How do you reach your target audience with meaningful content in a time when consumers simply don’t trust (or like) digital advertising?
If that question is keeping you up at night… well, you’re certainly not the only one.
Although it can definitely still work, advertising on its own is simply not enough to reach your audience and get them to take action. You also need to build trust and establish yourself as one of the top choices in your niche. And you can achieve that with 2 tactics: a great content marketing strategy and collaborating with top influencers in your niche.
But, we can’t really tackle both in one article. So in this blog post, I’m going to show you how to develop an influencer marketing strategy in 5 steps.
Step 1: Goals and metrics – What are your goals and how are you going to measure them?
Like with any marketing strategy, the best place to start is with your goals. What exactly do you want to achieve with your influencer marketing campaign?
For example, here are some of the top objectives you can achieve with an influencer marketing campaign:
- Reach a new audience and improve awareness of your brand.
- Build awareness and establish trust with your target audience.
- Generate more sales/more leads for your business.
- Boost traffic to your website.
Take the time to consider your overall business goals in order to come up with an objective that will help support those goals. This will help you put together your actual campaign; for example, if your goal was to establish trust and build up your reputation, then you wouldn’t create exclusive offer codes for the influencers you work with. Rather, you’d try a different approach, such as building up close, long-lasting relationships with top influencers and then giving them the freedom to create the campaign themselves. On the other hand, if you wanted to boost sales, you’d need to create exclusive offers for your influencer campaigns.
To help you set your objectives, you can use a goal-setting template like SMART; that means that your goal needs to be:
- Specific – in other words, it needs to be detailed.
- Measurable – if you can’t measure the success of your goal, why even do it?
- Achievable – can you really reach that goal?
- Relevant – how is this goal helping your business?
- Time-bound – what is your goal’s deadline?
As you can see above, one of the essential elements of a good goal is whether they are measurable. And what’s more, at this stage, you should list out exactly how you’re going to measure these goals; in other words, what are your KPIs (key performance indicators)? It can be something like traffic to your website and social media engagement metrics if your goal was to improve brand awareness. Or, if you wanted more sales, then you’d focus on the number of sales made as your main KPI.
Step 2: Find the right influencers
Once you know what you want to achieve, the next step is to find the right social influencers to help you actually achieve that goal.
There are numerous types of social influencers depending on how you want to classify them (by audience size – micro-influencers, celebrities, etc., by type – blogger, journalist, etc.). Each type of influencer has its own benefits and drawbacks; but generally, it’s not about how many followers they have, how famous the influencer is, or anything else similar.
What’s most important is to understand how engaged their audience is and how truly influential the influencer is.
When choosing the influencers to work with, make sure to check:
- What topics they cover: What do they usually talk about on their digital channels? Is it something relevant to your target audience? You can check this with a tool like Buzzsumo; it’s a content research/influencer marketing tool that lets you look up influencers and see what links they’ve shared in the past. This helps give you a better idea of the content they like, the topics they’re interested in, and their audience’s interests:
- Who forms their audience: Who follows them? Ideally, you want to be able to reach your own target audience
- How engaged is their audience? How close of a relationship is there between influencer and followers? A true influencer is one that has a very engaged audience (one that shares their content, leaves comments constantly, and so on) – that is much more important than the size of their audience
To help you find influencers, you can use all kinds of tools – like the aforementioned Buzzsumo. Some other useful tools are:
- Social Bond – it’s an influencer marketing tool that helps with the full campaign, from finding influencers to collaborating with them and to measuring the success of the influencer campaign. One of my favorite parts is that you can look up influencers’ based on their followers and demographics (location, language, age group, gender, niche) and you can even check what other brands they’ve worked with before – this way, you can make sure you’re reaching the right target audience. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a platform that connects brands and influencers directly as it has an influencer marketplace where you can search for and reach out to influencers.
- Upfluence – it’s an influencer marketing software with 3 main tools: influencer search, campaign manager, and influencer marketing analytics. You can use it to find the top influencers in your niche (from blogs or social networks) with all kinds of filters such as geolocation, how active they are, and the engagement metrics they get on social media. Once you find them, you can then reach out to them via email, use the software to manage the campaigns, and then measure your campaigns’ performance.
