From start to finish, get the essentials for enterprise-grade influencer marketing. Discover the case for authentic influence and learn how to establish and execute a successful influencer marketing program. After reading this new guide, you’ll walk away with the tools to build your influencer network, engage your influencers effectively, and measure ROI. With hands-on worksheets and real examples from the field, you’ll be set to scale for the long haul.
Influencer marketing has earned a trusted place in the marketing strategies of brands big and small. Many marketers are interested in building an influencer marketing program, but aren’t sure where to start.
This guide is a roadmap for creating a performance-driven influencer marketing program that will help your team move the needle on strategic metrics.
Section 1 will cover the groundwork for influencer marketing:
Section 2 will cover influencer marketing strategies:
Part 3: Prepare to Grow the Program
A person or group of people who possess greater than average advantage potential to influence due to attributions such as frequency of communication, personal persuasiveness or size of and centrality to a social network.
Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, researching, engaging, supporting and activating the people who influence your customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. The practice aligns marketing, PR, sales, and product around a common strategy.
In the words of Rachel Miller, “Instead of marketing to a large group of potential customers you collaborate with influencers who already have trust and rapport with your desired audience to help tell your story.”
Performance-driven influencer marketing refers to an influencer marketing program that is led by data and goals. The influencer marketing team is constantly making decisions based on the data they are seeing, combined with their expertise in the brand.
Influencer loyalty is a measure of how many times an influencer mentions your brand in a given time period.
Always-on influencer marketing refers to the process of a brand continuously engaging with their influencers to build long-term relationships. Rather than only engaging influencers for a campaign or event, this method is intended to increase engagement with influencers by consistently partnering on content together.
Spend efficiency metrics help you identify which influencers and strategies can act as levers for improving your return-on-investment (ROI).
Spend efficiency metric examples: Cost per post (CPP), Cost per (video) view (CPV), Cost per engagement (CPE), Cost per click (CPC)
Influencer marketing is now a fully-fledged industry worth $3.69 billion in the US alone, with 92% of marketers saying that they will be allocating budget towards influencer marketing in 2021.
This increase in investment is the result of mounting data around the efficacy of influencer marketing:
Source: Traackr’s 2022 Influencer Marketing Impact Report
That being said, getting support and budget for any new program can be challenging. To build a business case that will unlock budget, resources, and/or support from internal stakeholders, it’s important to consider these points:
Before we get into how to build your program, it’s important for you to know what you’re taking on. One of the most exciting and challenging parts of influencer marketing is how cross-functional the discipline is. Influencer marketers need to work with teams across your organization, from product, to PR, to legal. They also need to be adept at a diverse range of tasks like:
Looking to advance your career in influencer marketing? Browse through 100+ open positions on Traackr’s Influencer Marketing Job Board!
This section explains the four steps required to set up a performance-driven influencer marketing program. We’ll cover how to:
Building an influencer marketing program starts with understanding your business goals.
Especially when a program is new, you need to establish early indicators for success. Yes, increased sales are ultimately what we all want, but along the way, how can we tell if our efforts are moving the needle?
Here are some metrics to help you measure success throughout your funnel:
Think about your business objectives and how influencer marketing can make an impact at every stage of the buying journey. How can we grow our audience? How can we get our audience talking about our brand? How can we impact sales?
Example: By using a range of influencers for different stages of the marketing funnel, Beekman 1802 was able to become one of the highest performing skincare brands on TikTok and sell out two product lines in Ulta.
There are many types of creators your brand can partner with. Finding the right influencer is key to the success of your campaigns and programs.
As you’re getting started, avoid the temptation to focus on people with mass followings. Instead, here are 5 areas to consider when choosing an influencer.
Pro Tip: Partnering with influencers who are organically mentioning your brand can be the start of a very successful relationship. This shows that the creator is excited about your products already, meaning their audience probably feels the same way. This can also open doors to a more favorable partnership filled with not just paid content, but also extra, organic posts for your brand.
