The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Strategy Guide

The influencer marketing landscape is quickly evolving with the introduction of new platforms and regulations influencing new trends. What once worked a decade ago may no longer be as relevant today. Think brands moving on from blog influencers to mega-influencers on social media and so on. This makes it crucial to stay on top of your game and discover the latest tips on building a successful influencer marketing strategy.

In this post, we provide you with a comprehensive influencer marketing strategy guide so you can instantly get started. We even explore the common mistakes you should avoid and the upcoming trends you should look out for in the coming years. Let’s get started.

influencer marketing course


The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Strategy Guide:


The Essentials of Influencer Marketing: Steps to Get Started

Getting started with influencer marketing requires laying out a plan to determine who you want to influence and who can influence them. Check out the following essential steps to build your influencer marketing strategy.

Step 1: Define Who You Want to Influence

For any influencer campaign to be successful you first need to know who you are trying to influence. It helps to be specific. The tighter you can define your target audience, the easier it is to find influencers who are relevant.

You will hopefully have already found this for your business when you wrote your business plan. Even if you haven’t formally defined your target audience you will know the types of people who typically buy your product.

The worst kind of answer is to try and target everybody. Even producers of everyday commodity products, such as bread and toilet paper, try to differentiate their marketing. That is why they create ranges, focusing on different niches, e.g. a range targeting people who favor quality, versus a range for the budget-conscious.

This is a vital step that will shape the rest of your influencer marketing strategy. Most importantly, it will guide your influencer identification process as you understand who influences your target audience. For example, if your target audience is made up of eco-conscious consumers, you’ll need to look into influencers who create content about sustainability.


Step 2: Set Clear Objectives

Before you can create an influencer marketing strategy, you first need to determine what you are trying to achieve. Your aim may be something small like gaining a set number of extra visitors to your website, with them signing up for a newsletter. Alternatively, you might choose to engage in influencer marketing with the aim of increasing sales of a particular product by a certain percentage.

It is impossible for you to measure whether a campaign is successful or not if you haven’t set any objectives. The measurement of your ROI at the end of the campaign depends on how you have performed in relation to your initial objective.

Moreover, the objectives you want to achieve will shape other aspects of your strategy such as the types of partnerships and content. For example, if your goal is to drive sales, you may see impressive results by having influencers post a discount code. On the other hand, giveaway contests may be ideal for creating brand awareness.

In the following post, the influencer promotes a jewelry brand by showcasing a few designs along with a discount code. This type of content is highly effective for influencer campaigns that aim to generate sales quickly.

 


Step 3: Perform a Content and Opportunity Audit

It makes sense that you carry out a Content and Opportunity Audit at the start of your process to better understand the needs of your target audience. It is important that you include your influencers in the conversations.

What you are looking for in this phase of your influencer marketing strategy are:

  • The general feeling of your target audience to the types of content you are aiming to produce
  • What are your competitors doing with their content marketing?
  • What motivation do your influencers have to help in distributing your content
  • How does your target audience perceive you?
  • What can your brand do to make it relevant to your target audience’s conversations?

Step 4: Develop Your Content Plan

Once you have decided on the general topic areas that might interest your audience you will want to create a content plan.

You are going to want to prepare a coordinated series of content that will meet your audience’s needs. It is a great idea to set up a content calendar when you decide what content you need to create by what dates.

You want to think through the specific topics that you want to cover. This is also a good time to determine which influencers will be best for sharing particular types of content. In some cases, you may opt to contract particular influencers to create specific items of content that they can share at set points in your campaign.

A content calendar helps you plan and coordinate the content you share with your target audience. It also helps you work in with the schedules of your influencers, and anybody you may work with to help with content creation and editing. Check out our list of free content calendar templates to get started.

You should try and ensure that you are always planning at least a month ahead. If you are using busy influencers, you may even want to create greater lead time, especially around busy times of the year.


Step 5: Find the Best Influencers for Your Campaign

Next, it’s time to get into the most vital aspect of your influencer marketing strategy. Your choice of influencers will make or break your campaign, so it’s crucial to strategically identify the best ones for the purpose. 

Once you’ve identified your target audience and defined your goals, this should be pretty straightforward. It’s only a matter of finding who influences your target audience and how you want to influence them. Based on this, you’ll be able to identify key influencers who can create the types of content you need to achieve your campaign objectives.

Ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your options.

  • Where do the online conversations about your niche take place? How social are the key participants in the niche?
  • What motivates people in your niche to promote relevant content
  • Is activity concentrated in a particular place, e.g. on Facebook or on a respected blog, or is the niche more fragmented?
  • Who are the people who most often write or create other content about your topic?
  • What is the background of these people?
  • The more you know about your niche and target audience, the easier the task you will have to find the best possible influencers.

There are plenty of free influencer marketing tools to help you with your search. You can use these to find relevant influencers in your niche and get access to vital performance metrics such as their following size and engagement rates. Some of these tools will let you run a search right within the platform while others only support influencer analytics. 

