Start Influencer Marketing the Right Way in 2024

Influencer Marketing Overview

Influencer marketing has exploded in popularity over the past few years. With influencer marketing spend expected to reach $16.4 billion in 2024, many businesses are looking to tap into this powerful approach. However, launching an influencer marketing campaign isn‘t as simple as just finding an influencer with a large following and paying them to promote your product.

To truly capitalize on influencer marketing in 2024 and beyond, you need to lay the proper groundwork and execute your campaign strategically.

In this comprehensive 3000+ word guide, we‘ll walk through the key steps to starting influencer marketing the right way, including:

  • Understanding the Basics of Influencer Marketing
  • Setting Clear Goals and KPIs
  • Creating an Influencer Marketing Strategy
  • Finding the Right Influencers
  • Establishing Campaign Guidelines and Expectations
  • Negotiating Rates and Payment Terms
  • Leveraging Influencer Content and Measuring Results
  • Maintaining Compliance with FTC Guidelines

Let‘s explore each of these components in more detail:

Understanding the Basics of Influencer Marketing

Before diving into launching your first influencer campaign, it‘s important to understand what influencer marketing is and how it works at a fundamental level.

At its core, influencer marketing involves partnering with influential social media users who have sway over a specific audience to help promote your brand and products. Rather than marketing directly to consumers, you instead leverage the trust, credibility, and relationships influencers have built with their followers.

Influencer Marketing Overview

Influencers tend to fall into different tiers based on their number of followers and engagement levels:

  • Mega-influencers: 1 million+ followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,000 to 1 million followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 100,000 to 500,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000 to 100,000 followers
  • Nano-influencers: 1,000 to 10,000 followers

While mega-influencers boast the greatest potential reach, micro and nano-influencers often drive higher engagement rates and conversion levels. They have built deeper connections with their niche audiences.

The key benefit of influencer marketing is that it helps brands appear more authentic and approachable. Rather than a generic ad, target consumers see real people interacting with, enjoying, and endorsing your products in videos, posts, stories and more. This feels genuine and builds trust, making consumers more likely to buy.

According to a 2021 survey by Influencer Marketing Hub, 89% of marketers say influencer marketing delivers better ROI than other digital marketing channels. And almost half of consumers (49%) depend on social media influencer recommendations for their purchasing decisions.

With the right influencer partnerships, brands can rapidly expand awareness, drive website traffic, boost conversions, acquire new customers, and see significant ROI from influencer investments. It offers a fresh way to reach modern buyers.

Influencer marketing spend has also exploded in recent years:

Year Estimated Spend Growth
2019 $6.5 billion +48%
2020 $9.7 billion +50%
2021 $13.8 billion +42%
2022 $16.4 billion +19%

Data source: Influencer Marketing Hub

With growth rates this high, influence marketing has cemented itself as a core digital marketing strategy versus just an experimental trend.

Now let‘s examine how to tap into influencer marketing the right way.

Setting Clear Goals and KPIs

The first step to any successful influencer marketing campaign is to define your specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront. Goals could include:

  • Increase brand awareness and reach new audiences
  • Drive traffic to your website or landing pages
  • Boost social engagement and followers
  • Grow email list sign-ups or coupon downloads
  • Increase sales and conversions

Next determine the quantitative KPIs you‘ll use to measure whether you‘re hitting each goal, such as:

  • Brand mentions or impressions
  • Website clicks and traffic
  • Social media engagement rate
  • Email sign-ups or coupon downloads
  • Conversion rate from clicks/impressions
  • Sales driven by promo codes

Setting benchmarks for each objective makes it easier to select relevant influencers, structure your partnerships, create guidelines around content, and accurately quantify campaign performance. It adds accountability.

Here is an example goal/KPI structure you could use:

Goal KPIs
Reach new customers & boost brand awareness – 25+ million impressions
– 3,000+ new followers
Increase website traffic – 8,000+ clicks to site
– 15% traffic lift YoY
Grow email list – 5,000+ email signups from promo code
Increase sales – $20,000+ sales from promo code

Creating an Influencer Marketing Strategy

With goals defined, next you need to develop a comprehensive influencer marketing strategy that maps back to your objectives and lays out your tactical plans.

