The fact that 93% of marketers reported to have employed or are planning to employ at least some content marketing strategies proves that this field is definitely going to dominate the digital landscape in the future. However, parallel with its evolution at an astonishing pace, the challenges for marketers have rapidly grown as well. Namely, the information overload makes people reduce their choices to those few most trusted ones.
This is where influencer marketing steps in. It's one of the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channels. This marketing strategy might play an immensely important role not only when it comes to content promotion, but to relationship development and link building, as well.
The symbiosis between content and influencer marketing has proven to be highly necessary. First, influencers offer credibility to a piece of content, magnify reach and help you send your content out in the right way, at the right time, to the right people. Put simply, without influence and the proper promotion, the content you produce would be utterly fruitless. Consequently, content marketing gives influencers an opportunity to participate in spreading the word and be impactful.
Engaging influencers is not easy, though. The reports claim that 75% of brands find it difficult to identify the right influencers in their niche to partner with. What you need to know is that effective influencer engagement is based on sourcing and choosing bloggers or industry experts who drive true changes in the attitude, perception and adoption patterns. Here are some tactics you could use to engage them.
Set the Goals of Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
Before you launch an influencer program, you need to determine precisely what you want to accomplish by implementing it. What you need to always keep in mind is that the objectives you set at the very beginning can and should change over time. For instance, your new influencer marketing strategy will probably be essentially different from your overall digital strategy developed a few months ago. However, there is a whole set of premises you need to establish in order to build an effective influencer marketing strategy.
- Does an influencer program boost your brand awareness? For a young company, being recognized on the market is the key to success. Therefore, one of the most important steps is to determine whether and in what ways the implementation of influencer marketing contributes to the recognition of your brand. In this stage, you need to assess how many people viewed, downloaded or even rated the piece of content you’ve posted because of an influencer.
- What strategies does an influencer use to engage your audience? Once you resolve this, the next step is to see what techniques an influencer uses in order to make your content more clickable and shareable. For example, you could test how often your content is shared or what social networks they use.
- How is the influencer helping convert people into valuable leads? When it comes to integrating influencer marketing into content marketing, you need to be aware that it’s all about lead generation and nurturing. Precisely because of this, you need to determine what methods influencers use to generate valuable leads, as well as how they help move a lead closer to a sale.
- Have you made any sales because of an influencer sharing your content? In other words, you need to see whether there is a way you could use influencer marketing to improve your ROI and become more invested in your business.
- How can an influencer help retain a customer? Finally, you need to take is determine whether your content is convincing enough and your influencer marketing strategy is powerful enough to keep your customers loyal and, above all, satisfied.
Build a Pool of Influencers
Put simply, influencers are people whose word carries a particular weight in the digital world and who can persuade others by virtue of their integrity and authenticity to read, share and possibly make a purchase. As we already mentioned, the type of influencers you want to partner with depends solely on your specific objectives. They can be bloggers, celebrities, journalists, customers, members of a purchasing group, industry experts and analysts, business partners and internal team members.
Essentially, there are two methods of building what is known as an influencer pool. First, there is a myriad social media ranking and monitoring tools like Klout and Woopra that are always valuable here. In addition to this, you can build a list of websites that contain specific pages, keywords or sections that relate to your goal. Using Dibz link prospecting tool, this whole process can be automated to give you instant results that you can easily review and sort out by different parameters.
Still, the other method, which usually consists of personally evaluating the quality of a potential influencer’s work is also highly reliable. For instance, it would be safe to assume that you can learn a lot from their comments, reviews, retweets and posts on social channels. However, apart from all this, there is only one way to determine whether someone is an influencer or not. Of course, we are talking about the number of their followers.
Choose Your Outreach Wisely
Once you’ve identified a potential pool of influencers and you’ve researched their work thoroughly, the next step you need to take is to reach out to them. Here, you need to take a quick moment to consider the following:
- How will you reach out to this person?
- Can you offer something valuable to them?
- What exactly are you expecting from this relationship?
What you need to bear in mind is that this is a give and take relationship just like any other. Sure, in the past, you could have just paid for a positive review or mention, but today, no self-respecting blogger is willing to compromise their authority over a handful of dollars. In other words, what you need to do is to persuade them that you are worthy of their attention and explain to them in how exactly they are actually benefiting themselves by supporting you.
Unfortunately, great competition in your business niche means that influencers are at advantage of being able to choose. For this very reason, what you need to do is have a reliable approach so that your very first impression is a positive one. To put simply, in order to find a way to stand out, you need to come up with a different, unique and witty approach.
- Give them some love online through replies, retweets or social media mentions.
- Post some thoughtful comments on their blog posts.
- Always connect with them on LinkedIn in order to introduce yourself and say why you’d like to connect with them.
- Send an original and comprehensive e-mail, where you would explain what your plans and expectations are.
And last, but not the least important, you are not supposed to sound like you are asking for a favor. Not only influencers, but anyone you are trying to make a business arrangement with can smell desperation, which leaves you at a great disadvantage. Simply try to present to the influencer in question the ways in which you can both benefit from this collaboration. Of course, a bit of flattery always goes a long way. Let them know why you approached them in particular of all the bloggers out here.
Take Care of Influencer Relationships
After you’ve started making connections with your targeted influencers, there are numerous ways you could possibly cooperate with them:
- Suggesting that they co-create content with you
- Proposing custom content created for your brand or even exclusively for your platforms
- Asking influencers to share your content on their the plethora of their platforms
Now, the next thing you need to take care of is in what way to compensate your influencers. It would be foolish, irresponsible and even disrespectful to assume that you can just compensate every single influencer in the same manner. The safest way to make a compensation plan is to bring up this kind of conversation with an influencer early on. There is nothing wrong about being direct when it comes to figures. After all, it is a business conversation that we are talking about.
When it comes to negotiating, you need to play tough. Sure, you don’t want to insult an influencer by underestimating their value, but you don’t want to overpay either. Try to be realistic about their reach, number of followers, content quality, ranking and similar things. Even though you don’t want to insult an influencer, being honest about some of these things can turn out to be quite fruitful.
Similarly to the price range issue, you don’t want to use the same approach to every influencer you encounter. Don’t be lazy here and try to do some homework on that particular influencer’s skills, interests and attitudes. Sure, this may seem quite obvious things to do but you would be surprised just how many people skip this part. On the other hand, doing this the right way can make you sound more like human and less like a robot or a spam-bot.
In the era of hyperconnectivity, data travels like waves. Moreover, these waves are made by people who have the utmost influence. As we could already conclude from the above mentioned examples, just one influential person can easily empower hundreds of people to visit your site and send thousands of leads your way. They can drive their followers to believe, care and, most importantly, make a purchase. Precisely because of this, having a solid influencer engagement strategy will help you not only identify your target influencers, but also determine your relationships, set objectives and drive more traffic to your content.