Influencer Marketing

Short-term vs long-term influencer marketing campaigns

Which strategy is best for your DTC brand?
Posted on
July 19, 2022
5 minute read
Supratika Nandi
Marketing at SARAL

When retailers and wholesalers were eliminated from the B2B supply chain, that’s how the DTC (direct-to-consumer) industry made it to the spotlight. With that came the exceptional potential of influencer marketing, as it also eliminates unfair middlemen like BigTech ad platforms and takes you straight to where your customers are.

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This turn of events served as a massive opportunity for influencers and consumer-driven businesses alike. It shifted power back into the hands of the DTC brands, big and small, to have more control over the relationship they have with their consumers firsthand.

We are all aware that if there’s one thing that we are fully free to choose, it’s who we follow online. Influencer marketing is the definition of consent in a world of ads being gushed down our throats, also known as permission-based marketing. Even though it’s fairly an emerging marketing channel, it feels more natural and organic to your target audience in terms of them having a say in it.

But with that sort of freedom, comes a dilemma for most DTC e-commerce companies. Should you invest in a short-term influencer marketing campaign or one with a long-term campaign that’s “always-on”?

If you’re a DTC brand marketer or a founder reading this, you know this is a question that pops up quite often. Or maybe you’re debating it right now!

So in today’s blog, we’re going to help you make that decision.

What Drives an Influencer Marketing Campaign Towards Success?

Influencer marketing is a goldmine for brands to leverage and build meaningful connections with their audience. It is a powerful medium to collect authentic social proof and connect directly to your customers via trust centres like social media creators .

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The following 5 factors drive an influencer program towards success:

Be Crystal Clear on your Target Audience

Imagine a healthcare e-commerce brand saying everybody who wants to get healthy is our target audience. On the flip side, when you say, my product targets the GenZ and millennials within the age bracket of 20-35 years, who are currently working professionals and lead a sedentary lifestyle, it sounds more specific and niche.

So rule number one, get laser targeted with who your audience is. Not everybody can fit into your customer persona. Before you choose to go broad, go deep.

Determine your Marketing Scope

What is your end goal with the campaign? Is it to reach a new set of people, span out to a different niche, drive a consistent flow of engagement to establish one-time sales, build an ongoing channel, create hype around your new line of products, or all of them?

Once you decide on that, you’ll be able to navigate your strategy in the right direction without wandering too much.

Engagement Over Reach, Always

Gary Vaynerchuk rightly says, “Numbers don’t matter, Influence Does”.

The biggest misconception in influencer marketing is how brands take the follower count and other vanity metrics as a priority when looking to collaborate with influencers. They do this hoping their campaign is going to be successful, with huge sales rolling in and revenue going up.

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This is far from reality. The engagement metrics DTC brands should really be concerned about are the engagement rates, authenticity, valuable comments, shares, site visits, and sales.

This will depend on the quality of content being posted by your influence-partners and how strongly their audience resonates with it.

Don’t give restrictive creative briefs

The reason people follow a creator is because they carry a unique voice. Imposing too many conditions on promoting your brand product can tarnish the originality, making the shout out seem more forced, inauthentic, and robotic.

Marketers and brands must give influencers the creative control and freedom for them to put the best content in the best interest of their followers. This also builds two-way trust when collaborating, that is, their audience starts trusting you by proxy.

Decide on a Scroll-Stopper CTA

Call-to-actions can either make or break your campaigns. All that effort, without including a “hard to say no” CTA, is like throwing spaghetti on the wall, hoping it will stick. “What’s in it for the creator’s audience” should be the epicentre of any influencer campaign.

A few powerful CTAs can include a grand giveaway, generous discounts and offers, motivation to further explore the brand, and so on. Besides, placing CTAs strategically also matters. Don’t leave the best for the last.

For example, a lot of captions start with an enticing CTA itself to drive the attention of the audience. Similarly, if there’s a sponsored video, be upfront about the incentives for the audience near the beginning of the video itself. The more you delay, the more the chances for your audience to drop.

Now that you are armed with a bullet-proof shield for making influencer marketing work for you, it’s time to determine what an ideal strategy looks like for you. Read on!

What is a short-term influencer marketing campaign and when do you need one?

As the name suggests, a short-term influencer marketing campaign is short-lived and is usually a one-shot marketing swing with no long-term relationship building or contract involved.

It’s a one-time way to onboard a creator to partner with brands. Once the project is completed, the content creator and the sponsored brand part ways on good terms.

When you need a shorter turnaround time to implement campaigns and want to see short-term bursts of results, a short-lived strategy can be your go-to. Plus, it works wonderfully well for new and emerging brands when they want to test and see what it is like to work with influencers of different kinds without committing in the first go.