Key elements to define in your strategy include:

  • Target audience: Detail the demographics, interests, values and other attributes that define your ideal customers. This helps you identify appropriate influencers whose followers align.

  • Content focus: What types of content do you want influencers to create (reviews, tutorials, honest feedback, endorsements etc.)? How will they highlight your brand and incorporate your products?

  • Influencer tiers: Will you work mostly with mega-influencers for maximum reach or micro-influencers for higher engagement? What specific follower threshold will you require?

  • Campaign length: Is this a one-off product launch campaign or will it be an ongoing influencer program?

  • Influencer costs: What is your total budget for the effort? How much will you pay influencers per post/video? What other compensation like free products or discounts will you provide?

  • Contract terms: What specific requirements will you have around content rights, disclosure, exclusivity, usage rights, etc.?

  • Launch plan: What is the ideal cadence for rolling out the campaign? Will you coordinate specific launch dates with influencers or allow more real-time posting?

  • Measurement plan: How will you comprehensively track and analyze campaign performance? Which metrics are most important to gauge success?

Documenting all aspects of your strategy in a plan provides focus for influencer recruitment and gives the overall campaign direction. But also remain flexible – you‘ll likely need to evolve the approach over time as you test and learn.

Finding the Right Influencers

Choosing the right influencers is absolutely critical for campaign success. Start the recruitment process by actively searching for relevant influencers in your industry or niche who closely match your target audience interests, preferred content style and size requirements.

You can identify and vet potential partners through:

  • Influencer platforms: Sites like Upfluence, GRIN, and AspireIQ connect brands with influencers. You can search by audience demographics, content focus, and more.

  • Social media: Look for relevant hashtags, locations and usernames on the platforms your audience favors. Gauge engagement levels on influencers‘ posts.

  • SEO keyword searches: Search Google for influencer terms like "fitness influencer NYC" or "beauty influencer."

  • Competitor analysis: See who your competitors and other similar brands partner with for inspiration.

  • Influencer discovery tools: Software like BuzzSumo, Followerwonk, and Ninjalitics analyze influencers by engagement, followers, keywords and more.

  • Influencer referrals: Ask your existing partners who they would recommend.

As you identify options, thoroughly vet each potential influencer by:

  • Reviewing the quality, consistency and style of their content
  • Evaluating their engagement levels and audience feedback
  • Confirming their followers match your target customer profile
  • Checking that they have proper disclosure/FTC policies in place
  • Looking for red flags like fake followers or low engagement

Aim to build relationships with 5-15 brand advocates who can drive results and be long-term partners. Don‘t spread efforts too thin across hundreds of influencers.

Pro Tip: My company provides influencer discovery and vetting services through our proprietary web scraping and data extraction technology. We can identify and analyze influencers tailored to your brand‘s niche, ideal demographics, content style, and more. This data-driven approach helps find the right partners.

Establishing Expectations

Once you‘ve identified your top influencer prospects, have in-depth discussions to align on expectations before formalizing any contracts or agreements.

Key points to review include:

  • Campaign goals, focus, guidelines and timeline
  • Specific content deliverables and creation timeline
  • Brand voice, guidelines and assets
  • Product supply, discounts or pricing
  • Compensation structure and payment process & timeline
  • Measurement KPIs and reporting requirements
  • Disclosure requirements per FTC
  • Usage rights for created content

Take time to explain your brand mission, ideal content style and guidelines so influencers can create authentic endorsements tailored to your goals. Provide any assets they may need like product photos, promo codes or coupons, and brand logos.

Leave room for influencer creativity and their unique voice while still guiding recommendations that help achieve your campaign objectives. Finding this balance results in the most engaging, effective collaborations.

Negotiating Rates and Payment

One of the trickiest parts of influencer marketing is negotiating fair compensation for both parties. Influencer rates vary drastically based on follower count, industry averages for your niche, and the time/effort required to create content.

Micro-influencers may accept free product samples or discounts as payment, while mega-influencers can charge over $100k per sponsored post.

