Influencer marketing isn't just an expense; it's an investment. With more and more brands and businesses relying on influencers to help them create buzz on social media and beyond around products, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. This leads many brands and marketers to fall into an overspending trap, aiming to partner with major influencers or pay influencer discovery services that don’t deliver efficiently.
The thing is, throwing money at high-dollar influencer marketing doesn't provide an automatic customer base. If you're on a small-medium-sized business budget, the last thing you want is to spend an incredible amount of money with very little return.
An effective influencer marketing campaign can be both cheap and expensive. It all depends on how you allocate the budget, and the tools you rely on to determine your best potential collaborations. We'll break down best practices in which a budget can be stretched in order to give your influencer marketing strategy a much-needed boost.
How much should you spend on influencer marketing strategy?
Let's brush up on some influencer marketing statistics before we get started. This way, you know whether you're spending too much or too little. That said, when we talk about the exact number, there is no simple, one-line answer. It all depends on the brand, product, and influencer.
But, the general rule of thumb from a research paper by Altimeter Research said brands should expect to spend 20-25% of their digital budgets on influencer marketing, as many companies spend roughly 5-15% of turnover on marketing. That ballpark is worth considering, especially if you heavily rely on social channels for your overall marketing campaign and have serious intent to boost awareness on those platforms.
Regarding how much you should pay individual influencers, for long-term campaigns or one-off posts, take a look at follower count as well as creativity, talent, and engagement rate. Our influencer pay guide dives into the details of each of these elements.
How to stretch your influencer marketing budget
The challenge is finding cost-effective ways to get your name out without going over your allotted budget. In order to make your dollar go further without sacrificing the quality of your partnership and its resulting topic, there are a few specific practices you should follow.
1. Set clear goals and metrics
This may seem like a no-brainer, but influencer and social media marketing is a relatively new and ever-changing industry. With new social features and creators emerging every day, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie marketer, goals and preferable metrics are the starting point of an effective influencer campaign.
Before you spend any money on the budget, make sure you clearly understand what you expect from the influencer marketing strategy you’re about to invest in. Do you want more website traffic? Brand awareness? Sales leads? Engagement?
By setting clear goals and metrics, you can ensure a return on your investment and adjust your influencer & social media strategy as needed to stretch your budget further. Make sure you also tie these metrics to your overall brand success and revenue as best you can. This is where influencer marketing platforms come in handy; by using technology to map influencer-powered results to business success, you’ll have an easier time determining what partnerships and strategies are most profitable.
Pixlee TurnTo’s influencer marketing solution can help your team track influencer-specific metrics alongside campaign analytics to find the best influencers for your business and tie your overall influencer strategy to the bottom line.
2. Structure deals that maximize content value
This one is important and will save you loads of money in the long run. Remember, it's not just about working with influencers who have a high follower count; sometimes, a smaller-scale influencer may have more sway over your specific target audience because they have a closer relationship with those individuals.
You want to focus on agreements that guarantee the most value for your money in regard to the content being produced and your overall objectives as a brand. Here are some reasons why people erode their trust in an influencer based on the content they produce:
One way to do this is by requesting certain types of content from influencers, like stories, photos with captions, or videos. By having influencers produce specific types of content, you're able to control the overall narrative while still getting a creative spin from the people you trust. Develop a campaign brief (within your influencer marketing platform) that clearly outlines the message and content types your company is interested in, and work as a team with your influencer(s) to design content that truly resonates with their audience.
This also allows you to use that content across multiple channels and gives you more bang for your buck. We’ll touch on this later.
3. Seek micro-influencers in your niche
While it's important to have some household names on board, don't forget about micro-influencers (who have 5,000—100,000 followers). In fact, they might be more beneficial to your campaign than the A-listers.
Micro-influencers are an underrated type of influencer that generally have a smaller but more engaged following, which can be extremely valuable to your brand. They also tend to be more affordable and willing to try new things and more likely to hustle to grow their fan base.
Plus, micro-influencers are often viewed as more relatable and trustworthy by their followers — which is why micro-influencers boast an average engagement rate of 3.86%, while mega-influencers see only 1.21%.
The ideal way to start finding micro-influencers is by looking in your existing customer base. Community members who are already talking about your products or industry in general are more likely to want to work with you. In our 2022 Influencer Trend Report, the majority of influencers said “personal interest in the brand” was the most important factor when considering a partnership.
Brands like Alo Yoga work with influencers and brand ambassadors to create unique campaigns across social media, the brand’s website, email, and more.
Start by checking out the user-generated content (UGC) already being shared by your fans on social media. Pixlee TurnTo allows brands to identify top advocates and individual pieces of UGC, and then onboard select creators to your influencer marketing program.
4. Collaborate with other brands
One way to get more from your influencer marketing budget is by teaming up with other brands in your industry. This can be done by partnering with a complementary brand on an influencer campaign or cross-promoting content across channels.
For example, if you have a skincare line and want to collaborate with an indie makeup brand. You can team up and send each other products to use in tutorials, blog posts, or social media posts. AI-powered content marketing tools can also help you come up with ideas for collaborative posts.
Influencers are often receptive to working with multiple brands at once, especially if they complement each other.
Not only will this give you access to a whole new group of followers, but it's a great way to build relationships with other industry leaders.
5. Work with UGC creators
When it comes to cost-effective marketing, user-generated content is king. When you want both to come up with new content instantly and generate trust while still playing a role in the campaign process, you can rely on UGC Creators.
UGC Creators differ from traditional influencers and brand ambassadors as they’re primarily building content for brands to share on their own channels, rather than the creators’ channels. It’s the perfect marriage of the creator economy and UGC, and it’s less expensive to produce than in-house content.
This is a great way to emanate the organic feeling of UGC while also building relationships within the influencer community. UGC Creators can often be found alongside influencers in creator networks like Pixlee TurnTo’s.
6. Publish influencer content across multiple channels
Just because you're working with influencers doesn't mean you should put all your eggs in one basket. In fact, the most successful marketing campaigns are those that use a variety of channels to reach their target audiences. This can translate into measurable results, especially when you include an element of social commerce in your influencer campaigns (think: influencer posts shared on your brand’s website, tagged with featured products).
Influencer marketing can be paired with many marketing channels, such as email marketing, social media advertising, and content marketing, to maximize reach and engagement. For example, if you're launching a new product, you can use influencer marketing to create buzz around it, but also use paid ads and email marketing to drive sales.
This multi-channel approach will not only help you reach more people but will also increase your chances of converting leads into customers.
7. Measure and analyze results
The campaign doesn't stop when the influencer posts go live. In order to determine whether your campaign was successful, you need to measure and analyze the results against the initial goals you outlined before the campaign began. This includes looking at things like website traffic, social media engagement, and sales.
By taking the time to measure and analyze the results of your campaign, you can make adjustments as needed to improve its effectiveness.
Choosing the platform that makes it much easier for you to track your budget-friendly influencer marketing campaign is key here. Pixlee offers you a powerful platform to manage and measure your influencer campaigns and track their true ROI.
The bottom line
Influencer marketing isn't all about throwing money at the problem. It can be expensive if you don’t prioritize stretching the budget. By following the tips above, you can stretch your budget and get more from your investment.
Just remember to focus on quality over quantity, and always work with influencers who align with your brand values. By following the tips above, you can stretch your influencer marketing budget and get the most bang for your buck.
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on pixlee.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.