friends, and people still trust friends before brands.
Even though it’s clear to most followers that influencers are being paid in some way to promote the product…
…there’s still a genuine connection between the influencer and the follower that feels real.
They’ve built enough rapport and trust that even when the influencer is delivering an “ad,” followers accept the content as if it came organically.
That’s because they believe the influencer only works with brands they truly support.
We follow a large handful of influencers ourselves, and we can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard the phrase, “I only work with brands I believe in.”
And because these are regular people who show us the ins and outs of their lives on Instagram, YouTube, etc…
…we as followers usually just take them at their word on that!
So it’s the level of trust that allows influencer marketing to be as successful as it is.
And, produce the results we shared at the beginning of this post.
So with that being said, let’s go ahead and jump into our 8 steps on how to create an influencer marketing strategy.
8 Steps To Build An Influencer Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Write down your goal.
What are you looking to achieve from working with influencers? Is it brand awareness? Want to increase online sales?
And from which platform? YouTube? Instagram?
You need to be able to answer these questions because if you’re lost on what you want from the partnership, your influencer will be too.
When the campaign doesn’t have a clear focus or CTA to follow, that usually translates down to the customer level, resulting in less profit.
So, the first step in creating your influencer marketing strategy is to identify your goal and write that down.
Step 2: Allocate a budget for the campaign.
How much are you willing to invest to see a return from influencer marketing? While keeping your goal in mind.
So if your goal is brand awareness, how much do you want to spend to acquire x amount of followers?
Or if your goal is direct sales, how much do you want to spend to acquire x dollar amount in purchases?
What’s profitable for you? Nail that number down now before you start involving influencers at all in your influencer marketing strategy.
And if you need help calculating your small business marketing budget, be sure to read this post next.
Step 3: Research influencers in your industry.
When starting to look for influencers to work with, there are 3 things to look at:
- Follower count
- Relevance to your product or service
- Engagement rate
So let’s break down those criteria really quickly.
a. Follower count
When it comes to follower count, these are the different categories that influencers can fall into.
- Nano-influencers with 1K to 10K followers
- Micro-influencers with 10K to 50K followers
- Mid-tier influencers with 50K to 500K followers
- Macro-influencers with 500K to 1 million followers
- Mega-influencers with more than a million followers (think of celebrities)
While you might automatically be leaning towards influencers with more followers, there are pros and cons to consider on each side of the spectrum.
Influencers with smaller follower counts don’t have the reach that macro and mega influencers have…
…but as a result, they usually have a more intimate and trusting relationship with their followers.
This means more influential power when it comes to purchasing recommendations.
They’re also usually cheaper to work with.
On the other hand, influencers with larger follower counts can put a TON of eyeballs on your brand…
…and get you reach that smaller influencers simply can’t get.
They also are usually more experienced in working with brands and can sometimes produce higher quality content for you.
So you’ll need to consider what’s most important to you in this category.
And, we would recommend testing a couple of influencers on both sides of the spectrum to see what brings in the desired results for your business.
b. Relevance to your product or service
Don’t just pick someone with a lot of followers solely because they have a lot of followers.
You want to pick someone whose channel or account is somehow related to what you sell.
That’s because those are the people whose audience is going to be more qualified to buy from you.
For example, if you sell yarn and knitting supplies…
…it would make more sense to work with an influencer with a knitting tutorial YouTube channel with 10,000 subscribers.
That is compared to someone who does tech reviews with 2 million subscribers.
c. Engagement rate
Follower count doesn’t really carry that much weight on your influencer marketing strategy…
…if the people following the influencer don’t ever look at their content.
So a solid way to tell if their followers look at their content or not is to look at their engagement rate.
So that begs the question, what is a good engagement rate?
Well, let’s look at the benchmarks one study found:
- For less than 1,000 followers, the average engagement rate is about 8%
- For 1,000 – 10,000 followers, 4%
- For 10,000 – 100,000 followers, 2.4%
- For 100,000 – 1 million followers, 1.8%
- And for more than 1 million followers, 1.7%
So this further proves our previous point that more followers is not always the more lucrative option.
And, that nano influencers usually have higher engagement rates with their followers.
Also, you can use these benchmarks to tell if an influencer is getting the average engagement rate for their follower count.
Unfortunately some of the mega-influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers tend to have a lot of what’s called “ghost followers”.
These are “users on social media platforms who remain inactive or do not engage in activity.
These users follow active members but do not partake in liking, commenting, messaging, and posting.”
And you don’t want to pay an influencer to put your product in front of “people”…
…that are not even logging on the app to see the content and were never going to make a purchase.
So that’s why you want to choose an influencer with real followers and a real relationship with their audience…
…which again can usually be gauged by their engagement rate.
So how do you calculate an engagement rate?
You usually can ask the influencer for these numbers which we’ll get more into in a second, but there are a couple of formulas you can use as well.
The more accurate formula is to take the amount of engagement a post got (meaning likes, comments, and shares)…
…divide that by the reach the post received and then multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage.
But if you’re just looking at a public account and you’re not the owner or admin of the account…
…you often can’t see the reach, in which case you can just divide by their follower count.
But either way, you’ll want to look at this on all of their recent posts to understand what their current, average engagement rate is.
Speaking of engagement rate, check out this post next to learn more tips on how to improve your Instagram engagement.
So with these criteria in mind, their follower count, their relevance, and their engagement rate…
…the next question is how do you find influencers for your influencer marketing strategy that meet these requirements?
We’re going to get into that next, but first here is a quick reminder to check out our new social media ads training course.
This course is for those who want to take their social media advertising skills to the next level.
Step 4: Find influencers that fit your criteria.
Now moving on to the next step in creating an influencer marketing strategy is to finally search for potential influencers you can work with.