Influence.co is one of the most powerful influencer discovery tools that you can use for free. It provides filters to help you narrow your search based on influencer location, follower count, engagement rate, age range, rate, and many more.

Influencer Discovery Tool

Source: influence.co

Besides using influencer marketing tools, you can also outsource the process to an influencer marketing agency. These agencies will help you outline your goals and dig through a massive database of influencers to find the most ideal options for you. Depending on the agency you work with, you can even rely on them for influencer outreach so you can save time to focus on other aspects of running your business.


Step 6: Collaborate to Create Quality Content

For an influencer marketing campaign to be successful, you need quality content for your influencers to share. The influencers may have followers who trust them, but nobody is going to spend money simply because an influencer told them to.

When influencers communicate with their followers it is to inform, entertain, educate, or inspire them, usually in relation to their specialist niche. Thus, for influencer marketing to work, any content that the influencer shares about your product must also be informative, entertaining, educational, or inspiring.

There is a lot of rubbish content on the internet. No matter how good an influencer is, he or she cannot remain relevant if they share rubbish content.

Your influencers need to constantly be on the lookout for compelling content. You can help them in this process. Provide them with resources they can use for their content. If it would help them, give them an insider’s view of your business. Provide your expertise to assist them – this could be data, expertise, or inside knowledge of the industry.

You could negotiate with an influencer to co-create an item of content. While this could be something as simple as a blog post, you might consider something larger, such as a white paper or research report, a webinar, or an online presentation.

Many influencer marketing campaigns take a hands-off approach to content creation, meaning that they leave it all up to the influencers. You can share an idea of the types of content you want to see and give them a prompt for some direction, while the influencers take care of the rest. 

This is a great way to give influencers creative freedom to create content for your brand in their authentic voice. However, it helps to have a few rules and requirements in place so that whatever content they create aligns with your brand’s vision. 

You may require each influencer to create two Instagram feed posts and one Reel for the duration of your one-month campaign, for example. Additionally, influencers may be requested to share a short caption highlighting what they love about the product without being too promotional. Or you could be more specific about what you want them to discuss such as how a specific feature helps them do their jobs better.

For instance, Fabletics influencer partners have to create content showcasing their Fabletics outfits. Each post must be tagged with the #FableticsPartner hashtag.

 


Step 7: Track and Measure Your Influencer Campaigns

Ultimately the success or otherwise of your influencer campaign comes back to the objective you set at the start of the process. 

When your campaign is over, you should compare your actual ROI to your objective. If you have met your objective, it is time to re-evaluate things and possibly a new campaign with a higher objective. If you have failed to meet your objective, take a close look to try and determine what the problem was. Take stock and change your next campaign to see if you can improve your results.

More importantly, don’t underestimate the importance of ongoing campaign tracking. Keep track of which influencers are getting engagements and which ones are falling behind. This will help you pivot and optimize your campaign for greater results. 

You can make use of influencer software tools that come with campaign tracking features. Besides influencer-specific performance, these tools will help you discover the top-performing influencer content. Some brands even take the opportunity to amplify these types of posts for even more impressive results.


The ROI of Influencer Marketing: Case Studies and Stats

The growth and popularity of influencer marketing is obvious even to the most untrained eye. Every other Instagram post from an influencer is tagged with #ad and every other YouTube video is sponsored by a brand. In other words, influencer marketing is everywhere. But how effective is it, really?

According to our State of Influencer Marketing 2023 benchmark report, influencer marketing has grown into a $21.1 billion industry. So the industry itself is massive. This is only possible because brands are seeing the value of influencers for their business. In fact, 82% of respondents in the report believe that influencer marketing campaigns generate higher-quality customers compared to other types of marketing.

That’s not all – influencer marketing helps you drive better brand awareness and reach a highly relevant audience. As a result, you can enjoy benefits such as higher engagements and conversions. To better understand the value and ROI of influencer marketing, let’s take a look at some case studies with impressive results.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA used influencer marketing to promote their GeForce RTX 30 Series laptops. Their goal was to reach STEM students and target them with a back-to-school promotion. With the help of NeoReach, the brand activated influencers whose audiences were made up of American students in STEM, engineering, tech, and data science.

These influencers created unique content using prompts like “build something awesome” and “benefits of the laptop.” They used humor and relatability to appeal to the target demographic of young students. As a result of this, NVIDIA was able to achieve the following results:

  • 3.3 million impressions
  • 5.7k link in bio clicks
  • 46.7k total engagements
  • $266,330 influencer media value

ODEON

ODEON needed to grow their TikTok presence and use it as a channel to engage users with the feeling of going to the movies. They worked with The Goat Agency to deliver this sensory experience through creator-led content. The agency enlisted popular creators such as Max Balegde, who took over ODEON’s TikTok account for a hilarious interview with cinema-goers. 

