The internet is full of “best practices” on how to manage your influencer marketing programs efficiently. Unfortunately, the only thing following these guides actually achieves is you wasting a lot of time on manual tasks instead of the most value-adding activities (hint: no, they do not include manually searching for creators).
This post digs into the typical process of working with creators, and how you can change your approach to go from spending weeks of work on a single influencer campaign to having it ready within hours – at a bigger scale than ever before.
The typical process according to “best practices”
According to most of these guides, the typical process looks something like this:
1) Determine the audience, goals and budget
2) Search for creators you think are a fit
3) Reach out to creators and negotiate contracts
4) Build a creator brief based on your USPs
5) Set up and provide creators with unique tracking codes (so you know how well each works for you)
6) Review content once creators send it over and request changes
7) Handle creator invoices and payments
8) Analyze campaign results
(You can also add several emails back and forth at every step that are needed to get things done.)
Below you can see a simplified example of what this means in terms of working hours.
Following these kind influencer marketing best practices means that the time spent on a single creator is several hours over multiple weeks and requires a lot of one-to-one communication!
At the end of the day, what you want from any marketing channel is to make it big enough that it has a meaningful impact on your business. And while it can work initially, following a manual process like the one above will not allow you to achieve this.
Luckily, the right kind of automation can be used to fix the process.
Why you need creator marketing automation
The overall purpose of marketing automation is simple: automate repetitive tasks, improve productivity, and drive efficiency by minimizing manual actions. It lets you achieve more with the same resources and focus on what matters.
While tools and software meant to accomplish this are widely deployed in areas such as online ads, performance marketing, analytics and ad creative production, they remain regrettably under-utilized in creator marketing.
But which of these “best practice” steps can (and should) you automate?
Things that should be automated
1. Creator discovery and outreach
An enormous amount of time is wasted on manually searching for and reaching out to creators that fit an advertiser’s target audience.
A platform like Matchmade can make this process far easier. You simply provide us your most important audiences, our system automatically finds and reaches out to the creators that fit your audience and budget the best – with zero time required from your end.
Our constantly-growing network includes over 15,000 creators so we can easily find the best creators for your needs. We also scan millions of additional YouTube channels so we can automatically reach out to further creators with offers if they are a potential fit for your campaign.
2. Negotiations and contracts
Reaching out to a creator is just the start. When doing it manually, you then enter into price negotiations with every single creator, and each negotiation takes a varying amount of time (and the price you pray may swing wildly).
A much more effective way is to use automation to provide a take it or leave it -offer to each creator based on how well they reach the audience that matters to you and provide them with a standardized contract. Once you are able to send out these offers in bulk with reasonable prices, you’ll be able to hire almost any number of creators required to reach and convert your audience.
To price these offers correctly so that they are attractive to creators, you need data about the creator’s audience and the ability to make strong predictions about how many views they are able to generate on average.
As Matchmade has years of data from millions of YouTube channels, we are able to make these offers very efficiently and hire even thousands of creators in a manner of hours.
To track the performance of each individual creator and how many installs, sales or other conversions they generate, you need to provide each creator with individual tracking codes. Setting these up manually when working with dozens of influencers is a tedious process that takes up a lot of time.
Automation can make this process much easier. We provide a unique link for each creator automatically, and link it to your analytics system or measurement partner, so you can instantly track the conversions generated from each video.
4. Creator communication
While it can’t be fully automated (yet), there is a lot that can be handled in a more efficient way than just emailing with individual creators back and forth.
Our platform makes providing instructions to influencers much more automated and allows bulk messaging and one-to-one conversations to be handled quickly. The best part is that our creator team is experienced with communicating with thousands of creators and handles all of this for you, removing the need for you to write countless one-off emails.
5. Creator payments
Perhaps one of the most tedious tasks, especially if you work with creators outside of your own country, is to make sure you get the correct payment information for each creator and send out the right amounts. You’ll also probably end up spending a fair amount on transactions costs.
You also need to include some additional time for when things go wrong, such as a creator not receiving a payment, the wrong amount being sent, etc.
With Matchmade, the advertiser just pays us a single invoice while we handle all of the creator payments (and any disputes or issues that come up).
Things you should actually spend more time on
As you can see from the above, there are many steps of the process that can be made much more efficient. But once you’ve freed up time from these tasks, what should you be using your time on?
Systematic testing has traditionally been hard to do in creator marketing. The main reason is that you are typically only running a few sponsorships at a time so the findings from such tests would not be very reliable. But once you add automation that enables you to hire more creators at a time and spend less time on manually managing them, testing becomes viable.
Without testing it is very hard to improve performance in the long run. This is true especially if you want to grow your efforts to a bigger scale. It simply won’t work if you are dependent on very directional results and gut feeling.
Consistent testing helps you transform creator marketing from one-off campaigns into a scalable and consistent channel in your marketing toolkit. It should not be thought of as a one-off experiment. It should be a consistent, ongoing process with a clear framework and a planned timeline.
If you want more inspiration for what and how to run A/B tests in creator marketing, see our blog post on testing.
2. Strategy, planning and analysis
The best way to think about the value automation brings is in terms of opportunity cost: If you are spending time on something, it is time away from something else you could be doing.
Manual tasks (such as searching for and emailing with creators) will keep you busy, but they will do very little to improve things in the long run.
Once you free up time from manual tasks, you have more time to spend on developing things further. A few examples of what you can do include:
- Further analyzing the audiences you acquire through creator marketing and other channels to understand which users are the most valuable.
- Develop new value propositions that convert better
- Improve creator briefs
- Explore new marketing channels
However, none of these things are quick or easy to do. This means you need substantial time to spend on them. And the only way to gain more of that time is to automate manual tasks.
Once you are able to constantly iterate on these different aspects, it will also help you improve performance and increase conversions, which in turn increases budgets.
To summarize, the traditional “best practice” workflow of working with influencers includes many steps that are easy to automate, leaving you time for more meaningful activities.
We hope that this guide has been useful for you and helps you better understand the value of automation in creator marketing. If you want to start automating your creator marketing efforts, we’d love to hear from you!