An influencer marketing strategy is an extremely powerful way to promote your brand to your target audience in a way that builds trust.
Influencer marketing strategies involve creating partnerships with social media influencers, or creators who have amassed a following on one or more platforms by developing a collection of content typically focused on a distinct niche. For instance, a fitness influencer may endorse supplements, athletic clothing, and gym equipment.
Influencer marketing has the power to affect purchase decisions because of the relationship and trust cultivated with the influencer’s unique audience.
In this article, you’ll dive into:
- The benefits of influencer marketing strategies
- How to create a strong influencer marketing strategy
- How influencer and affiliate marketing work together
- The different types of influencers
- KPIs to track for influencer marketing
- What channel you should use for your influencer marketing strategy
- How influencer marketing can benefit your brand during a recession
Benefits of an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Many companies are intrigued by how to measure success with influencer marketing and don’t necessarily understand the benefits it can provide to a new, growing, or existing business.
However, the power of influencer marketing is clear:
- 61% of consumers trust influencer recommendations
- The global influencer marketing industry will reach $21.1 billion in 2023
- 75% of brands have a dedicated budget for influencer marketing
Partnering with influencers can help your brand:
- Enhance brand awareness. While prospects may be unfamiliar with your brand, they will be intrigued if they see one of their favorite influencers showcasing your items. This approach is particularly useful when you’re attempting to break into new markets, release a unique product line, or rebrand your business.
- Establish trust and authority. 46% of consumers will pay more for products from brands they trust. Building trust organically and establishing your brand as an authority in your field takes time. While an influencer marketing strategy won’t create trust and credibility overnight, it will accelerate the process. In a sense, influencers are “lending” your brand their credibility to help you connect with audiences.
- Achieve a strong ROI. 89% of business leaders say that influencer marketing produces a return on investment that is as good or better than other marketing tactics. Naturally, you will need to choose the right influencer partners and invest in consistency of exposure if you hope to reap this benefit and drive strong conversions.
How to Create a Strong Influencer Marketing Strategy
While there is no question that leveraging influencers can help your organization grow, getting the most out of this type of partnership marketing requires expertise and know-how. Here are five key areas that every influencer marketing strategy should focus on to ensure a data-backed impact.
1. Know Your Goal
It’s important to understand three key pillars to unlock the benefits of an influencer marketing strategy:
- Your budget
- Your target market
- Your KPIs (e.g. brand awareness, reach, revenue, sales, clicks, engagement rate)
When it comes to your budget, remember that the quality of your influencers should outweigh the quantity. Once you’ve pinpointed quality influencers, you can grow your influencer base and replicate success through lookalike audiences.
To target the right audience, some of the key factors to assess are gender, age, location, and audience interests. An influencer’s audience can indicate how successful the campaign will perform in terms of key metrics like reach, engagement, CTR, and conversion rate.
Influencer marketing can target all aspects of business growth and lend itself to many different key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, if your KPI is around brand awareness, your campaigns will be more exposure-led and based on reach. If revenue growth is your KPI, you should target influencers with higher engagement rates and more authentic audiences that show high conversion potential.
2. Choose the Right Influencer
Influencer recruitment is vital to the success of your influencer marketing strategy. Regardless of your size, scale, and budget, finding the right influencer is a process. It’s not always easy and it isn’t “one size fits all.”
How can you choose the right influencer? If around 9% of an influencer’s followers have interests that match with your brand, they’re probably a good fit.
Social trends, platform algorithms, and the popularity of different creators are constantly changing. Ongoing recruitment is essential to have a sustainable influencer marketing strategy that keeps your brand active, relevant, and positioned in front of the right communities.
3. Utilize the Right Social Media Platforms
Influencer content will never land with your audience if it isn’t optimized for the platform it exists on. Each platform has a different sense of connection with its community.
Time of posting, length of content, authenticity, hashtags, music, and more also play a part in your influencer marketing content’s visibility and reach.
Multichannel posting is ideal to increase awareness and engagement, but the content should always be optimized for each platform.
