In a fast-moving digital battleground, it's no secret this year will have its fair share of marketing challenges. We're constantly having to find new ways to not only reach an audience but to capture their attention in what has become an advertising-wary culture. With average click-thru rates plummeting as low as 0.03% and almost half of all online consumers using ad-blocking technology, influencer marketing has become one of the most effective ways to reach what has become an unreachable generation.

Since launching our influencer marketing platform in September, there has been a clear indication from the market that clients are ready to take the discipline seriously and are starting to reimagine what their marketing strategies will look like in the coming year. Here are five key learnings to consider when building your influencer marketing strategy.

It's a long-term play

There's a common misconception influencer marketing is as simple as connecting up with a few people on the internet and expecting results. It's not. Like your marketing strategy, there's a clear need to develop your influencer marketing strategy, integrate it with your marketing calendar and constantly evolve it to keep pace with the internet. The best influencer marketing strategy is horizontal and becomes the connective tissue to your social media strategy, content marketing strategy and PR activity.

Set measurable objectives

Influencer marketing isn't a silver bullet, a quick-fix or something to pull out of the marketing arsenal to rectify a drop in sales. If done right it can become a powerful tool but it's important to set measurable objectives, understand what you want to achieve and constantly measure the performance of the activity. Over the last four years, we've proved it can be an effective marketing tool to ensure your brand, product or service is part of the online conversation.

Earn people's attention

With so much content being created and decreasing attention spans, it's become mandatory we work hard to earn people's attention. People-first content is the only content that matters. Today we're marketing to consumers on their terms and we must think creatively with their wants and needs first. Our most experienced and trusted influencers are champions of this. They've built large communities around being informative, entertaining or empowering and the best ones are highly selective of the brands with whom they partner. By approaching your influencer marketing strategy with a people-first mentality, you focus on benefits over features and storytelling over messaging.

The influencer's audience isn't your audience

Influencer marketing is not a traditional buy based on reach and frequency. Over the last four years, we've built the largest talent network in the country with influencers at all levels and community sizes. The one thing they all have in common is a much deeper understanding of their communities and what works but more importantly what won't work for their fans/followers. The key to influencer marketing is working with the influencer to build organic, authentic and most importantly trustworthy conversations to leverage the power of word-of-mouth. It's important for brands to not micromanage them or dictate what, how or when they should create their conversation.

Every platform is different

It's important to understand that influencer marketing should not be done in a vacuum or executed on one social media platform alone. There's a common misconception that sending influencers a product in the hope they'll blast it across their social media platforms is influencer marketing. It's not. It's about building a strong foundation, having the right mix of cultural opinion-makers and ensuring when they talk about your brand it's on the most relevant platforms for their audience. It's important to spend time understanding their communities, exploring the connection between people, topics, and conversations and then exploring the role your brand can play in their communities.