Already in 2015, a Tomoson study reported the influencer outreach as “the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search, and email marketing.”
It has also shown that influencer marketing is one of the most cost-effective acquisition methods:
So it’s possible that you’ve heard the buzz online, and decided to finally get out there and start with social media influencer marketing. With some time, tools and magic you’ve found the influencers in your niche. They have dozens of thousands of followers on Twitter, a high engagement rate and maybe even a teenage fanbase. What do you do next?
Influencer campaigns aren’t easy, because the key to the success of the influencer outreach campaign is in detail. Your every detailed step is what we’ll go through in this post.
1. Set the goals according to the conversion funnel.
Probably every marketer out there is aware of the conversion funnel. Why do they completely forget about it when it comes to anything to do with social media then? I’ll never know. But please don’t be one of those marketers – set a specific step that you’re targeting with your campaign.
Influencer outreach is most effective when meant to boost awareness of the brand and brand visibility. In this case, the effect is measured by tracking the increase in social media following, a number of social media impressions, mentions of your brand online. However, you won’t see all of the effects of the campaign because most people on the Internet are lurkers – they don’t leave any visible trace behind them but become aware of the brand anyway. That’s the limitation you’ll just have to live with.
You can also aim to drive conversion directly through the influencer campaign. Then you’ll need a unique landing page or a unique discount code for each influencer so that you can measure how many conversions each influencer individual brought you.
2. Who are your influencers?
Check who you’ve picked out to be your influencers. Starting from the beginning, let’s discuss all the possibilities.
These are usually TV personalities (e.g., the girl above) or athletes. Surely a great way to increase exposure – they have millions and millions of followers both online and offline. But probably you can’t afford these guys anyway, so let’s move on.
Macro-influencers (Internet celebrities)
Internet users who have hundreds of thousands of followers are called macro-influencers or Internet celebrities. They exist in every niche, although most famous ones can be found among entertainers and beauty bloggers. They hang out on all social media platforms (don’t forget Tumblr and Reddit). Again, terribly expensive.
These are influencers with the following between 10,000 and 250,000 that currently dominate the market. They also focus on the specific niche that they are often experts in. They often have the most engaged following. Power-middle influencers get many requests for working with companies and they work on different conditions. They are the ones to go to if you’re aiming for the ideal influencer campaign.
Micro-influencers are a great choice, especially if you’re on a budget. They are the ones that have between 1,000-10,000 followers. Their followers are trusting, engaged and generally ideal for a relevant startup or small business. For the first influencer outreach, I’d definitely start with micro-influencers.
The single most important thing to remember when choosing your influencers is that they should be perfectly relevant to your brand. Their audience should be the perfect match for your target audience. On how to find those, we’ll talk more in the next post. Some quick tricks, however:
- Use a social media monitoring tool to find mentions of your brand or product category. Awario lists all authors in a hierarchical order based on how often they mention your brand/product category and the number of their followers.
- Search for relevant bloggers in Google – bloggers remain to be the most powerful influencers.
- Search for Twitter influencers with a relevant hashtag on Twitter – the more specific your hashtag is, the more chances you’ll have for finding relevant influencers.
The other important thing to remember is retargeting. Whether your customer is looking for new headphones or vintage clothes shop or best cookies in the world, they’re more likely to remember your brand if they hear about it first in the blog they follow and then from someone on YouTube. So it makes sense to reach out to influencers from different platforms that have overlapping audiences.
3. Decide how you’ll pay your influencers.
If you’re aiming for an ideal influencer campaign you can forget about a free one. What you should decide on is a model that’s most suitable for you. Let’s go through all the possible ones:
This way you pay the influencer for each piece of content they create: a tweet, an Instagram picture, a blog post, a mention in the blog, a video, etc. This is an acceptable model if your goal is to build awareness of your brand. It’s a tricky concept though, so make sure you’ve found a correct influencer who has done that successfully before and who fits your brand perfectly.
This way the influencer gets a percentage, or a fixed sum for the number of sales, or sign-ups they drive through their content. This works if you’ve chosen conversion as your goal and provided the influencers with a unique landing page and/or a discount code.
A similar model where you pay for every click that they drive to your site.
A model where you pay for the likes, shares, retweets, and comments on the sponsored post. That works if you’ve set a goal of increasing engagement specifically. However, it’s not a very effective type of payment – research shows that many people “like” and share posts without even looking at them.
- Free products/experience
Truth is, that while you may have gotten into the influencer marketing with the idea of exactly this type of compensation in the first place, it’s not that acceptable anymore. Most influencers that can actually earn you money will ask for money. However, there are exceptions (predominantly among micro-influencers) and it’s more acceptable in some niches than in others.
4. Start with the outreach.
Now that you’ve decided what you want to get out of the influencers and how you’ll pay them for their hard work, it’s time to start with the outreach. And even if you went through the five phases of grief before mentally accepting the possibility of paying $100 for a post, it still won’t be easy for you to get hold of the influencer you want. Mainly because they get a lot of offers and no one likes replying to possible spam. So here’re some rules for how to get heard in this mad world:
Try using LinkedIn
Unlike Twitter, it’s not a widely-used platform for spam, so even popular people tend to open their private messages. At the same time, unlike with email, LinkedIn shows your photo and some information about you that increases trust. Also, the influencer may see that you’ve graduated from the same university, live in the same city, or are part of the same community – all of that increases your chances of getting a response.
Be honest and personal
I know that sounds weird and cheesy, but hear me out. Firstly, marketers love sending out generic mass emails that no one opens. Secondly, these emails are built on templates such as: “I’ve seen your posts here and here. You’re great. I’ve adored your work since I was seven. Now help me earn money.” When an influencers/freelancer/any professional really see something like this they go:
and maybe have a glass of wine. They know you’re not contacting them because they are awesome, and they don’t want your flattery. Here’s what your emails should include instead:
- A short explanation of who you are and what your brand is;
- What you would like the influencer to do (that point should be based on the research you’ve done on the influencer);
- What’s in it for them (in enough details).
There is also something you can also do prior to starting your outreach:
- Engage with chosen influencers on social media (“like”/share their posts);
- Mention them and link to them in your posts;
- Comment on their blog;
- Send out free products or a free trial of your software without any prior commitment from the influencer.
I.e. basically, attempt building an online relationship with them. This is worth doing only with power-middle and micro-influencers, and still it might not work. But they also might join the conversation with you and happily work with you later. They also might really enjoy your product or service and mention you for free just because what you’ve offered was so unbelievably cool.
5. Measure your results.
As with any other campaign, it’s time to measure results after your work with the influencers is done. Go back to your goals to remind yourself what your plans for the campaign were. Compare the numbers between the influencers, platforms, landing pages, and everything else involved in the campaign. Also compare the results of this campaign to that of other marketing campaigns. Maybe paid advertising on Facebook actually brings you same results with much less effort.
6. Nurture the relationship with your influencers.
So you’ve successfully reached out to your influencers, they’ve promoted your product, you’ve paid them, you got some decent results from your campaign. However, you’re out of influencer marketing budget for this year so you can forget they exist now. Right? Wrong! Keep in touch with your influencers, at least by engaging with their content. Remember, influencers are truly interested in your product category (they should be), so they might become brand ambassadors and keep increasing the awareness of your brand with time if your product is genuinely good.
So, let’s recap:
- Decide on clear goals for the influencer campaign;
- Choose highly relevant influencers;
- Keep your emails personal and honest;
- After the campaign, measure results;
- Keep contact with your influencers even after your campaign is done.
Good luck, and feel free to ask questions or post comments below!