Influencer marketing is a form of performance marketing that relies on using influencers — digital celebrities, both small and large — to promote their products and services. Digital influencers most commonly include social media users, YouTubers, and bloggers.
Influencer marketing works similarly to affiliate marketing by employing influencers as contracted promoters. They get connected with your brand, most likely through an affiliate marketing platform, and share your content with their audience, whether that is in the form of an advert, an affiliate link, or a product review.
Your company gets creative with the ways you employ your influencers, as they can be integrated throughout your company in numerous ways. For instance, just because one influencer became famous on social media, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be used elsewhere. One simple place where they can increase organic traffic is through email campaigns, where their presence and name can be used to grab retargeted customers’ attention.
Now, what is it about influencer marketing that makes it so special, making it a viable addition to your performance marketing approach alongside affiliates?
- Seamless Integration with Your Business
One of the first reasons is the seamlessness of influencer marketing. Like affiliate marketing, influencer marketing relies on persuasion, but a very different kind from traditional marketing. With influencers, you can sell products to consumers in a highly subtle way, one that might go unnoticed if someone wasn’t paying close enough attention.
This isn’t to say that people are being tricked by this approach. Rather, they’re being sold something in such a genuine way that it doesn’t feel like a product or service is being advertised to them. This is apparent through the way influencers can talk about brands and their products. On one end it involves the influencer reading an ad for a company, while making their audience aware that it is a sponsored post, while speaking from the heart. That way, it feels like a genuine endorsement of the brand and what they stand for, rather than simply reading an ad roll for the sake of doing it.
On the other side, it could be reviewing a product that was provided to them. The influencer will make it clear that they received the product from the brand to review, but the review from there on out will seem like business as usual: an influencer providing their opinion directly to their audience. So, while it is a sponsored post, it feels like any other review they would post, where they voice their honest thoughts on a product to let their viewers make an informed decision when entering the marketplace. That natural engagement is important, as it can give your business the fresh breath of consumer air it needs.
- Genuine Content Creation and Reach
One of the other considerations you need to take into account is how far your business’s reach currently extends. If you’ve found yourself hitting your limits, it might be time to call in a favor for extra help. Here is where influencers come into the equation. With already-established audiences, they have a trove of thousands of viewers who regularly watch and engage with their content. It could be a total game-changer if you can get your brand mentioned or discussed on their channel(s), where word-of-mouth marketing could genuinely drive organic traffic to your website.
Similarly, you can even provide influencers with the ability to create their own content for your brand. Why is this important? Because your products and brand are still receiving impressions — and potential engagement — while being presented with the personal flair of that influencer. That genuine content is important, as consumers want authentic content. They want to receive branded content that feels personalized for them — that speaks directly to them, seeing them as more than just a customer. You can achieve just that by using an influencer they trust as a brand ambassador.
Blogs can go a long way for this, too, where SEO and a large following can boost organic traffic to your website. Not only will devoted readers be intrigued by the way the blogger talks about your company, but having your company mentioned elsewhere on the internet — on another site, alongside different hyperlinks and keywords — can increase your chances of being found by a random consumer, thanks to keyword searches.
Most of all, there’s nothing stopping you from getting an influencer campaign started. With a little research, you can find influencers who sit within your niche and align with your consumer’s needs.
- Finding the Right Influencers
One of your first thoughts when approaching influencer marketing might be to reach for the stars, looking up the top influencers across social media, particularly the popular app TikTok. While the biggest influencers are sure to bring your brand attention, they have a serious downside: Their commission rate might be out of your league — not that you can’t afford it, but it’s smarter to utilize an array of affiliates versus one massive platform.
The other part of the equation relies on engagement rates: Smaller accounts, known as micro-influencers (1,000 to 100,000 followers), actually have higher rates of engagement. This is related to the notion of authenticity. By having a smaller proportion of followers, there’s a greater likelihood that the influencer will engage with their audience one-on-one; moreover, it’s more likely that their followers will engage with their content, versus a massive account where followers might follow them for the sake of doing so. So how do you find the right influencer for your business? Part of developing a viable campaign, say for Instagram affiliate marketing, relies on knowing your audience.
