Refinery29 started life well before the age of unicorns, the hype of the New York startup scene, the excitement that Facebook media partnerships, Snapchat Discover, and sponsored content could save journalism as we know it.
Hell, Refinery29 started life well before we knew social media would really be a lasting thing.
Indeed, Refinery29 didn’t even really start as a women’s site. So how did one of the only media companies worth more than $ 100 million get going before blogs like Pando covered every move of the tech world? And how did four kids in the early 20s afford to build a company in New York with no funding?
Simple: They focused on revenue and profits. Ok, anyone who has built a company knows that isn’t simple at all. But when you don’t have the option between closing a round or earning your keep, at least it’s clear. “It was that financial constraint at the beginning that made us successful long term.”
In this clip, Refinery29’s co-founders and co-CEOs talk about life back when a “$ 60,000 check made [them] feel like millionaires.”
Five years in, the finally managed to raise a seed round. And wouldn’t you know it? The first investor who committed to lead the round and set the terms “just disappeared.” The founders have a special message for him.
So, you’ve decided to launch your first influencer campaign. It’s definitely a good option – word-of-mouth marketing generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, according to a McKinsey Study. Furthermore, influencer-generated marketing customers have a 37% higher retention rate. Clearly, influencer marketing can be highly effective in increasing awareness and driving sales. The key to achieving these results, however, is ensuring that you’re effectively handling your influencer marketing campaigns, an area where many marketers – particularly startups – still struggle. Below, we cover what you need to know before launching your first influencer campaign.
Choosing the Right Influencers
The first thing you should consider when planning your first influencer campaign is how you’re going to evaluate prospective influencers. When analyzing influencers, it’s absolutely vital that you examine a variety of engagement metrics, including social reach.
Ultimately, you want to determine how many people will see your content. It’s also important that you choose a diverse array of influencers in terms of demographics and geography. The idea is to develop a pool of influencers who’ll be ideal for a variety of your campaigns. Tools are available to assist you to identify and choose the individuals who could have the most influence over your brand’s target market. Such tools include Klout and Twitonomy, which can help you to target the most-shared content within your specific niche, and help you to identify the creators of that content.
Keep in mind that the criteria you choose to use for evaluating prospective influencers may vary based on the type of business you operate and your specific target audience. At a minimum, you should choose influencers who:
Identify with a relevant topic
Are actively engaged in social media or blogging
Generate engagement consistently
Have a large following comprised of your target audience
How Will You Measure Your Influencer Campaign?
While page views and impressions are certainly important, they are not the only metrics to use. Today, we have an arsenal of tools available to assist in conducting deep analysis. Among the metrics that should be tracked are:
Sales/Conversions – Far more effective than impressions or page views – this metric reveals the actual number of orders, sales, or subscriptions a campaign generated.
Site Visits – When a direct response call-to-action is used with a social media influencer campaign, it can be quite effective in driving highly targeted traffic to your website. By tracking this metric, you can quantify increases in traffic while also identifying the source of the traffic.
Registrations or Sign-ups – Influencer marketing can also be incredibly effective at helping your brand to build targeted lists.
New Followers – When influencer marketing is used across multiple platforms and channels, it’s an excellent strategy for increasing your subscribers or followers. Tracking the performance of influencers can help you to determine which influencers perform best on which channels or platforms.
Choosing the Best Influencers
The reality is that not all of the influencers you reach out to with a request to participate in your campaigns will be willing to do so, or even respond. Unfortunately, many startups make the mistake of immediately eliminating anyone who doesn’t respond to an influencer request. Keep in mind that there could be many reasons why someone might not respond, including that they simply don’t have time at that moment, or that your offers don’t interest them. Even if your first attempt fails, go ahead and continue working to build that relationship before you completely write them off.
If a prospective influencer consistently ignores any attempts at building a relationship or an offer, you shouldn’t waste any more time in asking them to promote your brand. The same is also true for prospective influencers who are not successful in encouraging their audiences to sign up for your email list, or other desired next steps. An influencer is only as effective as the results they generate.
Taking the plunge into influencer marketing is an important decision for any startup, but it can also be somewhat intimidating. It’s absolutely vital that you take the time to make sure that you are informed about how to make the best use of influencer marketing techniques.