Are you getting the most from your influencer marketing budget?

According to Statista, the influencer marketing industry will reach a value of $24 billion by the end of 2024.

Although a relatively new industry in its current form, it has had an enormous impact upon the way business advertising works. With lower costs than many traditional marketing avenues, and the ability to secure higher engagement rates, it has become an integral tool to businesses of all sizes and types. However, using influencer marketing is not without its challenges, and one of the most pressing is the difficulty of monitoring your return on investment.

Standard analytics programs can play their part, but they lack the ability to provide true insights and tracking metrics for influencer activity. While there are expensive influencer management tools available, they’re beyond the budget of many smaller businesses. So, how can you be sure that your influencer marketing budget is being put to good use?

The easy way to manage and monitor influencer marketing

There are two standard approaches to working with influencers. Businesses will either have a dedicated in-house marketing team who manage the process, or they’ll seek out a PR agency to do it for them. The problem with both of these approaches is that they can be costly, and in the current economic climate, few SMBs have the budget to do either. What many businesses don’t realise, however, is that there are alternatives available, and one of the easiest approaches is to manage your influencers through your in-house referral programme.

Tracking influencer activity can be as easy as tracking customer referrals. With sophisticated plug-and-play referral software devised to enable the simple and cost-effective creation of customisable in-house referral programmes now available, literally any – and every – business can do this for themselves - without PR agencies to pay or the need for in-house coding experts to implement it.

When it comes down to it, the nitty gritty or referral marketing and influencer marketing are the same. Both strategies use the positive influence of others to encourage new customers. Both forms of marketing can be tracked through the use of referral links. All your business needs to do is generate a unique link specific to each influencer you’re working with. That link enables you to track each referral and monitor the value it brings – how many clicks, how many visits, how many leads, and how many sales. Armed with that information, you’re empowered to make informed decisions about the future investment of your marketing budget – who to work with again, who may need additional support, who to gently let go. Enabling you to reduce wasted expenditure and maximise future returns.

By managing your influencer programme in-house, you also have the added benefit of being able to directly pick and choose the influencers you work with, enabling your business to build a better rapport with your influencers and consequently, your customers.

Is influencer marketing really worth the effort?

As with all types of marketing, there are pluses and minuses to working with influencers. A well-managed influencer programme can dramatically impact brand awareness, brand perception, and ensure that your products are seen by the right people, leading to increased sales and increased public trust. But in order to achieve those results, the emphasis has to be on proper management and monitoring. Without that, it can be easy to spend money for no positive result, and you can even risk damaging brand reputation if the wrong influencers are chosen, or their work doesn’t correspond with your brand ethics.

Can you improve the success of your influencer programme?

It is often the case that a well-managed influencer programme will deliver worthwhile results without additional input from your business. But if you want to ensure that the potential of specific campaigns is maximised, you can use a couple of different strategies to secure more customers or to reduce your overheads.

To enhance customer engagement, it can be useful to provide incentives. Supplying influencers with coupon codes, or links to giveaways and free gifts for customers who follow their recommendations can significantly impact conversion rates. While for those with slightly higher budgets, ‘brand takeovers’ and curated content can be a fantastic way to utilise the influencer’s knowledge of their audience and their unique marketing skills. 

Or, if you’re looking to save money, rather than paying an influencer to endorse products or create content, you can pay your influencers to host a sponsored post or content that your business has created.

Influencer marketing is no longer solely the domain of high-profile brands. With plug-and-play referral software providing the means for all businesses to easily manage and monitor their own marketing outreach in house, even businesses with a modest marketing budget can make use of this most modern of marketing channels.