By Steph Jones

How to Not Waste Money on Influencer Marketing

November 1st, 2022
7 min read

Influencer marketing is likely to play a role in the strategy of most consumer products. Whether you’ve already tried it or are still deciding, there are several considerations to make.

We’ve said before that there’s no silver bullet solution to making your brand famous online. Whilst influencer marketing does work under the right circumstances, it can be very costly in the wrong ones!

Let’s see if influencer marketing might work for your brand.

Is influencer marketing right for my business?

Influencer marketing works. Not just from a fluffy ‘brand awareness’ perspective; from an actual pounds and pence return on investment perspective, BUT. And it is a big Donald Trump-style, capitalised ‘BUT’… it only works when certain criteria are met. And this is precisely why influencer marketing has worked so effectively for some brands and not for others.

You’ll almost definitely have heard stories of brands selling all their stock after a celeb posted about their product to their million Instagram followers and how a tweet went viral, which led to a hefty investment round. Of course you have. Brands shout about those experiences. So do the influencers and the marketing agencies that make them happen.

Examples of campaigns that generated zero sales? They’re swept under the carpet because it’s in no one’s best interests to talk about it. It’s like the taboo of the marketing world…

Have you been the victim of an influencer campaign that didn’t work? Were you coerced into spending £5k for a blog post, 3 tweets, 2 Instagram posts and a Facebook update the generated no sales or benefits whatosever?

No one’s going to get that £5k back for you. Accept it and move on. Besides, the influencer in question will just tell everyone how it was your site or your product that wasn’t right. If this did happen, it’s important that you carry out a full post-mortem to understand what happened – did people not engage with the post? Why not? Did people make it to your site but not make a purchase? Where did it break down? 

The conditions for successful influencer campaigns

1. You have a great product (that people want!)

This really is absolutely key. A great product that people genuinely love, want or need underpins your campaign. It’s no use your influencers scrabbling around for nice things to say if they don’t like it. It’s no use having 10 influencers giving ‘rave reviews’ if the first 20 real customers are disappointed.

If there’s not a genuine need or desire for your product – no amount of influencing is going to get enough people to buy it.

2. People need to ‘get it’ – the ten-second rule

If it’s not possible to explain what your product does or what its USP is in a picture, 10-second video or 100 characters, it’s going to be very difficult for an influencer to help you. Sure, you can focus on getting descriptive blog posts or videos, but be aware that educating an audience about something is a different challenge to simply increasing brand awareness.

3. Own your product

This might sound odd but there are many people who have businesses that resell other brands or drop-ship products made by other manufacturers. If this is you, you need to be careful with influencer marketing because people can simply find these products elsewhere. It must be clear how customers can buy from you and there must be a good reason to do so.

4. Research your niche’s influencers and their audience

Aside from having a great product, this is the most important element. The influencers you choose to work with must have a close match to your perfect target audience.

Semi-close matches don’t tend to work well unless there is a very large and well-engaged audience. There should be an almost perfect overlap between your target audience and that of your influencer’s. For example, if you have a fitness product aimed at new mums, a generic mummy blogger will be nowhere near as effective as a new mum in the health and fitness niche. Likewise, a health and fitness blogger who is not a new mum will have only a small impact.

This said, it is important to think broadly about whose audience might match yours. We know of an e-commerce brand that does extremely well by marketing their reusable whiteboard notebooks to bloggers in the green, environmentally-conscious niche.

5. Be smart about pricing

The more a product costs, the greater consideration someone must give before making a purchase. Whilst this all depends on your niche and target audience as well as how many competitor products are around, being competitive on price can make or break your campaign.

If you have a product that is cheap or average for its genre and comes in at under £50 per purchase, people will be prepared to take a punt. If, relatively speaking, your product is more expensive than similar alternatives and costs over £100, for example, your audience may take some convincing. A single post from an influencer might not be enough.

6. Control the message

Almost all of the value of your influencer’s post can be lost if the messaging is not on point. Experienced influencers are usually very good at sharing your product in such a way that it sparks interest and is portrayed in the right way to the right people. However, if this is your first foray into influencer marketing and perhaps you’re investing in newer bloggers, for example, signposting the kind of message you’d like might help.

If you’re not happy with a post or something’s been stated inaccurately, don’t be scared to ask your influencer to make an edit. This is the case for copy, links to your site or images they may have taken.

Mitigate risk by checking out previous posts they’ve done for their clients and see if there’s anything you need to keep an eye on.

7. Engage a portfolio of influencers

Your experience of influencer marketing shouldn’t be from just a single influencer. There could be any number of things that mean an influencer’s audience didn’t decide to buy your products.

Some products will need to be seen several times by someone for them to make a buying decision. Having multiple sources of information as well as an active social media presence all contribute to influencing someone’s decision over time. Be strategic when selecting your influencers. Mix up the size and nature of audiences as well as the platforms the content is shared on.

Considerations to make before investing

  • Before investing heavily in any given influencer – do your due diligence. Are you able to see case studies from this influencer? Can you speak to that brand owner to ratify these claims? How do you know if their social following or engagement rate is genuine?

  • Can you afford to make zero sales from this endeavour? There is every chance you’ll make no sales from the work of a single influencer, especially if they’re small.

  • Again, understand that there is no silver bullet and that it may take dozens of influencers and positive reviews to get that needle moving when it comes to sales.

  • Influencer marketing is not the same for small as it is for large brands. This isn’t to say the mechanisms at work are different or that the outcome might be different, but it is different. Large brands are forever competing against their rivals. They tend to have huge marketing budgets. Often they’re trying to outspend each other and cover more bases than each other. Seeing a post about a brand you’re already familiar with is entirely different to seeing a post about a brand you know nothing about.

  • Influencer marketing is not cheap. The actual price depends on the size and nature of the niche in question, as well as the success of previous campaigns. Think about how that cash could be invested in Facebook paid advertising or Google Ads and make a logical investment decision.

Hopefully, this article has been of use to you. It’s clear that influencer campaigns can be successful, but success is not guaranteed and it doesn’t happen accidentally. Ensuring all of the above criteria are met along with considering the role of the campaign in your wider strategy minimises the risk of losing out.

Steph Jones.
Steph Jones

Head of Social

A hands-on Head of Social, with extensive experience across Charity, Retail and eCommerce, both agency side and client side, with brands such as WWF, Virgin Pure and Purity Brewing. Steph considers all facets of the customer journey through social and paid media, as well as creating engaging content in line with the business goals to capture attention and convert audiences.