Chapter 1: Getting Started

A broad overview of what you need to know to get an influencer marketing program off the ground.

How to start influencer marketing

So, we’ll start by identifying and searching for our target influencers, right?  Not quite yet. 

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Before commencing the campaign process, you’ll need to answer a few questions about your brand, product, and overall objectives.  It may seem unexciting, but outlining these answers will ultimately establish the framework for your entire program. 

  • Know your objective
  • Set your KPIs
  • Identify product to send
  • Determine your budget
  • Allocate team resources
  • Build a CRM framework

Still trying to figure it out? Let’s get back to the very basics. If not, you can continue past this paragraph.

Know your objective

What do you want to achieve through influencer marketing? The question might seem redundant, but your response defines many aspects of your program. Simply put, what results will dictate “success”? Whether it’s increasing site traffic, driving orders, or building positive brand sentiment, setting clear program objectives will create purpose and streamline your focus. Everything from the type of influencers you’ll target, the total volume of influencers, how you manage relationships, what kind of content you’ll seek, and how you measure performance are all contingent on your program goals.

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Target audience

Before determining your common objectives, you must understand your target audience. Your target audience for influencer marketing should be similar to the same audience you focus on in everyday business. For example, if your business generally targets a demographic of 22 to 32-year-old American women, consider this your target audience for your influencer marketing campaign.

Additionally, if your business promotes multiple product lines, your target audience may change depending on the line you’re looking to promote. You’ll want to remember these audiences when deciding which creators you contact for specific campaigns.

The beauty of influencer marketing is that you may unlock a new target audience you never expected through the power of creator influence. So go ahead and reach out to all sizes of creators that create content for different users. Sometimes the ones that drive the best performance will surprise you.

Common objectives

Now that you understand your target audience, you can determine your objectives. Below is a list of common goals brands generally use to guide their influencer programs. You’ll likely identify more than one objective you want to aim for—which is fine! Activating with influencers and starting an influencer marketing program, if done correctly, can yield a variety of results that will help amplify your overall business/brand. The multifaceted returns that influencer marketing produces are exactly why it’s quickly become a highly coveted strategy for modern-day brands.

Awareness

Awareness is a measurement of a user’s recollection of a brand. Do people recognize your logo? Your tagline? The answers to that refer to your brand’s awareness. Proper strategizing and planning are essential to leave inspiring and meaningful interactions with those who come across your content. You want to showcase your product/brand to the world with the goal of turning them into eventual customers. That’s why influencer marketing can be so impactful. The one talking about your brand is a creator that has already established credibility and trust with your target audience.

Conversions

Increasing revenue and making the sale are conversions tied to dollars. Other goal conversions include, but are not limited to, email sign-ups, form submissions, ebook downloads, and so on. 

Content

You can use original, user-generated content (UGC), to help aid your marketing and branding efforts. If your Instagram is looking bare and you’re constantly scrounging for assets to fill your feed, UGC serves as a priceless asset for bootstrapped brands, especially considering how affordable it can be compared to professional studio photographer/videographers.

Website traffic

Influencer campaigns can increase website traffic. An effective influencer partnership will generate leads and drive conversions on your website. Traffic driven by influencers will help move your website visitors down the marketing funnel. Any new user that visits your website you now have the opportunity to cookie and subsequently serve retargeting ads until they convert. Website visits also allow you to showcase your product/service/offering front-and-center in a way that helps your brand image to make an impact.

Reputation

Reputation involves curating widespread, positive sentiment about your brand among your target demographic. Building a good reputation should focus on strengthening your brand image and building consumer trust.

Setting your key performance indicators (KPIs)

As you start to define what “success” will look like for your brand’s influencer program, it’s essential to know what KPIs to use to assess your brand’s performance. Each of the objectives listed ultimately has a variety of associated metrics that you can track over time.

We’ll briefly outline and define each of these to give you a better understanding of what they mean and how to use them to analyze your program’s success.

  • Awareness
  • Conversions
  • Content
  • Website Traffic
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Pro Tip

One of the first things you will need to do is to run campaigns to establish a baseline against which to assess your performance. Understanding your baseline will help you focus your marketing efforts.

Awareness KPIs

Reach

Influencers have access to massive audiences, which enables you to increase your brand visibility significantly. Expanding your reach is an important first step to raising brand awareness and paves the way toward achieving subsequent objectives. 

