You fought tooth and nail to ‘make it’ as a creator.
You overcame the initial challenge of getting your biz off the ground, but now you face a new dilemma: scaling.
Ask anyone how to scale a business, and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Some swear by paid ads, others suggest investing in SEO.
And while there are many ways to scale, one particular method is easy and works lightning fast to deliver results.
Enter influencer marketing: the creator’s solution to cost-effective scaling and reaching a larger audience.
What is influencer marketing and why’s it so popular?
Influencers are people on social media who have built-up audiences who know, like, and trust them. For many, being an influencer is a lucrative job where brands will pay for sponsored content and product mentions.
As brands look for new ways to reach their audiences, many turn to influencer marketing for three core reasons.
1. Influencer marketing builds brand authority
Brand authority has two parts: audience trust and whether they view you as an expert in your niche.
Authority can take years to grow organically through things like word of mouth recommendations, the way you position yourself in the market, and the quality of your services.
But using influencers can help you fast-track your authority within your niche, especially considering that 50% of millennials trust product recommendations from influencers. Each time an industry expert gives their stamp of approval for your offerings, more people will view you as a trustworthy source.
2. You can reach a targeted audience
Reaching your ideal audience with laser precision has never been easier. Through influencer brand deals, you can place your products in front of people who are most likely to buy. The key is to select influencers who serve the same audience you do. (We’ll discuss later on how to make sure you’re choosing the right influencers.)
3. Influencer marketing is profitable
There’s no denying an influencer’s power of persuasion. According to a study conducted by Inmar Intelligence, 84% of shoppers have purchased based on an influencer’s recommendation.
And although some influencers may have hundreds of thousands of followers, they all have a magical ability to make each one of their followers feel like a close friend. As a result, their followers trust their recommendations and purchase their promoted items.
9 steps for creating a strong influencer marketing campaign
Given the benefits, it’s no surprise that influencer marketing sees steady growth year over year (it’s expected to be worth a cool $16.4 billion in 2022!).
And no, you don’t need to be a big brand like Coca-Cola or Nike to start running your influencer campaigns.
But before pulling the trigger and messaging influencers to feature your products, let’s go over nine critical steps for executing a flawless influencer campaign.
1. Set your goals
Setting goals for your influencer campaign helps you select the right influencers and track the campaign’s success. The more goals you choose, the harder tracking your campaign becomes, so stick to one when first starting out.
Here are a few examples of goals to help you get started:
- Sell more products
- Increase brand awareness
- Grow your email list
- Increase website traffic
Setting goals is important, not just for you, but for your influencers as well. Tell selected influencers your goals so they know exactly how to angle their content to drive the best results.
2. Choose the right metrics
With your goal in mind, it’s time to choose which metrics are most relevant and useful to measure the success of your campaign.
Ultimately, your goal dictates which metrics you choose. For example, if you want to increase brand awareness on Instagram, you might choose to measure the impressions of your Instagram account before and after your campaign. Or, if you want to grow your email list, track subscriber growth.
Take a look at the below goals and metrics to see which ones fit best with your possible campaign:
- If you want to grow your email list, track metrics like the number of subscribers you get and their open rates once on your list. Use ConvertKit to tag new subscribers from your influencer campaign so you can easily look into their analytics.
- If you want to increase sales, track landing page visits, conversion rates, and total sales
- If you want to increase brand awareness, look at metrics like impressions, likes, comments, and shares.
- If you want to increase quality traffic to your website track metrics like number of visitors, time spent on page, and bounce rate.
3. Define your audience
If you already know your audience like your best friend, you can skip this step. However, if you’re a tad unsure about who you want to reach, do some research to uncover:
- Basic demographics like gender, age, location, and income
- Psychographics like their interests, the challenges they face, and their goals
Brushing up on your user personas helps you find influencers who serve the same people. Otherwise, you risk promoting your brand in front of people who won’t care to follow your journey and buy your offerings.
