The life of a marketer is not a simple one, and attempting to get an influencer marketing campaign off the ground is no exception.
To begin with, influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are sometimes used interchangeably, which can cause confusion.
They have similarities but are different in that where affiliate marketing tends to rely on B2B relationships, influencer marketing is solely B2C — even in the development of the marketing relationship itself.
In influencer marketing, brands contract with influencers – influential people of their networks, whether digital or personal – to refer their business to customers.
Nowadays, influencers primarily exist on social media, on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
In this way, businesses can speak directly to their customer base in a more authentic way.
But just as managing affiliates can be complex, influencer marketing programs need assistance from technology to make them scalable.
Getting Started with Influencer Marketing Technology
Until recently, the world of influencer marketing relied on word of mouth.
But the advent of technology has made it far easier for businesses to manage every aspect of their marketing efforts.
Numerous tools have popped up to manage the challenges of influencer marketing.
Managing social media content schedules, handing off referral links and codes to influencers, finding and onboarding influencers, and paying influencers on time are all made more manageable with the right tech in place.
Choosing a performance marketing platform for your business allows you to take total control of your influencer programs and performance marketing strategies.
How Does an Influencer Marketing Platform Help?
In one case, a nationally renowned artisanal bracelet maker I work with was looking for further growth.
While the company relied on brand ambassadors beforehand, they noticed – back in 2018 – that their long-tail ambassadors were not performing. They found that incentivization was an exceptional way to drive sales among these ambassadors.
This led to the establishment of reward tiers that allowed brand ambassadors to gain unique rewards by increasing their sales.
In the end, the technology of their partner network provided the brand a 590% increase in revenue and three times increase in website traffic.
With some technological help, they were able to reform their business and now have over 120,000 brand ambassadors working for the company.
Another client, a nutritional company for weightlifters, had seen a good amount of personal success throughout the fitness world.
Yet they were looking to improve their outreach, and their referral program wasn’t working quite as well as it should have.
This brand created a custom-branded referral network that could target their fitness and supplement niche.
They knew that engagement and conversions could only be improved by giving their brand reps ownership over the business’s affiliate program.
By creating a seamless affiliate platform, they believed that they’d have a better go at getting affiliates and brand ambassadors.
Since launching the new program in 2018, the company has gained over 1,200 new rep sign-ups.
Moreover, the business now sees 20% of its annual revenue from ecommerce referrals alone.
With the help of technology, this company was able to boost its referral revenue — and other companies could do the same by using technology to their advantage.
9 Steps to Successful Influencer Marketing Programs
The right performance marketing platform works for businesses looking to improve their performance marketing strategies, whether that means affiliate marketing or influencer marketing.
But even if it works, where do you begin?
Part of making technology work for you is understanding how it works. If you don’t know how to properly use a digital device, you’ll never be able to use it to its fullest.
Here are some of the basics to using influencer technology for your business.
1. Define Your Goals
Before you begin, you’ll need to understand what your business’s key performance indicators (KPIs) are. These can include:
- Increase in followers.
Why do you need to know these?
It’s important you identify these from the beginning, whether your goals are related to them or what they specifically look like within your niche.
This enables you to design a unique platform around your long-term goals.
2. Define Your Social Media Channels
You’ll need to know which channels you’re going to target.
If it appears that Facebook is your best avenue forward, you won’t want to rely on an influencer who is solely on Twitter.
This will require researching your niche before you kick off your campaign. In particular, you’ll need to evaluate your niche to understand what social media apps your customers most likely use.
If you can define this, you can more aptly set up where your focus lies.
3. Join a Performance Marketing Network
Once you’ve defined your KPIs and the social media channels you want to use, it’s time to join a performance marketing network.
The right platform allows you to effectively create a space where your influencers can gather, refer to pre-made content, and communicate with one another.
4. Begin Reaching Out to Influencers
You’re up and running on your influencer marketing site.
Great! But that is just the beginning.
