- What are influencer partnerships?
- Uncovering the sparkle of influencer partnerships
- Inspiring case studies: seven influencer gems
4. The key to discovering influencer gold? Automation
1. What are influencer partnerships?
Think about it: Did you ever buy a cell phone without checking online reviews? What about an expensive anti-aging cream? You probably prefer validation before you lay down the big bucks. So what do you do?
You hop onto Instagram/Facebook/Google/etc. to see what others have to say about the product you’re considering. Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Many people turn to their favorite Instagram and Twitter accounts, YouTubers, and TikTok stars for recommendations on purchasing decisions. In fact, 40 percent of consumers buy a product after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.¹
Brands want to get their goods and services to consumers in a way that feels authentic and trustworthy. Savvy brands know that digital advertising campaigns don’t always reach the right people in the right way — and sometimes even frustrate or irritate potential customers. Enter influencer partnerships: a new and less invasive model for driving business growth.
How influencer partnerships work
Influencer partnerships start with brands that want to get a product or service out to potential customers in the most effective way. Brands choose influencers because they’ve gained the trust and confidence of a targeted group of followers.
Influencer collaborations offer many benefits. For example, influencers:
- Impact the purchasing decisions of their followers
- Create a circle of trust with their followers
- Provide their followers with meaningful content
- Whether nano or macro, make a big impact on the customer journey
Eight goals you can achieve with influencers
Influencers help your brand attain many goals, including:
- Amplify brand awareness
- Increase traffic
- Bring customers to your website and make new sales
- Get potential customers to follow your brand on social media
- Encourage newsletter subscription
- Foster consumer engagement with your brand in ways beyond sales
- Build brand reputation
- Create authentic targeted content that speaks to consumers
2. Uncovering the sparkle of influencer partnerships
What makes influencer partnerships so powerful? In short: trust. Research says that 82 percent of consumers have purchased a product because a friend, family member, or influencer posted about it on social media.¹ Research also shows that 81 percent of consumers like to get many points of view from people they trust before making a purchasing decision.²
Influencer followers — your potential customers — gain access to informative, validated content from influencers that answers important questions, solves problems, or provides enjoyment and entertainment.
Influencer types by follower size — from nano to macro and beyond
Influencers can vary by niche or content type, but typically fall into one of the following categories (based on audience size):
Celebrity influencers (1m+ followers)
- Gain their reputation from traditional media channels, such as TV and radio, then use social media
- While they have many followers, those followers may not be highly engaged
- Can ask high rates for posts
When to use/benefits
- Brand awareness campaigns — when you want many eyes on your product
- Big splashy launch — especially if your brand has appeal across segments and niches
Macro-influencers (250k–1m followers)
- Have a massive following and leverage social media to become famous
- Compared to celebrity influencers, have a better understanding of their followers
- Know their way around their social platforms
When to use/benefits
- Bolster your brand’s reputation with more than one audience segment
- Increase engagement rates
- Boost your brand’s reach
Mid-influencers (75K-250K followers)
- Have a relatively engaged audience
- Are often considered more authentic than celebrity
- and macro-influencers at a lower cost
- Experienced at creating great content
When to use/benefits
- Increase audience engagement
- Raise authenticity levels
- Create high, impactful reach
Micro-influencers (10k–75k followers)
- Small following but boast a higher engagement rate than celebrity, macro- and mid-influencers
- Know their followers better than celebrity and macro-influencers do
- Are considered more authentic than celebrity and macro- influencers
When to use/benefits
- Generate more focused leads
- Share specialized information
- Target niche audiences
- Create segmented marketing messages
Nano-influencers (<10k followers)
- Generally come across as authentic and the most niche-specific
- Generally have the best engagement rates
- Have the lowest number of followers
- Relatively low cost
When to use/benefits
- Test a product in a niche category
- High engagement marketing
- Soft launch of a product or service
- Direct feedback from followers
- Build authenticity
Influencer types by role
Categorizing influencers goes beyond follower count; they also play different roles. The following types of influencers work in different ways, but all have the power to boost your return on investment (ROI) and raise brand awareness.
