When It Makes Sense to Bring Influencer Marketing In-House
With 84% of companies saying they will execute an influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months, it’s important for your brand to decide whether it is willing to invest in the fastest growing marketing strategy.
Lack of resources and internal knowledge are some of the reasons why brands outsource influencer marketing to agencies. However, as is the case with other marketing initiatives, the more important the channel of acquisition, the more important it is to own it in-house. If a brand wants to create long-term partnerships with successful influencers, track valuable data such as sales and impressions, and generate large quantities of content for various marketing channels, running your program in-house is the best way to accomplish your goals.
We spoke with several brands who’ve had experience running an influencer program through both an agency and an internal team in order to better understand when bringing influencer marketing in-house makes the most sense.
When you can’t afford an expensive agency
While agencies can do great work, they can also charge high fees. Working in-house allows you to invest all of your budget towards the things that matter, like content. When you have more budget, your brand is able to work with more, and higher quality influencers, increasing your ROI
Nick Deyo, Senior Social Media Associate at Grubhub, claims that “depending on the agency, it could be 2 probably 3 times more expensive” than running a program in-house.
Although there might be costs associated with training or hiring staff to work with influencer marketing campaigns, most influencer marketing platforms, like Revfluence, only cost a flat monthly fee that is substantially less than agency retainers. Tools like this allow even the smallest teams to run full scale programs, saving your team time and money.
If you want to form relationships with your influencers
The social media manager of Greats, Kristin Sword, stresses that creating a successful influencer program depends on “building true relationships and understanding that influencers are a marketing channel, but they’re also people.” Long-term relationships between brands and influencers produce the highest value for brands. If you run influencer marketing campaigns through an agency, you are essentially creating a short-term, transactional relationship with an influencer. Also, you may not even get access to the influencers who could do the best job for your brand, as they might prefer direct relationships with the potential for a long-term relationship, instead of a one-off transactional relationship.
Also, no one knows your brand better than your brand’s internal team. When you outsource your influencer marketing, you are putting your brand’s potential look and feel into someone else’s hands. When you’re spending thousands of dollars, you do not want to risk receiving content that is not up to your company’s standards or does not meet expectations.
If speed and agility are factors
Running an influencer program through an agency can take months because of the inevitable back-and-forth communications. Between check-ins, approvals, and questions, the process can often be unnecessarily drawn out. Shelby Jacobs, the Social Media Manager at 7 For All Mankind recalls that when.
Shelby Jacobs, Social Media Manager at 7 For All Mankind recalls that when "using a third-party where there is a middleman handling [the] communications between brand and influencer, it often feels like double the work to kick-off, execute and evaluate a campaign."
By removing the middleman, brands are able to speak directly with the influencers. And because a brand’s marketing teams have internal knowledge of the brand’s needs, they can approve influencer rosters and content almost instantly.
If you require valuable tracking data and insights
Joshua LaCroix, Assistant Digital Marketing Manager at FGX International says “the more data we gather, the better we can make decision for future campaigns”. Some agencies send weekly or monthly reports of campaign performance data. If you see influencer marketing as an important part of your marketing efforts and would like to learn from first-hand experiments and data, keeping your program in-house is the only way to achieve this.
Outsourcing your influencer program does not give brands immediate access to the data and findings that you need to improve an existing marketing channel over time. Make sure to equip your internal team with tracking tools to gather real-time performance metrics, without the headache of trying to obtain your data through an intermediary.
If you want to scale up your program
Working with more than 10 unique influencers per month requires the proper tools.
When you run your program in-house, you have the ability to control exactly how much time and money is spent on managing influencer relationships. Unfortunately, when you put the work into someone else's hands, you risk being lost in the shuffle—especially if the agency you’re working with is handling other marketing initiatives for your brand.
If you have the internal resources
Keep in mind that influencer marketing requires time, testing, and investment to see tangible returns. If your brand is not able to dedicate at least 5-10 hours per week using appropriate software (or 15-20 hours per week without software) to run an influencer program, it is best to outsource the program to a team that is able to dedicate the necessary time and attention.
That being said, an in-house influencer marketing team does not need to be large. With the right influencer marketing software platform, a small team can manage as many relationships as necessary in just a few hours per week.
Have any additional questions about running an influencer program? Leave us a comment below!