[By: John Rampton] [Forbes] [Read More]
It will probably comes as no surprise to you (or your CEO) that traditional banner ads have gotten increasingly ineffectual. In fact, according to Google’s Display Benchmarks Tool, the average click-through rate (CTR) of display ads is now only around 0.06%, and 47% of online consumers now use ad blocking technology, according to the Reuters Institute. This means that if you’re paying for exposure via banner ads, you’ve lost nearly half your audience right out of the gate.
Businesses need to find alternative strategies for getting exposure and traffic. Therefore influencer marketing could be just what’s needed in this advertising-wary culture. Done right, you can earn insane results.
As a top social media influencer and CEO of a company that regularly uses influencer marketing to drive profitable growth, I recently discussed influencer marketing myths and pragmatic advice for CEOs during this recent interview:
Here are 5 pieces to the influencer marketing puzzle that CEOs need in order to understand when and how to incorporate influencer marketing into the mix and craft a successful campaign.
#1: It’s a Long-Term Play
Tactics like PPC ads are capable of generating results the same day they are published. And while influencer marketing delivers same-day sales, it bears much more significant results in terms of building brand and engagement over time. According to a study conducted by influencer marketing platform, Tomoson, marketers are generating an average of $6.50 for every $1 spent. Depending upon the industry, the ROI can be amplified to even greater heights. For example, Mark Fidelman, CEO of influencer marketing agency Evolve!, Inc., reportedly generated $15 in annualized subscription revenue for every dollar spent on YouTube talent fees in a year-long campaign for Curology.
Executing an effective influencer campaign tends to require more time than resources, but the positive, long term impacts are well-worth the efforts.
#2: Building a Solid Foundation is Vital
In order for an influencer campaign to be considered a success, you have to know where the bullseye is. Establish objectives that fall in line with the brand’s overall marketing goals and designate quantifiable metrics like cost per view for videos, cost per conversion, and other essential data points to measure the campaign’s impact.
You also need to craft highly resonant messaging that gets your point across while leaving plenty of wiggle room for influencers to do their thing. These authorities have amassed their followings by presenting themselves authentically. If the audience, or the influencer, senses too much brand interference with the content, the video will be seen as an advert, it will be panned in the comments and it will likely underperform.
And, of course, keep everything within budget. In influencer marketing, this is largely dependent on the types of influencers you aim to acquire as their rates greatly vary. Acquisition costs will be impacted by audience reach, engagement rates, niche, whether they are established or up-and-coming social celebrities, type of sponsorship, and other dynamic elements.
With YouTube influencers, integrated videos are typically about .04 – .07 cost per view (CPV), according to Fidelman, while dedicated content averages about .08 to .15 CPV. Amidst all of the excitement, don’t forget to allocate funds for other aspects of the campaign such as promotional ads, other forms of content like blogs, manpower, and whatever else you need to define the campaign as a success.
#3: Nail It, then Scale It
Having influencers push out posts about your brand may not be the marketing boon you were hoping for. Just as Facebook and Google ads don’t work for every business, neither will influencer marketing.
In reality, Facebook ads works well for about 20% of companies, 10% will break even, and the other 70% won’t see any results. Influencer marketing is very much the same in that respect; it is not a silver marketing bullet, but if it works for you, it can be a goldmine.
For this reason, A/B test everything to identify the demographics, themes, messaging, calls to action, video genres and integration formats that optimize your conversions. For Curology, the campaign superstars generated 50,000 to 250,000 views each, and dedicated videos outperformed video integrations by a wide margin. A/B testing all of these features will not only help to identify your sweet spot, but also reduce expenditures for elements that don’t convert well.
From there, it’s wise to scale-up by investing more into what worked while continuing to A/B test various elements to refine the campaign into a acquisition machine.
#4: Resources Determine Your Team
Influencer identification and campaign management should be approached from a resources perspective; do you have more time or money?
If you have more time, research and identify influencers on your own. Leverage social media to see who is driving the conversation in your niche and reach out to those folks with an offer.
If you have time and money on your side, hire a professional agency. Spend your time finding a proper influencer marketing firm that has relationships with influencers and knows exactly what they are doing. This is important because influencer marketing is still a volatile environment and the rules are constantly in flux.
This route will cost significantly more than doing it yourself, but you’ll avoid making expensive mistakes that could adversely impact your brand and the campaign performance.
Digital agencies that specialize in influencer marketing can also help to drive the final price down as some have pre-negotiated premium rates with their influencers. Take this into consideration when qualifying agencies.
Understanding how the social networks differ from each other and how to leverage each is a vital part of influencer marketing.
For instance, paying smaller influencers on Instagram for shout outs to your page is a great way to drive site traffic, downloads, and generate sales. Always be sure to look for their Kik messaging app info in their page description as this is normally the best way to quickly contact and negotiate with people on Instagram.
Twitter ads can also be of great use. When setting up Twitter ads, first make a list of the top influencers in the niche. Then go to their demographics and target similar audiences, bidding a very low amount like $0.02. In 24 hours, Twitter will stop the campaign for not being profitable. From there, you can continue to drive traffic for next to nothing by cloning the campaign, making minor alterations and starting it again.
When working with YouTubers, partner with up-and-comers. They tend to charge a lower cost per view, offer the most creative storylines and even chip in bonus promotions.