One of the keys to success in marketing online is establishing your brand as an authority in your industry. One of the most effective methods for establishing a business as an authority is influencer marketing. By becoming an authority in your industry, you will yield more traffic, more social interactions and - ultimately - more revenue.
Simply put, influencer marketing is the use of key thought leaders who already have the eyes, ears, and trust of your target audience, to deliver your message. Rather than using paid or other marketing approaches to reach this audience, you inspire or hire someone who is already influential to your target audience to spread the word for you.
Influencer marketing is not a standalone marketing technique. Instead, it coincides with social media marketing and content marketing to form a comprehensive strategy focused on building your brand and growing your revenue.
Finding the Right Influencers
A successful influencer marketing campaign depends and relies on finding the right influencers for your industry. Bear in mind, an influencer isn’t always an individual. Influencers can be businesses or publications. Money magazine may be considered an influencer in the financial industry for example.
Before you head to your favorite social network and start reaching out to people and companies to spread the word about your business, take a moment to consider if they are truly an influencer. Let the following criteria be your guide:
- Context - Influencers are only influencers within the right context. Even the most popular Instagram models will do nothing to increase sales of a CRM software. Consider the industry that they influence, and determine if it strongly aligns with your business.
- Reach - After you’ve determined that someone is a contextual fit for your brand, the next step is to understand the reach that they have. What is their following on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other relevant network? You want an influencer with a wide reach within your target audience so that your message will be received by as many prospects as possible.
- Actionability - How well does the influencer inspire action in their followers? Ideally, this will occur naturally when the influencer is contextually within your niche and is also in alignment with your brand. An ideal influencer is not a heavy-handed salesperson. Instead, they are interesting and engaging people who make soft recommendations, which their followers appreciate.
You may quickly discover that there are plenty of people that meet the above criteria. So, it’s time to refine the image of the ideal influencer for your market:
- What type of personality do you want? Do you need an authoritative voice, an entertainer, or an activist? Choose the best type of personality to promote your product or service.
- What genre and niche should you target? A genre is a wider category, with a niche being a smaller category within the genre. Pick your genre, such as technology, travel, etc. at the beginning. Then, pick your niche within that genre, such as cloud computing, budget travel, etc. This will allow you to form a targeted list of influencers.
- What topics are relevant to your product or service? Find a topic that your perfect influencer often discusses on their blogs or social media. This topic is what you will reference when you reach out to influencers to explain why you’re a good fit.
- What type of reach do they have? Do they have an active blog with a regular readership? Or do they have a massive Twitter army at their disposal? Perhaps they have an active Instagram account to help drive a visual-focused campaign? Consider the type of reach that will be best for your product or service and find an influencer that possesses that type of reach.
Now you have an excellent idea of how to identify influencers, and how to sort through them to determine which one(s) will work best for you and your brand. Now, how do you connect with them?
Connecting with Publishers
How do you know which influencers to work with?
Finding and connecting with influencers takes time and effort, but it is well worth the investment. Start tracking the influencers you find. There are several ways that you can find influencers:
- Monitor social media - Since most (if not all) influencers have a strong social media following, social media is a perfect place to begin searching for them. If you’ve identified a focal social network for your influencer outreach marketing campaign, monitor that social network for influencers. Use hashtags to follow conversations, and try to go back to who’s starting (or leading) them. Look for active talkers in your industry, as they very well may be influencers. You will have to spend a hefty amount of time isolating influencers on social networks, but it will be worth it.
- Google Alerts - One of the best ways to identify influencers in your niche is to setup a Google Alert for key terms within your industry. Every day, you’ll receive an email with a list of articles that used those key terms. If you go through them every day, you’ll start to notice which blogs and websites are most active in your niche. Make a note of repeating names in your list of potential influencers.
- Blogs - Most influencers have consistently updated blogs with a growing loyal audience or subscriber base. Start by searching for blogs in your genre and niche using generic keywords. Read through their posts and see if what they’re writing about is relevant to your industry. Once you’ve found a handful of quality blogs, locate their SEO stats and social media profiles to flesh out their information in your list.
After you’ve invested a solid amount of time into finding potential influencers, you’ll be left with a list chalked full of people to pursue. Don’t start emailing or Tweeting at them just yet, you need to craft your unique value proposition.
Use Your Value Proposition When Contacting Influencers
Your business should have an easy to understand, unique value proposition. That value proposition will be an excellent tool when reaching out to influencers. Here’s how to craft one in four steps:
- Answer vital questions - First and foremost, what does your company sell? Who is your target market? What paint points are your alleviating with your service or product? What makes you unique compared to your competition? Sit down and write out all the answers to your questions. Don’t worry about how long it is at first. After you’ve written the rough draft, refine it, and try to make it as short as possible without losing any meaning.
