Ready to learn how to build an influencer marketing strategy? We’re going to share insights from online course creators who have used influencer marketing, as well as industry experts who create these strategies for others.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Setting your goals
- Defining your audience
- Finding the right influencers
- Engaging and reaching out to influencers
- Structuring your activities and tactics to implement
- Measuring success
Lastly, we’ll look at some mistakes to avoid when building your strategy. Let’s get to it!
1. Set Clear Goals For Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
The first step in building an influencer marketing strategy is to set clear goals. Any activities you plan should be connected to your overall business and marketing objectives. Not only will this help you measure the success of your efforts, but it will also help facilitate a smooth process for collaborating with influencers down the road.
In general, there are three types of goals you can target using an influencer marketing strategy. Here’s how to think about what metrics to track in each:
1. Increase brand awareness and trust: In this bucket, you’ll want to monitor engagement metrics like social shares, hashtags mentions, likes, and comments.
2. Increase traffic from a new target market: Keep an eye on page views, acquisition channels, and customer demographics from your in opt-in forms.
3. Generate leads and acquire more customers: You can track this through conversions and sales. Getting perfect attribution here can be a challenge, but it can be done using tools such as custom UTM links or specific landing pages tied to each influencer.
2. Define Your Target Audience (Your Ideal Customers)
Finding the right influencer to collaborate with starts with understanding your ideal customers’ needs and aspirations. Once you determine who the biggest source of influence for your target audience is, it will be much easier to identify the influencers to go after.
Here are three questions to help you clarify what is currently influencing your audience’s purchase decisions:
- Who does your customer turn to, to get questions answered? This may include family, friends, colleagues, industry peers or competitors in your space.
- Where do your customers go to discover and evaluate purchase options? Aim to identify the watering holes your customers are heading to for answers. This could be key industry conferences or events, digital forums, review sites, and Google search.
- Who do your customers view as thought leaders in your category, providing authoritative information for decision-making? Think about who are the heavy hitters in your category with the most reach and engagement – this can be both online and off.
The goal with this exercise is to end up with a list of people and places that act as hubs for the kinds of conversations that are impacting how your target customer discovers and evaluates options.
With this work done, you’ll have valuable insight on who it makes sense to go after, and the main traffic sources to consider. The next step is knowing where to find your influencers.
3. Identify The Right Influencers To Collaborate With
First of all, you’ll want to look for influencers who share alignment in your brand values and messaging. Your strategy will not succeed in the long run if you only look for a quick way to get someone else to share your message through a one-time tweet or post. Your success with influencer marketing depends on how well you are able to align the interests of your target customer with the interests of the influencer.
Your success with influencer marketing depends on how well you are able to align the interests of your target customer with the interests of the influencer. #influencermarketingCLICK TO TWEET
So what do you look for, when evaluating possible influencer partners?
Here are some questions to ask:
- Does this person have an audience with similar needs and pain points to your own?
- Do they have the same interests and aspirations as those you’re looking to target?
- How engaged are they with their community?
- Are they content creators, and is their content ranking?
- What topics do they share and talk about the most?
- What questions does their audience ask the most?
Remember, it’s about quality over quantity. Having a thousand highly engaged followers is better than a million unengaged followers. When looking to pinpoint influencers, you want to partner with those who have an engaged audience. Look for metrics like conversion rates, email opens, likes, comments, and generally get a sense how active their community is in the groups they lead.
As you begin to identify influencers and evaluate their footprint in relation to your business goals, make sure to keep track of your insights in one central place. This will help you flag both short term and long term opportunities, and ensure you’re being systematic in your analysis.
There are many influencer tracking platforms available, but if you don’t have the budget for one, download our free outreach tracking template to get suggested evaluation criteria and a framework to keep track of your research.
Reaching out to influencers for lasting value is an art, and takes time. Thankfully, there is a bit of a formula for how to approach it.
Put yourself in your target influencer’s shoes for a minute. Let’s say you’ve just received two pitches. Which one would you be more likely to respond to?
- A stranger asking you to share a link on social media to an article they wrote, as they feel it would bring value to your audience.
- An individual who’s been participating in your online Facebook Group has demonstrated expertise and generosity, and has proposed a collaboration providing mutual value for your audiences.
As influencers receive an increasing number of requests to collaborate, what can you do to set yourself apart?
To help you stand out from the sea of people that try to get the attention of an influencer on a regular basis, follow this golden rule: never start the relationship by asking for something.
Your goal should be to befriend the individual, not pitch to them. Yes this takes time, and yes it may not guarantee the outcome you want (at least not right away), but it’s the only way to build authentic relationships that last.
“The first thing you need to do is understand how you can serve their audience. Make sure you show up looking to bring value first without expecting anything in return – you have to trust that approach will bring returns.”
5. Identify a Win-Win Collaboration With The Influencer
There is no one-size-fits-all way to collaborate with an influencer. You’ll want to shape your collaboration to suit your unique business goals, target audience, and how your own goals map to the influencer’s goals.
To get you thinking, here are a few examples of ways you can work with an influencer, and how they could help you achieve specific marketing goals.
1. Brand mentions: Work with an influencer to include brand mentions on their platforms with the highest engagement. Having your online course or brand mentioned on their Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook in tandem with your own promotion can elevate the perceived value of your offering.
2. Branded blog posts: The great thing about guest blogging on someone’s site is that it is a form of evergreen content. A blog swap on another site with high domain authority is a great tactic to go after the goal of boosting your inbound traffic.
3. Webinars: Webinars are a great tool to co-create content and share to your mutual audiences. Less work than a multi-day event, joint venture webinars are also great candidates for evergreen content as you can automate and share across multiple platforms for lead generation over time.
4. Coupons or discounts: Offering a special deal to their audience is a great way to provide tangible value for them, and drive leads for you. For example, everyone who enrolls in your course using a code exclusive to the influencer network you could track back to that specific campaign.
5. Events: Include the influencer in your next speaker line-up – whether a digital or in-person event. By providing them with an opportunity to be profiled as an expert, your brand will be elevated in the process.
6. Measure Your Results
Ultimately, the success of your influencer marketing strategy depends on how well you are able to track your activities back to your business objectives.
Check on the goals you set in the first step. You’ll want to make sure your campaigns are set up in a way that enables you to monitor the metrics associated with each goal you have. Aim to measure the impact each influencer has on each goal, so you can validate the assumptions you made in putting the strategy together.