A successful influencer marketing strategy helps you increase brand exposure, build authority, and connect with new audiences. It drives traffic to your site and leads new customers to your products and services.
There are many benefits of influencer marketing, but it can be a confusing and complicated strategy to set up, launch, and manage. It’s a time-consuming project. And the hurdles of getting started lead a lot of markers to stop before they actually start.
To help you get over that hump and execute an effective influencer marketing campaign, we created this guide and influencer marketing strategy PDF. Download the free worksheet and use the rest of this post to craft a killer influencer marketing strategy from start to finish.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a strategy that identifies people who have a strong influence on a brand’s industry or target audience. In an influencer marketing strategy, a brand forms a partnership with the influencer wherein the influencer agrees to expose their audience to the brand’s messaging or content.
Influencers usually have a large and engaged audience, so brands benefit when an influencer shares or mentions their content or messaging. The exposure allows the brand to get in front of their target audience in a positive, natural, and meaningful way.
One influencer marketing example is Pantene’s partnership with actress Jada Pinkett Smith. Jada shared their message with her audience, giving the brand the attention of her 1.23 million Twitter followers.
While a celebrity is used in this influencer marketing strategy definition, influencer campaigns don’t always have to rely on celebrities. In a recent post, we shared influencer marketing examples that don’t need celebrities. The examples in this post use niche market influencers, industry experts, and noncompeting brand influencers to promote successful campaigns.
Influencer marketing is about gaining exposure, but it isn’t always about working with people who have the largest audience
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. It’s about working with people who have the right audience so you can make connections with the people most likely to further connect with your brand.
So how do you find the right influencer and create a successful influencer marketing campaign?
How to Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy
To create and launch an influencer marketing strategy for your brand, go through the following steps and download our free influencer marketing strategy template to guide you through the process.
Define Your Goals
As with any smart marketing plan, start by outlining your goals. Set your intentions for what you would like to accomplish with your campaign.
Defining your goals in the early stages of planning will help you shape a consistent strategy throughout your campaign, and it will also give you an idea about the metrics you should track and monitor to measure your success at the end of the campaign.
Some goals you may want to consider for your influencer marketing strategy include the following:
- Brand Awareness: Getting more people to know, recognize, and like your brand.
- Building Brand Identity: Getting people to see your brand personality and values.
- Audience Building: Getting more people to follow and subscribe.
- Engagement: Getting more shares, comments, and likes for your content.
- Lead Generation: Getting more people to sign up for your lead magnets and offers.
- Sales: Getting more people to purchase your products/services.
- Customer Loyalty: Getting people to stay interested and connected with your brand.
- Link Building: Getting more links directed back to your site.
Related Reading: 12 Effective Lead Generation Strategies with Examples
Choose a Type of Influencer Marketing Campaign
Once you know your goals, it’s time to start thinking about the type of influencer marketing campaign that will help you accomplish your mission.
Influencer marketing campaigns usually involve three types of relationship triggers: inspire, hire, or a mix of both.
You can inspire an influencer to share your content or messaging on their own. You can pay them to promote your brand. Or you can create a situation that uses a little bit of both.
Here are a few types of influencer marketing strategies you can consider:
- Gifting: Giving free products and services to an influencer in exchange for a review or mention.
- Guest Posting: Creating and contributing content for an influencer’s blog.
- Sponsored Content: Paying for your brand to be featured on an influencer’s blog or social channel. You may or may not create the content for the post.
- Co-Creating Content: Partnering with an influencer to create content that is featured on your website, their website, or a third-party website.
- Social Media Mentions: Getting a social media marketing strategy going with a personality or brand to mention your brand, share your content, or post about you.
- Contests and Giveaways: Running a contest and asking an influencer to share your giveaway event with their followers or readers.
- Influencer Takeover: Allowing an influencer to take control of your social media accounts for a set amount of time.
- Affiliates: Providing a unique code that gives influencers a percentage of each sale they drive.
- Discount Codes: Giving an influencer a unique discount code for your product or service that they can promote and offer to their audience.
