For startups, it has never been easy to establish a brand presence. Unlike big brands, startups have limited (or no) funds at their disposal for marketing purposes. This is where influencer marketing comes in, offering startups a great edge over established brands. One of the most obvious advantages of influencer marketing is that you can start at zero cost, while working your way up and making quite a measureable impact on the target group.
If you think that good advertising almost always needs money, then it’s time to think anew. It has been observed that in this highly digitized age, influencer marketing is much more effective than traditional marketing methods. A study conducted by PageFair and Adobe reported that, as of June 2015, 198 million Internet users around the world had activated their ad-block feature on their browsers. This simply indicates that consumers want authenticity, which is why they are much more likely to take product recommendations from the influencers they already follow and appreciate. What startups and new companies need to do at this point is to identify the influencers who are most in sync with their brand identity and vision, and reach out to these online icons for marketing collaborations.
Here are some stats to illustrate the potential of influencer marketing:
• A poll of marketing professionals conducted by Tomoson reported that businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
• A study conducted by Influencer Central analyzed the purchasing habits of over 400 women in the US, and it reported that 86% of the women turn to social media channels for recommendations before making a purchase.
• A TapInfluence study with Nielsen Catalina Solutions in 2016 reported that influencer marketing delivers 11 times higher ROI compared with traditional forms of digital marketing.
It is evident that consumers aren’t going to make a purchase after viewing or watching a traditional digital ad. Authentic recommendations are all they need.
Now, here’s the real challenge—social media influencers today aren’t much different from celebrities. Most popular influencers have at least a million followers to their credit. This means that they will be expensive, if at all they get around to paying attention to your request to collaborate.
This is where micro-influencers make an entry. A micro-influencer is defined as a creative person in the relevant field with up to 30,000 followers. The relatively smaller number of followers has many benefits.
• Micro-influencers are easier to approach and collaborate with.
• Micro-influencers connect with their audience in a more authentic manner, and their recommendations seem credible.
• Micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with a large number of followers.
If you’re wondering how best you can connect with these micro-influencers at no cost, here are 5 effective strategies:
1. Write guest posts for influencers: Reach out to the influencers who are most in sync with your brand’s vision, ideas and interests, and ask to write a guest post for their blog. Doing this will grant you access to their audience in an authentic manner, and you can pave the way to a long-lasting relationship with the influencer. However, make sure not to sell your brand/product in the blog post. This is only and all about establishing your presence through relevant, high-quality content.
2. Invite influencers for a roundup post: An influencers’ roundup makes sense from many points of view. You can get several influencers together for a roundup post for a credible website that you’re already writing for (they will be more than happy to contribute), and then gradually draw their attention towards your own platform. Each influencer will be motivated by the presence of the other influencers in the roundup, thereby helping you build more and more credibility.
3. Be generous but don’t push for publicity: Although we’re mostly talking about no cost marketing, keep in mind that low-cost gestures can reap giant benefits for your brand. This means that you will have to offer the influencers a little something in return for their time. This could be a free sample of your product, a discount or a free trial of a service you’re offering. However, don’t push the influencers to market your brand only because you’re giving them freebies. Let your gestures do the talking.
4. Offer the influencers valuable feedback: All of us could use some valuable feedback on the work we do, and influencers are no exception to that rule. You may want to offer constructive feedback to the people you want to work with. This could be something as simple as pointing out a glaring typo or a broken link on their website, or providing valuable insights into how they can update or enhance their content. Make sure that the feedback is truly valuable and is put forth in a friendly (and not critical) tone. This is key to building a long-lasting relationship with the influencer.
5. Make use of affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing can work well with influencers. The key is to reach out to influencers who are affiliates to products or services that are similar to yours. Offering a reasonable percentage of your affiliate revenue to these influencers is a good way to start the collaborative process.
Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to start putting your brand out there at almost zero cost. Most of these strategies to connect with micro-influencers will cost your company absolutely nothing, and you’ll be establishing a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with a number of micro-influencers who are now being listened to more than anyone else on the Internet.