How to Grow Your Business With Influencer Marketing

Marketing can drive even the most hardened entrepreneur up the wall. Branding, speaking your audience’s language, platforms and figuring out which marketing strategies are most effective for your target market can be a real challenge.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to experiment with fresh ideas, such as influencer marketing, that can boost your marketing ROI and bottom line.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing involves using key brand advocates to drive your message to the larger market in an organic way. It pinpoints people with large social followings who have sway over your target audience, then focuses marketing endeavors featuring those key influencers.

Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead pay influencers to get out the word for you.

For example, a testimonial from an individual influencer such as a journalist, academic, or YouTube personality plays the part of the buyer and talks or writes in length about the product’s features and benefits. Key leaders can also come from third parties, such as retailers and manufacturers.

Take Damon and Jo – while the young couple were traveling the world, they filmed a YouTube travel show ‘for the social media generation’: Shut Up and Go. Their show became popular, not through ads or traditional marketing, but because their scrappy, on-a-budget travels and repartee appealed to an audience who found them on YouTube.

Once they built that audience, brands like Toyota, Greyhound, and MTV partnered with them, paying them to ‘organically’ promote their goods and services.

And it pays off: Here are several statistics associated with this strategy:

  • 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities.
  • On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing.
  • 81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
  • 51% of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing.
  • 59% of marketers increased their influencer marketing budgets last year.

The Growth of Brand Influencer Partnerships

Let’s face it: people trust what other people (as opposed to corporations or advertising) have to say. This is why influencer marketing has become such a powerful and effective marketing strategy.

Though you can’t immediately befriend thousands or millions of people, you can “befriend” one influencer. When you align your brand with an influencer, you are positioning your product or service for display to his or her already-established large network of individuals who trust what that influencer has to say.

As outbound marketing continues to fall off and inbound marketing grows in popularity, influencer marketing has become one of the most effective techniques for attracting customers.

Consumers of today are not the same as consumers of the past. They don’t listen to everything they hear on television or the radio. They don’t read billboards and take the information to heart. And they don’t trust large companies (at least, not until they take the time to get to know them and the company has earned their trust). They do, however, listen to what other people have to say.

Influencer marketing can make up a large portion of an inbound marketing campaign. And here is how: they are staffed with the responsibility of generating and distributing content about your brand.

When influencers recommend your brand to their following, they become an extension of your company’s marketing department.

Why Brands Rely on Influencer Marketing

Even though influencer marketing is a relatively new strategy, it continues to be a viable solution for marketers who are willing to think outside the box on building trust with their target market.

1. The Power Is Real

There aren’t many things that drive sales more effectively than good ol’ word-of-mouth marketing: 92% percent of consumers say that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than any other type of advertising.

And when it comes to the Millennial generation, 40% say that their favorite YouTube personality “understands them better than their friends.”

This is part of an overall shift in how we prioritize word-of-mouth information over paid television, magazine and newspaper ads and it’s hard to ignore the power of these unofficial brand ambassadors. Influencer marketing provides an opportunity for companies to leverage the power of social proof, all the while relying on those who already have a large following.

Power of influencers

2. It’s a Social Thing

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018:

  • 68% of online Americans used Facebook
  • 29% of online Americans used Pinterest
  • 35% of online Americans used Instagram
  • 25% of online Americans used LinkedIn
  • 24% of online Americans used Twitter

Nowadays, a website is no longer enough; companies want you to interact with them via their social channels.

Consumers expect brands to bring the conversation to them, so influencers hold more power than ever before. By partnering with the right influencers, brands can create conversations that relate to their target audience.

Influencer marketing can make up a large portion of an inbound marketing campaign because they’re staffed with the responsibility of generating and distributing content about your brand. When influencers recommend your brand to their following, they become an extension of your company’s marketing department.

And speaking of inbound marketing, did you know influencers have a huge SEO benefit for you?

How to Work With Brand Advocates and Influencers

If you’re ready to take the step of working with an influencer.

1. Identify the Perfect Influencer for You

Now that you have a clear idea of why brands are relying on influencer marketing, it’s time to take the next step. This means identifying the perfect influencer.

Malcolm Gladwell once said: “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”

He identified three types of influencers:

  • Connectors
  • Mavens
  • Salesmen

These are the people responsible for the creation, communication and connection of all messages.

