3 Tips for Building a Valuable Influencer Marketing Program
Let’s rewind back to 2015. Instagram was still flaunting its chronological feed, Vine was still kicking, and Katy Perry rode a giant lion during the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show. This was also right around the time when global brands were beginning to experiment with influencer marketing.
We call this the first wave of influencer marketing: a highly experimental time where brands typically hired PR agencies to run their influencer marketing campaigns. Why? Because using influencers was seen as a flashy, expensive, and unpredictable tactic due to the lack of measurement and data.
Now, fast forward to present day and influencer marketing has become a staple of every brand’s marketing strategy. In fact, influencer marketing was the only marketing channel that did not decrease in growth and investment during the pandemic. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry actually grew by 70% in 2021, and is expected to expand to $16.4 billion in 2022.
The pandemic’s impact on marketing channels and consumer behavior, coupled with new developments from social platforms, gave birth to a second wave of influencer marketing. In this new wave, influencer marketing is sophisticated, data-driven, and has the potential to be highly impactful on all sections of the marketing funnel.
Below we dig into three tips for getting the most impact out of your influencer marketing program:
- Match influencer partnerships to objectives
- Utilize data-driven measurement
- Create a structure of transparency and cohesion
Tip #1: Match Influencer Partnerships to Objectives
The first step in building the best influencer marketing campaigns is selecting the right influencer partners.
When finding and vetting influencers, you’ll want to think about:
- Influencer audience: Does this influencer align with the target audience you want to reach?
- Performance metrics: What is the influencer’s average engagement rate or video views on paid content? Is it drastically different from organic content?
- Brand alignment: Does this influencer match your brand’s values? Have they talked about your brand in the past, or do they already show brand affinity?
These influencer discovery and vetting techniques are just the tip of the iceberg, for a more sophisticated approach you’ll also want to consider how to optimize your mix of influencer tiers.
“It’s now important for brands to focus on the influencer mix. It’s no longer just about working with one specific influencer, but how you optimize the tiers of influencers you are working with. Finding the right balance of VIP to micro-influencers should be based on the objective of your campaign.” – Nicolas Chabot, Chief Customer, Strategy and Partnership Officer at Traackr
Influencers can now help a consumer go from awareness to purchase in the blink of an eye. Because of this, it’s critical to think through which influencers will be able to best support different stages of the funnel and then map that to the objective of your campaign.
For example, if you are promoting an awareness campaign, you may want to prioritize working with influencers that have more reach (vs higher engagement rates), like those in the macro-VIP tiers. When Revlon launched their WW84 product in the midst of a pandemic, their multi-platform and influencer tier strategy earned them 32.4M in total potential reach – 62% above their original goal.
Bonus tip: If you’re wanting to spread awareness amongst a new audience, micro-mid influencers have proven to be good partners. For example, BFGoodrich earned 59.5K total engagements when they partnered with 5 non-motorsport, mid-tier influencers.
On the other hand, if you want to drive sales, you’ll likely want to focus on partnering with influencers who have high engagement on sponsored content and have experience in using discount codes. Beekman 1802, for example, sold out two product lines at Ulta by partnering with influencers who could drive sales on TikTok.
Tip #2: Utilize Data-Driven Influencer Marketing Measurement
One of the biggest developments in this second wave of influencer marketing has been the marketer’s ability to efficiently track campaigns and make meaningful decisions based on data.
Influencer marketing programs used to be based on nebulous metrics like earned media value (EMV) or limited metrics like engagement rate. Now, marketer’s need to ask “what is the objective that you are trying to measure?” and set up clear, ambitious KPI’s to guide the strategy.
For example, the Wella Company uses a total of 9 different metrics to track the success of their campaigns and prioritize these metrics based on the campaign’s objectives (i.e awareness, consideration, and conversion).
“The importance of analytics is that they allow you to dig deeper and find out what different levers you need to pull in order to be successful. Your strategies improve drastically when you look at the data because you are no longer second-guessing. Instead, you are making decisions based on tangible information.” – Randall Chinchilla, Global Vice President Communications at Wella Company
One important metric that brands like the Wella Company use, that you may not know about is Brand Vitality Score (VIT).
VIT, which was created by Traackr, stands for visibility (reach), impact (engagement), and trust (quality of brand mention).
Traackr created VIT in order to give brands like Wella a transparent way to evaluate exactly what is/isn’t working in influencer content:
- Breakdown of influencer content impact: If a brand gets a high VIT score on a piece of content they can look at the breakdown (visibility, engagement, trust) to understand exactly what made that post impactful. For example, maybe a YouTube video got high VIT because it only mentioned one brand (high trust) and received a lot of engagements.
- Competitor benchmarking: Benchmarking can allow your team to understand how your brand’s influencer content performs across all markets, influencer tiers, and content types (i.e. organic and paid).
Tip #3: Create a Structure of Transparency and Cohesion
Like many brands during the first wave of influencer marketing, the Wella Company heavily relied on PR agencies to guide their influencer marketing programs. While this approach can sometimes work, in Wella’s case there was a lack of transparency and cohesion between various influencer marketing programs which made it difficult to achieve greater performance.
In order to construct a cohesive strategy that touched 16 different markets, Wella brought all its programs in-house and implemented Traackr as a system of record. Having one system of record allowed the team to unify and grow their programs. Regardless of location or internal/external status, all teams could find and vet influencers, manage campaigns, and build reports with the data needed to support their ambitions.
If you’re working with PR agencies across multiple markets, Traackr can help streamline workflows and standardize measurement. See how Cologate-Palmolive reduced campaign costs by 40%!
Breaking through organizational barriers
Another benefit of bringing influencer marketing in-house is the ability to get every marketing team to embody influencer marketing. As Randall and his team at Wella honed in on their influencer marketing skills and capabilities, he made it a point to work cross-functionally with other marketing departments.
Extending the power of influencer marketing to various other marketing departments strengthened the organization as a whole. If there was a team that lacked a specific role for influencer marketing, other team members had had enough experience to build impactful campaigns.
Watch the full interview of Randall Chincilla and Nicolas Chabot discussing the second wave of influencer marketing.
What’s next for influencer marketing?
So, you may be asking what will be next for influencer marketing, so you can stay ahead of the curve. Our prediction is the brand and influencer relationship will continue to morph and grow.
Likely, we’ll continue to see influencers expand co-marketing with brands (i.e beauty creators having their own product line) as well as influencers supporting brand’s purpose and values (i.e Amanda Gorman being a “Global Changemaker” for Estée Lauder). We might also see influencers having a greater impact on supply chains with brands using influencers to get signals for which product will do well out in the market.
Our advice would be to polish your techniques for building strong relationships with influencers and ensure you have cohesive strategies in place — the influencer marketing industry shows no signs of slowing down, so make sure you’re ready with the basics!