As marketing channels become more diverse and more complex, companies are no longer satisfied with simply buying up cheap traffic—increasingly, they’re realising they need to raise their brand profile in tandem. KOL marketing can help them do both and achieve fast growth in overseas markets.
To provide a comprehensive picture of overseas KOL marketing for all developers, we’ve got you covered with this guide, with content on the overseas KOL landscape, practical guidance to global KOL marketing and up-to-date marketing strategies.
But first, let’s discuss what a KOL is to get the basics down, before diving into the topic in detail.
What is a KOL?
KOL, short for “Key Opinion Leader”, is an online influencer that has expertise in a particular industry or field, more often than not consumer products.
Initially associated with higher-level sectors such as engineering, medicine, and finance, the concept of KOL is now emerging in mainstream areas such as beauty, gaming, and sports.
A KOL’s deep knowledge makes such experts trusted sources and influential figures in online communities. Their recommendations shape consumer opinions and behaviors.
For brands, collaborating with KOLs helps to enhance credibility and get customer engagement.
How KOLs Work in Practice: A Case Study in TikTok
With over one billion monthly active users worldwide, TikTok is an ideal choice for any brand looking to go global, owing to its high usage frequency, strong user loyalty, and ease of content distribution and creation.
Many gaming companies lean on TikTok to raise awareness of their new releases or updates. This is because gamers on TikTok are a highly engaged community. Users want to get recommendations and gameplay tips, along with other enjoyable video content. Fun short video content, which TikTok is uniquely known for, makes interactions between users and creators easy and fun.
But, of course, some users love to produce great content too. As their followership grows, they become influencers — or KOLs in Asian markets. With larger followership comes the opportunity for brand recognition and collaboration, as gaming companies seek to leverage that KOL to reach a dedicated audience.
The content comes in various shapes and sizes: game walkthrough, cosplay, secondary creation, unboxing reviews, game culture, and more.
All of this attention can help game developers effectively connect to global users, provided they do so in a way that suits the platform.
For more on the importance of KOL marketing, read this blog on its impacts in SEA.
How to Conduct KOL Marketing in a New Market
To uncover the secrets to KOL marketing in a new geo, we spoke to Nativex’s Head Global Influencer Team, Abel Lai, who shared a roadmap to success. Speaking from years of personal experience in overseas marketing, Abel proposed three components that make a sound overseas KOL marketing campaign: integrated marketing plans, localized KOL creatives, and in-depth reputation analysis.
Integrated Marketing Plans
In the early stages of KOL marketing, advertisers should have a marketing plan based on the target market landscape and product features. With this in place, you can then consider the best KOLs to meet your goals.
To do so, consider building a KOL matrix. A KOL matrix covers all the potential influencers you can work with. Marketers can take their assessment further with an analysis that incorporates a range of criteria—from KOLs’ fit with user profile, influence, and integrity to their cost and ability to convert users.Aside from KOL selection, Abel proposed two KOL marketing “boosters.”
- Complementing KOL marketing with account operations. This can build on the results of KOL marketing to further flesh out the product’s story which helps to engage and retain players.
- The other is coupling KOL marketing with your advertising strategy. KOLs, with their strong influence and original content, can help spread your ads and make them more convincing, thereby driving conversions and brand awareness.
A key question facing every advertiser when doing KOL marketing is how to maximize brand exposure through localized ads—or to be more specific, through localized creatives. What counts as a good video? There are a few criteria to look at:
- How well the KOL delivers the content.
- How original the content is.
- How “intrusive” the ad looks.
- And whether the video is released at certain marketing checkpoints and during traffic peak times.
You will have your own criteria that match this list. Try to match how you and your team feel about the creative with a more robust, analytical approach.
According to Abel, it is important to conduct a reputation analysis in the late stage of a KOL marketing campaign. A good reputation leads to increased user value, which feeds brand growth.
By co-creating content with a KOL, an advertiser can shift the narrative perspective and make the ad look like a KOL’s personal recommendation. This tactic, combined with the KOL’s strong personal image, can boost conversions and, for multinational game developers, can make the game appear more localized.
How to Gauge KOL Marketing Impact
Overseas KOL marketing has a lot to offer, but advertisers often question what they can gain from working with KOLs—namely the ROI on their KOL marketing campaigns.
In practice, advertisers need to be as granular as possible when measuring marketing performance — down to every marketing level, every channel, every campaign, every ad group, and every creative. In the case of KOL marketing, that means down to every KOL and video.
Measuring impact is a question of incrementality. Many marketers tend to understand their baseline performance, such as total downloads, as an example. To track, marketers need to run a KOL marketing campaign to see whether the app increased in the metrics that were being targeted when the campaign was being run. If successful, you’ll see a bump in those target KPIs in your historical data.
You may also see additional benefits in the long term. For example, KOLs often provide word-of-mouth/endorsement in any other scenario if they love your product. What you offer could become a natural part of the conversation, or go viral in the right circumstances. Starting KOL marketing is a leap of faith, but like all marketing, it can be measured.
Successful KOL Marketing: Tips to Get it Right
What do multinational game developers do to get the most out of KOL marketing? We recently spoke to two marketing masterminds to answer this question. Joy Wu, International Marketing Manager of Oasis Game, and Terry Zhou, Marketing Director at Moonton, recently joined us on a webinar to discuss what successful overseas KOL marketers do to achieve their goals.
To start, Joy believes that KOL marketing has uncertainties. Therefore, it is important to work with an experienced agency to help marketing teams steer clear of unreliable KOLs, get the details right, set clear milestones and deadlines, and manage the challenging nature of influencers.
On the actual ad creatives KOLs deliver, Joy mentioned that it’s crucial to really understand your product—including its key selling points, target audience, main competition, and differentiators—and choose your KOLs accordingly. Joy also points out the need to fully grasp your target market and respect the KOLs’ advice—after all, they know their followers best.
Terry believes that a good agency can make overseas KOL marketing a lot easier and more effective. He also urges advertisers to set aside ample time for their KOL marketing projects. KOLs might have difficulty understanding their products, and it takes time to learn.
Terry also suggests that advertisers should stay attuned to the market and keep a lookout for the right KOLs, ones that can help achieve growth at a low cost.
Under the Influence
Nativex is in prime position to help advertisers with little experience in KOL marketing to begin working on campaigns that can scale. Not only do we serve as a guide from the start of the campaign to the end, but Nativex also provides a local creative team that helps deepen collaboration with KOLs, among other services that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of KOL marketing.
As an official marketing partner with leading social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Twitch, Nativex offers comprehensive KOL marketing solutions. Our expertise extends from developing targeted KOL marketing strategies and identifying the ideal KOLs for collaboration, to crafting engaging content and analyzing performance metrics. Our goal is to help you build an engaged community and achieve measurable results.