For example, resharing a clip from a YouTube video on an Instagram Reel won’t be as impactful; on the other hand, TikTok videos and Instagram Reels can go hand-in-hand.
4. Build Mutually Beneficial Relationships
With influencer marketing, relationships are everything. Building mutually beneficial relationships with your partners will mean even more for the outcome of your influencer marketing strategy.
Creating a strong, empathetic bond is key to receiving quality content, genuine feedback, and long-term success.
Your influencer marketing strategy should be founded on finding influencers who want to work with you as much as you want to work with them. An element of personalized connection should be apparent in the influencers you partner with; they should authentically love your brand and partnership.
A great place to start is looking at your existing customer base or following on branded social channels, as influencers existing within these communities are already actively engaging with your brand and would be thrilled to form a partnership.
5. Don’t Interrupt; Be Authentic
Consumers have become increasingly savvy and are prone to reject stereotypical ads, especially when they get in the way of authentic content. A successful influencer marketing strategy produces genuine and enjoyable content.
This means utilizing each social platform for what it does best. As creators continue to grow and produce organic content, ads that are not carefully thought out and collaborated on with an influencer can deter audiences rather than engage with them.
Influencer Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing
The affiliate and influencer industries are converging rapidly as brands realize that these channels can provide clear value.
While both influencer and affiliate marketing rely on revenue sharing to generate a profit, they play distinct roles in nurturing leads and driving sales.
- Managed by separate internal teams and traditionally focused on upper-funnel KPIs, like building brand awareness through impressions.
- Compensation is typically a mix of fixed fees and free products in exchange for guaranteed content.
- A full-funnel channel to reach customers throughout the path to purchase.
- Uses a variety of tactics to drive traffic and sales, including coupons, retargeting, and product reviews.
- Particularly useful for retail brands, as it only requires paying for desired outcomes, is easy to implement, and drives a high ROI.
Despite their differences, influencer and affiliate marketing are complementary strategies that can help brands maximize profitability, build trust and credibility, and connect with new audiences at all stages of the sales funnel.
Consumers are rethinking how and where they spend their money. Marketers need to be adaptable in order to succeed.
By collaborating with a variety of influencers and affiliates, your brand can demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, and willingness to work with partners to achieve shared goals – which builds trust and strengthens partnerships over time.
Types of Influencers for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
When crafting your influencer partnership marketing strategy, one of the biggest decisions you will make is choosing which size of influencers with which to partner.
Acceleration Partners sorts influencers into five tiers:
- Nano: 1K-10K followers
- Micro: 10K-100K followers
- Mid-tier: 100K-500K followers
- Macro: 500K-1M followers
- Mega: 1M+ followers
When leveraging influencer partnership marketing, it may be tempting to seek out individuals with the largest following. However, large creators don’t always generate the outcomes brands are looking for.
By partnering with nano, micro, and mid-tier influencers, you can tap into niche audiences to drive favorable outcomes. Micro-influencers have smaller followings and are particularly cost-effective to connect with niche markets. With macro and mega creators, be prepared to pay steep fixed fees.
Generally, as influencer reach increases, the audience engagement rate decreases. Higher-tier influencers are often more effective at building awareness, but they don’t garner the same engagement and conversion as lower-tier influencers.
If you’re going to successfully harness the conversion potential with macro and mega creators, it is crucially important to find the right partnerships.
Macro influencers usually have a broader approach to social media, and their content can be perceived as less relatable. Lower-tier influencers are seen as more authentic with deeper connections to their unique audience.
In exchange for endorsing your products, all influencers are typically rewarded with free items and/or other forms of compensation.
While there are several compensation models, one of the most typical involves a flat fee and then a percentage of sales that the influencer generates. To attribute sales to an influencer, you must provide them with a unique promo code, affiliate link, or both.
KPIs to Track for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
You should track the following five metrics to understand your influencer marketing strategy’s effectiveness:
- Video Views/Reach
- Engagements/Engagement Rate
- Clicks/Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Conversions/Conversion Rate (CVR)
- Sales/Revenue/Cost per Acquisition
It’s important to understand that it takes consistent exposure to your brand for users to start converting.
