Understanding Influencer Marketing and its Results
Since you found this blog post, we’re going to assume you’ve heard of influencer marketing. And you can probably name some companies that are using influencer marketing to promote their brands. Maybe you’ve even purchased something from one of these brands, because their influencer campaign was that good!
According to the Association of National Advertisers, 75% of companies that use advertising regularly are implementing influencer marketing in some form. But what is it exactly? Is it just paying social media celebrities to advertise your products? Can it actually help your brand?
If you have these questions, keep reading! We’ll tell you all about influencer marketing, one of the most effective marketing strategies in today’s digital marketing world.
Influencer marketing, by definition is a marketing strategy that leverages people who have the power to affect consumers’ attitudes towards brands as well as their buying behavior and purchase decisions.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing, by definition, is a marketing strategy that leverages people who have the power to affect consumers’ attitudes towards brands as well as their buying behavior and purchase decisions. The end goal can vary but includes marketing objectives such as raising brand awareness, building consumer preference for the brand, or increasing sales leads.
Even though influencer marketing sounds like a new marketing strategy that started in recent years, the notion of brands working with people who can affect consumers’ buying decisions is not new. Influencer marketing, in fact, evolved from many traditional marketing tactics such as celebrity endorsement and word of mouth marketing.
Influencer Marketing vs. Celebrity Endorsement
Influencer marketing evolved from celebrity endorsement: brands partner with people who have a loyal following to promote their services or products in order to gain sales and brand awareness. However, influencer marketing is different from celebrity endorsement. Instead of focusing on paying real-life celebrities to be a spokesperson of your brand, influencer marketing focuses on online influencers who have a loyal following in a certain niche to promote your brand.
They may or may not be famous in real life. Influencers aren’t used solely because of their popularity (celebrity endorsers are!) An influencer’s power comes from their authority on a certain topic. Perhaps they have a blog about sustainable fashion, a Youtube channel about vegan food, or have established a following on Instagram around healthy homemaking hacks. With their expertise and relationship with their audience, they naturally influence their followers.
Influencer Marketing vs. Word of Mouth
Influencer marketing is similar to the world’s most effective traditional marketing method – word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth is effective because it is based on trust. Think of a time that you were considering trying a new restaurant or buying a new type of product (CBD anyone?)
If a friend who is a foodie suggests their favorite restaurant or your cousin recommends a CBD oil that worked wonders for their anxiety, would it influence your buying behavior? Because people generally trust social connections like friends and family, especially when they have some sort of topical knowledge or experience, the data says you’re more likely to buy what these social connections suggest.
Now, do you see what influencer marketing and word of mouth share in common? They both have the magic of trust. Influencer marketing is the closest thing to word of mouth in the digital space. Influencers are perceived as close friends by their audience, and therefore, their audiences trust their opinions. When influencers vouch for a product or brand, their audience is more likely to purchase that product or have a positive feeling towards the brand
So are there any major differences between these two forms of marketing? Yes! While some might argue that influencer marketing is a form of word of mouth marketing, we disagree. Influencer marketing is organized and strategic. This means its results are easier to track and scale. Since social media platforms provide analytical insights, we’re able to quantify the outcome of influencer campaigns and improve upon them in real time! With word of mouth marketing, data is difficult to capture and analyze, and it’s generally not available in real time.
Influencer Marketing is an Inbound Strategy
So is influencer marketing just advertising through social influencers? The answer is no. The objective is not to employ influencers to deliver your messages. Unlike advertising, where a brand imposes a promotional message on the audience, influencer marketing is inbound. This means influencers and consumers can decide if they want to come to you instead of you determining the terms and making them listen. Brands can partner with influencers, but they are not required to say what the brand tells them to say. Instead, influencers have the freedom to express their opinions about the brand. And their followers can decide if they want to engage.
The more you try to control the influencers, the less likely your influencer marketing will bring substantial results. Why? The audience has such a strong bond with the influencers that they only want to hear the influencers’ honest and authentic content. If brands control the content, they could damage the trust between influencers and followers. Thus, if brands want results from influencer marketing they must shift the mindset from controlling to inspiring. Let influencers take control but inspire them to share your content or review your products. This is the biggest difference between influencer marketing and other traditional marketing methods.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing
According to MediaKix’s survey on influencer marketing, 80% of the marketers found influencer marketing effective. And 71% of the marketers agreed that customer and traffic quality of influencer marketing is higher than other marketing channels. But what does this really mean for your business? What are some notable benefits you could expect from implementing an influencer marketing program?
- More Trust in Your Brand: Influencers have trusted relationships with their audience. When an influencer vouches for a brand, it helps the brand to gain credibility and trust from the audience. Because an influencer is an authoritative specialist, when an influencer mentions or recommends a brand, that brand gains social proof and is perceived as a trustworthy business.
- Higher Brand Awareness: Influencer marketing is a fast way to build brand awareness and relationships with a target market online, especially if you have a start-up brand, which is not known by mass consumers yet. Partnering with influencers can quickly help your brand reach more of its target audience than it could reach on its own.
- More Good Leads for Sales: Besides building trust and awareness, influencer marketing can drive conversion and sales. Consumers constantly seek purchasing advice on social media. A Sprout Social report shows that 74% of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions. And the trust between the audience and influencers is the key to high conversion. Most consumers trust recommendations from influencers.