- Influential customers or customer advocates. These customers may not necessarily know or want to look for a formal partnership (although they may be open to one). They just love your brand and want to talk about it.
- Affiliates. Affiliates have expertise or act as influencers in one or more media where they publish content and can send referrals to brand partners.
- Brand ambassadors. Some brands engage influencers as brand ambassadors. Brands commit to year-long relationships, with influencers posting in exchange for money, promotions, or product. Some brands even create evergreen campaigns by recruiting a permanent bench of influencers to cyclically reactivate.
- Content creators. Content creators create the great graphics, stories, and trusted content that directly speaks to the right audience. Brands may reuse this content on other platforms.
3. Inspiring case studies: seven influencer gems
How does all this knowledge about influencer relationships translate into growth and success for your brand in the real world? Which situations, strategies, and outcomes enable your brand to make influencer collaborations a solid part of its marketing strategy? The following case studies on eight diverse influencer partnerships show how thriving companies evolved their influencer campaigns and programs — and got stellar results.
Case study 1: Finding a wider audience
Apollo Neuro grew its audience with the right influencer partners
Apollo Neuro knew its stress reduction product had potential if it could reach and educate ordinary people facing ordinary stresses — from anxious children to sleep-deprived healthcare workers to military veterans. Apollo needed partners to bring in its next wave of revenue from a wider spectrum of sources.
Along with the OAK Digital marketing agency, Apollo Neuro moved its entire partnerships portfolio to impact.com’s platform to automate the full breadth of partnerships the company aspired to. The team looked at reviews, historical data, and feedback from Apollo’s existing campaigns. They listened to audiences to identify the best targeting strategy.
Apollo also tested more specialized influencer networks to tap into challenging verticals that could drive sales. It focused on:
- Publishers in the sleep category/niche
- Publishers in employee benefits to reach employees in high-stress jobs
- Wellness influencers, smaller content creators, podcasters, and YouTubers with an audience that skewed male
In less than six months, Apollo Neuro’s new wave of partners brought in:
- 38 percent of the company’s program traffic
- 36 percent of its partnerships revenue
Apollo also created new sources of traffic and revenue:
- Content creators that reached male audiences went from zero
to contributing 22 percent of traffic
- Employee benefits publications delivered 6.7 percent of traffic
- Content partners generated almost 15 percent of program revenue
Case study 2: Flexibility and metrics to support a wide range of partners
AppSumo found new influencers and used automation to manage the company’s life cycle
Software marketplace AppSumo engaged a network of partners that authentically connected with bloggers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, designers, and business consultants looking to access the latest business tools without Fortune 500 budgets.
AppSumo had a complex partnerships program and needed more control over who referred customers to its website, flexibility in payouts, and a fee model that wouldn’t penalize the company for growth. AppSumo also wanted to rework its commission structure, which solely pegged payouts to revenue volume, and instead optimize toward new customers.
With impact.com, AppSumo gained the flexibility to overhaul its commission structure to focus on bringing in new customers and address different partner types. Next, it tapped into this authentic community by looking for influencers in the 15 key software categories most relevant to its audience. The company scanned YouTube and scraped other social media for AppSumo mentions.
From there, AppSumo built relationships, allowing potential partners to try products and provide feedback. If all went well, AppSumo would issue an invitation and use impact.com to facilitate a welcome sequence of communications to move the relationship forward.
Once a partner onboarded, AppSumo monitored and reported when the partner reached new customer thresholds or certain sales. Also, running an inactive partner report helped AppSumo flag dormant partners so it could reignite those relationships.
It also offered a separate payout structure for software partners that sometimes acted as referral partners themselves. The payout structure steered select customers to AppSumo as an extra incentive to purchase an AppSumo license.