4. Develop your campaign
Here’s where the fun starts! Armed with your goals, metrics to track, and audience, you’re ready to flesh out your campaign.
Set your budget and payment terms
Determining how much to pay influencers is tricky when getting started. If you’re unsure, ask influencers within your niche what they charge. You’ll get a gauge for how much to set aside for payment.
Along with how much you’ll pay each influencer, set payment terms so everyone is clear on when they’ll be paid.
Jehlisah Vaccarella is an influencer and content creator, and has been in the influencer space since 2017. On top of collabing with brands, she also mentors influencers. Her experience with payment, along with the experience from influencers she mentors, is that brands often take too long to pay influencers.
Brands have a “net payment” timeframe by when they pay influencers, and oftentimes it’s 30-90 days after content goes live. When services are provided, I feel as though the services should be paid for once delivered as opposed to so far out. – Jehlisah Vaccarella
While formulating your budget, don’t forget to set payment terms. Paying your influencers promptly will keep them happy and help you retain them for future projects.
Note: Along with payment, many influencers will want to try your offerings before any endorsements. Offer them your products to trial for free to help the success of your campaign.
Choose your brand deal structure
The way you structure your brand deal depends on your goals and the products you’re promoting. You can choose to use multiple structures or stick with one.
1. Coupon codes
Give followers an incentive to try your products through a discount. You can create unique coupon codes within ConvertKit Commerce for each influencer you work with.
ConvertKit creator Erick Arbé owns Willio, a software that helps people draft up their wills. He recently launched an influencer campaign on Instagram where he offered coupon codes to influencers. While the campaign isn’t over yet, he says he’s already noticed a 10% increase in sales through the campaign.
View this post on Instagram
With coupon codes, the industry standard is to use the influencer’s name within the code so people can easily remember it as they check out.
Affiliate marketing is a win-win situation for you and influencers: you make sales and they earn a kickback for each item of yours they sell. To track which influencers are sending sales your way, you’ll need affiliate software. Most affiliate software also lets you payout your commissions with the click of a button, making the entire process seamless.
Giveaways can be a quick way to grow your audience. After all, who doesn’t want the chance to win something free?
Influencer @thechiccitygirl partnered with clothing company J.Jill for a giveaway, where people had to follow J.Jill, like the post, and leave a comment to enter.
View this post on Instagram
But rather than ask people to follow you, create a landing page within ConvertKit and require people to sign up for your email list and follow you. You ultimately want to marry your social media audience with your email list and get people to sign up for a platform you own. This way, you’ll get direct access to your new fans and no pesky algorithms hiding your content.
4. Guest blog posts
Guest blogging—when an influencer publishes a post you write on their blog—is beneficial for everyone. You get the opportunity for a permanent place on someone’s blog, and in return, they get a great piece of content.
For guest blogs to be effective, optimize them for search and write about an evergreen topic related to your niche. That way, you can (hopefully) get exposure from the article as long as people are searching for the topic.
Just make sure to include a link to a lead magnet, where readers can click and hop onto your email list.
Takeovers are where an influencer “lends” you their platform for a specific amount of time. Here’s how this can look in practice:
- Take over an influencer’s Instagram account for the day and post Stories, Lives, or Reels, and teach their audience something new
- Manage a private group an influencer owns (like a Facebook group) for a day and interact with group members and post about your offerings
- Hop on an influencer’s Twitter for a day and host a Q&A
- Sponsor a newsletter and send out content to an influencer’s email list
For a successful takeover, make sure the audience knows it’s you behind each post, either by reminding them or signing off each post with your name. This way, you can drive traffic back to your own accounts while building up your brand. During each takeover, leave a link to an opt-in form and encourage people to download your freebie and sign up for your list.
6. Gifting products for reviews and promotion
Gift your offerings to influencers in exchange for their reviews. With these, you have little creative control over the post as the reviews should remain as authentic as possible. You can, however, ask the influencer to tag you and use specific hashtags.
7. Brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are influencers who agree to give you shoutouts and promotions on an on-going basis. For example, ask influencers to post once a month for six months and promote your offerings.
