Influencer Marketing: 3 Considerations for Maximizing Your ROI

We all have our online FAVES aka influencers.

Those personalities constantly show up on our timelines, their content gives us quick hits of dopamine, we indulge, and then quickly move on to the next one.

For some people these interactions are fleeting, the content consumed and forgotten as soon as something else pops up and steals our attention. For others, the commitment is a little deeper. We choose to follow these personalities and opt into being served their content as soon as it is available.

Deeper still, we create ‘relationships’, subconsciously beginning to trust the opinions of these sources, looking to them for everything from new things to consider, opinions on existing products/services, and even validation of our own choices.

It’s a no-brainer then that marketers have added capitalizing on these online “relationships” to their strategic wheelhouse via Influencer Marketing, word of mouth scaled to a ba-zillion.

Influencer Impact = Word of Mouth 2.0

Word of mouth and referrals/recommendations are the OG and influencer marketing really is just that, word of mouth amplified by the ubiquitous reach of social media.

Hubspot says it best, “While a recommendation from a friend or family member is valuable, it’s only a one-to-one interaction. But with influencers, this interaction could happen with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. Plus, influencers work hard to gain their audience’s trust, making their recommendations more persuasive than other forms of advertising.”

The stats definitely show that marketers ACTIVELY see ROI from investing in using influencer marketing. But it begs the question, does an investment in influencer marketing ALWAYS reap rewards? Say it with me….NO.

Can you take some steps to be smarter about your partnerships AND spend when you decide to engage in influencer marketing? Absolutely.

What does it MEAN to influence?

Formally, according to Merriam Website, influence is “the power to change or affect someone or something—especially the power to cause changes without directly forcing those changes to happen.”

“To change or affect”. The ability to move someone or something from one state to another, in this case, moving an audience member from viewer to ultimately a consumer of a particular good or service.

Does this sound like the average modern-day influencer’s skillset? When you hear the word ‘influencer’ what comes to mind?

If the ‘Hey guys!’ just rang in your ears you wouldn’t be the only one. Or perhaps you thought of extra large follower counts, premium, always-on content, brand after brand making an appearance in some way shape or form, #ad accompanying that well-curated image.

Image with the definition of the word "influence" as "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself"

Influence Definition

The word influencer has become synonymous with popularity. But what we sometimes fail to realize is that Popularity ≠ Influence. A large following does not mean this personality, no matter how large their following will be the right person to move their audience from viewers to consumers of your product or service. In fact, many struggle to monetize their audience as liking someone’s content doesn’t automatically mean a willingness to spend on it.

Side Bar: Check out this interesting, but nuanced incident

This fact is even more important for companies who engage these personalities at a cost with hopes of furthering the achievement of some business goal or another.

You see, there are a bevvy of reasons why audiences choose to follow personalities but not many of these reasons are aligned with these people being primed to take the next step with your brand.

So, if you are considering engaging an influencer for your next campaign, or perhaps even failed with engaging one before here are a few considerations for your next foray into partnering with an influencer/content creator;

  1. Match Your Influencer to Your Funnel Position

The kind of “influencer” you’ll engage to support your efforts should be guided by where in the customer journey you estimate the target audience to be and what you are trying to achieve with your campaign.

Going for awareness for mass reach v. high conversion from a specific audience? The strategic selection of an influencer personality will differ IMMENSELY. Before you think of WHO, consider the purpose of your campaign efforts and what success looks like for you.

Customer Journey chart with the 3 stages of the process; 1.Awareness, 2. Consideration and 3. Conversion

Customer Journey Visualization

2. Consider the Cadence of Content from Your Influencer Partner

On average 95% of a brand’s potential customers are “out of market” i.e. not ready to purchase. Statistics show that the average person needs to see at least 8 pieces of content from a brand before they take the next step to deepen their interest/consideration. In many cases (especially on the local scene) influencers will be engaged on a one-off basis to post or create content once with hopes of having an impact.

The unfortunate fact is however that unless your target audience is being touched with your content from other angles that one interaction may have little to no impact on your brand lift.

Think about, how long and in what ways will you be working with this influencer. How will you make the transition from that influencer relationship (in most cases short term) to continuing to serve your content to this target to increase your chances of moving them down the funnel?

PS – If you are planning a campaign for the first time or want to make sure you are hitting all the notes as you plan for something new, check out this article

3. Determine the SYNERGY between brand offering and influencer content. 

Remember how we said people follow personalities for a reason? Becoming a follower is a sign of commitment and with that commitment comes expectations guided by the experiences the audience would have had before. The moment there is a disconnect, like with any relationship there is the potential for the connection to break down.

“Becoming a follower is a sign of commitment…commitment comes with expectations”

As a brand you are renting the eyes and attention of that personality that was built on these experiences. Simply put, does the offering match, what is expected by or the needs of, the influencer’s audience? No. Hold your horses and go back to the why of your campaign and re-think your selection. Normally this should be considered by the influencer themself however a large budget can sway critical thinking so as the holder of the purse strings making an investment you will need to protect your own interests. A mismatch between your offering and the audience’s needs/expectations may lower your ROI.

Another very important consideration is this; is the influencer themself an authentic source of information on that particular offering?

Consider that the person one would trust with makeup selections may for many people NOT be the person they trust to guide them about security concerns BUT they may be open to their suggestions on other complementary products/services/industries.

Note: This is nuanced however the HOW behind an influencer partnership can bypass some of these hurdles. When you are weighing partnerships getting feedback from the influencers/creator themselves on what their audience responds to can be useful. They will have a better understanding of their community than you do.

There you have it, a healthy top 3 out of a list of so many more.

Your Home Work

I could spill the beans a bit more BUT I know you are here for a good time and not a long time so here are a few other others you can add to your list with just a LITTLE bit of homework.

  1. Measure their impact
  2. Bigger isn’t always better, go micro
  3. Rethink your idea of WHO an influencer IS – a BIGGIE!
  4. Diversify your selections, impact/engagement > follower count
  5. Check if the stats are REAL – yes, I said what I said.

And with that, good luck and happy partnering!


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