Shopify Ecosystem

YouTube Influencer Marketing For Beginners: How To Get Started In 2022

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How to Get Started with YouTube Influencer Marketing

With high user engagement and a diversity of creators to partner with, just about any business can succeed with influencer marketing on YouTube. You don’t need a lot of time or a big budget. But you do need an action plan.

1. Focus on developing relationships with your influencers

You want to go into your influencer search with a long-term mindset. Instead of one-time campaigns, consider turning successful partnerships into ongoing agreements to amplify your success and create an ongoing stream of new fans.

If you can make your product an influencer’s go-to product, their audience will trust that recommendation even more because it’s something that has shown the test of time.

For example, a chef could use your kitchen knives in every video, showing that the quality holds up. Or if a beauty vlogger keeps using the same foundation, that speaks well to the texture, tone matching, and level of coverage of the product.

After creator Chase Reeves’ first review for travel backpack brand Tortuga, the brand saw so much success that they’ve continued to send new products to Chase as part of their launch strategy ever since.

It’s a win for influencers, too — 91% of creators want to be long-term brand ambassadors according to our research, both for the steady income and to develop more authentic relationships with the brands they love. These influencers are often willing to make it exclusive, meaning less competition for you.

2. Decide how you will measure success

Depending on the state of your business, your ROI goals will vary. Are you looking to increase brand awareness or sales? Maybe grow a loyal fan base on social media? Choose your goals, so you know what success looks like for your brand.

For example, if you’re entering a new market or introducing a new product to a crowded market, brand awareness is a great way to measure your growth.

You could use YouTube influencer marketing to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Generate sales
  • Gain new subscribers to your email list
  • Grow a loyal fan base through followers and engagement on social media
  • Build your brand’s reputation

👉 Learn more about choosing influencer marketing goals for different business stages.

Once you have clear goals in mind, it’s easier to decide what kind of campaign you need. For example, if you want to grow your email list, it might make sense to run a giveaway with a creator who asks followers to subscribe to your email list to enter.

3. Set your budget for multiple partnerships

Our recommendation is to spread your budget across a few different partners. Figure out how much you have to spend overall for your campaign, and then work backward to see how much you can afford to spend with each individual creator.

Knowing how much you’re willing to spend on an individual creator will help narrow your search when it comes time to find influencers to work with. Our budget calculator will help you determine how much you can afford to spend on influencers.

4. Choose your campaign types

Different types of campaigns will yield different results. So the type of campaign you choose will be directly influenced by your goals. And keep in mind creators will expect different compensation depending on the type of content they’re creating.

The three primary YouTube influencer marketing campaign types are dedicated video, brand mention, and ad reads.

A dedicated video is all about your brand. Think product unboxing, reviews, hauls, or tutorials that focus exclusively on you.

High-fashion channel Je suis Lou showcased a shopping haul sent to them from retail platform Farfetch.

A brand mention integrates your product naturally into a video among other products or content. For example, a home renovation project using a brand’s tools or a morning smoothie incorporating a brand’s protein powder.

Here, PAINTEDBYSPENCER starts a makeup tutorial with Elemis Skincare’s cleansing balm.

Ad reads promote products that might not otherwise be in the video. They’re typically a short sequence that’s different from the rest of the content in the video. They can be added to any part of the video, but they’ll perform better in the middle because ads at the beginning or end could be skipped over.

Productivity enthusiast Thomas Frank features a great ad read for Storyblocks, including the creator’s own experience with the service.

5. Find the right influencers

While it may seem ideal to work with mega-influencers with large followings, micro-influencers typically see more engagement from their audience. Influencers with fewer than 15k subscribers are 3.2x more engaged than those with 15-50k subscribers — and 4.4x more engaged than accounts with 1M or more followers. Great news for brands with a small budget.

True influence isn’t measured by just the reach of the YouTubers you work with but by the impact those creators’ recommendations have on brand awareness, website traffic, and sales. To gain new, genuine fans of your brand, you need to find real people who connect with your ideal target audience and whose audience trusts their recommendations. Whether that’s hundreds of nano-influencers or a dozen macro-influencers, you’ll likely want a blend of influencers with different audience sizes, depending on your budget.

To find the best influencers for your brand, focus less on follower count and more on audience fit and engagement. When creating a shortlist of influencers you want to work with, consider each channel’s:

  • Audience interests and demographics: Compare things like age, gender, and interests for alignment with your target audience.
  • Views and engagement: Look to view count, likes and dislikes, and comments to see if their subscribers are paying attention and if audience sentiment is positive.
  • Quality of content: You want to be proud of the partners you work with. So watch several videos to make sure it feels right. Look for past partnerships as well to see if the creator can promote a product naturally and effectively.

