Marketer’s Struggle: In-House Influencer Marketing Team, Agency or Self-Service Software?
In-house team, specialized software, or professional agency? These are the main ways to manage an influencer marketing campaign. Many marketers struggle with the choices while working on their influencer marketing strategy. In this article, Cloutboost explores the straightforward pros and cons of each approach.
The fact that influencer marketing is booming these days is a trite but accurate observation. This channel is steadily winning a large share of the digital marketing pie. The Instagram market of influencer sponsorships in 2017 became a nice round $1 billion industry, and it’s predicted to reach $2.3 billion by 2020. The companies make up to an impressive $18 in earned media value for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, with $5.20 being an average amount in 2018.
Yet, some companies fail to achieve such remarkable results: 25% of businesses break even or waste their influencer marketing budget for nothing. What’s the reason? Most often it’s the lack of an influencer marketing strategy. This fact puts serious pressure on marketers. With the increasing budgets that businesses allocate for this digital marketing channel, a choice of the best strategy could be life-changing.
So, what approach should marketers consider when thinking about influencer sponsorships? Each strategy has its pros and cons, requires different skills & resources, and fits different companies and products. Is it possible to hit the bull’s eye? Should marketers experience the necessary pain of trial & error? The struggle is real. Let us help you make a more grounded decision by going over the strategic options, their benefits, and pitfalls.
In-House Team for Influencer Marketing
What do you need to build an in-house process? The key prerequisite is a professional team or at least a senior marketer experienced in influencer marketing. This is where the first challenge presents itself. It’s quite hard to find professionals in the field since the industry is relatively young.
So the first impediment is the difficulty of hiring and keeping an in-house team. Next, your team has to track the changing trends constantly, from new booming hashtags to the rising stars within your niche.
One more downside of in-house influencer marketing is the limited ability to measure the success of your campaigns objectively. You don’t see the full picture because you’re evaluating the performance based on in-house data only.
As for the advantages of in-house influencer marketing, they are quite forceful as well.
No one knows your audience better than your in-house marketing team does. They understand your buyer persona(s), how customers think, behave, and react. With this knowledge, a professional in-house team can select very specific and niche influencer sponsorships and achieve high KPIs.
Another advantage is that with in-house marketing departments, brands can build long-term partnerships with influencers. The key is to find influencers who will become brand ambassadors and will support ongoing cooperation for the mutual benefit of the business, the influencer, and online followers. More than that, if you are in charge of the collaboration with influencers, you can pick and choose the best performing sponsorships and optimize your influencer marketing strategy accordingly.
So let’s outline the process of running an in-house influencer marketing campaign:
An influencer marketplace is a website or an app where you can find influencers by setting up some specific parameters, such as audience demographics, interests, location, – all in all, up to several dozen various criteria. Influencer marketplaces offer to automate your campaign as much as possible and benefit from a smooth process. You can manage all influencer communication via the platform by posting offers for your campaign and receiving proposals from interested influencers. More than that, you can compare performance data and get influencers’ CPE, as well as tap into more advanced analytics, from benchmarks to real-time ROI. So what’s the hitch?
The main drawback of marketplaces is the limited number of influencers available for sponsorships. Just think of it: there are numerous different platforms out there, and each of them has access to a limited number of influencers, who signed up for it. A marketplace won’t protect you from fake influencers with bots instead of real followers. Furthermore, top-tier influencers don’t use marketplaces – they already have plenty of offers from different sources. So in order to access good selections for a well-rounded strategy, you have to use several marketplaces and some additional tools for your influencer sponsorships.
Another disadvantage is that it is quite challenging to build a long-term partnership with influencers through a platform. Given the limited connection with an influencer that can be built via a platform, it also can be difficult to ideally match the sponsored content with the audience’s needs and expectations. A long-term connection requires developing and nurturing of influencer relationships. Automation works well for emails, newsletters and auto-responses, but influencers require a more personal touch.
What’s more, a marketplace won’t help you with tracking the latest social media trends that pop up and become viral. For example, the “Fortnite dance challenge” videos – who even invented that?
Influencer Marketing Automation Software
Influencer Marketing Automation Software is not a stand-alone solution but rather a handy tool to supplement your strategy. Influencer marketing platforms are designed in order to streamline and automate some of the administrative and analytical tasks while allowing you to focus on more fundamental goals. The software facilitates influencer search by filtering through millions of names based on supplied parameters, gathering and analyzing performance data, managing campaigns and more.
The thing is, someone has to manage the tool on a daily basis. What would you do with a list of influencers that software provides you with? It takes an experienced marketer to work with an application and make the best out of it.
Influencer Marketing Agencies
Hiring professionals to help manage influencer sponsorships has its perks. In theory, you don’t have to worry about anything – you just set a goal and expect the results. But sometimes working with an influencer marketing agency can become a marketer’s worst nightmare.
First and foremost, an agency doesn’t know your customer as well as your in-house marketing team does. Second, often times they cannot tell whether the brand’s message will naturally blend with the influencer’s content and the followers’ expectations. Agencies often look at the number of subscribers or views without diving deeper to examine the specifics of the content and its relevance to your brand.
On the other hand, a high-end agency usually offers a number of significant benefits. A team of professionals working within a specific niche will know where to look for the perfect influencers matching your brand. Agency experts follow the most recent trends, take care of FTC compliance, identify and filter out fake or inactive influencer accounts, and help create and publish the most effective content.
Also, if you do find a reputable agency, it will take the lead on legal details of influencer sponsorships, control the fulfillment of all contract conditions, timing, deliverables, and so on.
As a cherry on top – agencies can objectively measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign since they can see the bigger picture. They have access to industry benchmarks and can compare the performance of your campaign against the history of sponsorships for other brands.
Did we help you with your decision-making on influencer marketing strategy? Or are you even more confused now? Our suggestion after looking at all the pros and cons is the following:
- Recruit a professional in-house person or team experienced in influencer marketing, equip them with top-notch tools and allocate some dedicated budget amount for influencer sponsorships
- Search for a reputable, niche influencer marketing agency by studying several agencies’ case studies, clients’ feedback, and industry recommendations; partner up and set SMART goals. Measure performance and communicate changes in the strategy regularly.
For optimal decisions, evaluate the feasibility, risks and implications of each strategy with a clear goal in mind, analyze costs and benefits, and select the best solution.
To get a rough estimate of the cost of an influencer marketing campaign managed by an agency, drop us a note here. We’ll be happy to help!