How to Conduct an Influencer Product Review Campaign
“Everyone loves a freebie!”
It is a common enough saying, especially within marketing and PR circles. Samples are often the reason why a smiling university student is giving you a free oaty bar or a little can of fruit drink on a lazy Sunday. All the while, a speaker plays cheesy pop music and you bite into the breakfast bar you have not paid for. Giving out samples is a simple yet successful tactic that helps build your brand awareness and build custom.
Naturally, giving out testers has progressed to bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and other influencers to promote brand awareness and increase revenue.
Now, using review samples with high authority influencers is an obvious and effective way to launch a product, especially in a crowded marketplace with very dominate competitors, or build the awareness of your brand and current products.
However, much like the free oaty bar snacks (I don’t like them, stop pretending to be chocolate), how do you measure a successful PR campaign? How can you demonstrate giving away products for free is a good business decision and resulted in sales?
That is why this Ricemedia blog is going to guide you through planning and conducting the perfect influencer product review campaign effectively, in order to raise your brand’s awareness and drive sales.
Planning your Product Review Campaign
As with any campaign, you must define success. It is something we emphasise regularly in other blog articles and in other campaigns. What completed targets qualify this campaign as a success?
You need to ask;
- What are your objectives?
- What result do you want?
- What situation defines success?
Once you have stipulated your desired outcome, you will be able to work out the metrics needed to focus on and calculate how successful your campaign has been,such as
- Raise Awareness = Monitor social sharing and discussions
- Drive Sales = Monitor sales
Another element to plan for is the amount of stock or the products you want to send out to be reviewed, and calculate the ideal ROI you would want from the influencers you intend to work with. A vital component that should be considered for your product review campaign is the timeframe you will be conducting it in.
You might run a regular product review campaign throughout the year to consistently build brand awareness, which in turn creates regular reviews for products, maintains your public image, and has authority within your desired industry.
However, there is much to be said about conducting a time sensitive campaign. Especially if you are launching a new product or want to generate buzz and awareness during a specific time of the year, such as Summer, or Christmas. Working on getting features and reviews written about your products during a short time frame will help your brand create a big splash. Coordinating with press on a single date and focal point will help launch your brand.
Finding & Targeting Influencers
I find in my experience, that no matter how niche or unique an industry, there will always be someone with enough passion and drive to publish content on a specific subject. There will be influencers to work with, but the challenge is finding the right one for your brand.
How do you measure which influencer is the best for your brand?
There are many things to consider before even thinking about getting in touch and sending something off, especially if you want to do it right.
The first thing to consider is the media platform. Is this influencer a blogger, a YouTuber, a podcaster, or an Instagram star? What new platform do they use to engage and interact with their audience? Is it right for your brand and product? You need an influencer who has the ability to convey and demonstrate the qualities of your products in a style that suits your brand’s image.
For example, if you are a publisher who is trying to launch a new book, would you use an Instagram star to review and help launch the book? Probably not, as the medium is not an ideal for promoting books. Yes, you can share fantastic images of the covers with some content but, for the audience, that is not enough. It does not allow a brand’s target audience to delve into the new novel and properly promote it. It may not be the ideal platform to reach the fans of the author. It might not be a media that best suits the qualities of the product.
Now, I’m not saying do not use Instagram stars to promote novels, or stereotyping that people who use Instagram do not read, but a blog or podcast is better suited for the product. This is because a blog post or a podcast allows influencers to go into more depth and create a discussion about your product.
Most influencers use a number of mediums and social media. It is important to focus on the prime platform your desired influencer engages with, to ensure that it suits your product.
The second aspect to consider as you begin looking for potential reviewers is the influencer’s reach. How is this measured? How did you know if this is ideal for your product review?
The best way to find this is out is to look at the influencer’s social media following. However, this can be deceptive. While some influencers might have a large following on Twitter, it is worth comparing their followers to the number of accounts he or her followers. The majority if their followers could be bots, meaning your product review will not get much reach.
An area to look at is engagement. If they post content on their Facebook or Pinterest, are their followers engaging and responding? This is a good indicator of the authority they have and the quality of their following.
Another strong indicator is subscribers. If they are a blogger, a Youtuber or a podcaster, look at how many subscribers they have. This shows how many followers are committed to watching the content they publish and will hear about your products.
Finally, and perhaps the best method of judging the quality of a potential reviewer is looking at their catalogue of work. Straightaway, you will be able to see whether he or she knows what they are talking about. You will find out if they are passionate about your specific industry and whether you want your brand linked to them.
When researching potential reviewers and influencers, there is one more thing to consider. The internet is vast and you may not be able to search out every high-quality influencer.
Is there a way to widen the net?
One digital PR tactic that could bring potential reviewers is reaching out through social media. One common tactic that PR professionals use is ‘#PRrequest’ in tweets where you can essentially create an advert calling for reviewers and influencers to get in touch if they’re interested in your brand or product.
This is a great tool as it invites people who are genuinely interested in your products but might not fit into your ideal influencer profile, therefore opening a new avenue of opportunity for your band.
However, this does bring social problems, where you could be approached from bloggers or reviewers who do not meet your requirements. This could be an issue when they approach you on a very public platform, as a situation potentially has to be defused.