BFGoodrich, a Michelin brand, is well known in motorsport, but wanted to broaden its brand awareness by reaching a younger and bolder audience. The ability to reach audiences outside of a specific industry is something that many brands struggle with. Michelin’s marketing team knew social media was key, and set out to commission creative partnerships with influencers.
They analyzed social media profiles using Traackr to select and validate their choice partners based on:
VIP: 5M+ followers
Mega: 1M+ followers
Macro: 500K+ followers
Mid: 50K+ followers
Micro: 10K+ followers
Nano: 1K+ followers
Influencer tiers are based on a creator’s total follower count. These tiers should not be used in terms of “more valuable or less valuable”. Instead we would encourage you to use these follower counts in association with your goals and how you want to interact with that creator.
You will typically pay more for a sponsorship with a VIP or Mega influencer, but if your goal is to get in front of as many people in your target audience as possible, this could be very valuable.
On the other hand nano, macro, and mid-tier influencers have been proving their salt as efficient partners. In fact, recent data shows that these smaller influencers have been posting more sponsored content, they are earning high engagement rates and video views (source: pg. 21 Influencer Marketing Impact Report).
Choosing who is best to work with comes down to your goals and budget. If you are just getting started and have a sizable budget, it might be smart to pick a few influencers from each tier who have high potential and work with them for a few months. After your “trial” period, evaluate performance and look for trends in your data to follow.
If you don’t have a large budget (because who really does), don’t be afraid to focus on the smaller tiers. In the end, volume, or the amount your brand is mentioned (even by small influencers), matters. Think of it like personal investing — the worst thing you can do is wait, the best thing you can do is get started.
All in all, there are two important takeaways when thinking about influencer tier strategies:
Many marketers will partner with an influencer only for a specific campaign in a transactional format. We have a product to launch, we share a brief, the content is posted, we pay the influencer and we’re done.
An always-on approach to influencer marketing is when you think of creators as long-term partners to your brand, continuously engaging with them to build the relationships.
Ambassadors can operate either online or offline and usually have a deeper partnership with the brand in the form of a retainer. They don't always use specialized links, and their goal could be to build brand awareness or drive sales.
Affiliate marketing can often be the first step to building an influencer marketing program. The brand will publish tracked links to their various products and the influencer will use those links when they post. This is a relatively low risk way to engage influencers because their pay typically comes from a percentage of the sales that are made using that tracked link. This is also a great way to connect your influencer marketing directly to sales.
There is not one right way to partner with creators. You should think through the short-term and long-term influencer marketing goals and plan out how you would like to approach new partnerships, or build on existing ones.
The value of an influencer-brand partnership increases overtime as the relationship strengthens. The most impactful collaborations take effort to develop, but the results are worth the work.
Here are some guidelines for ensuring you start on a solid foundation with some exceptional influencer outreach.
Sometimes it can be tempting to just cut to the chase when writing an outreach message. But it’s the personalized details that will catch their eye. Spend some time scrolling through the creator’s content and find 1 or 2 things that you genuinely like and then incorporate into your message.
Even the best written outreach message will flop if it’s sent to the wrong creator. Before reaching out, conduct keyword research to see if the influencer has connections to similar products or brands. Not only will this help you make a tailored offer/message, it can save you from spending time on folks that aren’t a good fit.
More and more influencers are expressing the desire for a deeper connection with brands. Your outreach message will have a better chance if it highlights a way that your brand is working towards a cause that the influencer cares about. But, remember that this only works if your brand is truly dedicated to that cause!
For example, Beekman 1802 successfully partnered with VIP influencer, Kat Stickler, earning her attention because their products are insanely good, but also because their mission (kindness) aligned with her personal brand.
When you are trying to get an influencer to partner with you the outreach message is important, yes, but so is regular interaction with their content. Make sure you are consistently dropping compliments, and leaving likes and (substantive) comments on their content. The more they see your brand on their screen the more likely it is that they’ll be interested in learning more.
