Why influencer marketing is the new inbound marketing for retailers

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‘Inbound marketing’ has been classified as the proven methodology of sales for the digital age. Sustained engagement on social media platforms and having an active online presence has become vital to the survival of many retail brands.

In this fast paced and unpredictable market, brands have no choice but to supplement their awareness drives secured through traditional advertising space, by building trust and engagement through conversation online.

Inbound marketing involves creating quality content around your product or brand that will naturally grab the attention of people, inviting them to learn more about your brand/product. According to Hubspot, brands generating content that is relevant to their audience enables them to attract organic inbound traffic that leads to sales, a stark contrast to the traditional approach of having dedicated outbound sales teams. The automation and highly effective tracking that digital provides is a boon for the otherwise inflated overheads incurred in an outbound process.

Influencer marketing falls squarely into inbound marketing

Influencers are creative and talented content creators that sustain and entertain huge audiences online. Bloggers, YouTube-ers and those that are Snapchat famous are drawing in and converting more followers for brands than traditional advertising; by collaborating with the influencers most aligned to their target audiences and brand messaging, brands are able to gain access to a large audience and channel product messaging through to them. Influencers are also able to deliver a brand’s message in the most creative and eye catching way.

Because inbound marketing is largely focused on brands distributing quality content online and gaining social proof within the digital space, influencers have become an integral part of inbound marketing, especially in the online retail landscape. Owing to their high online following, their audiences see them as credible sources. In fact more people are turning to blog reviews before making any purchasing decisions.

A recent article from Business Insider explained that e-commerce continues to decimate traditional retail, with all the growth in the retail sector occurring in the digital space. The article also highlighted how in 2016, US consumers will spend up to $385bn online. It was predicted that in 2020 this figure will sit at $632bn. The following graph categorises US digital retail sales, and illustrates accessories as the most popular items.

Where do influencers come into the picture?

According to Fashion and Beauty Monitor and Econsultancy report , nearly 60% of fashion and beauty industry are said to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2016. The report also revealed that the changing markets of the fashion and beauty industry has been most impacted by influencers as a result of digital technology. Owing to their high followings and influence over their audiences, influencers are able to significantly impact the purchasing decisions of consumers on a daily basis.

It has been recently brought to light how effective influencers are in accelerating the path to purchase. Leading fashion and retail influencers often share product reviews and tutorials which include links to online stores, where their audience can easily purchase the items that they showcase. Not only do influencers make it easy for people to buy products to achieve a certain look, if it's a sponsored post they also tend to have promotional codes, which further incentivise consumers to purchase the products online.

Recent data has revealed that 84% of fashion and beauty brands say they have launched at least one influencer marketing campaign in the last year; as a result, 81% out of those brands saw an increase in website traffic and sales. Analysts revealed that brands earn up to $6.50 in sales for every $1 spend on influencer marketing.

In light of this data, there is no denying that influencer marketing is adding significant value to online stores and the retail industry in general. An increasing number of brands are looking to collaborate with influencers. Data taken from Webfluential revealed the most searched for category amongst marketers was undefined, while lifestyle and fashion influencers followed close behind.

Chiara Di Rago is influencer assistant at influential connection company Webfluential.