With impact.com, AppSumo experienced measurable year-over-year business growth:
- 215 percent increase in actions
- 255 percent increase in revenue
- 129 percent increase in total affiliate partners
- 107 percent increase in active affiliate partners
Case study 3: Diversify and grow
Mapiful used complete life cycle automation to find and manage new partners with ease
Mapiful’s diverse customer base and specialized products required a broad array of partners to showcase the brand’s products, generate awareness, and connect with prospects to drive new sales. However, Mapiful used a complex, inflexible system that influencers found off-putting. Outreach was manual — and that made it difficult to stay connected to partners.
Mapiful knew it needed full customer relationship management (CRM), automated and customizable communications, and powerful analytics all in one package to present a thriving partnerships channel. It turned to impact.com and was up and running on the platform just two days after training was complete. Mapiful used impact.com’s life cycle automation to dramatically reduce the number of tools it relied on to fully embrace team collaboration.
The team used impact.com to streamline and automate Mapiful’s entire influencer life cycle, from discovery and recruitment to sending briefs and posting due dates. The team also used prospect and partner capabilities so it could customize existing data.
Mapiful used impact.com’s Discovery tool to connect with influencers, even in smaller European markets where influencers are historically harder to find.
Mapiful tailored each collaboration funnel by market and accordingly automated workflows. Simply having the ability to automate emails by time zone so they would arrive during each partner’s workday dramatically improved conversion rates.
After moving its partnerships program to impact.com, Mapiful unleashed the full potential of its partnerships program, resulting in:
● 13,000 new partners onboarded in one year — doubling its program monthly
● 300+ percent increase in conversions per contact from product exchange collaborations
● 45 hours saved each month on emails and database maintenance
Case study 4: Harness attribution insights
Ritz Camera found a better solution for rewarding creators
Ritz Camera knew that bloggers and other influencers contributed to the brand but believed that last click from coupon websites obscured its value. Ritz Camera partnered with its agency, All Inclusive Marketing (AIM), for tangible insights.
Using impact.com’s click path reporting, AIM could see how often content websites lost out to coupon websites. This data drove AIM to accordingly adjust commission rates for both groups. Under AIM’s strategic direction and using impact.com’s platform, Ritz Camera shifted its crediting strategy. The company began to track conversions via unique URLs and promo codes to better reward incremental contributors. Coupled with its renewed focus on influencers, Ritz Camera quickly saw a dramatic improvement in both profitability and revenue.
“Through the use of impact.com’s technology and All Inclusive Marketing’s (AIM) management, the Ritz Camera affiliate program was able to see significant growth.”
— Ariel Friedman, Marketing Director
- 100 percent month-over-month influencer growth
- 19 percent year-over-year improvement in return on ad spend (ROAS)
- 117 percent revenue growth
Case study 5: Scaling influencer programs
LightInTheBox leveraged micro-influencers at scale
Fashion brand LightInTheBox recognized the value of influencers but could only execute 10 to 20 placements a month, given how time-consuming it was to discover, recruit, negotiate with, track, and aggregate them. The company wanted to grow its program globally but needed to do so in a scalable fashion.
LightInTheBox used impact.com’s Mediarails to automate recruiting, negotiation, tracking, and aggregation. It increased placements to more than 200 a month and leveraged influencer-generated assets across email, social media, and the website’s product pages.
LightInTheBox partnered with micro-influencers for better creative content at a lower cost. It also achieved higher engagement, with a 15 percent lift in conversion rate on product pages enriched with influencer content vs the same product pages without enrichment. LightInTheBox could manage campaigns more efficiently, taking hours instead of weeks to get 10 times more placements.
- Tenfold increase in monthly placements
- 15 percent increase in conversion rate on product pages enriched with influencer content
Case study 6: Optimizing flourishing partnerships
Vivino streamlined its process for growth
Vivino began working with content partners in 2019 but didn’t have a dedicated partnerships platform to manage them. Its team spent long hours each month manually calculating payouts, pulling reports from various systems, and creating invoices one at a time. As a result, the team missed out on new partnerships opportunities and found it difficult to scale. Vivino looked for a tool that would allow it to streamline processes and drive growth.
