By Neel Gogia
Influencer marketing is no longer what it used to be. Well, this is not just a statement anymore. If you study your content consumption patterns closely, you’ll realise the amount of influencer-led content you consume on a daily basis. As per industry reports, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations. These statistics prove that influencer marketing is no longer a simple supply-demand equation. It has transformed completely.
This transformation has led to significant growth in this industry. According to GroupM INCA Report, influencer marketing is expected to become a 2,200 crore industry with a CAGR of 25% by 2025.
However, as the scale grows, it also depicts that more and more players are now interested to enter this industry-leading to more competition. In addition to that, with so many kinds of content floating on the internet, there is an attention span battle amongst creators. For brands that are pumping money into the ecosystem, the question is – ‘How to make the consumer click?’ This burning question that the entire 900 crore influencer ecosystem (India) revolves around. Often people ask me is it even possible to drive conversions via influencer marketing or is it just for brand recall! I have one simple answer to this – You can make the consumer click if you want to. Essentially, it means that if your goal is to drive conversions, there are some hacks and techniques that can help you do so. But, on the other hand, if your goal is to increase awareness, then influencer marketing should definitely be your go-to choice.
With my experience of five years in the industry, I’ve laid down a step-by-step strategy that has helped us effectively run influencer marketing campaigns with brands like OYO, MamaEarth, Skillshare, MyProtein, Kapiva, and Plum, to name a few. So, if you are someone who is keen to understand the nuances of conversion-driven marketing and how can it can be implemented, here’s a strategy that I recommend.
1) Clearly identify the goals that you want to achieve and define your target audience-
It’s very important that you have a clear vision of the goals you want to achieve with these campaigns and the TG that you want to tap into. Earlier people used to think that it can only be used for top-of-funnel marketing (increasing brand awareness or boosting reach) but, the situation has drastically changed. Nowadays, a plethora of brands are using it to drive conversions i.e bottom-of-funnel marketing. This shift can be attributed to the ROI-driven approach that brands are opting for. Every single penny spent is being accounted for and this is what is leading to the growth of the influencer marketing industry as well. For example, If you are launching a new phone or a gadget, your strategy will be completely different from a lipstick brand running a mother’s day limited offer campaign. Only after you’ve clearly identified what your goals are and the demographic you want to tap into, you can get a good return on your investment.
2) Choose the right platform for driving the campaign-
One of the most pivotal steps in the process is choosing the right platform amidst the extensive list of platforms that are available, like Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, among others. So, how does one decide which platform to opt for? It’s very simple. Go back to your purpose, and think about what you wanted to achieve when you started it in the first place- whether you wanted to increase your brand awareness, create a buzz or drive conversions. The most popular social media platforms amongst brand marketers these days are Instagram and YouTube, while other platforms are amping up their consumer base to entice marketers. But, again the question arises- when to invest in Instagram and when in YouTube? If your goal is to achieve brand awareness, then Instagram is the platform you should opt for. On the other hand, if your goal is to drive conversions, YouTube is the answer you’re looking for. But, how do we come to this conclusion? It boils down to consumer behavior on these platforms. Content on IG is driven by the algorithm, while, content on YouTube is driven by intent. Essentially, it means that one has to search for the content that they want to view from the inventory of videos on YouTube, unlike any other platform. YouTube also provides the option to creators to add redirectable clickable links, which makes the job easier for both consumers as well as the marketer. Interestingly, more than 50% of marketers want to increase their investment in YouTube by 2022. In fact, India has the highest number of active YouTube users. At least 467 million people in India regularly access YouTube. As an agency, we’ve run multiple successful conversion-driven campaigns on YouTube.
3) Filter out the creators that align with your key messaging-
There are thousands of creators out there in India itself. As per industry reports, YouTube itself has 40, 000 creators with more than 100K subscribers. So, amidst this huge pool of creators, how can one choose a handful that suits them the most? This is where the experience of a partner agency comes into play. On a daily basis, influencer marketing agencies monitor the performance and statistics of the creators, which in turn, help them make better decisions as to which creator would suit your needs the best. However, even after this meticulous process, there is no guarantee that all the influencers will deliver the same results. To increase the chances of success, we run pilot campaigns with our partner brands. It helps us and the brand test the waters as to which creator is working and which one’s not. With the learnings derived from this, we change our strategy accordingly to maximum impact for our partner brands. This process has helped us increase the success rate of the campaigns by at least 25%.
4) Prepare a personalised messaging as per the creator-
The biggest mistake I’ve observed brands/agencies make is not personalising the messaging as per the creators. By the virtue of that, the audience feels disconnected from the creator as well as the collaborated brand. Just like every brand, every creator has a tone of voice and if the brand messaging is not in sync with that, the content does not look organic. Along with the messaging, the delivery is also an important aspect that needs to be kept in mind. To establish a deeper connection with the audience, we always recommend brands to stick to a ratio of 40-40-10 in the content, which means 40% of communication should be used to address a need-gap, other 40% should portray the brand as the solution, and then the remaining 10% should be used to give a strong CTA or a personalised coupon code with which the performance can be tracked. We are very particular about customizing the brief for the creators that we work with. We deeply understand the kind of content that their TG likes to consume and on the basis of that, we draft a script and seamlessly integrate the brand. If the campaign is undertaken, keeping above mentioned things in mind, there are good chances that 60-70% of creators will work.
In addition to that, one piece of advice that we give to our partners is ensuring that the brand has its own website/app via which the ROI can be tracked. Otherwise, how will you measure the impact that you’ve been able to drive?
5) Track the performance to adapt the strategy-
The last step of the campaign should be tracking the performance so that the strategy can be adapted accordingly and the performance can be further improved. While tracking the performance, other analytics also can be analyzed such as which creator is delivering the best results, what kind of storyline is working the best, and what needs to be kept in mind while undertaking a campaign like this in the future.
However, it’s not like once you’ve undertaken a campaign, your job is done. You have to continuously track and study the data and accordingly, keep changing your strategy to deliver the best results as the industry is highly dynamic. Brands can also see if any long-term collaboration with creators can be taken place. Long-term collaborations yield the best results as the loyal audience of the creators becomes brand loyalists as well. There are innumerable use-cases for this. For instance, MamaEarth is undertaking long-term collaborations with creators like Gaurav Taneja, Mumbiker Nikhil, etc & Skillshare is doing the same with creators like Dhruv Rathee. So, if you are someone who was daunted by the question- ‘How make the consumer click?’ This step-by-step guide with on-ground examples with help you understand it in-depth and give you the confidence to give it a shot. But, always keep one thing in mind, the ecosystem is ever-evolving. Something that’s relevant at this juncture, might not hold any value some months later, so, keep a close eye on what’s happening around you and take decisions accordingly.
The author is co-founder, IPLIX Media