Of all the strategies available to marketing departments right now, influencer marketing is unparalleled in its ability to provide strong results with a small investment of time and money. The main benefit of influencer marketing is turnaround time—for time-sensitive campaigns that need quick results, a marketer should turn to influencers first to get the sales performance they want. That’s not to say that investing in longer-term campaigns isn’t still important. It is. Long-term brand awareness strategies are necessary to build trust and affiliation, both of which are imperative for lasting success. But if time is of the essence, such as for seasonal or event-pegged campaigns, or as a response to some unforeseen occurrence in the product space, influencers are best suited for the task.
Influencer Marketing Is Best Used in Time-Sensitive Campaigns That Need Quick Results
- Seasonal shopping cycles
- Specific events
- Responses to unforeseen incidents
Let’s take the recent back-to-school shopping season as an example. It’s late summer. We’re in the heat of August and the first day of school is quickly approaching. Parents across the country have been waiting to see if yes, indeed, students will be returning to school in-person, and now they’re sure that’s the case. As their children return to the most “normal” school year of the past two years (or so we hope), in addition to buying new books, pens, folders, and other supplies kids need for their first day back, students will be looking to return in style.
But with all the uncertainty surrounding the back-to-school season, parents and brands alike haven’t been able to commit to the usual summer shopping pattern. Plus, since students haven’t needed new school clothes for years, there will be extra pressure to buy back-to-school items that help them remain “on-trend.” It’s their big debut. With this time crunch and a limited ability to plan ahead, longer-term brand awareness strategies won’t deliver the sense of urgency that is needed in order to take advantage of back-to-school season with the amount of time that is left. Influencer marketing, however, is perfectly suited for the task. It’s quick to deploy and quick to produce returns.
The 2 Steps to Influencer Marketing Campaigns
- Use affiliate links to leverage authenticity.
- And then walk away. Seriously. Leave it to the pros.
Use Affiliate Links to Leverage Authenticity
Affiliate links are the best way to leverage an influencer’s reach. An affiliate link is a link to a product in an influencer’s posts, bios, blogs, etc. about that product, from which they earn a commission for clicks and/or purchases.
A study from Rakuten shows that nearly three quarters (74 percent) of parents get at least some back-to-school shopping ideas from influencers they follow, and nearly two thirds of parents have purchased an item through an influencer’s affiliate link in the past, showing just how effective this tactic is at driving sales.
Affiliate links have value beyond driving conversion—they also provide consumers with authentic branded experiences that are curated by the influencers they trust. Consumers want ad experiences that are complementary to their online journeys, and by empowering influencers with affiliate links, they can select the products and services they want to promote that will be authentic to their personality and brand. According to the same survey, an overwhelming majority (86 percent) of consumers say that authenticity matters when they are deciding whether or not to buy something from an advertisement. As marketers, instead of leveraging your own brand’s authenticity, which must be built over time, you’re relying on the preexisting trust relationships influencers have built with their audience to support your product—just like any other famous spokesperson.
And Then Walk Away. Seriously. Leave It to the Pros.
Thus, it’s critical that marketers let the influencers do their own thing. Marketers often struggle with releasing control over the content that represents their brands and their products. It’s understandable, but it can be detrimental to delivering authentic experiences.
Influencers themselves are masters of marketing. They benefit from having personal, engaging relationships with their audiences in ways that a brand cannot replicate. They know their audience better than anyone else, and they will know what messages or products will resonate the most with the people who follow them. Marketers who choose to take away that creative control from the influencer will limit the potential of their campaigns. It’s okay to give guidelines and priorities for a product or promo – but letting the influencer shape that content in a way that suits their audience is extremely important.
This is another reason why affiliate links are so quick and yet so effective. Without the need for longer-term campaign negotiations and rounds of copy approvals, influencers can take a link to a product that they love and promote it in any way that they see fit, and they can do so in the time it takes to post to their Insta.
Speaking of which, a final note on platforms. In our back-to-school example, marketers are trying to attract the attention of parents. Influencer investments are only valuable if you choose content creators who can reach your target audience, so it’s important for marketers to understand where their audience is active before deciding to spend. A majority of parents primarily follow influencers on Instagram and Facebook (52 percent, from the Rakuten survey)—so investing in those platforms is a safe bet.