Mavens look to consume and share what they find with others acquiring insights on trends. Salesmen are persuaders who possess incredible charisma. But Connectors build a network filled with a wide range of people and therefore possess a byproduct of exceptional reach. They are masters of word-of-mouth communication.

Influencers combine all three characteristics, but think about what your company needs. If you have a tech-forward product, or sell avante-garde fashion, you’ll probably want to find an influencer that’s a maven. Salesmen might be good if you’re selling an online course and need someone who’s going to convince their following in a forward, not subtle, way. Connectors are great for products that make your life easier or fulfill an existing needs — products directed at making parents’ lives easier are often shared on these networks.

1. Social Media Reach

An influencer is only an influencer if they can actually influence others. Makes sense, right?

Simply put, the larger the reach, the larger the number of people who will see your product or service. An Instagram user with 1,500 followers may be able to generate some results, but an IG user with 150,000 followers can really push your message to your audience.

Sticking with Instagram, you may find that a person with 15,000 followers receives an average of 500 likes on each update. Conversely, a person with 30,000 followers may only receive an average of 100 likes per update.

While the person with more followers will put your brand in front of more people, the update may not receive as much engagement. This is a balancing act with a trial and error component.

Depending on your budget, and the level of engagement per follower you want, you may want to look into a micro-influencer, or an influencer with a smaller (usually up to 10K) audience in a specific niche. Again, a macro-influencer may promote you to millions, but how many are really listening? Are they really willing to engage the way someone specifically in your niche would?

How much do micro-influencers charge?

Sponsored blog posts

  • 96% charge $1000 or less per post
  • 87% charge $500 or less per post

Facebook posts

  • 96% charge $500 or less
  • 90% charge $250 or less

Branded tweets

  • 96% charge $200 or less
  • 90% charge $150 or less

2. Influencer Audience Segment

One of the primary mistakes among influencer marketers is chasing after personalities with a large following and nothing else. As noted above, a large reach is a good place to start. But again, it’s not the only point to consider.

You must make sure that the person’s audience matches your brand. For example, a swimsuit model with 100,000 followers could be the perfect target if you are selling women’s apparel. But would this person be able to do anything for your software business? Probably not. This influencer’s audience is not interested in software.

3. A Natural Approach to Marketing

There are two sides to influencer marketing: brands and influencers.

On one side, companies are willing to pay influencers to push their product or service to their audience.

Conversely, influencers are willing to push the product or service as long as they get paid a tidy sum for a small amount of work.

But here is the catch: some influencers take this one step too far. It seems that every update they make is some type of product plug. Over time, their audience takes notice and the effectiveness begins to wear off because, as with traditional marketing:

Align yourself with people who take a “natural approach” to influencer marketing. They are willing to partner with some brands, but are selective about who they partner with.

Brand + Influencer: Make It Mutually Beneficial

Just like any relationship, influencer marketing should be a two-way street. If your brand is the only party that benefits, you won’t be long for this strategy. You will eventually find that nobody wants to partner with you.

According to a study by Group High, 44.44% of influencers feel that brands/marketers aren’t providing them with fair compensation.

influencer marketing compensation

If a person is willing to share positive and natural reviews about your brand, they should be rewarded accordingly. Here are some of the many ways to compensate your influencers:

Cold hard cash. According to the same Group High study, 69.74% of influencers prefer monetary compensation for their posts.

influencer marketing blog ads affiliate marketing free products

Among influencers charging brands for sponsored content, most of them (42.07%) charge between $200 and $500, 37.28% charge less than $200, and the remaining 20% charge more than $500 per post.

influencer payment for sponsored content chart

Based on this information, paying your influencers should be your first choice. The only caveat with this is that the person may not be truly invested in your brand and therefore doesn’t put their heart into the project. This can be a downside to using this strategy, but if your company can swing it, the data confirms that this is one of  your best options.

But what if you’re a small company or startup don’t have the capital to compensate an influencer with money?

Free product or discount. Why not offer somebody a free product or discount in exchange for a shout out? This doesn’t have to be the only arrangement, but it is a good way to build a relationship. Over time, you may phase this out and opt for another form of payment.

Commission. This is a win-win, as both parties have skin in the game. You pay the person to share your brand with their audience and any sale they generate will result in a commission paid to the influencer. As long as you are fair with the commission structure, this is one of the best arrangements.

