BACK OF THE NET
THREE TIPS TO MAKE INFLUENCER MARKETING YOUR GAME-WINNING STRATEGY
HEAD OF PERFORMANCE MARKETING,
Do you find paid marketing moves the goalposts too frequently? Do you find yourself asking, “What’s the score?” Maybe it’s about time to kick-off with an influencer marketing campaign. Based on a survey by Defy Media, 63% of respondents aged between 13-24 said that they would try a brand or a product recommended by YouTube content creators — and in another study, 20% of visits to online retailer Nordstrom on mobile came from influencer campaigns. Such campaigns can be successful, but there’s also some risk associated with this new form of advertisement.
We caught up with Onefootball’s Head of Performance Marketing, Christian Rissmann, to learn the game plan behind influencer marketing. Onefootball is the world’s leading media platform dedicated to football (soccer for our American readers) providing the new generation of fans with breaking news, live scores, stats, features and videos in multiple languages. Currently, the app boasts more than 10 million monthly active users globally — but the brand has a reach of over 50 million across all platforms. Christian says that 75% are “in the category of Gen Y & Z,” a market ripe for influencer tactics.
Christian’s on the ball when it comes to this topic. Onefootball took a punt on influencer marketing shortly after he joined the company in 2016. At the time, “the efforts that we put into paid marketing were limited.” Because monetization was ad-supported, Onefootball needed to get users engaged and retained in order to improve revenue. While attempting to figure out their paid campaigns the team began testing influencer marketing around 2016, working with a handful of Spanish influencers.
The efforts yielded “amazing results,” Christian recalls. “The users we acquired through influencer marketing outperformed self-attributing networks and other ad networks by far.”
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Fueled by this success the team made the decision to “fully commit to influencer marketing,” Christian explains. This strategy is now the standard, with over 20 staff members dedicated to managing influencers in six languages. Today, Onefootball works with more than a thousand influencers on a monthly basis, publishing more than 300 posts a day on Onefootball — all created in-house. It‘s an incredible accomplishment — but it wasn‘t without its challenges. Fortunately, Onefootball was able to avoid any red cards, and Christian still has much to share about what the company went through to scale successfully.
Before you can scale, you need a team. And to scale well, you need a team that can work with influencers in their native languages. Onefootball’s team found the talent in record-breaking fashion, “We onboarded 20 people within 12, 13 months roughly,” says Christian.
The other issue Onefootball had to contend with was the market expertise in 2016 — or lack of it. “Influencer marketing was still a niche product,” Christian recalls. “And there were not many people in the market who look at influencer marketing from a performance perspective.” Since finding people with the right fit and background was incredibly hard, Onefootball had to do much of the training in-house.
So, what is the right skillset if you want to recruit talent to run a solid influencer marketing strategy? “For us, it was important to have passionate people who are interested in football, understand the mechanics of football, and also understand the mechanics of social media,” Christian elaborates. These traits were key to building a passionate team.
Onboarding the team had its own steps. “First, the team had to learn how influencer marketing at Onefootball should work and how it can develop,” Christian recounts. It was key to give the team a framework so everyone knew what performance KPIs were important. It was also critical to clearly define what was expected from each and every team member from the start. “We also trained the team on clear pricing strategies, how to evaluate the results, find anomalies and how to discover potential fraud,” he says.
Onefootball also developed its tactics over time. “We started with one standardized approach to working with influencers and now we have seven to eight different approaches,” Christian explains. “Some are more standardized, while others are very open to the creativity of the team members.” The outcome allowed the team to “stay flexible and react very fast to a rapidly changing environment.”
DEVELOPING THE PLAYERS
While Christian was managing his team, his team had to manage influencers. Many of these were 17- and 18-year-old YouTubers at the time; fledglings by today’s standards. “These aren’t professionals, they are individuals with a passion for the game,” he says. Sending invoices, dealing with deadlines, and handling projects in a professional manner were (and continue to be) alien to many of them.
As such, inventing a framework to do the hard work for them is critical. In the case of Onefootball, teams were manually creating invoices for its influencers, which was taxing and tedious work. Scale that workload to 1,000+ contracts, and you have a much bigger problem to tackle.
To solve this, Onefootball developed its own “influencer relationship tool” — designed to handle all the business dealings and reporting involving their influencers. The tool streamlined the process and removed the friction. Contracts were moved directly through the system, allowing campaign managers to focus on what they do best: making better campaigns with influencers, not dealing with red tape.
THE FINAL WHISTLE
It’s hard work but worth it — especially if your app has the power to move audiences: “If your product is emotional, try out influencer marketing,” Christian says. But that’s not all. Influencer marketing can also be highly effective if your product needs some education to use, or needs some social proof or hand-holding.
A prime example of influencer education in action is when Onefootball released a pay-per-view on-demand model. Users can use the app to watch live broadcasts from established rights-holders, such as Sky in Germany, and only pay for one match, removing the need to pay for subscriptions elsewhere. “You just go in there, buy with your fingerprint and in two, three seconds, you actually can watch the game,” explains Christian.
The model needed to be explained, so the team thought of leveraging their influencers to help teach users how to use it. When Onefootball’s team briefed the influencers, more and more creativity grew out of the process. He says, “The first reaction of the influencers was very positive. They even gave input into how they would like to see the campaign implemented in the app. Such an outside view from football fans is very valuable.” Ultimately, the campaign gave Onefootball valuable insights into what influencer marketing can do in the OTT ecosystem. Influencers are very strong when it comes to explaining new features, how they work and what their benefits are, and it’s a game plan other apps can follow to achieve success.
Influencer marketing has been an important success driver in Onefootball’s development over the past three years, to the extent that it even started creating interest among Onefootball’s media partners wishing to include it as an additional element in their respective media campaign mix on the platform. In an age when app marketers struggle to activate and motivate audiences, it‘s a good idea to borrow a page from Onefootball’s playbook to make sure you’re the ones winning at the final whistle.