With influencer marketing on the rise, just how can you identify the right influencer for your business? How should you approach your influencers and create a strategy to optimize your marketing efforts? Here’s what we came up with…
Influencers have become an integral part of marketing strategies over the years. In fact, a poll study by Tomoson showed that for every $1 dollar invested in influencer marketing, there is an ROI of $6.5. While content marketing takes over 25% of several experts marketing budget, 18% of their overall budgets goes to influencer marketing (2nd place), followed by social media marketing, based on our influencer marketing study.
What this means is that you need to choose your influencers carefully in order to achieve the highest ROI possible.
Identifying influencers for your business: Essential traits
There are many influencer marketing software options and even more influencers than you can imagine. So how should you look for the right influencers? Who can be an influencer? Can anyone be an influencer? Obviously, there are several factors when finding the right influencer for your business. We’ve also gathered top marketing experts’ opinions on influencer marketing and compiled the most noticeable factors.
Here are the factors to consider when searching for influencers, that the influencers you recruit must have.
Your influencers must have a follower base that matches your audience.
You need to be specific when it comes to the community that an influencer has:
- It’s not only about how many followers an influencer has, but who the followers are.
- Our study showed that 68% of marketing experts want influencers that are well known in their niche, versus celebrities, etc. It must be similar to your target audience as much as possible. Be more specific.
- See their engagement rate and actually read some of the comment communications.
- Influencers with smaller audiences that are similar to your customers will result in a higher ROI.
In addition to finding influencers that match your audience, be sure the influencers you choose align with your brand values. This way, they are able to engage with their followers more closely and are better positioned to communicate your brand’s message.
Take advice from Dario Supan of Point Visible: “The first step in finding the right influencer is to know your brand and your target audience. Only when you have a clear idea of what your brand stands for can you go out searching for influencers that match your values.”
Your influencers must be authentic and credible.
How do you know that an influencer is authentic and credible? You can easily tell by looking at their content. The audience should feel that the content is authentic. If it is a beauty product, they should be able to feel that the influencer has actually used the product and is giving honest feedback about it.
Look out for content customization. You do not want to work with an influencer who will simply copy and paste what they receive from their PR contact person. Here are a few examples of influencers who forgot to remove the instructions from their PR contacts.
Social media audiences can easily spot a post that is salesy. In fact, many already understand that this is one of the ways influencers make money. But such small details and being too salesy could make the audience that you are trying to reach lose trust in an influencer, and by extension, a brand.
Moreover, an influencer needs to “be themselves” as much as possible, even when promoting products. If the tone of their content is usually professional, they need to maintain that when promoting products. If it is usually more conversational and fun, then the same needs to be reflected in the promotion of products.
Identifying influencers for your business: Ideal traits
These traits aren’t necessarily essential to have for your influencers, but the best influencers for your business will possess the following traits:
Ideally, influencers should have a passion for your industry or niche.
Look for an influencer who is passionate about your industry, beyond the following that they have. A potential influencer may have a large following but may not be particularly passionate about your industry. This is another way to ensure that you are working with influencers whom the audience deem to be credible in your field. A passionate influencer will have developed content that is related to your brand or industry, participate in online discussions and may even be involved in events or conferences.
The best influencers are also knowledgeable about your industry or brand.
While passion is a great trait for an influencer to possess, it will not be beneficial in the long run if the influencer does not understand the brand or niche to whose audience they are supposed to communicate with.
How do you measure knowledge of the brand or industry?
Look out for the influencer participation in brand-related or industry-related activities and events.
How about their content? Is it accurate?
This would be important when it comes to products that are a bit technical, for example, electronic devices. The content should show that the influencer understands the technical jargon associated with that particular product.
You may want to work with influencers who have experience working in your niche. This does not mean that they only have content that is related to your niche. Influencers may have diverse interests. Check their social media content, website, or blogs for a more wholesome understanding of their knowledge. This way, you will be able to determine whether they are a good fit for you and your audience and whether your brand is a good fit for them and their audience.
Your best bets for influencers are often huge fans of your brand.
Sometimes, the right person to actually work with as an influencer is someone who already knows your brand and loves it. You need to identify who your biggest fan is and then use their enthusiasm to influence the other buyers. You are more likely to build a loyal relationship with such a fan, and that can really benefit your brand.
Some tools you can use to help you find your biggest fans:
Identifying influencers who will help you accomplish link building goals (an added bonus!)
Killing two birds with one stone using link building is always awesome. Weighing your options in regards to your perfect influencer might also come down to what other benefits they can offer besides everything we mentioned above.
