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Everyone wants to get on the influencer marketing bandwagon, which experts say is one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry. That’s no surprise, since today’s hyper-competitive retail landscape, as well as a crowded social media universe where it’s harder than ever to stand out, means retail brands are looking to partner with influencers who can boost their products and services to targeted followings. The recent documentaries about the Fyre Festival on Netflix and Hulu highlight the incredible impact influencers can have on the right demographic.

In response, brands are putting their money where it’s hot: A recent Association of National Advertisers (ANA) study found that a whopping 75 percent of surveyed companies already use influencer marketing and almost half of them plan to increase spending in the channel over the next year. And of those respondents not currently using influencer marketing, 27 percent plan on it over the coming months.

Here are some tips on riding the influencer marketing wave — without getting knocked into the water.

1. Get the right data intelligence to build partnerships.

When you invest in influencer partnerships, you need confidence that they are the right ones for your needs. In addition, a holistic understanding of how that influencer contributes to your business goals in a particular niche is a must. To gain that trust, the right data intelligence is key in order to foster long-term partnerships, as well as to track and measure influencer activity. You can leverage data insights to learn which influencers contribute the most (and least) to overall sales, so you can properly allocate time, effort and budget.

2. Structure flexible deals that work for your needs.

Every influencer is different, whether they are a celebrity, a blogger, an authority or another brand. Brands need to be able to structure flexible deals in terms of how each of their influencers is compensated. For example, one influencer may have played a role in a consumer’s purchase decision at the top of the sales funnel, and needs to receive credit for the conversion at the end of the journey. Or, perhaps there are other custom parameters that are important to your brand when it comes to rewarding influencers, such as crediting influencers for a conversion based on a specific customer click. A successful partnership platform will be able to support those goals and needs flexibility and ease as you scale.

3. Root out influencer fraud as you scale.

A lack of industry and regulatory standards means influencer fraud can be a real problem as you scale your partnership program. Influencer fraud became big brand news last summer as Unilever vowed to crack down on influencers who buy fake followers and use bots, calling for greater transparency in the industry. So due diligence and data-driven clues are essential to root out influencers with fraudulent activity such as fake likes, followers and accounts. You’ll need the right partnership platform to support your efforts and make sure all of your influencers are doing what you expect. As a result, influencers and retail brands can work together to create a successful, authentic, transparent win-win.

Display advertising has been fully disrupted as consumers gain control over what they want to see, as well as when and where they want to view it. That’s why influencer marketing is on the rise. But retail brands need to manage their influencer partnerships strategically in order to gain real value. Whether it’s micro or macro influencers, the right partner program can help you explore how to drive metrics that matter and build successful relationships that boost the bottom line.  

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