Nowadays, brands find it increasingly difficult to cut through the noise. Customers don’t trust ads — they trust people. Influencer marketing is proving to be the marketing goldmine for brands to appeal to the modern audience.
Influencers are dominating the digital space right now. They offer a sense of community to their followers, and their impact on industry trends is undeniable. Reports project influencer marketing to grow to approximately $21.1 Billion in 2023.
From small local businesses to global brands, every company eagerly leverages creator marketing to resonate with social media-savvy audiences and increase marketing ROI. Partnering with these digital creators gives you access to their dedicated fan base, strengthens your credibility, and boosts brand awareness.
The right influencer promoting your products is the ultimate social proof you need to drive business growth today. But what exactly is the right approach to building strategic influencer partnerships? Here’s a guide to help you navigate your journey.
10 Steps To Drive Business Growth Through Strategic Influencer Partnerships
Here are the steps brands need to take to drive growth with influencer marketing:
- Define goals and objectives
The first prerequisite of a successful strategy is a clear outline of goals and objectives — and effective influencer marketing is no exception. Your objectives will guide your approach and keep your influencer partnerships on brand.
First, figure out what you want to achieve through creator marketing. Here are some common objectives top brands aspire to achieve:
- Boosting brand awareness and enhancing brand image
- Increasing visibility through social engagement and interactions
- Improving conversion rate
- Collecting better customer data
A clear view of objectives will improve your strategy by defining specific and measurable targets for the influencer and the brand. The creator will have a comprehensive image of your expectations and can deliver them effectively.
Examine how your influencer marketing plan fits into your existing social media presence. Audit a realistic budget and set goals accordingly. This way, you can maximize positive results and avoid any future miscommunications with your partner creator.
- Know your target audience
The whole point of influencer marketing is to appeal to potential buyers. You need to target the right people with the right approach for optimum impact. So, once you have a clear idea of your objectives, develop audience personas for target campaigning.
Here are some demographics to consider while creating ideal buyer personas:
- Hobbies and interests
- Preferred social media channels
- Ethnicity and religion
- Shopping patterns
Collect first-party and third-party customer data to develop a basic understanding of your target market. Dive deep into their preferences by tracking their activity on social media. Use Influencer marketing tools to monitor their virtual interactions with influencers in your industry. Analyzing competitors for accurate benchmarking and audience targeting. Segment your audience according to the demographics and analytics insights.
- Identify potential influencers
The next step is to identify potential influencers you can partner with. Detect the channels your target audience is the most active on. Then find industry influencers with a thriving presence on those platforms. Remember, you want to identify those with a credible image among your target audience.
Monitor your competitors’ influencer marketing strategy and see what kind of creators they are partnering with. Ensure you track the success of their campaigns to identify potential influencers to advocate for your brand.
While creating a list, note each influencer’s strengths and the success of their previous brand campaigns. This will help you sort through the list faster when you shortlist the right creator for your campaigns.
Neal Taparia from Hearts Land suggests learning about influencers from your audience. “We ask our audience who they follow, and who they would take advice from on social media. We find that these influencers are best to partner with and reach the ideal players for our games.”
- Shortlist influencers that align with your brand
Now that you have narrowed down a list of potential influencers, it’s time to analyze their alignment with your brand. Here, you need to consider three aspects:
The first criterion for finding the right influencer measures how their digital presence fits your industry. You can maintain consistent brand messaging across your influencer marketing campaigns. A use case example can help you analyze and determine who is the best fit for your brand.
The next aspect is to examine the range of audiences you can reach if you partner with an influencer. Don’t only target creators with a big following. Simply ensure their fan base is large enough to accommodate your marketing goals.
Remember, you don’t want an inflated follower count crowded with bots. Use automation software to filter out fake profiles. See if you can find enough likes, comments, and shares from the follower categories you are trying to reach.
Fenty Beauty’s influencer marketing approach is an ideal example of brand alignment. The company’s brand message revolves around inclusivity. So, the brand mostly chooses influencers of varying ethnicities and skin tones.
For instance, in the above reel, Fenty Beauty collaborated with Eritrean/Canadian digital creator Hanan Abdu, who creates videos and spreads positivity around Hijab.
- Conduct thorough research into their engagement
How can you tell that your target market trusts your partner influencer? By examining their engagement. Evaluate the influencer’s resonance with your target audience.
Here, your job is to see the engagement the potential influencer can create with your target audience.
Regularly examine what your potential influencers are posting and the frequency of their sponsored collaborations. Then check the audience’s response to those collaborations.
If you see the influencer primarily creates paid posts, it indicates a short-lived engagement rate. Their profile should have a fair amount of organic, non-paid content. This will keep their followers interested and engaged and, in turn, result in a profitable and long-lasting influencer partnership for you.
For example, popular comedian Nigel Ng (aka Uncle Roger) often partners with brands and posts paid posts. However, the influencer maintains a healthy balance of organic posts on his profile, which keeps his engagement high.
- Develop a strategic relationship
Once you have shortlisted potential influencers, create strategic bonds to build a mutually agreeable partnership.
An exclusively monetary collaboration will not bring the expected authenticity to your campaigns. You want your chosen creator to believe in your brand. Send them free samples of your products to try out when they see your product’s efficacy. You are more likely to gain their advocacy for your brand.
Finally, draw up a detailed contract and mention your expectations and duration of the partnerships. Set clear terms and conditions and communicate the payment terms with your chosen influencer. This will help you avoid any future conflicts.
Taking these measures may seem inconsequential, but it will establish a strong foundation for your partnership.
- Begin the campaign
Include the influencer while fine-tuning the details of your marketing campaigning. Remember, the creators have a brand of their own. Hence the collaboration will not work out if their creativity doesn’t resonate with your plans.
Create guidelines that keep the campaigns focused on your business goals while allowing the creator a fair amount of creative space. Avoid micromanaging every detail and assure them your marketing team and resources are available.
- Amplify the content
Promote the influencer’s content across your marketing channels. Post the content on your social media pages and showcase them on your website. You can also share them on stories for optimum engagement.
Using relevant hashtags helps you reach a wider audience and improve your social media presence. Remember, influencer marketing is supposed to be mutually beneficial — in terms of payment and visibility. So, don’t forget to tag the creator on your post.
For example, Glossier makes it a point to repost influencer content on their Instagram handle.
- Monitor campaign performance
Like every other marketing initiative, keeping up with the progress of your influencer marketing is crucial to improve ROI. While it’s tempting to focus on vanity KPIs such as likes and comments, it won’t be enough to gain a conclusive insight into your campaign effectiveness.
For that, you want to measure click-through rates and traffic from influencer posts. You can assign UTM parameters to calculate the visitors a creator directs to your business. Consider giving your influencers exclusive discount codes. This will attract more customers and simplify examining the creator’s impact on your bottom line.
- Build long-term relationships
The best way to build long-term relationships with creators is by giving them access to your followers. Engage with your potential influencer’s posts. Share their content to your stories and comment on their posts.
Involve them in your marketing process and ask for their input. Give them exclusive offers to gain their loyalty to your brand. Invite them to your events. You can also ask them to interact with the crowds and highlight their journey at your events.
Partnering with the right influencers can boost your growth exponentially. It can skyrocket your visibility, help you reach the right audience, and improve your ROI.
Thoroughly research your potential influencers to detect fraudulent activities. Avoid interfering in their creative process. Make it a ritual to examine the campaign’s progress through robust metric tracking.Finally, don’t hesitate to experiment with influencer marketing to gain authentic social proof and a loyal customer base.