The 5 Secrets to Cost-Effective Influencer Marketing

April 20, 2017

9:15 am

Influencer marketing consistently generates a high return on investment for brands — up to $9.36 for every dollar spent. But between steadily increasing influencer payments and growing agency fees, some brands are feeling priced out of the action. Thankfully, this needn’t be the case, even for emerging designers on a shoestring.

With the right approach, influencer marketing can be an effective strategy for brands of all budgets. Here’s how to make it work for yours.

1. Launch With a Clear Goal

Before you begin, understand who you want to reach and why. Clearly defined KPIs help you better manage your resources by engaging influencers who will have the biggest impact, whether you’re looking to boost sales of a particular product or increase awareness among a key demographic. Knowing what you want to achieve with your campaign allows you to leverage micro-influencers and up-and-coming bloggers in a way that becomes difficult if your goal is vaguely “generate awareness.” Relying on audience size to determine an influencer’s value becomes expensive and ultimately isn’t as effective.

2. Think Long-Term

Relationships are the foundation of influencer marketing. Cultivating a rapport with key influencers can pay dividends in the future as you develop a sense of familiarity and goodwill, which can boost a blogger’s interest in working with you and increase your chances of securing them an affordable rate. Best of all, building a relationship requires only time and commitment.

Start by identifying a few key influencers who speak to your target demographic, and take the time to like their recent posts. Write thoughtful comments, and share relevant content with your followers. You might even consider gifting product to familiarize them with your brand. The effort might even land you an organic post.

3. Find the Right Influencer Platform

Dozens of online marketplaces promise to connect brands with influencers, but many aren’t worth their agency-level fees. Look for subscription-free platforms with a specific industry focus and strong search parameters. Platforms that claim to cater to all industries, boasting massive databases with hundreds of thousands of influencers, typically “scrape” their contacts from internet searches. They often have no real relationship with these bloggers, which can make for some confusing results. In some cases, influencers have no idea they’re even listed on these marketplaces.

Specialized platforms with good search parameters and a customer service mindset often yield better results, and thankfully, not all platforms require agency-level budgets.

4. Leverage Content Across Multiple Campaigns

The value of influencer content extends far beyond a single campaign. When you determine your collaboration requirements, consider how else you can use content created for it, including for EDMs, your website, and other marketing campaigns. Utilizing influencer content across other campaigns is an often-overlooked opportunity that can greatly increase the overall value of your influencer relationships.

5. Leverage Your Position as a Brand

A final secret to cost-effective influencer marketing is recognizing the non-monetary value you offer. Perhaps your own social media audience is strong, making exposure across your channels valuable. Maybe your brand values, such as using sustainable products, align with an influencer’s. Identifying your unique advantages can help you better negotiate with influencers in a way that doesn’t make your collaboration all about payment.

Ultimately, it all comes back to relationships. When you can identify the influencers who align closely with your brand and want to become your champions, you will not only achieve more cost-effective collaborations, but you will also find that your influencer marketing efforts become more meaningful and more effective overall.

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Kim Westwood is the Founder and Managing Director of Shopping Links, a global influencer and content marketplace for Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle brands. Having managed 850+ collaborations since launching in 2014, Shopping Links actively works with Fortune 500 retailers and brands such as MARKS & SPENCER, Macy's and Folli Follie, with a focus on aligning brands with influencers who share their target audience. Through a personally vetted network of 14,000+ influencers from 103 countries, Kim and her team have worked with 450 bloggers for a single brand. Shopping Links won the Business Services category at the 2016 Governor of Victoria Export Award and has been named to Anthill Magazine's SMART100 Index of most innovative Australian companies.

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