An influencer program isn’t just asking a reality TV star to model your products in a #SponCon post on Instagram.
Done right, social media influencers can help you build consumer trust in your brand. In fact, the best influencer marketing is similar to word-of-mouth advertising. It’s not the brand itself telling you how amazing it is, but rather the opinion of someone who is an industry expert, your peer, or even a friend.
Influencer marketing campaigns are an incredibly effective way to drive revenue, with businesses making $6.50 for every $1 spent. Influencer programs are also rated as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, and ties with email as the most cost-effective online customer-acquisition channel. It’s become such a big business, even children are getting into it!
So what’s holding you back from incorporating an influencer program into your marketing strategy? Hopefully not much! But here’s some advice on how to find the right influencers for your target audience, measure the impact on your revenue, and gauge success.
Step 1: Set goals for your influencer marketing program
The first step in creating an effective influencer program is to define your goals and set up KPIs that are relevant to your brand and industry. You’ll need these in place so you can track and then report on them at the end of the campaign.
Some examples of goals for your influencer marketing program include:
- Boost brand awareness
- Improve website traffic
- Increase volume and quality of leads generated
- Increase social media followers and engagement
- Launch new products
- Reach new audiences
- Increase net new purchases
These goals, of course, depend on your specific business and the aim of your program. However, always try to tie back your marketing campaigns directly to revenue. That way, you’re not paying for overall traffic that doesn’t covert. We’d recommend focusing more on net new purchases driven by traffic from an influencer.
Step 2: Carefully pick the right influencers
Not every influencer is the right influencer. It depends greatly on your specific budget, your target market, and much more. For example, Instagram isn’t always the right channel for influencer marketing — though it often dominates the conversation. If your target market is gamers, for example, Twitch is an obvious choice and you can instead work with influencers there.
There are a few good ways you can ensure you pick the right influencers for your brand:
- Ask for referrals from other relevant businesses you know who use influencers.
- Use social media tools to determine who has the right number of followers and a high level of engagement on social media in your industry or target market.
- Ask to see any potential influencers’ Google Analytics data.
Beware of the spam or fake accounts who have bought followers, pay people to like or comment on their posts, or employ bots to auto-like or auto-comment on other’s posts. Not all engagement is real engagement!
The influencers you choose should also differ according to the goals of your campaign. For a campaign to generate brand awareness, you could choose an influencer with a bigger reach as you want to spread your message far and wide. But if you want to generate more leads, you need to narrow down your target market, and so you should use an influencer who is most relevant to the segment you’re targeting, even if they don’t have a massive reach.
These influencers – who have a smaller following, but very high engagement – are known as micro-influencers. These are influencers who generally have less than 50,000 followers on Instagram, for example, but have high engagement with their following.
If you want to get an idea of what an effective influencer’s profile and engagement might look like, check out yoga and wellness influencer Alexandra Lerner, and Marta Pozzan, who is a beauty and fashion influencer. For example, one sponsored post Pozznan collaborated on with 7 For All Man generated more than 40,000 likes.
If you’re not sure how to whittle down the ever-growing pool of people who market themselves as influencers, don’t fret! Simply choose someone and only engage them for a short trial contract. Then, after measuring the success of this campaign, you can decide whether or not they’re producing the right results for your brand.
Step 3: Measure your influencer program
Just because an influencer has a significant reach within your target market and fits your target demographics doesn’t mean that they will help you achieve your goals. You need to track which influencer is having a significant impact on your brand, and in which channel.
Simply measuring any increase in traffic/engagement/leads from that particular channel during a set period isn’t enough, as you can’t attribute that directly to the influencer. That’s why you have to do a bit of work up-front to correctly track the traffic you gain from your influencer program.
Generate affiliate links
To effectively track the impact of influencers, you can generate unique affiliate links for each one. By generating these links, you can measure clicks, sales, and the average order value (AOV) for any traffic that leads to a sale. Often, the influencer will get a cut of the revenue for each sale in exchange for promoting your product — the start of a true affiliate program.
But there are some limitations to using these links to track impact for your brand. The cookies in affiliate links generally expire after 30 days. And often, buyers see an influencer’s post and the product sticks in their mind. Then, they may purchase weeks or even months later. This makes it tough to track the true influence of a post.
Create promo codes
Another way to measure impact is to give each influencer a unique promo code that they can share on their sponsored post offering a discount on your products. When the customer enters this discount code at the checkout, you can track sales made directly back to these posts, and know which influencer is bringing in the most business. These promo codes don’t expire, so you can still track sales made down the line.
Add UTM parameters
Adding UTM parameters to the links you give influencers to share on social media also enables you to track traffic and purchases on your site. An easy way to ensure you accurately build UTMs (instead of doing it manually and making a mistake) is to use the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder. This allows you to specify the source, medium, and name for each campaign so you can easily track where the traffic came from.
Inspirational influencer marketing programs
So what does it look like when an influencer marketing campaign works amazingly well? We wanted to share an example of a campaign that really killed it.
Fitness fashion company Strut This not only worked with an influencer — they built an entire collection around influencer Sivan Ayla. Sivan announced the news on her blog and encouraged fans to create their own user-generated content of them wearing her collection.
It worked, as the collection sold out in just minutes. And look at the engagement on the post! This is a great example of how an influencer program works and can drive serious results for your brand.
While not every influencer will help you have as much impact, an influencer marketing program can have a positive and powerful impact on your brand. You just need to make sure that you:
- Have goals and measurable KPIs in place
- Choose the best influencers according to these KPIs
- Use micro influencers where relevant
- Measure the impact of the influencers and whether they help you achieve your goals