The DTC Brand’s Guide to Influencer Marketing in 2020

Are you unsure about climbing aboard the influencer marketing train?

Influencer marketing is expected to become a $9.7 billion industry this year, with 78% of brands claiming that they plan on investing a part of their budget into influencer marketing.

These numbers, coupled with the fact that brands are generating up to 650% ROI on influencer marketing campaigns, should be enough to convince you to engage in this highly effective form of marketing.

estimated influencer marketing growth year over year
Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

In this guide, we’re going to explore everything DTC brands need to know to get started with influencer marketing and go on to execute highly effective influencer marketing campaigns.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that involves partnering with content creators and influential individuals with the intention of improving brand awareness and generating more sales. It allows businesses to tap into an influencer’s audience and expand their reach while providing influencers with a way to monetize their influence.

Influencer marketing is based on a phenomenon known as social proof, which is based on the following four principles:

  1. Similarity: As humans, we often tend to copy the behavior of individuals who are similar to us.
  2. Attractiveness: It’s more likely that people will copy the behavior of those who they consider to be more desirable.
  3. Uncertainty: The average consumer has so many different products and retailers to choose from in today’s world. This creates uncertainty, which, in turn, forces people to look for recommendations from others.
  4. Desirability: People are more likely to copy behavior exhibited by a person that has qualities they desire.

For an influencer marketing campaign, a brand pays an influencer or gives them a free product in exchange for creating content that showcases the brand or its products. Typically, the influencer then posts this content on social media.

The Importance of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has been one of the most popular forms of marketing used by DTC brands. 

About two-thirds of retailers claim to use influencer marketing, collaborating with brand advocates, micro-influencers and celebrities to increase their brand’s reach and acquire new customers.


influencer marketing stats
Source: eMarketer

Eighty percent of marketers consider influencer marketing to be effective; it’s no wonder it’s so popular among brands. 

Studies have also proven the effectiveness of influencer marketing, with brands generating an ROI of up to 650% on their influencer marketing campaigns.

Source: Mediakix

When done right, influencer marketing is a more authentic form of marketing that consumers appreciate and trust. In fact, 49% of consumers reported relying on influencer recommendations when making purchasing decisions, according to a study.

What to Look for in an Influencer

Finding a good fit is essential. About 73% of marketers struggle with identifying the right influencers for their brand. 

With more than half a million active influencers on Instagram alone, it’s no wonder brands are having issues. It’s a big job to differentiate between all the different influencers and find ones who fit their needs and align with their brand values and voice.


challenges when it comes to working with influencers chat
Source: Fashion Monitor

When deciding on whether to partner with an influencer or not, check if they:

  • Have a following that aligns with your target audience: This is a gimme. The influencer, their followers and their content need to be relevant to your offering. If you’re a fashion brand, there’s very little use in partnering with a tech influencer unless there’s synergy.
  • Share content regularly: A quality influencer will share content with their audience regularly and stick to a single overarching theme.
  • Have an engaged following: Contrary to popular opinion, audience engagement is much more important than the amount of followers. Look for influencers who know how to engage their audience to interact with their posts.
  • Fit your brand image: The influencer’s values, the tone and voice of their posts, as well as their overall image need to align with your brand’s image.

Write down all the characteristics you want your brand’s influencers to have and then use that list when evaluating influencers.

4 Ways to Find Influencers

There are a variety of different methods you can use to find influencers for your brand. We’ve listed some of the most popular ones below.

1. Use Google

Most online searches begin on Google, and so should your search for influencers. Search for lists of influencers in your industry and check out different industry websites to see if they mention any particular influencers.

2. Check Out Social Media

You’ll obviously want to look for influencers on social media, too. Make a list of the most popular hashtags in your industry and then check out their respective pages to find content creators that post content using those hashtags.

3. Research Your Competition’s Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Scope out the competition and see which influencers they’ve been working with recently. You can do this by checking out your competitors’ websites and social media profiles, as well as tracking their branded hashtags.

4. Use Influencer Marketing Software

There are plenty of influencer marketing software solutions and platforms brands can take advantage of to find influencers who fit their needs. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • BuzzSumo: A software solution that allows you to identify influencers on a number of platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. BuzzSumo’s database contains millions of influencers and can be used to reveal influencers that have partnered with your competitors.
  • Upfluence: An influencer marketing platform that enables brands to discover relevant influencers with ease. It supports advanced influencer filtering and analytics, as well as team collaboration and influencer relationship management features. 
  • Klear: An influencer marketing solution that helps you find influencers across different categories and locations, as well as filter them based on social channel, niche and audience demographics.
  • Traackr: An influencer marketing platform with a database of over 6 million influencers. Traackr allows you to search influencers on 12 different platforms, as well as filter them by audience size, engagement rate and location.

