As an influencer marketing company currently focused on the travel industry, we wanted to grow our user base without resorting to run of the mill advertising, which we knew from experience was not at all effective at targeting travel influencers to sign up to our platform.
We needed a new way to get more travel bloggers and influencers interested in themidgame and associating it as a place where they could take their professional blogging and earnings to the next level.
But how do you target a niche audience without any traditional text or display advertising, such as Google AdWords?
We would use our own product, themidgame, to test the effectiveness of influencer marketing.
We provide our clients with solutions to make their brands more visible to their niche customers, so we decided to put our own marketing strategies to the test; we would use influencer marketing to market themidgame.
Our goal was to have 1,000 influential bloggers signed up to themidgame by the end of July 2014. We had been getting an average of 45 new signups per month up until that point and wanted to multiply that number by 7 with this campaign.
Hitting 1,000 influencers may not seem like a huge amount in terms of online users, however, our users are not the average internet user. They are powerful influencers, with successful blogs, a strong and active social media presence and a loyal audience who regularly engage with their content and updates; they are influencers, a very small percentage of internet users. They are hard to find, often difficult to get in touch with and are scattered all over the web.
Secondary goals of the campaign included increasing brand awareness of themidgame among the travel blogging industry. We wanted themidgame to be seen as a place where influencers can receive amazing direct sponsorship, apply to existing sponsorship opportunities and learn more about influencer marketing through our blog.
We set out to design an influencer marketing campaign aimed at influencers in the travel industry. To recap, we had just one clear goal:
To reach 1,000 users by the end of the July 2014.
We designed an influencer marketing plan that would set out to hire 8 influencers from the travel blogging industry to talk about themidgame on their blogs in different ways. We came up with 4 types of blog posts which would be assigned to the influencers.
The main objective for each blog post, above all else, was to be helpful and informative for other bloggers and upcoming influencers. We believe providing information and helping the community is far more valuable, than simply hiring an influencer to talk solely about a brand. If the blog posts had no inherent value, they would not have any potential to go viral or to be shared organically across social networks.
Of course, we still wanted a way for the influencers to talk about themidgame in an ‘organic’ way, which would fit in with the theme of each post.
With this in mind, we came up with three types of posts aimed at travel bloggers looking to take the next step towards professional travel blogging:
- Blog post about becoming a professional travel blogger.
- Blog post about the life of a full time travel blogger.
- Blog post about ways to earn money as a travel blogger.
We also wanted to test an additional type of post; a review, to see the types of results it would muster, although it didn’t necessarily fit in with the main aim of the other posts, which was to be helpful and informative for other travel bloggers and influencers.
We set about searching for travel influencers who had previously talked about travel blogging on their sites, and not just travel. It is important to find the right influencer for every campaign so that sponsored content from them is as natural as possible for their audiences. This also guarantees the best results, as the influencers’ audience will already be interested in that type of content.
We short-listed a group of 16 influencers from themidgame who we felt fitted the requirements of the campaign. We contacted them individually to gauge their interest in working with us on this type of post. As with any influencer marketing campaign, some influencers were immediately interested and felt the topics perfectly fitted in with their blogs theme, while others were not interested and politely declined.
After we got confirmation from 4 influencers, we decided to utilize our Opportunities page to attract the remaining influencers. The Opportunities page, where we published the sponsorship opportunity, is a great natural filter as it only attracts influencers who are already interested in taking part in the campaign. Since we were transparent about the price for each blog post and the details of the campaign, it made the selection process a lot easier.
When we had selected the final 8 influencers for the campaign, we sent them further details about the campaign, including personalized referral links so we could track their progress. The campaign brief explained the goals, strategy and other details of the campaign, such as the expected deadline and length for the post. It is very important to be as clear and transparent as possible when working with influencers to avoid any miscommunication and delays in the campaign.
With the 8 confirmed influencers selected, the campaign was ready to begin. Each influencer would write and publish one blog post on their blogs, including information about themidgame in the post, and a trackable referral link to sign up to our platform. The posts were also set to be shared across the influencers’ social media channels upon publication.
Just as the final posts were being published, one influencer pulled out of the campaign. This can be expected when working with multiple influencers, so it is always good to have contacted other influencers as a back up, in case one or more of your selected influencers fall through. Unfortunately we didn’t have a back up influencer, so we decided to proceed with just 7 influencers.
We are very happy with the results that we have seen so far. Although the posts are still generating referrals today, albeit at a slower rate, we have made a cut-off point for the campaign as of August 12th 2014. This allowed each post to get significant enough traction to see some interesting results.
Firstly, we reached our target goal of getting 1,000 users signed up to themidgame before the end of July 2014. We now have over 1,100 users, just one week after the end of the campaign.
Since starting the campaign, we’ve seen an astonishing 30% conversion rate at themidgame! That means 3 in 10 visitors created an account with us, which is remarkable by its own rights, since we are targeted towards a very specific type of user; influencers.
Engagement, both social and in the comments of the blog posts, has been fantastic. Some posts received over 1600 Facebook likes, while some blog posts received up to 75 comments from our target audience.
One of the huge benefits of running an influencer marketing campaign versus a standard advertising campaign, is that the results are long-term. When you do a text or display ad campaign, the results immediately stop when the campaign stops. However, with influencer marketing, the effects of an influencer’s online presence can be seen long after the initial campaign launch.
Another interesting result we had involved an early test we did with just one influencer. Using a similar marketing model, this influencer drove over 50 referrals within two weeks of the blog post going live. However, upon revising the current results from this test, the referrals from this influencer have since doubled, racking up to 106 referrals at the time of publishing this post.
The referral rate, although it had slowed down significantly, had still doubled in the time after the initial campaign launch. These results are very powerful and encouraging for any marketer with a long term vision for their brand.
The SEO results have also been fantastic and continue to improve over time. By publishing posts on well-respected and established blogs, the results appeared on search engine result pages quicker, and have continued climbing to the first page of Google result pages for many key phrases.
As with any rapidly growing industry, you must actively and continually learn about the industry and apply these learnings to help improve and refine the process for the future.
This was definitely the case while working with this many influencers. We were pleased to find that the industry has matured significantly over the last few years and influencers are well tuned-in to the world of marketing and advertising. The influencers we worked with were professional, quick to respond to our questions and comments, courteous and always willing to help.
An important lesson learned from this campaign is that you need to be very specific when communicating with influencers. While we never tell influencers what to write in their posts or social media updates, we realized that they preferred and appreciated having some guidance on what we were looking for. This also prevented us from needing to ask for changes after the blog post or social media update was shared.
There are a lot of small details like this which we have managed to refine by working with different influencers over the last few months. This experience and knowledge has been extremely useful in helping other marketers work with influencers. We have been able to guide several clients in how to work with influencers, helping them to decide the type of information that needs to be defined for the campaign from the get-go.
The biggest conclusion we got from doing this campaign however, was that influencer marketing works, and works amazingly well. The data and results speak for themselves, and we intend to use this invaluable data to keep improving themidgame and help marketers to connect with the perfect influencers so they can experience even better results.
We value our influencers and their time and efforts very highly, so we also want to get as many amazing sponsors on board themidgame as possible, so that they can continue getting sponsored for their passions.
If you’re a marketer looking for great travel influencers for your next campaign, we would be happy to personally recommend the list of influencers who we worked with in this campaign. Or if you would like to know more about how you can use influencer marketing to increase your conversion rate, improve brand visibility and reputation, or more effectively reach your niche audience, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.