How to Maximize the Value of Your Influencer Marketing Budget

Spend is growing. Returns are elusive.
Discover how you can produce more value from your influencer marketing investment.

Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck

Marketers are pouring money into their influencer marketing campaigns. With more and more consumers and buyers using Ad Blocker and tuning out your branded messaging, influencer marketing presents an attractive workaround. And studies show it’s a smart move with businesses making an average of $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. That’s a great return and it shows that it works.

But if you’re willing to put more money in, you need to be sure that you’re getting more money out. And that’s where a lot of marketers today struggle. In fact, determining ROI remains a top influencer marketing challenge among 76% of marketers. So, how can you be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck and getting maximum value from your influencer marketing budget?

We asked 12 influencer and digital marketing experts who have taken the influencer marketing helm for their organizations how they maximize the value of their influencer marketing investments so you can do the same.

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39%

of marketers plan on increasing their influencer marketing budgets [source]

$6.50

is made for every $1 spent on influencer marketing [source]

76%

of marketers cite determining campaign ROI as a top influencer marketing challenge [source]

The Growing Investment in Influencer Marketing

Why is investment on the rise?

According to Linqua’s State of Influencer Marketing Report, 30% of marketers plan to spend between $25K – $50K per influencer marketing program. Another 25% plan to spend $50K – $100K per program, and a whopping 19% plan to spend over $100K.

By the way, that 19%? It was just 13% a year ago.

Why the significant increase? Mike Schiemer, the owner of Bootstrap Business (an influencer in his own right with over 250,000 followers), offers an explanation:

“Other forms of digital marketing are becoming more expensive or less effective. Banner ads are being blocked by browser ad blockers. Social media organic reach is at an all-time low and will continue declining on most platforms, especially Instagram. Paid social media marketing is getting more expensive every year. Google AdWords continues to be expensive. SEO gets more competitive every day. And email marketing ROI has been stagnant for years. For all of these reasons, influencer marketing is becoming an appealing alternative to a lot of companies. Pricing is all about supply vs demand, and demand is increasing.”

11 Proven Ways to Generate Greater ROI From Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Cost savings aren’t the only way to generate a greater return on investment. There are numerous solutions that can help you generate a big return, without having to slash anything (except for maybe time). And saving time is saving money, afterall.

#1 - Know What Works

Neal Schaffer, the author of “The Business of Influence,” suggests improving the value of your influencer marketing campaigns by knowing what works and what doesn’t.

Compare apples and apples. How much does it cost you to generate x clicks or y engagements using Paid Social? How does that compare to influencer marketing? If it’s cheaper to utilize Paid Social, you need to start working with more effective influencers or bring your scope down in size to start working with more nano and/or micro influencers.

#2 - Source Content From Influencers

In addition, Neal knows that content creation is both time- and resource-intensive for brands. So why not tap into influencers for additional content?

Content creation is an increasingly expensive line item for brands. Collaborate with influencers to source their content for your brand. In other words, increase your influencer marketing ROI by sourcing better content at a cheaper price than you are probably creating in-house or through your agency.

#3 - Follow the Proof, Not the Trends

Influencer marketing trends are plentiful and evolving. While it’s tempting to adopt them, Jyl Johnson Pattee, founder and CEO of Forward Influence, wants brands to double-down on the influencer marketing tactics that have been proven to work. Not every trend or tactic works for every industry, audience, or goal.

Getting tempted by influencer marketing trends is easy. But to drive huge ROI, define success up front and create activations that will best deliver on your goals. This may require choosing proven over trendy tactics.

If clicks equal success, adding a paid social campaign component on top of the PR tactic is a surefire way to drive quantifiable results.

If native content equals success, consider a blog or social content campaign that requires influencers to feature the brand’s products in the posts. Ensure the brand has distribution rights and encourage them to share, promote, and otherwise drive eyeballs to the third-party content, crediting the author.

