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Best Practices for Direct Response with Influencer Ads

Planning on running influencer powered ads? The first thought that comes to mind is "Paid Partnership with..." or #sponsored and #ad. Or maybe you just think about content creators with hundreds of thousands of followers who share creative on their feed. We’re here to tell you it’s much richer than that. In fact, we argue that influencer ads should be a core component of any DR strategy. Video is becoming ever more important to DR campaigns: In the past year, the number of advertisers using video in direct response campaigns across Facebook platforms increased 3.8x.

Next to creators success producing beautiful organic campaigns, influencers are also known to drive purchases through paid influencer ads and are an extremely powerful way to bring success to your brand.

So, what is an influencer ad exactly? An influencer ad is user-generated creative turned into a "Paid Partnership with..." post boosted through an influencer’s handle rather than a brand’s handle. Influencer ads can help promote your product or brand and when done successfully, can drive sizable results that are infinitely scalable. Simply put, influencer ads combine the best of creator marketing and paid social.

How do you craft influencer ads and what are best practices? Let us cover aim to cover that exact topic below:

Influencer ad strategy

Similar to any other marketing tactic, an influencer ad strategy requires careful planning. Influencer ads go far beyond engagement and awareness and much deeper into the funnel, so it’s important to put in thought and strategy before you launch your campaign.

Make sure your team takes the following questions into consideration:

  1. What are your campaign goals: sales, add to carts, clicks impressions?
  2. What is the creative messaging?
  3. What's the project's deadline?
  4. Have you defined a campaign budget?
  5. For your brand ads, what’s your historical RoAs and conversion rates? How can you meet or exceed these?
  6. What creative asset drove the most performance?
  7. Do you have any discount codes you'd like to integrate in the messaging?
  8. What are your benchmarks (CPM's, CPC, CPS, CTR) for this campaign?
  9. How will you report on the performance of this campaign?
  10. What performed in your paid social campaigns in the past?

Mapping out and identifying your objectives before you get down to it will set your campaign up for success. It’s important to keep in mind when launching an influencer ad campaign, the strategy goes beyond just repurposing influencer content and amplifying it as is.

Rotate influencer creatives and ad copy

As you’re curating creative for influencer ads, it is equally important as with your brand ads to ensure the creative and ad copy are optimized for the objective (sales, web sessions, site visits, add to carts, view content, etc.). A few things to remember when selecting creative assets:

  1. The image is high-resolution (At least 1080 x 1080 pixels) and dimensions (1080 pixels x 1920 pixels) are formatted correctly depending on what placement you are selecting as input for the ad (Reels, Story, in-feed post, etc.).
  2. Traditional static image assets need to have a clear message and focal point on the product or service being advertised to inspire action.
  3. Show a logo, recognizable spokespeople, colors, products and/or visuals and choose attention grabbing video assets
  4. Reinforce the advertiser name in any captions or superimposed text. Lead with shots of your products against vivid backgrounds and make use of contrasting colors to draw attention. The star of your ad is a key factor in driving click-through rates and ultimately purchase behaviour.
  5. The creative (preferably video) should clearly call out your product or brand in the first 5 seconds.

Creating and optimizing ads requires experimentation and careful design, just with any other paid social campaign. Leveraging an influencer software platform guarantees that usage rights are properly set up with your influencer(s) so you can rotate different ad copy for descriptions and headlines. Keep in mind, Facebook's Business Manager provides 5 options across each of the two, no more no less.

Including static image and video assets within the same campaign leads to better performance for DR objectives and results in more conversions than video-only or static image-only campaigns. Mixing and matching assets is key to engaging audiences and driving results. In a Facebook study dubbed Create to Convert, they discovered static-image plus video campaigns achieved conversion lift at a 17% higher rate than static image-only campaigns.

Marry creative with influencers to win

Always take an experimental approach to creating, rotating and optimizing ads. Chances are you won't get it right from the beginning and you're required to take a time-horizon of >30 days into account. Start your program with a variety of creative assets: 20+ creative assets across a minimum of 5 influencer channels. Subsequently, run at least 4-5 influencer ads across a range of audience segment as this will drive optimal results. Creative assets from a wide variety of influencers builds “social proof” and avoids ad fatigue to deliver performance at higher spend levels. You're also actively feeding the Facebook algorithm with creative so it can auto-refresh it's ads. Avoid making the mistake of just trying one or two influencer handles or pieces of creative since you will not be able to compare your content throughout your campaign.

