In today’s marketing landscape, influence is everything. Shoppers are increasingly distrustful of brands, and marketers are turning to influencers to help them intersect with shoppers across their path to purchase.
According to Linqia’s Influencer Marketing Playbook, 70% of people using the internet prefer learning about products through content as opposed to traditional advertising. Another 77% of shoppers point to recommendations from friends and family as the most persuasive source of information for new products. Not surprising, the majority of marketers (89%) are leveraging influencers to build awareness, foster engagement, and drive purchases.
Influencers provide a dependable voice that can deliver valuable insight and advice about your brand to an established and loyal audience. They also appeal to shoppers’ demand for transparency and authenticity. Furthermore, their social media presence and activity make them seem more accessible to shoppers – influencers feel like a trusted friend and that is transferred to the brands they partner with.
Although influencers are proven to yield a range of benefits for brands, the effectiveness of your influencer marketing program depends on one of several important factors: choosing the right influencer for the job.
Checklist: 7 Steps for Choosing the Right Influencer
There are certain steps marketers should take in order to choose the right partner (or partners) for their influencer marketing program. Remember that the influencers you select need to align with your brand and have the potential to support your business goals. This process deserves careful consideration, and the seven steps outlined below can help guide your decisions.
1. Understand Your Options
There is a wide variety of influencers to choose from, beyond your industry or preferred social media channel. When selecting the right influencer, you also need to consider how many social media followers or “fans” they have – especially since this will impact certain aspects of your agreement, starting with price.
- Celebrities/Top-Tier Influencers: 250+ thousand followers. This segment offers powerful reach, and many times, wide appeal. The costs reflect that, especially if you’re looking at A-list celebrities. With these influencers, you can expect to pay as much as $500,000 per post. Sometimes, top-tier campaigns repurpose past celebrity endorsements to appeal to a younger generation. Other times, campaigns tend to be much more creative. Brita managed a little of both when it snagged YouTube favorite Rudy Mancuso and NBA Champion Stephen Curry for a funny skit about trading in disposable water bottles as part of a healthier lifestyle.
- Power-Middle and Micro-Influencers: 2,500 to 250 thousand followers. This segment is often much more affordable, especially since very few have celebrity status. But while their audiences are smaller, they’re much more engaged. Micro-influencers, in particular, are likely to have tight-knit communities and high engagement rates. And targeting audience segments or niches is significantly easier with these influencers as well. Take Nick Coolridge, a movement artist who has done campaigns for PowerBar, for example. The campaign leveraged his personal connection and influence with his audience to increase awareness of the PowerBar brand.
- Fans and Advocates: fewer than 2,500 followers. This segment is made up of everyday people. Fees often vary, and alternatives to money as payment (e.g., free products) are most likely to be accepted by this group. Social listening and other research methods will be required to identify these influencers, but their opinion will hold much more weight with their social circle than influencers in the other segments.
2. Determine Your Goals
Decide what you want to achieve with your influencer marketing program before you move forward. Your goals will determine everything from how many posts you’ll request to what kind of content should be created for the campaign. Be sure they align with overall business and marketing objectives.
Here’s a list of potential objectives for your influencer marketing program:
- Raise awareness for the brand or specific products.
- Generate engagement on social media.
- Drive sales or promote redemptions.
- Encourage product reviews.
- Distribute codes and landing page URLs for coupons, offers, or other promotions.
- Raise awareness for cause marketing and encourage participation.
- Drive web traffic and encourage foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations.
- Build interest in your products through recipes, tips, and demonstrations.
3. Identify Your Budget
Every influencer is different, so create a plan for compensation that allows you to negotiate and accommodate their needs. Each payment model has benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to review each option:
- Pay-per-post: About 57% of marketers have used this model, according to Linqia, which makes it the most commonly used payment method. It involves a flat fee for creating and sharing individual pieces of content (e.g., a tweet or an Instagram post) regardless of reception. That also makes it the riskiest, since there’s no guarantee the audience will engage and respond to the content.
- Free products: This model is chosen most often by brands with expensive products that aren’t easily obtained otherwise or by brands who want to let the influencer try a new product ahead of release. A demonstration and review will resonate strongly with their audience.
- CPE and CPA: Cost-per-engagement (CPE) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) offer the least risk and are easily the best indicators for ROI. CPE clearly indicates how well the audience identifies with the content, which is why marketers ranked it the most effective, according to Linqia. Despite being considered the second most effective model, CPA is used the least often, probably due to the fact that influencer marketing has the most impact in the top of the sales funnel.
4. Pick Your Influencer(s)
Unless you’re picking one celebrity, which requires a lofty budget, you’ll probably want to put together a group of influencers to reach different audience segments in the way that speaks to them best. However, don’t feel the need to put together an army of influencers. According to Linqia, most marketers (71%) use 25 or fewer influencers per program.
There are a few more questions you should ask yourself as you consider potential partners:
- Does their audience match my shopper profile in terms of demographics or psychographics?
- How much reach do they offer?
- What’s their history of engagement, and is it growing or diminishing?
- Does their payment structure match my preferred model, and does it fit my budget?
- What’s their personality, and does it align with my brand’s identity?
- What kind of content do they produce, and how does that represent my products?
A great example of this is when Lenovo partnered with trendsetting Millennials, like blogger Kileen from Cute and Little, to demonstrate how their new YOGA 3 Pro and YOGA Tablet 2 Pro can help people in their creative endeavors. Each influencer also promoted a giveaway contest for their readers. The campaign generated 51 million social impressions and the giveaway received more than 61,000 entries.
5. Prioritize Creative Freedom
Content created in your influencer marketing program is unlike any other. You need to clearly express your requirements and expectations; however, you should also allow influencers the flexibility they need to create content that connects with their audience. Their purpose of this type of marketing is to bring transparency and authenticity to your brand, and that requires you to leave room for their creative freedom. Find an influencer who can provide quality, on-brand content that also drives engagement and action with their audience.
6. Measure Your Success
Always define the metrics you’ll use to measure your success before you start. You should also be sure to track progress on those metrics throughout the campaign and for at least a few months after it’s ended. As of now, a lot of influencer marketing has more impact at the top of the sales funnel, which is undoubtedly why Linqia has identified the top KPIs for such programs as engagement (91%), impressions (77%), and reach (63%).
That being said, this marketing tactic is rapidly maturing. Tracking conversions, product sales, and other lower-funnel metrics will soon be on the rise. As your influencer marketing program grows, refer to these metrics to determine which influencers will most likely help you reach your goals.
7. Re-Engage Top Performers
As with other marketing formats and media channels, your program will provide you the opportunity to learn and improve over time. Top-performing influencers are powerful tools, so as you optimize your program and develop new campaigns, be sure to keep them engaged. Develop a solid working relationship with them so that they can, in turn, continue building awareness and trust for your brand without sacrificing their authenticity.
Selecting the right influencer for your CPG brand’s marketing program is pivotal to the success of your campaign. You aren’t hiring a spokesperson or a mascot, so be sure that the influencers you work with reflect your brand’s ideals, reach the right audience for your products, and are capable of helping you reach your business goals. The checklist we’ve provided will guide you through this process and help you maximize your results from your influencer marketing campaign.