The most straightforward method of doing this is to get on the Instagram app and search industry-relevant hashtags…
…and scroll through the top section to find influencers using the hashtag.
If you’re on YouTube, you can do the same thing with keywords in the search bar.
Now there are many software and websites out there you can look into that will help you find influencers.
Some of which have free options and some of which have paid plans.
But if you’re just starting out, we like doing it directly in the app or website just so you can get a feel for what’s out there…
…and what viewers are seeing when they search these search terms as well.
Step 5: Take the plunge and start reaching out to influencers!
The two most common ways to do this are to send them a direct message on the social media app you found them on.
For instance, you can send an Instagram DM or send them an email.
A lot of influencers will have their business email public in their bio for you to utilize.
So what do you say when you reach out to them?
These are the 3 key things you want to include or ask about in your message:
a. Make a comment that is tailored to them and their recent content so that:
- they know you’re not an automated bot message (you’re a real person), and
- because it shows you care and actually follow their content.
b. Make a quick, short statement about who you are and why you’d like to work with them.
We say quick and short because this message should not be about you.
And if the influencer is interested, they will go look at your social media on their own accord.
But it is nice for you to introduce yourself.
c. Ask them that if they are interested, could they send their rates over?
So here’s what a message could look like that encompasses those 3 things.
Hey Jesse, I loved your video on how to knit for beginners from Monday!
I thought it was super insightful. I wanted to reach out and see if you’d be interested in collaborating as we offer yarn and knitting supplies.
Let me know if you’d like to speak more and if you have a rate card you could send over. Thanks so much!
So just something short and sweet that knocks out that 3 step checklist.
And before we move on to the next part of your influencer marketing strategy…
…another option with this step that we’ve seen to be effective is if you are Instagram DMing them…
…you can send a voice note reading this message aloud instead of a text-based message.
That is because that tends to stand out and it doubly proves that you’re a real person and not a spam bot.
Step 6: Figure out your terms.
Once an influencer has said yes to you and the wheels are in motion, you want to clearly define…
…if or how you are paying them and what they are giving you in return.
As we mentioned earlier, influencers with higher follower counts might be a little more experienced in this area…
…and you might find that they already have a set routine in how they do things when creating content.
Whereas smaller influencers might have more wiggle room or be more open to creating what you want them to create.
The important thing here is you don’t want to leave any room for interpretation. You should know exactly what they’re producing for you.
For example on Instagram, it could be 1 story slide tagging you and linking to your website, and 1 feed post.
On YouTube, it could be a segment in their new video mentioning your brand and linking to your website in the description.
In general, if you’re paying them, you tend to have a little more say in what you want them to create for you or what you’re getting for that.
Whereas if you’re just paying them “in product”, meaning you’re sending them a sample in exchange for exposure, you have less leverage.
Step 7: Review and approve content.
For some reason, not all small business owners do this in their influencer marketing strategy.
But we would strongly suggest that you request to review and approve the content the influencer has made for you before they post it.
Especially if it’s your first time working with this influencer.
You want to make sure everything they’re doing and saying is accurate and aligned with your brand.
This will also help you catch any mistakes or misunderstandings.
Anything from a spelling error to you thinking you were getting 2 posts but they only made 1.
Reviewing everything just ensures you’re getting what you wanted out of the relationship.
Step 8: Track results.
The last step in building an influencer marketing strategy for your brand…
…is to go back to the goal you set in step 1 and figure out if you met that goal from this influencer campaign.
If it was to build brand awareness, you might measure how many new followers or subscribers you received the day the influencer posted your brand.
If your goal was direct sales, there are a couple of ways you can measure how many sales you got from the influencer posting about your brand.
The most common method is to give the influencer a discount code to share with their followers that’s specific to their name or username.
That way, every time you receive a sale on your website that uses that influencer’s discount code…
…you’ll know it came from their followers and you can credit the sale to them when gauging how effective the partnership was.
If you don’t want to give a discount or percentage off, you can use what’s called UTM tracking.
If you’ve never heard of a UTM code, don’t be scared, it’s super simple.
It’s essentially where you put a tracking code in your URL so that you can track where clicks came from.
There are free websites out there that make it super simple.
So let us just show you. Our go-to is the Google Analytics UTM builder.
But honestly, you can Google free UTM builder and plenty of website options will pop up for you to use.
Rolling with the yarn example, let’s say we want to send people to our website www.yarn.com.
And we want to know how many website clicks came from an influencer whose username was WeLoveYarn123.
You’d put your website name in the website URL field, you’d put YouTube as the campaign source (we’re going to put YT for short).
For campaign medium, we’re going to put feb vid for February video…
…because for example’s sake, that’s when the influencer promoted our yarn company was in her February video,
And for the campaign name, we’re going to put their username weloveyarn123.
Then when we scroll down, we see that it’s generated a URL for us to use that still simply sends people to www.yarn.com.
But now, it has these little codes in it so that when you’re looking at your analytics, you’ll know where these people came from.
You can shorten the code which we would recommend, and then give that code to the influencer to utilize.
Make sure the influencer only uses that URL and only that influencer uses that URL.
You’ll need to adjust the code, and therefore URL, for each influencer you utilize.
Because again, this is supposed to tell you how many people clicked from an individual influencer’s account over to your website.
And if multiple influencers are using the same URL with the same tracking codes in it, it defeats the purpose.
And when you’re entering in the campaign, medium, and source in your UTM code builder, you can honestly make it say whatever you want it to.
The website we were on has prompts for you.
But you just want it to be information that you’ll remember and understand later when looking at analytics.
So those are our 8 steps to take you from scratch to having a fully effective influencer marketing strategy!
If you need any help with promoting your business through digital marketing, don’t hesitate to contact us today! We’d love to help you out.