We can think about reach with three different metrics: 

  • Follower count: Follower count includes the potential number of people who can see an influencer’s content. More followers means more potential exposure for your brand!
  • Reach: Reach is the number of unique people who see your content.
  • Impressions:  Impressions describe the total number of times the content is seen (i.e., posts, videos, stories, or other content). When an influencer posts about your brand, the result is new followers to your account, increasing your brand’s reach—across all three metrics!

High-intent KPIs

As with all marketing, the primary goal is to drive sales and growth. The easiest way to track growth in an influencer marketing campaign is by following the number of sales before, during, and after the campaign. Many brands use promo codes or affiliate links to attribute sales accurately to the influencer campaign. For a more advanced approach, you can use metrics such as return on investment (ROI), conversion rate (CVR), and cost-per-order (CPO).

  • Conversions: This metric is the total conversions driven by an influencer campaign.Reach: Reach is the number of unique people who see your content.
  • ROI: ROI measures the gain or loss from a campaign relative to the amount of money spent.
  • CVR: CVR refers to the percentage of visitors who ultimately purchase. This metric tells you the visitor’s interest level, the offer’s attractiveness, and the process’s ease.
  • CPO: CPO is the dollar amount spent on advertising or marketing to end with a sale.

But conversions don’t always have to do with sales, and there are other conversion rates you can monitor as well. Any time a prospect completes a desired action counts as a conversion. A desired action can include signing up for a newsletter, downloading an ebook, clicking on a link, or anything else you want your prospects to do.

KPIs for content

Knowing what content creators post throughout your campaign is as important as understanding the data. Thus, you’ll want to keep close tabs on the quantity and quality of content your influencers produce. Is it up to par with what you were expecting? Is the content reusable and something you can repost on your brand’s social accounts?

Tracking the amount of content produced, the frequency of posts, the type of content posted, and even the caption/messaging quality will help you maintain control of the campaign.

Different types of content to consider analyzing are posts and stories, video testimonials featuring your product, unboxings, style hauls, how-to videos, brand-building content, or direct-response focused. 

Website traffic KPIs

The amount of traffic influencers drive to your site is another necessary metric to track. Site traffic not only provides insights into your campaign’s effective reach, but it can also tell you a lot about the overall success of your campaign. Conversions might not always tell the whole story, especially if your site isn’t fully optimized. This gap is where traffic and site behavior stats come into play. You can look at total visitors, new vs. returning visitors, page views, pages per session, time on site, and bounce rate to help tell the whole story. If influencers successfully drive traffic to your website, but visitors bounce quickly and don’t browse around, the problem may be with your site.

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Pro Tip

Measuring the success of an influencer marketing campaign can seem complex or daunting, especially considering how many different KPIs there are. When it comes time to analyze your campaign, remember which KPI you’re measuring and how it relates to the campaign objective. However, don’t limit your analysis to just one or two KPIs. You need to take a holistic approach to understand fully how a campaign performs.

Identify products

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Know what you’ll send influencers.

There are various ways to compensate the influencers helping you promote your brand, but they will need a supply of your product in every instance. New startup ventures may write posts in exchange for your product, while established influencers with a large following may want financial compensation.

On the surface, this may seem easy. However, there are some important things to consider before you start your outreach. For example, what are you planning to send influencers as incentivisation in exchange for their services? Or, what is the perceived value (monetary and utility) of your offering to a potential influencer? Everything from the type of product you’re offering, its attractiveness, the quantity, plus a variety of other business-specific factors will determine what is feasible for you.
We outline some questions that will help guide you through the process.

How to determine what to offer influencers

The critical point here is to honestly assess the value of your offering and ensure that it’s worthwhile to your influencers.

