The hottest new trend in marketing doesn’t involve expensive videos, high-end creative or an extensive advertising budget. Rather, influencer marketing relies on the power of word-of-mouth, and continues to emerge as one of the most valuable ways to reach shoppers online.
More than 92% of the marketers who have implemented an influencer marketing program found it to be successful. Furthermore, influencer content not only outperforms branded content, but according to the 2017 Value of Influencer Content Report, it costs marketers approximately 2.6 times less than content created via traditional methods.
To learn more about this growing marketing channel through the eyes of an influencer, we interviewed Lori from More With Less Today to talk through five key points that marketers need to know when collaborating with influencers on brand campaigns.
1. Audiences Expect Transparency
Shoppers appreciate authenticity when they are consuming content. Nearly 90% of shoppers state that authenticity is one of their considerations when determining which brands to support, while less than 60% feel that the brands themselves are creating content that resonates as authentic. For this reason, it’s critical that brands partner with influencers who are a true fit not only for their brand, but also for their target audience. This allows for more authenticity and transparency within the sponsored content.
Lori notes, “As an influencer, you’re constantly recommending things, so you need to be honest, open and trustworthy. I think a lot of my success comes from having integrity and being honest with the people that I’ve worked with as well as my audience”.
2. Successful Collaborations Begin with Clear Expectations
As with any marketing campaign, it’s important that influencer programs begin with the end goal in mind. Common goals include:
- Brand awareness
- Follower growth
Establishing clearly defined metrics based on your goals allows you to determine whether or not the partnership was a success, and make necessary changes before starting the next one. And beyond key metrics, it’s also helpful for brands to outline clear expectations regarding content, creative and other key elements prior to launch. According to Lori, “There’s no such thing as too much information. The most dreaded thing for an influencer is having to start over. Practice great communication, clearly define the expectations and goals of the campaign, outline realistic timelines and include everything in the contract”.
3. Influencers Prefer Sponsorships with Few Restrictions
Part of the beauty of working with an influencer is that these individuals have proven experience creating content that resonates with their audience. While influencers are expected to adhere to your brand’s guidelines and expectations, the best results are likely to come when you offer your influencer the freedom and flexibility they need to create content that builds an authentic connection with their audience.
This means limiting the amount of oversight, jargon and “legalese” within the partnership. Per Lori, “A successful campaign is one that doesn’t come with too many restrictions and doesn’t sound like an advertisement”. Most influencers would agree, as a recent CrowdTap survey of influencers found that 77% cited artistic freedom as the reason they choose to work with brands more than once.
4. Influencer Marketing Largely Drives Awareness Over Sales
If you’re looking for an immediate sales lift from integrating your influencer marketing program, you may need to rethink your strategy. While influencers certainly can drive sales, a more appropriate metric would be engagement and awareness of your brand. Lori shares, “Sometimes I think that brands have an unrealistic expectation about how the campaign will convert in terms of sales. It can take around 7 touches or 100 clicks to make a sale, and the sale often doesn’t happen on the first impression”. Fortunately, although the actual sale may not happen immediately, influencer content can continue driving value for your brand months after the sponsorship has ended.
5. Shopper Behavior Determines the Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing
Building trust with shoppers is crucial for marketers, but individuals are increasingly wary of content from brands. However, leveraging influencer marketing can help you overcome this challenge by providing opportunities to engage with your brand through credible influencers. More than 37% of individuals feel more comfortable with a brand and are more likely to believe in brands after interacting with influencers who posted about their business. In Lori’s opinion, “People like to do business with products and people that they know. As you follow an influencer, you get to know them and you feel like there’s a relationship there. You become a trusted reference point and provide residual value for brands”. This is mostly due to what’s considered the halo effect in marketing: the positive feelings shoppers have about an influencer can extend to your brand by association.
Understanding this increasingly popular marketing tactic from an influencer’s perspective provides valuable insight to brand marketers. And based on Lori’s input, successful collaborations depend on transparency, clear expectations and your ability to building lasting relationships with influencers. Both you and the influencer are invested in the success of your brand campaign; therefore, to find success, marketers must keep the five factors above in mind.