From $1.7bn in 2016, influencer marketing has grown rapidly to reach an estimated market size of $16.4bn in 2022. According to a recent study by the Influencer Marketing Hub, this fast-evolving industry is predicted to expand even further to be worth a projected $21.1 billion in 2023.
With over 80 per cent of marketers reporting that influencer marketing is an effective channel for them, this valuable industry isn’t just for big brands, and can have a real impact for online growth and sales for SMEs too.
Read on to find out what influencer marketing is, why it’s important for smaller businesses, and get some practical tips to making it work for you.
What is influencer marketing?
It’s a form of online marketing that involves endorsements by popular individuals or groups on social media. Influencers with a relevant audience can be rewarded for promoting your products or services in a timely way to their audience, and make a powerful addition to any small business marketing strategy.
Influencers are categorised based on their follower count:
- Nano-influencers: 1,000-10,000 followers.
- Micro-influencers: 10,000-50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50,000-500,000 followers.
- Macro-influencers: 500,000-1 million followers.
- Mega-Influencers: 1 million+ followers (e.g. ‘Mrs Hinch’ for home life or ‘James Charles’ for beauty)
As an SME, focusing on nano and micro-influencers can generate great results and sales from a more trusting, loyal and authentic audience. These types of influencers often offer more affordable rates, making them a great opportunity for SME’s with modest marketing budgets.
Why is an influencer marketing strategy important for a small business?
Influencers and content creators already have established strong and trustworthy relationships with their audience. This can help to increase your brand awareness and provide wide reach to a variety of potential new customers, or showcase your niche or luxury products to very specific audiences, in ways that can be tricky to do on your own.
Successful influencers are the experts in creating engaging social content and can offer lots of exciting and original opportunities to promote your products, such as grid posts, competitions, stories and reels. They understand their followers and know how to resonate with them.
By working with influencers, you can cleverly utilise giveaways, discount codes, takeovers, gifting or sponsored ads to entice users to try your products and services.
As a small business entering the world of influencer marketing, you have things in your favour such as, speed, flexibility and the ability to work with micro and nano-influencers. These types of influencers may have smaller, but highly loyal, audiences and your business can flourish working with them in ways that large brands may struggle. This provides an opportunity to create strong relationships, support one another, and grow together with a mutual vision.
Five tips to making influencer marketing work for you
#1 – Test
Experiment with micro and nano-influencers. They are great advocates for other small businesses, can have cheaper rates and may boast more loyal audiences. Don’t overlook larger influencers though, as they’re not just for big brands and some may be keen to promote smaller, independent brands. Test a few routes, closely measure performance and pursue the strategy that best suits your product or service.
#2 – Gift
Giving influencers a physical version of your product for an unboxing or a demo can be powerful. You don’t need to gift products to every influencer as we know this can be costly. Instead, select those that you feel have an authentic connection to your brand. This can help build trust with their audience and emphasise the legitimacy of your product.
#3 – Discounts
Discount codes are a quick and easy way to encourage influencers to promote your brand. Each influencer receives a unique code, allowing you to track and measure which influencer is driving which sales, so you can put more resource and time into those that are working for you.
#4 – Legitimacy
Are you an ethical or sustainable brand? Does your brand contribute to charity? Have you won any awards? Share key information with your influencer that could help them reinforce authenticity to their followers. When an influencer believes in you, their endorsement will come across as authentic and your partnership will perform better.
#5 – Video
Small businesses should capitalise on the growing interest in video platforms, such as TikTok, to reach younger audiences with short video formats, reels and stories. Work with your influencers on developing engaging, short and compelling information through your affiliate platform, so that they can transform this into viral videos that quickly and effectively engage customers.
How do I find the right influencers for my business?
The easiest way to locate thousands of relevant influencers is using an affiliate marketing platform tailored for small businesses or beginners, who already host hundreds of thousands of influencers across many industries.
These affiliate marketing platforms will have already gathered and vetted the influencers, making it convenient to find multiple potential partners in one place.
If an influencer you want to work with isn’t yet on your platform you can invite them to sign up as a partner, so that you can still work with them in this controlled environment. What’s more, with Awin’s simple Instagram sign-up process, this can be done in just a few steps.
With a great affiliate platform like Awin, you can search influencers by sector and find the perfect match for you. Your affiliate platform will also manage payments securely when a sale is confirmed by your influencer, so you know that you’re only paying for the results you wanted.
Awin Access is a self-managed affiliate solution, set up specifically to connect SMEs with content creators, influencers and other affiliate partners to help you reach new customers online.
Natasha Griffiths is the global marketing manager for Awin’s exciting entry-level SME affiliate solution, Awin Access. With 15 years’ experience in marketing across a wide variety of sectors, Natasha is passionate about supporting SMEs and independent businesses in accessing and benefitting from great digital marketing opportunities