Influencer Marketing for Brands: What to Expect from Your First Influencer Marketing Partnership

Influencer marketing is an important tool for brands that want their advertising efforts to stick. As ad blockers are on the rise, traditional online advertising is becoming less and less effective. Influencer marketing helps spread the word about your brand to a receptive audience through a source they trust.

If your company is just getting started with influencer marketing, here are the steps you need to take and what you can expect from your fist influencer marketing campaign

1. Identify your goals

Why do you want to do an influencer marketing campaign? Is it to promote the new product your company launched? Is it to change public opinion about a product you already have on the market? Having a concrete business goal in mind will make sure your influencer marketing campaign focused.

Who are you trying to reach with this influencer marketing campaign? Having a target audience in mind will help you select the right influencers to work with. You probably won’t want to work with a mommy blogger if your target demographic is college-aged.

2. Create messaging points and campaign requirements

After your influencer marketing goals are set, you’ll need to come up with the messaging points that you’ll use during influencer outreach. These messaging points will help you streamline communication with influencers during the next step. They will also help you keep your business objectives in mind. Your messaging points can help you create an email template that you’ll customize before sending to each influencer to invite him/her to join your campaign. Besides having messaging points for the specific campaign, you’ll also want to have general information and FAQs about your product available in case they

When you reach out to influencers, you should send them at least two pieces of information (in your initial email, attached as a PDF, or in a landing page you’ve created for the campaign):

  • Key messaging points about your product/campaign that the influencers must use in their final deliverables (blog posts, Instagram posts, videos, etc.).

  • General information and/or FAQs about the product and your company to give the influencer context if (s)he isn’t already familiar with your brand.

3. Identify influencers to work with

Once you have your goals set and your key messaging points established, you’ll need to identify influencers to work with on your campaign. Start a spreadsheet to keep a list of influencers who may be a good fit to talk about your brand.

Find influencers to work with using these methods:

  • A quick Google search can lead you to lots of influencers. If you are looking for influencers in a specific area, make sure to include your city/region in your search terms. Also include the type of influencer you’re looking for. For example, if you’re a diaper brand based in Boston, you may search “boston mommy bloggers.”

  • Ask your colleagues if they have connections to influencers or read any blogs that might be a good fit for your campaign. Make networking with influencers a regular part of your job by looking for events created for or by influencers in your area.

  • Reach out to blogger networks. Some cities have local blogger networks, which have directories of bloggers in their area. When I was blogging on behalf of my food blog, Better Than Ramen, while living in Chicago, I was a member of the Windy City Blogger Collective.

  • If all else fails, there are lots of free and paid influencer databases you can use to identify bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers.

When finding influencers to work with, record the name of their blog/account, their name, and contact info in a spreadsheet.

4. Influencer outreach

Influencer outreach is a numbers game. Influencers with large followings get many requests to participate in campaigns each day, so you have to reach out to lots of them in order to get a response from them.

Reach out to influencers individually, rather than by sending a mass email. Mass emails indicate to influencers that they are replaceable, and that you don’t want to work with any one of them specifically. Using an email template tool (Hubspot has a great free one) will let you reach out to many influencers individually while saving time and letting you customize each email.

I recommend customizing each email by starting off by telling the influencer about a great post that (s)he recently wrote.

In addition to sharing information about your campaign with the influencers, you should also ask the influencer the following questions in your initial email:

  • Are you interested in working with my brand?

  • Can you send me your media kit (this will help with step #5)

5. Vetting Influencers

Once you start getting responses from influences, you will hopefully have more interest than your budget allows. Now it’s time to vet influencers to find which ones would be the best fit for your marketing campaign.

Here are questions you should ask before working with an influencer:

  • How large is his/her audience? You can determine this by checking out the influencer’s social media following, and looking for information about web traffic and newsletter subscribers from a blogger’s media kit.

  • Has this influencer bought followers? If an influencer has an impressive following on Instagram, but gets only a handful of likes and hardly an comments, the influencers has likely paid for followers. This method leads to an audience full of fake accounts, which while they look impressive, are useless to you, the brand, because they won’t engage with your brand or buy your product as a result of your collaboration with the influencer! Based on my research, Instagram accounts with ~4,000 followers should be getting about 100 likes per post.

  • Has the influencer worked with brands in the past? Ask to see samples of sponsored posts (s)he’s done in the past to see if his/her work is up to your standards.

  • How responsive is the influencer to email? If you’ve had to follow up multiple times to get a response from an influencer, chances are (s)he’s too busy to work with you and it will be difficult to get what you need out of your campaign from him/her.

  • What is the influencer asking for in return? Some influencers are happy to promote brands for free, while others ask for free product and/or monetary compensation. While asking for compensation can seem frustrating for brands who are looking for free press, working with an influencer who knows what (s)he is doing is like working with a creative director, account manager, copywriter, photographer, and editor all in one. Think about how much money went into producing your last traditional advertising campaign. Chances are, influencer marketing will cost you less, and will let you reach new audiences. When an influencer gives you his/her rate, think about if working together will be worth it for you in terms of overall ROI.

6. Influencer marketing contracts

A partnership with influencers should be treated like any other business partnership, even if you’re just offering free product in exchange for a post. As the brand, you should send contracts to all of the influencers you will be engaging for your influencer marketing campaign. Don’t forget to include:

  • Deliverables - What are you asking the influencer to create? Is there any key messaging that the influencer MUST include in the deliverables? Are you asking for an analytics report after the campaign?

  • Compensation - What does the influencer get in return? When will (s)he get it? What are the payment terms?

  • Timeline - Be specific about deadlines for different phases of the project (When is the blog draft due? When does the post have to go live? When will you ask for analytics?).

  • Disclosure - Make sure influencers you work with are familiar with the FTC’s endorsement laws and understand how to disclose sponsored posts legally.

7. Working with influencers during an influencer marketing campaign

Before an influencer marketing campaign, your role as the brand is to give the influencer all of the information (s)he needs to accurately tell his/her audience about your brand.

During the post creation process, you should be hands off. You partnered with the influencer for his/her authentic storytelling. Meddling too much with the creation process will be apparent to the influencer’s audience and may actually hurt your business goals.

During the post creation process, your job as a brand is just to 1) make sure your contract requirements are met and 2) making sure your brand is used properly.

8. Influencer marketing campaign analytics

After your influencer marketing campaign has ended, you’ll want to measure the success of this campaign and its ROI. Besides tracking sales, web traffic, and other objectives through your company’s analytics software, you’ll also want the influencers you’ve worked with to send you analytics reports with data from their site.

For sponsored blog posts, ask for things like:

  • Post traffic - unique visits and total views

  • Link clicks

  • Bounce rate - how long did people stay on the page?

  • Social media analytics - If you required influencers to promote their sponsored blog post on social media, ask them for link clicks from their social posts, total post impressions, and engagement rate on the sponsored posts.

For sponsored social media posts, ask for the following KPIs:

  • Total post reach

  • Total post impressions

  • Post engagement

  • Link clicks

Influencer Marketing for Brands: What to Expect from Your First Influencer Marketing Partnership

Now you know what to expect from your first influencer marketing campaign and how to execute it. Best of luck!

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