The feelings are mutual from a creator's point of view as well. They can take time to get to know the brand on a personal level and can establish if they would want to collaborate in the future or not.

You also get a fast and reliable means to endorse your top products in front of your target customers, which is a great tactic to add rocket fuel to your sales while ensuring your brand awareness levels get a boost.

A short-term campaign gives you a fair idea of which influencer can be engaged on a long-term basis based on the quality of engagement they fetch you. This also gives a heads up on the quality of content they are expected to produce in the future for the brand.

Shorter campaigns are an effective way to run A/B tests. For the days when you want to run special offers on holidays and even on product launches, you are sure to get purchases from your customers.

All of this takes up less of your influencer budget allocation, bandwidth, and efforts to pull off, while having greater chances of getting noticed and bringing in some extra one-time revenue.

Challenges to watch out for in short-term influencer campaigns

Even though it allows DTC brands to work with multiple influencers at a given point in time (not to forget the tons of advantages it comes with), it comes with its fair share of downsides too.

It’s often said that short-term campaigns are used as a supplement to long-term engagements, but there lies the biggest loophole that most DTC companies oversee.

When you work with multiple influencers, you spread yourself too thin. Often, DTC brands who implement short-term campaigns, fail to make a genuine connection with the audience and the creators themselves.

The hurry to implement everything at rocket speed can twist a brand's priorities and sabotage growth in the long run.

Things like shipping the product to the wrong billing address, missing out on a few items from the box, and late delivery can cause a content lag, which isn’t the first impression brands wish to give to the influencers. Even if you are planning a short-term campaign, plan for it in advance so you avoid the obvious mistakes.

Lastly, everybody wants to feel secure. Influencers also like long-term collabs as it ensures they keep making money. It becomes tougher to retain high-quality creators if you only work with them 1-2x/year (as there’s always someone who would pay more). This can lead to an end in collaboration, making your brand revenue take a serious hit.

What is a long-term influencer marketing campaign and when to invest in one?

A long-term influencer collaboration goes on until either party wishes to end it. This becomes a lasting bond and a recurring influencer relationship instead of a one-time hello.

When you choose to work with an influencer to promote your brand, they move past the influencer category and make it to your brand ambassador list. And honestly, who doesn’t like a paycheck coming through at regular intervals? Creators love it when you're focused on the long-term with them.

When you partner with a content creator for an extended period, they become familiar with your products, the brand, and also you. This makes them create content that’s unbiased and authentic with no fabrication, which, believe it or not, can be sensed by their followers from miles away.

Your brand recall value solidifies and their audience feels more aligned with your company's ethos. Also, at this point, you develop credibility and a sense of trust in your brand's products. Thanks to the consistency with all marketing campaigns that come with long-term collaborations.

We spoke to Holly Morran, a Marketing Manager at Cure Media, to share her first-hand experience and insights on what thoughts she has around short-term and long-term influencer marketing campaigns. She summed it up pretty well for us; these might act as your guiding compass in deciding the same for yourself.

So while for us at Cure Media, we absolutely still recognize that one-off ads have their place in influencer marketing (working with a mega or celebrity influencer on a short-term basis, for example, can be a great way to build hype), we only commit to working with brands on a long-term, always-on basis because we have seen over almost a decade in the channel that it is quite simply the only way to enjoy the real and tangible rewards of influencer marketing.”

Also, it’s not just Holly who believes in long-term collabs, but also The Creators Survey Report, which says 84% of influencers prefer working with DTC brands on a long-term basis.

Now with that said, you need to be aware of the challenges.

Challenges with long-term marketing campaigns

Going for a long-term association can hardly go wrong given the reputation, revenue, and rewards it brings for your brand. However, there might be a few things that any DTC brand needs to look out for before investing and locking in money for a long-term collaboration.

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Before you take a big swing at investing your money and trust into a content creator to endorse your brand, you must do the required planning and strategizing. To get the most value out of your buck, it’s crucial you keep a closer look at the analytics and the ROI at regular intervals.

With long-term projects, come tough decisions. So don’t feel bad in case you need to pause relationships with a few old influence-partners and onboard new creators for some reason. This situation might arise when your investment exceeds the return. Hard decisions are part of the game.

It’s important to tweak your strategy from time to time so you avoid being boring and stale. Introduce new products, do different offers for their audience, launch exclusive bundles, and collaborate in creative ways.

Made your mind up yet?

Ideally, a long-term collab is a safe way to fetch you positive results, pay more dividends in the future, and get you more brand recognition in the longer run. That’s how influencer marketing became the new word of mouth.

We highly recommend you set up a long-term campaign and start reaching out to creators every week, onboarding them to your program.

Pro tip: You can use SARAL to manage your relationships with creators, try it today and start finding, reaching out, and managing creators for your campaigns.

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