It doesn’t matter how great your product is if no one knows about it. That’s why every business owner needs to adapt a marketing strategy early on. However, if you’re a one-person show and have a limited marketing budget, you need to be strategic with where you invest your energy and money. There are many great marketing tools available for small businesses, but one we definitely recommend considering is influencer marketing.
Being an influencer is so much more than posting cool photos and stories.
Regardless of the number of followers, what’s common for many influencers is that they’re authentic, credible, and have a loyal fan-base. Influencers are seen as an authentic alternative to traditional advertising tactics. That’s why collaboration with an influencer is a great way for brands of any size to drive engagement, boost brand awareness, and reach new audiences.
Getting started with influencer marketing can seem daunting, but with proper preparation, you can create and run successful influencer campaigns to achieve your goals.
We’ll walk you through 5 steps of setting up your first-ever influencer campaign, but first, let’s figure out how to find the right person to collaborate with.
There are multiple tiers of social media influencers, categorized by the number of followers they have.
Each level of influencer has strengths that pair well with different campaigns and goals. The cost of services differs from one influencer to another. Mega and macroinfluencers usually charge a hefty fee in exchange for their partnership, which isn’t feasible for smaller and mid-sized businesses.
Microinfluencers are a great fit for smaller, niche brands looking to grow their audience. Since microinfluencers have smaller audiences too, their followers are very loyal and highly engaged.
Influencers with smaller audiences are more likely to respond to each comment and create a more personal connection with every follower. This makes the influencer appear as an online friend, rather than an unapproachable public figure. With incredibly loyal follower bases, microinfluencers can help support goals above and beyond simply driving brand awareness.
Brands can also leverage multiple microinfluencers at once to share more voices rather than spending their whole influencer budget on one celebrity. Glossier, the makeup brand beloved by millennials, turned to their own fanbase of highly engaged followers and commenters to become their most powerful brand ambassadors. In 2016, boat shoe brand Sperry engaged 100 microinfluencers to create user-generated content (UGC) for their Instagram page and ended up driving millions of impressions and a 56% increase year-over-year in engagements.
The most effective influencer relationships happen when brands have a clear idea of their goals and partner with the right influencers for results-driven, strategic campaigns.
Interested in working with microinfluencers? We’ll walk you through creating your campaign step by step.
For any influencer campaign, it’s important to define your goals from the beginning and communicate them clearly to your potential partner. Microinfluencers typically have a niche following and are highly trusted by their audience, so their recommendations carry a lot of weight. They are highly effective for getting more interactions, boosting engagement, and increasing conversions. If you’re just focusing on one of these goals or a combination, microinfluencers are the way to go.
Revel Nail is a unique line of nail dip with a highly engaged customer base. Their range of nail colors and styles are a perfect fit for great visual marketing and UGC. But, they needed to determine which content performed best. Revel Nail has had great success working with microinfluencers at scale by leveraging Pixlee—a visual marketing platform for brands using UGC from social media. Since implementation, Revel Nail has seen a 3.7x increase in site conversions and a 157% increase in repeat visit rate.
The goals you set for your campaigns are the foundation for your microinfluencer campaign. Use your existing data to help inform your goals and make sure they’re achievable so you can get the most out of your campaigns.
Once you’ve established your campaign goals, you now need to do the research on which influencer can help you reach them.
Milani Cosmetics was another company to partner up with up-and-coming influencers and Pixlee. The brand wanted to publish UGC to third-party retailers and boost their conversions so they created a community of influencers passionate about growing the brand. The use of UGC and partnership with smaller influencers resulted in a 2x increase in conversion and 17.82% higher average order value.
The influencers you pick as your partners should be a good fit with your brand’s mission and values. You want them to be a reflection of your brand voice and personality.
Finding influencers that are a fit for your brand and campaign takes research and vetting. If you know who your target audience is and their demographics, you already have a blueprint for finding your perfect influencers. Depending on your budget, you can search for influencers yourself or use an influencer marketing platform or agency. Influencer marketing platforms offer a range of solutions and prices—from self-serve tools to more robust resources like the Pixlee platform. Influencer marketing agencies can step in to manage the process end-to-end, from discovering potential partners to vetting them and running the campaigns.
An important question to answer as you start looking for the partner: which social media platform does your target demographic use the most? Decide on one channel and look for the influencer there.
