Looking to use Influencer Marketing in your marketing mix? There’s a lot to consider before getting started. With businesses making an average of $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub), integration of brands and products into influencer content has become—and is—the future of advertising.

Why does Influencer Marketing work? More than anything, it’s authentic and community based. As part of the content itself, it reaches key audiences in a way that speaks to them without being intrusive like traditional ads. Instead it’s coming from someone they genuinely trust and listen to. And today, every part of the process from influencer identification, content creation, scalability and optimization is powered by AI for the most efficient results.

While so much goes on behind the scenes to make the magic happen, it’s a simple and seamless experience on the brand side by focusing on a few core points. Consider these key aspects when building out your influencer marketing plans and you’ll be presenting impressive ROI numbers to your boss’s boss in no time.

1. Align with Your Overall Objective

The best starting place for a brand is to look at the advertising funnel and identify the overall objective: do we want to drive a lot of eyeballs, press, and excitement around a product or optimize instead for lower-funnel metrics like sales and conversions?

Something to keep in mind with influencer marketing is the halo or lift effect. You’ll only pay for the awareness or deeper conversions like traffic or real purchases that you actually get, but you’ll earn far greater reach with extended content life and more conversions from those who click or purchase without following the link or using the code (depending on the social channel used and agency). For example, a Google study found that YouTube videos drive an average 4x more installs than the tracking link on its own.  And compared to banner ads, which at their best barely scratch 1% click through rates (SmartInsights), CTRs on influencer content we’ve executed can reach as high as 11%.

Performance marketing campaigns for Chatbooks—a company that sells self-created photo albums—saw up to 4x organic lift

Influencer marketing is not a “guess and check” approach, or simply a matter of using the creators with the most followers or subscribers. Sure, you may cast a wider net, but would you really be hitting the most valuable audience for your brand goals? In order to know which channels and creators will be the most effective, you need to employ artificial intelligence to analyze historical performance at scale. AI allows decisions to be made on rich amounts of data and predicted results so you can hit those that will drive the biggest impact

2. Know Your Intended Audience

With a combination of tech advancements and open platforms, you can get pretty specific with demographics and psychographics when targeting your key audiences. While you may have predetermined groups you want to hit, AI provides data-driven insights and identifies the best-performing audiences and channels to reach them. It shines a light on unseen opportunities from groups that are predicted to perform perhaps even better than original or current audience segments.

When you bring the foundation of who your core audience is (i.e. yoga moms or athletic males 20-30 years old), AI can identify similar groups by building look-a-like audiences based on channel aesthetic, previous content, creator preferences, and so much more. This expands those you’re able to reach for maximum results and can even find new groups that emerge as top performers.

It’s important to note the power of diversity when looking for success targeting your audience. By supporting all communities and removing bias from the equation—both with creators and audience parameters—you’ll open up the windows of possibility. One example of a brand seeing success from this is Philo, who saw a 172% increase in click through rates by diversifying targeting in an influencer marketing campaign.

3. Establish Proven Processes

Influencer marketing is a business with loads of personalities.  How you conduct yourself, how quick is payment, and how refined your process is all go a long way.  Establishing systems and processes ensure the best quality content, the best pricing, and the biggest ROI.

Influencer agencies with years of experience and deep relationships with countless numbers of creators have teams dedicated to providing white glove service that take care of each step of the process for you. They leverage long-standing connections with influencers and are part of the creative process, handling critical elements of the campaign that lead to even better results.  

4. Optimize Your Campaigns by Learning from Results

When done right, influencer marketing is highly data driven. So, naturally, the more data you have, the more success you’ll achieve.

When a brand provides first-party data out of the gate, those insights can be used to inform targeting decisions and tie results—from awareness-level campaigns to deeper-funnel metrics like sales—back to influencer marketing efforts. Want to clearly show ROI from influencer integrations? By partnering with an agency and granting access to data like audience engagement (clicks, conversions, sentiment, etc.), the performance and story are enhanced.

Before an influencer campaign even kicks off and throughout its entirety, AI helps inform all decisions, including which creators to work with, best practices for the content itself, how to reach similar audiences, and more. It is critical in optimizing performance, and it assures that results continue to improve over time.

After content is in the market, the comment section will be your best critic; check there to see what viewers thought. Was it organic? Did it resonate? What feedback can you gather and apply to the next integration or future campaigns? Hearing from those in your target audience and how they respond to the content is invaluable information.

The comment section is your best friend to gage what’s working and not working in a campaign. Pay close attention to the sentiment and feedback there.

Be sure to pause and take stock after each campaign to evaluate progress by identifying creators with high engagement, clicks, conversions, etc., Ask yourself the “why” behind what worked and what didn’t work, isolate those factors, and apply them to the next round of content.

5. Let Creators Create

Creators know their audiences and the sort of content that resonates with them better than anyone else. The thousands or millions of followers have an affinity for them and the way they say and do things, which may be unique and differ from what you have in mind. The best thing a brand can do is to trust the influencers and give them creative freedom to do what they do best.

If a brand gives too many talking points or requirements to the creator, the message won’t be authentic or resonate with the audience. It’s best to give general guidance to the messaging that matters most and then let the creators be who they are. Influencer integrations can be so seamless that they’re a perfect fit for the content and extremely effective. Below are some of my favorite examples:

Binging with Babish — Bushmills

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Make it natural: Andrew is known for cooking, alcohol, and celebrating dishes that are timely. The integration with Bushmills checked all of those boxes and was pleasant for viewers.

Michael Reeves — Amazon Prime

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Be yourself: Michael does a phenomenal job being who he is while making the brand integration fun and entertaining for Amazon Prime (The Boys).

David Dobrik — EA

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Go big: David is known for giving away cars, but he took it to the next level with the Lamborghini to help celebrate the launch of a new Need For Speed title. This piece was picked up by multiple news sources and people still talk about it today.

Want to get started with influencer marketing? We can help. See how BEN can meet your influencer marketing needs.