Are influencers people with lots of followers? How do I find them? What should I offer them?
There’s a lot of confusion about Influence Marketing.
Influence Marketing has definitely matured past the days when it was defined by Klout and vanity metrics; however, with that growth comes a whole new set of complexities that still stump many.
So, to help you demistify this growing discipline, we’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about influence marketing..
What is Influence Marketing?
As a noun, influence is the capacity to affect the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something.
Within the practice of marketing, we use “influence marketing” is a verb and defined as the ability of one person or campaign to sway the purchase decision of a customer or prospective customer.
The key here is to impact a person’s “purchase decision”, not to just get them to like, follow, or subscribe to something (although these goals could be part of a larger influence marketing campaign).
Why would a company do Influence Marketing?
The way consumers make purchase decisions has changed dramatically in the last ten years.
Today, consumers’ distrust of brands and brand advertising has shifted the power businesses and marketers had to sway purchase decisions.
Increasingly, B2B and B2C buyers are turning to friends or colleagues for testimonials, recommendations, and real-life experiences using products or services before making a purchase decision.
Influence marketing – when done right – leverages the “wisdom of crowds” to sway the purchase decisions of customers within online communities, websites or devices where they’re seeking those recommendations.
How Effective is Influence Marketing?
Influence marketing is the fastest growing channel for customer acquisition today.
Be it through direct influencer outreach, community development or content marketing strategies, influencer marketing content has been proven to deliver 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.
How do you measure influence marketing?
To measure influence marketing, you must first ask yourself what are you trying to sway? Brand awareness or purchase decisions?
If it’s brand awareness, you could look to soft metrics such as the number of people who engage with online content or recommendations shared by customer advocates or influencers across various social media properties.
You may wish to look at the change in product or brand awareness before/after the influence marketing campaign to determine if the influencer(s) affected this metric.
In the end, it’s ideal to know (and measure) the direct effect on inbound leads generated by this awareness and how it differs from other digital or traditional marketing campaigns.
If the goal is to sway actual purchase decisions, you can look to more direct bottom-line metrics such as inbound leads, conversions, and effect on customer lifetime value.
In this case, your campaign must first identify who exactly you’re trying to sway (prospective customers, existing customers, etc.), what stage of the customer lifecycle the audience is at (awareness, consideration, decision, etc.), and then build in measurable sales tactics within the campaign.
How do you find influencers?
Many use digital shortcuts that identify social media users who are active in specific communities or frequently engage on particular topics within those communities. These include software programs like SproutSocial or social listening tools such as Brandwatch.
The challenge with “finding influencers” is that no two influencers are created equal. One person can have an audience of 100 and have the ability to increase a business’s brand awareness among most of all of them.
However, that same person may only be able to sway the purchase decision of 10 of them for product A or sway the purchase decision of 10 different people for product B.
Finding influencers should be based on the goal of your campaign.
For example, if your campaign goal is sales, you need to consider the authority of the influencer among the prospects you’re targeting, the relationship between him or her and the audience, the channels they’re all engaged in, and finally, the situational factors that affect how the audience make decisions.
Here at Sensei Marketing, our strategists utilize various tools for support but do a deeper dive into who the target audience is, where they’re most active when looking for product purchase information, and base influencer identification on the authority of the influencer along with his or her relationship with the target customer.
Often, it’s existing customers who are most likely to sway purchase decisions, but they can also be online content producers (blogger, videographers, writer, etc.) or other local industry experts (trade journalist, colleagues, etc.).
What should you offer influencers?
There are many incentive programs that can be considered and should be calculated based on the authenticity your audience expects and the needs of the most effective influencer(s).
Some influencers seek payment for each brand or product mention they share, while others are satisfied to receive free product in exchange for the ability to share a review within their communities.
When you’re looking for true brand advocates such as existing customers, a simple request is all you need to provide to encourage their public recommendations.
Another option is to gamify the experience of influencers by providing a rolling scale of rewards based on the type of frequency of content or recommendations they share.
Many are incentives by leaderboards that show their rank among others engaging in the same program.
Whatever you choose, be sure you and your chosen influencers disclose any incentives offered.
Bonus: Read my previuos blog on “How to Pitch Influencers”
What are micro influencers?
Micro-influencers are people whose relationship and proximity to a target audience wields the most influence over purchase decisions, a concept that we’ve outlined in detail in our book Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing.
Often, these individuals are neither those seen as “social celebrities” nor do they have an extensive social media following.
Their influence is based on the contextual relationship with their social circles.
Some use the term “micro-influencer” in a more general sense, referencing those with smaller but more engaged audiences.
Does influence marketing work for small businesses?
Influence marketing can work for any business, big or small, B2B or B2C.
The concept of leveraging the goodwill and recommendations of customers and brand advocates to sway purchase decisions is universal.
The tactics and scale may be different, but the concept works for all.
How much does influence marketing cost?
Technically, influence marketing campaigns can cost as little as your time (asking for customer reviews when you receive a compliment), to tens of thousands of dollars for custom community development and content marketing strategies.
The point is: An influence marketing strategy can be devised for any budget, understanding that you get out what you put in – both regarding time and budget.
What is the ROI of influence marketing?
The numbers are in, and when done right, businesses are earning $6.5 for every $1 invested in influence marketing strategies.
In the end, you must understand how any awareness earned, product link shared, or recommendation issued leads to an inbound lead and conversion (or not).
There are many calculations to determine the value of earned media or direct sales generated as a result of an influence marketing campaign. The key is to set your target result before you start.