Doing all this work manually can be a time sink. A tool like Aspire makes it easy to find the right influencers for your brand. Use filters like age, location, follower count, keywords and even image search to find new partners. Aspire even prequalifies influencers, so you can avoid scammers.

6. Offer fair pay for your influencers’ work

Influencers aren’t just another paid ad space. They’re real people who spend hours creating video content and building authentic relationships with their followers. You’re paying for a piece of that trust. You don’t get that with paid ads. So it’s important to pay influencers accordingly. They’ll feel supported as a partner and be excited to work with you, making them all the more effective at getting the word out about your brand.

Depending on your budget, you can find creators who can meet your needs. And you can get creative with compensation models.

  • Flat rate: Pay creators a set fee based on the type of content they’re creating and their audience size.
  • Performance model: Use an affiliate commission model to pay creators based on the purchasing influence they have. Incentivize more content creation by sharing in the profits of every sale. This model can be helpful for brands with a small budget because you only pay when a partner influences a sale.
  • Gifted product: No matter your compensation model, you should be gifting products, but 87% of influencers are willing to work with their favorite brands for free products alone — as long as they love the brand or the product value is high. Great news for emerging brands that are still gaining traction.

Many creators on YouTube work with a blended flat rate and performance model. Brands pay a flat rate upfront that covers creators’ baseline work, and the affiliate commission rewards them for their impact.

7. Be specific with your creators, but allow for creative freedom

You’re partnering with influencers because they have a unique talent for creating content that engages their audience. So give creators space to be creative and empower them to do what they do best by providing a creative brief. Developing an effective brief requires a balance of specificity and room for creativity.

Include all necessary details about your product or brand. To show off your product properly, influencers need to be familiar with the product features, specs, and key talking points. Share your brand values and the details that make the brand unique — like it’s vegan, eco-friendly, or that the company donates a portion of their profits to charity.

Be specific with the goals and context of your campaign. If your work together is part of a product launch or special event, creators need to know that so they can relay the important details to their audience. If you’re clear with your goals, your partner can optimize their content toward those goals.

Other than that, let them do their thing.

8. Provide your partners with unique links or codes to track their impact

If your influencers link to your website directly without any tracking codes, you’ll see traffic from YouTube, but you won’t be able to determine the success of a partnership or campaign. So use links and codes to track the sales driven by your partnerships.

Add UTM parameters to the links your creators use. With UTM parameters, you can add tags to track success by creator and campaign. You can get as specific as you like when tracking your influencers’ marketing efforts, but make it easy on your influencers by giving them the links they need.

Use unique promo codes. Coupon codes help you track the overall success of a particular influencer but not individual YouTube videos. However, they make paying out commissions easier because purchases that use a particular code are automatically linked to that affiliate. 

9. Boost the success of your campaign

Once your creator’s work is live, there are several things you can do to boost the success of your campaigns.

  • Engage with your influencers’ followers in the comments to build direct relationships. Creating meaningful connections can lead to more loyal fans.
  • Share the content with your existing audience in your email newsletters, SMS, or your own social media channels. Partnering with YouTube influencers isn’t just about gaining new fans. You can use influencer content to re-engage your existing followers or email subscribers. If you have customers who buy every new product you launch, they might like to see an unboxing or how-to video with your newest products.
  • Use creators’ content in marketing materials to get more out of each campaign. Your influencers create great content for you. So use it, or snippets of it, in ads or on your website.

10. Measure your results based on your goals

Now it’s time to measure the impact of your influencer campaigns. The metrics you use will be based on your goals.

For example, if your focus was brand awareness, you might look at views, engagement, new follows, or newsletter sign-ups.

Or if your goal was sales, track traffic to your website and purchases (also called conversions). Because influencer marketing often lives in the middle of the customer journey, track both assisted and last-click conversions to make sure you’re tracking the impact accurately.

11. Now, do it again!

Along this journey, you will have invested in your influencer relationships and laid the groundwork for future partnerships. Like we said in the first step, you’re in this for the long haul.

After figuring out what went well, consider turning any one-time partnerships into ongoing agreements. Adjust your strategy based on your learnings and try different approaches if your goals have changed. And then do it all again.

Special thanks to our friends at AspireIQ for their insights on this topic.
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