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2017’s digital marketing buzzword is, without a doubt, Influencer Marketing. Marketers see it as the obvious evolution to PR, digital, content, and social, a convergence of multiple tactics that support multi-channel digital campaigns. It’s a powerful way to gain instant visibility and see incredible conversions, as high as 11x higher ROI, according to TapInfluence.

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 If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more eye-opening Influencer Marketing statistics:

  • 82 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.

  • 66 percent of consumers trust online reviews and ratings, according to Nielsen.

  • Influencer relations marketing had an ROI of $6.85 of media value for every dollar spent in 2014.

  • Influencer marketing generated a 3.4 percent social engagement rate on average.

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Simply put, people trust people they know. This includes friends, family, and the influencers they have faithfully followed for years. In a world where trust in the media and in institutions is declining, and where consumers are being bombarded by ads at all times, reviews and suggestions by people we know carry tremendous weight.

If you’re like 71% of marketers, you’re convinced that Influencer Marketing HAS to be part of your digital strategy. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to create successful influencer marketing campaigns.

Start by Creating A Solid Strategy

Developing an influencer marketing strategy is the first essential step. You want to ensure your strategy is goal oriented with specific KPIs in mind. This will allow you to stay focused and measure the success of your influencer relations.

1. Determine Your Influencer Marketing Goals

Do you want to boost brand awareness? Are you launching a new product or service? Are you trying to reach a new target audience? These are important goal-oriented influencer marketing questions you need to be asking.

They key here is to align each campaign with very specific goals. Every brand is different, and every campaign is different. Whereas one brand might be interested in boosting brand awareness, another brand may only be interested in using influencer marketing to increase sales. Determining your goals, and the KPI’s to measure those goals, is important as it will shape every aspect of the campaign.  

An example of a campaign with the goal of boosting brand awareness is Matt Cutshall’s Instagram post promoting an Airbnb service and its Audi amenity. It generated 10.4K likes and plenty of engagement in just a short amount of time. It also was a very natural influencer promotion that consumers tend to trust more. 

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2. Write Detailed KPI’s 

Having clear goals for your influencer marketing campaign is complimented by KPIs. If raising social visibility is your goal, then you’ll need to use KPI’s encompassing social media growth. If sales are your goal, a conversion KPI is needed.

You want your KPIs to be quantifiable, and on track with your overall influencer marketing goal.

Be very specific when writing your KPI’s! A mistake many novice marketers make is to keep their goals and KPI’s generic. They may say that their goal is Audience Growth and the KPI to track is number of followers on social media.

Instead, smart marketers will create very specific KPI’s, such as, “Increase Instagram Followers by 5%, with 80% of these followers in our target age range.

3. How Will You Measure Influencer Success?

How you will measure the success of your influencers is also vital to your influencer marketing strategy. Checking key analytics such as likes, follows, shares, and comments for an influencer’s post is one key metric, albeit a very basic one.  Other metrics you can track are:

  • Engagement per post

  • Conversions per post

  • Conversions per campaign

  • Return on Influencer Spend

  • Cost Per Impressions

  • Cost per Audience Growth

And many, many more.

You can use Google Analytics to set KPI goals and track the progress of these goals. This will help you adjust areas of your influencer campaign to get better results for your brand.

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Once your goals are supported by measurable KPIs with key metrics noted in your influencer marketing strategy, it's time to really roll up your sleeves and begin the next phase.

Begin Your Influencer Research

Influencer research may be the most time consuming and challenging step when implementing influencer marketing into your digital strategy. There are several steps in the research stage:

1. Identify Your Ideal Influencer 

What does your ideal influencer look like? Think about your niche, the personality you want your influencer to have, and what type of following you want him or her to have.

Key influencer attributes you should consider include . . .

  • Resonance: How engaged is your influencer’s audience? How many shares, comments, and likes do they get on average for every post?

  • Relevance: Influencer genres need to be relevant to yours. For example, travel, health, fitness, etc. Try to narrow it down to one or two.

  • Niche: Pick a few relevant niches to explore. If your genre is fitness, and your demographic is women, you could target bloggers and vloggers developing content around fitness tips for women.

  • Topic: Your topic will be the issues your potential influencer discusses. For instance, “fitness plans for home.”

  • Personality: Personality is a very important attribute in light of the recent PewDeePie situation. You want your influencer to align with your brand’s mission. And be able to make your content fit seamlessly into their own.

  • Reach: Choosing an influencer based on their reach is great, but not always best practice. It depends on your goals. For example, if you want high engagement, a micro-influencer may be a better choice over a celebrity influencer.

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2. Choose the Right Type of Influencer for Your Brand

Let’s start by identifying the different types of influencers:

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Types of Influencers

Here are 5 different types of influencers:

  • Celebrities: These are your famous people who have massive audiences

  • Micro-Influencers: These influencers typically have between 10,000 and 100,00 followers and have very high engagement per post

  • Industry Experts: Well-known and authoritative figures, with large social followings, in a specific niche

  • Brand Ambassadors: These may have smaller audiences but they LOVE your brand and will actively recommend you to people in their social circles

  • Employees: If they love their jobs, they can be some of your best influencers as they love to share your greatness with their friends and family

Choosing the right type of influencer for your brand is absolutely important. You may even find that certain types of influencers work better for specific influencer marketing campaigns. 

It is crucial to understand that the more followers an influencer has is not always the best choice.

