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Unlock the Value of Influencer Marketing: A Brief Guide for Marketers

The duties of the modern marketer can’t be accurately summed up by traditional terms such as “advertising” or “marcom”. In recent years, consumer demands have shifted considerably and organizational structures have followed suit. The result, marketers must now be accountable for both consumer experiences and revenue outcomes.

In today’s lean operating environment, teams are smaller yet expectations are higher. In order to fulfill their duties, marketers need efficient tools.

One solution that can enable the modern marketer to do more with less, delivering on revenue obligations while rebuilding consumer trust that’s been eroded away is Influencer Marketing Automation.

Brands are eager to get into the game, and they aren’t just making trivial investments in influencer marketing. They’re dedicating major spend to the strategy and arming their influencer initiatives for success. In our work at Tap, we’ve observed dramatic shifts over the last 12 months, with influencer marketing budgets going from $25,000 to over $2M in some cases for always-on influencer marketing.

This isn’t the kind of influencer marketing one person might have handled. Influencer marketing at this level happens on a platform, fueled by a technology. It empowers agencies and brands to scale content that engages consumers and delivers revenue. And what’s impressive is that it works across industries including CPG, financial services, insurance, automotive, and others.

We are always listening to our customers and prospects, and in this brief guide, we will address some of the most common questions we hear about influencer marketing and how it ties to revenue and sales lift to unlock real value.

Q: Is influencer marketing experimental?

A: Influencer marketing is a proven way to reach consumers by using trusted, relatable voices to communicate product messages that they’re eager to hear. It’s no longer experimental; it’s experiential, with 75 percent of marketers practicing it in some form and nearly 60 percent expecting to increase their dedicated budgets within the next 12 months. (Augure)

The fact is that when powered by automation, influencer marketing becomes a powerful channel that generates an average of $9.60 in earned media value for every $1.00 paid. As a channel, influencer marketing automation allows you to execute influencer marketing at scale while maintaining content quality and measuring and optimizing performance at nuanced levels.  

Q: How can I justify shifting budget towards influencer marketing when it isn’t measurable?

A: Influencer marketing is measurable; more so, in fact, than many traditional channels. In the past, companies like Nielsen measured the impact of advertising based on the number of impressions it received, the number of television sets that were tuned in to a channel at the time an ad was run. Unfortunately, this data was muddied by circumstances outside the advertiser’s control; for example, the possibility that viewers may have left the room during the commercial break. While influencer marketing can be measured by impressions, it takes that evaluation to the next level by inviting engagement from viewers in the form of shares, likes, comments, pins to Pinterest, etc. These behaviors demonstrate not only that the viewers must have actually seen the content, but also that it struck a chord with them.

Q: How do we make influencer marketing predictable?

A: The secret to predictability in influencer marketing is to go beyond a singular campaign or product launch promotion. Instead, focus on building lasting relationships with the right influencers for your brand, and collaborate on always-on campaigns that grab your audience and facilitate ongoing conversation, forging a link of love between consumers and your brand.

Trust isn’t a switch: You can’t turn it off and then back on again. It requires multiple people, multiple conversations, and a wealth of content that fuels the buyer’s journey—which is happening with or without you in many places at the same time. You need to be in those places, participating in those conversations, wherever your consumers work and play online.

Q: Is influencer marketing a true marketing channel?

A: Yes. A channel is a predictable, scalable, high-performance, optimizable way to drive revenue for your company. Influencer Marketing Automation meets those criteria. It does scale, giving you access to optimal, vetted influencers through a platform that enables streamlined workflows and time efficiencies. You can also control content quality, timelines, and FTC disclosures without having to check and schedule each post and social share. And there are ways to measure performance and improve the overall impact on revenue as well as the impact from individual influencers and social platforms.

Q: Why do I need automation?

A: It’s possible to do influencer marketing using spreadsheets, Google searches, and emails. However, it isn’t an efficient solution. Manual influencer marketing is time-consuming and labor intensive. Your team must be equipped to identify and evaluate influencers, manage content, assess channels, and track the results from it all. Because this takes so long, your capacity will be limited to a few one-off influencer marketing campaigns. These can be effective in the short-term. However, without the time to develop a recognizable relationship between your brand and the influencers, results and engagement will be fleeting.

To unlock a real return on influence, you need automation and the continuous engagement that always-on campaigns can generate. Consumers are out there, asking questions and gathering information through channels of their choosing. Millions of people are forming their own opinions, and if you’re not constantly involved in that part of that conversation, you’re losing out.

Q: Who takes on the legal issues involved with influencer marketing?

A: The answer is multifaceted, covering employment, brand safety, and FTC compliance.

FTC Compliance: Our TapFusion platform automates FTC compliance by inserting disclosures into blog posts in the platform. However, at the end of the day, brands are responsible for overseeing compliance, and should never look for ways around the disclosure. Keep in mind is that FTC disclosure policies and guidelines are always changing. Our technology team has built a powerful back end that ensures we’re staying ahead of those changes and that all of the posts and content your influencers produce support FTC requirements to the fullest extent. Furthermore, our content team works hard to provide up-to-date resources to guide influencers on proper FTC compliance and etiquette.

Brand Safety: Brand safety is a central concern for our clients, which include banks and multinational, billion-dollar companies. To preserve that, some clients prefer to be involved in the influencer workflow, which is why our platform allows for a content review process if your brand requests it.

Employment: Influencers are contractors who operate under clear 1099 requirements. The TapFusion platform uses process that not only verifies assignment completion and pays influencers upon completion, but also issues important tax paperwork automatically at the end of the year. None of this responsibility falls to you as a marketer.