During the initial 2-3 rounds of content, it’s crucial ask yourself questions like:
- Are the actual video views/reach measuring up to what was estimated?
- Does the engagement rate of the sponsored content align to the influencer’s standard average for the social channel used?
- Are engagements translating into clicks? Is the organic CTR healthy compared to industry benchmarks?
- Does the content have a clear CTA, and is it supported by a healthy conversion rate (CVR) that is aligned to industry benchmarks?
- What is the audience sentiment like in the comments section of the influencer’s sponsored content?
What Channel Should You Use for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy?
Each social media channel has a different demographic. It’s wise to seek out creators who are present on two or more platforms. Finding opportunities to promote cross-channel widens your reach and expands your scope of actionable insights to help you continuously refine your influencer partnership marketing strategies.
Instagram Stories, Reels, Live, & In-Feed Posts
There is something for everyone to leverage on Instagram, especially if your brand is visually oriented.
The industries that tend to benefit most from Instagram include:
Instagram offers several outlets for creators to share videos:
- Instagram Stories. 83% of marketing professionals consider Instagram Stories the most integral component of their influencer campaigns. They’re effective to drive conversions due to the ability to embed links into story frames. They also tend to cost less than in-feed posts. Since they’re only live for 24 hours, there’s a limited window to drive results; however, Stories can be added to Highlights, where they can drive continued value for evergreen promotions.
- Instagram Reels. Reels are a huge industry focus right now because Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes Reels in users’ Discovery pages and feeds. Influencers can also pin a Reel to their profile so that it stays as a top post, increasing the long-term value of the content.’algorithm prioritizes Reels in users’ discovery pages and feeds. Influencers can also pin a Reel to their profile so that it stays as a top post, increasing the long-term value of the content.
- Instagram In-Feed Posts. Instagram in-feed posts can include Reels, static posts, and carousels. Static content is typically priced at a lower rate than Reels.
- Instagram Live. This is an interesting option to test with creators who have a wider reach. While this option is temporary in nature, influencers can repurpose Lives on their feed.
- Multiple Links in Bio: As of 2023, Instagram allows influencers to include multiple links in their bio, supporting an easier path to conversions and replacing the need for alternative solutions like Linktree.
TikTok is an extremely important channel for brands and their influencer partners, with users spending 14% more when TikTok is part of their purchase journey.
The top leading industries of TikTok include:
- Home & garden
- Food & beverage
The strongest TikTok content is creative, fun, authentic, and relatable. It connects audiences through shared experiences. Brands that are comfortable giving influencers creative freedom resonate better with audiences.
Video views, engagement rates, conversions, and influencer rates are notoriously hard to predict on TikTok. However, the algorithm’s power – though unpredictable – could work in your favor. If your content goes viral, your video views and engagement rates will skyrocket.
TikTok videos must be paired with links in bios to support conversions. In organic content, clickable links cannot be incorporated into captioned text or comments.
Some of the key industries for influencer marketing on YouTube include:
- Food & drink
- Health & wellness
- Home goods
YouTube’s strength is delivering content that remains relevant long-term because it’s easy to incorporate links in the video description (above the fold).
YouTube’s staple is longer-form video content. With nano, micro, and mid-tier influencers, you can often get long-form dedicated videos. As you get into higher tiers, it’s more cost-effective to get a 60-90-second spot within one of their longer-form videos.
YouTube Shorts also can’t be underestimated. Shorts receive 30 billion views per day and are YouTube’s way of competing with shorter-form video staples like TikToks and Instagram Reels. Shorts tend to be a much more cost-effective route to partner with creatives who have a robust market reach.
Influencer Marketing Strategy During a Recession
The economic downturn caused by the pandemic has led to shifts in consumer shopping habits.
Consumers are adopting recession-proof behaviors such as making fewer purchases, buying cheaper products, and searching for the best deals. Business leaders are evaluating their affiliate marketing partnerships in order to grow profitably and reduce risk.