For example, celebrity influencers can boost brand awareness in a very short period. However, you may not get the engagement level that leads to sales. It simply depends on your influencer marketing campaign goals.

Let’s say you're targeting women’s beauty and fashion, and you want to boost brand awareness. A celebrity influencer like Kim Kardashian can certainly do that with a few tweets to her 50 million plus followers.

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If health and fitness are in your niche, and you have a new product promotion, an expert like Bob Harper could be best. His following is only 1.26 million, but his expert recommendation of your product would certainly lead to conversions and sales.

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3. Don’t Count Out the Power of Micro-Influencers

Influencers like Kim Kardashian and Bob Harper will be difficult to leverage for your brand. That is, unless you share an acquaintance or have a big budget to burn. This makes micro-influencers more powerful than ever before.

“More and more, brands are turning to people with far less numbers of followers—sometimes even as low as 8,000—to help them share their messages,” says Rebecca Suhrawardi of Forbes.

Why? They may not have the numbers, but they certainly have high engagement rates.

Using the previous women’s fitness example, let’s say your goal is to increase brand engagement. Micro-influencers like the co-founders of Fit Bottomed Girls could be far more influential than Bob Harper for target audience engagement.

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Find Potential Influencers and Crunch Data

Once you narrow down the type of influencers best for your campaign, it's time to find them and check out their stats. There are a variety of ways you can find influencers using a few simple online platforms.

1. BuzzStream 

To get influencer contact information, their website data, and their social media stats, you can use BuzzStream. Their URL information can really streamline your influencer research. 

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2. BuzzSumo 

If you want to get a clear picture of an influencer’s engagement level, platforms like BuzzSumo can really save time. You can check an influencer’s best posts, and also use the provided URLs to ensure their content is a good match for your brand.

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3. Google Alerts 

Google Alerts is another valuable resource for finding relevant influencers for your influencer marketing campaign. You simply type in the keywords you want alerts for, and Google will send you email alerts of people writing about topics that match those of your brand. 

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4. Stay Organized

The amount of information you will compile during the influencer research step may get a bit overwhelming. To keep everything organized, create an excel file you can keep all your influencer data in.

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This organizational sheet can be used to track the engagement stages you will have with your influencers during outreach as well. You want to ensure you stay up to date when it comes to outreach and following up once you make contact.

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Influencer Outreach Essentials

Once you have compiled a list of your top potential influencers based on your influencer marketing campaign strategy and research, it's time to reach out. There are a few ways to engage with influencers, and becoming a fan first gets your foot in the door. 

1. First, Become a Fan!

Your influencer research should have involved collecting the many social media channels and blogs your potential influencers maintain. You can use this information to begin your influencer outreach.

Follow them, like their content, share it, retweet, and make insightful comments to put your name and your brand in their mind.

BuzzSumo Influencer “Conversations” tab streamlines this process. You simply add influencers to your outreach list and begin jumping into the conversation.

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This is also a fantastic tool to monitor your potential influencers’ recent posts, ensuring they are still producing positive, appropriate content. Just make sure you are adding authority to the conversation to move the influencer/brand relationship forward in a positive way. 

2. Craft a Powerful Pitch Email 

Once you have monitored and have contributed to your potential influencers’ content via social media, blogs, or vlogs, take the relationship to the next level. This is done via the pitch email.

Crafting a powerful pitch is important. You want to highlight what you want, and what’s in it for the influencer, in a short concise manner. There is certainly no need to write anyone a novel. Think of your pitch as a more direct touch point.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep your email short and direct,” suggests Nadya Khoja of Crazy Egg. 

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In Khoja’s pitch to Guy Kawasaki, you can see that the subject line is pretty vague. This will pique interest and increase your chances of the email getting opened. You also want to keep your initial greeting short. And at the end, you can see an offering to compel the influencer to reply.

Following up and keeping track of all your influencer touch points is vital. You certainly don’t want to lose out on a great influencer relationship simply because of poor organization.  Mark what stage each influencer is in using your spreadsheet so you can track as they advanced from pitched, agreed, negotiated agreement, etc.

3. Negotiate the Deal

What’s in it for me? Most influencers will ask for something in exchange for promoting your brand. Their content is their bread and butter and why would they give away free publicity?  

Having added potential influencers in your metrics and talked about what they would require to promote your brand, you can then compare metrics between your influencers to determine what’s an acceptable and agreeable price.  Some influencers will agree to take free products, others will require free product plus payment, others will only ask for payment.  Handle this portion like any other negotiation; always ask for a reduction and try to get the best deal possible!  

Get your agreement in writing, and get the influencer to sign off on the agreement.  You can use online tools like Docusign or Echosign to get them to sign so you both have a copy of the agreement.  Again, be VERY specific so there’s no room for confusion or problems in the future!

Finally, TRACK your Campaigns!

It’s important that you close the loop by tracking the success of your efforts. In the research stage, we talked about the goals and KPI’s that you want to track.  Once you launch your campaign, you actually have to grab the metrics and track them to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

How many clicks did an influencer’s post generate? How many conversions? How many new email subscribers? How many new followers?

Whatever your KPI’s are, make sure you keep detailed records so you can determine if a particular influencer is worth creating an ongoing relationship with.  

The above steps to begin implementing influencer marketing into your digital strategy are only the beginning. Cultivating the influencer/brand relationship takes time and effort. Over time, your influencers will hopefully become brand ambassadors and promote you just because they love you!  

Have you tried influencer marketing yet? What is your best advice for those just starting out on this journey?