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Refining your marketing strategy means identifying nuance. In other words, your influencer program goals will vary based on your marketing goals and the strengths of your influencers.
Marketing experts teach that a mature marketing program follows a funnel pattern. Numerous marketing brands have created their own versions of the marketing funnel. No matter how you slice it, the underlying principle remains the same—patiently guiding your audience through an awareness/education/buying process is the most sustainable way to produce loyal, empowered customers.
The short answer: Yes! From building brand awareness to encouraging sales, brands can (and should) partner with creators to impact every stage of the customer journey.
In fact, brands that focus solely on a direct cause-and-effect relationship between an influencer campaign and sales are missing out on other money-making metrics.
Gaining your audience’s attention leads to sales now, soon, and farther in the future—if you can nurture them through your marketing funnel. For example, a billboard for a pizza brand will make many people hungry for pizza, but it will not guarantee that those hungry people will spend money with the brand that invested in the billboard ad campaign.
Other “one-and-done” ad campaigns create the same effect. Despite the initial influx in sales from a single ad, a brand may lose future sales if they embrace just a short-term view of marketing ROI.
In today’s creator economy, influencers can generate brand awareness and then build upon the initial attention with meaningful content until a consumer is ready to buy.
The top of your funnel represents the first introduction between your brand and a consumer. Just as it would be unrealistic to demand a sale from every cold call, treating your top-of-funnel (TOFU) audience as either buyers or non-buyers can cause you to lose out on future sales and brand loyalty.
In any ad or marketing campaign, you will usually find a small percentage of consumers ready to buy at the top of the funnel. This can occur because:
But most people who meet your brand will need more time and information before making a purchase. Some of the best consumers are those that carefully research their problems and available solutions.
Within the top of the funnel (TOFU), brand awareness is your top objective.
And with any goal, you want to determine how you will measure success. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you do just that. Some top KPIs for tracking brand awareness are:
To achieve brand awareness, members of your audience don’t need to commit to a purchase. All you want is for them to become curious about your brand.
You can track a campaign’s TOFU success through the impressions, reach, and engagement your creators’ posts earn.
You can do this manually in spreadsheets or use a Creator Management platform to collect this data for you. If you’re new to influencer marketing or manage only a few creators, spreadsheets should do the trick.
See Also: Influencer Reporting Best Practices for Demonstrating ROI [+ Free Influencer Report Templates]
Opening a package you’ve anxiously been waiting for is one of life’s simple pleasures. In fact, it’s like giving a gift to yourself. And creators capturing that joy on camera for all to see can excite audiences and get them interested in your products.
When having a creator share an unboxing video, have them tag your brand so interested viewers can easily navigate to your social profile. From there, they can do some research, head to your website, and even subscribe to your emails.
Consider sending creators new product releases, curated collections of products that work well together, or a surprise gift you think they’d really like (if you go with this route, do a deep dive into their content to get a read on their interests and dislikes).
Whether they focus on vegetarian recipes, gardening advice, or their favorite travel destinations, bloggers share a wealth of information with their readers. Blogs are often one of the first places people go when they want to learn more on a topic, so partnering with bloggers can be a fabulous way to get your product in front of new eyes.
While blogs can work at any point of the customer journey, you can create TOFU blogs by focusing on how your products can solve a problem.
At this point in the customer journey, people aren’t looking for reviews to influence a purchasing decision, and they may not even know your product exists. Instead, they typically have an issue they need to solve (for example, how to save money for travel).
It’s up to the blogger to show how your product can solve this problem for people. So in the case of a travel credit card, a creator could write about how using the travel credit card can help users earn points for free flights.
When someone with this need stumbles upon the blog, they’ll likely research the credit card after learning about its benefits, but they probably won’t be ready to apply for it. And that’s ok because we’re still at the top of the funnel.
@saraahperezz can’t believe I really manifested this!!🥰 thank [email protected] for sending me your round topaz hoops, IM IN LOVE! ✨ #mejuri #mejuripartner #finecrew #jewelry #goldhoops #microinfluencertiktok ♬ original sound – Nene💚
Branded hashtags are great for building awareness. If someone sees your product for the first time on a creator’s post and wants to learn more, they can click on the branded hashtag and see a wide variety of posts and content about your company
We recommend using two different branded hashtags:
Having both content banks from the hashtags can be valuable for the consumers looking to learn more about your offerings.