Maybe they maintain or contribute to multiple blogs that can help you achieve your link building efforts, in addition to maintaining their social media accounts. Also, consider hiring an influencer for your social media campaign if you don’t currently have any social media management.
Identifying influencers: Analyze their existing content
Let’s look back at the study by Tomoson. According to this poll, more than half of marketers rated the average quality of customers acquired via influencer marketing as higher. This means that the influencer you choose can have an effect on the customer quality you receive.
Here’s what to look out for in influencers’ existing content, to make sure you recruit quality influencers:
You need to choose the kind of influencer that aligns with your goals.
- If your goal is conversion, then influencers with smaller fan bases will be ideal—micro-influencers, with less than 100,000 followers.
- If brand awareness is your goal, you may want to choose macro-influencers, with large fan bases (100,000 or more followers), even if their engagement rate is low.
- If your goals are both conversion and brand awareness, then you may want to use both types of influencers.
Your goals need to be measurable and specific, for example, an increase in the number of followers or sales or even customer quality. This way, you will be able to ask the right questions once you begin reaching out to potential influencers.
Follower engagement rate
While an influencer’s followers are an important consideration, how many of them actually engage with the influencer’s content? A study by Smart Insights showed the relationship between the number of followers and engagement rates. Influencers with smaller follower bases, usually called “micro-influencers,” tend to have more personalized content, which their followers find authentic and engaging.
You need to calculate an influencer’s engagement rate (the percentage of the followers who comment, like, share or save an influencer’s posts) in order to determine whether they are your best fit. A general formula uses the average engagement that an influencer’s last 20 or 30 posts have generated. You can also use tools that can calculate an influencer’s engagement rate for you.
Although the engagement rate might sometimes be manipulated, the replies from the influencer to the audience can help you understand the quality of these engagements. So, make sure you analyze the quality of engagement, not just the quantity.
Consider the platform and content type that would work best for your audience. If your audience is more responsive to video, you may consider going for a YouTube influencer. If your audience is not highly responsive to video, you may want to go for an influencer on other social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. And if you’re a B2B targeting business professionals, choose LinkedIn.
Quality of content and its presentation
Does an influencer’s content match your brand in terms of quality? If your brand is a luxury menswear brand, for instance, your potential influencer’s content quality (photos, videos, and even background) needs to bring to the fore the aspect of luxury too.
Do not choose an influencer whose content is overly promotional or salesy. If 90% of an influencer’s social media content is promotional, it means that their audience is very likely disengaged from that influencer’s content. Confirm whether the audience has begun to disengage with the content by looking at the engagement rate and the comment quality. If the engagement rate is low and the comments negative, don’t recruit that influencer. That’s a sign that their audience will begin to dissipate sooner or later.
You want to work with an influencer who can create content that is unique. For example, an influencer who loves gaming is likely to do unboxing videos or video reviews. How about a video like this if they were to promote a beverage?
Tools can help with finding influencers
You don’t have to do all your research manually. Here are 13 free tools that you can use to make it easier to find the right influencer:
- Google Alerts
- Press Hunt
- NinjaOutreach Lite
These tools allow you to:
- Identify influencers based on category, topics or industries
- Identify influencers based on a scale, such as the number of followers or engagement rate
- View influencers’ social profiles
- Identify different types of user-generated content
- Identify the content types that perform best for different topics
- Connect with journalists and media influencers
Using a combination of these tools should make it easier for you to find the right influencer. Consider audience demographics, engagement and niche when finding influencer to align with your brand and reach a relevant, engaged audience. Be sure to check out our comprehensive list of influencer marketing software for more details on these and other software platforms that help you find Instagram influencers and manage them.
How do you approach influencers? The rules of engagement
Influential marketing shows high ROI and is suitable for many businesses. Once you have settled on a list of influencers, it is time to approach them. But how do you engage and interact with influencers to convince them to be part of your brand? Follow these rules and tips.
Know your industry and its players
There are special platforms for finding influential people, but they are not very effective if you just use data to find influencers. The best solution is to know your market well and those of its representatives whom people trust:
“We are looking for partners with high prestige and a large subscription base. Email marketing has become the most productive growth channel for ButcherBox. Finding these opinion leaders is a manual process. We are not lucky with marketing platforms for finding influential people ”(Mike Philby).
As with any paid advertising (and marketing in general), the experimenter has to have this. You may have to try many different “influencers” in your market and measure the specific ROI of each channel. Then double the cost of effective channels and discard inefficient ones.