Creative Freedom.  Crowdtap ran a survey of 59 influencers, asking them what persuaded them to work with brands more than once:

  • 77% said that creative freedom is important to them
  • 49% said that they loved working with clients who understood their interests, and sent relevant opportunities
  • 47% said that they loved working with brands whose message aligned with their own values

With a mutually beneficial arrangement, your influencer marketing campaign will thrive.

Set a Budget, Track Your ROI

Last but not least, it’s important to set a budget.

Keep in mind that a poll by influencer marketplace Tomoson shows that for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, businesses are generating $6.50 in revenue.

Maybe you have a particular dollar amount in mind. Or maybe you are measuring this based on the time it takes to connect with influencers. It’s easy to go overboard with influencer marketing, as every opportunity will appeal to you in some way, so it is your job to stick to your budget and only spend money when it makes sense to do so.

To do this, you’ll need to track your ROI. Not only does this show you what is and is not working, but it also puts you in position to tweak your strategy and increase your budget in the future.

How to Become a Social Media Marketing Influencer

So now that you’ve read all about using influencers in your brand’s marketing campaign, maybe you want to dip your toe into being an influencer. Or maybe you’re already an influencer, and want to build reach and engagement? Well we’ve got that information, too! Check out these articles to learn the art of becoming a social media marketing influencer.

f you agree with the 81% of marketers who believe that influencer marketing is effective, then there is no point in waiting any longer. You now know what this strategy can do for you in terms of brand awareness and ROI. You also know how to get started, so what are you waiting for?

 

THE 16 BIGGEST BENEFITS OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

The 16 Biggest Benefits of Influencer Marketing

The 16 Benefits Of Influencer Marketing All Marketing Pros Should Know

The average person spends up to two hours on social media each day with certain demographics spending nearly every waking moment on their phones. In light of this, it’s no wonder that influencer marketing, which leverages the popularity of social media stars to promote brands and their products, has emerged as one of the fastest-growing segments of advertising.

Today, businesses from almost every conceivable category are leveraging the power and potential of influencer marketing. According to a recent survey, 86% of marketers used influencer marketing in 2017, and of those, 92% found it to be effective.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top benefits of the influencer marketing that illustrate its effectiveness as an advertising strategy.

1. Return On Investment (ROI)

From large corporations to newly minted startups, all varieties of businesses are seeing positive returns from influencer marketing. Influencer marketing has been shown to produce up to $11.69 in earned media value (EMV) per $1 spent.

Its proven ability to generate enormous returns on investment has helped to make influencer marketing a $1 billion industry on Instagram alone and has led nearly half of marketers surveyed to say they’ll increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2018.

2. Influencers Impact Purchase Decisions

Numerous studies show that influencers have the power to impact the purchase decisions of consumers of all ages. In a joint survey conducted by Twitter and Annalect, 40% of respondents reported that they’ve purchased an item online after seeing a social media influencer use it.

Furthermore, 22% of marketers cite influencer marketing as the fastest growing customer acquisition channel, and more than 50% say they acquire higher quality customers through influencer marketing compared to other acquisition channels.

The results of these studies and more indicate that influencer marketing is a successful tool for attracting consumers with high purchase intent, and thus is an effective method for driving sales.

3. Access To Millennial & Gen Z Consumers

As young audiences leave TV behind in favor of digital media, influencer marketing is now a mandatory channel for reaching critical millennial and Gen Z audiences.

85% of Gen Z uses social media to learn about new products, indicating that young consumers in particular are highly receptive to receiving specific product information through social platforms.

Furthermore, 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers believe their favorite influencer understands them better than their friends, illustrating the trust, credibility, and deep personal connections social media influencers forge with their young followers.

4. Influencers Are Trendsetters

Influencers are often a go-to source of information about new products within their industry (beauty, fashion, tech, fitness, etc.). Influencers’ followers respect and sometimes even idolize their opinions within their categories of expertise.

As a result, a product often gains “cool factor” when an influencer recommends it. In this way, influencers are trendsetters that social media users trust to identify and comment on the hottest products and trends.

Often, influencers are given access to new products before they are even available to the general public. For example, Huawei Mobile gifted top tech influencer Judner Aura (UrAvgConsumer) the new Mate 10 Pro smartphone prior to its US launch. Aura created a 13-minute YouTube video that provided viewers with an in-depth review of the phone, getting them excited about the new tech product in advance of its US release.

5. Authentic Messaging & Endorsements

Most large influencers are highly selective when choosing brand partnerships, adding a level of authenticity to sponsored influencer content.

