In-house vs. Agency: Which Influencer Marketing Solution Suits Your Brand?
Influencer marketing is no longer the new kid on the block. Instead, it’s a tried-and-true strategy that industry-leading brands are integrating as a staple in their marketing stack. From legacy brands like L’Oreal to fast-growing companies like HelloFresh, brands across all industries are leveraging the power of influencers to produce high-converting content that drives impact. In fact, studies show that businesses generate an average of $5.78 in revenue for each $1 invested in influencer marketing, with some seeing as much as $18.
That being said, creating and managing an influencer marketing program can be time-consuming, expensive, and overwhelming without the right tools. Without the right solution, marketers have to manually manage their programs through multiple spreadsheets and hours of back-and-forth emails.
So, let’s discuss the types of influencer marketing solutions that are available today. After you set your goals and identify your needs, use this guide to decide whether you’re taking things in-house or outsourcing to an agency.
Types of influencer marketing solutions
There are several influencer marketing solutions you can choose from.
Influencer marketing agency
An influencer marketing agency provides fully managed influencer campaigns, from strategizing to execution. This includes planning creative, sourcing influencers, managing influencer relationships, and data reporting. Typically, brands choose to outsource to an influencer marketing agency when they have a lack of bandwidth or expertise — allowing you to take a more hands-off approach to your influencer program and gain back time to focus on other important tasks.
Agencies vary dramatically, with some offering full control and insight, while others operate in a black box. That’s why it’s crucial to vet several agencies to choose one that still provides transparency and flexibility. If you’re in the market for an influencer marketing agency, check out our article, Top 7 Things To Look For In An Influencer Marketing Agency.
Influencer networks, which are also referred to as influencer databases, are essentially software that scrape the web for anyone identified as “influential.” While you may gain access to a large number of creators, this data isn’t entirely reliable as they aren’t based on real-time API data. Additionally, these are typically only useful as an influencer identification tool and are not considered to be a full-service solution, meaning brands will still have to manage all other aspects of their collaboration manually.
Influencer marketing platform
Influencer marketing platforms like Aspire are end-to-end software solutions that allow brands and agencies to streamline every step of their influencer campaigns from A to Z. Depending on the platform, there will be a plethora of tools to help you scale your program, such as an existing database of influencers you can easily search for, CRM and workflow tools that allow you to connect and manage your relationships, and analytics tools that empower you to track ROI through real-time campaign metrics. These self-serve platforms give you the tools to run a small- to large-scale influencer program — with much less manual effort.
Tip: Beware of companies claiming to be influencer marketing platforms. Some influencer networks and databases claim to be full-service solutions but lack all of the tools necessary to manage all aspects of influencer relationships. If you’re in the process of vetting several influencer marketing platforms, check out our article, 12 smart questions to ask before choosing an influencer marketing platform.
How to choose the right solution for your brand
The truth is, there is no “better” solution whether you’re managing your influencer program in-house or through an agency. The best solution for your brand will fit your needs and empower you to reach your goals.
To decide which solution to invest in, consider the following:
- What are your goals and KPIs? Set some internal goals to define what is important to your brand — whether it’s to drive traffic to your site or to source high-quality content. Is this something you can achieve through an agency or do you need to keep the process in-house?
- Do you have enough bandwidth and internal resources? Influencer marketing requires time, testing, and investment to see tangible results. If your brand has the appropriate software and can dedicate at least 5-10 hours per week to your program, managing it in-house will work perfectly. If you’re unable to dedicate the necessary time and attention to your program, it would be best to outsource to an agency.
- What does your budget allow? Agencies often require a minimum budget that includes both influencer compensation as well as additional agency fees, which can add up at scale. Working in-house allows you to invest all of your influencer budget into creator compensation, but requires you to allocate a team member to manage the campaigns. Most influencer marketing platforms also charge a flat monthly fee, but the cost is usually substantially less than agency fees. So, consider what your budget allows.
Still unsure? Let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of each solution.
In-house pros and cons
- As an employee, you have prior brand knowledge and insights into the inner workings of your organization, allowing you to create campaigns that align with greater business goals.
- You have full control and transparency over who you’re working with, the type of content you want them to produce, campaign data, and more.
- Because you’re the person handling all of the back-and-forth with influencers, you can own the relationships you’re creating with your favorite creators and turn them into ongoing, long-term partnerships.
- You’re able to stick to your budget and allocate dollars directly to influencers, rather than having to pay additional agency fees.
- Because running an influencer marketing program can be complex, it requires a full-time employee (or a few) to dedicate all of their hours to managing the program.
- There may be a learning curve if there is no existing in-house influencer marketing expert.
- Without the right tools (i.e. an influencer marketing platform), it can be time-consuming to source and manage every step of your influencer relationships.
- It can be difficult to keep up with new trends and multiple influencers without the right tools.
Agency pros and cons
- By hiring an influencer marketing agency, you have a team of experts, who are very knowledgeable in the space, handling every aspect of your program.
- Typically, agencies have an existing network of influencers they can directly tap into.
- Because agencies provide an extra hand, brands are able to reallocate internal resources to other important initiatives.
- Like any other working relationship, it can be difficult to find the right agency that aligns with your brand.
- It is more expensive to outsource to an agency, as they will charge fees for their services.
- By working through an agency, you don’t necessarily have a direct relationship with influencers.
- There can be a lack of transparency.
However, the best agencies will still provide transparency and flexibility in how you work with them — which brings us to our next section.
Introducing Aspire’s Agency Services
Aspire’s Agency Services is a unique solution that provides you with a full-service influencer marketing agency, backed by our end-to-end influencer marketing platform. Our in-house team of experts efficiently manages your influencer program, from strategy to execution to paid ad campaigns. And since every campaign is unique, we offer custom, turnkey, á la carte, and hybrid packages to support your unique needs and goals across the entire influencer campaign lifecycle.
Here are just a few of the benefits of working with Aspire’s Agency Services team:
- Technology: Because our Agency works on top of our technology, we’re able to drive efficiencies in ways that traditional agencies cannot. We streamline each step of the process, send terms to hundreds of creators with the click of a button, and get your program live quicker. There is also no additional charge for the use of our platform.
- Transparency: Unlike many agencies, we give you full transparency into all aspects of our work, from how much we pay creators to how much we charge for our Agency Services. We never take a % from the creator budget and are incentivized to get our clients the most bang for their buck. In addition, our clients have 24/7 transparency into campaign performance through access to our analytics dashboard.
- Partnerships and integrations: Aspire is the only platform that integrates with Meta, TikTok, and Pinterest. We have extensive partnerships with all three, allowing us to be the first to build new integrations with each social platform and to be early adopters to industry trends.
Trusted by global Fortune 500s, Aspire’s Agency Services team has helped hundreds of brands transform their influencer programs, boost engagement, and supercharge ROI.
Take a look at Rad Power Bikes, for example. The brand partnered with Aspire’s Agency Services team to launch an out-of-the-box campaign that activated customers-turned-brand-ambassadors in a product seeding campaign. As a result, the team was able to not only elevate their customer relationships and establish trust with their tight-knit networks, but also drive millions of impressions and generate an impressive number of conversions in just 5 months, leading to a whopping 561% increase in ROI.