If engagement equals success, enlist influencers with high engagement and have them do their thing, using your brand’s content and messaging to drive comments, likes, views, and shares.

Whatever tactic you choose, staying focused on what will actually drive success is the best way to reach it.

#4 - Connect With the Right Influencers

Targeting and securing the right influencers for your message and audience is one of the best ways to make the most of your influencer marketing investment. Just ask Cloris Kylie, influencer marketing consultant and author of the best-selling book “Beyond Influencer Marketing.”

To be able to grow our business with influencer marketing, it’s essential that we connect with the right influencers: those who reach our ideal audience and share our values and style. That’s why thorough research is essential. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” If we don’t prepare and rush into the outreach process, we’ll be likely to waste time and effort. Thoroughly learning about potential influencer connections will help us make the most out of our resources to reach our ideal audience. We’ll maximize our chances to build long-term connections with the influencers, too. Thorough research is key to get tangible results in the form of high engagement, new subscribers, and new clients.

#5 - Create Convenience for Influencers and Staff

Influencers are sacrificing their time and energy to work with you, so it’s important that you make it as easy for them as possible to contribute. CMO for Vengreso, Bernie Borges’ tips for generating greater influencer marketing ROI all stem from this one concept.

B2B brands often confuse influencer marketing with promotion and therefore approach it with a traditional marketing mindset that seems burdensome on staff and budget.

Three ways to maximize the value of influencer marketing at a reasonable cost on budget and burden on staff are:

  1. Create a private LinkedIn hub for content sharing. Selectively invite influencers to the hub and allow them to share one post per week. Put guardrails in place for equitable content sharing among the group.
  2. Assign influencers to your internal influencers. Obviously, there are limits to this component. However, a quarterly rotation schedule among execs, product managers, sales leaders, etc can offer influencers an inside voice they greatly value
  3. Enable influencers to create content with your subject matter experts. This doesn’t need to be limited to executives. Give them access to subject matter experts to interview them on their podcasts or for guest blogging.

#6 - Work With Micro-Influencers for Better Results

Martin Jones, Senior Marketing Manager for Cox Communications, believes brands need to invest in micro-influencers, individuals with smaller, more niche audiences that can deliver better results.

In my opinion, 2019 will be the year of the micro-influencer. Influencers with smaller audiences and number of followers but who possess true influence in their niche, industry, or local community. These are not simply broadcasters of a brand message but rather individuals that have the power to influence others to take action – and that’s the key. Brands have gotten the message that influence is more than a big name with a large following, it must deliver a solid ROI to the bottom line.

The theory behind using micro-influencers is that people in their sphere of influence are much more likely to act on their recommendations than they are, say, to make a purchase after viewing a brand or product being pitched by a famous celebrity.

Additionally, as brands continue to strive to identify the right strategies and tactics that humanize their brand and open the door for deeper, more personal connections, micro-influencers, because of their much deeper relationship to those they influence, may prove to be the key.

#7 - Focus on Building Solid Relationships

There is no better tactic than building strong, long-term influencer relationships, according to Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP.

You need to invest in building an actual relationship with your influencers.

It’s not all about your brand — it’s about the story you want to share and how it resonates with your influencers and their audience. But in order for your message to resonate, you need to get to know your influencers. Follow them on social media. Read their content. Find out what makes them tick. Are they a foodie? What’s their favorite football team?

You also need to figure out the best way to work with them and develop your relationship. Do they respond best to emails, texts, tweets, or LinkedIn messages?

Lastly, you need to keep your influencers informed of your plans. There is nothing worse than contacting an influencer a week before a planned event. The content you create together shouldn’t just be a “one and done” activity. It should be a consistent, ongoing collaboration and an ongoing relationship. And the only way you can succeed with this tactic is by getting to know the person behind their influencer brand.

#8 - Give Influencers the VIP Treatment

Along those same lines, Erika Heald, expert digital marketing consultant, wants brands to go the extra mile to nurture their influencer relationships. Whether it’s inviting them to an event, sharing their content, or asking for feedback, there are plenty of small, low-budget ways to give influencers the VIP treatment.

