Ahh... The famous "red dress" question. Asking how much an influencer marketing campaign costs is a bit like asking, "How much does a red dress cost?" You can pay $34 on one website, $169 at Macy's or $5,000 for a designer look. Which dress you choose depends on both your budget and your needs.
Influencer marketing is somewhat similar in that campaigns can easily run from $10,000 to $250,000, with wiggle room on both sides of those numbers. Having said that, we can share some parameters of what you can expect from an influencer marketing campaign at different budget levels. In this post, I'm assuming that you are outsourcing the work and not doing it yourself. Outsourcing the work includes paying the influencers, any boosting budget, fees for agency time, handling contracts, managing payments, sending tax forms at the end of the year and all the other minutia that goes into running a full campaign.
The $10,000 Influencer Marketing Campaign
At this budget, you're likely to get a small number of influencers (2-5, depending on your niche, the time of year and a few other factors). Each can be hand chosen to ensure that not only does the influencer match your brand, but so does his/her audience.
You should be able to get quality content, with between 10 and 25 original pieces of content shared across social platforms. Individual pieces of content can be analyzed for performance and stack ranked, so you can have learnings from how the audience responds to the content.
With a $10,000 budget, there is not room for amplifying the highest performing content and this has ramifications in two ways.
- Your campaign is relying on organic reach only. So if the influencers' collective max potential reach is, say, 500,000 impressions, you're likely going to get roughly 10% of that in actual performance (depending on content quality and which platforms are emphasized).
- The targeting of the content is only as good as the chosen influencers. There isn't sufficient budget to ensure great content gets in front of a great audience match. While the marketer should get rights to re-use the content, any boosting of that content on your end isn't factored into this budget.
The $30,000 Influencer Marketing Campaign
At this budget level you have a choice to make as a marketer. Most influencer marketing campaigns will allocate 100% of the available funds to hiring more influencers. Therefore, all things being equal, a $30k program would have 3x more influencers than a $10k program.
However, there is another way to go. Carusele programs at this level would introduce both content optimization and influencer optimization. We would suggest roughly doubling your number of influencers (6-10) from the $10k level but reserving the rest of the budget for boosting of the highest performing content. (We'd expect roughly 25-35 original influencer created assets at this budget level.) Since the boosted content is 100% true views, the net impact of your campaign will be higher this way.
In other words, a campaign that solely relies on influencers sharing branded content might tell you at this level that you can get "1.5m max potential impressions." That is calculated by taking the number of social shares for each influencer times the total follower counts on each of the platforms on which they will share. This is, of course, a fiction but it's used consistently in the industry for reasons in this blog post: 4 Common Ways to Count Influencer Impressions. Your actual true views on such a campaign would likely be roughly 10% of that number.
If, however, you add the estimated true views from organic influencer posts (not the max potential views) plus the true views from boosting the best performing content, your actual exposure levels will increase and you'll be sure the best content is getting in front of your best prospects.
What you're unlikely to get at a $30,000 budget level are meaningful sales results. After all, very few advertising campaigns at that budget level provide measurable returns. So while there are other things you can measure in this sort of campaign, don't expect it to be sales.
The $50,000 Influencer Marketing Campaign
At this budget level, you should certainly be getting not only a healthy volume of influencers, original pieces of content and total content, but you can begin to see some stronger boosting and targeting options.
You should also start to see guaranteed results such as a guaranteed number of visitors to your website, guaranteed levels of impressions (true views) or guaranteed numbers of engagements on the influencer content.
Look for somewhere between 8-14 influencers creating at least 40+ original assets for your use. (Again, some influencer marketing companies will suggest 20+ influencers at this budget level, but they're not doing sophisticated content targeting in that case.)
We sometimes see measurable sales lift with budgets of this level. The key to doing so is having a clear benchmark to validate against, such as the same period of sales earlier, a promotion of the same value or a regional split between the exposed audience and the unexposed audience.
Speaking of regional split, you can also expect at this $50,000 level that geo-targeting of the content becomes an effective option. While selecting influencers from a given area helps target that area, the bigger issue is where the influencers' audiences live. This is rarely concentrated densely in one geography (your influencer agency should be able to tell you where your influencers' followers live) so boosting by geography (as well as interest) becomes important.
The $100,000 Influencer Marketing Program
New options become viable at the $100,000 level. We're likely using 15-20 influencers creating somewhere between 50 and 80 original assets and distributing them across a wide array of platforms.
Where things get particularly interesting at this budget level is the kind of targeting of the influencers' content that become possible, with those same guaranteed results.
At this budget level, not only are we able to boost the influencers content on social, but we can consider Native Advertising boosting (where the influencers blog posts appear on third party publisher websites) and we can consider retail proximity targeting (where the best content is only shown to those within a physical ring around store locations).
Measurement options also increase at this level, with correlated sales lift often showing strong results (depending on the product velocity, channel type and other considerations). True views of the content (again, not max potential) will likely exceed 5 million (with variability by industry or vertical).
What to Demand at Any Budget
Regardless of budget, influencer marketing programs that solely rely on getting the maximum number of influencers per dollar should be looked at very skeptically. High quality influencer marketing agencies should be able to determine the audience composition for each influencer and make sure it aligns well with your needs.
Also at any budget, you should ask not only for total "max potential influencer impressions," but an estimate of true views generated from each program. When the company provides you the true views, ask them what percentages they use by platform to calculate true views (example: 3.5% for Twitter, 25% for Instagram, etc.) It's really not important whose formula is "right" as much as it is to compare the various proposals using one formula so you can have a true apples to apples comparison.
At budgets in excess of $20,000, you should ensure that there is a system in place to score each piece of content and rapidly boost the best content to the right target audience. This should not be simply via any social networks' "handshake tool," but rather should be optimized daily for best performance.
At budgets in excess of $50,000, you should expect guaranteed results, up to and including specific volumes of traffic to your website (if that's a strategic goal of yours).
At budgets in excess of $100,000, you should not only expect these same guaranteed results, but a partner who can work with you to develop a meaningful measurement plan that goes beyond reach.
At budgets in excess of $400,000, you should now consider some advanced measurement techniques, such as a Nielsen Catalina study, a foot traffic study (measuring the percentage of exposed audience that enters the store vs a control audience) or similar sophistication.
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