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10 Influencer Marketing Strategies we Refined over 4 Years of Testing

Get the essential influencer marketing strategies you need to find the right partners, make great content, and optimize your results from experts who run high-impact campaigns month after month.

Over the last four years, I’ve executed some of Reelio’s largest influencer marketing campaigns. During this time, I’ve worked alongside Madeline Cronin-Aaronson, the Senior Manager of Organic Growth at thredUP and together we’ve built a systematic approach to creating excellent influencer content. In this webinar, we speak about the approach thredUP uses with influencer marketing and the key strategies you need to achieve the highest impact.

You can watch the full discussion here, followed by tips on how to create user generated content from Photoslurp's Charlie Brooke, or catch up quickly with an edited transcript below.




How do you find the right influencers?

The key strategy to finding the right influencers is to choose creators who fit your goal, reach your specific target audience, and already create content that matches your brand’s style.

Strategy #1: Establish Your Influencer Campaign Goals

First thing, figure out your goals. Different creators tend to be better suited for different goals.

Example: thredUP’s goal is to maximize acquisitions and conversions. After learning that, we recommended micro-influencers, or low to mid-size channels, because those audiences tend to yield higher engagement rates and that’s better for driving clicks, traffic, and ultimately conversions.


Webinar Summary for the blog_Artboard 2


Strategy #2: Nail Down your Target Audience

After defining your goals, you want to define your target audience, and make sure your influencer’s audience aligns with your core audience as a brand.

You should always dig into the analytics of each influencer’s audience and make sure there is alignment. We use Reelio’s platform to leverage that data, but you can also always ask the influencer directly to provide that data to you.

Their audience demographics might surprise you, so it’s best not to assume what their audience looks like.

Example: A well-known makeup brand was working with Kate Upton a few years ago on Instagram, but when we dug into her audience, contrary to what one might think, it was actually heavily male. The brand had assumed her audience looked like her, and ultimately made a smart choice to work with different influencers going forward.

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Strategy #3: Look for Influencers With Complementary Styles To Your Brand

Look for influencers who are already producing content that aligns with your aesthetics and brand values. This way you don’t really have to change the influencer’s content at all. The best strategy is to simply integrate your brand’s messaging into the content they are already creating, because it aligns with the topics and values they speak to.


YouTube Influencer Kristin Johns (Kristin Johns + thredUP)


With thredUP, we are searching for influencers who speak to topics of budgeting, lifestyle, fashion hacks and who have an affinity to second-hand clothing and thrifting.


“It’s worth saying that some of the most successful partnerships I’ve seen come from influencers who truly love the brand. You can tell when the authenticity is there." 
“If you’re just getting into influencer marketing, start with the influencers that seem to have a natural fit for your brand and might already be creating content about your brand, or similar brands.”
“Then as you scale up and need to get people in your corner, I even suggest going the extra mile and reaching out to influencers to get them more familiar with your brand so you can build that authentic brand love.”
- Madeline Cronin-Aaronson, thredUP


Because their values already align with thredUPs, it’s a nice connection, and more seamless brand integration. At this point, there’s not much else to do to make the content great.

When you're ready to reach out to influencers,  use our optimized templates for influencer outreach.


—How do you get great influencer content?

The key strategy to great influencer content is to make it simple and easy to incorporate your product into the content the creator already makes.


Strategy #4: Simplify your Ask to the Influencer

Setup a one-page creator-facing document that is super simple for influencers to follow.

I’ve seen brands try to give influencers twenty talking points that are super scripted and ask the influencer, for example, to say exactly these words and show the product in exactly this way. That’s really off-putting to influencers.

For best results, your strategy should be to simplify the messaging so that it’s super easy for them to put your core values and messaging into their own words. Less is more.

With thredUP, we’ve really nailed down the brief for YouTube content to include:

  • The Talking Points:
    • Explain thredUP with a quick intro
    • Describe the main value prop, the price savings on each piece
  • How the Product Needs to be Included:
    • Show the thredUP packaging
    • Show the clothing quality by trying it on
  • The CTA:
    • Get 30% off promotion with my unique code and link.


“When we’re vetting influencers to work with thredUP, we’ll check out their channels and see what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes we’ll add a little personal twist to the brief that we give them, we’ll suggest getting her some baby clothes, or maybe she’s shopping for maternity.”

“It’s worth it to do a little extra research and make the brief a little more personalized, which will help with the authenticity later.”

- Madeline Cronin-Aaronson, thredUP


Strategy #5: Take a Hands-Off Approach

Letting the influencers have nearly complete control of the brand integration can be a little bit concerning for brands, and rightfully so, but if you’re already finding influencers who align with your aesthetics and values, and they have a simple brief, they’ll do a good job of translating that into their content.

