With all the talk of influencer marketing, you may be wondering, “what is influencer marketing automation? And how can this platform help my business grow?” You’re not alone. Nearly two-thirds of marketers are planning to increase their spending on influencer marketing this year, so it’s important to know what exactly you’re spending your budget on.
Let’s talk about the influencer marketing definition and advantages
What is influencer marketing in 2020? We covered it in depth here, but basically, it’s a modern take on traditional affiliate marketing. Instead of a network of smaller affiliates driving traffic, influencer marketing targets specific people – influencers – who have large, captive audiences. Brands leverage the existing relationships that influencers have with their engaged followings in exchange for a fee for their endorsement, which is shared to their network along with their non-sponsored content.
Historically, affiliate marketing was very transactional. Its success (and cost) depended on how much a brand is willing to pay a publisher to display their ads. Newer influencer networks are using this similar strategy alongside matching algorithms (read: agencies) that match brands with trusted people (subject matter experts, niche-celebrities) or smaller publishers (bloggers) whose audience is one the brand seeks exposure to and are their most ideal customers.
Now, let’s contrast that against how forward-thinking brands are approaching influencer marketing today. When you vet influencers specifically connected to your brand, it’s more likely that you’ll build collaborative and valuable relationships with these individuals.
In fact, according to a recent study by Nielsen, 92% of people say they trust the advice and/or recommendations from their own networks over any form of advertising. This turns brand influencer marketing into a channel that’s owned, which gives you more flexibility and control if market conditions change.
What influencer marketing questions do we hear the most?
Whether we’re in a boardroom full of executives at an enterprise organization or on a call with a marketer running an eCommerce site, one of the most common questions we hear about influencer marketing is:
Who is influencer marketing right for?
Short answer: Almost all types of companies.
Long answer: Brands that sell direct. If you’re an OEM only and you don’t own the point of sale, then achieving this type of organic, vertical integration can be challenging. However, whether you’re big or small, influencer marketing all but guarantees a direct path to your most valuable customers and if executed properly, can reward for revenue, not just posts.
Here are 3 core principles to have in place in order for your brand to be successful with influencer marketing.
1. A quality product that customers love: While influencer marketing can generate dramatic results, it all starts with your product. If your customers are continually telling you how much they love it, influencers probably be willing to do the same thing with their network.
2. A captive, engaged audience: If your relationship with customers is mostly transactional (think: buying milk at a convenience store) and your social following is disengaged, influencer marketing might not be for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve built up a captive audience of loyal customers, fans, and followers, influencer marketing can be incredibly powerful. Engage and incentivize them correctly, and you’ll see a big ROI.
3. A process to track, manage, and reward influencers: In order to move away from the traditional ad-hoc approach to influencers and running one-off promotions, you’ll need to implement processes that automate the repetitive nature of creating, tracking, and rewarding influencer campaigns. This is the only way to make this strategy a truly scalable source of revenue.
The next question that usually follows is, “where do I find the right influencer for my brand?”
Brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, so it’s no surprise that forward-thinking marketers are approaching this strategy in a very savvy manner. Instead of outsourcing their relationship with influencers to agencies or matching algorithms, brands are spending time identifying and screening potential ambassadors of their brand. This comes in the form of proactive outreach, approving submissions, and building a cohesive group that fits a brand’s culture and mission. Which is in contrast to spending a large fee on celebrity influencers, which is perceived by most marketers as not a good value.
Once brands have found the right influencers to work with, they then leverage a platform that ensures complete transparency – for both parties – throughout the lifetime of their partnership. No middlemen means no percentage to middlemen.
And beyond that, successful marketers are running influencer programs where the promotional material is trackable through the point of purchase, so these brands are rewarding influencers for driving conversions and revenue, not just impressions. This type of marketing channel creates a mutually beneficial relationship for brands and influencers.
When you deploy these types of tactics, it’s also more likely that you’ll be able to build more personal, connected relationships with the individuals — bloggers, experts, etc. — who are behind them, and therefore more loyalty.
Now let’s dive into how to automate and scale referrals that come from influencers. In order to truly grow this strategy, your company has to leverage influencer marketing technology.
Finding An Influencer Marketing Platform: 5 Must-Have Features
As we head into the future, there are new influencer platforms popping up every day, and the established networks are only getting larger.
Ambassador’s leading-edge influencer marketing platform takes your programs to the next level by automating enrollment, communication, tracking, and reporting to easily scale and optimize this collaborative strategy.
In order to drive brand awareness, leads, and revenue from subject matter experts, social media influencers, and niche bloggers, here are five must-have features to look for in an influencer marketing platform.
1. True Automation
Stop using spreadsheets and emails to track who received your latest product and where it was shared. A powerful influencer marketing platform proactively provides your influencers with the assets, insight, and reporting they need to optimize engagement and promotion.
2. The Right Fit
It’s crucial to have a strategic partner that enables your brand to customize the recruitment process with features like gated portal registration, access controls, and enterprise-grade security and fraud detection.
Give your influencers the tools they need – and want – from unique share URLs to personalized coupon codes to custom social channel links to automated cash payouts. On the flip side, you want software that can measure performance by seeing which platform or content is driving more conversions.
4. Flexible Payments
Want to pay out differently based on number of sales, revenue thresholds, or specific purchases? No problem. The best influencer marketing platforms can structure different payout models based on influencer type, sales generated, or special promotions. Advanced technology, like Ambassador, can allow for tiered models, coupon codes, and more.
5. Measure and Analyze
Social media trends are always changing. Stay in the know by easily running cohort analysis and optimizing your program in real-time. Intuitive influencer marketing technology should let you see which influencers are generating the most leads, customers, and revenue, as well as by which channels.
Before you sit through different sales presentations, determine what’s important for your brand and which KPI’s have the biggest opportunity for improvement. Being armed with this information can help guide the conversation when you’re vetting software vendors.