What is Influencer Marketing? And How To Make It Work

calendar Oct 19, 2022
author Written by Artur Glukhovskyy

Influencer marketing has become one of the most valued and leveraged marketing channels of the last five years. In 2022, the influencer industry is expected to hit a staggering $15 billion in revenue. 

Why? Because it’s the digital equivalent of word of mouth. That is, having a close, trusted person recommend something to you. And even with all of today’s intelligent and complex marketing strategies, word of mouth remains unbeatable in influencing buyer decisions.

In this article, we’ll define the term and break down the best ways to make it work for you.

So what is influencer marketing? 

Influencer marketing is when a brand collaborates with a person to promote its product or service. It’s a form of social media marketing as it relies on the person having a certain amount of ‘followers’ and being considered trusted experts in their field. 

If a customer purchases as a result of the influencer’s efforts, the influencer is typically paid a commission, although this is not the only type of reward. Let’s put influencer marketing in perspective in terms of how and why it works so well.


Cue the nostalgia kick. It’s the 1990s and there’s a new gadget sweeping the nation. In an era of technological advances, you’re no stranger to the arrival of market-shifting products, so you ask yourself, “what makes this one different or better?”

The next day, you meet up with a group of friends, a couple of whom, Gary and Serena, have just bought this apparently revolutionary gadget. You remain sceptical. They proceed to rave about just how good this thing is, they won’t shut up about it. After 10 minutes of relentless praise, your initial apprehension starts to fade and you get excited too. 

Seeing how happy Gary and Serena are with their new purchase and hearing their glowing reviews prompts you to buy one for yourself. You head out to the store that same day and come away with a gleaming sense of pride. It’s like Christmas came early. 

Understanding influence 

Aside from teleporting us back to a simpler time (anybody else misses the 90s?) this example helps us to understand the power of influence. Here’s why. Serena and Gary’s recommendation represents a trusted source, which immediately increases the chances of you purchasing whatever it is, 90% more in fact.

Scepticism is easier to overcome when people close to you have already made the jump. This gives credibility to the brand, and the glowing reviews and experiences shared by friends, also known as social proof, help you overcome barriers to entry.

When you translate this influence from physical recommendations to digital ones, we start to understand just how powerful influencer marketing can be. 

It’s reported that 8 out of 10 consumers bought something after seeing it recommended by an influencer. 

Very few marketing channels, if any, have this level of impact. 

How to do influencer marketing well

Getting the most out of your influencer marketing campaign is no different to other forms of marketing: it works best with a plan. Sure, you could throw a wad of money at an established public figure and hope for the best but to truly be effective, it’s better to learn the nuances of influencer marketing first. 

Here are our steps for doing influencer marketing well. 

Define your goals 

All marketing strategies must begin with this question: what do you want to achieve? Having a clear and defined goal is the foundation from which everything else will follow. It also serves as the key performance indicator (KPI) for the campaign, and what you’ll be measuring to determine success. 

For example, raising brand awareness is actually the most common goal of influencer marketing. Whilst driving sales is the third most popular goal. 

If we dig a bit deeper though, simply stating that we want to drive more brand awareness is not enough on its own. It goes without saying that all brands want more customers, more followers, and more sales. We know this. So try and be more specific, instead of saying, “we want to increase brand awareness”, take it one step further with something like, “we want to increase page impressions by 1000% over a one-month period.”

This specificity will let everyone know what you’re trying to achieve and how to measure it. 

A useful framework for establishing goals is the SMART method

S - Specific 

M - Measurable 

A - Achievable 

R - Relevant 

T -Timed 

Get to know your ideal customers 

This step is about understanding who you are trying to influence. If you’re an encryption-based email firewall provider, it won’t do much good selling your services to the pilates instructor down the street. They’re probably not interested. For a successful influencer marketing campaign, you need to understand your target audience. 

Building a buyer persona (or user persona) helps do this. A buyer persona is a detailed, fictional version of a person who represents your target audience.It will answer questions that give a deeper insight into the types of customers you’ll be targeting with your influencer marketing campaign, thus, increasing your chances to engage them. 