- Brand Ambassadors: Forming relationships with loyal brand fans wherein they mention or promote your brand, products, and services in exchange for exclusive offers, free products, or being featured by your brand.
These influencer marketing ideas aren’t set in stone or required to meet certain criteria. They are all flexible and meant to be general ideas for what you can do with your influencer marketing strategy.
As you create your plans, use one or more of these ideas to create a customized influencer marketing strategy that works for your brand and audience..
Identify and Define Your Audience
Once you have an idea about your goals and the type of influencer marketing strategy you want to implement, you still aren’t ready to start looking for influencers. Before you can identify who will help you connect with your target audience, you need to know who your target audience is
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Before you start looking for influencers, spend time outlining specific details about who you want to connect with through your campaign. Create a buyer persona that includes both demographic and psychographic segmentation. Once you know your audience, it will be easier to identify the top people they follow and websites they use.
If you need help with defining your audience, download our free buyer persona template to help you through the process.
Find the Right Influencers
With your audience clearly defined, you can finally start seeking out the influencers who will help you reach your goals and connect with your target market.
As you consider your options, explore the following types of influencers:
- Social Media Stars
- Industry Experts
- Thought Leaders
- Noncompeting Brands
Once you determine the type of influencer you want to use, start researching individuals or brands in that space.
Find Influencers that Share Your Audience
To find influencers that can reach your audience, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool. Enter your website or the URLs of websites you know have the audience you want to reach. The tool will report back with dozens of other websites that share a similar audience. This report presents dozens of guest blogging opportunities, as you know these sites have the audience you want to reach and would, therefore, be great places to share or seed your content.
For example, if you are selling a course on leadership, your ideal audience may regularly read michaelhyatt.com. Enter the URL to find other sites that audience also visits. Use this list of sites as a guide for finding other influencers who might be valuable for your campaign.
Find Influencers using Backlinks
Another way to find potential influencers is by using Alexa’s Competitor Backlink Checker. Enter up to 10 sites that reach your ideal audience. (Use the Audience Overlap Tool to find similar sites if you don’t already know them.) Then, run the backlink checker.
The report will show all of the links pointing to your list of sites. You can use this list to find sites that will be likely to work with, mention you, or link back to your site because they have already done this for your competitors.
For example, when researching backlinks to michaelhyatt.com and its competitors, you can see that personalsuccesstoday.com has linked to five of the similar sites. This information shows that the site is probably worth exploring for your influencer marketing strategy, as it has already built connections with other brands like you. Clicking through the backlinks will give you an idea of what types of content they publish, including guest posts and mentions, so you can form a plan for outreach.
Find Influencers by Topics
If you don’t know any competitors or sites that have an audience you want to attract, you can use Alexa’s Keyword Share of Voice Tool to find influencers. Enter a term related to the industry or topic you want to gain influence in. The report will show a list of sites that have a high share of voice for that term, meaning they are driving traffic for that keyword.
Another option is to use Alexa’s Content Exploration tool. The Content Exploration tool allows you to find sites that have a highly engaged audience within a topic, along with the most popular articles about a topic based on public engagement on Twitter and Reddit.
There are other tools and methods you can use to find influencers. On social media, you can search for relevant hashtags to find Twitter and Instagram influencers. And the following tools are also helpful for identifying social media and blogging influencers.
For more information about finding the right influencers, read this post: How to Find Influencers in Your Niche: 19 Tips, Tools, and Providers
Qualify Your Influencers
It’s easy to get excited when you start finding influencers. But before you reach out to them, you need to make sure they really are a great fit for your brand and goals.
Qualify the audience. It’s better to work with an influencer who has a smaller audience that closely matches your ideal market than to work with an influencer who has a very large audience that doesn’t include your ideal customers. So don’t qualify influencers based solely on the size of their audience. Pay closer attention to if they have the right audience you want to reach.
To learn about an audience’s interests, go back to Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool. Enter the site of the influencer and review the report to find trends that help you learn about the audience. By looking at the other sites the audience uses, you can see what other interests they have and uncover details about their habits, needs, and identity.