Common Influencer Marketing Mistakes

In this section, we’re going to go over some of the most common influencer marketing mistakes you need to avoid if you want your next campaign to be a success.

Not Setting Expectations

Not setting expectations for your collaboration with an influencer is a sure way to end up with one or both parties unsatisfied with the entire interaction.

When setting up a campaign, you need to make sure to let the influencer know what you expect of them, including the type and quantity of the content they need to produce, as well as the timeline for publication.

You should also clearly state what you’ll be providing them in return, whether this is monetary compensation, a free product, or something else.

Focusing on Audience Size

Focusing on working solely with influencers that have high follower counts is another common mistake brands make. There are plenty of influencers with large audiences but rather low engagement rates.

You’ll be much better off partnering with an influencer that has 20,000 followers and a 10% engagement rate than one with 200,000 followers and a 0.5% engagement rate.

Going for the Cheapest Option

Brands that are itching to get started with influencer marketing often look for influencers who are willing to work with them at the lowest rate possible — this is not the best course of action.

Be careful about working with influencers just because they’re willing to promote your brand for cheap. A poorly executed influencer marketing campaign can do more harm than good and potentially ruin your brand’s reputation.

Not Giving Influencers Creative Freedom

Another common mistake brands make is to try to control the influencer’s creative output by setting too many limitations.

Influencers know their audience better than anyone, so you should give them the freedom to create the type of content they think is going to perform the best.

This will ensure that your campaign will have a good chance of engaging the influencer’s audience and generating positive results.

Contacting Influencers with Generic Outreach Messages

The best influencers are inundated with collaboration requests. If you want them to consider working with your brand, you need to find a way to get their attention.

Don’t send every influencer the same generic message and hope that someone replies.

Take the time to check out their profile and content. Craft a personalized message that lets them know what you like about their content and why you want to work with them.

Focusing on Vanity Metrics

Gaining new followers and getting more likes and comments on your content is great, but it shouldn’t be the main goal of your influencer marketing campaign.

Make sure you focus on tracking and measure what truly matters: sales, revenue and ROI.

4 Best Practices for Influencer Marketing

Before we wrap up this guide, let’s talk about a few best practices you should keep in mind when running your next influencer marketing campaign.

1. Offer Influencers a Commission on All the Sales They Influence

Some brands offer influencers a commission on all the sales they influence. A nice commission can compel a lot of influencers to keep promoting your content again to their followers to purchase your products.

With that said, make sure your influencers abide by FTC regulations. They must disclose they have a “material connection” with your brand when they receive financial or some other type of compensation for their posts.

2. Use Campaign-Specific Promo Codes to Keep Track of Campaign Results

Tracking campaign results is one of the biggest challenges of influencer marketing. One way you can track the sales you generate through a campaign is to use campaign-specific discount codes.

By being able to track the revenue generated from a particular campaign, you’ll know if it makes sense to continue collaborating with an influencer or not. You’ll also have a good idea of the overall ROI of your influencer marketing efforts.


Source: Pole Position Marketing

3. Arrange a Social Media Takeover

A highly effective type of influencer marketing campaign is the social media takeover. It involves letting the influencer take over your brand’s account, usually for 24 hours.

Consider arranging social media takeovers with influencers that fit your brand’s image.

This will help to expose your brand to the influencer’s audience, improving your brand awareness and potentially generating more sales in the process.

4. Repurpose Influencer Content

Repurposing influencer-created content is one of the best ways to generate a better return on your influencer marketing investment.

If you have the influencer’s permission to reuse the content they created for your brand, make sure to do so.

Repost it on your social media pages, post about it on your website and blog and use it in your advertising campaigns.

This will help to get as many eyes as possible on your content and enable you to get the best possible return on your investment.


Source: AspireIQ

Start Planning Your Next Influencer Marketing Campaign Today

Influencer marketing has gained in popularity among DTC brands in recent years  due to its effectiveness.

Focus on influencers who share content regularly, have an engaged following that aligns with your brand’s target audience and fit your brand’s image (and post with proper, FTC-approved language, of course).

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Boris Mustapic

Boris Mustapic is a writer and content marketing specialist with a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry. Having built his own successful ecommerce business, he likes to share his knowledge with ecommerce enthusiasts. Apart from writing about marketing and ecommerce, Boris also enjoys a good book and a glass of red wine.