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How to look beyond your branding with influencer marketing

Whether it’s a great review or just a recommendation from a friend, word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful tools for businesses to help get their message out. But in the digital age, we’ve taken word of mouth to the next level with influencer marketing.

What is influencer marketing, you may ask? The answer is deceptively simple — even if the execution and measurement of this tactic aren’t as straight forward. Let’s take a look at how mobile companies approach influencer marketing strategies and answer some of the most pressing questions around the practice. Why is influencer marketing effective? Where can you find suitable influencers for your brand? Which platforms and key performance indicators (KPIs) make the most sense? How can you ensure brand safety while working with influencers? Lastly, how can you reliably track, attribute and measure the success of influencer campaigns?

We’ll answer all these questions and more.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a form of word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age, focusing on influential people (and their social media platforms) who are able to drive awareness and action—meaning that people don’t just learn about your product, but they take action by downloading your app or making a purchase.

This type of marketing relies on the people who have influence over potential customers. By influence, we mean a combination of resonance, relevance and reach. The most popular platforms for influencers are Instagram and Facebook, followed by Twitter and YouTube. Some of the most effective tactics include ambassadorships, product reviews, brand mentions, event coverage, and sponsored content.

Influencers can be a part of a PR campaign, but their work falls outside of the brand itself; above all, they’re independent people who don’t see their social media accounts as advertising platforms. They converse with their audience through posts and engagements that are relatable, individualized and trustworthy. Their posts come across as organic because they are. Where a PR campaign is transparently about selling a product, influencers create the kind of content they know their audience wants to engage with. Too much PR meddling can come across to their audiences as inauthentic and off-putting.

How to track your influencer marketing

Part of creating a successful influencer marketing campaign means tracking what works. But one of the main challenges of influencer marketing is tracking the effects of a campaign. According to eMarketer, 80% of mobile marketers would like to see methods for measuring ROI improved.

The first step to measuring influencer marketing success is having a plan in place. When you don’t have a plan for measurement, there’s no meaningful post-campaign analysis of what worked and where to iterate. It’s also impossible, in this case, to follow the cohort of users who arrive in your app via influencers. What’s their retention rate? Did they stay longer or spend more money in your app than users who came via your paid campaigns? You’ll never know.

Some mobile marketers compensate influencers financially. Others offer shout-outs, product discounts, giveaways or commissions. In the past, the most common pricing plan is the “single-shot” campaign, where marketers pay their influencer upfront and are left hoping for results. This left the marketer with no real way to tie compensation to overall performance.

However, it has become more and more common for marketers to “pay for performance” when dealing with influencers. Brands can simply offer an influencer a percentage of sales, but new tools are popping up to help brands assess the ROI of influencer campaigns in different ways as well. Linqia, for instance, offers a suite of products to help brands and agencies directly measure the impact of a campaign to justify influencer marketing spend across brand awareness, ad creative impact, consideration, purchase intent, offline store visits, in-store sales, TV tune-in, and likelihood to recommend. By tracking these kinds of metrics, you’ll know whether your influencer marketing campaign has been a success or not — and what to change for next time.

Boost mobile app downloads with influencer marketing

The needs of mobile marketers are unique. Convincing someone to download an app is vastly different than convincing them to buy a new pair of jeans with a haul video. So how do app marketers tweak influencer marketing strategies to fit their needs? But with these three mobile-friendly tweaks in your toolkit, influencer marketing may just be the key to setting your app apart from the competition in an increasingly crowded marketplace:

  • Drive awareness among new audiences: Most of us know Bumble as a dating app, but when the company wanted to show that the app wasn’t just for singles, it turned to social media influencer Caroline Receveur (@carolinereceveurlucas). Caroline showed her followers how she used the app during everyday situations, like networking or meeting new friends in a foreign city. In essence, she showed her hordes of followers that this app everyone already thinks they know how it can work for a new group of potential users.
  • Offer discount codes: We know coupon offers may seem old fashioned but when you use a coupon code in conjunction with an influencer marketing strategy, it can be a good way to not only drive downloads of your app, but to track the success of your campaign. For example, Postmates teamed up with influencer Nicole Cogan (@nobread) to promote gluten free options available through the delivery app. Nicole posted a photo of gluten free food she ordered through the app and offered her followers a “nobread” discount code to get a $10 delivery credit, incentivizing anyone who saw the post to download the app and place an order.
  • Use Deep Links: Custom deep links, and deferred deep links can be embedded in a Facebook post, a YouTube description, or in the biography section on Instagram. Deep links produce a seamless user journey that reduces churn and increases the likelihood of app installation. Not only do they improve the user experience; deep linking campaigns can also be fully tracked, with all engagements attributed to the proper source. This makes it possible to set up a CPI (cost per install) or CPA (cost per action) that rewards the influencer based on their actual performance — and move beyond vanity metrics.