- Understanding Your Audience
Affiliates and influencers only work if your audience can relate with them — also, they need to be following them to begin with. Finding an influencer that meets that requirement relies on understanding your niche.
Your niche is the industry your business sits in, the type of products/services you sell, the type of audience you attract, the style you emit, and the language you use — i.e., your brand. Part of finding a suitable influencer involves finding someone who can relate to your business and your customer base. Can they promote your business in an authentic way that doesn’t feel forced or too much like an advertisement? Great! You want it to feel natural, first and foremost.
After that, you’ll need to consider what their audience looks like. Do they have a number of followers you feel comfortable with? Do they have hard statistics on their impressions, engagements, and clicks? Have they worked as an influencer in the past or is this their first time? Do they have insider knowledge related to marketing campaigns?
You’ll want to do vetting in this way to see whether they’re the real deal. And, even if they don’t have immediate knowledge on the matter, you can do some research of your own, using digital tools to track their stats.
- Establishing Your Influencers
Once you’ve found a set of influencers that seems viable, you’ll want to begin by onboarding them. This is an extremely important step, as it’s a simple way to guarantee the influencer knows your business inside and out. They can even determine whether the job is right for them after they get to know you better.
From there on out, it’s a matter of testing your relationship out, seeing how the two of you work together and what their performance looks like. While you don’t want to cut them loose immediately, you can effectively decide whether this is the right direction for you to take. Consider it a means of saving both you and the influencer time. You could even initiate this process in your contract, letting them know that you’ll work together on a trial period for a few posts — for which they’ll be paid — to see whether they’d be a good fit with your brand.
If so, you can move forward by forming a strong relationship built on communication and collaboration. And, with the Refersion platform, you can begin tracking their stats, determining how well affiliate links are performing and deciding how adjustments can be made to improve future performance.
- Let Your Audience Speak for You
Influencers are included in your marketing strategy because you want customers to have someone they can relate to. Why relate? Because it will feel like your business’s marketing strategy is built around them, not you. This means that you should find influencers who fit the voice, style, and look of your audience, who embody everything that makes them who they are.
You’ll want to let trusted influencers speak for themselves. It’s important they have guidance over what they want to say and present, as it will make all of their branded content feel more genuine. Rather than reading pre-written ads, they can talk about your company, products, and/or services in a heartfelt way, presenting a narrative that their viewers will be able to empathize with. If it strikes home, their viewers might be tempted to check out your website — and that might lead to you landing new customers.
- Reviewing Your Products
Influencers can be included in your marketing efforts by having them review your products. On one front, this could include reviewing products that already exist, hoping that it will drive traffic to your website and get potential customers to engage with what you have available. On the other, you can use influencers to review your products before they are even released.
This latter approach is a great one, as it can help create hype around your product before it has hit the market. This could lead to pre-orders from the influencer’s viewers, and it could lead to your product becoming popular by word-of-mouth — especially if they have a special offer to go along with your product.
- Finding Other Influencers
Once you have a strong affiliate program moving, you can eventually begin expanding it further and further. A simple way to do this is to onboard other influencers, including more nano- and micro-influencers. This is a great way to bring other influential characters into your business while covering more ground within your niche. For all you know, you might be able to sign on an influencer slightly outside of your niche, helping you expand your audience into a new territory with ease.
The best thing about influencer marketing, and performance marketing in general, is that there are no limits to the type of success you can see. Find that you’re hitting a wall regarding engagement, leads, and conversions? Slow down and analyze your program and your influencers.
With a closer look, you can identify your weaknesses and strengths and adjust as needed. With proper adjustment, you can find success all over again, setting your influencers on a positive course of action that can increase organic traffic to your website while providing them with a financial kickback.