Brand ambassador partnerships work well when you have established connections with influencers who drive results for you. Otherwise, it might be risky to form long-term partnerships when you aren’t confident they’ll drive results.
Shoutouts are the most straightforward type of brand deal. With a shoutout, an influencer makes a post about your offerings and encourages people to check out your product.
Influencer @helenmaiyu’s post is a good example of a simple shoutout where there’s no coupon code or affiliate links.
View this post on Instagram
If you use shoutouts, create a landing page for your product that influencers can direct their followers to.
5. Shortlist and select talent
Time to put on your talent-agent hat and seek out influencers for your campaign. There are plenty of ways to find influencers to work with. You can:
- Search for hashtags and keywords on social media to see who consistently produces the best content
- Google your keywords to discover blogs ranking on the first page
- Look at your competitors and see which influencers they have partnered with (a quick way is to head into your competitions’ tagged posts and check who has tagged them in sponsored content)
- Check your followers to see if any influencers who already love your brand are following you
- Use influencer databases, like Upfluence, to sort and filter suitable influencers
After gathering a list of possible influencers, review their platforms to see if they’d actually be a good fit for your brand. Here are a few red flags to look for:
- The comments on every post are from the same accounts, which could indicate fabricated engagement via engagement pods
- They have a high number of followers but few comments and little interaction on their posts, pointing to an unengaged audience
- They’re slow to communicate with you
- They have a sharp increase in followers, according to SocialBlade this indicates they may have bought followers
- They haven’t posted content in a while and their platforms look abandoned
- They don’t have a media kit or stats for their account
- They don’t know who their audience is
After narrowing down your list, reach out to the influencers you’d like to work with. Check their bios to see if they have an email listed for collaborations, and if not, send them a direct message. DMs can be crowded, so if you’d prefer to send an email (but they don’t have one listed) try a tool like ViolaNorbert to find their email.
6. Sign the contract
Once you have secured potential brand deals, create a contract. Contracts protect both parties and explicitly outline what’s expected from everyone involved. Within your contract, include guidelines from the FTC, so each post is properly disclosed.
Writing a contract isn’t the most exciting part of influencer marketing, but it’s necessary to protect your money and brand. We aren’t legal experts, so it’s best to speak with someone who is regarding your contract.
7. Launch and monitor
It’s officially time to launch your campaign! Here are some tools you’ll find useful for monitoring your campaign:
- ConvertKit Commerce to sell products, create landing pages, and add subscribers to your email list
- Bitly to provide unique links to each influencer and track their results
- Google Analytics to track referral sources to your website
- Asana to manage deadlines
- Hootsuite to monitor brand mentions
- One-Time Secret to securely share passwords if you plan to do takeovers
8. Engage your new audience
After the campaign, your email list will be full of new faces. But rather than wait until your campaign is over to welcome everyone to your community, set up automations with a welcome email sequence and emails to pitch your products.
We put together the above pre-made automation for influencer marketing. All you need to do is add your content, adjust the delays, and it’s ready to go! This way, whenever someone new signs up for your list, they’ll receive your best content, automatically, keeping them glued to your newsletter for months to come.
9. Review your campaign
Your last step is to review your campaign and check how it performed against your initial goals. If it didn’t perform well, look for areas that fell flat. For example, maybe you didn’t select the right influencers or choose the right brand deal structure.
Alternatively, if your campaign blew your goals out of the water, figure out why to replicate it next time.
Regardless of how well your campaign did, reach out to the influencers you partnered with and ask for their feedback. They might have insights you won’t have access to, like feedback from their followers, that can help you plan and execute an even bigger campaign next round.
Time to plan your first influencer campaign
Influencers everywhere are looking to partner with creators just like you. To get the best ROI with your influencer marketing campaign, funnel your new audience to your email list where you can promote your latest offerings and scale your income with ConvertKit’s creator marketing platform.
Sign up for ConvertKit Commerce and get your influencer campaign rolling!