Influencer marketing is a trendy, effective tactic that’s becoming an increasingly important part of many brands’ performance marketing strategies. But influencer marketing isn’t actually new. It’s taking the tried and true tactic of celebrity endorsement, and adapting it to modern mediums. This evolution is great for food and beverage brands because it enables them to reach a wider audience — and at a more reasonable price — than traditional celebrity endorsements.
Influencer marketing can be a complex strategy to launch. There’s a lot of conflicting advice, and most of it isn’t tailored to the food and beverage industry. However, the strategy itself works well for food and beverage brands. Influencer marketing gets your product in front of your ideal customers in innovative ways. Here’s how an influencer marketing platform can help you grow your customer base.
Influencer marketing doesn’t require inventing totally new ways to speak to customers. It can simply augment the strategies you are already using and magnify success. Of course, not every customer acquisition tactic is well-suited to influencer marketing. These are a few of the best strategies to use for influencer marketing in the food and beverage industry:
Contests and giveaways are an excellent way to quickly attract attention to your brand. Potential customers will get excited at the prospect of winning, prompting them to follow your social media accounts and join your email marketing list. Leveraging an influencer collaboration for a giveaway can improve your brand’s reach instantly.
When properly matched, this type of collaboration can help grow the following for both your brand’s account and for the influencer’s account. You want to pick an influencer whose audience is part of your target demographic, but hasn’t heard about your brand yet. This ensures you gain exposure to a broader audience than you would running the contest independently. A successful giveaway campaign should have clear entry instructions, and must be very clear about the criteria for winning. You’ll need to offer something valuable as the prize to garner interest. But don’t go too big! Aim for the middle to maximize entries and return on investment.
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Another great way influencers can help grow your customer base is through campaign-specific hashtags. The hashtags used can include your brand name, a branded hashtag, your campaign slogan or just a relevant phrase that resonates with your ideal customer.
When starting a campaign on social media, let your influencer know which hashtags you want them to use consistently. Don’t be afraid to mix up the hashtags every once in a while. This helps you determine which ones are working most successfully for your brand.
Finding a winning combination of hashtags can expand your reach beyond your influencer’s audience. Use different hashtags with varying popularity to increase your chances of being featured on popular food and beverage explore pages.
Influencer Generated Reviews
Influencer marketing isn’t limited to social media posts. User reviews are an essential tool to grow your brand. People are more likely to make a purchase after reading a positive review than when no reviews are available.
Ask for influencers to provide their honest feedback about your products. Testimonials on your website are great, but don’t overlook other ways to share customer opinions. Video reviews, for example, are gaining in popularity. Generating genuine positive feedback about your product online is a great way to help you grow your customer base. Influencers may ask for a free product to sample before providing a review — but to stay compliant with FTC regulations, make sure influencers disclose in their reviews if your brand has provided a product for free.
When you launch an influencer marketing program, you expand your customer base directly through their audience. But you also grow your customer base by improving your website’s overall SEO. An increase in organic traffic to your brand’s website is priceless. Here are the ways influencer marketing can improve your food and beverage brand’s SEO:
More Social Media Shares
It’s difficult to know exactly how social media plays into the various ranking algorithms on search engines. However, a strong social media presence is always an asset. Search engines rank trusted sites higher. When you use influencer marketing, you generate a stronger social following. This is a signal to search algorithms that indicates quality, and it can result in higher rankings for your site. Social media shares can also boost your search results more quickly than other SEO tactics. Brands with viral web content often see a significant bump in their result rankings just days after the viral post.
Quality backlinks might be the most crucial factor in your website’s SEO. Getting backlinks can be a time-consuming task that busy marketers often push to the back burner. But if you leverage influencer marketing well, you can generate those critical backlinks and improve your website’s authority and rankings. Each new collaboration will get you a new link to your site. Even if the backlinks generated are nofollow links, your SEO will benefit.
More Brand-Related Content
High-quality influencer marketing partnerships generate new organic content that represents your brand. Every piece of content has the same opportunity to rank on search engine results pages. With enough influencer collaborations, your brand can own all the results for a particular search term — increasing your ability to reach new customers. Consider working with influencers to create video content showing how to make new recipes, or fun ways to use your product. Video content is becoming more popular, with online videos set to make up 82% of online traffic by 2022. Google highlights videos at the top of search results pages, making this content more valuable for expanding your customer base.
Before you start searching for the perfect influencer, take a moment to establish your food and beverage brand’s overall influencer strategy.
