Influencer marketing has brought a lot of success to companies in the last few years. It has proven to be a cost-effective and high ROI strategy for marketers of all budget sizes because of the ability to connect with audiences of all sizes. So whether you are a small growth stage company working with micro-influencers, or a goliath spending your budget on a top social media influencer, you can drive a return. Of late, mobile apps have stepped into the influencer game to drive app installs while maintaining a low cost-per-install (CPI). In this article, I’ll share examples of how Visa, Machine Zone, and Ibotta all leverage influencers to drive app downloads.
Why social media influencers?
At first, many mobile marketers see it difficult to allocate their time to influencer identification and outreach, so they produce content that is low touch, low cost (generally) with “set it and forget it” channels like Facebook ads. However, there are a few reasons why social media influencers make sense for mobile apps and could be worth shifting marketing efforts for:
- Starting out, you can do “free” influencer marketing to test out whether it interests your audience. Reach out to local influencers by searching on the social platforms – you probably already know some off the top of your head who fit in with your brand’s message. Invite them to try out your app, in exchange for a free product, and set them up to see the value in it. If nothing else, you can use these conversations as ways to gather more market research on your app. Do people enjoy using your app? Are there user flow issues? Etc.
- Get more out of it with a little budget and compensate influencers to product creative sponsored content. You can have them include specific messaging, gameplay, or features in your app to make sure the right parts of your product are being shown.
- Influencer content can be thought of as a content extension for your brand. And, in many cases, a more affordable one. With influencers making content to showcase your app, consider licensing content footage so you can distribute it to your paid media and social channels. Use that content to help drive installs on some of your top performing channels.
- While fairly obvious but worth noting, social media influencers are on mobile all the time, making the journey to install much smoother. In fact, the global web index reported that over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile phone to purchase a product online, making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users.
Here are some mobile app companies who saw an influx of installs after partnering with influencers.
1. How Ibotta Found the Perfect Influencers
Ibotta is a mobile app company that allows you to earn cashback on in-store and mobile purchases with receipt or purchase verification. They partner with brands and retailers to offer coupons, rebates, and discounts on consumer goods. Since being incorporated in 2011, they have grown to over $100 million in paid users through rebates.
A key tactic to Ibotta’s influencer marketing approach was to identify and target the right influencers. Considering the product largely appeals to everyday consumers, it was important to find an approach that was more targeted to the right product adopters. This was done by identifying influencers who create content about saving money, thrifty shopping, and craftiness.
The approach started with identifying influencers by keywords and video topics. For SMBs looking for low budget solutions, it can literally be as easy as searching keywords such as “on a budget” on YouTube or finding a popular hashtag related to saving money on Instagram. From there, you can quickly identify who is making content about these topics.
In addition to identifying the right influencers, Ibotta also takes extra time to enable their influencers to be successful. For example, if influencers are to drive installs to your app, then offer them something like a referral bonus. Ibotta, and many other mobile apps have found this to drive strong install numbers from their content.
2. How Machine Zone Repurposes Content
Machine Zone is the maker of popular mobile games Game of War and Mobile Strike. Both games have simultaneously been ranked among the top ten highest-grossing mobile games.
Machine Zone’s influencer marketing approach differs from Ibotta’s in that they focus on creating high-quality branded content that can be used on multiple channels. The approach supplements their overall marketing strategy. They have worked with some of YouTube’s top filmmakers like Corridor and Batinthesun.
Machine Zone’s marketing team invests millions in television but still sees the value in producing influencer content. A huge reason they do this is that influencer content helps improve engagement. eMarketer found that brand-created digital video ads viewed on desktop earn a CTR of .6% when influencer videos have a rate of 2.0% industry-wide.
What sets them apart from other mobile apps is their focus on creating high-quality content that will not only work on the native influencer channel but also as content on other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. They have used this content to drive installs through Facebook ads and other channels.
3. How Visa Checkout and Taco Bell Teamed Up to Drive a 20% CTR
Visa and their online payment product Visa Checkout teamed up with Taco Bell to offer a limited time promotion which helped drive downloads.
Visa wanted to identify an influencer who could leverage humor to drive views and shares. After searching through various options, they ended up partnering with BigDawsTV, the YouTube prankster. It was important that his video would remain authentic to his normal unbranded content in order to drive the best possible engagement rate. That meant the video had to be funny and shareable, but also tie into brand goals (driving installs).
Visa’s promotional offering was half of your Taco Bell app order (when using Visa Checkout).
“We worked closely with Daw’s and came up with the video concept where he would walk up to strangers and offer a hug, but only to later “halfway hug”. Within a 4 day period, Daws drove an outstanding 20% CTR.
What Visa did so well was to allow Daws to come up with a creative concept for a video that would drive shares, as opposed to forcing branded concepts into a format that wouldn’t work.
Different Approaches to Influencer Marketing
The different approaches used by each of these apps to drive installs shows that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to influencer marketing. However, there are certain steps you can take to get started yourself:
- Determine if you can allocate budget to something like this if not, it can also be done at little or no cost.
- Consider an influencer marketing platform like Reelio – on top of search capability, fair payments, contracting, reporting, you also get strategists who have worked with the likes of Visa, Machine Zone, and Ibotta to help optimize your influencer marketing efforts.
- Target the right influencers for your goals. Does your app only target certain demographics? Does your brand welcome humor in their marketing? Does this influencer speak to a similar audience?
- Listen closely to influencers as they know best what content actually resonates with their audience.
- Consider an incentive structure to optimize performance.
- Consider holding the right to license the content. It could be that the video or digital assets that are created can be used effectively on other channels.
Regardless of the size of your company, influencer marketing can become a useful marketing strategy to drive downloads and installs. There is no cookie-cutter solution to being successful with influencers as seen from the examples of Machine Zone, Ibotta, and Visa Checkout. However, all three have demonstrated their own unique success in driving app downloads through influencers.
Paul Traficanti is a marketer and account strategist at Reelio who helps brands reach their full potential in influencer marketing. Outside of work he spends far too much time thinking about subscription boxes and has somehow made drinking beer into a legitimate hobby with homebrewing.