Instagram is a classic for influencer marketing, but it’s worth looking into other channels too. YouTube will be perfect if you create a lot of video content for your brand. While TikTok is a relatively new platform, it’s growing quickly and gaining popularity among millennials; business-to-consumer campaigns could be potentially very effective there.
Once you’ve found the microinfluencers fit for your brand and campaign, you can start reaching out!
Reaching out to influencers is more than just shooting off an email template asking if they want to partner with you. When researching potential influencers, you’re not only evaluating them—you’re also getting to know them. It’s crucial to communicate clear expectations early in the conversation. This goes double for payment considerations.
Many influencers will have predetermined rates they use when partnering with brands. If that’s not provided upfront, ask the potential partner what they typically charge. If you plan to request product reviews and promotion in exchange for free products, state that as soon as possible. Remember—influencers are professionals! While microinfluencers are usually a more cost-effective option, don’t expect anything for free.
Be personal in your outreach marketing and start engaging with potential influencers as soon as you know you want to work with them.
If they don’t have a preferred channel, reach out to them via email first if their email is available. If it’s not, contact them via DM and offer to send an email with more information.
To help you get started, here’s an influencer outreach email template that you can tweak to fit the style of the person you’re approaching:
Hi [Influencer Name],
I hope you’re having a great day/week! My name is [Jane Smith] and I’m the [CMO] at [Company]. I really appreciated/enjoyed [specific example] in your recent [blog post, video, Instagram Story, etc.]
[Company] is [description of your company]. We’re looking to partner with influencers like you to help [spread awareness/launch our new product/grow our audience]. I’m reaching out to you because [reasons why you think they’re a good fit for your company based on their profile and posts].
[If you have a limited budget or only able to offer free products for compensation, state that here. If the influencer has a posted rate that you are able to pay, state that here.]
If you’re interested in working together, I’d be happy to provide more information or set up a time to discuss the opportunity! Let me know if you have any questions.
Working with influencers is all about building loyalty and lasting relationships. The first impression is so important, so treat potential influencers like the professionals they are!
One of the reasons for the boom in influencer marketing is because the content they create is so impactful; 93% of consumers are influenced by UGC when they’re making a purchase decision. User-generated content is effective because it’s authentic and customers relate to it more than branded content.
Partnering with influencers to create UGC is at the core of every influencer campaign. Most of the posts shared by influencers as part of a sponsored campaign will include a hashtag to differentiate it from their usual posts (e.g. #sponsored, #ad, #sponsoredby, #sponsoredpost.) You can search these hashtags on social media to see examples of sponsored posts from other businesses and brands.
Depending on your campaign strategy, you may be focusing on pictures, videos, or written content like blog posts or reviews (or a combination!). Whatever type of content you want, be sure to communicate that clearly to the influencer so everyone’s on the same page.
Trust your influencers—they know their audience better than anyone and may have some ideas you haven’t considered.
From traditional UGC posts to sponsored posts to social media takeovers, there are many collaboration forms that will help you achieve the desired results. But, to get the most impact from your campaigns, you need to clearly communicate the kind of content you want while still giving your influencers the freedom to do what they do best.
When the influencer has created a post on behalf of your brand on their channel, make sure to do cross-promotion on your channel as well and save the influencer’s content for future reference.
When it comes to marketing campaigns, it’s all about impact. Likes and comments are really exciting—especially if you start racking them up early in a campaign. But, the real metrics you need to focus on are measuring the return on your investment. There are several ways to track influencer campaign performance beyond engagement metrics, especially if you’re focusing on conversions and sales.
Once your campaigns are up and running, it’s important to keep an eye on the metrics so that you can adjust if necessary.
Once the campaign ends, set up a call with your influencer to determine how the campaign performed against your goals, what the results were, and how you both felt about the partnership. Ask them if they have any advice for future campaigns or ideas for unique ways to engage with their followers. If you’re interested in working with the influencer long term, consider sending them a thank you gift to help strengthen the relationship.
Many people think influencers have to be celebrities or have hundreds of thousands of followers, but, as we learned, they’re not the only influencers out there. Microinfluencers may have fewer followers, but don’t underestimate their power—with highly engaged, extremely loyal follower bases, microinfluencers can help spur engagement and increase conversions.
By planning a goal-driven campaign and working with the best-fit influencers for your brand, you can run effective influencer campaigns with measurable results!
Madara is a content marketer for the Printful Blog. Her background in linguistics and belief in the power of SEO come in handy when she’s creating content that inspires ecommerce store owners and helps them grow their business.