When thinking of how you will incentivize your influencers, consider the following:

  • Will you offer free product? On a one-time or recurring basis? Most importantly, how much free product can you comfortably send every month?
  • If you’re not capable of sending free product (typically the case for higher price points or limited-quantity products), will you offer influencers a significant discount on your product? How much is that discount?
  • Is your product consumable or non-consumable? A company selling protein powder, a consumable good, must ensure they’re shipping influencers a sufficient supply, so they don’t run out. They must also continue doing so for as long as the partnership lasts. However, a company that sells apparel or provides a service, a non-consumable good, won’t have this as an immediate issue and can get a lot more “life” out of one shipment.
  • Is your product even attractive to an influencer? Will they even want to use/wear/eat/drink/try/promote your product? Be honest with yourself, as this will determine how wide of a net you can cast or if this will require targeted influencer selection.
  • Does your product require any education? If introducing a new type of fitness equipment, you’ll want to ensure influencers are well-versed in speaking about your product. Again, an apparel brand wouldn’t have this particular issue.
  • How exciting or post-worthy is your product/offer?It’s essential to consider this since some influencers might agree to the terms of the deal even if they aren’t gung-ho about your product. Sure, they’ll execute, but perhaps not with the passion of someone who is a true advocate. 

Determine your budget

Once you’ve determined a suitable product offering that you feel influencers will see value in, you’ll next want to allocate a monthly budget. When calculating your monthly budget, you must account for product-seeding inventory (plus fulfillment and shipping costs) and cash payments. Even if you plan to target micro influencers for posts in exchange for product, you should still set aside a cash budget. Eventually, there may come a time when those influencers expect payment, or you discover a perfect influencer prospect that won’t accept just product – in those situations, cash is king. If you intend to work with larger-scale influencers, then be prepared to pay for their services.  Product in exchange for a post will not be enough. (Except in fortunate instances when they are already avid fans of your brand – but don’t count on it!)
Questions to consider to help you determine your budget:

  • Will you compensate with payment? A flat rate? Just commission? Both?
  • Are the potential monthly earnings attractive enough for an influencer?
  • How much budget can you safely allocate towards influencers each month?
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Pro Tip

Understand that the 80/20 rule applies to “failed” vs. successful deals in the early stages. There will be a lot of influencers that don’t pan out, but the 20% that work will really work.  Will that impact how much you allocate?

Pricing

How much should we be paying?

Before we dive into the specifics of understanding influencer rates, we need to clarify something further. As you begin to talk pricing with influencers, one of the first questions that will likely cross your mind is, “Is this a fair rate? How much should we pay a particular influencer for their posts, Stories, YouTube videos, etc.?” In full transparency, the answer is almost always: it depends. Due to the nature of influencer marketing and the myriad factors (both quantitative and qualitative) that pertain to an influencer, there is no standardized/universal model for calculating influencer rates. However, don’t let that scare you away, as some general guidelines and other contributing factors will help steer you in the right direction.

Understanding influencer rates

The basics

Many digital marketers apply the “one cent per follower” rule (or $100 for every 10k followers) as the starting point for their calculations. You’ll need to consider all of the elements involved and adjust the rate accordingly, taking into account the following:

  • The size or status of an influencer (micro, macro, etc.)
  • The social media platform they’re on (Instagram, YouTube, etc.)
  • The type of integration you are seeking (IG post vs. Story, YouTube video, etc.)

Influencer factors

These are considered to be the defining characteristics and associated metrics of an influencer. These attributes are unique to every influencer and can be considered a “scorecard” or resume. Thankfully, these factors are relatively easy to identify and will provide various data points to help guide your pricing efforts. 
Influencer-specific factors include:

  • Influencer type
  • Engagement rate
  • Follower demographics
  • Content quality
  • Name / Recognition / Skill
  • Audience quality
  • Authenticity

Allocate team resources

One of the most critical components of your influencer campaign is the person (or persons) managing your program. So ask yourself:  Who will be responsible for managing your influencer program? How many hours will they commit per week?  Your program’s overall health and success are highly contingent on the amount of time and effort you put in.

If you’re serious about ramping up an influencer program, plan to hire for a full-time position. Managing a high volume of relationships takes time. Long lapses in conversation (especially during negotiation) can lead to drop-off. If hiring a full-time role isn’t in the cards, ensure whoever takes on the responsibility has enough time to do a good job.

An effective manager for your influencer campaigns will have the following skills, characteristics, and abilities:

Data-driven

Like any digital marketing channel, a successful influencer marketing campaign involves data analysis at almost every stage. Then, factor in many influencer and engagement metrics, a rapidly changing social media landscape, and hard-to-track qualitative components, and what results is a daunting undertaking to manage. Make no mistake, managing an influencer program requires an individual who is comfortable using data from a variety of disparate sources to help make informed decisions and creatively draw conclusions by connecting the dots.

