One of the most effective ways to get your product in front of potential buyers is to unleash the power of influencer marketing. Influencers are the “movers and shakers” in their chosen fields and have built strong followings that you can tap into, if you know how to develop a working relationship with them.

Running a successful campaign isn’t easy though, so my business partner Beth Lazar and I, have built the Pollen-8 Influencer Network, which simplifies and streamlines the influencer process. We have had great success working with businesses to create powerful influencer campaigns that work for them. Our system focuses on increasing revenue for advertisers, and assisting influencers to create interesting content that drives traffic to their own websites and social media platforms.

And it’s through this experience that we’ve come up with the 7 Secrets of Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns and we’re going to share them with you right here.

Secret #1 – Influencers are NOT Free

Advertisers need to understand that influencers are not free – especially with the massive growth that has occurred recently in the influencer arena.

There are only a limited number of influencers that have high traffic, and most are not willing to work on a performance basis. You may get the occasional one who is (and some will work on a hybrid-type arrangement), but you’re still looking at paying these guys $150-$500 per sponsored post or video.

The standard amount, however, is probably more like $1,000-$3,000, but I’ve seen this go as high as $14,000 for a sponsored post with a big YouTuber who had about 1.5 million subscribers!

Despite this, I’ve had many advertisers come to me to talk about building an influencer program, with the expectation that influencers will run the campaigns for free. Or in exchange for just a product.

Those days are gone.

There are so many people reaching out to the same pool of influencers that it’s difficult for influencers to see through the noise without some sort of budget being presented for sponsorship. This puts the influencer in a really interesting place with a lot of power.

If you want access to their audience, you’re going to have to pay their rates, and whatever it is that they’re asking for, but hopefully with huge results.

Secret #2 – Be Prepared to Invest Time in your Influencer Program

What? You mean bloggers just don’t pick up the phone? Instagrammers aren’t just jumping out at you trying to run your products? What…?

Yeah, it’s amazing.

But again, they’re being bombarded so much, and even if you’re using an opted-in influencer network like Pollen-8 (where anybody in the network has opted-in to receive these kind of offers), you’re going to have to expect to spend quite a bit of time managing the influencers through the entire workflow.

There’s more to it than just contacting them. Honestly, it takes me or my team about 5-7 requests before we get replies from a lot of these influencers, and even then you’re only getting about a 20% response rate.

So, how do you go about finding their contact info?

There are various methods of doing this. There are the opted-in networks that, hopefully, these target influencers are a part of, but if they’re not, you’re essentially using other tools that may be able to spider the web or grab that information for you. Otherwise you are literally going to have to visit each website and dig around looking for contact information or go through their social media accounts.

Secret #3 – Provide Free Stuff

The whole idea behind influencer marketing is to provide authentic reviews.

That’s not possible if the person who is reviewing these products has never had the chance to touch them, test them, wear them (whatever the products are), and then photograph or video them. Being able to do this is really important in terms of the content that they’re providing.

Two years ago all you had to provide was a coupon code. You could say: “Hey, you’ve got $20 off of this product, Mrs. Influencer. Try it out, let us know and please make a blog post.”

Nowadays though, you need to provide free stuff and, sometimes, you need to be doing this every month – especially if you find an influencer who has driven quite a few sales for you.

Give everybody a visual.

I have worked with this YouTuber called ShadesOfKassie, and we would send her a product – let’s say makeup for example – and she would go on YouTube and do 20 minutes of unboxing this product.

She would talk about the shades of lipstick, type of eye shadow, and how it made her feel. And we would see a spikes in sales of $10,000 in a day of the product we had sent to her!

Think about it. Aren’t the purchase decisions usually made by someone influencing your family to make that purchase? You have to get your products out to these influencers and get in their lives. Become so ingrained, and part of what they’re doing, that they’ll talk about you.

Secret #4 – Know Your REAL Audience

You must know who your real audience is, and not just assume you know who they are.