In reality, any influencer type—nano, micro, macro, or mega—will help you achieve brand awareness. That said, influencers with larger audiences generally do a better job of helping you achieve your brand awareness goals.
Macro and mega influencers nurture online communities of 100,000 to more than 1 million followers. And because they have such large fanbases, partnering with them is sure to give your brand a high reach and drive a ton of impressions.
However, macro and mega influencers tend to be more expensive. If your budget is small, you can target new audiences by examining the niche markets of nano and micro influencers. Collaborate closely with these influencers to achieve the highest possible number of impressions.
@sarahgalyean Replying to @christinalaurenj The viral concealer hack is NOTHING without prep first! City Beauty Line Blurring Wrinkle Filler is a literal game changer. You know where to look for all the details! #citybeautypartner #citybeauty #concealerroutine #concealerhack #beautyhack #sarahgalyean #makeuptutorial #ad ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral – WZ Beat
After rebranding, the team at City Beauty knew they needed to build awareness and put their brand on the map for luxury beauty, so they developed a roster of high-performing content creators to get the word out, whom they refer to as their “City Beauties.”
Over a period of about two years, they gathered more than 3,000 pieces of creator content which have earned over 6.9 million impressions.
See how they did it: City Beauty Influencer Marketing Case Study
Tentree’s main goal in partnering with creators was to gain a wealth of creator-generated content that would not only build brand awareness but that they could also repurpose for other marketing efforts.
Tentree’s one-person influencer marketing team managed a team of 80 creators and gathered more than 800 pieces of creator content. Beyond the brand awareness their creators helped them generate, they also saw a 13x ROI for their efforts.
Learn more about tentree’s approach: Tentree Influencer Marketing Case Study
Once a consumer knows who your brand is, they fall into the middle of your funnel (MOFU). Maintaining audience interest in the MOFU stage means nurturing ongoing engagement.
But you don’t just want any kind of engagement. Certain consumer responses are more valuable than others. For example, asking an influencer specific questions about a product they’re promoting on behalf of your brand is more notable than someone liking a post.
To measure MOFU success, you must identify the most important ways consumers can engage an influencer’s post. These engagement types help you create your objectives.
When you reach the middle of the funnel, you want your potential customers to take a more active role in interacting with branded content. Engagement ensures that a target audience won’t soon forget your brand and what you do. To nurture that participation, you and your influencer should discuss customer pain points and desired end states with more depth and intentionality.
Engagement with your target audience should educate them about your industry and endear them to your brand. Essentially, you’re trying to empower them to make a smart purchasing decision.
There are a few ways you can measure your brand’s success in generating engagement, including:
When consumers are in the middle of the funnel, they’re aware of your brand, but they’re not quite ready to purchase. Whether it’s because they’re still trying to justify the cost, they don’t know whether they actually need your product, or they just need to do a little more research, they’re a little apprehensive. And that’s normal.
Contests can be a great way to address these challenges. Consumers have been eyeing your product for a while, and they’ll likely jump at the chance to win it for free. Normally, social media giveaways involve people taking a number of actions, including:
Therefore, contests are great for generating engagement and getting new eyes on your brand and products.
@zubeexox_ Replying to @neylisuarez Most FAQ!! Here are the details for my sofa & ottoman! 🛋 #ikeatok #ikeafinds #ikeacouch #ikeahomedecor #ikeaottoman #couch #finnala #neutralhomedecor #neutrallivingroom #fypシ #xyzbca ♬ original sound – darcy stokes
At this stage of the customer journey, it’s normal for consumers to have questions about your brand, product, and more. Instead of making people search for answers, have your creators develop Q&A content to bring the answers to them.
If your partners would prefer to do a live stream where viewers can drop questions in the comments, you may want to have a brand representative join them, so there aren’t any gaps in information.