The last part of a good outreach strategy is to make your partnership a smooth and well-branded onboarding experience. You could achieve this by creating a specific landing page for them to go to, sending them a welcome gift, or creating a fun quiz so you can learn about their preferences and personality. There are also influencer marketing platforms that offer branded onboarding experiences, like Traackr’s Brand Studio.
Negotiating influencer compensation can be extremely difficult. While there are no standard formulas to tell us what to pay creators, there are key metrics and data that can help guide you.
A creator’s follower quality is extremely important. Here are a couple areas to look into.
Engagement rates and view rates help marketers move away from paying influencers purely based on audience size, to a model that rewards influencers for the impact they have on your brand. Focusing on engagement will result in more value for your investment.
Make sure you look at these rates on different platforms, and compare results for organic content vs sponsored content.
Follower count is one of the most popular ways to determine compensation, but it should not be taken alone. I would encourage you to combine an influencer’s audience number with the other metrics in this list to get a full picture of the value their partnership could bring to your brand.
Past performance is an important indicator of how that influencer’s content will work for your brand. For potential partners, collect information such as:
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to budget room for usage rights, white listing and content amplification (or boosting). Make sure you understand the costs, and have a budget set aside to take full advantage of that content if say… it goes viral!
Along with increased investment in influencer marketing strategies, there is increased pressure to align investment with impact and properly measure results.
This section will help you create a measurement framework to analyze the impact of your influencer marketing initiatives and help you gain the executive buy-in needed to take your program to the next level.
With all the data now at our disposal, we are seeing marketing leaders organize their metrics into 3 categories:
Measure the impact of influencer marketing.
As there are many metrics that comprise Performance Metrics, it’s important to define your objectives in terms of which stages of the customer journey you’re seeking to impact. This will help you determine which Performance Metrics to prioritize.
Measure the efficiency of influencer marketing investments.
These metrics enable you to understand which influencers and strategies are delivering the most bang for your buck and, in turn, can act as levers for improving your return-on-investment (ROI) going forward.
Here is a resource describing how to optimize your influencer marketing investments.
Measure the efficacy of influencer marketing investments as compared to other marketing disciplines.
Earned Media Value (EMV) is a notorious metric in the world of influencer marketing, for several reasons. Chief among them, it has been misused as a Performance Metric.
Earned media value is an attempt to place a monetary value on exposure you gain on third-party sites or social media content through marketing and PR efforts. It provides a false sense of value on the engagement your company has earned through these channels.
We would urge you to read this article to learn more about the pitfalls of EMV and which metrics to use instead.
If you’d like to get a sense for what results to aim for, we’ve created a benchmark analysis to provide a starting point for you and your team so you can set campaign goals and try out new platforms.
The beauty space is highly competitive, making it difficult for indie brands with smaller resources to break through on social media platforms. Beekman 1802, a goat milk-based skincare brand, needed a creative way to access millennial audiences to elevate brand awareness, build its authority in the skincare industry, and drive in-store sales at Ulta Beauty.
They decided to focus on TikTok when their research found that authentic, unfiltered, and value-packed content resonated best with their audience.
The company began expanding its influencer program, branching out to work with a diverse range of TikTok influencers that spanned tiers (VIP to nano) and disciplines. Beekman 1802 selected a mix of beauty and non-beauty influencers to create educational and entertaining content aimed at building their skincare credibility, representing their playful and creative brand personality, and featuring their core values - such as kindness and trust.
Beekman 1802 became one of the highest performing skincare brands on TikTok and sold out of two product lines at Ulta.
Challenge: As Colgate-Palmolive accelerated its influencer marketing program, it needed greater visibility and coordination between country hubs and its agency partners.
Solution: Colgate-Palmolive implemented a system of record for influencer marketing, uniting regions, brands and agencies on one platform for discovery, campaign management and measurement.
Results: With streamlined workflows, data transparency, and standardized performance measurement, Colgate-Palmolive's personal care brands, including Sanex, have delivered significantly better results while reducing campaign costs by 40%.
