Influence marketing isn't a difficult concept to wrap your head around. It isn't so different from word-of-mouth marketing, the most trusted way for a would-be customer to learn about your product - a friend tells a friend, who, in turn tells two friends and they tell two friends and so on. The standout benefit of influence marketing is that your friend (influencer) doesn't have a handful of friends, your friend has thousands. More to the point, your friend's friends trust his judgment, value his advice and share his viewpoint. In short, your friend has the ability to influence others to take action. This is the very core of influence marketing and, the reason it is the preferred marketing strategy, as this graph illustrates.
Well ... not so fast! There is much more to establishing a successful influence marketing strategy than: Identify + Recruit = Results. An influence marketing campaign has to be cautiously constructed and carried out. Begin by answering these three questions:
1. What Is My End-game-my Goal?
For example, are you targeting increased traffic, trying to boost online sales, or enhancing your brands awareness? These are only a few examples. You may have other goals but, it is critical you understand the direction you desire for the campaign. Specific targets are important. In short, having a goal of increasing online sales is not sufficient. A goal of increasing online sales by 50% is specific. If the goal is specific it becomes tangible and attainable.
2. How Will I Define Success?
Inspect what you expect. A successful campaign can only be identified by quantifiable facts that support your definition of success. For example, if your goal is boosting online sales, you may elect to monitor website visits, conversions and total revenue. Depending on your goals, more than one metric may be needed.
3. What Is My Budget And What Return On Investment Will I Accept?
ROI is a critical aspect of any marketing campaign and influence marketing is no exception. You will be spending money and you will expect a return. How much you expect determines if and how you proceed. Define what you are willing to spend then, forecast the results that you reasonably expect. It is also important to understand that often, results are not immediately apparent. For this reason, most experts recommend two forecasts; immediate and extended. Here is a useful statistic: You should expect to earn $2 for every $1 spent. This is the experience of 70% of companies using influence marketing.
Finding The Right Influencers
Volumes could (and have) been written on this subject but, I'll try to keep it short and to the point touching on what is overlooked rather than what is widely available on the Internet. We all understand the basics (I call them the three R's).
Your search for the right influencer must be predicated on an understanding of where your customers are active and how they are engaging. Is it Facebook? Is it Twitter? Know what platform(s) you are targeting and why.
- Do you know the size of their following and if they have an active social media presence (Reach)?
- Do their posts ring true and reflect compatibility with your brand, product or service (Relevance)?
- Are their articles or posts receiving comments and, equally important, replies (Resonance)?
The size of an influencer's following is not the tipping point you should seek when making your selection. The basic criteria for selecting an influencer are threefold. As a result, an influencer with reach but little relevance to your brand will be of dubious value.
Similarly, an influencer with reach and relevance who plays to an unresponsive, poorly motivated audience will not serve your interests well. The resonance with his audience has to be palpable.
Don't be afraid to think outside of the box. At least acknowledge the possibility that an influencer with a comparatively small reach but, achieving great feedback and exhibiting excellent brand compatibility may be the better choice for your campaign. Equally important-do not overlook influencers who have a tangential relationship to your brand. For example, an influencer in the home-cooking niche could benefit your cutlery business.
Closing The Deal
Any contract with an influencer should include the following:
- Specific performance goals
- Terms of compensation
- Creative guidelines
This does not mean that you will usurp the influencer's creative freedom. He knows best what his followers crave. Nevertheless, you must provide direction in terms of the types of posts you need; for example, dos and don'ts, as well as a timeline for producing the posts.
Quantifying The Results
Everyone answers to someone, even if it is our own conscience. After spending not only the time but also the money in bringing this to fruition - how did it work out? You will need answers and you get those answers through metrics.
As alluded to earlier, the way you measure the success of your campaign is a function of its goals, which is the primary reason they must be codified before your campaign launches.
There are multiple metrics available to measure your results and, the ones you choose will vary according to the campaign's objectives. The list below delineates the most valuable metrics to be used in evaluating the success of your campaign.
- Clicks or visits to your website. This demonstrates of how effectively the influencer redirected people to your website.
- Total net revenue attributable to the campaign
- ROI or return on investment. This is the profit on sales attributable to the campaign divided by the cost of the campaign.
- Sentiment is the metric that will tell you how your brand is viewed by the influencer's audience.
- The conversion rate, which is the ratio between the number of clicks and the number of sales.
- The number of brand mentions provides insights into the effectiveness of your influencer in raising your brand's awareness.
The above list is by no means inclusive. There are many other metrics that can be tracked. These are the high-value metrics for typical influence marketing campaigns.
Influence marketing is an effective tool if you know which metrics to watch that can gauge the value of your influencer, define the content that works with your brand and the talent to interpret the data you collect.
Wrapping It Up
Influence marketing is a hybrid of art and science. Some things can be quantified, others cannot. However, when art and science coalesce appropriately the results are nothing short of magic.
- 5 Really Useful Tips On Connecting With Social Media Influencers
- Influencer Marketing: 11 Memorable Ways To Gain An Influencer's Attention
- How To Calculate Social Media ROI
* Title images adapted from JD Hancock