How to Make Millions Online Through Influencer Marketing

And why you don't need big-name influencers to do it.

learn more about Jonathan Long

By Jonathan Long

Pinkypills | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the world of marketing continues to change, brands must constantly identify new ways of engaging with customers and driving sales. With the rise of social media and technology in recent years, companies have shifted marketing dollars from billboards, newspapers and television to digital ads, search engine optimization and alternative online marketing strategies.

This change in marketing approach has opened new opportunities for businesses. Now, the cost of reaching a customer is at an all-time low and brands have new platforms to use to tell their story. While influencer marketing has essentially been around for decades, it's seen a resurgence in popularity because of the accessibility brands have to social media influencers.

Whether you are a large corporation or a small startup, there is a good chance that influencer marketing can help play a major role in the growth of your brand. If you plan your strategy right, you can experience massive returns on your investment, driving millions of dollars of revenue. Before you start an influencer marketing campaign, consider these important steps to ensure the success of your efforts.

Identify your campaign story.

Many brands fall short when it comes to influencer marketing, believing that influencers hold the complete attention of their followers -- able to convince them to do anything. While some influencers, like the Kardashians and Jenners of the social media world, do have massive loyal audiences, most influencer campaigns will require a compelling story to maximize results.

Brands must identify a story to focus on while devising the campaign, and they need to understand how that story aligns with the particular influencers that will be utilized. For example, it wouldn't make sense for fashion bloggers to recommend workout supplements, even if they have more than one million followers. The better the alignment between the influencer and the brand's campaign story, the better return the campaign will produce.

Related: 5 Habits of the Wealthy That Helped Them Get Rich

Be extremely creative.

As branding expert Joel Contartese explains, "Some of the best influencer campaigns are not simply paid posts, taking the influencers on adventures and streaming this branded content through their feeds. The Tarte Cosmetics campaign with Desi Perkins is an excellent example of this."

During the Tarte Cosmetics campaign, the company paid for Perkins and other beauty bloggers to travel around the world. While on the trips, the influencers pumped out content across Instagram, Snapchat, their personal blogs and YouTube. Videos on YouTube from the trip collected millions of views, resulting in massive exposure for the brand. Creative content campaigns provide maximum engagement and subtle organic branding that is valuable to the company, while not being overly promotional.

Align your brand, influencer and audience.

George Beall, a Gen Z consultant who has organized influencer campaigns for a number of Fortune 500 companies, says that, "Two-thirds of Gen Z would rather see a social media influencer promote a product rather than a celebrity. Since social media influencers have stronger relationships with their audience than celebrities, companies can better convey their story through these social media stars."

Brands need to think carefully about two things: who their audience is following and which influencers align best with their brand's story. Beall explains that Pepsi's infamous Kendall Jenner ad correctly picked Jenner as an influencer their audience was following, but incorrectly identified her for the campaign's #BlackLivesMatter storyline. Without synergy between the audience, the influencer and the campaign story, the influencer marketing campaign will likely not succeed.

Related: 8 Reasons a Powerful Personal Brand Will Make You Successful

Consider younger influencers.

Social media offers the opportunity for people of any age to rise to fame. This has resulted in a number of incredibly young people attracting massive followings. Contartese mentions Ben Hampton, a six-year-old with over 320,000 followers on Instagram, as a prime example. A 6-year-old might not be the typical face brands are used to working with, but if he can convey a brand story to his audience, there is an opportunity to make money.

Over the past few years, the ages of influencers have gradually gotten younger and younger. The opportunity to work with young influencers can help your brand tap into new and unique audiences, as well as a grow side-by-side with the child star as they grow in age and following.

Leverage talented micro-influencers.

Often times, brands will only look at the follower count of influencers, but this can often result in missed opportunities. Every influencer has a certain skillset, and if brands can identify influencers with smaller followings that have a skillset that complements their message, it can result in a successful campaign.

One example of this is Gucci's recent efforts, where the fashion brand partnered with leading contemporary artists that had between 20,000 to 50,000 followers. These influencers then made various pieces of art, memes, murals and designs for Gucci in their respective styles. This resulted in added engagement on Gucci's social media accounts.

Related: Habits of the World's Wealthiest People (Infographic)

Final thoughts

Whether you manage the advertising and marketing budget for a huge existing brand or want to build a brand from the ground up, think about how influencers can help you reach your target audience and how you can use influencers to convey your brand story.

Jonathan Long

Founder, Uber Brands

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand-development agency focusing on ecommerce.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

Amtrak Introduces 'Night Owl' Prices With Some Routes As Low As $5

The new discounts apply to some rides between Washington D.C. and New York City.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Business News

Carnival Cruise Wants Passengers to Have Fun in the Sun — But Do This, and You'll Get Burned With a New $500 Fee

The cruise line's updated contract follows a spate of unruly guest behavior across the tourism industry.