By selecting sponsorship opportunities that are a good fit for their image and audience, influencers are able to partner with brands they genuinely love and deliver sponsored messages that feel relevant and organic.

6. Relatability & Credibility From Beloved Peers

Influencers are trusted by their followers, and their opinions have high value and reliability. On YouTube, 70% of teenage subscribers say they relate more to the platform’s influencers than traditional celebrities.

Moreover, six in 10 subscribers say they’re more apt to follow purchase advice from their favorite YouTube creator over traditional TV or movie stars. These statistics illustrate that many consumers perceive influencer endorsements to be substantially more credible than celebrity endorsements, likely due to the ability of influencers to relate with consumers.

7. Audience & Demographic Targeting

Influencer marketing campaigns can be as broad or niche as a brand desires and a variety of different methods can be used to help determine the most appropriate influencers to reach a desired audience.

Brands can work with influencers who specialize in a particular category of content, such as fashion, travel, or cooking. Additionally, when selecting influencers for a campaign, businesses can request access to information on their follower demographics. These factors can be instrumental in helping brands optimize their campaign to reach a specific target audience.

8. Optimization & Economies Of Scale

Proper strategy and planning of an influencer marketing campaign helps brands achieve the largest reach and highest engagement rates. Qualified professionals like influencer marketing agencies can also monitor and manage influencer marketing efforts from beginning to end, helping to optimize the entire resource-intensive process.

After the data from a campaign has been analyzed properly, content can also be relaunched or repurposed with messaging tweaks — or promoted by other influencers — to further help optimize KPIs and ROI.

9. Versatility Across The Most Popular Social Platforms

Influencer marketing allows brands to reach audiences on both web and mobile. Additionally, many influencers are active on multiple popular social platforms.

Depending on the influencer and campaign, the content created for brands can be cross-promoted on a variety of platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and personal blogs, in order to maximize a campaign’s reach.

10. Shareability Across Both Web & Social 

In comparison to native advertisements, social media users are more likely to share influencer marketing content with their own followers, expanding the reach of a brand’s message to even greater audiences.

Because influencers are experts at creating content their followers love, influencer marketing campaigns often achieve a level of virality that many traditional advertisements lack.

11. Custom Tailored To Each Brand & Campaign 

Influencer marketing is a fully-customizable. Campaign elements such as budget, number and type of influencers used, creative messaging, post frequency and scheduling, key performance indicators (KPIs), and a host of other variables, can all be tailored to fit an individual brand’s needs.

12. Licensability Of Sponsored Influencer Content 

Depending on the terms of the agreement between the brand and the influencer, content from influencer marketing campaigns can be reused to further a brand’s marketing goals.

When pitted against the costs of content associated with a production company or traditional ad agency, influencer content presents marketers with immense value, and, if licensed, can be shared on a brand’s social platforms or even used in traditional advertising formats such as print or television.

13. Longterm Influencer Relationships

Embarking on an influencer marketing campaign isn’t just about metrics — it’s about building positive relationships. By establishing rapport with influencers, brands can create strong and lasting partnerships that drive long-term results.

Additionally, having a relationship with a leading influencer marketing agency keeps a business up to date on new opportunities, as well as the latest industry trends and best practices.

14. Actionable Insights & Data

Influencer marketing campaigns can yield invaluable data for brands. From engagement information such as views, likes, comments, and shares, to click through rate (CTR), acquisitions, social sentiment, and other important KPIs, brands not only have the ability to reach new audiences through influencer marketing, they can learn about the behaviors of their own customer base as well.

15. Flexible Pricing

In contrast to celebrity endorsements, television commercials, and other forms of traditional advertising, influencer marketing is a highly accessible form or promotion that can meet the needs of both large and small businesses. Due to its flexible pricing structure, campaigns can be designed to fit a wide range of goals and budgets.

16. Immense Reach And Visibility

Many social media influencers have audiences in the millions, with the 50 most followed Instagram influencer accounts totaling more than 2.5 billion followers. While influencer marketing certainly isn’t about blindly following alluring numbers, marketers can build highly effective campaigns that reach millions of consumers with proper influencer vetting based on both qualitative and quantitative factors.

Furthermore, influencer marketing helps brands bypass obstacles many other online marketing mediums face today. With the mainstream adoption of ad blockers, as well as users’ general disdain for overt advertising, influencer marketing offers brands a viable, proven way to interact with consumers in a natural and unobtrusive way.