Common examples of buyer personas will include: 

  • Age 
  • Location 
  • Career 
  • Hobbies/ Interests 
  • Lifestyle habits (financial) 
  • Challenges and pain points 
  • Ambitions 

A buyer persona will translate all of this information into a fully-formed character, for example: 

“Alison is a 42-year-old accountant living in Cologne, Germany. She spends her time following industry blogs, mothering her two children and enjoying muddy hikes in the wild. Her family go camping twice per year but as her kids get older, the luggage has grown too! Really what she wants is a bigger car but she can’t afford it, so instead, she’s looking for an alternative storage solution to make camping trips easier.”

Then you come swooping in with your fancy roof box that’ll take all of Alison’s pain away! Alison stumbles across your advert, tactfully placed in her favourite blogger's article, and seeing as she trusts this source of recommendation, she clicks the link to find out more. 

It’s love at first sight. 

  • One-size fits all cars
  • Plenty of storage 
  • Available for fast delivery 
  • Made from sustainable, eco-friendly materials 
  • The website is running a sale and offers flexible payment options

Guess what she did next? She bought the friggin top box! Knowing your customers will make marketing to them a whole lot easier. This step is crucial. 

Research the best channels for your product/service 

Instagram is known to be the most popular influencer marketing channel, with around 67% share.But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right place for you and your customers. Depending on your target audience, consider other channels such as: 

See where your customers are spending most of their time online and tailor the content to suit that channel. Whether it’s video content, blog posts, photos or quick-fire captions; your content will need to match the nuance of the channel you choose to publish it on. 

Set a budget for the campaign 

We know influencer marketing can be lucrative for businesses, the average ROI (return on investment) shows for every $1 spent, you’ll make $5.20.  But, to keep from creeping over budget or spending too much on the wrong thing, it’s always best to have a clear budget for where resources need to be invested. 

Things to consider when setting a budget include: 

  • How long will the campaign run?
  • What type of content will you need to create? 
  • Who will be creating the content? And how many creators will you need?
  • What will it cost to make the content? 
  • How much will you need to spend on advertising and other costs?

Planning your influencer marketing budget will avoid unnecessary headaches down the road and unexpected barriers. >‍

Choose an influencer 

Choosing the right influencer for your campaign involves more than just picking the person with the highest amount of followers in a niche. There are some key factors to consider when shortlisting potential partners: 

  1. Audience - look at who engages with the influencer’s channel. Does the audience seem like a good fit for what you’re offering? 
  1. Authority - look for influencers who are considered to be an authority in their niche. This is worth more than the amount of reach they have. You want to work with people who are seen as experts and command trust. 
  1. Relevance - does the influencer promote similar products? Look for partners that have a natural affinity to your industry and product. 
  1. Content - look at the content that the influencer produces, is it any good?! Does it relay the message clearly, and is it well-presented? Does their audience respond to it positively? You don’t want unclear and haphazard content! 
  1. Frequency - how often do they publish new content? For your collaboration to work, you don’t want to compete with several brands all fighting for screentime or risk becoming a lower priority. 
  1. Communication - when you reach out with an initial pitch, how well and how fast do they respond? Do you get a sense of their personality and can picture a long-term relationship with them? This will be essential if you plan to work together both now and in the future. 

Run a campaign together 

Once you’ve found your perfect match it’s time to get started creating and publishing content. It’s important to say here that whilst you are the brand and this is your campaign, if you want to harness the best results from influencer marketing, it’s best to relinquish some creative control. 

Yes, absolutely brief your influencer on the goals and KPIs of the campaign but for the actual content that will be used, you’ll have more joy letting the influencer do what they do best; creating the content.Much like your expertise is in marketing or an associated field, influencers or content creators have studied the most effective strategies in their profession too. 

Guide them and keep communication open but let them work their magic. 

Track the campaign and measure results 

See the impact of your influencer marketing campaign by analysing the results. Depending on what your original goal was will determine the success but some common metrics for KPIs would be: 

  • Vanity metrics - these are your likes, clicks, mentions, shares and comments etc
  • Engagement - a more granular view of the percentage of people who engage with your content 
  • Conversions - how many people purchased as a result of the influencer campaign 

Once we have a clear picture of the data, we can see whether the influencer marketing campaign worked or not. 

Final thoughts 

Influencer marketing is immensely popular and with good reason. Mimicking the powerful sentiment that word of mouth gives buyers is a sure-fire way to drive business goals. 

If you’re on the fence about influencer marketing, don’t be, a staggering 93% of marketers have included influencer marketing in their strategy and we’ve already established just how potent it can be for swaying consumer buying decisions. 

If there was ever a time to incorporate influencer marketing into your strategy, it’s now! 

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