What is Influencer Marketing?
In traditional marketing, brands blast consumers with adverts and promotional messages to drive conversions.
The trouble is we no longer pay attention to that type of messaging. We don’t like adverts.
Think about it: when was the last time an ad persuaded you to buy a product or service?
Let’s start with a definition:
Influencer Marketing is the process of developing relationships with influential people who can assist you to increase the visibility of your brand, product or service.
Influencers can help you generate more traffic and sales to your business.
In short, you’re leveraging the influence that key people have on their audience to spread the word about your product or service.
Influencer marketing allows you to reach a targeted audience with a specific message that you know they are already interested in.
What are the benefits of Influencer Marketing?
Is it effective?
So, perhaps you’re wondering how influencer marketing compares with other forms of marketing?
Here are a few figures for you to consider…
- Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. (TapInfluence study with Nielsen Catalina Solutions, 2016)
- Burst Media discovered that influencer marketing campaigns returned an average ROI of almost 700%.
- When Launchmetrics surveyed 600+ marketers, results showed that 81% considered influencer engagement to be effective or very effective.
- People prefer to buy a product if a trusted source has recommended it rather than relying solely on the manufacturer’s own marketing efforts.
“By using influencers, companies can avoid much of the cynicism and skepticism that is directed at straightforward marketing messages.”
I’ve experienced success with Influencer Marketing, too, when I used it for the first time in 2012. It helped me to rank a website in the Top 3 Google results in a niche that has 450,000 exact monthly searches in the US.
As you already know high Google rankings result in targeted traffic to your website.
Overall, it’s fair to say, that influencer marketing gets better results than traditional marketing.
Let’s learn more about it.
The 2 Types of Influencer Marketing
There are two major types of influencer marketing.
- Earned Influencer Marketing – leverages pre-built mutual relationships between individuals and companies. In this situation, there is no monetary compensation, but the influencer may get reciprocal exposure to the brand’s audience or offered a free product.
- Paid Influencer Marketing – usually involves some form of a sponsorship deal or financial compensation or free products and services.
Get the biggest and regularly updated list of influencer marketing platforms and marketplaces.
Who exactly is an influencer?
I call them Buzzraters. Because they create and rate the buzz.
Influence can come from a variety of sources. Any person or group is a potential influencer.
A popular example of an influencer is a celebrity because they are well-known and visible to the public.
For instance, Kylie Jenner advertised the clothing brand, Fashion Nova on Instagram. The photo currently has 2.7M likes and 561,909 comments!
But influencers are not limited to A-list celebrities. In fact, 82% of people are likely to follow the recommendations of a micro-influencer rather than a celebrity.
Here are a few more types of influencer:
- Bloggers are important influencers as they have a loyal following and provide honest reviews and feedback that the public respect.
- Social media influencers are found across all of the social networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Periscope, Slideshare, etc. Similar to bloggers they can have massive numbers of followers who hang on their every word.
- Journalists can spread their influence through both digital and printed publications. Top news and magazines have a large readership.
- Vloggers can’t be ignored when looking for influencers. Many have become mini-celebrities.
- Podcasters also have tremendous influence over their subscribers. A product endorsement from a podcaster can boost product sales.
The question is: Which is the right type of influencer for your needs?
How to Find The Right Influencer
In this section, we’ll look at the different types of influencer and how you can evaluate the power of their influence.
According to a study by Tomoson, blogging is the top platform for influencer marketing. When you’re searching for an influential blogger, there are a couple of areas to check.
- Are they getting a consistent number of visitors to their blog?
- Are they producing relevant, engaging content that their fans like to share?
The most important metrics when checking the influence of a blogger are their traffic and domain authority.
- Traffic – check Alexa.com and Similarweb.com to grade the traffic of your targets:
Note: Treat these tools as traffic indicators. The data that is used on Alexa comes directly from the use of their toolbar. Not everyone uses that toolbar, so the results can become skewed. Similarweb also use a variety of data input sources.
- Domain Authority (DA) – use Moz Open Site Explorer (https://moz.com/researchtools/ose) or the free MozBar to check their DA:
Having a high domain authority and traffic volume is a good start. But you also need to check that the content published by the blogger is relevant to your potential audience.
Here are a few things you can check:
#1 – What is their top content?
Check their top content with Google Advanced Search, Buzzsumo or Ahrefs.