Step 3: Connect with influencers and build the right campaign
Once you find the people you want to work with, there are several ways to connect with the influencers:
- Reach out directly via email (many influencer marketing tools offer influencer outreach features) to ask them if they’re interested in collaborating.
- Follow them online and build a relationship slowly by connecting with them on their digital channels
But what happens once you do connect with influencers? How do you build a campaign that gets results?
Here is where you need to refer back to your objectives – what do you want to achieve with your influencer marketing campaign? For example:
- More brand awareness: Get influencers to review your product on their channels, create contests and giveaways and host them on the influencer’s page
- Increased sales: create exclusive discount codes/special offers to promote on social media or via an affiliate marketing programme.
- Improve trust/reputation: Turn influencers into brand ambassadors, send gifts of your products/services to the right people.
That said, it’s always best to discuss this with the influencers you’ve chosen. They know their audience the best so they can come up with the type of campaigns that they know will make an impact and get them to take action.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have any input whatsoever; rather, tell them what you want to achieve and then collaborate with them regarding the campaigns that will help you actually achieve those goals. And most importantly, let them have their creative freedom; after all, there’s a reason you came to them and there’s a reason they are influential: their audience loves their content.
If you control what they can say too much as part of the campaign, it likely won’t be as authentic to the influencers’ followers.
Step 4: Track and optimize
Once your campaign goes live, you’re not completely helpless as it goes along – you can still monitor it and optimize the campaign as you go along.
Keep a close eye on the campaign from the first moment and look for what’s working and what isn’t; depending on the type of campaign, you might have the chance to make adjustments as you go along and optimize it for better results:
- Keep an eye out for any mistakes. Whether it’s posting the wrong thing or grammatical mistakes, keep an eye out for them and remove them immediately.
- Identify social posts that are working very well and pay to boost them to generate even more results.
- Change calls to action if they don’t work.
Step 5: Measure your ROI
As you might remember from earlier when we talked about goals, we also talked about the importance of being able to measure your goals. That is because you want to be able to demonstrate ROI, but also so you can understand what worked and what didn’t and how you can use that knowledge in the future to build better campaigns.
So, using the KPIs outlined when you established your goals, measure the success of your campaign.
Of course, you’ll also need some tools to help; some influencer marketing tools, like the ones I talked about earlier, also offer influencer marketing campaign analytics. But, there are plenty of other tools that you can use.
For example, you can add UTM tracking codes to your campaigns’ links (custom parameters that are added at the end of a link in order to help track it); these codes will then allow you to monitor your campaign links in detail and help you establish ROI, especially if you’re working with several influencers.
There are 3 elements that make up a UTM tracking link:
- Source: Where the clicks/traffic are coming from.
- Medium: Traffic type.
- Campaign: The campaign that got them to click.
As you can see, it tells you where your traffic is coming from, what made them want to click, and what type of traffic it is (paid, organic, etc.).
Then, if you’re collaborating with several influencers, you can create different UTM tracking links to help you track their results. Or, if you’re working with the same influencer, you can use these links to help you understand what parts of your campaign worked or which didn’t and measure the ROI of the campaign.
Plus, another great use for UTM tracking links is for A/B testing; testing 2 different variables to see which one performs best.
For example, if you’re working with an influencer on a social media campaign, you could test to see which updates and calls to action got the most results by tracking them with UTM links. This will then help you optimize your influencer marketing campaigns in the future, for improved results.
To create these kinds of links, you can use a social media management tool like Agorapulse:
When you turn on UTM tracking after adding a link, you can customize your UTM parameters with the right source, medium, or campaign, or you can add your own custom UTM parameters.
You can then create as many of these links as you need to, which is especially useful if you’re working with several influencers at the same time and you want to track them all as accurately as possible.
As you can see, there are 5 important steps that make up an influencer marketing strategy:
- Establishing your goals and your KPIs to help measure your results.
- Finding the right social influencers to collaborate with.
- Connecting with influencers and building your campaign together.
- Tracking and optimizing your campaign as it goes along.
- Measuring the results and ROI of your influencer marketing campaign.
Guest author: Lilach Bullock is highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient of a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business. Check out her site Lilach Bullock or connect with her on LinkedIn.