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How to Develop a Successful YouTube Influencer Marketing Strategy


YouTube Influencer Marketing is growing in importance to savvy marketers. Here’s why it’s going to be crucial in 2019.


It’s time for marketers to diversify their budgeting investments and consider developing a YouTube influencer marketing strategy and start collaborating with YouTube Influencers. The reason is very simple. YouTube is a very powerful tool that helps marketers reach several objectives:

  • Reaching new targeted audiences. YouTube is the second place platform worldwide in terms of active users, and more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day. In addition, around 30% of all internet users have a YouTube account
  • Influencing product discovery. YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world (after Google) and receives around 30M visits per day
  • Ranking your video on Google search results for certain keywords,  such as how-to keywords (how to download a YouTube video), reviews (Marshall headphones review),  and tutorials (Setting up Instagram business account). This means that you can optimize your video views and get traffic from Google’s homepage too
  • Driving purchase intent. Today, content consumption is shifting and GlobalWebIndex reports that 92% of internet users now watch videos online each month. It’s also predicted that 80% of all internet traffic will come from video in 2019. Needless to say, these shifting trends in media consumption will directly affect your strategy and investment

Let’s go a little more in-depth now.

1. Set Your Objectives

Any strategy should start by defining the objectives that you want to achieve: increasing brand awareness, growing an audience, promoting a product trial, etc. At this point you’ll be ready to identify exactly the right Youtube influencer for you, define your content storytelling and choose the most relevant KPI’s to track and measure your influencers performance.

2. Define Target & Brand Positioning

One of the main advantages of working with YouTube influencers is that they are talented creators and when you collaborate with these YouTubers, you can create content that really resonates with your audience. In any case, you have to define your target audience. Ask yourself the following questions about your target audience to help you decide which influencer you’re looking for:

  • Which channels are they active on?
  • What types of content do they interact with?
  • What are their interests?
  • What do they not like?
  • In which ways do they tend to discover a new brand or product?
  • What leads them to follow or recommend a brand?

Broader targeting means less personalized content and, in the end, this approach will reduce the impact of your campaigns. Mass communication is never a good option because today people want to be engaged based on their actual interests, nothing more and nothing less.


Tip: keywords selection is a key ranking factor on YouTube. So, analyze the top video by video views for your industry based on the keywords you want to start optimizing around. In this way, you can generate consumer insights about users’ preferences. For instance, in the example below it’s noticeable that the top video is not a “how to bake an Oreo cake” (as expected) but a school prank on how to transform an Oreo packet into a perfectly realistic pencil case!


The second step is to define the type of positioning that we want to drive through our video campaign. From a practical standpoint, we have to decide our main focus in terms of:

  • Product line, value proposition and benefits
  • Competitive differentiation
  • Tone of voice and coherence with the overall brand image

Tip: We cannot rely on qualitative perspectives only so, identify your own top video content and the your competitors’ top content too. Keep in mind that YouTube is not just a search channel, but a social media channel. For this reason, the best solution is to diversify top-performing video mapping by video views and comments. If someone leaves a comment it’s a strong signifier of interest to the Youtube’s algorithm and it will rank your content higher.


In both cases (target and positioning), we are going to leverage this information to fine-tune our influencer selection.

3. Select Influencers Based on Data

A project’s potential ROI is affected from the very first stage of decision-making because influencer selection represents the most delicate phase of every YouTube influencer marketing strategy. Why? Influencer marketing can be a little expensive, especially on YouTube where the content creation process requires more effort than image or text-based posts. According to the latest estimates, YouTube influencers can earn $500 to $5,000+ per video based on their potential reach:

  • 50,000 to 100,000 channel subscribers: $500 to $1,000 per video
  • 100,000 to 500,000 channel subscribers $1,000 to $3,000 per video
  • 500,000+ channel subscribers $3,000 to 5,000+ per video

In addition, there’s increased competition around influencer marketing with 65% of marketers planning to increase their budgets for 2019 and this trend will directly impact the investment. In order to optimize it, a data-driven influencer choice is essential.


Start by mixing search criteria like interests (do the influencers topics of interest match those of my target personas?), follower count (boosting awareness or positioning a product for a specific niche?), YouTube category (which community do I want to reach?) and posting frequency (how active is the influencer and on which channels?).


Next, benchmark our first selected creators based on performance metrics such as:

  • Subscribers and video views ratio. It is relatively easy to buy 5k subscribers for 1$ but it will negatively impact the views and, consequently, your channel will be penalized. We should keep in mind that the primary YouTube ranking factor is audience retention. This is because we will also look at indicators like watch time (the amount of time that a viewer has watched a video) and the average view duration (estimated average minutes watched per view for the selected video and date range).
  • Engagement rate (the amount of interactions in relationship to the amount of video views). It is a strong signal to YouTube that the video is relevant to the audience and will directly impact the ranking. Keep in mind that the ratio between number of followers and engagement rate should be evaluated by the type of goals that you want to achieve. For instance, celebrities are more effective at driving recall than creators (Think with Google data) but creators are 4X more effective at driving an increase in brand awareness than celebrities
  • Ratio of growth of total subscribers to number of new videos posted
  • Top content by video views and engagement. In this case, we’ll check if the influencer style is in-line with the brand image and identity
  • Last but not least, cross-check your profile data with the potential partner Influencers profile to be sure the creator can guarantee a better performance than your own performance

Tip: During the selection stage, look at the featured channels. You can detect the influencer network and leverage it for creating combined campaigns. Expanding your influencer portfolio means better brand exposure. You’ll also optimize both content planning and reach by engaging influencers who are strongly connected.