Treating influencer marketing campaigns like any other paid media assures that you create a pricing model based on your KPIs, and that you can trace your ROI (return on investment) and make more informed decisions about whether to continue your working relationship with your influencers.

Who is investing in influencer marketing and why?

According to research from Influencer Marketing Hub, “Influencer marketing has continued to grow as an industry over the last few years. It was a $1.7 billion industry in 2016, increasing to $3 billion in 2017. Growth continued to $4.6 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue its upward trajectory this year to potentially become a $6.5 billion industry.”

Additionally, the research found, “320 new influencer marketing focused platforms and agencies entered the market over the last 12 months.”

The numbers are clear. Influencer marketing is here to stay.It’s not just that influencers are particularly good at connecting with their communities, though that’s part of it. Influencer marketing wins you fans who behave like organic users. Organic users are people who find your app without the help of a paid ad, and they’re the gold standard of users — and because influencer marketing feels more authentic, it tends to win you users who behave organically. These are real people who make real purchases, spend real time in your app, and have face-to-face conversations with their family and friends about your products and services. In many cases, installs from organic users are worth far more than a user acquired through a paid channel, often logging more sessions (and longer-lasting sessions) in your app, generating more revenue events, churning less, and displaying a higher lifetime value (LTV) than their paid counterparts.

Influencers offer mobile marketers a way to deliver authentic, native content shared by real users without having to worry about ad blockers. Influencers also offer a way for marketers to gain access to hard-to-reach audiences, both demographically and geographically. In an emerging market where you’re coming in as an outsider, building trust with your local area is paramount. You can run your ads anywhere you like, but people on the ground won’t necessarily believe in you — and they need to in order for you to succeed. That’s where influencers come in. Take this example from Paul Malicki, the CEO and CMO of Flapper, a private jet service headquartered in Brazil:

Paul Malicki

CEO/CMO, Flapper

These engagements can have compounding effects. Paul was inspired by the success of the Instagram posts to reach out to influencers on LinkedIn. One such influencer wrote a story that included Flapper, and the next morning it was featured on four of the top categories on LinkedIn (where a single category can have up to 800,000 followers). The following day, because of this article, Flapper was featured in the biggest media channel in Brazil. None of this would have happened without talking to the right influencers at the outset.

How to find social media influencers

Prices for partnerships with influencers are rising and the landscape is crowded. According to a study cited by the New York Times in August of 2016, influencers with 3 million to 7 million followers were able to charge an average of $187,500 for a YouTube post or $75,000 for a post on Instagram or Snapchat.

But not every company needs to engage a mega-celebrity in order to create an effective campaign. In fact, if the influencer is a poor fit, it may do more harm than good. Ask yourself: Is an A-list movie star a good fit for your B2B software? Can this person cause action, not just awareness, among their followers? Does their audience choose to engage with them?

Micro-influencers with anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers come with a lower price tag, as well as followers who are more deeply invested in their niche, and have an engagement rate 16 times the average engagement rates of paid media and owned alternatives. Research suggests that even among micro-influencers engagement is as much as 85% higher for those with 1,000 followers than those with 1,000,000 followers. To find the right influencers, you can contact an agency that specializes in influencer marketing or find top influencers on your own, using a platform like Audience or GroupHigh. In Flapper’s case, the company got in touch with some of its biggest followers directly, people who were well-respected locally in the communities Flapper wanted to break into, with eight or nine million followers apiece.

When researching to find your ideal influencer, you can comb through hashtags that may be relevant to your app, search individual blog posts to find relevant content, and set Google alerts for keywords pertaining to your brand to identify people who are actively covering the topics most closely related to your app. One way to find particularly successful bloggers is to take a look at the nominees and winners of blogging awards in your industry. For example, the Amara Interior Blog Awards celebrates the best of interior and design blogging; a quick browse of this year’s nominees would be an excellent way to get an introduction to a range of bloggers appropriate for a variety of e-commerce apps.

But that’s all very time-consuming, and you don’t have to leave choosing the right influencers up to a “gut-feeling” anymore. As with so many other mundane tasks, AI is stepping up to help brands identify the right influencers (and channels) with better results.

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