To be successful, marketing campaigns need to follow a clear and measurable process. Establish your goals, form a hypothesis, run tests, measure your outcomes, and scale your results. It’s this simple idea that allows marketers to grow their email lists, improve conversion rates on lead generation forms, and improve targeting on social advertising channels like Facebook. Not to mention, you’ll develop a scalable, repeatable process along the way.
But what should this process look like for influencer marketing, given that you’re facing completely different types of challenges than you would from other campaigns? For one, you’re relying on relationships to fuel growth, which means that performance is often out of your hands. Not to mention, you can’t control whether or how an influencer will respond to your content—you can’t just rev your marketing engines like you would for a Facebook or Google campaign.
Despite these challenges, it’s still important to build a scalable, repeatable process that you can optimize and build upon over time. Don’t build it the hard way by starting from scratch. Here’s a battle-tested methodology to try instead.
Step 1: Define your overarching campaign goals
Why run an influencer campaign in the first place? The answer to this question will inform every aspect of your strategy from choosing the right partners to building out your promotional processes. There are a few types of marketing goals that an influencer program can help you build:
- The promotion of a new product
- Brand development and awareness-building
- Access to an extended network of potential customers
- Audience education
For instance, you may be looking to publish a blog series that helps your target audiences solve pain points in their businesses. This blog post from Startups.co, a community that provides tools to help early-stage entrepreneurs grow their companies, is a great example. The post is designed to encourage founders to take the ‘road less traveled,’ featuring concrete examples from someone who has been there. It is designed to be helpful—not promotional or salesy in any way—to solve a pain point. In return for telling this story, Startups.co achieves the goal of being a credible expert in the space and growing its community.
Step 2: Find influencers who can help execute your goals
One of the toughest parts of influencer marketing is choosing influencers. Should you work with brands or individual people? Should you find influencers based on their network sizes? Should you tap into your network of strategic partners? As questions yield more questions, it can be tough to feel confident that you’re making the right decision.
Avoid analysis paralysis by revisiting your goals. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What types of influencers have likely experienced the same pain points as your customer base?
- Which of these individuals align with your organization’s values?
- What types of people can help you achieve your company’s marketing goals?
Influencers come from all walks of life. They could be retail store associates who speak to a high volume of customers on a regular basis, or they could be prominent media figures with an extensive online following. Whether you’re building an educational outreach program or writing a series of blog post, you’ll want to consider the type of influence that can help you achieve your marketing goals.
Consider the Startups.co blog post again. As an experienced entrepreneur, DHH has been in the shoes of many early stage founders. He has solved many of the same problems and can speak to the topic of building a company “on his terms.” Bonus points: as a writer himself, he’s built a following that would potentially be interested in the Startups brand.
Step 3: Give your influencers some guidance
Here’s where the relationship-building dimensions of influencer marketing come to fruition. Once you write your blog post or launch a promotional campaign, what comes next? Don’t just expect your influencers to start tweeting or sending email recaps to their mailing lists. Provide concrete suggestions with steps that they can take to help:
- Provide them with email copy and status update templates
- Give instructions for how they can effectively share content
- Offer tips around timing, language, etc.
- If relevant, equip them with educational resources, promo codes, or handouts to share offline
Remember that influencers aren’t influencer marketers. They’re educators, business business leaders, and community pillars. And most of all, they’re time-strapped. If you want them to do something, be explicit.
Step 4: Measure and optimize
Following the steps above, you’ll have developed a scalable, repeatable process for your influencer marketing. Even better, you’ll be able to make improvements over time.
After each influencer campaign, take a step back to determine what did and didn’t go well. Debrief with your team. Identify steps that you can take to course-correct your process with your next effort. Dig through your metrics to uncover trends that you may not have noticed before. Some examples of metrics to track? Stick to the basics that align with your other marketing programs:
- Web traffic
- Social shares
- Email list sign-ups
- Transactional conversion rates
The key is not to optimize these numbers but to understand how they complement one another. Once you do gain an understanding of this picture, you’ll be ready to scale.
Influencer marketing is tough because there are so many moving parts to consider. The key to finding focus is to know your goals, know your influencers’ values, and know how to execute. Start small, and keep initiatives simple. Test a few different strategies. Scale up when you see a pattern.