- Google Advanced Search – use the advanced search operator [ site: ] to search for specific content; e.g. [ site:bloggingwizard.com content upgrades ]
- Buzzsumo – check how many social shares their top content receives:
- Ahrefs – check the most popular content published on their blog over the last year
#2 – Are they ranking for your target keyword/topic on Google?
Use Semrush.com to find the keywords.
Enter your chosen domain and check the top ranking organic keywords:
#3 – What is their engagement rating?
Check individual blog posts to see how many comments or social shares they receive. For example, here’s the engagement on Blogging Wizard’s List Building Guide (as at 8 March, 2017):
- Comments = 57
- Total Shares = 9.4K
#4 – What is the size of their email list?
Some bloggers mention how many subscribers they have as a form of social proof. For example, Pat Flynn at SmartPassiveIncome has over 150,000 subscribers:
Social Media Influencers
When you evaluate potential social media influencers, you need to take extreme caution with their follower counts because they may have bought followers.
You’ve probably seen tweets like this:
It’s easy to have thousands of fake followers on any of the social networks, so don’t be fooled by the high numbers. Look past the number of followers and see how active they are.
For example, if you check the Twitter account of Pat Flynn, you can see
- he has a verified account (blue tick)
- he has a high number of followers
- his tweets are genuine
- his tweets get retweets and likes
Social Media Influencers Metrics
There are three key metrics to check for potential social media influencers:
- Relevancy – how relevant is their audience to your target market.
- Number of Followers – do they have a high number of ‘real’ followers
- Engagement/Reach – how far will they be able to spread your message and what type of interaction might it receive.
Here’s a snapshot from TweetReach for the last 100 tweets from Pat Flynn’s Twitter account:
Journalists have the power to make your story go viral. They are always looking for good stories, so if you have one to tell, then share it with them.
But again, relevancy is key. If you try to pitch your SEO story to a journalist who writes about Real Estate, then you’re wasting each other’s time.
So, find the journalists who cover your niche to get the best results.
The metrics for journalists crossover with those for bloggers. Check for the following metrics in publications and articles where the journalists write:
- Traffic – check Alexa and Similarweb to see the traffic volume
- Domain Authority – use Moz Open Site Explorer or MozBar to check the DA
- Relevancy – check the audience size of the publication
- Engagement – how many shares their articles get compared with the average number of shares for other articles on the same website
- Backlinks – how many backlinks they get to their articles. Use Ahrefs to exact URL to find the backlinks
Vloggers are video bloggers who create and post their content primarily on YouTube.
According to a Google study, 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTubers more than traditional celebrities.
Because their content format is different, you’ll need to check slightly different metrics.
- Video Stats – Views, Likes and Dislikes, Comments
- Channel Stats – Views, Subscribers, Videos
- Social Stats – Engagement, Shares, Likes, etc.
- Use the metrics rules for social media influencers (above) as Vloggers may be influential on other platforms too.
- Use Ahrefs to analyze the backlinks to their videos. This can help you to find their friends and connections who may also be influential.
For podcasters, you should check the same metrics mentioned for bloggers. Many podcasters will have their own blog too. You can also check how many times their podcast is played and the number of subscribers.
Influencer Marketing Tools
Looking for a list of the best Influencer Marketing Tools? You’re in the right place.
Check out the following list of tools to help you with your influencer marketing campaigns.
Traffic and Authority Tools
Use Alexa.com to discover estimates of traffic to potential influential websites or blogs.
SimilarWeb.com estimates the total traffic and the different traffic channels for your chosen website.
The Moz SEO Toolbar is Google Chrome extension. It’s handy for getting a quick overview of a website so you can check on its domain authority.
If you’re not using the Google Chrome browser, then you can still see results on the Moz Open Site Explorer page.
Google Alerts is a free online tool that allows you to track your chosen keywords and phrases so that you never miss another important conversation.
You can use it to keep up-to-speed with the trends and influencers in your niche.
Epictions.com has two options EpicTrack and EpicBeat which monitor your brand, its competition, and the industry to bring you a complete and accurate picture of what’s happening in your marketing universe.
Influencer Research and Outreach Tools
Don’t underestimate the power of Google Advanced Search, especially when you use Advanced Search Operators.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Top/best of lists – use the RANGE operator to find between 10 and 100 top social media influencers to follow.
- Example search: “top 10..100 social media influencers to follow”
- Expert Roundups – use the INURL search operator to find posts that contain “expert roundup” in their URL.
- Example search: inurl: expert roundup
If you want to find key influencers to promote your content, then try BuzzSumo.
