Influencer marketing agencies can be a real asset to your business, delivering rapid customer engagement and expansion of your audience base. However, many companies are hesitant to enter into the world of influencer marketing, either by hiring an agency or by pursuing this strategy in-house.
In some ways, this reticence is justified. Influencer marketing is more complex than traditional approaches such as email marketing and content marketing, especially for teams that lack the skills to assess the effectiveness of influencer outreach. On the other hand, if handled correctly, influencer marketing can be extremely effective.
In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of hiring an influencer marketing agency. Our primary point here is that influencer marketing can be a great way of taking your marketing to the next level, but only if it is integrated with your strategic goals.
The true cost of influencers
If you are thinking of hiring an influencer marketing agency, you’re not alone. The market for this kind of service is growing rapidly. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of influencer marketing platforms and agencies jumped from 190 to 740, according to a 2019 report published by Influencer Marketing Hub.
It’s true that some companies have had significant success when hiring this kind of agency. The primary value of influencers, especially for start-ups, is that they afford you access to a huge and established community of customers. These customers already trust the influencer’s recommendations, and this takes a lot of work out of building trust with your customers.
For this reason, influencers can rapidly increase the number of customers you reach and can give you access to exactly the kind of community you would like to be selling to. Influencer marketing agencies will also take care of much of the work associated with this, from contacting relevant influencers to signing contracts to ensuring they promote your brand authentically.
On the other hand, there can be a cost associated with hiring an influencer marketing agency. Beyond the monetary costs, you may also find yourself spending significant amounts of time shipping promotional products to influencers for them to try, and also in measuring the success of the money you are investing in this form of marketing.
Reaching specific audiences
Making a decision as to whether influencer marketing is worth the investment should be informed by realistic expectations of what this form of marketing can achieve. In short, you should be aware of what influencer marketing can do, and what it cannot.
There are several areas in which influencer marketing can be very effective. If you have identified highly specific target audiences, and know that these audiences engage with influencers regularly, influencer marketing is a very quick way of reaching those audiences. This is particularly true for wealthy, niche audiences that are hard to reach via standard social media marketing or other more direct forms of marketing.
That said, if you are looking to increase sales across a wide customer base, influencer marketing is less effective. Influencer marketing works because of the personal connection between an influencer and their audience, and if they try and reach too broad a range of people, this can actually undermine the power of their recommendations.
In addition, using influencers in this way raises significant difficulties when it comes to protecting customer information, which has become a critical financial factor in maintaining customer trust. This is because hiring an influencer might require you to share personal customer information with the agency you hire. You will need to ensure that whatever agency you hire takes the security of this information seriously, because if they fall victim to a cyberattack or leak, you will be held responsible.
Investment and strategy
To put this decision in different terms, you need to carefully consider the return on investment (ROI) for influencer marketing agencies. You can do that by considering a number of factors:
- First, you should recognize that for the vast majority of audiences, more direct forms of advertising offer a better return on investment. Email marketing has the potential to reach huge audiences, for instance, for a far lower price.
- Second, you should carefully consider the extra work that is involved with running an influencer outreach marketing campaign. Though influencer marketing agencies can take much of this work off your hands, every hour your team spends shipping products or working with influencers should be added to the up-front cost of hiring such an agency.
- Thirdly, make sure that you have the basics covered first. Nowadays, it is tempting for start-ups to hire influencers at a very early stage of their development, even before they have built and optimized their website. As a result, even if the influencer is able to direct a lot of potential sales your way, you will not be able to take advantage of this.
- Finally, ensure that you know how you are going to measure success. Hiring an influencer marketing agency in the hope that they provide all the advertising you need is going to lead to disappointment. Instead, see this as a way to increase site traffic, increase social media followers, or attract sales from specific target groups. Just make sure you can measure those metrics, either through your website builder or web analytics tool, before you part with your hard-earned cash.
When influencer marketing is most effective
All of this said, if you have realistic expectations of what influencer marketing can achieve for your business, then hiring an influencer marketing agency can be a great complementary component to your broader online marketing strategy.
If you are looking to reach highly specific target audiences, or are looking to sell products with a high value, influencer marketing is great. The trust that customers put in influencers can mean that these same customers transfer their loyalty to your own brand. In the best-case scenario, they will even start sharing their experience of your products themselves and greatly amplify your marketing for free.
Just make sure, as with everything in marketing, that you get the basics in place first, so you can take advantage of the flood of orders!