A typical advertising campaign may be a one-off experience with a particular publisher, website or network. When you advertise on search engines or through display ads, you focus more on the ad inventory than on the relationship between publisher and audience. Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is completely driven by the influencers’ relationships with their audience. You leverage the existing relationship between the influencer and its audience, which drives twice the sales as other paid advertising methods and results in a 37% increased retention rate.
However, it takes time to build momentum with influencer marketing, making the relationship between yourself and the influencer just as important. A one-and-done campaign doesn’t provide useful ROI data with influencer marketing, as it takes time and nurturing relationships for these campaigns to fully show their effectiveness. You aren’t just putting out paid advertising, you’re building trust with the influencers and their audience. Grow this relationship with these strategies:
The best relationships start by listening. Before approaching influencers, listen and understand the relationship they have with their audience. They built this relationship over time, and it takes more than a quick glance at a blog or website to really understand what level they interact at. Look through comments and social media interactions, identify recurring trends, and see where your product or service fits into the conversation. You want to complement the ongoing conversation, not derail the topic.
Once you establish a working relationship, don’t stop listening. Influencers have spent months or years building their audiences. They have their own data on what content works, the best approaches and other vital information. That doesn’t stop 38% of brands from ignoring influencer content suggestions, resulting in frustration, poor relationship building and less effective results.
68% of influencers report brands requesting time and access to their audience without compensation. When was the last time you expended time and resources without getting paid in some form? Give your influencers the respect they deserve by implementing rewards — direct compensation, free products or another fair trade. If you aren’t sure what the influencer is interested in, ask. Asking questions gives you better insight into the influencers you work with, and shows them you care about their opinion.
ENCOURAGE BRAND INVOLVEMENT
Are you making it easy for the influencer to get involved with your brand? Instead of handing them a list of requirements and ignoring them until the next campaign round, look at ways to make their lives easier. Consider providing resources to improve your relationship with the influencer and get involved in the community: contests exclusively for the site, Q&As with the audience — ways to get the community excited about your products and services. Make them live perfect experiences with your brand to become likeable and valuable in their mind. Ideally, you will create brand advocates within the community of influencers.
Don’t skimp on communication. Creating a relationship is a two-way street, and the influencer is learning about you as you learn about them. Talk about your plans for new products or services, how much you appreciate the work they do, and the importance of their work to your brand. If possible, share some marketing metrics, so they know exactly how critical their involvement is. Customized email newsletters, personal email addresses and other communication channels help keep influencers up to date.
Don’t forget to make them feel special. Keep the red carpet treatment up throughout the relationship, not just at the beginning. Give influencers the same access you give journalists and other valued connections. Invite them to your events, bring them on site, get them access to C-level executives for interviews. When you put energy, time and resources into the influencer relationship, it creates an emotional investment.
Influencer marketing is an essential aspect of a modern branding campaign. It requires more upfront work than other advertising methods, but the long-term gains are substantial. Earning the trust of audiences and convincing influencer to work with you takes time. Don’t focus only on benefits from this relationship, people will definitely feel it.
So look after this relationship. Influencers are human after all, treat them the way you’d treat important stakeholders, listen to their wants and needs and be helpful to their community.
If you need help creating and nurturing relationships with influencers in any industry, we’d be glad to help! Upfluence is involved in influencer marketing campaigns for over 700 clients worldwide, and is in contact with millions of influencers