How Startups Are Using Influencers to Improve Marketing

The holiday season is a key sales driver for many businesses, but it’s not just brick-and-mortar stores that are ramping up their sales efforts this season. With the right tools and the right hustle, startups can also tap into the power of influencer gifting as a way to see a greater return on their marketing spend.

For many startups, the day-to-day hustle of building a business means founders often don’t have the time, or resources, to focus much on their marketing efforts. While expensive advertising campaigns may look great, they can all too often lead to a lackluster return on investment for the price paid.

With access to the right influencers, however, startups can soon see their products achieving greater reach and deeper engagement within their target market. Influencer gifting in particular is a great way for time-poor startups to run a cost-effective marketing campaign where the costs are fixed, and the return on investment is guaranteed.

Here’s how startups can harness the power of influencer marketing to see an ROI that delivers results this holiday season.

Cut Through the Crowd

Crucial to the success of all startups is the ability to innovate, reinvent and challenge the status-quo, but many consumers are understandably wary of products that are new and unfamiliar in the marketplace. Influencer marketing allows you to introduce your products through a voice your target customers already trust, while also allowing you to show off your products in an approachable, real-life setting.

Cost-Effective Organic Reach 

While gifting influencers can offer a much broader organic reach than traditional marketing campaigns, it doesn’t have to cost more. In fact, gifting influencers can be cost-effective enough that even early-stage startups can experiment with this offering without blowing out their marketing budget.

Influencer gifting also creates relevant content your audience will want to share, sparking organic conversions – a hard ask for many top-down marketing campaigns. 

The Right Influencer for You

Here’s where doing your research pays off: startup founders should know exactly why they’re collaborating with their chosen influencer, and what results they want to see from this partnership.

Our brands have indicated that the best influencer campaigns come when an influencer’s audience closely aligns with their own, so taking the time to find the right fit will ensure your startup’s message finds the right audience. You’ll want to look not just at an influencer’s audience size and engagement metrics, but also carefully consider the profiles of the followers who engage with and comment on their posts. Do these look like your target customer demographic? If so, the influencer may be the right fit to tell your startup story.

Still, with countless thousands of blogs and Instagram accounts all boasting beautiful pictures and engaging, well-curated content, choosing the right influencer for your startup can quickly seem like an insurmountable task. Most founders know all too well the time pressures they face: when every spare hour is spent pouring time into your labour of love, it often seems that there are not enough hours in the day.

Double-Down on Diversity

Gifting multiple influencers from different age groups, demographics, and geographic locations can be a cost-effective way to diversify the audiences you reach and get the best ROI for your spend. This strategy will also allow you to determine your strongest demographics by isolating and comparing the results you see from each influencer.

Take Advantage of the Silly Season

With consumers in a purchasing frame of mind over the Christmas period, November and December are ideal times for sales-focused collaborations through influencer marketing. Using this period as a way to drive time-sensitive calls to action can be a great way for startups to harness the buying power of the holidays.

Get Some Help

For startup founders used to tackling every area of business, from accounting to account management, pushing through without help is engrained in the entrepreneurial mindset. But with end-of year deadlines fast approaching, the festive season can be a time of more stress than celebration — particularly for retail-focused startups.

When it comes to influencers, enlisting the help of a good platform will help you find the best influencers for your startup by determining the most effective types of collaboration in light of your time and goals, all without breaking your back or your budget.

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Written by:
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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