One strategy is to be competitive with your prices and consider leveraging strategic loyalty, deal, and coupon partners to attract and retain cautious consumers. Coupon partners can greatly impact consumer behavior.
For 39% of consumers, the path to purchase is shortened when a coupon or promo code is present.
For example, when Blurb shifted their affiliate program structure to prioritize driving new customers, they partnered with Acceleration Partners to develop and implement a strong strategy that ensured a high ROAS.
Their outcomes were significant:
- 361% of revenue projection achieved
- 30% of orders generated by coupon partners
- 50% ROAS increase for some partners
- 50% commission expense reduction
Affiliate marketing accounts for 16% of all purchases worldwide, and total affiliate sales are expected to exceed $30 billion by 2025. Proactively diversifying your affiliate marketing strategy is a great way to maintain your competitive edge amid ongoing economic volatility.
The benefits of diversifying your affiliate program include:
- Risk mitigation. A one-dimensional affiliate program that relies on only a few similar partners is extremely vulnerable. Adding new types of affiliates to your program will help you mitigate the risks of an impending recession while stabilizing cash flow.
- Opportunity for growth. Many of your competitors are dialing back spending. Diversifying your affiliate marketing program allows you to scale your brand-building efforts. Forward-thinking brands are using this technique to expand their market share and drive cost-effective growth.
- Protection against market fluctuations. Cultivating a diverse network of motivated partners with expansive marketing resources allows you to insulate yourself against market fluctuations, avoid overspending on ineffective campaigns, and drive steady growth for your business, even when consumer spending habits fluctuate.
- Increased revenue streams. Every active affiliate partner represents a supplemental revenue stream for your business. Renogy is an example of a forward-thinking company that used affiliate marketing to expand its revenue. Within the first year of partnering with Acceleration Partners, Renogy experienced a 1,356% increase in revenue and a 19% increase in average order.
Organizations in nearly every vertical are tightening their wallets and taking extra precautions to minimize resource waste. With affiliate marketing, you can test the performance of marketing channels without stretching your advertising budgets too thin.
Most brands know that affiliate marketing is a powerful tool to drive quality sales, acquire new customers, and generate high-value leads. But many don’t realize that it’s also excellent to test the performance of other marketing channels.
The affiliate model is unique due to its payout model. Since affiliate marketing often leverages a cost-per-action model, brands don’t incur costs unless their affiliates deliver on a previously agreed-upon action. The cost-per-action payment model makes affiliate marketing the ideal tool for testing new marketing channels, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
Budget-conscious decision-makers can explore numerous channels, assess the viability of each, then identify the option with the highest ROI.
Your organization can use affiliate partnerships to try out a wide range of channels, including search, email, retargeting, customer-based integrations, and more.
Tying It All Together: Influencer Marketing Strategies
To get the most out of these complementary channels, brands need a holistic-minded partnership marketing team that can create, manage, and optimize influencer and affiliate programs.
Acceleration Partners can assist with everything from scaling your affiliate and influencer networks to developing a winning strategy for your business. Whether you’re new to influencer marketing or have been using it for a while, Acceleration Partners can help you develop an impactful program that’s perfectly aligned with your goals.
Acceleration Partners’ fully integrated and transparent influencer program management service addresses every facet of influencer partnership marketing, including:
- Strategically acquiring partners
- Helping you target the right audiences
- Generating quality leads, revenue, and more
Acceleration Partners provides all the resources you need to optimize your affiliate and influencer partnerships. To get the guidance you need to recession-proof your partnership marketing strategy, send a message to the team today.
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- Acceleration Partners, Influencer Partnership Marketing: The Missing Link to business growth.
- Acceleration Partners, Influencer and affiliate marketing: complementary strategies for partnership marketing.
- Acceleration Partners, Surviving a recession: How marketers can stay ahead of the game.
- Acceleration Partners, Influencer partnership marketing: the ultimate guide.
- Acceleration Partners, Why diversificiation is key: adaptive strategies for affiliate marketers in the current economic climate.
- Acceleration Partners, How affiliate marketing can test the performance of other marketing channels.