I have worked with clients before that were adamant their demographic had certain characteristics, but in reality the correct influencers for them were the ones that had common interests and common market segments.
And sometimes you get an advertiser who knows their audience, but you have to tweak what they’re offering.

If you look at an online business like Dollar Shave Club, which was a client of ours at smarterchaos.com, they really believed that their influencers were the sport sites, the manly man sites, and things like that.

But over time they realized it’s probably the girlfriend, or the wife, that’s buying the razors. You need to take a look at not only who the end user is, but also who’s influencing the purchase decision.

Knowing the audience of an influencer is difficult, and that’s why it is good to go with a network like Pollen-8. We’ve worked with a whole range of influencers before, and we have tools to find out their reach. We can help you figure out what kind of audience you should really be going after.

Secret #5 – It’s About the Brand, Not the Sales

When you’re launching an advertising campaign, the intention is to increase your overall sales and conversions.

But you’re also driving additional customer engagement through social media conversations. People are talking about pretty much everything, including what products they use. That’s a huge influence in terms of people wanting to check out your product with the intention of buying it.

These social influencers are also creating valuable content for advertisers; like testimonials and quotes, and maybe even some non-traditional content that can be a valuable marketing asset for the brand itself.

A lot of this content is not targeted or created – it just happens organically.

At Smarter Chaos – where we moonlight as advertising agents – the big brands we work with want to measure everything. They want to know exactly how many sales they get in a very binary way (e.g. I made this placement, I put this on this website, and I got this many sales). But it doesn’t always work that way.

There are methods for tracking your influencer’s click through rate (and all those terms that everybody likes to attribute to digital marketing), but there’s also the value you get from additional content being generated through conversations that are taking place about your brand.

You can’t measure this but take it from Trump – you at least need somebody talking about you, no matter how they’re talking about you!

Secret #6 – Influencer Marketing Does Not Stand Alone

Influencer marketing is one component of your overall digital strategy.

It needs to be part of a larger, widespread marketing program that includes all the other traditional methods of digital marketing, such as search, social, affiliate . . . everything.

If you’re not investing in your brand, influencers aren’t going to invest their time promoting it. You need to identify those marketing channels with the best return, and then engage influencers to add credibility to your brand and get people talking about it.

Not long ago I went to LA and I did a tour of all these high fashion companies and super sexy internet companies, and all of them said, “Oh, we don’t need any other kind of marketing because we have influencers and they are influencing our brand.”

Then I would ask them the question, “That’s great, how’s that going for you?”

And they’d say, “Well it’s going really good – except there’s just a couple issues. One is our sales are declining, and two it’s cyclical, so we only get sales when they talk about us.”

So, okay, glad that’s working for you! You’re all set!

All kidding aside, those are some of the things I’ve heard. Of course, what they should have said is, “We’ve got this great influencer program and now we need to do something else, so we’re exploring that with them.”

There is a net positive effect that happens when you add search, paid social, re-targeting, affiliate marketing, and all these different things together.

Secret #7 – Because It Works

Everybody’s doing it. And the reason why everybody’s doing it is, it works.

When you see stats like 92% of buyers trust recommendations from individuals versus brands directly, you realize why advertisers are jumping all over the influencer band wagon. Most advertisers who have done it – and have implemented an effective strategy for influencers – believe it’s effective. They feel they have acquired better customers with a longer lifetime value.

We all have things that we have to have and people that we follow in the footsteps of. That’s the very idea of influencer marketing – somebody recommends something we just cannot live without.

It’s all about getting in the hearts and the minds of these influencers and, if you follow all the different secrets and tips you’ve been given here, you’re going to realize it takes time, money, and commitment.

So there you have it – the 7 Secrets of Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Now that I’ve spilled the beans, I guess they aren’t secrets anymore! That’s okay, I know this information is extremely valuable when it comes to growing your business.

If you need further advice on your influencer campaigns, please feel free to contact Beth or myself, and we will be more than happy to help.