Influencer marketing campaigns are an increasingly popular tool for businesses to effectively reach a specific target audience. However, influencer marketing can be costly and wasteful if not done right. Here is an extensive step-by-step guide on how to develop an influencer marketing campaign.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a strategy that uses public figures as a type of brand ambassador for a product or service.
Influencer marketing campaigns leverage the communities that others have built in a specific niche to reach potential customers who are most likely to engage positively with your business. The purpose of these campaigns is to grow brand awareness, trust, and ultimately sales.
Influencers generally have more than 2,000 engaged social media followers whom trust their judgement and recommendations. They can charge anywhere from $50 dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on their online reach and the content that they are creating or sharing on your behalf.
Influencers typically share content across social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter along with personal blogs or websites.
Should my Business Launch an Influencer Marketing Campaign?
When done correctly, influencer marketing campaigns are effective ways to reach a specific audience with the backing of people who influence their followers.
Any business can use influencers as an effective tool as long as they meet a few very important criteria. These are:
- A high percentage of the influencers following is made up of your target audience.
- The influencer is in line with your overall brand message
- The influencer creates content that resonates with your ideal target customer
- There is trust between the influencer and their followers
If these three things are met, your message will be effective and reach your customers in an engaging and trustworthy ‘post’ that will build awareness and drive sales while increasing your customer base.
How to Find the Right Influencers to Represent and Grow Your Brand
Finding the right influencers to help you grow your business can be difficult, but there are a few ways that you can locate great partners.
For starters, searching social media for users who share and engage with your company, competitors, and related businesses is the best way to find authentic influencers and potential ambassadors for your brand. By discovering hashtags used by these people you can narrow down even further to help in your search.
There are also a number of tools and websites that help connect businesses and influencers but be sure to do your due diligence. Just because someone has followers does NOT mean they will be your target customers, nor does it mean they fully align with your overall brand message.
Take a look at the types of posts that do best, the engagement numbers, and the individuals who have engaged to determine if they to the buyer personas you’ve created for your business.
If you’re considering putting together an influencer marketing campaign strategy, we’ve created this guide below to walk you through the necessary steps to ensure a successful partnership for all parties involved.
Guide to Creating an Influencer Marketing Campaign Strategy
1. Define Your Goals and Objectives
Before beginning any marketing campaign you must set ambitious but achievable goals and objectives.
Are you looking to increase brand awareness, drive sales or leads, increase web traffic or diversify into a new market with an influencer marketing campaign?
The goals you set for your business will directly impact how you measure the success of the campaign. These could be obvious or slightly more challenging metrics.
For example, if your marketing objective is to increase web traffic you’d look at webpage views. A brand awareness campaign may include engagement metrics such as social shares, likes and comments.
Whatever goals you set, be certain that they are measurable so you can evaluate its success and your return on investment (ROI).
2. Set a Campaign Budget (Include Payment/Compensation Strategies)
The goals you aim to achieve with the influencer marketing campaign will be limited to the budget you intend to spend. Influencer marketing can be both affordable and expensive depending on who your influencer is, the type of content you’re paying for, and the compensation model you decide.
When choosing how you will compensate your influencers, the decision will not be entirely up to you as both parties must agree to the terms. With that in mind it is suggested that you choose 2 or 3 compensation models of similar value to you that your potential partner can receive. There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these so calculating an accurate estimation of the final results will be very important.
Some traditional payment plans for influencers include:
- Affiliate codes
- Store credit/gift cards
- Gifting free products/services
Cash is king and influencers love a fixed payment.
Affiliate codes work well because influencers get paid based on performance, but direct sales from influencers can be tricky for certain industries or inapplicable in awareness campaigns. Setting up codes are easy with most e-commerce platforms and can be financially lucrative for both parties.
Store credits and gift cards are a great option, along with gifting products/services and discount codes. The downside is the influencer will need to want your product or service whereas they might own a competitors already or use a similar service.
