A 2019 survey by The Influencer Marketing Hub reported that the businesses questioned were making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Another survey by Twitter demonstrated that 49% of respondents relied on product recommendations by influencers for their purchases.
For every success story, there is a business that has failed to generate any mention-worthy results.
When an influencer campaign fails, the problem usually lies with bad preparation on the brand's part. Whether it's because of a lack of resources or knowledge, some businesses skip a few crucial steps that, if taken, would have helped them turn their campaign into a success.
To make sure you don't make the same mistake, we've listed those steps for you below.
1. Define your goal
Every solid marketing campaign should have one or more clear goals. An influencer campaign isn't any different.
The results you want to get will highly determine which kind of influencer you'll work with. If you're looking to build website authority and generate traffic to your site over a long period of time, you'll want to work with a blogger with strong SEO skills and a site that preferably has a higher DR than yours.
If, on the other hand, you're looking to gain a lot of brand awareness fast, you might want to work with a group of social media influencers whose audiences are highly engaged.
Professional influencers tend to have a variety of skills so it is possible to determine more than one goal for a campaign and still only work with one influencer. An excellent videographer might be able to generate clicks to your website via their Youtube channel, create brand awareness using Instagram stories, and produce a promotional video for your own use all during the same campaign.
Aside from deciding what kind of results you want to get from your influencer marketing campaign (traffic, brand awareness, app downloads, …) you also need to decide who you want to get those results from – and by that, I don't mean the influencers you're working with.
If you're a luxury hotel brand, you'll want to target travelers with a certain disposable income. If you sell toy subscription boxes for kids aged 3-12, you'll want to target parents.
The “who” of your goal is just as important as the “what”.
2. Decide how you'll track that goal
You have no idea how many brands don't do this properly. While it's easy to track website traffic back to the link a blogger placed for you on their website or to tally up the number of impressions an influencer got on the Facebook posts they published about you, other things require a bit of upfront work if you want to track them properly.
If you're running a campaign with social media influencers, for example, the clicks they generate to your site will be mixed into the same general number Google Analytics shows you for traffic coming from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. If you want to know specifically which influencer has sent you traffic from what social media channel, you'll have to create links with individual tracking parameters for each influencer and every one of the channels they'll be promoting you on.
If you don't, you might see an uptick in traffic from, let's say, Facebook, but you won't know who sent it.
Of course, there are a lot of statistics you can get from the influencers you've worked with as well. But even when you include in the contract that each influencer should deliver a report once the campaign has finished, you'll still need to decide upfront which statistics need to be in that report.
After all, the influencer needs to know what they'll have to track before they get to work so they do can have the right systems in place. Even if that just means screenshotting the engagement for every Instagram story before it disappears 24 hours later.
3. Set a budget
In terms of rates, influencer marketing is still a bit like the Wild West. There aren't any standard rates across various industries and even within a specific industry, like fashion or travel, what two seemingly similar influencers charge can vary widely.
So how do you deal with this as a brand?
You set a budget and break down what or who you want to get for that budget.
This isn't easy. If you've never worked with an influencer before, it's hard to know what kind of results they'll get you even when they've worked with similar brands in the past.
You could hire one top influencer or five smaller ones for the same price. How do you make that choice? By taking your goal and creating an influencer persona based on that goal.
4. Create an influencer persona
The surefire way to get awful results from an influencer marketing campaign is by completely ignoring that there needs to be a match between the influencer and your brand for the campaign to work.
To go back to our earlier example: if a luxury hotel decides to work with a budget backpacker blogger solely because that blogger has a massive social media following, they won't get any real results from their campaign and all of their money will have gone to waste.
Sure, that budget blogger might send them a whole bunch of traffic but it would most likely be from other budget travelers who are curious about what it would look like to stay at a luxury hotel. These people wouldn't actually book a room.
So when you set your goal, also ask yourself what kind of influencer it would take to help you achieve that goal. What kind of content would they need to create? What kind of audience do they need to have?
Oftentimes, the more niche your own brand is, the more success you'll have working with smaller, niche influencers.
5. Learn what to look for
You've decided on a goal for your influencer marketing campaign. You know what kind of influencer could help you reach that goal and what you want to spend on them. There is just one more thing you need to do before you start your outreach campaign.
Learn how to distinguish real influence from fake.
Exactly how to do that could be the topic of a whole other article but before you start looking for influencers to work with, and especially if this is the first influencer campaign you're doing or if you haven't had success with influencer campaigns in the past, you need to know how to figure out whether an influencer actually influences.
Read up on things like engagement pods, buying followers, and automatic commenting. Learn how to do a traffic analysis of an influencer's website. Follow some influencer marketing blogs to keep up with the latest trends – good or bad.
It's easy to skip over this part because it's the one that takes the most time. You can't just glance at an influencer's channels, look at their numbers, and make a decision. You need to look at what's behind the numbers to find out who is the best fit for your brand.
Yes, that is a lot of work, but it's guaranteed to bring you the best results. And isn't that what you're after?
Sofie Couwenbergh is the copywriter and content strategist behind Let Me Write That Down for You. She also has more than eight years of experience in influencer marketing as the founder of the travel blog Wonderful Wanderings. Fueled by tea, there's nothing she loves more than putting into words what deserves to be heard.