Influencer marketing is big news in 2022. But we suspect you already knew that. Perhaps you caught sight of the impressive success that brands such as Revolve and Eos have achieved with influencer marketing. Or, maybe you simply couldn’t miss the countless statistics on the industry’s exceptional growth and proven ROI.
In any case, you clicked on this guide because you’re ready to get started. And we’re here to show you how it’s done. Let’s dive right in.
6 Steps to Getting Started with Influencer Marketing
- Establish your goals
- Set a budget
- Find influencers
- Form relationships
- Set up reporting
- Obey the rules
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing that involves a brand paying someone influential (an influencer) to endorse their products or services online.
Blending the principles of celebrity endorsement and modern content marketing strategies, influencer marketing works because of the great deal of trust built between an influencer and their followers. Their recommendations act as a valuable form of social proof for brands and their products, incentivizing followers to follow through and make a purchase.
You can find out more about the evolution of influencer marketing here.
1. Establish your goals
As with any new marketing activity, a crucial first step is laying out your goals. What do you want to achieve with influencer marketing?
A strong set of goals should underpin everything from the influencers you choose to partner with to the budget you set, and, ultimately, ensure the impact of your influencer marketing supports the wider direction of your brand. So, what goals are worth considering?
Brand Awareness is a measure of how familiar your target audience is with your brand and how well they are able to recognize it. Think of household names such as Amazon, Target, and Trader Joe’s – these are all brands with high levels of brand awareness.
Brand awareness is an extremely important part of driving revenue, as it’s what kickstarts the buyer’s journey. No one can buy from your business if they don’t know it exists. Plus, when it comes to purchasing decisions, the brands that consumers recognize most are more likely to be included in their consideration.
While brand awareness is notoriously difficult to measure due to its lack of tangible metrics (it’s challenging to quantify how many people ‘saw’ your billboard ad or recommended your product to a friend via word-of-mouth), driving brand awareness through influencer marketing can help you track metrics — such as impressions, social media mentions, and web traffic from social channels — that signify the number of new potential customers who have become aware of your brand or product through the campaign you’re running.
Techniques to boost brand awareness with influencer marketing include simple brand mentions (the mention of your brand in a #sponsored post) and product reviews (a walk through or testimonial of your product in a static post or video).
Another popular objective for influencer marketing campaigns is engagement. Brand engagement is the key metric for boosting long-term ROI, as it will help you forecast growth over time.
Engagement metrics, such as comments and saves, are a strong indicator of brand love and can show purchase intent from existing and new customers. If you’re seeing high engagement, there’s a chance that it could translate into sales down the road. Remember, the people who engage with you today are the people who will buy from you tomorrow.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to boost engagement by working with influencers. Due to the highly engaged followings of influencers, target audiences are not only more likely to be paying attention to what’s being said about your brand, but more likely to take on board the recommendation as trustworthy and follow through to purchase.
An important goal marketers often forget about is content — whether it be to reduce content creation costs or to produce better content. In addition to its ability to generate brand awareness and engagement, influencer marketing can also drastically cut your content creation costs while allowing you to gather a goldmine of high-quality assets.
Influencer-generated content (IGC) refers to the images, videos, and other creative that social media influencers create, usually in partnership with a brand. In other words, it’s the by-product of influencer marketing.
To leverage IGC, work with creators who match your brand’s aesthetic. That way, you can repurpose their content across all of your marketing channels, including your website, email newsletter, organic social, paid ads, and more, without compromising your branding.
Of course, no list of goals would be complete without a performance-driven aspect. While brand awareness and engagement objectives are crucial to reaching new customers and building customer interest and trust, there are plenty of influencer marketing techniques for brands looking to focus on sealing the deal and driving tangible results through immediate sales.
Each of your influencer marketing activations will lead to sales in some way — both long-term and short-term. Long-term sales will happen as a result of your brand-building initiatives over time, while short-term sales will be through seasonal activations or special sales-focused campaigns like Black Friday discounts, summer flash sales, and the like.
To drive sales, brands can give influencers affiliate links, which allow creators to gain commission for any leads or conversions that they drive. This will incentivize your influencers to really hone in on driving sales for your brand, because it benefits them as well. Another technique is to provide influencers with unique promo codes that they can share with their followers to get a discount on their purchases.
You can even run allow listed ads (formerly known as whitelisted ads) from your top-performing influencers’ posts, which will allow you to stretch the impact of their content and drive even more sales. Check out this blog to see how 3 brands successfully boosted their sales through influencer activations.
2. Set a budget
With a clearer idea of your goals, it’s time to set a budget for your first influencer marketing campaign.
Influencer marketing budgets can vary considerably, and will depend on factors such as your business size, campaign goals, and the type of influencers you plan to work with. In general, research suggests that the majority of brands, 67%, spend less than $50k annually – just over half of which spend less than $10k.
A huge advantage of influencer marketing is the flexibility it offers to brands to achieve results no matter what their budget.
