Leonard Cercone, CEO, CBC PR & Digital Marketing.
Spending on influencer marketing is estimated to reach approximately $16.4 billion this year. As the owner of a digital PR agency, we handle our fair share of influencer campaigns. But with all this money being spent, many CFOs are asking, “Where’s the beef?”
From a marketing perspective, many influencer campaigns are driving quality buzz. But from what we hear from sales professionals and CFOs, most of these programs aren’t driving ROI.
If vanity metrics like reach and likes aren’t your idea of success, read on. In this article, I’ll examine how social media influencers can move beyond building buzz and become valuable predictable sources of leads or online sales. With these tactics, you can have beautiful content for your brand while also capturing new audiences through email and sale conversions.
Swipe-to-Buy Vs. Lead Generation
Influencer programs on Instagram can result in a decent ROI, but typically only for categories that have low barriers to trial such as beauty products, shoes and apparel. These are perfect for “swipe-to-buy” offers where the entire exposure-to-sale can be done within the channel itself.
For products that require a longer engagement to close a sale than the aforementioned swipe-to-buy, the majority of these influencer campaigns fail to drive revenue. For lead generation and ultimately sales, you will need to design a program that inspires users to make the jump from an influencer’s social feed to your website. In this case, it’s important to design a multilevel content strategy.
Step 1: Limit Instagram-heavy influencers.
By definition, lead generation means moving prospects from the influencers’ channels to your website. It’s very difficult to drive significant site traffic using Instagram: The channel is built to keep an audience within its ecosystem. Instead, look for influencers that offer reach on TikTok or Twitter or that have high blog engagement and readership.
Step 2: Build trust through frequency.
Like a paid ad campaign, an audience must be exposed to your message several times before they begin to react. Work with influencers to create a series of posts. By posting over time (typically several weeks), the audience becomes more familiar with and more intrigued about your brand. In this step, you are building familiarity and trust.
Step 3: Lay the bread crumbs.
Once you have established a level of authenticity, it’s time to drive the audience to your website. The key to this step is to create content on influencer channels that serves as an introduction to a subject or offer that is expanded upon or offered on your website. It’s important to think “share and inform,” not “sell.” Examples include downloadables like e-books and more in-depth educational or entertaining content.
When inviting an influencer’s audience to your site, it’s important not to link them directly to an e-commerce page. They will come to learn more and, in most cases, will be turned off by a strong sales pitch. Instead, create a page that positions you as an expert on the subject at hand, with videos, blog posts, expert POV and even a downloadable item so you can capture an email address or phone number. Then, work through a CRM to nurture these new leads to convert not only a sale but also create a long-lasting relationship.
Overall, influencer marketing can bring great value to a business when done right. By having a clear consumer journey, understanding the KPIs and goals for the campaign, and connecting with influencers who align with your values, you can create a network of creators that will bring success to your business.