There are two extremes when it comes to influencer marketing. There’s the positive side, where studies show that businesses earn $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer ads. And then there’s the negative side, where research says that 25% of the $2 billion spent on influencer marketing is wasted due to inauthentic content.

While endorsements and sponsored content can certainly be a gold mine for increasing brand awareness and demand, it’s not as easy as just funneling your marketing budget to influencers.

If you want to succeed with influencer marketing, your main objective should be finding the right influencers to work with. Unfortunately, that’s often the biggest challenge for brands to overcome.

The Inefficiency of Choosing Influencers

There are plenty of moving parts in influencer marketing. But at the core of it all is your relationship with influencers. Choosing influencers that perfectly fit your brand, your goals, and your products is essential.

Many brands seem to have taken an analytical approach to finding the right influencers to work with. You do some keyword research around your brand and products, search for those keywords within the bios/posts of social media profiles to find a pool of potential influencers, and then prioritize by follower count.

With all of that information in hand, you might manually sift through profiles and choose a handful of influencers to contact about sponsored content.

This whole keyword-based approach is a problem. And Rand Fishkin explains why:

“In a rational world, marketers wouldn’t seek out the accounts that happen to use the words+phrases they’re searching for, nor those that have the biggest total followers. Both of those are easily game-able. Neither of those indicate that the account even reaches the people you necessarily want to target.”

Rand goes on to explain that the best way to find the right influencers is to focus on defining your target audience. Who are the influencers most followed (and engaged with) by the people you’re trying to reach?

By flipping the equation from keywords and follower accounts to target audiences and engagement, you can lay the foundation for influencer marketing that delivers real ROI.

But there’s a lot of room for error when you take this approach. Keyword usage is something you can get quantitative data on whereas behavioral insights into your target audience can be harder to come by—and even harder to evaluate manually.

With the right intent data, you can fill this gap and put your influencer marketing strategy on a path to success.

The Value of Intent Data in Influencer Marketing

Most brands are familiar with first-party intent data. These are the insights you gain from prospects and customers that interact directly with your brand, whether that’s through content downloads, sales demos, or social media mentions.

Those first-party intent insights might help you prioritize inbound leads and work more effectively with sales. But in terms of influencer marketing, first-party intent data won’t take you too far.

To start identifying influencers more effectively, you need third-party intent data you can trust. This data provides insight into the actions of prospects and customers outside of your own platforms — industry and competitor blogs they read, webinars they watch, and, most importantly for influencer marketing, their social media activity.

The right third-party data drills down into your specific target audience. As a result, you gain key insights into the social media profiles your target audience follows, the influencers they trust, and the publications they continuously mention and interact with.

This is the kind of concrete data you need to ensure your influencer marketing campaigns will be effective. Instead of trying to make educated guesses about which influencer relationships will work, you can invest your marketing budget in accounts that have proven engagement with your target audience.

Not only that, but you can dig deeper into the kind of behavior your target audience has with certain influencers. This is when you have to align your goals with the influencers you choose. If you’re trying to convert leads at the bottom of your funnel, you’ll want to pay closer attention to influencers with high conversion rates. If you’re focused more on brand awareness, higher-level engagement may be more important for the influencers you work with.

Whatever your goals are, you need to find the right third-party data and get the most value out of it. But that can be easier said than done.

If you want to learn more about working with third-party intent data, download our free report, Demystifying B2B Purchase Intent Data.