If you and your creators would prefer a bit more planning, go through the comments on previous branded posts and see what people are asking. Compile these questions, plan out some answers, and have your creator film a video sharing the information. However, it’s essential to make sure your creator knows these through and through; you don’t want it to look like they’re reading from a script.
Sometimes, customers need to see your product in action before they can commit to a purchase, and demos and how-to videos are great for showcasing the qualities and benefits of an item.
This kind of content will look different depending on what kind of products you offer. For example, cosmetics companies can partner with creators to share eye makeup tutorials featuring their products, while an outdoor supply company can work with creators to showcase how to set up a tent.
Let’s face it: Many products currently on the market are poorly made. And this can make consumers cautious about purchasing from a company they don’t have experience with.
Brands can partner with creators to showcase their production methods, highlight their employees, and more. This will give consumers a better idea of the great culture and dedication to quality your brand has.
Since engagement should be your main MOFU goal, look for creators with high engagement rates. You can find it manually by going to several of their posts, calculating the rates, and averaging them together, but that can take a lot of time. Instead, try out GRIN’s free Engagement Rate Calculator to skip the work.
When evaluating creators, don’t just look at their overall engagement rate, though. Inspect both their organic posts and their branded posts from previous collaborations. Do their branded posts perform almost as well or on par with their organic content? Then they may be a great fit. However, if their branded content lags in comparison, you may want to look elsewhere.
Additionally, you should choose your influencers carefully to ensure audience alignment. Because your target audience can never be every consumer, recruit those influencers whose online communities match your ideal demographics.
As you move further down the consumer journey, smaller creators generally perform better. The smaller the online community, the greater your chances of achieving meaningful engagement because those creators have more time to interact with fans.
That said, some macro influencers maintain surprisingly strong engagement metrics. If you can afford these top-performing influencers, you will most certainly get your money’s worth.
@areyoukiddingtv Yes, it has to be alive @litterrobot #litterrobotpartner ♬ original sound – AreYouKiddingTV
Because Whisker’s Litter Robot 4 is a high-dollar product, consumers need a bit more convincing before committing to a purchase. One way they build excitement is by partnering with creators to host giveaways, but these don’t look like the typical contests you’d see on Instagram. Instead, they partner with creators who encourage active engagement, like @areyoukiddingtv.
Learn more about Whisker’s approach: How to implement the ultimate Influencer Marketing strategy
Espin, an electric bike startup, wanted to stand out in a saturated market, so they partnered with nano and micro influencers with strong engagement rates and high levels of trust within their communities.
They gave their creators total creative freedom and, in turn, received 57 pieces of content they could repurpose for every stage of the customer journey. Their MOFU content now includes how-to videos, posts about how user-friendly the bikes are, and more.
See how they did it: Baotris x Espin Influencer Marketing Case Study
Most bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) campaigns focus on driving sales. At this stage, most of your target audience knows who your brand is, how valuable your products or services are, and simply need to make a decision.
It is now time to share calls to action and watch your sales rise. Because prospects at the BOFU level know your brand pretty well, you are less concerned about building interest and more concerned with empowering them to buy.
When your customers are at the bottom of the funnel, your main goal is to increase conversions. Depending upon your product or service, conversions could include outright purchases, trial sign-ups, or subscriptions. In fact, you could employ multiple conversion techniques, so audience members have more than one way to commit to your brand.
When planning your BOFU influencer marketing tactics, you’ll need to consider the user experience your creators provide and make it as easy as possible for consumers to convert. Thankfully, social media channels like Instagram offer “swipe-ups” that entice consumers to act.
To measure accurate conversion metrics, you should create affiliate links or discount codes, tags, and trackable landing pages. These can help you see how many sales each creator is earning and gauge their effectiveness in helping you reach your goals.
At the bottom of the funnel, people know they need your product and are about ready to buy, but they may not be 100% sure about which brand they want to purchase from. They might be researching cheaper options or your competitors so they can be absolutely certain they’re getting the best product for the best price.
This is where reviews come in. Customers need that last little push to make a purchase, so content from trusted creators sharing why they love your brand’s product can help inspire confidence and encourage conversions.