Contacting Potential Reviewers
Now that you have laid out your plan and know which influencers would best voice your brand, you are at the crucial stage of contacting potential reviewers.
There are three main ways to approach these influencers, email, social media and the telephone.
“Be Careful When Using Template Email!” Is something that should be framed and visible in every marketing department.When faced with the task of contacting hundreds of bloggers, it is easy to see why marketers use a template emails, as it seems like the most efficient way to get it done. I’m not disagreeing with that, a well-written email template can help streamline your contacting process as well as prepare a clear concise message to potential influencers. Provided you are willing to take the extra five or so minutes to customise and personalise the email to suit that particular recipient, your template email can be extremely effective.
However, as you begin emailing, it is vital that you pay attention to detail when firing out template emails. One of the worst mistakes you can make is sending out an email with the wrong name, or without personal touches, clearly exposing the email as a template.
As burning bridges go, this is like walking across a wooden bridge while dripping gasoline and wearing shoes made of matches. What makes burning that particular bridge even worse is the fact that it is such a stupid mistake and can be easily avoided. As someone who has made this mistake once, you’ll never make it again. Take your time to demonstrate that the brand values your desired influencer and wishes to work with them.
Subject lines are something else you need to consider and is something we’ve covered before. Avoid generic subject lines especially if you want to stand out and get responses from your targeted influencers. Like journalists, these influencers will be plagued with the same emails every day, so it is worth sitting down and brainstorming multiple unique subject lines to ensure responses.
Tools such as HubSpot and sales prospecting plugins can help to see whether they click to open your emails, therefore helping to determine the effectiveness of subject lines and emails for future campaigns.
Approaching Influencers through Social Media
Naturally, approaching potential reviewers through social media is the best way forward. It is a medium where they engage their audiences and ensure a response, allowing you to directly speak to them. Public Approach or DM – You have the choice of either approaching the potential reviewer through public or private messaging. However, this depends on the social media platform.
Now, a phrase I use a lot when describing engaging with someone on social media is comparing it to “a conversation in a crowded room with two megaphones”. In this day and age, social media is an even more public place to have a discussion. Hence, why approaching them publicly may not be your desired route, especially if topics such as money comes into play, as many agree is a private conversation.
Direct messaging if the platform allows it, could be the best route to approach the subject. However, just like emailing, influencers are approached constantly through social media and some might resent being approaching that way. It might appear unprofessional. If they list a particular way in which they prefer to be contacted, follow those guidelines:
If they advertise a phone number on their blog and do invite inquiries through it, give them a call. Something I have written about in the past and still recommend: step away from the email and social media, go back to basics and pick up the phone!
However, the telephone can be an extremely rude form of communication, like a child making an annoying noise unless you respond to it. That is why it is such a good way to get in touch with an influencer because they cannot ignore it. Emails and social media messages can be ignored, it is incredibly easy to do so but not with a phone call. Whether you’re an experienced digital PR professional or someone entering the industry, you should be clocking in some time at the phone and pitching to journalists and influencers. It is the same with your product review campaign.
Customer Experience & Your Brand
In the film The Intern, Anne Hathaway plays a CEO of an e-commerce fashion brand, and a scene that stood out for me is when Anne Hathaway’s character looks at how her brand delivers their products. During the discussion with the packers, she says that their packaging and how the product is presented is an extension of the customer experience, and this is something these influencer needs to experience.
From the moment you make contact with your potential reviewer to delivering the product, it is imperative to demonstrate the type of customer service your brand provides. As much as your product will be a selling point, the quality of your customer service is going to push your brand. If you bring that level of service to the table, it will not go unmissed.
Review and Revise
You have conducted your product review campaign and the reviews are slowly coming in, now what?
It is time to begin measuring the results that come from these reviews and whether this campaigns can be qualified as a success. This is not something you can gauge right away. You need to give a grace once the article or review goes live and then begin analysing the results.
For this, you return to the work you did in the planning stage and look at your winning objectives. Whether it is driving sales or increasing brand awareness. If your product review campaign does or does not meet your winning objectives, it is important to ask why. Are you able to explain why the campaigns played out as it did?
Was it because of:
- The products being reviewed – Were the products you offered as review samples something that the influencers were interested in?
- Your contact approach – Were your emails clear and concise in pitching your brand’s products? Did you respond to their questions and queries quickly? Did you provide them with all the information they needed?
- The support you provided – Was there any kind of support you could have offered or provided to assist these influencers?
- These are the kind of questions you need to ask and consider to improve your next campaign.
Other Things to Consider
- Your Brand’s Social Media – When reviews start being published, support them with your own social media.
- Naturally, being in the same niche, your audience will be interested in what your influencers have to say. Your brand also has the ability to bring a wider audience to your reviewer.
- Not for Link Building & SEO – Due to changes with Google, links gained through reviews and providing review samples are considered a bought links. Thus, it is vital you make sure that any links back to your site are ‘nofollow’ links or your site might be slapped with a Google Penalty.
If you’re interested in how Ricemedia can drive sales and increase your brand’s awareness with the public through review or digital PR campaigns, get in touch today.