Get their contact information or social profiles
You may not have all the contacts/email addresses/social profiles of all the potential influencers on your list. If you cannot find the influencer’s social profiles, you may actually need to type the influencer’s name followed by the social platform on Google in order to access their usernames or search for them on particular social platforms. On a platform like Instagram, you could search using hashtags. Once you have their contacts/email addresses/social profiles, it is now time to communicate with them.
You could message them in private on Instagram, for instance, and ask for their rates. These could be based on time (24-hour or 72-hour posts) or per post.
Use warm introductions
You need to introduce yourself warmly to an influencer before you tell them that you need their help. Sometimes, you may need to draw their attention so that by the time you contact them, they already have a clue about who you or your brand is. You could do this by engaging with their content, for instance, blog posts or on social media. Leave meaningful comments and let them know that you are impressed by their work. You may even share the influencer’s content among your networks. This is more like getting on an influencer’s radar.
Craft a persuasive proposal
In your proposal, your emphasis should be on your thoughts on their content or expertise. Go ahead and even give specific examples of the content that you liked and that led you to reach out to that particular influencer.
You then need to introduce yourself and your brand, how you came across the influencer, why you are reaching out to them, your expected outcome, and what you have to offer in return.
There is no need to specify the specific amount of money you are willing to pay, for instance. The way you present your offer should be appealing in order to increase the chances of getting a response from the influencer. You could mention other successful collaborations that you have had in the past. 69% of influencers prefer monetary compensation. Other options include attribution and exposure, free products or discounts, and commissions.
Find a way to stand out
You will have to fight for an influencer’s attention, especially if you are targeting a particular celebrity or significant social media star. Marc Ecko, the fashion designer and entrepreneur, advises you to make your “pitch” to the influencer so top-notch that even if it only reaches their manager, you will still have a significant impact.
In other words, if you work in the business of T-shirts, send the influencer not just one piece, but a whole box. And turn the delivery into an event. As Ecko told The Tim Ferriss Show:
“My friend Ryan Holiday did the marketing for American Apparel and instead of sending some small package, he sent a crate. One of the bloggers uploaded a video on YouTube and it did 125,000 views. That’s crazy.
Look at Pepperidge Farms, which overnighted a box of Milano cookies to a blogger who wrote about the cookie. The act was memorable enough that the resulting post on Reddit scored Pepperidge Farms over 500,000 new views and fans. But even if that had never gone public…all they would have been out was a couple of bucks.”
And for this reason, Marc Ecko advises not only to send a product but to make an event out of it. Good advice and general marketing – you do not need an abstract brand voice or a blank, unemotional text. In this particular context, you are fighting for the attention of only one person – so you need to customize your pitch.
For example, Ecko was once targeting Spike Lee as an influencer. Since Ecko had heard that Lee had a new film – a biopic about Malcolm X – he sent Lee a T-shirt with a well-executed portrait of Malcolm X on it.
In response, Lee kindly sent Ecko a letter of thanks, signed by himself. Yes, a real letter from Spike Lee! This proves how crucial personalization is, whether you’re trying to reach a celebrity like Lee or a micro-influencer. Influencers will appreciate the effort you put in, and will be more likely to share your brand.
Sometimes, in order to achieve a particularly known celebrity, marketers are too addicted to self-expression. Marc Ecko has a number of rules on this. Never send your fan photos, do not chase a person or send anything directly to a celebrity’s home.
People who fall into this trap probably think that it will be easier for them to break through the noise and stand out. But it is not.
According to Ecko, the same goes for email – you shouldn’t overwhelm a person with email blasts to all the addresses that they have ever used. Do not write to mailboxes for personal use just because you think they are more often checked.
No matter the celebrity level and reach of the influencer, it’s always best to use the emails and contact forms that they make publicly available. If you make your pitch well, you will be answered. And if not, then the problem is in your pitch itself, not in the communication channels.
Make it easy for influencers to accept your requests
Your email or message (even if it is via DM) should always have a clear call to action.
If you want to set up an initial call over Skype, for instance, that will help you discuss the possibility of working together with an influencer, you may include a link to your Google calendar that shows your availability. This way, they get to choose a time that is convenient for both of you.
After you have sent your initial email or DM, you need to follow up. If you use Gmail, an extension like ReplyUp will come in handy to not only schedule follow-ups but to also track viewed or clicked emails. It automates follow-ups and pauses them once a response is received. If you had used social media to reach out to an influencer.
A tool like Hootsuite will help you manage several platforms and see the responses that you have received. You can then send follow-ups. Space your follow-up messages, for instance, weekly. After you have sent a couple of follow-ups with no response, you can cross that influencer off your list.
