If influencer marketing was easy, everyone would do it.
Influencer marketing is an excellent way to broaden your reach in a natural, seemingly organic way. The idea is simple: you work with select influencers, and they leverage their following (usually for a price) to help you reach your business goals, whether that’s to increase traffic, drive sales or boost brand impressions.
Getting your strategy in place is critical to being effective. If you don’t have a plan, the work will quickly turn into a chaotic mess that’s hard to track. And if you can’t track your results, you won’t be able to determine ROI and overall success.
To make tackling this incredibly rewarding strategy a little bit easier, use the following checklist as a guide to structure the strategy for your efforts. Return to it when you want to refresh your plans and try something new.
Set Your Goal(s)
Like any other marketing campaign, your influencer strategy and subsequent efforts need to be executed with goals in mind, both granular and high-level. For example, a high-level company goal may be to increase sales in Q4 and a granular level goal may be to boost traffic to your top five blog posts; both of these are achievable with influencer marketing.
Below are a few common marketing goals; consider which ones apply to your future strategy and add those specific to your organization as well.
- Improve SEO
- Drive Sales
- Increase Traffic
- Establish Authority/Branding
- Gain Impressions/Reach
- Grow Followers
- [Insert your goal here]
If you have multiple goals, build a variety of campaigns into your strategy to achieve each one. Perhaps you’ll focus on social media influencers to drive brand impressions and blogger influencers to drive traffic and sales—more about this next.
You may also need to set a budget at this point. Most influencers will work with you for a price; knowing how much you’re willing to pay, and for what will help you determine which influencers you can or can’t afford to work with.
Choose the Influencer Platforms
There are two main overarching platforms that you’ll use to run your influencer campaign, and each one helps you achieve different goals in different ways.
Standard influencer tactics for each platform are as follows:
- Blogs: Free guest posts, mentions, product or service reviews, and paid blog posts.
- Social: Mentions, RTs/Regrams/Facebook shares, social media takeovers, and creative posts about your product or service.
Each one of these will help you achieve different results, which means you need to turn back to your goals to determine which, if not both, will be your focus.
- Blogs can drive: SEO, traffic, sales, and authority/brand.
- Social Media can drive: Sales, traffic, authority/brand, impressions/reach and followers.
As you can see, a mix of the two may be best, allowing you to maximize your reach and the likelihood that you’ll meet your goals. Determine which platforms and influencer tactics (ie., guest posting on blogs versus influencer shares on Instagram) will be best for your goals during this part of your strategic planning.
Set and Check Metrics
Before emailing anyone, it’s important to review your metrics. Again, the metrics you choose will depend upon your goals. If your goal is to drive traffic, you’ll want a website that has a high click-through rate (CTR). If your goal is to grow your Instagram following, you should connect with influencers who have high engagement rates on that platform.
Ask potential influencers a series of questions about their metrics before you decide to pay them for their services. Use the cheat sheet below for a simple breakdown of possible metrics:
- Click Through Rates: If they have a blog, ask them about their website’s click-through rate (CTR) and reach for each social media channel. If they’re legitimate, they’ll be tracking their website traffic with Google Analytics and social following and reach with a tool like Rival IQ. , If they want to charge for their influence, they should be able to provide these metrics readily.
- Site Value Scores: Most organizations use trust flow (TF) and domain authority (DA) as metrics for determining how valuable a website is. These site value scores are based on extensive algorithms that look at a variety of factors, from outbound link profile to traffic. I focus only on sites that are 40 DA or higher and 20 TF or greater. Learn more about trust flow and domain authority to determine what your score minimums will be.
- Social Metrics: This one may be obvious for many marketers, but don’t forget to set minimums for followers and stick to it. For example, you won’t work with anyone who has less than 50,000 followers.
- Engagement: If your focus is on social media, you’ll need to check engagement metrics for potential influencers. Use a tool like Rival IQ to track engagement rate, percent change in followers, and more.
Outside of metrics, it’s important to do a qualitative “sniff test.” Your sniff test is a quick check-in with your instincts.
- How legitimate does this website or social profile seem?
- Does it seem like most of their followers are bots?
- How often do they publish?
- How consistent are they?
Create a Process for Research and Outreach
Research and outreach are where the tedious work comes into play: researching websites, digging through influencers’ metrics and pitching to them. To make it easier, turn to tools and processes.
Research: One way to research influencers is through good ol’ manual research. For my outreach, I search various terms in Google and then begin sifting through the results. However, you can also use tools like Authority Spy, BuzzSumo, FollowerWonk and Cision to research influencers based on keywords and industries.
Outreach: Clearbit makes it easy find valid email addresses for most websites and blogs you’ll find. Most personal blogs list the owner’s email address, which you can grab directly from their site instead of using tools. The Gmail add-on is free to use, and likely all you’ll need to get started.
Other tools that combine all this with one influencer research and outreach platform include Group High, Upfluence, and Traackr. Ask for free trials and web demos for any platform before buying to be sure it can do what you need it to do.
Set up processes for both your research and outreach. With this type of work, consistency is key to seeing results. For example, “the team will spend 2 hours every Tuesday and Thursday doing research and outreach for the first two weeks of the month. They’ll write/create assets/etc. every Tuesday and Thursday for the second half of the month.”
Track all your research and outreach in a Google Doc, where various stakeholders can track and monitor progress. Below is a screenshot of how my outreach docs are organized, to help you start organizing yours.
Test and Track
Finally, test and track everything you do, based on the original goals your and your team set. One way to track your influencers on social media is by creating an influencer landscape in Rival IQ. With your list of influencers in hand, pull their social data (from all their social media channels) into Rival IQ with their social handle. Rival IQ allows you to track the activity of all your influencers, analyze the social data on those posts (like the reach, engagement rate, followers, etc.) and spot which types of content seem to be working best so you can adjust and optimize your strategy. You can create you influencer landscape here.
Another way is to create a new tab in your tracking doc for monthly data updates. For example, you may want to track sales, click-through rate and total traffic driven or total shares, new followers, and click-through rate; etc. If you do not see increases month-over-month, assess why and make adjustments as necessary. Do new outreach, drop influencers that aren’t delivering, or try new influencer tactics.
Start Finding Influencers
With your strategy in place, it’s time to get to work. Use this checklist to set up a strong foundation for your campaigns. You’ll likely build out your tracking sheets, find more tools, and uncover trade secrets along the way, allowing you to maximize your efforts and optimize over time.