The fun part comes after running your experiments and results have come in. You will have the opportunity to learn from your experiments, discover what worked well, what didn’t work well, and what was the most successful strategy and tactic that was deployed. You’re then able to ultimately pause content that is underperforming and add new creative that is similar to your top performers. A steady drumbeat of new creative assets while leveraging multiple influencer handles and content types is key to keep momentum going.

Testing a variety of creative assets, whether it’s Instagram video's, carousels, images or stories will allow you to see what is performing for your brand and what’s not Make sure you've lined up fresh influencers and creative assets and you can feed influencers with instructions to create new content using the data you have collected on your best performing assets.

Define Call-to-Action (CTA)

Based on your product or service, be sure to choose a call-to-action strategy that directs people to what you would like them to do. As a rule of thumb, make sure your copy supports and hones in on driving a strong call-to-action. The CTA should incentivize customers to click-through to the landing page or URL that follows your ad. Alignment here is absolutely critical.

From our experience, using the call-to-action buttons “Learn More” and “Shop Now” tend to drive the best click-through rate. The creative assets aligning with a conversion-optimized customer journey is crucial in making sure that when the customer leaves the post on Facebook or Instagram, they land on the brand website or product page that aligns with what they saw on their feed.

Audience targeting is the holy grail

This is where your ads really start come to live and drive home results that you want. You're now presented with the opportunity to target your influencer creative and ads to the audience-sets that are most receptive to driving engagement (available in your Facebook ad account once influencers grant whitelisting permissions). Be sure to include all your own custom, look-a-like, and retargeting audiences as well.

Where can you find the audiences of your ad account:

  1. Go to Audiences within your Ads Manager
  2. From the Create Audience dropdown, choose Custom Audience.
  3. Under sources, click Website.
  4. Choose your pixel.
  5. Under Events, choose which types of visitors to target.
  6. Name your audience and click Create audience

The different audience types to target within Facebook/Instagram:

  • Audiences who engaged with the Creator's Page (recommended);
  • Audiences who engaged with competitors pages;
  • Audiences who engaged with any influencer post or ad (recommended for ad retargeting);
  • Audiences who clicked any call-to-action button (recommended for ad retargeting).

Audience overlap tool

One of the more useful tools within Meta’s current business suite is its audience tool. While most Facebook/Instagram advertisers will generally be familiar with the basic audience creation options available. It is less likely that they will be familiar with the audience overlap tool and the various uses to which it can be utilized.

This tool enables you to select various audiences you have created (that is, if they contain at least 1000 users) and view the overlap in terms of the percentage that are the same across them. 

The audience overlap tool that Facebook has introduced is also a great way to check if follower audiences are overlapping or not. For instance, in the below screenshot we created a 1% lookalike audience for a client's website purchases from their pixel. Then we went on and compared it to the 1% lookalike audience of one of our chosen creators. They only have approx 3% overlap and hence can be a great way for targeting potential new customers.

Important note: you can exclusively run these types of influencer ads with creators who have more than 10.000 followers. Also, keep in mind that with the introduction of the new Branded Content API the ability to target page followers and build look-a-like audiences is taken away.

Driving performance

Your influencers are just as invested in the creative they produce as you are. It’s important for creators to understand how their creative is performing and how meaningful it is to driving desired outcomes for your business. The Cirqle gives influencers the ability to see their amplified content on paid channels and the ability to track insights.

Collaborating and working with your influencers is a win-win. As a brand you’re winning by gaining access to fresh influencer content, test different pieces, build different campaigns, and have full control over your paid influencer campaign. You're also opening up channels that were previously closed and we typically see 25% outperformance in comparison to our clients BAU ads. Creators win because they have insight into how their content performed in a paid ad and can use this data to tweak or maintain their content as needed. As a result of the paid campaign, they also grow their follower base significantly.

All and all, influencer ads give your brand the opportunity to significantly extend the lifespan of your influencer content (Stories evaporate in < 24 hours) and is a proven strategy to drive sales. The ads give your brand the power to test and learn what works best by testing copy variants, placements, call-to-actions, and even targeting new audiences. Implementing influencer ads into your influencer marketing strategy is a great way to build your brand credibility by amplifying authentic and trusted voices.

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