You can enter a topic, e.g., content marketing, and find out who shared similar content.
And then find the key influencers from the list:
You can find useful information about each potential influencer. For example:
- How much authority their website has (domain and page authority)
- How many followers they have
- How often they retweet and reply
- How often people retweet their content
Klout.com uses social media analytics to rate its users according to online social influence via its scoring system.
The Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.
Use Klout to find the most influential people in your niche.
Twitter is a great social platform where you can find influencers in your niche. The trouble is finding them. That’s where Followerwonk from Moz can help you find and connect with new influencers.
BuzzStream helps you to discover contact information, social profiles, and site metrics for the most important, influential people in your niche.
When you have that information, you can start building relationships with those individuals. Buzzstream makes it easy for you to track each stage.
NinjaOutreach.com is a great platform for finding influencers and then starting your outreach to them.
You type in your target keywords, and their database finds thousands of bloggers and business leads for your niche.
Once you’ve identified potential influencers, you can send and track your outreach from inside the tool – no need for spreadsheets and other systems.
Competitor Research Tools
Ahrefs.com is a powerful tool with many awesome features. Using their Site Explorer, you can find the links to your competitors.
These backlinks provide you with a good source of influencers who have already linked to your competitor’s content, so you have a ready-made list to target.
Semrush shows you related keywords that your competitors already rank for. Use this information to explore topics that are popular and find influencers in that area to help your marketing.
Google Keyword Planner
Use the Google Keyword Planner for researching keyword ideas and topics. You can read more about how to use it in this post.
Email Outreach Tools
Hunter.io is one of the best tools when you need to find email addresses.
Simply enter the website domain, and Hunter will return the known email addresses.
Use Mailshake.com for your email outreach campaigns. It comes complete with templates for different scenarios and has built-in follow-up sequences, too. You can track if your emails have been opened and whether links have been clicked.
Email Tracker (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/email-tracker/bnompdfnhdbgdaoanapncknhmckenfog)
Email Tracker is a Google Chrome extension for tracking your emails in Gmail, Hotmail / Outlook, Google Inbox, and Yahoo Mail.
Simply install the app and any future emails are automatically tracked. A circle will appear when the tracking is enabled on the sent email, and a checkmark will appear when it has been read.
Content Sourcing Tools
Zest.is is a new-tab Chrome Extension, which means that each time you open a new tab, Zest will be there.
Zest contains content suggested by fellow marketers. The idea is to save you time searching for relevant content because you can set your own search filters. Then Zest gives you a list of takeaways from the article to save you time.
Feedly.com helps you organize and read your favorite content.
You can subscribe to website RSS feeds and pull their latest articles into your personal feed. Plus you can organize the feeds into collections so it’s easier to find related content.
SocialBlade compiles data from YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, and Twitter to create statistical graphs. Here’s an example for Social Media Examiner:
VidIQ Vision (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/vidiq-vision-for-youtube/pachckjkecffpdphbpmfolblodfkgbhl?hl=en)
VidIQ Vision for Youtube provides metrics that go beyond standard YouTube Analytics. The Chrome Extension delivers a comprehensive optimization report card for any YouTube video inside your browser:
Virool VideoSpy – displays a handy scorecard of key engagement metrics for each YouTube video, including:
- Video Stats: Views, Likes and Dislikes, Comments
- Channel Stats: Views, Subscribers, Videos
- Social Stats: Engagement, Shares, Likes, etc.
The tool helps you quickly check the pulse of YouTube videos in one quick snapshot so that you can track and benchmark performance.
Influencer Marketing Strategy
In this final section, it’s time for you to put everything together and plan your influencer marketing campaign. You know which tools to use, and you know how to find the right influencers, so let’s get started.
Step #1 – Identity which topics and types of content will work best for your product or service.
Step #2 – Find influencers who have a good fit with your brand. Check the quality of their content and make sure they will engage with your potential audience.
Step #3 – Build relationships with your target influencers via social media and email. Offer to help them first before asking if they will help you.
Step #4 – Measure the success of each influencer to see who had the greatest impact and pinpoint the most popular topics.
Step #5 – Rinse and repeat. Start your next campaign building on your previous success.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this article, it’s that anyone can get started with influencer marketing.
If you’re a small business, you can do it without a budget by building reciprocal relationships with key influencers in your niche.
Connect with influencers who are a good match for your target audience and start getting more exposure for your brand.