Influencer marketing has become a powerful weapon for brands. It's fundamentally changing the way they connect with their target audiences, and global brands across every industry are using influencers to connect with consumers they may have missed otherwise.

For many brands, influencer marketing circumvents many of the major marketing issues they're experiencing today. For example, an increasing number of consumers are using AdBlock to prevent brands from ever reaching them in the first place. This likely contributes to influencer marketing producing 11 times greater return than traditional digital marketing.

But achieving that kind of return takes careful planning and execution -- and user intent is one of the most powerful strategies to do it.

Understanding User Intent

So how can you improve engagement and conversions from your influencer marketing campaigns? One of the biggest ways that most marketers miss out on is understanding and incorporating user intent into the campaign.

One study by Instant Search Plus suggests three broad categories of user intent: Navigational, Informational, and Transactional. So before you can begin to build a successful campaign that drives measurable results at scale, you need to understand how your KPI (key performance indicator) relates to the type of user. When you gauge user intent in this manner, it becomes easier to maximize conversion rates -- whether that KPI is an engaged following of your content, an email sign up, or making a purchase

One of the most important concepts to understand when evaluating user intent is "micro moments." These include something a user wants to know right away, something they want to do right away, a place they want to go to right away, and the most important--a product or service they want to buy right away. Often, we can identify a micro moment and its user intent based on the search term a user types into Google. Here's an example query set:

  • Micro-Do: How do I make traditional Italian risotto?
  • Micro-Know: What is risotto?
  • Micro-Go: Best Italian restaurants near me
  • Micro-Buy: What ingredients to buy for risotto

You can glean information about user intent based on what your site visitors are doing once they've arrived at your website, as well. Google Analytics (and the handful of other analytics platforms out there), heat maps, and on-site search queries all provide valuable information about the types of people visiting your site and the type of user intent category they fall into. Asking yourself questions about your visitors can help you learn more about them and fine-tune your influencer campaign:

  • Where are your visitors coming from?
  • What types of sites are they visiting?
  • What parts of your pages are the most attractive to them?

The Benefits of Micro-Influencers

Millennial lifestyle expert Chelsea Krost touted 2018 as the year of micro-influencers: influencers with follower counts ranging from 500 to 25,000. Micro influencing provides several advantages over more mainstream types of influencer marketing, such as working with celebrities. While their reach isn't as wide as celebrity influencers, micro-influencers are powerful. A study by Experticity found that 84 percent of consumers are likely to follow a recommendation on a product made by a micro-influencer.

Ideally, you want to target influencers who could best promote products that match their current Instagram grid (this is a big deal to Instagrammers), and whose audience aligns with your brand goals. Keep an eye out for social profiles who maintain good, consistent relationships with their followers, and whose overall content isn't overly promotional.

Remember, quality matters more than quantity here. Just because one influencer has 50,000 followers and another has 20,000 doesn't mean the higher follower count will yield better results. A study conducted by Markerly found an inverse relationship between engagement and follower count. Analyzing over 8,000 Instagram users, the study showed that as a user's follower count approaches 1,000, their engagement rate increases -- a user with 1,000 followers generates comments about 0.5 percent of the time. However, once the follower count rises above 1,000, engagement rate decreases. A user with 10 million followers generates a comment only 0.04 percent of the time. While that results in more net comments, the engagement rate per follower is lower.

Low Cost, High Return

Lastly, let's not forget about the cost benefits of micro vs. macro. The micro influencer goal is to keep your spend low and your return high.

A solid price per post for a micro influencer is around $500, while macro influencers can run your budget in the thousands per post. That extra cost doesn't always mean you're reaching a scalable market -- as previously mentioned, engagement will be lower. Macro influencers aren't always as forward when it comes to encouraging their followers to make a purchase, whereas roughly 74 percent of micro-influencers will directly suggest a purchase.

If your business is still growing and you're seeking a reliable way of reaching your target market, a micro influencer strategy informed by user intent is a powerful way to do it. Utilize tools like BuzzSumo to help you locate the most relevant influencers, and keep an eye out for intent-focused keywords and phrases.

By carefully selecting the right micro-influencers and building a campaign informed by user intent data, you can reap the rewards of influencer marketing without shelling out thousands of dollars for a major campaign.