If you want to test this influencer benchmarking methodology, you can start here.

4. Create An Effective Brief

Today, we are facing a double challenge:

Brands don’t trust influencers and tend to control the partnership. On the other hand, influencers are often not 100% clear about brands’ expectations in terms of real and measurable business outcomes.

The two parties involved should work together to bring insights into the creative process through data analysis, so an easy and scalable methodology is needed.

First of all, brands and influencers should agree on how the campaign will be evaluated (which KPIs) and set-up realistic goals by analyzing the historical performance of the brand channel (which performance level do we need to beat) and the influencers channel (branded content average performance VS unsponsored content).

We will also compare metrics and data like average video length, comment & shares rate, average views per video. In this way, we can deep-dive into the influencers audience preference and define (based on the objectives that we want to reach) the most relevant format for our campaign (tutorial, demo, unpacked, Q&A, how-to, product review, etc).

Once the format has been decided, the brand can share benchmarks with the influencer so the influencer can understand how this type of content is being used by other creators for branded partnerships.

Here, the role of the brand is to provide creative insights to the influencer to leverage during the content creation. Of course, it is a two-sided way process and we should always grant YouTube influencers creative freedom.

Another example of this two-way process is the creation of thumbnails, call to actions and titles. The CTR (click through rate) has a strong  influence on the YouTube algorithm and the best way to boost it is to create compelling thumbnails, call to actions and titles.

So, to gain a unique and effective positioning, the influencer should analyze the performance of their content and the brand should share with the creator an industry/vertical map on how these assets are best leveraged.

In this way, the influencer can obtain competitive insights (regarding other creators) and the brands gain a better understanding of the market: a win-win situation! Once again if we want to guarantee the success of our campaign, the two parties should work together like real business partners.


Last but not least, the brand should create an influencer kit with all the information and tools the creator will need, like timings, deadlines hashtags, tags, UTM tracked links and product specifications. Keep in mind that comments are strongly correlated with content rankings.

So, Influencers should encourage the viewers to comment and be ready to answer questions about the product in a safe (brand safety) and coherent (brand positioning) way.

This is because, during the campaign, the main point of contact should be defined by the department in charge. Obviously, the influencer should receive all the info but reply to the users using the brand style and tone of voice. This should be prepared before starting the partnership with an influencer.

5. Measure Your Performance

The last and most critical side of every Youtube influencer marketing strategy is the performance measurement. Influencer marketing has matured as an industry and we are moving (it will be more and more common) to a payment by results model. Reason why a correct and transparent attribution model should be defined between the two parties involved and since the beginning of the relationship.

Firstly, let’s avoid to select too many KPIs because it will be harder to really generate insights about the campaign. On the contrary, select few metrics but strictly related to your objectives. Secondly, split and segment your indicators selection by the main stage of the marketing funnel:

Awareness, here we are going to analyze top of the funnel KPIs as new subscribers and video views on the brand channel (leveraging Youtube Cards), engagement, watch time and average view duration of the influencer video.

Consideration, in this case we want to compare the ratio between the unique viewers and card/link (on the description) click through rate with the ratio between the generated traffic and number of news leads (for example new mail subscribers) on the brand website.

Conversion, at the bottom of the funnel we evaluate number of conversions and average order value using code (to use in-store or on the website/e-commerce) and tracked URLs.

One last point, in order to have a better understanding of the ROI of you campaign, measure the quality of the reached audience in terms of how fast they move through the funnel. Every stage can be leveraged for specific retargeting actions in pair with other digital assets.

For example, we can retarget who viewed certain videos with Google Ads for lead generation, send a promo mail to a lead list generated through our influencer campaign or share an exclusive invite for an event in-store (CRM tracking) for increasing the average order value of an already converted user.

Keeping track of the relationship will help us to understand if we are reaching the right target through our selected Youtube influencers.

Key Takeaways

Today, we can clearly observe a raise competition around influencer marketing. So, a data-driven methodology is more and more needed for developing an effective and ROI oriented Youtube influencer strategy.

Here the main guidelines that you should follow: start by benchmarking your influencer list, work with them as real business partners providing creative insights and support, define a step by step analytics framework and measure the quality of the reached audience.

Check out more on influencers at

About The Author

A Digital & Social Media Strategist specializing in big data and analytics on social media, Federico Oliveri works as a Customer Program Manager at Socialbakers.  His daily objective is to support top worldwide brands as LVMH, Estée Lauder, Renault, Ferrero, etc., turning data into customized strategies, business assets and concrete results.

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