Influencer marketing is important year round, but as with most retail marketing methods, it takes a busy turn as brands gear up for the holidays. Because of this, it presents some unique challenges and forms of preparation. Here are a few of our best tips for planning an influencer marketing campaign during the holidays.
1. Focus on certain types of products.
You brand should be focusing on gifting products during this time of year (starting in October/November). For example, if you are a skin-care company, you should probably focus on gift-sets, rather than your anti-aging serums, because most people aren't going to buy an anti-aging serum as a gift. If you are a company that does not have gift-type products, then you should focus on capitalizing on Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.
2. Planning is key.
I don't find that holiday campaigns are that different from typical campaigns, there is just less room for error. This is why you need to set realistic goals and start planning early. Make a list of influencers you want to target. If you are targeting influencers on instagram here is a pro-tip: use the instagram "save" feature, to keep track of influencers that you want to pitch. Finding the right influencers can take time, so saving them as you come across them, will save you time in the long run. Check out our blog on how to start influencer marketing for planning tips.
3. Reach out to the influencers early.
You should start your influencer outreach in October/early November for the holidays. This gives you time to negotiate with the influencers and get them your products. Remember that many people start their holiday shopping in November, and getting influencers to start posting in November will also give you content that you can promote in December. Also, don't forget about Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions.
4. Understand how to calculate influencer marketing ROI.
Remember that tracking the success of influencer campaigns can be challenging. There are many benefits that you need to take into consideration outside of direct ROI, especially around the holidays. That's why you need to make sure that your influencer marketing campaign ties in with other campaigns that you are running (social, paid search, promotions). Check out our blog to learn about the different forms of influencer marketing ROI.
5. Keep it simple.
Because there will be an influx of brands reaching out to the influencers you need to make sure that you create a clear plan and clear requirements for the influencers. Influencers will be pitched with tons of brands, so the simpler your campaign - the better. Put together clear requirements for the influencers when you pitch them. If you are not clear what you want from the influencers and what you will provide them in exchange, many will not respond. Although this is important for influencer marketing collaborations all year, it is especially true during the holidays because they are getting so many pitches.
6. Include a promotion.
It is very smart to tie influencer marketing campaigns to promotions. Probably the easiest way to do this is by providing the influencers with a coupon code that they can share with their followers (and make sure you required them to mention the coupon code or promotion when they post). I also find that if you give a deadline for the promotion it creates more of a sense of urgency, which drives more conversions. For example, "you can get free shipping on all orders through the end of the month," or "Use coupon code HOLIDAY for 20% off through December 15th."
7. Make it part of a multi-channel marketing approach.
If you have never done an influencer marketing campaign in the past, make sure you manage your expectations if you are going to try it out for the holidays. I would say the main misconception I see is business owners thinking that if they just do influencer outreach that they will get customers and ROI instantly. Influencer marketing should be one part of your full marketing strategy, and you be doing many things in conjuncture with your campaign to make it successful, for example:
- Making sure to have updated social accounts, with all current promotions listed.
- Engage with the influencers and their followers as they comment and answer any questions they have.
- Reposting and promoting the influencers content (with their permission). They created the awesome content so now you need to make sure lots of people see it!
- Triple check your website and ecommerce check-out process to ensure there are no issues, especially on mobile.
- Set up re-targeting campaigns so that if people go to your site and leave they will still see ads.
8. Calculate the cost of running a successful campaign.
As with all forms of marketing, budget will and should vary depending on goals and company resources. If you are planning to do influencer marketing in-house, remember that on top of monetary budget it is also going to take a lot of time. I find that most companies run out of time before they run out of budget, which is why you may want to consider outsourcing to a company that specializes in influencer marketing (like Statusphere). It is hard to give an exact budget without knowing more about the company. I have worked with companies that have $1,000 – 6 figure influencer marketing budgets.
One thing we focus on at Statusphere is collaborating with micro-influencers. Although these influencers have smaller followings, they actually can have up to 4x the engagement rate of the larger influencers. You can read more about them here.