When working with creators to develop this content, give them the freedom to say whatever they want. Encourage them to be completely honest, and don’t be afraid to let them share potential drawbacks to your product. You want these reviews to be as unbiased as possible; if consumers see a glowing and obviously fake review, they will lose all interest in shopping with you.
@enhancingemily One month treadmill update!! 🏃🏼♀️ @enhancingemily #underdesktreadmill #dailyvlog #dimlvlog #treadmilldesk #wfhlife #wfhhacks #weightlossjourney #amazonfinds #walkwithme #hgw #hotgirlwalk ♬ Roxanne – Instrumental – Califa Azul
While similar to reviews, testimonials are when people showcase their results after using a product or service. This kind of content can be very beneficial for health and wellness products, lifestyle brands, and more.
If you’re working with creators to develop testimonials, give them time to use your product and fall in love with it. Have patience, and amazing testimonials will be sure to roll in.
@emilyanneashby Discount Code: EMILYA_TRIBE @shop12thtribe #festivalseason #festivalseason2022 #festivalfashion #festivalvibes #festivals #discountcodes #shoppingonline #FASHION #fashiontrends #foryou #foryoupage #ByeByeSundayBlues #ImoniCarly ♬ whyisthisaudiofamous – molly 💛
If you’ve ever had your eye on a product and snapped it up the second you saw a sale, you’ll know how effective creator discount codes can be for driving conversions.
While you can use one discount code for all creators, we recommend giving them each their own. This can help you attribute sales to the right people and determine who your top performers are.
Since the bottom of the funnel is where you’re asking people to give you money, you want to partner with creators who have established a high level of trust with their followers.
Micro and nano influencers are especially gifted at driving sales. Their audiences are small, heavily engaged, and put enormous stock into the influencers’ product recommendations.
Once again, all influencer types can drive sales. By nurturing long-term relationships with your creators, you will better understand who performs the best at the different stages of the customer journey, regardless of the number of followers they have.
With the intention of driving more conversions, Darn Good Yarn partnered with fiber artists with large followings on social media to create and share custom patterns using Darn Good Yarn products.
Darn Good Yarn provided an extra incentive and removed the hassle for crafters by offering exclusive, pattern-specific kits, and they empowered creators to share discount codes on their posts. As a result of their creators’ beautiful designs and this strategic marketing, they saw a 20% increase in subscription sales growth.
See how they did it: Darn Good Yarn Influencer Marketing Case Study
@cocoscaravan Use my code for $20 off! @SlumberPod was the best item u purchased for travel. No more trying to fir cribs in closets to keep a dark space. My kids slept so good on vacation! #travelwithkids #travelwithkid #babysleep ♬ Love You So – The King Khan & BBQ Show
From the beginning, SlumberPod, a company selling portable blackout tents for babies, focused on influencer marketing. They partnered with experts, like sleep coaches, to provide reviews that users would trust, as well as more traditional mom influencers who could share testimonials on how SlumberPod helped their child sleep.
Learn more about their program: SlumberPod Influencer Marketing Case Study
Now that you’ve learned how to successfully guide your customers through every stage of the funnel, you may be wondering about customer advocacy. While many marketers don’t include advocacy in their funnel (most stop at purchase), it’s still an essential part of the journey and can supercharge your marketing efforts.
For example, when customers love a product, they might talk about it on social media, whether they’re an influencer or not. Every time someone does this, it drives brand awareness and helps draw people into the top of the funnel.
And everyone knows that happy customers leave great reviews. When people are considering your product in the lower levels of the funnel, they will most likely check your website and other review sites to see what people truly think about your products. The more customers you have advocating for your brand, the more likely someone is to make a purchase.
Now that you’ve seen how brands leverage influencers for every stage of the customer journey, it’s time for you to get on board too!
Scope out the types of content you’d like to use for each part of the funnel and talk with your creators about where they can fit in. But a quick heads-up: Don’t be too rigid in your guidelines when you ask creators to try out these content types. Giving them the creative freedom to meet the general messaging goal in whichever way they choose will yield the best results for your brand and your creators.
Researchers expect nearly 80% of marketers to use influencer marketing as a strategy by the end of
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