Qualify reach and authority. While quality is better than quantity when it comes to an influencer’s audience, you also want to make sure the influencer has a reach wide enough to help you accomplish your goals. Look at the metrics of the influencer to gauge the level of their reach.
For social media accounts, consider their number of followers and audience engagement with their posts. Target influencers who have an engaged audience who frequently like and comment on their posts.
For blogs and websites, look at their on-site metrics. Using Alexa’s Site Overview Tool, you can find metrics related to page views, time on site, bounce rate, number of visitors, number of sites linking in, and Alexa Rank (which indicates how authoritative the site is online).
Qualify the content and messaging. In your influencer marketing strategy, you should strive to only partner with influencers who align with your brand. Do your due diligence in researching the other content the influencer shares to make sure it aligns with your brand and business.. Spend time reviewing their posts, status updates, and website content to make sure it:
- Is relevant to your brand, industry, products, and services.
- Is high quality and something your brand would be proud to be associated with.
- Represents your brand’s beliefs and doesn’t deviate too far from your brand’s core values or mission.
Create Content Influencers Can’t Refuse
If you create an influencer marketing strategy that involves guest posting or creating content for the influencer’s website, you will have the best success if you present ideas the influencer can’t refuse.
To find the top keywords that will be most beneficial to the influencer, use Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to conduct research. Enter a topic or phrase related to the influencer’s industry and choose low-competition keywords that are frequently searched for. This approach will help you deliver content to the influencer that can help them drive traffic to their site.
To find ideas for content that fills a need on an influencer’s site, conduct research using Alexa’s Competitive Keyword Matrix. Enter the influencer’s site along with up to nine of their competitors, and use the filter to show organic keyword gaps for the site you are targeting.
The tool produces a report of the keywords that are driving traffic to the other sites, but not the target site. You can see what topics your target site’s competitors are focusing on, but your target has not yet created content for. This information can spark informed ideas for guest post topics that are relevant and useful for the influencer.
By doing your research and knowing what the influencer’s site needs, you will have a much better chance of getting guest blogging sites to agree to work with you and share your content on their website.
Track Your Outreach
When you start influencer or guest blogging outreach, it’s essential that you keep your correspondence organized. You don’t want to lose opportunities to work with influencers because your process was annoying or unprofessional.
For example, you don’t want multiple people on your team reaching out to the same influencer, and you don’t want to send the same email over and over.
Develop a system for following up and following through. Create a document that tracks:
- Who on your team reached out
- When they reached out
- Who they contacted
- Notes about the communication
- Plans for follow-up communication
- Status of the outreach
Track and Analyze Your Results
When you complete an influencer marketing strategy campaign, it can feel like a victory just to see the brand mentioned or shouted out on social media. But just getting an influencer to promote your content or messaging isn’t a sign of success.
The real success is determined by if you’ve reached your influencer marketing goals.
To find out if you’ve reached your goals, track and measure your results. Use metrics to measure your success depending on the initial marketing objectives you set for the campaign.
- Brand Awareness Metrics: website traffic, page views, social mentions, time on site, site users
- Building Brand Identity Metrics: social mentions, PR coverage (number of articles or links)
- Audience Building Metrics: opt-ins, follows
- Engagement Metrics: shares, comments, and likes
- Lead Generation Metrics: opt-ins
- Sales Metrics: new sales, revenue changes, price per ticket
- Customer Loyalty Metrics: customer retention rates, renewal rates
- Link Building Metrics: number of links, quality of links
Track the data for each of your influencer marketing campaigns so you can look back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Use the data to guide your next influencer marketing strategy. Repeat your successes and halt efforts that don’t produce results.
Download Our Free Influencer Marketing Strategy Template
Influencer marketing is an effective way to increase brand exposure, drive website traffic, build your audience, and ultimately drive more sales for products and services
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. But you can only achieve these results if you have a strong, organized, and data-driven influencer marketing strategy.
Use the tips and tools in this post to help you put together a strategy and download our free influencer marketing strategy PDF to guide your planning. Then sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan to access our research tools that help you find the best influencers and create the most powerful, results-driven campaigns.