Female incluencers with megahorn

Forging authentic influencer relationships that drive measurable results

Influencer marketing is a medium built on trust and authenticity. The deeper an influencers relationship with their audience, the more weight their voice carries. Like all mediums consumers have already started to become inert to paid advertising delivered through influencers. So how do you get your message out with influencers?

These 7 steps provide practical advice for selecting influencers, as well as creating and maintaining win-win relationships that drives measurable (yes, measurable) results.

  1. Shortlisting your influencers
    Selecting the right influencers to work with is critical to successful influencer marketing, it’s worth putting the extra time and effort at the tart to make sure you’ve found the right person. These four elements will help you make the right choice:
  2. The right audience 
    You know your customers, and your customers are already busy listening to, and interacting with influencers. Start by choosing influencers that have the same audience that you’re interested in. That ensures that any message they communicate has the maximum possible impact.
  3. Size of audience 
    Whilst it’s important that you get the largest reach possible, working with influencers that have millions of followers is considerably more difficult than working with those that have several hundred thousand. Don’t get too small though, the smallest of magazines will have a readership of 10,000 which is probably the smallest audience size you’ll want to accept.  Any smaller and the effort likely won’t justify the returns. Conversely it’s been shown that influencers that have considerably more than 100,000 followers have much lower engagement rates – and therefore lower impact.
  4. Engaged & conversational 
    Engagement isn’t just about their posts attracting likes and shares. For an influencer to be effective they need to be constantly interacting with their audience. Check to ensure that they’re not just broadcasting, and they’re having actual conversations. You may also want to check how quickly they respond to messages (if at all), as speed of response can have a considerable impact on the value of a message.
  5. Involved
    Influencers that are already engaged with your brand are the most likely to become brand evangelists – with careful nurturing. These should be at the top of your priority list, and should be treated with special care. They’re already talking about your brand, and you need to deepen that relationship. Without at least an occasional pat-on-the-back, you risk your organic (the best type) influencers getting disillusioned or moving on to a competitive brand.
  6. Solicitation, Payment & Rewards
    Not all your influencers will appear organically, nor will they all approach you, you’ll need to go out and find some on your own steam.  Where ever they come from, it’s important to set some ground rules for your engagement with influencers. Will you pay them for their efforts? Will you provide product samples? How many will you fund/sponsor? How will you differentiate? There’s no hard and fast rule about how much to pay influencers, when I asked Christopher Dugal, Head of Social for Zalora, he recommends avoiding paying influencers and sticking to product sponsorship.
  7. Measurement
    Like all good marketing campaigns, your influencer campaign can be measured. To quote Jay Baer “True influence drives action, not just awareness”, so instead of tracking the classic measurements such as volume of tweets, posts, sentiment and likes, try tracking referral links tracking mechanisms. By providing each influencer with an individual referral tracking URL, you can quantify how much traffic and how many conversions each of your influencers are generating. Even if they’re not commissioned or paid, there are lots of incentives you can provide them for using the links – from additional kudos & recognition in your formal campaigns, through to early access to your new products.

Run through these steps when you’re building you influencer campaign. It’s a good idea to go through them every couple of months just to make sure you’re still on track – and sticking to the principles you originally laid out.

Business Woman Partner Network

Do I have a good channel partner network?

After putting in lots of effort to build a partner network, you’ll want to be able to measure your success. The easiest metric, the one your CEO will love – revenue, won’t always be the most applicable though. Some companies try and peel this back a little and talk about the volume of new opportunities opened. Both are undeniably important and should always be a focus, but when you’re first establishing your network and leads aren’t forthcoming – how do you know if your channel is growing the right way? Other metrics such as geographic coverage, knowledge, engagement & loyalty can be excellent indicators.

 I like to consider several non-financial measures when reviewing a channel network:
      1. Size &  coverage: Some partners are a good strategic fit because of their geographic coverage. They may not sell much of your product, but they give you the capability to advertise coverage in an area that you would otherwise struggle to service. You might also want to interpret coverage as access to particular market segments. For instance a partner that specialises in hospital & clinics, providing access to a market that most other partners can not easily access.Individual partners aside, an important metric to consider is your overall geographic/market coverage. You could measure this by a metric as simple as countries served (by an active dealer), or be more detailed and consider cities/regions or specific markets within countries.
      2. Knowledge & capability: Most people are happy proposing systems that they understand, rather than ones they don’t. So the more people that are trained to use your product, the more likely it is that your product is going to be recommended & sold. Keep track of the volume of staff that are trained & certified on your solution. The more people your partner is sending for training, the more likely they’re proposing it.The total number of trained/certified engineers or sales people, per partner, country and overall are good metrics to track by. This will give you an indication of how involved & how important your partners feel it is to keep their teams abreast of your technology.
      3. Engagement &  motivation: This is slightly harder to gauge. It’s possible to use a simple metric such as sales or lead volume, but it’s easy for lead volumes or revenue to be skewed by advertising or one or two big orders. As metrics go, they dont’ really reflect how motivated a partner is to sell your product. Instead I prefer to look for more qualitative factors, how often & how many team members join your webinars, inquire about new products, or actively try to source other materials. If your partners launch their own in-market campaigns, the volume/frequency of their campaigns can be a great metric.
      4. Loyalty: Are they pitching any other competitive products? How many similar products do they promote? Do they have any dedicated sales people? Have they converted any competitive opportunities to yours? Loyalty is particularly hard to  measure and is very much a qualitative metric. All other factors aside, loyal partners are worth their weight in gold. There’s nothing more difficult than having to change a partner (especially when a client is already engaged with your product) and having to restart the education & relationship building process. Even if a partner sells good volumes but flits over to the competition for a few extra percentage points, they’ll likely represent more of a risk to your business than the potential revenue bonus is worth.

There are a few negative indicators you should track too. This is where I like to consider:

  1. Revenue & leads: If you’re sending business to a partner but not getting anything back in return, I’d start looking closely at the lead pipeline, are there a good volume of leads coming in? Is the lead volume trending upwards? Even if lead conversion is poor, lead volume trends are a good indicator of the sales effort your partner is putting in.
  2. Communication: How quickly do they respond to you? There are always other priorities, but if the response time to your emails & messages is poor, then you might need to consider trying to re-energize the partnership. Response times and pro-active communication are good indicators of whether your partners are really interested in working with you. Poor response times are also a worrying indication of how your partner is going to be treating any clients that you might send over.

 

Setting Expectations

Setting Financial Expectations

Outside of the practical elements of performing the work, it’s a good idea to set financial expectations. Your partner is usually working with you to enhance their bottom line, and it’s important that you (as clearly as possible) give an indication as to what that is.

It’s true that many partnerships are dissolved because business didn’t meet expectations, but many are dissolved before the partnership is given a reasonable chance to succeed. To prevent an early demise clearly state what volume of business your partner can expect. Do this early, don’t leave it till it’s too late. The later in the day this gets, the more difficult it will be to set expectations. If they’re supposed to help you generate business, then clearly specify how much they’ll receive for each of the projects you both undertake. Review these periodically to ensure that both your partner and you are happy & that things are on-track.

Specifying the mechanism that you’ll be using to receiving/distribute the business is also important. Here’s an illustrative example of a mechanism and a rough forecast:

 

Financial Process: ACME Corp provides Client to Partner

Step Responsible Party Action
1 Partner Send internal quotation #1 to ACME Corp
2 ACME Corp Send client quotation #2 (with ACME Margin) to Partner
3 Partner Send quotation to client
4 Client Issue purchase order to Partner
5 Partner Remit proportionate amount of the difference of #2 – #1 to ACME Corp at each stage of project payment

 

Forecast: Upcoming Client Projects

Month Client Total Project Value (US$) Partner Margin (US$) ACME Margin (US$)
Jan Retail Outlet XYZ 100,000 7,000 8,000
Feb Bank XYZ 200,000 12,000 12,000
Mar Hospital XYZ 90,000 4,000 5,000

 

Forecast: Annual

 Total Projects:                   6

Total Partner Margin:     US$ 45,000

Total ACME Margin:        US$ 50,000

 

Note that stage 5 of the Financial Process specifies when the payments should be disbursed. If your client is going to pay in parts, ensure that you specify when your payments (or payments to your partner) are due.

Of course you’ll need to use the financial model that’s best suited to your business. You’ll also need to think about what financial information you do and don’t want to share with your partner. This can substantially affect your model of engagement with your partner, and may have other substantial business implications (level of commitment, long term support, client remittance processes, etc.).

Whist I personally prefer to be as transparent as possible with partners, you’ll need to find a model that works for you. Not all industries are suited to the same model. Look at what other companies in your industry, and in your target market are doing. I’ll shortly be writing an article about different models of engagement with partners, the implications of each model, and my experience with these models.

Even if you haven’t formalised a model that you want to work via, it’s important to clearly state how transactions will happen & what financial benefit your partner is expecting to receive. Also consider clearly specifying what happens if an unforeseen expense occurs  – will the partner be absorbing it from his margin, will you, or will you be mutually sharing the additional burden?