Start by doing some competitive research. How are other brands in your industry—and niche—using influencer marketing? What trends are you seeing? Which social media platform is most popular? What type of content generates the most engagement? While you may already know the answers to some of these questions, don’t skip the research. Trends in marketing can change rapidly. You want to be well informed before you jump into a new marketing tactic.
Before reaching out to any influencers, ensure that you and your team have clear goals for your first influencer marketing campaign. These goals will dictate how you choose your influencer and what metrics you’ll track. Without objectives, it’s impossible to know if the influencer marketing campaign is successful. Your primary campaign goals should establish your budget, target demographic, and desired outcome. You should also settle on your message and theme.
Once you’ve established your goals, you’ll be able to evaluate potential influencers thoroughly. There are several databases of influencers available. You can use these to search for influencers based on criteria that will help you achieve your goals. Consider building a spreadsheet to evaluate all potential influencers. This can help guide your final decisions and serve as a resource if you want to expand in the future. You’ll want to look deeper into potential influencers than simply their audience demographics and areas of interest. Here are some criteria you should include when you evaluate influencers:
Engagement is more important than follower count.
You may think that finding the perfect influencer only requires you to look at their follower count. However, this tactic for finding influencers can result in subpar results. Follower counts can be artificially inflated. You don’t want to spend extra money to promote your product to fake accounts and bots.
Engagement is a much more valuable metric for evaluating which influencer accounts are more likely to generate results for your brand. Keep in mind: Typical engagement varies based on the platform, the number of followers, and niche. For example, if you are looking at a potential influencer on Instagram with 5,000 followers and an average engagement rate of 9%, that is significantly above the platform average of 5.3%. However, the same follower count and engagement rate on TikTok is just in line with the platform average of 8.6%.
Match content to marketing goals.
Choose an influencer who can highlight your products in the best way to resonate with your ideal customer. You must collaborate with a content creator who is comfortable producing the most effective type of content for your brand. In the food and beverage market, this likely means video, how-to content, and recipe creation—rather than standard flat lays and photoshoots. If you fail to find the type of content you want to see representing your brand when browsing a potential collaborator’s social media, that’s a sign that they probably aren’t a good fit for your brand. Consider working with a different influencer who will better complement your campaign goals.
Determine their interest in long-term partnerships.
While you can have short and successful influencer marketing campaigns, long-term collaborations result in the largest ROI for influencer marketing. Ask potential collaborators what their timeline looks like. If they aren’t open to long-term commitments, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s good to know upfront.
Set up tracking metrics before you launch your first influencer marketing campaign. An integrated affiliate marketing tool can show you comprehensive metric data, which gives you a more informed picture of your results. The more information you have, the better you can optimize your campaigns.
Align metrics with goals for the campaign.
Data is only helpful if you use it correctly. When launching an influencer marketing campaign, make sure to align the metrics you collect with the goals for the campaign. Tracking the wrong metrics for your goals is setting yourself up for failure. If your goal is to create a campaign that generated more awareness of your brand, you should track: engagement, follower growth, reach, and impressions. If you want to engage new customers, then track metrics like clicks, page views, cart creation, and successful order completion. A great resource to learn more about which metrics to track is social media marketing 101.
Compare your results to industry benchmarks.
Achieving your marketing campaign goals is only the first step for growing your customer base with influencer marketing. You should also compare your results to industry benchmarks. Your campaign may have exceeded your expectations, but did it also exceed industry standards? Comparing your influencer marketing campaign to established benchmarks can create new goals to strive for with your next launch.
Adapt your campaign based on its performance.
If you notice a lot of success with your influencer marketing campaign… congratulations! Make a note of what you did and how well it worked, and expand the campaign to more influencers.
If a campaign wasn’t as successful as you hoped, review the data. Focus on your key metrics. Try a new tactic, format, or strategy. Monitor the results, and adjust your method to do more of what is garnering the desired results.
Today’s savvy customers make hard sales tactics less effective. Influencers provide valuable social proof and rapidly establish trust in your brand. They are effective at selling your products without traditional sales techniques. With the impressive ROI on influencer marketing, it’s no wonder more advertising dollars will be spent on this marketing method than ever before.
On the surface, influencer marketing may seem as simple as paying for an individual to create content about your brand for the internet. But simply having an influencer program doesn’t guarantee success. Use these strategies and tips to launch your most successful influencer marketing platform and grow your customer base.