Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses: Does It Make Sense?
Influencer marketing and small business is a match made in heaven.
Let’s understand why.
What does a small business need to stay competitive?
To that, you might say revenue and customers.
While that is true to some extent, it’s actually brand trust that is driving business growth these days. Research shows that 67% of customers will stop buying from a business that doesn’t inspire trust.
In short, any business (big or small) needs to foster consumer trust if they want to thrive in the hyper-competitive business ecosystem.
And, that’s where influencer marketing enters the picture.
According to the previously cited report, 63% of customers trust what influencers say about a brand over what the brand says about themselves in their ads.
That means a small business that doesn’t utilize influencer marketing to its full potential is missing out on a valuable customer acquisition channel.
Don’t worry! It’s never too late to start with influencer marketing.
Read this post carefully to learn the means by which your small business can get quick, sustained results from influencer marketing.
Making Influencer Marketing Work for Your Small Business
Gone are the days when influencer marketing came with a hefty price tag that only big businesses could afford.
If you use the tactics below, your small business can also take advantage of the benefits of influencer marketing, without breaking the bank.
Let’s get started.
1. Aim for Long-Term Influencer Partnerships
When you embark on your influencer marketing journey, the first thing that you should be cognizant of is to make your collaborations mutually beneficial. An influencer is also like a small business that needs a steady flow of revenue.
That’s why 73% of marketers aim to build long-term relationships with their influencers.
You can run a brand ambassadorship program in which influencers create sponsored content for you on a regular basis. This way, you can demand exclusivity and concessional rates by providing them with a steady revenue stream.
To further sweeten the deal, you can convert your influencers into affiliates, rewarding them with a recurring commission on the sales they generate. That’s bound to keep them hooked to your brand for long.
If you plan to use the affiliate marketing approach, you will need to do a bit of groundwork to support your influencers’ sales-generation efforts and make it a win-win for both of you.
Blog? Live Chat?
You can build a blog where influencers can write informative articles and product reviews. They can subtly promote your products/services while flaunting their knowledge of the topic.
Then, you can promote those posts aggressively on all customer-facing channels.
For example, if you use a live chat solution on your website, train your chatbot to direct site visitors to useful and informative influencer-generated content during chats. This way, your site visitors will find the answers they’re seeking and your influencer content will get more views.
If you don’t have the time to create your own blog, ask influencers to write product reviews and contribute to external blogs in your niche. Leesa (a humble mattress brand) used the same tactic when they published an influencer-generated review post about their new mattress, on Sleepopolis.
Image via Sleepopolis
Relationships are the bedrock of influencer marketing.
So, look for meaningful ways to connect with influencers instead of just using them for one-time brand promotion.
Have them judge an event, seek their advice for your blog, or include them in your BTS (behind-the-scenes) content. These small steps can foster a strong connection with influencers and motivate them to produce stellar content for your small business.
Aim for always-on influencer marketing rather than one-off campaigns. Better still, partner with the same influencers for all your campaigns to build consistency in messaging, look, and feel.
Gradually, these influencers will imbibe your value system and incorporate that in their content, which makes for authentic influencer marketing.
You may also want to read: 3 Reasons Your Influencer Marketing is Not Performing Well
2. Hire Sales-Oriented, Local Influencers
Since you have a limited marketing budget, opt for influencers who can give you assured ROI.
Don’t be swayed by vanity metrics like follower count while selecting influencers. Mega-influencers and celebrities may have millions of followers but their engagement rates are dismal.
Don’t believe that?
Then, check these survey results from Influencer Marketing Hub (IMH):
Image via IMH
You can see how the engagement rate dips as an influencer’s follower count rises.
For small businesses, it makes sense to partner with micro-influencer and nano influencers since they not only give higher engagement rates but are also more sales-oriented. They hold more “try-and-buy” conversations and drive sales and referral traffic by direct product recommendations.
Local influencers can give small businesses the most bang for their buck since they can drive in-store traffic as well. In addition, they can attend branded events and gather testimonials from local customers, to boost your sales further.
Finding the most relevant local influencers is easier said than done. It is a time-consuming process if done manually.
So, take the simple route and leverage professional services for influencer selection. They will also handle contract negotiation and FTC compliance for you. This way, you can fail-proof your influencer marketing and keep your small business on the right side of the law.
3. Take Influencer Marketing Beyond Social Media
As a small business, you can maximize your influencer marketing ROI by involving influencers in your core business processes. 96% of content creators also echo the same thought, according to the AspireIQ report cited earlier.
That opens up many opportunities for monetizing your influencer marketing.
Surprisingly, 88.9% of influencers are on board with the idea of helping local SMBs stay afloat, especially in this time of crisis. That way, they can also cope with the “stay-at-home” COVID economy.
So, how can you extend influencer marketing benefits to other business areas?
Influencers can contribute to product research and development.
If your budget allows, have your influencer create products for you or at least find new use-cases for them. Since influencers interact with their followers regularly, they understand the needs and challenges of their followers much better than your market research teams.
By harnessing those consumer insights, they can create hot-selling products. Additionally, they can drive sales on their own merit with little investment from you.
Need a real example?
Korean Company, Blue Diamond Almonds, wanted to promote their keto-friendly almond milk “Almond Breeze.” So, they got multiple food bloggers to create new recipes out of Almond Breeze, and promote them on their blogs and social media pages.
Jeanine Donofrio, one of their influencers, created a unique ginger-flavored dressing from Almond Breeze and shared the recipe on her blog, Love and Lemons.
Image via Love and Lemons
You may also want to read: Why Influencer Marketing is Still Important For Your Brand
4. Track Your Influencers’ Performance Rigorously
An IMH survey revealed that 35% of marketers didn’t measure the performance of their influencer marketing in 2020. While big businesses can afford to neglect performance measurement, it can be a blunder for small businesses.
Why, you ask?
As a small business, you most probably have a limited budget for influencer marketing. If you don’t justify your marketing expenditure to the management, you won’t get their nod for future campaigns.
Plus, you won’t be able to make data-driven decisions based on insights like:
- Which influencer is performing the best?
- What influencer marketing tactics are working?
- What areas of influencer marketing do you need to improve?
So, how can you evaluate the performance of your influencer marketing campaigns?
Till 2019, engagement rate was the top KPI for influencer marketing. If that’s your goal too, you can use an engagement calculator tool like Kicksta to measure the social currency (likes, comments, and shares) generated by your influencer.
In 2020, sales/conversions became the top indicator of an influencer’s efficacy.
Image via IMH
If driving sales through influencer marketing is your aim, you can create trackable UTM links that influencers can share with their followers.
Website traffic growth can also indicate that your influencer marketing is impactful. To calculate influencer-led traffic, you can use free traffic checkers like Semrush or Alexa.
You know that influencer marketing is important for your small business. And, now you most likely understand how to leverage influencer marketing smartly for your small business.
Let me reiterate the main action points you need to implement:
- Explore long-term business models for influencer collaborations.
- Collaborate with relevant micro-influencers and nano influencers.
- Involve influencers in business areas other than marketing.
- Monitor your influencers’ performance using data-driven tools.
If you’re still not confident about influencer marketing, I can help you with more hacks, tools, and tips. Just let me know what you need in the comments below.
Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.
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