Pay influencers with dignity
Having found a strong opinion leader with high payback, pay them as much as they are worth. This will strengthen your relationship, make them mutually beneficial and highlight your brand among competitors.
Marketing influence is now in trend. Brands compete for the attention of popular people. Take advice from Mike Philby: “Pay your influencers well. It is not enough to have an amazing product. Brands bombard opinion leaders with similar offers. You need to get in the TOP among competitors, showing that your product converts well, and worthy of paying to advertise to opinion leaders.”
Make use of tools
There are tools that make it easier and more convenient to reach out and communicate with influencers. Let’s look at a few:
Hunter.io allows you to get influencers’ contacts by simply entering their website URL. It is also a Google Chrome extension that you can add to make your work easier. You, however, need to sign up in order to view the entire email address.
AeroLeads is a robust email finder chrome extension which lets you find the professional email address of your prospects and potential clients from web-based sites like LinkedIn, CrunchBase, and Angellist, etc. With this tool, you can maintain a highly accurate email list.
Text expander helps you when communicating with potential influencers in that you need not send the exact same message. The tool is able to expand what you are typing, with no typos.
Trying to schedule a meeting or call via email or even discussions over the phone is definitely time-consuming, considering the fact that you may have a long list of influencers to reach out to. Scheduling tools like ScheduleOnce and Calend.ly come in handy.
In fact, the latter integrates with your CRM and allows the influencer to book an appropriate time for them via your website.
How do you ask influencers to share content?
By the time you are asking an influencer to share your content, you have probably reached out to them, and they have agreed to work with you. How then do you ask them to share your content?
First, be specific about the goal which what you want the influencer to help you achieve. Second, be clear about the effort that you want them to put in place in helping you achieve your goals. Your instructions should be clear and provide samples that bring to the fore what you are asking the influencer to do.
Keep them in the know
Sometimes, influencers may be involved in the content creation process, for instance where they are giving expert advice. Once you have put together the content, you need to let them know before the launch or publishing so that they will be more willing to share it once it is published. Remember to email each influencer individually (a CRM software will come in handy here). In the email, remind them how they participated and then request them to share the content.
Create more opportunities for collaboration
In the email where you ask them to share content that they had been interested in, or participated in creating, you could ask whether they would be interested in similar opportunities in the future.
Better still, mention an upcoming project that would be a good fit for them. It is always important to focus on building a relationship with influencers over the long term so that they can grow with your brand.
Make the content about them
Influencers enjoy talking about the things that they are passionate about or that they have expertise in. One way to ask influencers to share content is via making the content about them. One way to do this is by offering to interview them about a particular topic.
This way, they will have generated content with a little effort on their part. Discussing where you intend to publish it is also important, especially if it is a platform that that influencer frequently uses.
Moreover, once you are done editing the video or podcast, you can send it to them. When you ask an influencer to share this type of content, they will be more willing to as it showcases them too.
Mention them in your content
When you mention an influencer in your content, for instance, via a link to their research, or even a quote, make sure that the mention is substantial. You then need to share that piece of content with them. If they like it, you can ask them to share. If they do not, you can ask for ways in which to improve it.
Summing it all up
We have looked at how you can identify influencers to grow your marketing efforts, how you can find the right influencer, how to find the email or approach the identified influencers, and finally how to ask them to share content. There are ups and downs of influencer marketing. All you need to do now is incorporate the above-discussed strategies into your marketing efforts.
In addition to ROI and measurement, the effectiveness of influence marketing depends primarily on specific opinion leaders. How to find out which of them will bring a lot of buyers, and which – an insignificant amount?
As mentioned earlier, the intuitive sense is important here. If you are familiar with your industry, you probably know which voices deserve the most confidence and who will bring wide coverage to your campaign. The issue of trust is very subtle and semi-conscious. You just know what kind of influencer will bring your sales into Earth orbit.
But apart from intuition, there is a place for intelligence. You may have to examine many influential individuals before you find that some give much better results. Having understood this, double the investment in such opinion leaders.
To find powerful people, you need to know your audience and what it consumes. When conducting large and thorough research on user personalities, for the most part, you will define attitudes and behavioral segments. But it is equally important to ask open-ended questions, for example: “What content and sites do you read?”.
So you will not only find new sources for potential partners but also identify trends among people, seeing which ones are the most reliable and interesting for your audience.
It is not necessary to conduct rigorous and large-scale research – sometimes a fairly quick client survey. In any case, it is necessary for the study of CRO. In addition, you can get quality data by simply polling customers.
Find out which celebrities and blogs are popular with your audience. Who your customers trust. After learning this, work with them outside the influence of marketing automation platforms.