A Small Business' Guide to Beginning Influencer Marketing

As a small business, you are probably marketing through social media, content, or Google’s Pay-Per-Click.

Well, are you aware that your advertising methods could yield more fruit if you tried influencer marketing?

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is the practice of connecting your brand with online influencers, who then market your business to their followers. Usually, these online influencers are people with a big social following, normally in at least two major platforms. These influencers work even better when they are in your niche market.

For example, there are online influencers who connect with people who want to better their culinary skills, others are nutrition experts, while others are specifically in touch with the millennial generation. This explains why you see your favorite celebrity posting photos of them drinking fit tea, on Instagram, for example.

A skeptical businessman would wonder how exactly this strategy improves sales!

Well, it works well because your target market will trust recommendations from an online influencer, especially if it is someone they look up to. As a matter of fact, 92% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations, more than what brands say.

Additionally, businesses have reported that influencer marketing is the fastest growing customer acquisition method, from where they actually get nearly a quarter (22%) of their customers. This also explains why they report an average ROI of $6.85 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. It is no wonder therefore, that 59% of businesses are actually planning on increasing their influencer marketing budget.

So, now that you understand the perks of this marketing technique, how do you do it correctly?

5 Ways To Get Into Influencer Marketing

 

1) Think Small And Influential

While using a celebrity for your marketing efforts could be way above your set budget, thinking small and influential will sure bear good results, better yet, in a budget that you are comfortable in. Simply go online and look for a micro influencer-an influencer who has an influence in a particular niche, but big enough to earn results.

This is easier done using hashtags. For example, a grocery store in New York would prefer to specifically work with influencers in that location hence, searching with hashtags such as #nyfoodbloggers, #newyorkfoodbloggers, #nyfoodie, and #nychefs would suffice.

Don’t waste time engaging with an ‘influencer’ who has over 100,000 followers, yet no engagement. You’d be better off settling for one with only 80,000 followers, but triggers significant engagement with their posts.

The goal is to find and engage those mid-level influencers who have the perfect balance of influence and reach.

These influencers are likely a combination of bloggers, active social users and the biggest fans of your brand. Remember, the aim is to use someone who is not only influential, but can cause his audience to react.

2) Court Your Influencer

Sure enough, this is about money, and anyone would want to get paid to simply advertise a business on their Instagram post.

But, how do you ensure that you land a quality influencer?

To get the best, you need to court influencers you’ve settled on, because this stage serves as an interview, for both parties. A serious influencer would use this opportunity to learn your values as a brand, so you need to bring your A game.

Assert your presence by following and subscribing to an influencer’s content, sharing it with your community. Follow this up by establishing a rapport, via linking back to their content, commenting on their posts, and letting them acknowledge your content. Also, sending a small promotional gift will not do any harm.

3) Engage Influencers

After courting different influencers, you will have identified those with the highest potential of reaching your target market.

At this point, you need to engage them more directly, co-creating content, brainstorming, asking for quotes, requesting them to review your products and services, and you, sponsoring their initiatives.

Such a professional approach is what gave the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), early success in influencer marketing. Using the Social Media 411 strategy, the company attracted high quality influencers.

4) Weed Out The List

This is the most crucial part, where you choose which influencer to ultimately work with.

Fact is, through the first three stages, some influencers might have ignored your message. Well, don’t be quick to cross them out, unless this is done repeatedly, or they reach out, requesting that you stop contacting them.

Influencers who for some reason, fail to trigger engagement during the ‘interview’ process should also be weeded out. Basically, if your target reaction from their audience, such as email signups, subscriptions, sales, downloads or followers, is not achieved, it is time to try a different influencer, before investing too much.

GroupHigh’s Influencer CRM tool is an ideal application here as it will allow help you organize and better manage your blogger relationships.

A Real World Example

I began working with DK Grand Safaris last year. Based in Kenya, while their referral and repeat business was very strong, they were experiencing challenges competing against some of the larger safari outfitters based in the US.

We implemented an influencer outreach strategy with the goal of generating content on influencer blogs. This would not only be shared on the influencers social media handles but also provide us with third-party social media content we could promote on our own handles.

Our goals were three-fold:

  1. Generate general awareness by associating the brand with influencers
  2. Highlight bucketlist experiences like Gorilla Trekking
  3. Illustrate how a safari can be part of a major life event experience (i.e. honeymoon)

We started with this list of the top 70 luxury travel bloggers to court targeted influencers. After following these influencers on social media and engaging with their posts, the conversion began with a simple email outreach message:

While some of the email strings became quite lengthy and not every outreach attempt was an ideal match, the positive responses were overwhelming:

Here are just a few of the successful collaborations:

 

Way Forward

Remember, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get into influencer marketing. Simply, narrow down your search to a local micro influencer, as long as he has a grip on his audience. Ensure that they play a key role in your niche market, then court and engage them, as a way of gauging their value. Eventually, weed out those that don’t give results or are unresponsive to you, investing instead on an influencer that has shown results.

 

Want to connect with Jon Clark? Check him out on Linkdin, Twitter, Instagram, or at Fuze SEO.

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