Creative eye

Your influencer channel manager should also have a creative side, considering content is a primary component of influencer marketing. Your manager should have an eye for spotting top-notch creators/influencers that match your brand’s aesthetic (and those who don’t). They should also have a creative mindset capable of ideating new and innovative content strategies.

Interpersonal skills

Influencer marketing, at its very core, is based on human-to-human relationships. This is not a self-serve ad platform. You’re dealing with real people and thus need someone on your team who communicates effectively and can foster new relationships and uphold existing ones.

Build a customer relationship management (CRM) framework

Effectively managing an influencer marketing campaign requires maintaining multiple moving parts. Because of its potential for complexity, you need a good CRM framework to keep track of your creators.

Once you begin prospecting and reaching out to creators, you’ll want to keep your information organized. You need to know who you’ve contacted and who still needs to be contacted. Who said yes, and who said no? Will you have multiple campaigns promoting different product lines? If so, how will you keep that organized? Who’s received your product, and who still needs a shipment sent out?

It’s important to set up your CRM before you start your influencer campaigns, as it will be difficult and time-consuming to try and go back and retrieve all of the data once the campaign has begun. An efficient CRM will allow you to access information quickly and efficiently to keep you organized as your influencer roster grows.

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Pro Tip

GRIN Essential is an excellent start to organizing your campaign. Our essential plan will allow you to program and automate your creator strategy.

CRM must-have templates

Once you begin developing your influencer marketing program, several statuses are worth tracking.

Influencer prospects & outreach status

The purpose of these prospect statuses is to determine the following:

  • Who is on your prospect list and what is their follower count
  • Who needs outreach vs. those who’ve already been emailed or direct messaged
  • Who needs follow-up

Activated influencers

This template is perhaps the most important because it is your master sheet of every influencer in your program. The more data you record from the beginning, the happier you will be when digging into your analytics later.
You will want to track the following attributes:

  • Contact info: name, email address, shipping address, gender, preferred pronouns, age/birthday, city/state/country, etc.
  • Social info: social network handle/username, primary social network, secondary social network, category/genre of content they produce, etc.
  • Campaign info: their assigned promo code(s), owner (the person on your team who manages the relationship), influencer status (i.e., active, terminated), etc.

Performance tracking & budget monitoring

While your program is still small and growing, this template lets you track vital performance stats and budget figures reliably. Without software, this will be a manual process and will constantly require you to update your template throughout the campaign; however, GRIN has all of these CRM framework tracking capabilities in its software. In fact, there is a 60-day free version of GRIN you can try to get started.

Keep track of the following attributes:

  • Influencer info: name or social handle/username (whatever you set as your primary ‘key’ identifier), month/year
  • Campaign info: Orders, revenue, total spend (monthly), ROI, CPO, owner (the person on your team who manages the relationship), influencer status (active, terminated, etc.)

Prepare templates & campaign brief assets

In addition to setting up your CRM template, you’ll need to plan your email outreach to correspond with your influencer campaigns. Keep your influencers in the loop by setting up email templates to ensure they are aware of current and upcoming events and prevent any gaps in communication. The goal is efficiency. Set yourself up for success by eliminating repetitive tasks.

Email templates

Most of your influencers partnerships should ideally follow the same conversational structure—starting with your initial outreach email. Following the outreach email, here are some additional time-saving templates to write:
Keep track of the following attributes:

  • Accepted: This email is for influencers who accept the terms of the partnerships and will outline the next steps.
  • Declined: This email is for influencers who rejected your offer. It should thank them for their time and encourage them to reach out if anything changes.
  • No Response: This email is a simple follow-up to your initial outreach email if you are still waiting for a response in X number of days.

What follows depends on how you set up your program and the information you need to convey next.

Campaign assets

Work towards creating a variety of supporting assets that you’ll have at your disposal for influencers to reference. Think of campaign assets as educational or informative documents you create and distribute to the influencers you work with. They contain specific information about your brand, product, or campaign and typically come as one-sheets. Below are some examples:

  • Brand background + guidelines
  • Content inspo decks
  • New product release notes
  • Sale/promo announcements
  • Size/fit guide
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Pro Tip

Observe & Refine: If you find yourself going over the same points with each new influencer, you should review your outreach message to address questions or concerns that keep appearing. Be proactive and tailor your outreach message as briefly as possible.

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