During the pandemic, Shiseido was able to defy the odds, and even saw a growth in influencer marketing success in 2020. The key? The team focused on building their VIT (visibility, impact, and trust) score amongst key influencer populations and audiences.
Traackr’s VIT score is broken down into three categories that the Shiseido team tracks and actively sets goals against: visibility (reach of content), impact (engagement generated), and brand trust (quality of content on brand image).
See how Shiseido was able to increase its VIT by 54% in 2021, placing it in the 93rd percentile in regards to year-over-year growth.
Although some of us might start small with influencer marketing, it is important to always keep in mind how your practice will scale.
Write down your procedures, think about how you would roll the program out across teams and regions, understand how an influencer marketing platform could create efficiencies. This way, when you find success in influencer marketing and get the go-ahead to increase investments, you know what to do.
Here are some other areas to be thinking about.
Everything you do with influencers must be rooted in your business goals. Start with what matters most to your organization and envision what success looks like. Structure your first efforts as pilots. Even if you don’t have the resources yet, plan towards a larger roll out.
The most successful influencer marketers understand that the time between campaigns, events and product launches is when you build a deeper connection with your influencers.
The brands that see extraordinary ROI from influencer marketing are the ones that constantly reach out to their influencers with personalized communication - regardless of the immediate benefit to the brand.
The most advanced influencer marketing programs extend beyond one department.
Influencer relationships are key to your brand being viewed as customer centric, human-focused. Seek out other teams in your company that could benefit from or help cultivate influencer marketing.
For example, your product team could partner with influencers to get product feedback, or test out unreleased products. Your sales team could learn from the way influencers are talking about your products.
As your brand grows its influencer program, finding an influencer marketing platform will help you gain efficiency, data, establish continuity across geographies, and most importantly, improve your impact.
However, choosing the right platform can be daunting because as the practice of influencer marketing grows, so has the number of influencer marketing technology solutions available on the market.
The reality of the situation, however, is that not all solutions are the same and some are better suited for particular organizations, use cases, and needs.
To help you make an informed decision about the platform you choose, let's start with the 5 core influencer marketing technology use cases:
These 5 core use cases provide a useful framework for defining the 3 categories of influencer marketing solutions.
These tools are designed to help you analyze the influencer marketing performance of your brand against that of your competition. They are insight-focused tools, so they tend to be most suitable for senior executives. While benchmarking tools provide useful high-level insights, they would need to be combined with other influencer tech with the capabilities to turn those insights into action.
The campaign management tool category is by far the most crowded in the influencer marketing technology landscape. These tools are the opposite of market benchmarking tools. They are action-focused tools that are designed to facilitate the workflow of influencer campaigns. While these tools provide a lot of functionality for campaign execution, they lack the data, insights, and capabilities required to support large scale, global influencer marketing programs.
System of record influencer marketing platforms are designed to address all of the 5 core use cases in one platform.
They provide the market-level insights for senior executives to inform strategy. They provide the action-oriented influencer discovery, vetting, and campaign management capabilities required by influencer marketing practitioners to put these insights to action. Finally, they provide a “bridge” in the form of program management capabilities that connect the various moving pieces of larger-scale influencer marketing programs.
The next step is to put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) questionnaire to send to your short-listed vendors and gather information on how their offerings align with your most critical requirements. To get started, we encourage you to check out this Influencer Marketing Technology RFP Guide which includes a downloadable RFP template.
Scaling influencer marketing in-house is most often the only way a program will scale. You may find that agencies resist this because it challenges their position and existing business. However, brands are unlikely to significantly scale their influencer work with agencies until the core of their program is established in-house.
This being said, there is huge potential in partnering with agencies when you have established a core influencer strategy internally. You can see this exemplified by Colgate-Palmolive in this case study, where they achieved a 40% reduction in influencer campaign costs by combining Traackr's influencer marketing platform with an in-house strategy and an aligned agency partnership.
The most successful agencies are embracing their clients' efforts to scale; remaining confident that the role of the agency stands strong, while the nature of their work evolves.
Well, if you made it this far, you are clearly serious about influencer marketing.
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