Using impact.com’s platform, Vivino partnered with two industry-leading personal wine cellar companies that hosted apps to track which wines were in a customer’s cellar at any given time. The partners added Vivino “buy” buttons to their apps so users could purchase new bottles of wine through Vivino.
Vivino also partnered with wineries across the world that didn’t have the resources for global distribution. Vivino acted as a global marketplace for wineries, vastly expanding their reach while improving its product diversification and value to its customers.
Vivino used impact.com to assess partner performance by country, month, promo code, and other factors so it could better attribute payouts based on the value each partner drove. This detailed analysis into partner promotional efforts allowed Vivino to better incentivize its top-performing partners.
Vivino created a level of communication and care that kept partners engaged and even helped the brand run unique campaigns with different partner segments. Flexibility and diverse partnership types drastically improved Vivino’s ability to reach its business goals.
The team grew revenue, expanded into new markets, created stronger partnerships, and scaled Vivino’s program beyond what it thought possible, resulting in:
- 454 percent increase in Q4 revenue year over year
- 67 percent increase in Q4 international partners year over year
- Successful increase in international partners across the U.K., the E.U., and the Asia-Pacific region
Case study 7: Automating influencer partnerships
Razer simplified gaming influencer partnerships across the globe with automation
Historically, various agencies and multiple networks across several countries managed Razer’s partnerships channel. Within those networks, the Razer team sometimes had to manage different programs with different currencies.
Existing processes and systems didn’t provide the level of granularity Razer needed. Its agency had previously handled payments to referral partners — an extremely time-consuming task due to the large number of currencies involved. This inefficiency kept Razer from attaining the transparency and control it wanted.
Growth was stalled. Razer didn’t see much diversity in the types of referral partners it worked with. It was also difficult to determine which referral partners added value to the business and which did not.
Time and cost savings were critical to the Singapore-based team that managed Razer’s global partnerships program. The company migrated and onboarded all partners to the impact.com platform with zero revenue loss. With automation, the Razer team was no longer restricted by how many referral partners it could recruit and manage. The company scaled and extended its partnerships program to nontraditional affiliate partners like video game livestreamers on Twitch and YouTube content creators. The team could now identify trends and focus on referral partners that drove incremental, high-value customers.
The impact.com Discovery tool not only streamlined operations to give everyone greater control and visibility, but gave Razer access to a huge variety of partner types to reach out to and work with.
The ability to contract and pay in local currencies had a huge impact on Razer’s partnerships program. It quickly expanded into new markets across Southeast Asia and recruited local partners. Razer used increased payouts as a bargaining tool in exchange for higher activations and more prominent placements from its referral partners.
- 33 percent decrease in time spent manually managing partners
- 33 percent increase in efficiency
- 34 percent partnerships channel growth
4. The key to discovering influencer gold? Automation
Automation on a platform where brands can find influencers, scale and grow influencer programs, create brand awareness, and manage the entire life cycle of their influencer partnerships makes all the difference. With the right platform, such as impact.com, you can streamline and automate for partnerships success — from the beginnings of a campaign to assessment after its completion.
The ability to measure ROI and the tangible impact of any partnership leads to better strategy, stronger partnerships, and campaigns that are more attuned to your goals. For the eight brands highlighted above, the impact.com platform not only simplified discovery and automated contracting payouts, it enabled these companies to track which partners drove the highest conversions at any point in the customer journey.
Some final thoughts from an influencer marketing expert
Former Senior Director of Influencer Marketing Savage X Fenty
“As people are getting smarter about influencer marketing, they are realizing that they don’t want to just spend a lot of money and hire an influencer and have them post and that be it. There needs to be a lot more thought behind it and there needs to be a plan to actually hit the KPIs [key performance indicators] that you’re looking for.
I think that the smart brands and smart marketers are thinking of influencer as a performance channel and a channel that you can have under acquisition marketing rather than brand marketing. I think it touches both, but I think there really are sales to be had here.”
Want to grow your brand with influencer partnerships? Learn more with these in-depth impact.com resources: