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11 Common Mistakes You're Making With Influencer Marketing

Everything you've heard about results of this powerful branding and marketing strategy is true, but certainly not guaranteed.
11 Common Mistakes You're Making With Influencer Marketing
Image credit: eggeeggjiew | Getty Images

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the most effective strategies for marketers interested in building a strong brand. According to data cited by AdWeek, 94 percent of marketers who use influencer marketing strategies believe it is effective.

Other statistics indicate that consumers prefer content that features influencers over traditional advertising and mainstream celebrity endorsements. A study conducted by Ogilvy and Google found that 74 percent of purchases are made via word-of-mouth recommendations, and influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive word-of-mouth purchases. Another report found that fans of YouTube find YouTube influencers to be 17 times more engaging than mainstream celebrities.

Given the findings from the market studies mentioned above (among many others), it is no wonder that marketers are increasingly embracing influencer branding strategies to achieve their business objectives.

Unfortunately, however, in the rush to adopt an influencer marketing strategy, some marketers are committing a few common mistakes. Happily, these can be easily avoided if you’re aware of them. This article outlines 11 common influencer marketing mistakes to steer clear of in order to be successful and avoid overlooked costs.

1. Failing to understand your audience.

If you don’t truly know your customer, you will never be able to create an effective long-term influencer marketing strategy. Marketers who have not yet developed a clear marketing persona should place their programs on hold until there is a clear understanding of who the customer is and what the customer is interested in achieving from an interaction with your brand.

To create a marketing persona (some brands have multiple personas), you’ll want to understand purchasing habits, pinpoints, demographic information and psychographic information. Usually, all of this data can be collected through customer interviews.

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, it becomes much easier to identify the appropriate influencers to work with. Furthermore, you will be able to provide influencers with a clear brief that will help them to better serve your marketing goals and business.

Related: Why Brands Big and Small Continue to Fail at Influencer Marketing

2. Using influencer marketing in the wrong channels.

Influencer marketing is not equally effective across all brand channels. Effectiveness will vary by channel depending on your customer focus (business to business or business to consumer) and your target audience.

For example, an influencer marketing campaign that is designed to target members of Generation Z will be less effective if executed on Facebook and Twitter than on Instagram. That’s because the Generation Z market overwhelmingly prefers using Instagram. Conversely, an influencer marketing campaign designed to engage Generation X customers will probably be more effective on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Related: 6 Must-Do's When Creating an Influencer Marketing Campaign

3. Expecting overnight results.

While a powerful influencer marketing campaign can in some cases produce overnight results, this is usually not the case. Especially for companies that are not in the e-commerce space, influencer marketing can take time.

Remember, effective influencer marketing campaigns usually help to increase brand awareness. Once a prospect is aware of your brand, they still need to move down the marketing funnel to the consideration and decision stages before making a purchase.

If your influencer marketing campaign is focused on creating top-of-the-funnel awareness, it will take time for prospects to make a purchase. How long it takes will depend on your average sales cycle.

Related: 5 Things to Understand Before Spending a Dime on Influencer Marketing

4. Neglecting to use analytics to measure performance.

The only way to truly know if an influencer marketing campaign is effective is to use an analytics platform to measure results. The need to measure performance is especially true for those interested in Instagram-based influencer marketing campaigns.

I personally like to use Owlmetrics to measure performance. This Instagram analytics tool helps me understand if influencers are indeed generating the reach and engagement they were hoping for. Furthermore, using a tracking link in an Instagram profile that leads to your company website can help you understand if the influencer campaign is driving website visits and purchases.

Related: 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Ignoring Influencer Marketing

5. Miscommunicating expectations with influencers.

Whenever working with influencers, it is important to make expectations crystal clear. Influencers should be given a brief that includes the goal of the campaign and how performance will be measured.

In order to help influencers be more successful, you should include the marketing persona information you and your team have collected, as well as any analytics information that your team has found valuable when marketing to the target audience.

Related: The Evolution of Influencers, From the 1700s to Today (Infographic)

Related Video: Sports Publicist Shares Marketing Lessons Learned From Working With Brands Such As Nike and Adidas

6. Focusing on the wrong KPIs.

Influencer marketing can be a powerful marketing strategy, but as with any marketing strategy, it does have limitations. As a marketer, you need to ensure you are using influencer marketing appropriately. Starting an influencer marketing campaign that is designed to influence KPIs related to bottom-of-the-funnel behaviors is usually not ideal.

Related: 14 Inspirational Influencers You Should Follow on Instagram

7. Avoiding influencer marketing because of a single failed experiment.

No reasonable marketer would abandon email marketing just because one email marketing campaign was not successful. Similarly, marketers never consider abandoning influencer marketing just because one campaign was not successful.

Instead, use the data to improve your marketing efforts. Try to learn why the campaign failed so that you and your team can implement what you learned the next time you launch an influencer marketing campaign. Learning from failure is key to marketing success. Failing to try again is not learning from failure, it is succumbing to it.

Related: A Guide to Working With Instagram Influencers: What to Look For

8. Forgetting to think carefully about the call to action.

What action should the audience take upon engaging with influencer marketing content? This is a key question that you should ask yourself before launching an influencer marketing campaign.

If you are planning to drive website visitors via influencer marketing, be sure to build a webpage that will allow visitors to take the next action as easily as possible. Many marketers attempting to drive website visits fail to test the whether the page is mobile responsive.

According to Google, 40 percent of shoppers will turn to a competitor if the original company does not offer a fully-optimized website. The same report also found that 57 percent of shoppers will not recommend a company that does not offer a mobile-optimized site.

Thinking carefully about the call to action associated with an influencer marketing campaign and ensuring it is optimized for your target audience are keys to finding success with influencer marketing.

Related: 3 Reasons Why You Should Engage With Micro-Influencers

9. Overlooking the importance of competitive analysis.

A great deal can be learned by analyzing competitors, especially when it comes to influencer marketing strategy. If an influencer has already worked with a competitor, for example, it is probably best to work with a different influencer in order to create a unique brand voice.

If competitors have not worked with an influencer, it might indicate that there is a real first-mover opportunity.

Related: Here's How to Crush It With YouTube Influencers

10. Misunderstanding influencer marketing best practices.

Before beginning an influencer marketing campaign, take the time to learn best practices that will help you find success faster than if you try to pick them up on the go. Attending an event that focuses on influencer marketing is a good way to quickly become knowledgeable about this new marketing strategy.

Related: 8 Do's and Don'ts of Influencer Marketing

11. Choosing an inexperienced agency to manage influencer relationships.

Since influencer marketing has become so effective, marketing agencies are scrambling to offer influencer marketing services. Unfortunately, many agencies do not have real experience with influencer marketing strategies, and are therefore typically not very effective when working with clients interested in pursuing an influencer marketing campaign.

If you are interested in working with an agency, be sure to select one that has experience working with influencer marketing strategies related to your industry or type of business. Speak with past customers to understand if the agency really is capable of helping you and your team be successful.

Related: The 5 Biggest Influencer Marketing Myths That Won't Die

To create a successful influencer marketing strategy, it is important that you understand your audience and turn to analytics to guide choices. Be sure to properly brief influencers, and think carefully about the next step the target audience should make.

Remember that influencer marketing can take time to bear fruit, but an effective strategy can dramatically impact the bottom line if created properly.

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