From here on out, you’ll immediately want to start reaching out to influencers, and you don’t need 800 influencers to start.
Starting small is the best option, whether you’re talking nano-influencers or a small team of influencers.
Now, why is smaller better? Nano-influencers are beneficial because they have higher engagement rates compared to even micro-influencers and influencers like Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, etc.
A small team is useful, especially when starting out because it allows you to use it as a testing ground.
Chances are, you won’t strike gold when you start out. And that’s normal.
But take that time and use it for your own advantage.
Try out different referral links and language from influencer to influencer, and track the statistics from every creation as closely as you can.
The information gathered from the platform will be extremely useful in establishing your network. Better yet, you’ll be able to knock the dents out of your strategy before things truly kick off.
5. Create a Content Schedule
When kicking off, one of the best things you can do is develop a thoroughly developed content schedule.
This might sound strange, as your influencers will be the ones creating a vast amount of content. But you’ll still need to create a lot of content both for your website and for your influencers.
A content schedule is incredibly important, as it makes life far easier for marketers.
It helps them verify content deadlines, where to upload, and that all content gets to influencers as expected.
Brand content can be uploaded to your business’s influencer dashboard in your performance marketing platform.
This is a simple place where all of your content can be stored and be instantly accessible to your influencers.
6. Review and Optimize Content
Once you have content uploaded to your site, your influencers will be able to use it as they see fit.
But it might not be time to let them run free just yet.
Businesses should work with their influencers when just starting out. This is important, even if it feels uncomfortable.
Using the statistics and data from your platform, you can tell your influencers what kind of content is working best with consumers.
It might not sound like much but is essential for creating a positive relationship between your influencers and potential customers.
Don’t leave their work to fate.
Use research to show them what content works best for both of you – and remember, every conversion they make for you is a payment to them.
Incentivize them to perform to their best ability.
7. Use Your Network, Track Your Data
One of the greatest benefits of an influencer platform is that it allows you to track the statistics of those referring to your business.
Without a platform, you’ll have to rely on traditional methods of social media marketing, a daunting task when working with dozens to hundreds to thousands of influencers.
Instead, the right platform allows you to effectively track your influencer’s stats at all times. Live updates mean you remain up to date on the performance of your team.
That includes most of all, how your influencer links have been performing, as well as the type of engagement they are producing, be it clicks, email sign-ups, views, followers, or conversions.
It saves your marketing team time, too.
Rather than having to track down and analyze all of that data internally, you can all access everything you need right on the app itself.
8. Pay Your Affiliates on Time
Choosing a platform that makes it easy for you to manage your influencers is key.
Whether it’s finding them, contacting them, or signing a contract with them, you can effectively onboard them and prepare them to work with you.
But the work you need to put in with influencers doesn’t stop there.
If you want a positive reputation, you need to pay your influencers on time, every time. A late payment is a bad sign for a business, as it speaks poorly of their greater track record.
While you might be able to hold onto some of your influencers with a late payment, others are bound to run for the hills, making referrals for another company over trying to make a payment out of yours.
The best platform makes it easy to pay your influencers on time.
No late payments, no missed payments, no instances of forgetting to mail that check. Instead, you can pay your influencers as your signed contract dictates.
9. Make the Partnership Work for Them
On top of getting your affiliates to put in the necessary work for your business, make sure you’re putting in work for them.
What does this look like?
In the case of the brand referenced above, and potentially your own business, that means providing incentives.
Incentives can include gift cards and cash prizes, but it can go beyond that.
You can feature a write-up for your other influencers to see or an even steeper discount code too, hopefully, help them drive more conversions, for example.
Or, give them a higher commission rate for the coming month.
Influencing Consumers and Winning Customers
If you’re not sure where to start on your influencer marketing strategy, consider whether affiliate marketing is really right for you in the first place.
The similarities between the performance marketing strategies are stark and can help you begin drafting your campaign before you begin.
With the right influencer technology, you can gain an increase in conversions, building a reliable customer base while onboarding more influencers going forward.