For example, while smaller brands might want to kick things off with non-monetary incentives such as exclusive access to events or new products, larger companies may have the scope to dive right into bigger-budget campaigns with larger influencers and micro-celebrities.
For all of the information on specific pricing techniques, and the current industry standards for costs per post, check out our guide on how much to pay influencers. Or, if you’d rather play around with the numbers yourself and check out exactly what you can achieve with your marketing spend, make a copy of our Influencer Budget Calculator in Google Sheets.
3. Find influencers
Now to the fun part: finding your influencers. While there was once a time where marketers had to dedicate hours to social media scrolling, hashtag searching and sending many cold emails, there are now many influencer marketing platforms out there to make the process as seamless as possible for brands of all sizes.
Let’s run through the various avenues you can take to find the best influencers for your brand.
Search and compare
The core tool of many influencer marketing platforms out there is influencer search. These tools make it easy for brands to search and compare millions of influencers based on their industry, follower count, audience demographics, engagement metrics and visual aesthetic.
Importantly, finding influencers through an influencer marketing platform adds an extra layer of security for brands. At a time where fraudulent influencer activity is at an all time high, a database of fully vetted influencers helps to cut out the time wasters and ensure each and every partnership is fully kosher.
As well as conducting outbound searches for influencers, it’s worth looking inward at the influencers who are already big fans of your brand. With the social listening tools available on many influencer marketing platforms, it’s easy to see who is mentioning your brand online and assess the value they might be able to bring to your campaigns.
Like the brand enthusiasts that may be hiding in your Instagram mentions, you may already have influential customers in your sales pipeline waiting to be discovered. With integrations across many of the biggest ecommerce sites such as Shopify and WooCommerce, influencer marketing platforms make it easy to discover those influential shoppers that may just elevate your campaigns.
A new technique on the influencer marketing block is going inbound with your influencer search. Instead of relying solely on outbound techniques, creator marketplaces offer a space for brands to share their upcoming campaigns and let influencers come to them. This not only allows brands to attract like minded and enthusiastic influencers, but saves time and budget to focus on creating truly memorable campaigns.
Check out how Aspire’s Creator Marketplace empowers brands to find authentic partners through organic, inbound applications.
4. Form relationships
So, you’ve found the perfect selection of influencers for your brand. They’re fully kosher, tap into your ideal target audience, and share your unique brand aesthetic. Now to build some relationships.
While there are many components to creating successful influencer marketing campaigns and strategies, one of the most important elements is having strong, authentic relationships with your influencers. The most rewarding influencer campaigns are typically the result of long-term partnerships, where an influencer’s followers have been part of the journey with them and watched as the relationship has developed.
It all starts with that initial email. Here are some tips on how craft a top-converting influencer brief:
- Keep it personal – Address the influencer by their name. Yes, you’d think that goes without saying, but you’d be surprised. Keep it friendly. Introduce yourself and your company and share why you think they’d be a great fit for your brand.
- Provide campaign details – Let the influencer know what you’ve got in mind. What do you envisage the campaign looking like? What would you be willing to offer as an incentive? You want to share as much information as you can so that influencer’s can quickly decide if this is a campaign for them.
- Include a call to action – What’s next? Prompt a reply by outlining the next steps to kick off the partnership. Do you need access to their media kit? Specific prices? Perhaps the CTA is a link to your campaign details to give them a little more flavour as to what you have in mind. Either way, make sure your email or message is actionable in some way.
Need some more support? You can explore all of these tips and more in our blog: Getting ghosted? How to get influencer to respond to you or download our highly-rated influencer brief template.
5. Set up reporting
Of course, to call a campaign a success, you need to have the stats to back it up. It’s important to have all of your reporting measures set up and ready to start collecting data, before your campaign kicks off.
This is another area where influencer marketing platforms are a game changer for marketing teams. With all social media platforms fully integrated, it’s easy to view and monitor a campaign’s performance through metrics such as likes, comments and shares. And, with ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce linked, you can track performance-driven metrics such as sales and conversions too.
Explore our complete guide to measuring influencer marketing ROI the right way, or check out how our Aspire dashboard is making it easier for brands to monitor end-to-end campaign success.
6. Obey the rules
As with any marketing activity, there are rules attached. These rules protect the brand and influencer as much as they protect the influencer’s audience and followers.
Full guidelines are set and updated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but some of the most important include:
- Ensuring brand sponsorships and endorsements are clearly stated on an influencer post – this is typically done with the hashtags #ad and #sponsored
- Using clear and concise language to avoid misinterpretation of the partnership details.
- Placing partnership information in hard to miss places, towards the beginning of the ad and not hidden in hashtags. Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok are making this easier with the official ‘paid partnership’ tag
With Aspire, it’s easy to create legally-binding contracts as part of your workflow and send bulk terms to hundreds of influencers at a time, to ensure all guidelines and expectations are agreed on and met by both parties. Explore the full tool here.
And that’s our guide to getting started with influencer marketing. We hope this gives you a good amount of information to dive into your influencer marketing planning and start creating some truly next level campaigns. Make sure to lean on our guides and hub of resources to help you along the way!