While many brands spend the bulk of their influencer marketing budget on paying for influencer created content — which is a good thing — it’s also important to set aside budget that can go towards nurturing your most valuable influencer relationships.

For instance, inviting your influencers to special behind-the-scenes brand events at your HQ, influencer-only luncheons with brand executives, or to attend industry events as your guest are all excellent relationship builders. When I’m invited to a special industry event as an influencer, whether or not I share my immediate experience on social media or in a blog post, the greater understanding I have of the brand and its values does influence my future content creation. The same goes for sending influencers product previews and asking for their feedback. These are small, often inexpensive ways to make the influencer feel like an important part of your brand and product creation process.

#9 - Cater to Your Audience

Influencers aren’t the only people you need to cater to when it comes to influencer marketing. You also need to cater to your audience, according to content manager and consultant, Lisa Sicard of Inspire to Thrive.

Brands should use their influencer marketing on blogs and social media. It really varies from one niche to another as to where the audience is.

Many audiences may be on Facebook, but other audiences may be younger and spend more time on Instagram.

Many audiences want to read a review of a product or service before using it, so a blog post would be best if posted by an influencer in that niche. Others like to see images and that’s where Instagram would come into play.

Others love watching videos and those could be done on various social networks where an audience could view how a product performs by an influencer. Each network has a different amount of time allowed for video so I could have influencers do a 10-second video, a 30-second video and a minute video.

This way no matter the medium, the video could be used to demonstrate a product.

Influencers work well if they interact with the audience too. That would be my guideline for picking the influencers for these type of marketing campaigns.

#10 - Get Organized Before Pressing ‘Go’

Getting all of your ducks in a row is also a huge time saver if you ask Susana Yee, founder of Digital Everything Consulting. And, from personal experience, we can add that staying well-organized from launch will spare you several headaches in the long-run.

Streamlining the process of influencer marketing is all about being organized from the beginning. I have learned over time that if the client can have their budget, contract templates, marketing goals, ideal influencer target categories, and strategy agreed upon with my team before starting the campaign, we can go out to the influencers without too much back and forth with the client, us, and the influencer. The back and forth is very time consuming.

#11 - Anticipate Client and Influencer Needs

According to Missy Voronyak, Group Director of Social Media Strategy and Influencer Engagement for W2Ogroup, anticipating needs helps you improve productivity and avoid potential timeline delays (which can be costly).

Anticipating client and influencer needs in advance is key to streamlining work processes. For example, for consumer campaigns, we’ve learned many influencers need additional photo direction and coaching to elevate their content from “pretty good” to “perfect” for the specific campaign. Rather than asking them to retake their photos later, which can be frustrating and delay the timeline, our team now collaborates live with influencers during their photo shoots, texting pictures and providing suggestions in the moment. This increases overall satisfaction for all parties (influencer, agency and client) and cuts down on time and budget.

Producing More Value With GroupHigh

 

Don't break the bank. Make Bank.

Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be effective.

Use GroupHigh to research, build, evaluate, and strengthen your influencer relationships — all at an affordable, cost-effective price.

But don’t just take it from us. Our potential to increase the value of your influencer marketing budgets is something others have taken notice of as well. Marcy Massura, President and CEO of MM+CO marketing agency, knows that GroupHigh has her back:

“GroupHigh is hands down the most affordable option as a powerful and comprehensive influencer tool. But more importantly, utilizing GroupHigh for my influencer marketing team to quickly identify, and rank based on influence indicators (engagement rate, digital footprint, Moz rank and more) is saving ENDLESS hours of manual searching. Not to mention much of this information can only be acquired through additional costly subscription services. GroupHigh allows us to see it all, communicate from the platform, and track the content once executed (for smart client reporting). It is a one stop platform — and that efficiency saves both time and money.”

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