Other activations involved family and parenting creators who created content around “Family Film Closet” where they dressed up as movie characters. Over the course of 12 months, several pieces of exciting and entertaining creator-generated content helped the channel to grow from 4,000 followers to 10,000 followers. Additionally, ODEON saw the following results:

  • 20 million impressions
  • 1 million engagements
  • 10.5% average engagement rate
  • 10.3% average view-through rate
  • £14.70 return on ad spend (ROAS)

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

With the information you have so far, you’re pretty much all set to start your own influencer marketing campaign. Before that, make sure to look out for the following common influencer marketing mistakes and prepare to avoid them.

Focusing Only on Follower Count

Followers can be bought, which has led to the prevalence of influencer fraud. If you’re only focusing on follower count when choosing influencers, don’t be surprised if you don’t see the results you expected. Moreover, even genuine influencers won’t always be a good fit for your brand based on the audience you want to engage and how you want to engage them.

To avoid this, make use of influencer fraud detection tools and fake follower checkers to analyze each influencer. You can put them through an additional vetting process where you assess them for brand fit based on factors like their content quality and their follower demographics. 

Taking Away Creative Freedom

Many brands are unable to experience the value of influencer marketing because they miss the whole point of working with influencers. This often means they’re too restrictive with how they want influencers to create content that the campaign ends up losing its authenticity. In some cases, influencers may be forced to be overly promotional and sales-y, thus losing the interest of their audience.

To avoid this, make sure to respect the essence of content creators and give them the freedom to create. This will help them create content for your brand in an authentic voice that engages their audience. You could provide them with prompts and a few basic guidelines to ensure brand alignment but leave the creating and the ideas to them.  

Choosing the Wrong Payment Model 

How you pay your influencers will play a role in your campaign’s profitability. While rates may vary depending on influencer type, you should look into a payment model that works for you and for the campaign. Product seeding campaigns may not require payments as they involve gifting products to micro and nano-influencers. For other types of campaigns that require some type of monetary payment, decide between options like flat rate payments, percentage of sales, and payments based on product level.

While flat-rate payments were very common in 2022 (49%), brands are now choosing to pay influencers based on a percentage of sales (53%). This may be because of a need for evidence that the influencer is delivering results. So you may want to consider this option.

Influencer Payment System

Measuring Results Only at the End

If you’re waiting until the end of your campaign to start measuring its impact, you could end up overspending on influencers who aren’t even delivering results. What if one of your influencers isn’t even getting engagements on their post? What if they’re not driving any link clicks? 

Make sure to prioritize ongoing campaign tracking to make sure that your influencer activations are paying off. This will help you keep track of individual influencer performance and identify low-performing creators. You can use these insights to pivot and get more out of your influencer marketing budget.


Emerging Trends and Future Predictions

Finally, as mentioned earlier, the influencer marketing landscape is constantly evolving. Staying on top of these changing trends can help you adapt to stay ahead of the curve. Here are some of the emerging trends and future predictions in influencer marketing.

AI Will Cause Some Disruptions  

The rise of AI is impacting almost every industry, and influencer marketing is no different. We’re starting to witness a significant shift in the landscape thanks to AI tools that assist with influencer marketing and content creation. This will continue in the coming years as the tools become more developed to address pressing needs.

In fact, our State of Influencer Marketing report found that 62% of respondents were planning to use AI for executing their campaigns. The main use case is for influencer identification, with 64% planning to use it for this purpose. Interestingly, only 5.6% were planning to use it for identifying fake influencers and engagements.

The Main Purpose of AI/ML

The Age of AI-Generated Influencers Isn’t Here…Just Yet

With the emergence of accounts like Lil Miquela and Shudu, we can expect to see a growth in the popularity of AI-generated influencers. However, they won’t completely replace real, human influencers just yet. As interesting as these influencers may be, they’re missing that vital element of authentic human connections.

According to social media consulting expert Lia Haberman, “being conventionally attractive can’t make up for lack of authenticity.” Following our earlier prediction, Lia predicts that other AI solutions such as generative AI, on the other hand, will have a significant impact on content creation. 

So AI-generated influencers are more of a novelty than a viable alternative to human influencers. That’s not to say there are some concerns (particularly among parents) about these AI-generated influencers setting unrealistic beauty standards

A Greater Focus on Long-Term Influencer Relationships 

Another major shift is in the types of relationships brands are cultivating with influencers. Our State of Influencer Marketing report found a significant increase in brands opting for always on campaigns (from 28% in 2022 to 40% in 2023), indicating a greater focus on long-term influencer relationships. 

This is likely because the influencer marketing landscape has become more established and is no longer just marketers testing the waters before fully committing to an always-on influencer campaign. The past years have allowed marketers to realize the value that influencers can bring, giving them the confidence to invest in more stable, long-term partnerships.


Create a Winning Influencer Marketing Strategy

You’ve fully understood the value that influencer marketing can bring. So now it’s up to you to make use of the tips and ideas shared above to get started with your influencer marketing strategy.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.