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Influencer Marketing 101

How to Explain the Value of Influencer Marketing to Your Exec Team

Explain the value of influencer marketing to your executive team with these tips.
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Influencer Marketing 101

How to Explain the Value of Influencer Marketing to Your Exec Team

Struggling to gain support from stakeholders for your influencer marketing campaigns? Nail that next meeting with these tips.

Influencer marketing is no longer a buzzword reserved for indie digital brands; it’s a fully-fledged global media industry worth $3.69 billion in the US alone

In turn, 92% of marketers said they would allocate budget towards influencer marketing in 2021. Yet, there are many challenges marketers face when proposing increased participation in the influencer marketing space.  

In my decade of running influencer programs at companies of varying sizes and agencies, I’ve experienced every challenge and push back imaginable! I’ve found the most success in garnering support from stakeholders by arming myself with the right data and employing empathy for their challenges. Below are four questions I’ve encountered (and that you will likely get) when trying to gain support for influencer marketing, and how to answer them.

We’ve attempted to work with influencers in the past with little or no success, why should we invest more? 

If you have access to historical campaign data, do a quick audit to get a feel for whether the approach was effective. 

  • Did you have the right data to vet each influencer’s audience to ensure you were targeting the intended people?
  • Did the content go live during the audience’s most active time?
  • Did the content feel engaging, native to the creator’s channel, and show the product clearly?
  • Was the call to action simple and clear?
  • Was there a timely incentive to convert or engage there and then?
  • Were your own channels set up for successful conversions?

If the answer to all of the above is yes, then there may be external factors affecting the effectiveness of your campaigns (i.e. the considerability of your product or competitor activity). If the answer to any of these troubleshooting questions is no, then this is a great opportunity for you to fine-tune your campaign and ensure a greater success rate in the future.

Coming to the table with concrete reasons why something didn't work and a plan of action for the future will better your chances of getting stakeholders to reinvest.

Wait, isn’t influencer marketing all about winning organic coverage? Why do we need a budget?

The concept of influencer marketing being a game of “gifting” and favours is outdated. We, as influencer marketing experts know this, but our stakeholders may not. Here are three points I like to make when I’m met with this question:

  1. Audiences know when something isn’t truly organic. Legally, brands and creators must declare any level of partnership as advertorial even if no money has changed hands (this includes gifting!). For localised guidance on these laws check out your regs boards! (US, UK, Fr)
  2. Gifting is not a guarantee of coverage. Protect yourself by having a signed contract in place with all partner creators. Remember, a creator has no obligation to post about your brand without this
  3. Gifting might actually cost more. The cost behind “gifting” products can stack up over time. Not to mention the risk of product waste that can occur from sending out 100s of mailers every month to influencers who may, or may not be interested. 

What’s key here is to teach your stakeholders to think of influencer marketing as just another marketing channel. They need to know that if they want to reap the rewards they’ll need to invest just as they would with any other channel. 

Doesn’t #ad look inauthentic? Won’t it turn customers away from our brand?

This is a common misconception that you may come up against, and is a good moment to educate your stakeholders. Let them know that authenticity is less about whether money is exchanged, and more about the details of the partnership. It's easier to stay authentic when you create a well-thought-out partnership with an influencer who is genuinely aligned with your brand values and loves your products

One data point that I like to share to back this argument up: LaterxFohr found that ad content on accounts with fewer than 100K followers had equal average engagement rates on organic and paid content. For accounts with 1M+ followers, ad content outperformed organic content by +75%.

Last, it’s important to make the point that a one-and-done paid social post is often seen as less authentic than longstanding partnerships, or partnerships that are creative and interesting. 

This is a perfect moment to lead back to the conversation of investment. The ability to source the right influencers, build deep and creative relationships, and pay partners appropriately all hinges on whether your team has enough monetary (and technological) resources. Let your stakeholders know that this is why you need budget!

Which KPIs will influencers actually contribute to?

You are likely getting this question because influencer marketing has traditionally been seen as an upper- to mid-funnel channel where influencers build awareness and drive proximity for your brand. However, with the increase in ecommerce capabilities on social media platforms, influencers are now affecting every stage of the marketing funnel. 

What your stakeholders want is to see how these programs will impact the things they care about. Show them how you plan to align your influencer programs to their business objectives, and provide a clear way to measure success.

Here are some benefits of working with influencers that your stakeholders may not be considering:

  • Brand trust: influencers are key opinion leaders in their field. Their friends, family and followers look to them for recommendations, and journalists and other creators respect their opinion. If they speak highly of your brand and products, then this spreads like a wave throughout your target communities.
  • Brand image: by assimilating your brand with creators who share your goal aesthetic and aspiration, you’ll find audiences connect with this far easier (and more authentically) than when you try and push a particular image through your own channels. 
  • Retention/ return rate: a long term partnership with the right creator weaves your products seamlessly (and repeatedly) throughout their channels and content. The more a follower sees your brand positioned with their favourite creators, the more likely they are to be recruited into being a lifelong customer, too!

The word “authenticity” is potentially overused in this industry; however, this is because it’s the greatest value an influencer can bring which cannot be replicated by any other marketing or media channel. The relationship between an influencer and their audience is unparalleled, and harnessing this with honest relationships and watertight contracts will grow your brand’s reputation, awareness and proximity in a way that your own content never could. 

See how Beekman 1802 utilized their brand values and authenticity to activate 89 influencers when only 14 were contracted.

Additionally, you can measure influencer marketing success through quantitative metrics (i.e reach/impressions, engagements and clickthroughs) as well as qualitative measures such as: 

  • Quality of content: confirms that you are working with a talented, professional creative who makes light work of making your product look outstanding.
  • Repurpose-ability of the content: a huge ROI, allowing you to save thousands in other areas of the business where assets are used. 
  • Relevance and resonance in the audience comments: one of the most important measures, a direct soundboard from the followers letting you know how much they connected with the content and campaign messaging.

Pro tip: Consider adding competitive benchmarking to your list. It looks at how you’re performing compared to your competitors, but can offer more specific insights into which strategies are driving results for your brand and your competition. Traackr’s Beauty Brand Leaderboard provides insights into how your brand performs against competitors in influencer content. 

Building a business case

To build a business case that will unlock budget, resources, and/or support from internal stakeholders, it’s important to consider these points:

  • Tailor your approach: understand the challenges of the person you’re pitching to and tailor your approach to meet their needs. Your director may be mostly concerned with ROI and ensuring their P&L is healthy, whereas your CMO may be prioritising brand image and messaging. 
  • Be prepared: have a clear plan in place for how you wish to use this additional support and prepare answers for anticipated questions.
  • Connect to the larger organization: find ways to connect your work to wider teams and strategies. For example, align your influencer campaigns with key event dates for your stores, discuss creator feedback with your product development department, or supply your newsletter team with usage rights to quality influencer content. All successful marketing campaigns are 360, including influencer marketing.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling to explain the value of influencer marketing to internal stakeholders - unfamiliar technologies and avenues can seem risky to senior team members. By using statistics and case studies to alleviate any uncertainty around influencer marketing you’ll gain more opportunities to test and learn what works well for your brand.

Want more? I offer in-depth training videos on topics like this one, including navigating the industry regulations and crafting watertight contracts, on my website happycat.agency/courses

This post is written by guest author, Geo West, Founder of HAPPY CAT Influencer Marketing Consultancy.

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