Influencer marketing is one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Well known and well loved faces have always been used to promote products and brands.
Since the birth of social media, this practice has exploded; there are now numerous influencers and micro-influencers with access to a broad range of captive audiences. Influencer marketing has become an effective and popular tactic across all industries, including B2B organizations, not just the most commonly assumed ‘lifestyle’ focused B2C brands.
(First Lady, Frances Cleveland - depicted above - was so popular, her image was used to advertise just about everything from liver medicine to clothing. Image credit: US National First Ladies Library)
Some 92% of marketers who use influencer marketing believe it to be a successful strategy. While 80% say that they have seen a comparable or much higher ROI from influencer marketing than other channels, although 71% say that the quality of customers is far better than other marketing sources. Based on marketers' reactions and insights, influencer marketing seems like a no brainer. So how can marketers use relationships with influencers to drive business?
1. Build trust
Influencers have constructed communities based on real connection and trust. Many people have become suspicious of traditional forms of advertising, including the digital ones. However, when it comes to peer reviews, and online testimonials from known faces, consumers are much more likely to have confidence in a brand. In fact 49% of consumers rely heavily on influencers for product recommendations.
2. Creative relevance
Brands often make the mistake of choosing the loudest voice or most recognisable face to promote their product. The impact an influencer will have on behalf of your brand depends not just on audience size but engagement.
A world-renowned celebrity as your spokesperson may seem like the most obvious choice for maximum visibility. But if you are trying to sell pet insurance and the majority of their audience is engaged with hip hop music it is unlikely this will drive the right exposure for your brand or product sales.
Consumers are complex, and of course cannot be categorised only according to one interest. There is crossover between different spaces of engagement. However, choosing an individual whose captive audience follows them to feed an interest or address a need as closely aligned to the service you or your product provides as possible, is more likely to guarantee sales.
Hence, why many brands are looking to ‘micro-influencers.’ This type of influencer has a smaller following but specializes in specific content areas where their audiences are highly responsive.
Working with specialists who have experience and insight based on data in this space can enable you to determine who the key influencers or micro-influencers are in your space.
But is it worth the cost?
Influencer marketing is an expensive strategy, with even some micro influencers commanding thousands per posts. In the first half of this year alone, brands have spent $756m on influencer activity.
According to many sources, this type of activity is worth it: Brand awareness and engagement campaigns that utilised influencers in 2019 saw an 8x ROI while direct response campaigns (app installs, signups, purchases) were 1.8x per $1.
Yet, another study revealed that 84% of marketers feel that proving the true ROI of influencer activity is a challenge.
The key to determining ROI seems to be in setting clear KPIs and ways to measure them. For example, if your strategy is based around driving sales, you should determine the number of sales you would like to make from your influencer activity and ensure your chosen influencer uses a tracked link to your site. This will enable you to track the traffic they send there and subsequent purchases made by potential customers.
Choosing the right influencer for your brand or product can help grow trust and create relevancy within a receptive target audience to ultimately drive business. Despite being expensive, ROI from your influencer marketing strategy can be high.
However, it is important to be aware that the expense and potential exposure of an influencer marketing campaign creates higher risk if the wrong influencer is chosen and/or the wrong audience targeted for your brand. Therefore, influencer marketing is best placed as a complimentary part of your wider digital marketing strategy, rather than the sole focus of it.
Annabelle Sacher, senior content specialist at Altair Media.