How To Create A More Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy

June 14th, 2018 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

Influencer marketing is seeing meteoric growth: 63% of marketers increased their influencer marketing budget from 2016 to 2017; and 40% will increase it again this year, according to Harvard Business Review (2018). However, many marketers still struggle to get their strategies right. At a recent ACA webinar, Cathy Fernandes, CEO of Jones Media, shared advice on how marketers can better optimize their influencer marketing strategies.

To start, there is a compelling case to be made for utilizing influencer marketing. As consumers become less interested in traditional marketing tactics, they’re putting their trust in social media influencers. As a result, KPIs such as views, reach and engagement rates all spike because audiences feel connected to the influencer and follow them loyally.

A survey from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that 60% of consumers do not believe that traditional advertising is based on factual information, and 51% refuse to engage with a brand before a sense of trust has first been established.

“It’s encouraging to know that content and influencer marketing is driving trust and building [consumers’] relationships with brands,” said Fernandes.

How does influencer marketing impact businesses? “Ultimately, it’s about dollars… Influencer marketing creates killer returns,” said Fernandes. For example, for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, there’s an average of $6.50 in returns. Industries on the higher end for returns are food and drink ($1/$11.33), retail/apparel ($1/$10.48) and travel ($1/$7.04), according to a McKinsey Report.

Here are a few of the keys from Fernandes to creating a successful influencer marketing strategy:

  • Understand your audience. “Knowing exactly who they are, where they hang out, what they care about, and why they would be interested in your brand helps to understand their behaviour,” said Fernandes. “The more you can understand their behaviour… the more success you’re going to have.”
  • Go niche. Marketers should work with influencers who cover niche topics to tap into influencers’ highly engaged audiences. This is key if marketers are looking for high engagement and interaction, but becomes less important if they’re only seeking awareness and reach.
  • Choose influencers with multiple platforms. A Bloglovin’ survey of 22,000 digitally savvy women worldwide found that 88% of respondents follow influencers on two or more platforms. “Cross-platform strategies always yield the best results,” said Fernandes.
  • Connect on the most effective platforms. Instagram is the leading platform to follow influencers, with 60% of women following an influencer on that platform. Facebook is close behind at 50%, and Pinterest and blogs are at roughly 35% each.
  • Be authentic. Genuine messaging is the number-one driver of engagement on branded influencer content. If it feels too branded or “salesy,” followers are not going to engage. In addition, audiences are more likely to engage with sponsored content if it closely resembles content previously posted by the influencer.
  • Evolve from one-off tactics to “always-on” relationships. Fifty-nine percent of people are likely to seek out future content from a brand after viewing their branded content, according to a study by IPG Media, Forbes and Syracuse University. “That lays the groundwork for why frequency is important,” says Fernandes. “It drives significant results if a content strategy is always on, not just a one-off.”
  • Broaden your KPIs. While standard digital media KPIs can be applied to influencer marketing, there’s a lot more that can be measured. This includes: reach for brand awareness, exposures/impressions to drive customer acquisition, video views, content engagement, click-through to brand site, increase in brand handle followers and product sales.