When determining which influencer marketing solution best fits the needs of your agency or brand, it is important to understand the distinctions between types of solutions. Influencer marketing platforms fit into three different categories and understanding the differences between a Managed Services solution, a Marketplace, and a SaaS platform is imperative before implementing your influencer strategy.

If you are paying a lump sum, being promised aggregate reach or engagement, and you do not have a direct connection with the influencers executing your campaign, than you are using a Managed Services approach for influencer marketing. The process and economics of managed services feel a bit like a traditional ad-buy.

If pricing per influencer post is provided upfront via an online interface or you are buying long-tail influencers with a single message in mass, than you are utilizing a Marketplace.

Lastly, if your platform has tools from search, to workflow, to result tracking, but you are required to drive the process every step of the way, then you are leveraging a SaaS product to manage your campaign. When using a SaaS solution, you are directly interfacing with the influencers for your campaign and are actively involved in influencer vetting and content approval.

All of the above options have merit. Our team at Julius prefers SaaS for brands and agencies who are committed to a sustainable and long-term approach to influencer marketing. If you believe influencer marketing is soon to be a line item next to display, video, and social, then it’s simple: SaaS as the most viable solution.

Why SaaS Will Win…

Spend your budget on influencers, not service…

This is the most obvious value point for leveraging a SaaS product to execute your influencer marketing campaigns. When you use a Managed Services provider or a Marketplace, you’re passing 20–50% of your budget to a 3rd party. Whether using Julius or one of our subscription based SaaS competitors, you’re going to pay an annual license fee that should end up costing somewhere between 1% and 10% of your overall influencer marketing budget. SaaS ensures the majority of your spend is focused on activating influencers with corresponding social promotion on the various platforms — not in the intermediary channels. This is particularly important for agencies devoted to delivering great results for brand clients while simultaneously achieving a fair margin for their work.

Influencers are people, not banner ads…

Exceptional influencer marketing has more elements of traditional celebrity marketing than display advertising. Deeply authentic and integrated campaigns happen when a relationship is formed and goals are shared. It’s simply difficult to achieve this if the brand or agency doesn’t connect directly with the influencer.

Further, repetition with any audience is paramount to successful advertising. You don’t buy one radio spot — you buy dozens. We prefer deep integration and medium to long-term campaigns with a handful of influencers that are a great match for your brand, rather than a mass-blast approach. Integrated and repetitive campaigns find success with the most influential and recognized people on the planet, such as Kim Kardashian with JetSmarter, medium-tail influencers such as somethingnavy with Marc Fisher, as well as micro-influencers like Ally Love and adidas. SaaS lends to the development of these influencer relationships by bypassing the middle-man that will either exist on the front-end of a managed service provider, or the back-end of a marketplace.

Take control of the creative process…

If you work at a brand or an agency, and are in the position of making an influencer marketing campaign decision, it’s likely you have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t for your brand and your audience. At Julius, we subscribe to the idea that influencers play a key role in the creative process and often lead. This unique quality of influencer marketing is an important part of the special sauce, yet the stakeholders should be responsible for quality control. Applying quality control throughout the creative process saves time and money in the long-run and prevents catastrophic mistakes. Know who you’re working with. Again, SaaS enables greater quality control.

SaaS doesn’t play favorites…

Managed services and marketplace solutions generally develop a strength in a specific social platform or a specific segment of influencers based on reach. A quality SaaS solution will help you navigate the influencer landscape in aggregate. We love when Julius is referred to as the “Kayak” of influencer search. Marketers will find it useful to be able to consider multi-platform engagement metrics and quickly determine who can deliver successful results.

Obviously, the DIY approach with SaaS technology requires the brand or agency to have an individual or team in-house to bring together a successful influencer marketing campaign, however you don’t have to be an EXPERT day 1. Influencers are experts at their craft — they just need objectives and guidance. If you know your brand, leverage a tool to help identify the right influencers & manage workflow, and pay attention to what campaigns you like in your market, then you can quickly become GREAT at influencer marketing.