Influencer marketing is a term that is passed around in a great number of marketing plans but only rarely implemented. Do you truly understand the ROI that can be achieved by activating your consumers via their favorite social media personalities and brands? Today’s shoppers are looking for more than a pretty website when they research your brand. They’re looking for authentic engagement with individuals that they trust. More than 75% of Millennials and Gen Z are looking to influencers for recommendations and as a reliable source of product information. With the growing emphasis on storytelling and loyalty — and confidence in brands at an all-time low — influencer marketing is one of the most important tactics in your digital marketing strategy.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing
More than 94% of marketers who work with an influencer find that it is effective for their brand, often delivering up to 11x higher ROI than traditional digital marketing. It’s not surprising to see the biggest brands in the world adding influencers to their promotional mix. Contrary to popular opinion, influencer marketing is not just for teens and young adults. Shoppers of all ages are likely to be influenced by social media when they’re considering a purchase. Even online reviews are considered a dependable source of information by more than one-third of shoppers. Individuals in your target market are more likely than ever before to be turned off by tactics that are not considered authentic or transparent and may be willing to pay more for the same services with a trusted brand. Effectively deploying influencer marketing requires market knowledge as well as an innate understanding of how to create believable stories.
The State of Influencer Marketing
When you begin working through your influencer marketing strategy, your first thought may be that you need to employ a high-priced celebrity to represent your brand. However, oddly enough, celebrities are not the best choice of influencer for the majority of brands. A recent study showed that teens, in particular, are seven times more likely to connect emotionally with their favorite YouTube personality than with someone you may think of as a traditional celebrity. Instagram and Facebook are essentially tied for the best influencer platforms, with approximately 30% of influencers preferring these platforms. Shoppers are generally looking for insight from “real people” as they travel through their buying journey. Having a trusted influencer make a recommendation for a particular brand creates a positive empathy. This brand awareness through the path of organic content can be cost-effective and incredibly powerful to drive marketing ROI for your brand, which may be why 48% of marketers expect to spend more on influencer marketing in the coming year.
Again, one of the most important considerations with influencer marketing is to ensure that your brand is being represented authentically. For example, a grocery retail brand wouldn’t want to partner with an influencer who never shares content related to your brand. A travel blogger’s audience follows them for travel content and expects to see that from them. If all of a sudden they started sharing about a health or food product, it might give their audience a bad taste and seem like a forced partnership, rather than a realistic recommendation. Ideally, you’ll find someone who is passionate about your brand and is a trusted influencer that shares content related to your industry or brand. All of these factors play into the overall return on your influencer marketing efforts.
How Does Influencer Marketing Impact ROI?
When you’re developing your next marketing plan, is influencer marketing a strategy that receives a great deal of consideration, or a tactic that’s more of an afterthought? Well-executed influencer marketing, by design, has a significant positive impact on your marketing ROI for a variety of reasons: you’re authentically telling your story, building trust between your brand and your audience, creating relevant content, and engaging your key audience.
- Authentically telling your story: Influencers who are able to expand your brand universe by adding their own unique content are telling a story that is likely to resonate with your audience. In a marketplace full of options, it’s important to become part of your audience’s conversation in a meaningful way. How this impacts ROI: More than 90% of shoppers are willing to engage with brands simply because there’s a story behind the products or services. From Burt’s Bees providing details about their sustainability efforts to jewelry brand Dannijo amassing over 150,000 Instagram followers, storytelling is considered vital for lifestyle brands.
- Building trust with your audience: Creating a true connection with your audience doesn’t happen overnight, and a single influencer post will not do the job. Instead, it’s important to create a circle of trust between your brand influencer and your audience through realistic recommendations and responses to audience feedback. If your influencer passes the Trust Threshold, your audience begins to equate them with a paid celebrity. Influencers should always be honest — even if that means your brand isn’t conveyed in exactly the bright, shiny light that you would like. How this impacts ROI: A recent study estimates that the ROI for influencer marketing is $6.50 for every dollar spent. That’s well worth taking the time to build an authentic relationship!
- Creating relevant content: Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram Stories are some of the best ways to catch the eyeballs of your intended audience. These here-today-gone-tomorrow immediate stories are incredibly engaging to shoppers, much more so than a more structured and staged photo shoot where products are displayed to perfection. The difference is the authenticity of the experience. In a Facebook Live video and on Snapchat, anything can happen — and often does! The sheer surprise and unpredictability of the experience is part of what viewers appreciate and consider relevant to their lives. How this impacts ROI: LabelInsight notes that 56% of shoppers would be loyal for life for a transparent brand.
- Engaging your key audience: It’s important to understand where to find your audience and work within the confines of that platform. If you’re pitching a brand that is specifically targeted to Gen Z, Facebook may not be your best marketing vehicle, as only 9% of teens admit to being on the social media giant in a November 2017 survey. What’s worse, the numbers are declining each year, dropping over 4% since 2016. How this impacts ROI: Working with influencers who are engaging the incorrect audience has the same result as placing your print ads in the wrong magazine — it results in wasted marketing dollars. With a new generation coming of age, it’s more critical than ever to find the right influencer voice for your brand.
As ad blockers proliferate and it’s increasingly difficult for brands to reach their audiences directly, influencers are seen as the ideal way to expand reach. Influencer marketing success is tied tightly to a deep knowledge of your audience and their social media habits, great content, and your influencer’s storytelling ability. The key takeaway on influencer marketing is that it’s worth the additional investment as a primary strategy — not as a tactical afterthought.