This is another reason why you need to have influencers who fit your brands vision as they are more likely to be a target customer themselves. Demonstrating to them the benefits of your brand will go a long way with these compensation models so be sure to have strong USP’s and reasons-to-believe.
Influencers can also be paid a small fee, similar to how Google charges cost-per-click (CPC) on their ad service, cost per engagement (likes/shares) or cost per conversion meaning payment for every time one of the leads they generate is turned into a sale, form signup, etc.
These compensation models can all be intertwined in a mix-and-match payment strategy, for example a smaller fixed cash payment PLUS free products or an included discount code.
Be creative but remember to make it worth while for the influencers you work with in your influencer marketing campaign. These relationships can go much farther than just a single post if mutual benefits are achieved.
3. Develop a Customer Persona (Buyer Persona)
The most important factor that determines a successful influencer marketing campaign is reaching the right audience. To do this you first need to establish a buyer persona that uncovers exactly who your target audience is.
An effective buyer persona goes beyond age and simple demographics and identifies where your ideal target customer visits online, their interests and hobbies, products or services they use, their pain-points and their motivation.
We’ve developed a guide to creating detailed buyer personas that will increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts exponentially.
4. Create a Customer Buyer Journey
What steps do the customer take from the time they are aware of your product to after they purchase from you?
Creating a customer buyer journey can result in a touchpoint map that lays out what potential buyers are looking for and where.
The insights you find here will tell you where your content should be posted and what information you need to provide to move the buyer to the next stage of your sales funnel to make the final purchase.
When you share your content to customers via an influencer, you need to understand what their next questions will be.
Two examples would be:
- If you’re looking to increase your own follower account, you’d need to have the relevant content on your account that will entice them to click that follow button.
- If your goal is sales, the influencers followers will most likely have questions about the product/service such as the price, quality, or how to use it.
It’s rare for buyers to simply purchase something without doing their own research.
The content an influencer shares should answer many of the questions that potential buyers will have and/or point them in the direction to learn more.
An endorsement from a trusted influencer goes a long way but needs to be backed up by more relative and useful content.
5. Perform a Content & Opportunity Audit
A content & opportunity audit is a research heavy stage. It involves singling out what type of content your target audience engages with best and the most effective ways to share your message that will result in achieving your objectives in the influencer marketing campaign.
Start by analyzing your competitors and the types of content marketing they use, what is successful and what isn’t. Identify what types of information they need & want from an influencer that will ultimately lead to conversions.
Consider modeling your content after the strategies that are working successfully for your competitors. Modify and improve on their tactics to provide more value that is tailored specifically for your unique audience.
6. Choose the Right Type of Influencer Campaign
With your goals/budget and the research you’ve conducted so far it should now be easy to decide what type of influencer campaign will work best for your company.
There are 4 types of influencers generally:
- Micro influencers: Typically have 2,500 to 100,000 followers per platform
- Celebrity influencers: 100,000+ followers per platform
- Micro web/blog influencers: Generally have 1,000 to 10,000 monthly page views
- Web/blog influencers: 10,000+ monthly page views
The influencers you use could be bloggers, experts, thought leaders, social media celebrities or businesses in related but non-competing industries.
Content is usually shared across:
We’ve created a couple example price scenarios if your influencer campaign budget was $750/mo, but industry to industry, influencer to influencer prices can vary wildly.
- A series of 4 or 5 micro-influencers sharing 2 photos each (or stories) to their roughly 4,000 followers may take up your entire budget. This type of micro-influencer strategy works well targeted to a location where there may be overlap from the audience leading to a reinforced marketing message.
- You should be able to get a single blog post shared on a website. Blogs could charge $500 to $5000+ per post. If you’re hiring a persuasive copywriter to maximize SEO and optimize content you will need an additional $400-$500 per post.
