You’ve created the brief, sent out the perfect influencer outreach email, and now your potential influencer partner is asking how much budget you have for your campaign.
Your palms start to sweat. Do you lay out all of your cards on the table or ask for their rates? How do you make sure you're getting a return on investment and also paying the influencer fairly?
Whether we like it or not, a big part of developing an efficient influencer marketing strategy relies on negotiating with influencers. Just like in the corporate world, it’s often inadvisable to take the first offer or proposal. This article will guide you through how to negotiate with influencers that leave both parties happy.
It’s risky to go into a conversation with a budget that is not backed by data. A few data points that you can quickly grab from any social platform include
If you need a jumping-off point, the standard Instagram influencer rate (according to Influencer Marketing Hub) is as follows:
However, this type of data can be limiting and may not give you a full understanding of the influencer’s potential impact!
Only relying on bias or vanity metrics (like follower count) can lead you to over or undervalue an influencer. If you have an influencer marketing platform, utilize past influencer performance data to answer these questions:
This data allows you to establish goals and baselines on spend efficiency metrics like cost per impression (CPI), cost per engagement (CPE), and cost per view (CPV).
Knowing how much an influencer is going to cost per impression, engagement or video view gives you the ability to allocate the appropriate budget and negotiate proper compensation.
Pro Tip: Traackr provides a budget calculator based on a combination of followers, engagement, past performance, and more to recommend compensation for sponsored and organic content. Having this type of tool can help save you time (and many headaches)!
Along with past performance data, it’s equally as important to look at an influencer’s audience data. You want to ensure that you are partnering with an influencer that has the highest likelihood of reaching your target audience. A few key data points* to look at include:
This type of audience data is key when you are thinking through your budget and negotiation strategies. If only half of an influencer’s followers hit your target demographic, should you try to negotiate a lower fee? Or should you look for a different influencer to partner with, even if they have a slightly higher fee?
Bonus tip: You’ll also want to do more of a qualitative search to see if your influencer will support your brand’s image. Do they share the same values as your brand? Does their previous content have positive feedback from their audience (check the comments!)? You want to see that the creator is fostering a community with their audience and will respect your brand when promoting your product or service.
*Disclaimer: Be aware of the possibility of data biases. For example, BIPOC influencers by and large do not have the same amount of historical performance data as their white counterparts. Use these 3 methods to help combat data biases:
Now that you have concrete data backing up your budget, it’s time to work on the conversation you are going to have with your partner. Here are a few negotiation best practices to add to your influencer marketing strategy.
“Make sure there’s a back-and-forth conversation when negotiating. It’s important for the creator to be paid fairly while we are also getting the return on investment.” - Sarah Shaker, Head of Brand Engagement for Maybelline New York, L’Oreal
A big mistake brands can make when going into these conversations is acting like it’s a simple transaction. Instead, it’s best practice to approach an influencer as if they are already a partner.
Acknowledge that they are a good fit because you’ve done your research to prove it. Use language in your communication that focuses on the authenticity, creativity, and mutual benefit of the campaign. Sharing examples of the content you like from them or how effectively they are managing their community are good details to include to show you care about the partnership.
“If you are wanting to feature influencer content in your ads, make sure you work those usage rights into your initial influencer contract! There’s nothing worse than having to renegotiate usage after your campaign has already launched.” — Nick Ghilardi, senior influencer marketing manager at Artisan Council
Be specific and strategic when outlining the type of content you want and the usage rights to that content.
In the case that you have multiple content deliverables, be clear about what piece of content you plan to use. When you are clear about your intentions, the influencers can set their usage right fees accordingly, and you won’t get in trouble for using a piece of content you weren’t explicitly given rights to.
A few other hidden costs to consider,
If you are really excited to partner with an influencer for a campaign and they come back with a number that is too high for your campaign’s budget, it’s time to start thinking creatively.
There’s no harm in asking, “if you were to partner together on more deliverables (versus just a one-off post) could you maybe get a better/discounted rate?”
Take the time to brainstorm additional value-adds:
Get creative and be open to asking the creator what's important and valuable to them in a partnership.
Reminder: Be mindful of the creator’s time, skill, and community you are wanting to tap into. As influencer agent, Alice Hampton, says “creators are the talent, director, producer, and editor while also providing brands with a channel that has a dedicated, loyal following.”
Just like in life, you shouldn’t spend beyond your means. The same goes for influencer marketing. If timing, budget, or something else threw a wrench in your plan, it doesn’t mean it will never work out.
Do make sure to end on a positive and appreciative note by letting the influencer know you really admire their content and understand the value. You can always ask if they would still be open to simply receiving a gifted product, and if an opportunity arises in the future, you will reach out.
Stay in their good graces because you never know when a product you gift them could get you an earned mention or maybe you'll find some additional dollars to allocate to them for a future partnership!