Q: How does influencer content measure up against traditional marketing content, from a cost perspective?

A: Think of it this way, influencer marketing with automation is a package deal; including content creation, amplification, audience targeting, and optimized distribution. When you’re evaluating the cost of working with an influencer, weigh it against the person-hours it would take for you to create that content in house plus the amount you’d pay to get than content in front of a large, engaged audience that is relative to your brand.

Q: Can influencer marketing lead to sales lift?

A: Absolutely. As an example: a client of ours executed an influencer program enlisting 39 bloggers to create content around a technology product and to distribute that content along with a coupon. Within the first 24 hours, the first blog post generated 140,000 hits to the brand’s URL, 5,000 shares on Facebook, and a 139% sales lift over the daily average.  

Q: Can you give an example of the extended value of influencer content?

A: Consider the example above; the last time we looked, that campaign had generated over 300,000 engagements, 3.7M views, and a Total Media Value of $1.15M. Although the coupon has expired, people are still reading the posts, getting interested in the product, and visiting the brand’s URLs. Impressions, clicks, views, shares, sales continue to roll in after a campaign is over. In just over two months, another Tap customer generated 50 percent more impressions post-campaign, impressions we can assume resulted in sales not accounted for in their study window. This is because influencer content is designed to be “evergreen”, meaning that it will continue to add value for viewers long after its initial publication date, particularly when it is curated on a site such as Pinterest.

In addition, consider the limitless potential value you can get from content re-use. Many of our customers repurpose content on their brand websites, blogs, and content hubs; as well as in branded communities, newsletters, and marketing materials.

Q: How do you optimize an influencer marketing campaign to get more sales lift?

A: There are two pieces to campaign optimization: Selecting the right influencer, and selecting the right assignment. Because it’s easy to pick the perfect influencers but ask them to do the wrong thing (or vice versa), TapInfluence helps with both pieces. First, we inform your influencer selection by providing a triumvirate of data on each influencer: Influencer data, performance data, and audience data. Second, our Customer Success managers provide guidance on assignment types, drawing from a playbook of nearly 10,000 assignments. We know which assignments perform best for different types of brands.  

 

Q: How to do you track the consumer’s movement from content to sales?

A: We use a tracking pixel that logs the activity of the people who experienced your content. If you compare two demographically-matched groups of people with the same historical purchasing patterns, and expose one group of people to influencer content, you’ll see that the people who experience influencer content drive incremental sales.

Q: What’s the minimum annual investment we should be making in influencer marketing?

A: We’ve seen budgets in the tens of thousands to budgets in the millions. How much you spend depends entirely on the size of your company and the extent of your goals. Do you want to grow market share? Raise awareness? Drive revenue for a certain audience profile? Over the last several months, we’ve worked closely with hundreds of companies helping them figure out how to best use and optimize their influencer budgets this year—and we wrapped that methodology into what we’re calling a Sales Lift QuickStart.

The QuickStart is essentially a free, confidential consultation with one of our top influencer strategists who will help you sell what you did last year to your clients or teams, and then show you how to best maximize and optimize your budget this year. Email saleslift@tapinfluence.com to schedule your Sales Lift QuickStart today.

Q: What’s the best strategy when you can’t afford the influencers who are the best fit for you?

A: If you’re thinking that the best influencers for you are the most expensive influencers with the highest reach, we’d encourage you to reconsider. Many marketers practicing influencer marketing limit their consideration to celebrity-status influencers who cost many thousands of dollars. The TapFusion platform, however, enables you to target so narrowly that you can identify influencers who are relevant to your business and engaged with your target consumers for only a fraction of that cost.

For instance, if you’re looking for an influencer with an audience in Denver with a high affinity for Nike brand and yoga, you might find influencers who cost anywhere from $50 to $750. Yes, their reach may be smaller, but it will also contain a higher concentration of your ideal consumers than the reach of someone who charges $10,000.

The key is to use the data. Drill down into the what you’re really trying to do to move the needle.

Q: What’s a good cost per engagement, cost per click (CPC), and click through rate (CTR)?

A: The CPC and CTR metrics are really more relevant to other types of advertising, such as banner ads, where the click is the only possible type of engagement.  (By the way, the typical CTR of a display ad is a measly 0.06 percent.)

But a click is a type of engagement, so our platform ties CPC into CPE data. A CPE of $1.00 or less is a great benchmark to aim for. In our platform, the lowest 25 percent of CPEs are considered “good.” The platform displays them in green so you can see them easily.

One of the most powerful things about our influencer marketplace is that it’s transparent, open, and competitive. Influencers can access their CPE data to understand their performance and how they measure up against other influencers in their niche. We find that this helps influencers adjust their pricing expectations, just as it helps you to better select influencers whose content performs and outperforms based on cost.

Q: Are affiliation programs beneficial?

A: Yes and no. Affiliate programs can give your brand access to influencer audiences, and can drive traffic from influencer content to your website. But affiliate programs are also unabashedly commerce-centric, and thus can seem “spammy” and damage an influencer’s perceived authenticity. The best way to reap the benefits of affiliate programs without harming that influencer-consumer relationship is to run those programs in tandem with a more robust influencer marketing strategy—if you run them at all.

Influencer Marketing Automation is an end-to-end solution that can enable your marketing team to deliver on revenue goals while improving your relationship with your consumers. For a deep dive into how you can add value with this comprehensive tool, download our eBook: The Definitive Guide to Mastering Influencer Marketing with Automation.

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