Building a network of influencers to help promote your products and promotions is an extremely effective way to tap into a wider audience than you could ever reach alone.
At no time is this made clearer than during the holiday shopping season, when online influencers are an increasingly integral piece of the marketing puzzle.
With Black Friday around the corner, now is the time to really start ramping up your influencer network. To some, this will sound like a daunting task. Don’t worry! We’re here to give you the low-down on what this marketing strategy is all about and ways to help you manage it.
Before we get into it, let’s break down what influencer marketing actually is. At the end of the day, this is a form of marketing that allows brands to leverage the influence of an individual in order to share the brand’s message to their audience.
Basically, it focuses on influential people that have an impact on your target market as a whole. Anyone that has a genuine impact on a dedicated audience could be considered an influencer.
A successful influencer marketing campaign can be used to:
- Increase conversions
- Boost brand awareness
- Launch a product / line
- Improve SEO
Over the past few years, some of the most successful online companies have leveraged influencer marketing beautifully. Companies such as MVMT Watches and Pura Vida Bracelets have used this strategy to reach millions of potential customers through targeted and strategic influencer programs.
Building a network of influencers can require quite a bit of upfront effort to find the right fit for your brand.
Over time the goal is that your brand becomes well-known by your target audience and for up-and-coming influencers to be reaching out to YOU about become an ambassador.
Setting up your Influencer marketing campaign
Here’s how to get started.
Step 1 - Identifying possible influencers
The first step to running a successful program is obvious. You need to figure out who the potential influencers are in your space.
Influencers are quite easily recognized by their hundreds, thousands, or even millions of followers. Finding these people is fairly straightforward and a good place to start is Instagram.
Let’s assume you have a product that would fit well in the outdoors / camping space.
Start by trying a search term relevant to your niche. While focusing on the People and Tags options, make a list of accounts you would like to interact with.
Make sure that your product is a suitable fit for their brand, and that you can relate with their theme and overall message.
If these influencers choose to work with you, it’s important that your product is a natural fit in order for the endorsement to feel authentic to their followers.
Something to keep in mind is that as a new business, it can be difficult to attract the accounts that have millions of followers, like when Kylie Jenner posts about SugarBearHair.
Instead, focus on getting 4 or 5 larger accounts on board and then bring your focus back on to getting others in the 5k-30k mark.
These smaller accounts likely receive less communication from brands and are much more likely to see your message in their inbox.
Tip: Identify influencers with smaller accounts that are quickly growing. If you can create a mutually beneficial relationship early on it will go a long way to benefitting your brand as they continue to grow and become more and more popular in a niche you are looking to attract customers from.
Step 2 - Communicating with Influencers
A quick piece of advice when reaching out to influencers: Don’t let your first interaction with them become a sales pitch. You should first comment on a few of their latest posts and let them know how much you enjoy their account. Then you can begin to inquire about the possibility of working together.
The lighter and less sales-like you can make the initial contact, the more likely you are to get a genuine response from the account owner. Refrain from talking about compensation or offering them anything in the first message. Only after you have an open line of communication with them should you approach them on that subject.
Tip: While it’s the influencers audience that you’re ultimately trying to connect with, influencer marketing requires you to MARKET to INFLUENCERS. Keep that in mind when approaching them about your brand.
Step 3 - Compensation
Now that you have some interest from influencers, it’s time to work out some of the finer details. The program should be mutually beneficial for both you and the influencer. At the end of the day, you are tapping into the audience that they have worked tirelessly to build.
Different influencers will be motivated in different ways.
When you’re working with smaller accounts, they may be motivated by free product or store credit in return for a few posts on their Instagram.
As you begin to work with larger accounts with greater reach, they will likely start to request product to review as well as some upfront payment for putting it in front of their audience. Before you go down this road, you’ll want to be very confident that their audience is full of potential customers for your brand.
The most transparent agreement you can make would be to offer a commission-based reward for sales they bring to your store. The ROI for this performance-based approach is much easier for store owners to measure.
Step 4 - Managing your influencer program
As your network starts to grow, managing it can become a bit of a logistical nightmare, especially as you begin to run specialized promotion with each influencer. This is where tools like Kickbooster can help.
In an earlier post, we told you all about how Kickbooster helps merchants run and manage their affiliate, referral, and influencer programs all in one integrated platform. While you focus on building relationships with brand ambassadors (or as we like to call them, “Boosters”), the app takes care of the tracking, validating, reporting, and commission management.
All YOU need to do is invite your influencers to register themselves to your program. Kickbooster allows you to design a Booster opt-in page to match your brand:
The app will automatically generate their unique tracking link which can be used when promoting your brand to their audience.
Providing your influencer with a tracking link is one thing, but allowing them to monitor the link themselves is a game changer.
Each influencer will have access to their very own dashboard, providing transparency and ease-of-mind when participating in your program.
Providing a dashboard to your influencers can eliminate a lot of the back and forth that is often experienced when working without a referral management tool. Being able to show them results in real time can also be very motivating for them to continue sharing.
Kickbooster will track the clicks, referred sales, and commission generated for each influencer. On top of that, the app will make sure your influencers get paid!
As you can see, by utilizing simple software to manage your influencers, it allows more time for you to focus on building a relationship, as well as keeping them informed of new offerings, products, and promotions.
Step 5 - Partnering with Influencers
Now that you’ve started to grow your influencer network, it’s important to see these people as part of your company and continuation of your brand. By closely listening to and engaging with this group of people, it will help you make decisions moving forward.
The more involved and up-to-date influencers are about the direction of your company and the products being created, the more likely they are to be continually engaging and wanting to promote your brand to their growing network of supports.
You need to remember that you are building relationships with these people and that’s not something you can do overnight. Any effort you put in upfront will pay dividends down the road.
Step 6 - Always be aware of new trends and possible new influencers
Something you should know upfront is that this type of program is not a “Set it and Forget It” style of marketing. You should always be watching for trends, engaging with new influencers, and delivering your message to new potential customers across a wide variety of platforms.
The best executed programs feel genuine and authentic and the only way to accomplish that as a business is to actually be genuine and authentic. It’s important that you and your influencers are passionate about the message you’re wanting to pass over to your customers. If you don’t believe in the message yourself, potential customers will immediately be able to tell that you aren’t “practicing what you preach.”
This part of running your business should be fun! So take your time and understand it and use all the tools are your disposal to make things easier.
Get your influencer marketing campaign off the ground before Black Friday
If you've made it this far, then you're just a few clicks away from setting up your referral marketing program! Just click here to start set up your influencer program on Kickbooster.
If you get stuck along the way, our Merchant Success team would be happy to answer any questions you have through our live-chat.
Have you ever leveraged an influencer program during the holiday season? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!