Influencer marketing is one of the best ways for startups to reach new audiences since it allows them to tap into a pre-existing and dedicated network and gain exposure and trust. However, it requires careful planning, from understanding the goal going into things to picking the right influencers for those goals and the brand. Below are the steps detailing how startups can create an effective influencer marketing strategy.
The primary goal of many marketing campaigns is to expand reach and engage with new target audiences, something of particular importance to rising startups. Influencer campaigns are no different since they enable startups to engage with a new target audience — their followers. That then leads to brand awareness and more.
However, there are other considerations as well, such as how the influencer marketing strategy aligns with the overall marketing strategy. Additionally, any goals and objectives should be:
There should also be a deadline for all goals and objectives. Only by setting these types of goals can you properly track and report on the effectiveness of the strategy and adjust when needed.
According to Mawer Capital CEO Rudy Mawer, “Like all marketing strategies, there is no point in running an influencer campaign unless it aligns with your business goals. You need to have a clear way to track and measure the success of your efforts.”
Know Your Target Audience
No matter what type of strategy you utilize, marketing requires startups and marketers to communicate with the right audience. When talking about influencer marketing, that means using the right platforms and influencers on those platforms. They need to have followers that fit your target audience.
The first step is determining the audience you want to reach and engage with the campaign, which can be helped through the creation of audience personas. You can also identify your target audience based on the following:
Once you figure out the target audience, you can use it to determine which influencers fit your needs. It can be as simple as looking for influencers with an engaged audience that matches your target market, or you can evaluate an influencer’s content and audience to see if it’s a good fit. You can also consider the three R’s:
- Reach: The size and scope of an influencer’s audience, which affects how many people it can potentially reach.
- Relevance: The alignment between an influencer, their content, and a startup’s values and message.
- Resonance: The level of engagement and impact the influencer has with their audience and the potential for their followers to engage with the startup’s message.
The three Rs are important for creating an effective influencer marketing campaign that can reach, engage, and convert target customers.
Mawer says, “I’ve run many influencer campaigns and it’s important every dollar is spent strategically for the best possible ROI. You’ll need to vet and analyze potential influencers to make sure they, their content, and followings align with your goals.”
Develop a Budget
Developing a budget for an influencer marketing campaign is essential since it helps ensure that resources are used effectively and that the campaign delivers the desired results. It also allows for a better evaluation of the campaign’s overall success.
Take a look at the goals, which will inform the size and scope of the campaign. The goals will also help narrow down the type of influencers you will target. Assuming you know the goals, you can proceed to identify potential influencers, potentially creating a short list of influencers your audience will trust.
Once you have a decent list, figure out how much you are going to offer the influencers, which can be done in several ways:
- Paying a flat fee
- Offering free products or services
- Paying based on clicks, likes, or shares
You might also need to consider the budget for the content itself. Do you need high-quality photos or videos? What about fees associated with the platforms the marketing will take place on? Also, consider the length of the campaign.
The budget is not a static thing, so prepare to monitor and adjust as needed throughout the campaign, regardless of length. If you have multiple influencers, that might mean reallocating funds to those who perform the best.
Reach Out After Thorough Research
Do not simply reach out with a formulaic message. Take the time to get to know the influencers, including what they do, the channels they use, and their audience. Not only will it provide you with a better understanding of their content and engagement, but it will be a great way to show that you know what they are all about. It is especially important for in-demand influencers who receive a lot of offers.
When you reach out, consider a personal approach. You might even start by interacting through their content, then move to a direct message or email. Do not send a bunch of generic messages, and be patient. In addition, make sure you:
- Send information about your startup and brand.
- Explain what you want to get out of the campaign.
- Describe the value to them, aside from money.
- Refer to them as creators instead of influencers.
While the personal approach might take more time, it will be worth it, especially since you are looking for a partner that exemplifies the same values as your startup. If done right, collaboration can benefit everyone involved.
Create a Content Plan with the Influencers
The type of campaign is important, so that is step one. What is the best way to achieve your goals? Is it sponsored posts, product reviews, or giveaways? What about takeovers? There are plenty of options.
Once the type of campaign is decided, you will want to develop a content plan to match. However, it is not something you should decide and force on influencers. The reason it is better to refer to them as creators is that they have their own way of creating content and engaging their audience. They will know more about it than you do, meaning you need to find a way to collaborate properly.
That does not mean handing over all control, but the most effective influencer marketing campaigns come when startups offer guidance on what they are looking for and who they are and let it shine through unique content created by experts.
“A successful influencer campaign is a collaborative one. Influencers already have a well established way of building relationships with their audience. To make the most of this, business owners need to partner with influencers in a way that builds both brands, while helping to meet marketing goals,” Mawer says.
Monitor and Measure Results
There are many ways to measure the results of a campaign, from UTM parameters to metrics such as engagement rates, reach, impressions, and conversions. The methods that work best for you will depend on your goals, but you should request detailed reports from influencers on the reach and engagement of the sponsored content.
Regardless of anything else, proper monitoring and measuring will help you determine what works and what needs to be improved for future campaigns.
Lastly, Don’t Forget to Account for the Rules
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has developed rules for influencer marketing in the US, which require disclosure that content is sponsored. Some of the basic rules in the US include the following:
- Videos need both written and verbal disclosure of the partnership within the video.
- Built-in tools on social media platforms alone are not enough, but they should be used to disclose sponsored content.
- #ad and #sponsored are useful hashtags, but they need to be visible and up front, not hidden away.
While checking the specific rules is a great idea, the general attitude is to make it as clear as possible that something is sponsored.