Influencer marketing spend has skyrocketed in recent years, more than doubling to $13.8 billion as of 2021. But the growth spurt has not come without growing pains. In Europe, 62% of B2C marketers say measuring the effectiveness of influencer marketing is a concern. Fifty-eight percent said finding the right influencer is a challenge, and 32% said they struggle to build an always-on influencer strategy.
Advertisers eager to capitalize on influencers social followings need not reinvent the wheel when wading into influencer marketing. Rather, they should view influencer marketing as a part of partnership or affiliate marketing and leverage tools from that existing discipline to measure the channels performance.
Lets explore the benefits of influencer marketing, how marketers can begin to capitalize on it, and why it is wise to integrate influencers into a partnership marketing program.
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Influencer marketings benefits and challenges
Influencers offer many of the same benefits as other partner creators, such as publishers offering sponsored content opportunities. When a brand works with an influencer, they are not only reaching audiences likely to be interested in their service or product but also capitalizing on the trust the influencer has built with that audience.
Whats more, by leveraging relationships with various influencers, brands can reach a variety of customer types, expanding their reach beyond the audiences with whom in-house talent knows how to communicate most effectively. For example, a brand wanting to reach LGBTQ consumers might tap an influencer with sway in that community, thereby increasing the authenticity of messaging and avoiding the awkward gaffes that can occur when marketers try to tap into new audiences.
But as the data cited above suggest, influencer marketing has its challenges. Influencers may have large or dedicated social followings without necessarily being professional marketers in their own right. That could mean they produce content diverging from the brands expectations, have no way to measure their campaigns, or go astray from brand-safe guidelines. This is where it helps for brands to take standardized, tech-enhanced approaches to influencer partnerships.
Different models for engaging influencers
There are different ways brands can pay, discover, and work with influencers, and finding the right method can determine the success of the partnership.
For example, brands can pay influencers flat fees for campaigns, varying amounts based on follower counts, or calibrate spend relative to metrics such as impressions and conversions. Most marketers would benefit from adopting a test-and-learn approach. This is part of treating influencer marketing as a mature channel not so dissimilar from search, social, or TV: Testing out a partnership, setting up KPIs, and evaluating outcomes lays the foundation for success.
Discovery is another potential pain point. Searching Instagram for influencers is tantamount to browsing the aisles of a department store at random; the searcher might strike gold, but there are more effective strategies available. Tech-enabled influencer marketing platforms can allow brands to identify ideal characteristics such as demographics, location or language, and follower count range and identify the influencers best positioned to achieve their goals.
Finally, theres the question of managing an ongoing collaboration. This is where it is most helpful to integrate influencer marketing into a broader affiliate strategy.
Why influencers should be treated as performance partners
Brands can resolve a lot of the mystery surrounding influencer marketing if they approach influencers as performance partners, just like publishers, loyalty affiliates, and coupon programs. Most brands have dabbled in affiliate marketing, paying a publisher, for example, to produce or publish content related to their brand and calibrating payment based on measurable KPIs such as customer acquisition, engagement, or increased revenue. Marketers can apply the same principles to influencers.
The question here is more one of technology than strategy. If brands know how to nurture partnerships based on performance, they should be able to replicate that success with influencers. The challenge lies in equipping the influencer with the technology required to prove their performance and the brand the technology they need to optimize discovery, communication, and payment.
Influencer marketing is relatively novel, but it is not rocket science. With a performance partnership mindset, brands can harness the trust and targeted outreach influencers allow without the uncertainty that undermines partnerships for marketer and influencer alike.
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