Typical starting rates according to Influencer Marketing Hub are:

Followers Starting Rate per Post
10,000 $100
50,000 $250-$500
100,000 $500-$1,000
500,000 $1,000-$3,000
1 million+ $5,000-$10,000+

However, I‘ve seen some nano-influencers charge up to $150 per post as they gain leverage. And celebrity influencers with tens of millions of followers can charge over $250,000.

Complexity factors like video production, sponsored stories, expanded distribution, or developing custom branded content also increase fees.

Branded content campaigns involving multiple posts over weeks or months often charge a fixed monthly or quarterly fee versus per-post pricing.

I advise developing rate guidelines tailored to the tiers and content you need, but remaining flexible. Negotiate pricing case-by-case and offer additional incentives like affiliate commissions, contests/giveaways, or exclusive pre-release product access. There are often creative ways to make campaigns more rewarding for both parties.

Many influencers today expect both free products and monetary compensation in exchange for content. Balance your budgets while ensuring positive ROI.

Leveraging Influencer Content

To maximize your campaign results, strategically leverage the content your influencers produce by:

  • Sharing on your own channels: Repost with permission to expand reach. Tag and thank the influencer.

  • Embedding on website/blog: Display relevant posts on your site to boost SEO and conversions.

  • Creating snippets: Reuse short quotes, stats or reviews in your other marketing materials.

  • Optimizing for search: Include targeted keywords in captions when you re-share posts.

  • Turning top content into ads: Use high-performing posts as paid ads to reach new audiences.

  • Email marketing: Share new influencer content in your newsletters or dedicated campaign emails.

  • Paid promotion: Boost top-performing posts using each platform‘s advertising tools to further increase views.

Take full advantage of the unique, authentic content you receive to get as much value as possible. Repurpose it across channels and audiences for maximum mileage.

Measuring Results and Optimizing

To accurately determine campaign ROI, you need to closely track performance against the KPIs defined for each goal.

Monitor metrics like:

  • Views, likes, comments, shares on influencer posts
  • Traffic from links/posts to your website or product pages
  • Brand or product mentions and tags
  • Coupon use or contest entries
  • Email sign-ups from special links
  • Clicks on affiliate or special offer links
  • Sales driven by any unique promo codes

Marketing automation platforms like Upfluence and CreatorIQ along with web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics allow you to cleanly collect and analyze influencer content performance data.

I recommend setting up dashboards to monitor both overall campaign success and each influencer‘s individual contribution.

Influencer Marketing Analytics Dashboard

Image source: Grin

Regularly review results and use insights to optimize efforts. Identify your top performing partners and content types and continue collaborating with them. Renegotiate or pause partnerships with consistently underperforming influencers.

Ongoing optimization is key to improving ROI. Set up recurring performance reports to continually enhance your influencer program.

Maintaining FTC Compliance

Any influencer marketing based in the U.S. must comply with Federal Trade Commission guidelines requiring clear public disclosure of paid sponsorships to consumers.

The FTC‘s endorsement guidelines state that if an influencer has a "material connection" to a brand (like being paid or receiving free products), they must disclose this relationship.

Common compliant ways for influencers to disclose include:

  • Using #ad or #sponsored in the post/caption itself
  • Stating "Paid partnership with [Brand]" or "Sponsored by [Brand]"
  • Including "Ad," "Advertising," or "Promotion" phrasing
  • Overlaying disclosures on images to ensure visibility

For video, audio and livestream content, influencers must state the sponsorship out loud and also provide visual text disclosure.

I strongly recommend thoroughly educating your influencers on properly following FTC disclosure guidelines across all sponsored posts. Be very wary of those who resist clear sponsorship communication.

Brands can be subject to major fines or legal action if affiliated influencers fail to adequately disclose paid content. You must protect yourself by maintaining full compliance in all campaigns.

Launching an effective influencer marketing program requires strategic goal-setting, finding ideal influencer partners, maximizing content, measuring performance, and maintaining compliance.

Follow the comprehensive, research-backed steps provided in this 3000+ word guide to ensure you implement influencer marketing best practices.

With the industry still demonstrating huge growth, now is the ideal time for brands to tap into this strategy and drive measurable results. Use these insights as your playbook to start seeing success.

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