What is the True Power of Long-Term Influencer Marketing?
Effective influencers influence consumer behavior and their decision-making when it comes to product purchases and driving traffic to your store. When you build a long-term influencer marketing relationship, you can find that customers keep returning and store traffic is consistent. However, it isn’t easy figuring out which influencer is right for your brand and the audience that cares.
Ask yourself these questions when finding the right influencer to work with...
- Is your goal to increase single product purchases during a flash sale or time-restricted campaign?
- Or are you looking for more collaboration and content that may create a more loyal engagement with your brand?
Influencer Marketing Isn't New
Though influencer marketing is far from a new concept, I immediately think of TV commercials, back in the day, featuring my favorite celebrities endorsing a product (usually a hair or make-up product). There she is, with her dewy skin and shiny, lustrous waves and she sells the concept that, if I want what she has (and oh, how I did!) all I had to do was buy this product. And voila! Would I buy? Yes. Would I buy again? Not usually. Why? Well, because, at the end of the day, I still looked like me. I wasn’t buying the product, per se. I was buying the best version of me which, at the time, I wanted to look just like her.
Influencer Marketing Has Evolved
Since then, influencer marketing has evolved. It used to be an add-on to a marketing campaign - an after-thought, a just in case or even a fox-hole prayer when all else fails. Now influencer marketing is an integral part of most holistic strategic marketing campaigns. This type of relationship marketing is right up there along with digital, paid and public relations. Every brand is doing it. It might not be celebrity endorsements or Instagram, which continues to be the top platform for influencer marketing but, perhaps it comes in a form of employee advocacy (take a look at how Macy’s Style Crew used employees as brand ambassadors to promote their line) or using LinkedIn to establish experts in the field, but it is now part of the marketing landscape.
But celebrities are still 'in'Celebrity endorsements still work. The glitz and glamour of the unattainable will often draw consumers in and is a good route to go if
- you can afford it
- it is campaign-focused rather than long-term and
- you are more concerned with immediate sales rather than brand loyalty and engagement.
Finding the Right Influencer
This can be tricky. It seems like ‘famous’ YouTubers and Instagrammers are popping up everywhere...oftentimes these are self-anointed influencers that basically turn into inventory themselves...hiring themselves out to create online stories that go viral in exchange for cash and products. I am not saying this is an easy sell, it isn’t.
Beware of inauthentic influencersThese influencers are using their audience to sell your product. I have tried to sell as a ‘consultant’ for a skincare line before and, believe me, my regular posts, when I am just being genuine, had a lot more traction than the ones I posted trying to promote what I was selling. So many people are doing it now, that it is hard to cut through the clutter. These influencers do have their sway and can be a good mix to your roster of influencers. Just be sure to take a good look at what you are selling and test the market before putting all of your eggs in one basket.
The Case for Long-Term Influencer Marketing
Nearly 20% of marketers ran 6 or more influencer marketing campaigns in 2019, and almost 20% of the total campaigns were always-on. That means there is a huge need to find long-term influencers.
Less famous influencers can have more engaged audiencesSome of the best influencers for a long-term relationship with your customer base aren’t necessarily going to be famous. Perhaps they are subject matter experts with a niche and an active network that pays attention to what they are saying. They may not be playing the game of being an ‘influencer’ but, nevertheless, they are, to the right group. They may not do it for money...perhaps peer recognition is more important to them or something for the greater good.
Longer sales cycles need long-term influencersIf you are selling something that has a longer sales cycle, this may be the way to go since there is a lot of opportunities to collaborate with them on content over an extended period of time - even spanning across the entire customer life cycle, from awareness, interest, consideration and even retention and advocacy.
Tips and Tricks for Working With Influencers Long-Term
- Focus on the audience, not the influencer - does your product fit in with what matters to the followers?
- Influencer interests - do they align with your company values and would the influencer be truly intrigued by what you have to offer his/her followers?
- Published content - look at what they are already involved in. Is it a good fit?
Types of Influencers by number of followersOnce you find influencers that align with your brand, there are several levels to consider:
- Nano-influencers - those who have less than 5k followers
- Micro-influencers - those who have 5k-100k followers
- Mega-influencers - those who have 500k - 5m followers
- Celebrity influencers - those who have 5m or more followers
Keep engaging with your influencersRemember, as with any long-term relationship, in order to keep an influencer engaging your product with their audience, you have to engage with THEM. Meet with them in person when you can, thank them, remember their kids birthdays….just as they have to foster the relationship with their followers, you have to foster a long-term influencer marketing relationship with them to keep them on-board and sincere.
Whether your goal is immediate gratification on sales or a longer-term commitment from your influencer, it is important you choose the right one to create and foster a relationship with. It may be that you need to engage in both - a flash sale influencer as well as an evangelist for your brand that keeps engaging with your target audience. Know what you need and do your research in advance. Influencer marketing can be a smart way to go...but only if you are clear on your goals. ____________________________________________________________________________
Amber Bagwell leads content and PR at Everflow. Working with clients and partners to produce meaningful content around how Everflow’s platform empowers brands to track, manage and understand the performance from their partnerships: Affiliate, Influencer, In-App and more. If you want to grow your performance from Affiliates and Influencers, request your free demo at Everflow.