No budget? No problem. Here’s how brands are leveraging influencers to see a greater ROI even on a shoestring.
Marketers looking to maximize tight budgets are seeing big returns from influencer marketing, a strategy that more than 86% of brands across all industries have now adopted. We work with brands of all sizes, including emerging fashion designers and startups, giving us a front-row seat into how influencer marketing can make an impact. Whether your goal is awareness, loyalty or even sales, these five proven strategies can help you get more bang for your buck this year by using influencers:
1. Think beyond Instagram
Feeling crowded out of Instagram? (Or LinkedIn if you’re a B2B marketer?) Between algorithm changes and a flood of content, it can be hard to stand out on popular platforms. Thinking about where else your audience spends time can lead to big opportunities. For higher visibility at lower costs, look to influencers who specialize in Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, or bloggers who have a high domain authority and strong blog traffic. When budget allows, you can also engage influencers through events, which allow you to interact with bloggers in your industry, elicit their feedback, and make a personal connection. We have seen brands receive organic mentions from bloggers weeks or even months after an event has taken place, making the initial investment worth it.
2. Start gifting at scale
Gifting your product or service allows you to quickly reach potential customers without a significant monetary investment, making it one of the effective strategies for marketers on a tight budget. To take advantage of operational efficiencies, we recommend gifting at scale. This allows you to manage product shipment and follow-up as part of a single campaign, rather than several. By gifting at scale, you also have the benefit of comparing results for individual influencers across a similar time frame, which can give you the most accurate picture of their performance and the best idea of your ROI for each influencer, allowing you to determine which ones are worth investing more time (and possibly budget) into. We include campaign results for three months after gifting campaigns to allow for this kind of analysis.
3. Give micro-influencers a serious look
“Micro-influencers” refer to everyday consumers who have developed a niche audience in a particular industry, and there’s a reason they’ve received a lot of attention over the last year. They’re the fitness moms, fashion enthusiasts, gadget lovers and avid travelers who share their insights out of personal passion, and offer helpful advice to their audiences. For marketers on a budget, they can mean direct access to a lucrative audience. Finding the right micro-influencers for your brand is getting easier thanks to deeper insights from influencer marketing platforms and greater transparency within the industry. For example, the chance to see a blogger’s Google Analytics and Instagram follower history (here’s an example of how we show this), can help determine whether their audience demographics is a good fit, and whether their following is organic. Whenever you work with multiple micro-influencers, rather than a single blogger with the same collective reach, it’s important to factor in your team’s time to manage each collaboration, so you can accurately measure your ROI on time and resources spent.
4. Join forces with complementary brands
Collaborating with noncompeting, complementary brands is another way that influencer marketing can help you get the most out of a small budget. By working with related brands in your industry, you not only boost your ability to secure leading bloggers who might otherwise be too expensive, but you also have the benefit of other brands sharing your collaboration content. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, you might partner with an accessories or shoe brand to create the perfect look for a big night out, prompting the other designers to share the content with their own audiences. If you’re a new travel app, you might partner with a hotel or restaurant. Taking advantage of industry synergy can give twice the exposure with double the bargaining power.
5. Leverage the value of your own audience
One final way to maximize your budget with influencer marketing is to leverage your own audience. Even leading influencers need to continuously build their following. If you have a strong social presence or customer list, you can leverage your own industry influence into collaborations with bloggers who might otherwise be too expensive. The benefit of reciprocal exposure is actually threefold: it conveys a strong relationship between your brand and an influencer, it incentivizes bloggers to share content on your social channels with their own audience, and gives you valuable content that you can reuse for your EDM or other marketing efforts.
These strategies will help you keep your budget in check for short-term campaigns, but it’s important to think about your long-term ROI as well. If you’re looking to maximize your marketing dollars, we have found time and again that investing into strategic relationships offers the biggest payoff. This means having the patience to analyze your results, identify the influencers whose followers most closely relate to your target audience, and building an authentic ambassadorship. When you focus on relationships, every dollar you spend on influencer marketing today will also benefit your brand tomorrow.
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