- A $750 payment to celebrity influencers will usually be a non-starter. The Kardashian/Jenner clan takes hundreds of thousands for a single post, but there are influencers who don’t monetize nearly that successfully and your budget may be enough for a post from an influencer with 20,000+ followers if your brands align properly.
7. Design a Strategic Content Plan
A content plan starts with a great brainstorming session. With a pad or pen, or whatever your method, jot down ideas you have for content for your influencer marketing campaign. What questions are people asking, what information are they looking for, what have your competitors created and what have they failed to create?
Using the insights learned from your buyer persona, buyer journey, and competitive analysis’ you can see what types of content should be created, for who, and where it should be shared.
If your businesses influencer strategy will be sharing images or videos on instagram, what are the formats you want to use and what message(s) will you use in the captions or video dialogue?
A simple example outline of an influencer marketing content plan on instagram by an online women’s ethical swimwear retailer would start with something like the chart below.
|Target customer||Woman aged 18-27|
Live in or frequent warmer climate regions
Passionate about the environment, clean oceans and fashionPlatforms and websites actively usedInstagram
Sustainable Fashion subreddit
|Type of content that will be best received||Photos/Videos|
Information on materials used, fitting, ethically sourced materials, charity work
|Content shared by competition||Instagram posts & story shares|
Often selfies or staged poses
Captions include product discount codes, product name and description
Links to online shop
|Content opportunities||Benefits of ethically sourced swimwear|
Benefits of companies charity work
Durability and quality of material used in individual pieces
‘Action shots’ demonstrating durability or practical use
With our ideal target customer in mind, we can see that our competitions content strategy is to share photos of their products being worn by individuals. Much of the competitions content lacks information on product quality or the charitable work and efforts done to promote a sustainable planet.
There is an opportunity for our hypothetical ethical swimwear brand to emphasize how a percentage of each swimsuit results in a specific amount of trash cleaned off of local beaches. This could be communicated verbally, written in the caption, or point to a company blog post.
We could also test the industry standard of selfies showing off the swimsuits style and appeal by also sharing images or videos of our product users swimming, surfing or playing water polo to demonstrate that these suits will fit and last long while being heavily used.
8. Identify Effective Influencers
Finding leading influencers is easy, but unless you have a giant marketing budget, the generic celebrity influencers are out of the question.
You’ve got to dig deep into your industry to find who has the highest percentage of your customers in their follower list. You can start however by browsing through leading influencers (brands & individuals) to see who is actively posting comments or sharing. This will direct you to people who are engaged in your specific niche who you may be able to reach out to or further explore their network. Don’t underestimate the importance of finding influencers who are trusted by their target audience and authentic.
If you want to launch a net of micro-influencers you can search for engaged fans of celebrity influencers. If you’ve got the budget or a celebrity influencer, you still need to comb through their audience to make sure that your message will be seen by the right people.
You can also use tools like Buzzsumo to see what type of links and content specific influencers have previously shared. This is useful for making sure the candidate influencer aligns with your brand message and if they shared industry related products you can get a glimpse of the results and how they were received.
9. Strategize With the Influencer
An important thing to remember is allowing your influencers to have the creative freedom to best reach your mutual target audience. It is in the best interest of both parties that your business partnership succeeds, and for that to happen the influencers needs to engage with their followers.
Nobody knows their followers and fan base better than them so allow them to do what they’ve done to become an influencer.
With that in mind, the message they share needs to be aligned with your brand and strategy.
Present influencers with the strategic content plan you created along with the reasons why you want a certain type of content shared and in what specific way.
Having this discussion will ensure that the influencer you’ve partnered with will deliver the right content for you both.
Influencer marketing campaigns can be highly beneficial for both raising brand awareness and generating profits. They can also be a complete waste of money if done incorrectly
The key is to do sufficient research and planning. Hiring people to promote your product only works if you know your audience, where they are, and as importantly, your influencers audience.
Follow the steps in this guide to create influencer marketing campaigns that work.