- Involve others - Reach out to your biggest fans and ask them to help you refine your unique value proposition. You can put together a short survey or poll with a few questions, then send it out to your customers. Examples of worthwhile questions are: how would you describe my product or service? What feature or benefit attracted you to my product or service? What does my product or service do for you?
- Analyze your competition - Understanding your competition will help you understand what truly makes you unique. Make a list of the top ten companies within your niche. Then, check out their product or service. Read through their online content. Read through the comments section and social media posts. Are there any core features or benefits that they’ve overlooked that you haven’t? If so, you’ve just found what makes you unique. Now you’re ready to really refine your unique value proposition.
- Ask for feedback - Have you crafted a stellar unique value proposition? It’s time to solicit feedback from others. Ask peers and partners that you trust to read through your unique value proposition with a critical eye. What do they like? What do they dislike? What’s missing? Keep tweaking your proposition until it feels like you’ve hit the nail on the head.
Once you’ve crafted your unique sales proposition, it’s time to reach out to the influencers you’ve identified. Use your newly created unique sales proposition to reach out to them about the content you’ve created, the product you’re offering, and why you would be a good fit for each other.
Now, most influencers will want something in return for promoting your product. You should decide if you’re willing to pay for promotions or will reciprocate in another way that’s appealing to them (such as a free product).
When reaching out to your list of influencers, tailor your message to them individually. Reach out to them where they’re most active. A Twitter influencer should be contacted through Twitter, and a blogger should be contacted through the contact page on their blog.
The right influencers already have the trust and attention of your target audience. Collaborating with influencers will bring:
How are you continuing to build authority both with your target audience and the search engines? How are you gaining access to a larger target audience? Our Influencer Marketing services will help you connect with the right influencers and craft content that delights your visitors and turns them into revenue for your business!
How to Create the Right Topics
Most of the time, you’ll be asking influencers to promote a piece of content that is on your own website or blog. While you may sometimes ask them to promote your product or service directly, they will typically simply share a blog post or article that you wrote (or paid someone else to write).
It’s of the utmost importance to create the right topics for your blog and website. They must be relevant to your industry, audience and be timely. If you fail to hit the mark, you’ll be wasting time and money producing content that nobody is interested in.
Creating the right topics to share with influencers is not a complex process:
- Research the pain points within your industry. What are people having problems with?
- Analyze your competition to see what they’re posting about. Investigate how well their blog posts are performing on social media.
- Browse through the blog posts and social media profiles of influencers in your industry. By now, you’ve already created a list of influencers. Make a daily effort to follow them online and see what they’re interested in (and what their audience is interested in).
- Write a list of blog post ideas only after you’ve completed the above steps. Include the headline and a few sentences about what the blog post will be about.
- Start producing well-researched, in-depth blog posts.
- Publish them and reach out to influencers about them. Simply say, “I believe you and your audience may be interested in this blog post.”
- Analyze how well your content performs online. Is it boosting your traffic? Is it growing your revenue?
Calculating the ROI of Influencer Marketing
Now that you’ve launched an influencer marketing campaign, it’s time to calculate its ROI. The ROI formula for influencer marketing can be difficult to track compared to other marketing techniques, as the effect of an influencer on your business can be far reaching and not easily trackable by standard metrics.
A good rule of thumb for calculating the ROI of an influencer marketing campaign is to set a clear goal before you launch the campaign. Are you trying to grow your social media following? Are you looking to boost your revenue? Are you looking to increase website visitors? Decide on one or two clear goals before you launch the campaign. This will allow you to track specific metrics throughout the duration of your influencer campaign.
If you are only asking influencers to share your content, you can track their impact on your content through your Google Analytics (or similar) dashboard. You’ll be able to see traffic spikes, and which influencers are responsible for those spikes.
However, if you’re asking influencers to promote your product or service, tracking their sales can be tricky. You may do so by giving the influencers unique coupon codes, then asking them to direct their visitors to use the code during checkout. You may also give them a referral link to use in blog posts or YouTube subscriptions
The steps to calculate your ROI will be unique based on your stated goal for the campaign.
For sales goals, you’ll add up the total sales for a given period, add up the cost of the campaign (paying influencers), and divide that by the total cost of the campaign. Since influencer marketing is quite time intensive, you may wish to track your time and assign a dollar amount to it, then include this in your costs.
For all other goals (social following, boosting website visitors, etc.) you’ll have to assign a dollar figure to the metrics that correspond to your goal. For example, if you’re looking to boost your Facebook followers, you might assign $1 for every new ‘Like’ for your page. As the campaign progresses, you’ll keep track of new page likes. When finished, use the total amount of likes as revenue for the campaign and use the traditional ROI formula.
Are you ready to launch an effective influencer marketing campaign? At AlphaMind Studios, we pride ourselves in providing tailored marketing solutions. Contact us today to launch your campaign!
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