You can look just about anywhere today where products or services are being sold and find some connection to an endorsement or promotion designed to influence a customer’s decisioning – or at the very least – designed to sway opinion based purely on notoriety or said influencer’s realm of expertise. And make no mistake: this tactic works. In fact, it works so well that partnering with the right influencers has quickly become #brandgoals.
But while working with influencers may be top of mind for so many marketers, this type of collaboration typically comes at a cost that too many marketers make the mistake of approaching with blinders on. And while great pains have been taken in every other aspect of planning and budgeting, one hasty, wrong, or ill-informed decision can spell big trouble for a brand that may have been in the dark about what it really costs to dabble in influencer marketing. It’s decisions like these that could have lasting reverberations and potentially hinder what could have been an otherwise stellar collaboration.
In the 20+ years we’ve spent successfully working with partners – influencers included – we’ve concluded that an informed strategy is the best strategy. But that still begs the question: How do you know you’re truly informed when it comes to all things influencer marketing? Who or what is your trusted source of truth? After all, today, there are influencer platforms popping up at every corner and the expenses associated with running a programme can add up quickly: time, resources, software, payment to the influencers themselves–the list goes on. This level of involvement and expense can be enough to turn even the most seasoned marketer off to the idea of pursuing a full-blown influencer strategy.
How can you get started?
However, there is a silver lining: Working with influencers doesn’t have to be as hard, or as expensive, as you may think. In fact, there are many savvy marketers who already have successful partnership or affiliate marketing programmes up and running and have figured out that you can easily work with influencers inside these channels. Further, you should be working with influencers inside these channels.
Think about it this way, for the categories that make up the broader partnership channel, one of the most attractive attributes is that they’re predicated entirely on a pay-for-performance model which allows for a certain degree of risk mitigation and insulation from what could be an otherwise expensive foray into influencer marketing. And this makes them the perfect proving ground for your influencer campaigns.
But it’s not just brands who are in the know about the many benefits of working with influencers inside partnership. Influencers themselves are turning to the channel in droves for the opportunity to create an entirely new revenue stream here. In fact, Partnerize has noted a significant increase in platform applications from partners who categorise themselves as “social media”. What does all this mean? It means that influencers are not blind to the outcomes they see other traditional affiliate partners generating. (By the way, you can get more context on Partnerize’s overall partner sign ups here).
If you’re saying to yourself that the partnership channel’s low-risk model may make perfect sense if you’re working with smaller influencers, but what about the bigger influencers who know their value and command more for their effort, the lesson here is that size never equates to efficacy when you’re talking about influencers. Don’t be fooled: Smaller influencers may not have the huge follower bases you see with mega influencers, but you can bet that these smaller audiences are hyper engaged and that’s what it’s all about, after all, getting the right message in front of the right audience.
The pay-for-performance model gives smaller influencers an opportunity to flex their talents for brands who may be trigger shy when it comes to working with them. So, instead of a flat-fee model that a bigger influencer may command, in the partnership channel, you can engage on a variable basis, and take the partnership for a spin so you can determine the true value this partner will render you now and in the future. Other benefits of this approach include avoiding upfront investments in both time and money in influencer platforms before you know if this marketing strategy will work for your brand. You have the opportunity to grow and mature into a sophisticated influencer marketing strategy. You can cultivate relationships with micro and nano influencers and have them ‘graduate’ to another platform or way of working once they have proven themselves to be of value to the brand, and subsequently, grow their own audience of followers.
So what’s the overall takeaway here? When it comes to a turnkey influencer platform, they don’t necessarily exist without your effort, so throwing money at influencer software on its own merit without investing your time and due diligence, simply won’t bring overnight results. Instead, to achieve any satisfying level of success, marketers would be wise to tap into the already efficient relationships they have with those inside the partnership channel. Or, you can use the channel as an efficient means to easily discover the right influencers to work with or easily invite influencers you want to work with.
At a time when edges meet and affiliate teams are managing more partnerships that may have been historically managed by PR teams, this could enable you with even more resources to test influencer campaigns out and learn first-hand what type of value they derive. And in the end, the partnership channel was tailor-made for this testing and learning as its inherent pay-for-performance model mitigates risk and makes the process virtually hiccup free which is exactly what busy marketers who are already pressed for time and results, need.
Want to learn more about how the partnership channel is the perfect testing ground for influencer marketing? Download our Quick Guide to Influencer Marketing today.