- A More Cost-Effective Path to High ROI: According to AspireIQ, which collects data from real marketers, influencer marketing campaign ROI is about 432% on average! Another survey by Influencer Marketing Hub also shows that, for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, a brand can make $5.20. Implementing a sound influencer marketing is possibly the most cost-effective marketing strategies you can employ.
Types of Influencer Marketing
Here are some common types of influencer marketing tactics that you could consider for your own influencer campaigns:
- Gifting: Send influencers free products for them to try in exchange for reviews or brand mentions on their social media.
- Giveaways: Giveaways are usually in the form of contests. Brands work with influencers who would ask their followers to take some kind of actions such as reposting and commenting. In return, the followers may win a gift or prize that is sponsored by the brands.
- Sponsored content: Brands pay influencers to share their content or create content on their social media or blog to promote your brand or products.
- Discount Code: Brands provide an exclusive discount code to each influencer they work with. The influencers could use the code to promote the special offer to their followers.
Brands can partner with influencers, but they are not required to say what the brand tells them to say. Instead, influencers have the freedom to express their opinions about the brand. And their followers can decide if they want to engage.
How to Use Influencer Marketing – In a Snapshot
With all this talk of real results, you might be wondering how you could start using influencer marketing to help your brand. We have a post dedicated to walking you through every step of running an influencer marketing campaign, but here are some steps that can help you get started:
- Conduct Market Research: In the research stage, you want to figure out which social media platforms to focus on. Should it be Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or something else? It’s a good idea to check which social media’s user demographic overlaps with your target audience.Next, start researching who the influencers are in your market or niche. They should have followers that are aligned with your brand’s target audience. For example, if you are a start-up coffee brand, you might want to find some influencers who are foodies or coffee connoisseurs.
- Set a Budget for Your influencer Marketing Campaign: Different types of influencers have different pricing points. Generally speaking, the more followers an influencer has, the higher their price. However, the price of hiring an influencer also depends on other factors such as the type of content, engagement and distribution channels you’re seeking.In addition to paying influencers, be aware of the cost of your time and effort in managing your campaigns. Influencer marketing campaigns require time to nurture the relationships with influencers. For brands that have limited resources, hiring an influencer marketing agency to help run a campaign might be more cost-effective.
- Determine the Goal and Message: Raising brand awareness and increasing sales are the two most common goals that brands want to achieve through influencer marketing. However, they are too general. If you want to have a successful campaign, come up with a specific goal.For example, a well-defined goal may be to increase the sales of the new product by 5% in 3 months through the influencer marketing campaign.Along with your goal, what is the message you would like the influencers to help you communicate with the audience? Even though influencer marketing isn’t about imposing a message on customers and influencers, a clear brand message can help influencers to understand your brand and come up with content.
- Contact Influencers About Creating a Partnership: When you have a clear idea of your campaign goal and message, you can start contacting the influencers in your niche. You could contact them through private messages on social media or find their contact information on their websites.
What Else Should You Know About Influencer Marketing?
As influencer marketing continues to develop, brands should keep an eye on the trends and the future of influencer marketing in order to adapt quickly. To help you stay up to date with the market, here are some significant future trends we’re watching:
- Working with Micro-influencers: As more brands understand that a successful campaign doesn’t require a massive audience as much as it requires a targeted audience, brands are more open to working with micro-influencers.Micro-influencers are those who have 10k-50k followers. Since they are not as established as the “superstar” macro-influencers, they are less expensive to engage. They also tend to maintain a more exclusive community of followers, so they usually have high engagement and can produce fantastic user-generated content at a fraction of the price.
- New Influencer Marketing Tools: Influencer marketing tools such as Mavrck and AspireIQ are on the rise, as they provide a one-stop marketplace for brands and agencies to connect with and vet a large number of influencers. These platforms also provide a community for influencers, especially micro-influencers, to find resources and land more partnerships.
- More Creative Ways to Work with Influencers: As influencer marketing becomes more competitive, brands will need more innovative ways to engage influencers in order to get better results. For example, product collaborations are a new tactic becoming popular among macro-influencers. A brand will collaborate with an influencer who they have a long-term relationship with to launch the influencer’s own version of the brand’s product. This new tactic gives the influencer creative freedom to develop a product and share its revenue with the brand. Product sales also see a boost as followers are excited about buying a product “made” by their favorite influencer.
- Increased Investments in Long-Term Partnerships with Influencers: Long-term partnerships are the secret sauce in influencer marketing. They allow influencers to bring their audience through an entire consumer journey rather than one phase of their journey. This increases the likelihood of converting an influencer’s audience into customers, and it increases the likelihood these customers will be loyal and further promote your brand.
- Greater Focus on Nurturing Relationships with Influencers: As more brands realize the value of their relationships with influencers, we’re seeing them do more to nurture them in non-monetary ways. For instance, we’ve seen brands send unprompted free products or a box of curated goodies to influencers regularly. This keeps the brand top of mind for the influencer as they are creating content, and the brand can get more organic content just by an act of goodwill.
We’ve thrown a lot at you, but believe it or not there’s more! If you’re feeling overwhelmed or have a question you’d like to ask, contact us. If you want to explore more about influencer marketing and how it works, learn how to run a campaign for your brand.