You want to make sure that you’re integrating into the formats they are already creating. If you’re working with someone who does fashion try-ons or hauls, it’s much better to fit your product into their next haul, or do an exclusive haul featuring only your product, than to ask them to visit your store, for example.

The brand integration shouldn’t feel like the audience’s favorite show was interrupted with an ad. They want to watch content they’ve already subscribed to so you should fit into that as much as possible. You’ll likely hurt your results if you have the influencer do something that is totally different.


YouTube Influencer Natalie Bennet(Natalie Bennet + thredUP)


Download an Influencer Marketing Planner [FREE TEMPLATE] 


How Do You Optimize Your Influencer Campaign and Improve Over Time?

Put simply, the key strategies to optimize your campaign involve building a list of proven influencers by measuring against your goal, tracking everything, and testing rigorously. Let’s dig in.


Strategy #6: Measure Against Your Goals

Measurement is all about the goal you establish at the onset of your campaign and brands can have vastly different goals.

Checkout this comprehensive guide on influencer marketing analytics for more details.

Example: We worked with Lyft on a campaign where they wanted to spread the message that they were behind the LGBT community. So for that awareness, we measured total reach and how engaged viewers were with that messaging.


miles-mckenna-1(Miles McKenna + Lyft)


Strategy #7: Track Acquisitions with UTMs and Codes

The first strategy to track success with acquisitions is to give each influencer a unique UTM link and a unique discount code. The influencers direct their audience to “Click the link below and use my code at checkout to get 30% off their order at thredUP”.

The reason we use both UTMs and discount codes is to attribute as many purchases as possible to that influencer.

The ideal scenario would be that a viewer would click the link and enter the code which thredUP would be able to track.

In the case that someone watches the video, and then gets distracted and doesn’t click on the link, if the code is sticky and valuable enough for them, they’ll still use it at checkout.

Strategy #8: Establish the Halo Effect of Your Channels

To track viewers who don’t use either, the other strategy is to have a checkout survey at the end of the customer’s journey which asks how they heard about thredUP. So, even if they don’t go through the link, or use the code, but say that they heard about thredUP through an influencer, thredUP is able to see the relative impact influencer marketing is having as a touchpoint and establish what the halo effect of each channel is.


Webinar Summary for the blog_Artboard 4


“Something else to keep in mind is to assign different halos to different channels. YouTube’s halo is one of the smallest because there is a clear space for a link below each video. On Instagram the halo has to be a little bigger because links are not as conspicuous there. And then with podcasts we apply a huge halo because there is nowhere to click.”

-Madeline Cronin-Aaronson, thredUP


Strategy #9: Take the Time to Optimize, it’s Worth It

A lot of the information here was gathered over two years of testing. At Reelio we test everything, just like you would with any other ad.

Whether it’s on Google, or a Facebook ad, you would look at A/B testing different copy and different imagery. It’s the same with influencers.

Example: We experimented with adding urgency around the CTA by saying the first 2000 viewers to use the code below get 30% off, but found that messaging actually hindered the evergreen nature of YouTube. Those videos were living on influencer channels for years, so if the video gets 20,000 views over time, and the CTA says only the first 2000 get the promotion, it’s likely that you’ve lost out on the other 18,000 people who viewed it later.

Continue testing and optimizing and really dig into the influencers who are working really really well for you. Look at their audience more closely and the kind of content they are integrating your brand into. Then, try and replicate that success month over month by finding influencers with lookalike audiences and incorporate the same messaging. That’s how you start to grow your roster of proven talent.


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“Take time at the end of each month to do analysis, and don’t be afraid to come up with hypotheses around why you think the content did or didn’t work. Look at a lot of factors, the content of the video, the time of day they posted, the views on that video versus others. Maybe they do really work for you, but the type of video you were inserted into doesn’t get as many views as other videos they do.”

“It’s really hard to actually figure out the causation, but it’s worth sitting down with your team and chatting through the whys. Vivian and I do that at the end of each month and it’s really really useful for us to get it all out on the table and talk through it.”

-Madeline Cronin-Aaronson, thredUP


Strategy #10: Establish a Cadence with Proven Influencers

Finally, try finding a cadence with your proven talent. Some of them work better using them month to month, while others would be every other month. Once you’ve tested and have your A-team, keep them close to you and continue using them, but always have some budget leftover to continue testing new people.


“Additionally, look back at previous months and see if performance improves because sometimes it takes a little bit of time. Sometimes people catch up on all their YouTube videos one day of the week and they watch videos from weeks and weeks ago from their favorite creators, so sometimes you can actually see performance improve over time.”

- Madeline Cronin-Aaronson, thredUP


To learn more about how we we work with brands, checkout Reelio's Influencer Marketing Agency.

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